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Smith's Bible Dictionary

The same as Molech. MOLECH

Easton's Bible Dictionary
King, the name of the national god of the Ammonites, to whom children were sacrificed by fire. He was the consuming and destroying and also at the same time the purifying fire. In Amos 5:26, "your Moloch" of the Authorized Version is "your king" in the Revised Version (Comp. Acts 7:43). Solomon (1 Kings 11:7) erected a high place for this idol on the Mount of Olives, and from that time till the days of Josiah his worship continued (2 Kings 23:10, 13). In the days of Jehoahaz it was partially restored, but after the Captivity wholly disappeared. He is also called Molech (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5, etc.), Milcom (1 Kings 11:5, 33, etc.), and Malcham (Zephaniah 1:5). This god became Chemosh among the Moabites.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The fire god of the Ammonites in Canaan, to whom human sacrifices were offered; Molech. Also applied figuratively.

2. (n.) A spiny Australian lizard (Moloch horridus). The horns on the head and numerous spines on the body give it a most formidable appearance.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

mo'-lek, mo'-lok (ha-molekh, always with the article, except in 1 Kings 11:7; Septuagint ho Moloch, sometimes also Molchom, Melchol; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Moloch):

1. The Name

2. The Worship in Old Testament History

3. The Worship in the Prophets

4. Nature of the Worship

5. Origin and Extent of the Worship


1. The Name:

The name of a heathen divinity whose worship figures largely in the later history of the kingdom of Judah. As the national god of the Ammonites, he is known as "Milcom" (1 Kings 11:5, 7), or "Malcam" ("Malcan" is an alternative reading in 2 Samuel 12:30, 31; compare Jeremiah 49:1, 3; Zechariah 1:5, where the Revised Version margin reads "their king"). The use of basileus, and archon, as a translation of the name by the Septuagint suggests that it may have been originally the Hebrew word for "king," melekh. Molech is obtained from melekh by the substitution of the vowel points of Hebrew bosheth, signifying "shame." From the obscure and difficult passage, Amos 5:26, the Revised Version (British and American) has removed "your Moloch" and given "your king," but Septuagint had here translated "Moloch," and from the Septuagint it found its way into the Acts (7:43), the only occurrence of the name in the New Testament.

2. The Worship in Old Testament History:

In the Levitical ordinances delivered to the Israelites by Moses there are stern prohibitions of Molech-worship (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5). Parallel to these prohibitions, although the name of the god is not mentioned, are those of the Deuteronomic Code where the abominations of the Canaanites are forbidden, and the burning of their sons and daughters in the fire (to Molech) is condemned as the climax of their wickedness (Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:10-13). The references to Malcam, and to David's causing the inhabitants of Rabbath Ammon to pass through the brick kiln (2 Samuel 12:30, 31), are not sufficiently clear to found upon, because of the uncertainty of the readings. Solomon, under the influence of his idolatrous wives, built high places for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom, the abomination of the children of Ammon. See CHEMOSH. Because of this apostasy it was intimated by the prophet Ahijah, that the kingdom was to be rent out of the hand of Solomon, and ten tribes given to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:31-33). These high places survived to the time of Josiah, who, among his other works of religious reformation, destroyed and defiled them, filling their places with the bones of men (2 Kings 23:12-14). Molech-worship had evidently received a great impulse from Ahaz, who, like Ahab of Israel, was a supporter of foreign religions (2 Kings 16:12). He also "made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations, whom Yahweh cast out from before the children of Israel" (2 Kings 16:3). His grandson Manasseh, so far from following in the footsteps of his father Hezekiah, who had made great reforms in the worship, reared altars for Baal, and besides other abominations which he practiced, made his son to pass through the fire (2 Kings 21:6). The chief site of this worship, of which Ahaz and Manasseh were the promoters, was Topheth in the Valley of Hinnom, or, as it is also called, the Valley of the Children, or of the Son of Hinnom, lying to the Southwest of Jerusalem (see GEHENNA). Of Josiah's reformation it is said that "he defiled Topheth.... that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech" (2 Kings 23:10).

3. The Worship in the Prophets:

Even Josiah's thorough reformation failed to extirpate the Molech-worship, and it revived and continued till the destruction of Jerusalem, as we learn from the prophets of the time. From the beginning, the prophets maintained against it a loud and persistent protest. The testimony of Amos (1:15; 5:26) is ambiguous, but most of the ancient versions for malkam, "their king," in the former passage, read milkom, the national god of Ammon (see Davidson, in the place cited.). Isaiah was acquainted with Topheth and its abominations (Isaiah 30:33; Isaiah 57:5). Over against his beautiful and lofty description of spiritual religion, Micah sets the exaggerated zeal of those who ask in the spirit of the Molech-worshipper: "Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (Micah 6:6). That Molech-worship had increased in the interval may account for the frequency and the clearness of the references to it in tile later Prophets. In Jeremiah we find the passing of sons and daughters through the fire to Molech associated with the building of "the high places of Baal, which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom" (32:35; compare 7:31;; 19:5;). In his oracle against the children of Ammon, the same prophet, denouncing evil against their land, predicts (almost in the very words of Amos above) that Malcam shall go into captivity, his priests and his princes together (Jeremiah 49:1, 3). Ezekiel, speaking to the exiles in Babylon, refers to the practice of causing children to pass through the fire to heathen divinities as long established, and proclaims the wrath of God against it (Ezekiel 16:20; Ezekiel 20:26, 31; 23:37). That this prophet regarded the practice as among the "statutes that were not good, and ordinances wherein they should not live" (Ezekiel 20:25) given by God to His people, by way of deception and judicial punishment, as some hold, is highly improbable and inconsistent with the whole prophetic attitude toward it. Zephaniah, who prophesied to the men who saw the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, denounces God's judgments upon the worshippers of false gods (Zechariah 1:5). He does not directly charge his countrymen with having forsaken Yahweh for Malcam, but blames them, because worshipping Him they also swear to Malcam, like those Assyrian colonists in Samaria who feared Yahweh and served their own gods, or like those of whom Ezekiel elsewhere speaks who, the same day on which they had slain their children to their idols, entered the sanctuary of Yahweh to profane it (Ezekiel 23:39). The captivity in Babylon put an end to Molech-worship, since it weaned the people from all their idolatries. We do not hear of it in the post-exilic Prophets, and, in the great historical psalm of Israel's rebelliousness and God's deliverances (Psalm 106), it is only referred to in retrospect (Psalm 106:37, 38).

4. The Nature of the Worship:

When we come to consider the nature of this worship it is remarkable how few details are given regarding it in Scripture. The place where it was practiced from the days of Ahaz and Manasseh was the Valley of Hinnom where Topheth stood, a huge altar-pyre for the burning of the sacrificial victims. There is no evidence connecting the worship with the temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel's vision of sun-worshippers in the temple is purely ideal (Ezekiel 8). A priesthood is spoken of as attached to the services (Jeremiah 49:3; compare Zephaniah 1:4, 5). The victims offered to the divinity were not burnt alive, but were killed as sacrifices, and then presented as burnt offerings. "To pass through the fire" has been taken to mean a lustration or purification of the child by fire, not involving death. But the prophets clearly speak of slaughter and sacrifice, and of high places built to burn the children in the fire as burnt offerings (Jeremiah 19:5 Ezekiel 16:20, 21).

The popular conception, molded for English readers largely by Milton's "Moloch, horrid king" as described in Paradise Lost, Book I, is derived from the accounts given in late Latin and Greek writers, especially the account which Diodorus Siculus gives in his History of the Carthaginian Kronos or Moloch. The image of Moloch was a human figure with a bull's head and outstretched arms, ready to receive the children destined for sacrifice. The image of metal was heated red hot by a fire kindled within, and the children laid on its arms rolled off into the fiery pit below. In order to drown the cries of the victims, flutes were played, and drums were beaten; and mothers stood by without tears or sobs, to give the impression of the voluntary character of the offering (see Rawlinson's Phoenicia, 113, for fuller details).

On the question of the origin of this worship there is great variety of views. Of a non-Sem origin there is no evidence; and there is no trace of human sacrifices in the old Babylonian religion. That it prevailed widely among Semitic peoples is clear.

5. Origin and Extent of the Worship:

While Milcom or Malcam is peculiarly the national god of the Ammonites, as is Chemosh of the Moabites, the name Molech or Melech was recognized among the Phoenicians, the Philistines, the Arameans, and other Semitic peoples, as a name for the divinity they worshipped from a very early time. That it was common among the Canaanites when the Israelites entered the land is evident from the fact that it was among the abominations from which they were to keep themselves free. That it was identical at first with the worship of Yahweh, or that the prophets and the best men of the nation ever regarded it as the national worship of Israel, is a modern theory which does not appear to the present writer to have been substantiated. It has been inferred from Abraham's readiness to offer up Isaac at the command of God, from the story of Jephthah and his daughter, and even from the sacrifice of Hiel the Bethelite (1 Kings 16:34), that human sacrifice to Yahweh was an original custom in Israel, and that therefore the God of Israel was no other than Moloch, or at all events a deity of similar character. But these incidents are surely too slender a foundation to support such a theory. "The fundamental idea of the heathen rite was the same as that which lay at the foundation of Hebrew ordinance: the best to God; but by presenting to us this story of the offering of Isaac, and by presenting it in this precise form, the writer simply teaches the truth, taught by all the prophets, that to obey is better than sacrifice-in other words that the God worshipped in Abraham's time was a God who did not delight in destroying life, but in saving and sanctifying it" (Robertson, Early Religion of Israel, 254). While there is no ground for identifying Yahweh with Moloch, there are good grounds for seeing a community of origin between Moloch and Baal. The name, the worship, and the general characteristics are so similar that it is natural to assign them a common place of origin in Phoenicia. The fact that Moloch-worship reached the climax of its abominable cruelty in the Phoenician colonies of which Carthage was the center shows that it had found among that people a soil suited to its peculiar genius.


Wolf Baudissin, "Moloch" in PRE3; G. F. Moore, "Moloch" in EB; Robertson, Early Religion of Israel, 241-65; Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, 352;; Buchanan Gray, Hebrew Proper Names, 138;.

T. Nicol.


mo'-lok: A deity of the Ammonites, like the planet Saturn, a representative of the sun-god in the particular aspect of a god of time.


3434. Moloch -- Moloch, the god of the Ammonites
... 3433, 3434. Moloch. 3435 . Moloch, the god of the Ammonites. Part of
Speech: Proper Noun, Indeclinable Transliteration: Moloch ...
// - 6k

Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
... They called the fire Moloch, which means simply the king; and they worshipped this
fire-king, and made idols of him, and offered human sacrifices to him. ...
/.../kingsley/the gospel of the pentateuch/sermon xiii korah dathan and.htm

Costly and Fatal Help
... He welcomed Baal, Moloch, Rimmon, and many more with an indiscriminate eagerness
that would have been ludicrous if it had not been tragical. ...
/.../maclaren/expositions of holy scripture g/costly and fatal help.htm

... is simply monstrous. No wonder unbelief is rampant. Believe in Moloch if
you will, but call him Moloch, not Justice. Be sure that ...
// sermons/righteousness.htm

God's People in the Furnace
... Men passed through the fire in the days of the kings of Israel"when they passed
through the fire to Moloch; but Moloch's fire did not purify or benefit them ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 1 1855/gods people in the furnace.htm

A Blast of the Trumpet against False Peace
... image. There sits the blood-delighting Moloch. He is heated hot. ... bowels? Ah,
no, the priests of Moloch will prevent the appeal of nature! ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 6 1860/a blast of the trumpet.htm

The Doxology
... cruel sacrifices of human beings; so that they offered their sons and their daughters
to devils, and burned their own children in the fire to Moloch, the cruel ...
/.../ for the times/sermon x the doxology.htm

... Penalties for Moloch worship, soothsaying, cursing of parents and unchastity (xx.),
with a hortatory conclusion, xx.22-24, similar to xviii.24-30. Ch. xix. ...
/.../ to the old testament/leviticus.htm

Knox in Scotland: Lethington: Mary of Guise: 1555-1556
... "So thought they that offered their children unto Moloch," retorted the
reformer. ... Paul than with human sacrifices to Moloch! {66}. ...
/.../lang/john knox and the reformation/chapter vii knox in scotland .htm

Mongrel Religion
... holy Jehovah, and therefore learned from his law the command, "Thou shalt not kill,"
yet still they passed their children through the fire to Moloch, and did ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 27 1881/mongrel religion.htm

Acts vii. 35
... Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures
which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon." (v ...
/.../chrysostom/homilies on acts and romans/homily xvii acts vii 35.htm

Moloch (2 Occurrences)
... In Amos 5:26, "your Moloch" of the Authorized Version is "your king" in the Revised
Version (Comp. ... 2. (n.) A spiny Australian lizard (Moloch horridus). ...
/m/moloch.htm - 21k

Moloch's (1 Occurrence)
... Multi-Version Concordance Moloch's (1 Occurrence). Acts 7:43 Yes, you lifted
up Moloch's tent and the Star of the God Rephan--the ...
/m/moloch's.htm - 6k

Molech (16 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary (n.) The fire god of the Ammonites, to whom human sacrifices
were offered; Moloch. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. MOLECH; MOLOCH. ...
/m/molech.htm - 24k

MOST PRONE 1. Chiun, Certainly the Planet Saturn 2. Saturn or Moloch Worship 3 ...
/a/astrology.htm - 38k

Remphan (1 Occurrence)
... "Rephan," and this name is adopted by Luke in his narrative of the Acts. These names
represent the star-god Saturn or Moloch. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. ...
/r/remphan.htm - 7k

Chemosh (8 Occurrences)
... 9. Ethical Contrast LITERATURE 1. Moabites, the People of Chemosh: The national
God of the Moabites, as Baal of the Zidonians, or Milcom (Moloch, Malcam) of ...
/c/chemosh.htm - 20k

Philistines (224 Occurrences)
... We have 9 Philistine names in the Old Testament, all of which seem to be Semitic,
including Abimelech-"Moloch is my father"-(Genesis 20:2-18; Genesis 21:22-32 ...
/p/philistines.htm - 75k

Homage (51 Occurrences)
... Acts 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tent of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan,
the forms which ye made to do homage to them; and I will transport you beyond ...
/h/homage.htm - 21k

Gehenna (12 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary. (n.) The valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, where some
of the Israelites sacrificed their children to Moloch, which, on this account ...
/g/gehenna.htm - 15k

Idols (186 Occurrences)
... Idols (186 Occurrences). Acts 7:43 You took up the tabernacle of Moloch, the
star of your god Rephan, the figures which you made to worship. ...
/i/idols.htm - 37k

Bible Concordance
Moloch (2 Occurrences)

Acts 7:43 You took up the tabernacle of Moloch, the star of your god Rephan, the figures which you made to worship. I will carry you away beyond Babylon.'

Amos 5:26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.



Related Terms

Moloch's (1 Occurrence)

Molech (16 Occurrences)


Remphan (1 Occurrence)

Chemosh (8 Occurrences)

Philistines (224 Occurrences)

Homage (51 Occurrences)

Gehenna (12 Occurrences)

Idols (186 Occurrences)

Figures (11 Occurrences)

Forms (24 Occurrences)

Farther (33 Occurrences)

Tophet (8 Occurrences)

Transport (18 Occurrences)

Rompha (1 Occurrence)

Rephan (1 Occurrence)

Dwelling (340 Occurrences)

Malcam (6 Occurrences)


Chiun (1 Occurrence)

Calf (39 Occurrences)

Crime (45 Occurrences)

Crimes (22 Occurrences)

Ammonites (97 Occurrences)

Ahaz (42 Occurrences)

Ammon (100 Occurrences)

Shrine (34 Occurrences)

Hinnom (11 Occurrences)

Idolatry (14 Occurrences)

Exile (101 Occurrences)

Molten (41 Occurrences)

Remove (173 Occurrences)

Bow (248 Occurrences)

Isaac (127 Occurrences)

Sacrifice (300 Occurrences)

Stone (290 Occurrences)

Tent (333 Occurrences)

Lifted (466 Occurrences)

Beyond (209 Occurrences)

Yea (867 Occurrences)

Moabite (13 Occurrences)

Carry (246 Occurrences)

Yes (511 Occurrences)

Along (500 Occurrences)

Human (133 Occurrences)

Star (16 Occurrences)



Images (158 Occurrences)

Samaritan (8 Occurrences)

Worship (332 Occurrences)

Tabernacle (333 Occurrences)

Babylon (270 Occurrences)


Religion (23 Occurrences)

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