|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:4-14 What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found. Josiah had reigned eighteen years, and had himself set the people a good example, and kept up religion according to the Divine law; yet, when he came to search for idolatry, the depth and extent were very great. Both common history, and the records of God's word, teach, that all the real godliness or goodness ever found on earth, is derived from the new-creating Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Verse 10. - And he defiled Topheth. "To-pheth" or "Tophet" was the name given to the place in the valley of Hinnom where the sacrifices were offered to Moloch. The root of the word is thought by some to be taph (תַּף), "a drum," because the cries of the children burnt there were drowned by the beating of drums. Others suggest as the root, tuph (תּוּף), "to spit," because the place was "spat at" by the orthodox. But Gesenius and Bottcher derive it from an Aryan root, taph, or tap, "to burn," whence Greek θάπτειν τέφρα, Latin tepidus, Mod. Persian taftan, Sanskrit tap, etc., and regard the meaning as simply "the place of burning" (see the comment on Isaiah 30:33). Which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom. The valley of Hinnom, or of the sons of Hinnom, is generally allowed to be that which sweeps round the more western of the two hills whereon Jerusalem was built, in a direction at first south and then east, uniting itself with the Kidron valley a little to the south of Ophel. The origin of the name is uncertain; but it is most likely that the Beni-Hinnom were a tribe of Canaanites, settled on this side of Jerusalem in the time of Joshua (Joshua 15:8). The "valley" is a ravine, deep and narrow, with steep, rocky sides. When the Moloch-worship first began in it we cannot say; but it was probably before the time of Solomon, who built a high place for Moloch (1 Kings 11:11), on one of the heights by which the valley is enclosed. (On the horrible profanations of the Moloch-worship, see Jeremiah 7:31, 32; Jeremiah 19:4-13; Jeremiah 32:35.) After the Captivity, the valley of Hinnom - Ge-Hinnom - was reckoned an accursed and abominable place, a sort of earthly counterpart of the place of final punishment, which. thence derived its name of "Geheuna" (Γέεννα); (see Matthew 5:22, 29, etc.). That no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Moloch (see the comment on 2 Kings 16:3).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he defiled Topheth,.... A place so called, as is generally thought, from the beating of drums or timbrels in it, that the shrieks of the infants sacrificed here to Molech might not be heard by their parents, and they repent of delivering them to him, and take them away. So the Indians in India now, at the burning of wives with their deceased husbands, attend them with drums and trumpets; and at such time as the fire is put to the wood, the drums and trumpets make a terrible noise for fear their cries should be heard (b); See Gill on Isaiah 30:33, Jeremiah 7:31 this he defiled by casting any sort of filth or unclean thing into it, in contempt of the idolatry there committed, and to alienate the minds of men from it:
which is the valley of the children of Hinnom; a valley that belonged to the posterity of a man of this name, near to Jerusalem, see Joshua 15:8, hence the Greek word "geenna" for hell, in the New Testament:
that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech; which piece of idolatry used to be committed in this place.
(b) Agreement of Customs between the East Indians and Jews, art. 25. p. 85, 86.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Topheth—so called from Toph—a "drum." It is the prevailing opinion among Jewish writers that the cries of the terrified children made to pass through the fire in that place of idolatrous horror were drowned by the sound of that instrument.
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