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Moloch was the ancient Canaanite god of child sacrifice who is referenced several times throughout the Bible, including multiple times in the Book of Leviticus. Strangely these verses imply that other gods than Yahweh exist, since they refer to giving one's "seed" (aka "children") to Moloch, which they explicitly forbid. This implies that Leviticus was written in the monolastric[note 1] period of ancient Judaism, when other gods existed but only Yahweh was to be worshiped, the worship of other gods was to be punishable by execution.
Rabbinical tradition depicted Moloch as a bronze statue heated with fire into which the victims were thrown. This has been associated with reports by Greco-Roman authors on the child sacrifices in Carthage to Baal Hammon, especially since archaeological excavations since the 1920s have produced evidence for child sacrifice in Carthage as well as inscriptions including the term MLK, either a theonym or a technical term associated with sacrifice. Moloch has been traditionally interpreted as the name of a god, possibly a god given the honorific "the king" (cf. adon "lord", baʿal "master"), but pejoratively mispronounced as Molek instead of Melek, using the vocalisation of Hebrew בּשֶׁת bosheth "shame",
The mainstream view of Jewish historians is that for a period of time the Hebrews worshipped Moloch and offered child sacrifices to him, even though Moloch was of non-Hebrew origin, perhaps Canaanite or from further afield. Some believe sacrifices were only made in times of extreme peril when divine intervention was desperately sought, but the presence of a fixed site of worship and sacrifice near Jerusalem indicates it may have been a regular practice: worship was carried out at a site called Topheth (Tapheth or Tophet). Also near Jerusalem, the valley of Gehenna was associated with sacrifice by fire, but moreso to Baal (today both Topheth and Gehenna are associated with the eternal torments of Hell). According to the Tanakh, the worship of Moloch and human sacrifice were criticised by the Biblical prophets and ended by Josiah, King of Judah.
Since the late 19th century pro-life demagogues have compared abortion, when a mother terminates a pregnancy, to the child sacrifices conducted in the name of Moloch. Barring the obvious intent of poisoning the well and the false equivalency that this malicious comparison brings, one wonders how the extraction of something that is essentially a tumor from a woman's body is equivalent to the violent, barbaric murder of sentient human beings done in the name of religion.
Freemasonry, Satanism, antisemitism, and child-eating conspiracies
Moloch is one of the pagan gods whom Freemasons are sometimes said to worship, as well as featuring in 20th century esoteric satanism such as Aleister Crowley: in such systems Moloch is an important figure alongside the likes of Baphomet, Set, and Baal. (This is also part of the plot of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol.) It's only a short step from this to full on claims that Moloch-worshiping baby-eating Jewish Satanist Illuminati Freemasons are part of an international conspiracy behind every bad thing from war to fractional reserve banking.
That some Hebrews worshipped Moloch and may have participated in human sacrifice is big news among people who are hostile to Jews. Some complain that Jews have never fully apologised for child sacrifice to Moloch and haven't said that such a thing is wrong, and this is because "Blood ritual is fundamental to Judaism". This false idea that Jews like killing babies is known as blood libel.
Moloch has become a common symbol of the evils of capitalism, most famously in Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) where a machine called Moloch consumes adult workers. Hence while Moloch as metaphor is not necessarily a symbol of an international Jewish conspiracy, it can slide easily into antisemitism.
- A religion that accepts the existence of other gods but only worships one, sort of an intermediate state between polytheism and monotheism if you will
- Leviticus 20:2: "Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones."
- D.D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, London: 1991, S. 115 ff.
- following a widely-adopted suggestion going back to Abraham Geiger (1857), e.g. "Molech". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2008. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9053271/Moloch. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- The Cult of Moloch, Jewish Virtual Library
- Moloch (Molech), Isidore Singer, George A. Barton, Jewish Encyclopedia
- See the Wikipedia article on Tophet.
- B. G. Jefferis, J. L. Nichols, Searchlights on Health: Light on Dark Corners A Complete Sexual Science and a Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood, Advice To Maiden, Wife, And Mother, Love, Courtship, And Marriage (1894), p. 139 ("The abiding interest we feel in the preservation of the morals in our country, constrains us to raise our voice against the daily increasing practice of infanticide, especially before birth. The notoriety this monstrous crime has obtained of late, and the hecatombs of infants that are annually sacrificed to Moloch, to gratify an unlawful passion, are a sufficient justification for our alluding to a painful and delicate subject, which should 'not even be named,' only to correct and admonish the wrong-doers.").
- The Demonic Roots of Freemasonry, Jesus Delivers, accessed 25 May 2019
- Freemasonry Explained, "Based upon research by Willie Martin", accessed 25 May 2019
- Crowley and Freemasonry, It Was Johnson, Impious Digest, accessed 25 May 2019
- Blood Ritual 3: Human Sacrifice, the Talmud, and the Moloch Problem, Come and Hear, accessed 25 May 2019