Jeremiah 7:31
And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
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(31) High places.—Not the same word as in Jeremiah 7:29, but bamoth, as in the “high places” of Baal, in Numbers 22:41; Numbers 23:3, the Bamoth-baal of Joshua 13:17. The word had become almost technical for the mounds, natural or (as in this passage) artificial, on which altars to Jehovah or to other gods were erected, and appears in 1Samuel 9:12; 1Kings 3:4; Ezekiel 20:29; Amos 7:9.

Tophet.—This appears to have been originally, not a local name, but a descriptive epithet. The word appears in Job 17:6 (“by-word” in the Authorised version) as a thing spat upon and loathed. Its use is probably therefore analogous to the scorn with which the prophets substituted bosheth, the “shameful thing,” for Baal (e.g., Jeremiah 3:24; Jeremiah 11:13). When the prediction is repeated in Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35, we have the “high places of Baal,” and “Tophet” here is obviously substituted for that name in indignant contempt. The word in Isaiah 30:33, though not identical in form (Tophteh, not Tophet), had probably the same meaning. Other etymologies give as the meaning of the word “a garden,” “a place of burning,” or “a place of drums,” i.e., a music grove, and so connect it more closely with the Molech ritual. Possibly the last was the original meaning of the name, for which, as said above, the prophets used the term of opprobrium.

The son of Hinnom.—Possibly the first recorded owner, or a local hero. The name is perpetuated in later Jewish language in Ge-henna = Ge-Hinnom = the vale of Hinnom. It was older than the Molech worship with which it became identified, and appears in the “Doomsday Book” of Israel (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16).

To burn their sons and their daughters.—The words are important as determining the character of the act more vaguely described in Jeremiah 32:35, as “making to pass through the fire.” The children were, in some cases at least, actually burnt, though often, perhaps (see Ezekiel 16:21), slain first. Horrible as the practice seems to us, it was part of the Canaanite or Phœnician worship of Molech or Malcom (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5), and had been practised by Ahaz (2Kings 16:3; 2Chronicles 28:3) and Manasseh (2Kings 21:6; 2Chronicles 33:6).

7:29-34 In token both of sorrow and of slavery, Jerusalem must be degraded, and separated from God, as she had been separated to him. The heart is the place in which God has chosen to put his name; but if sin has the innermost and uppermost place there, we pollute the temple of the Lord. The destruction of Jerusalem appears here very terrible. The slain shall be many; they having made it the place of their sin. Evil pursues sinners, even after death. Those who will not, by the grace of God, be cured of vain mirth, shall, by the justice of God, be deprived of all mirth. How many ruin their health and property without complaining, when engaged in Satan's service! May we learn to relish holy joys, and to sit loose to all others though lawful.The high places - Here, probably, not natural hills, but artificial mounts, on which the altars were erected.

Tophet (marginal reference note) is not here a proper name; as applied to Baal-worship the term is not an ordinary one, but almost unique to Jeremiah. Comparing this verse with Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35, it will be found that Baal is in those passages substituted for Tophet. Just as it is the practice of the prophets to substitute "Bosheth, shame," for Baal (see Jeremiah 3:24), so here Jeremiah uses "Tophet, an object of abhorrence" (compare Job 17:6 note), in just the same way.

Valley of the son of Hinnom - See Joshua 15:8 note.

To burn ... - The children were not burned alive, but slain first Ezekiel 16:21.

31. high places of Tophet—the altars [Horsley] of Tophet; erected to Moloch, on the heights along the south of the valley facing Zion.

burn … sons—(Ps 106:38).

commanded … not—put for, "I forbade expressly" (De 17:3; 12:31). See on [902]Jer 2:23; [903]Isa 30:33.

High places of Tophet; See Poole "Isaiah 30:33". It comes from Toph, that signifies a drum, because they did beat drums to hinder the noise of their children’s screeches, when they burnt them in sacrifice upon the altars, called here, high places, to Moloch, which is also called Melchom.

Which is in the valley of the son on Hinnom: Tophet was situate in a pleasant valley near Jerusalem, a place in the possession of the children of one Hinnom, Joshua 15:8, watered by the river of Siloe.

To burn their sons and their daughters in the fire: this most inhuman practice of burning their children, even their own bowels, to Moloch, not their sons only, but their daughters, who were most tender, the did expressly against the command and caution of God; See Poole "Deu 18:10"; having learned it of the heathen, Deu 12:30,31, the devil commanding them so to do by his oracles. They took pattern from the Samaritans where those of every nation make gods of their own, 2 Kings 17:29-31.

Neither came it into my heart; which was always so far from my approving, that I never let it come into my thought or debate, whether I should or not; or which I abhorred from my heart: he speaks herein after the manner of men: see Jeremiah 3:16 32:35And they have built the high places of Tophet,.... Where was the idol Moloch; and which place had its name, as Jarchi thinks, from the beating of drums, that the parents of the children that were burnt might not hear the cry of them: which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom; a valley near Jerusalem, and lay to the south of it, Joshua 15:8,

to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire: which was done, as Jarchi says, by putting them into the arms of the brasen image Moloch, heated hot. The account he gives of Tophet is this,

"Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved:''

but in this he is mistaken; for "Tophet" was not the name of an idol, but of a place, as is clear from this and the following verse. There is some agreement between this account of Jarchi, and that which Diodorus Siculus (z) gives of Saturn, to whom children were sacrificed by the Carthaginians; who had, he says, a brasen image of Saturn, which stretched out his hands, inclining to the earth; so that a child put upon them rolled down, and fell into a chasm full of fire:

which I commanded them not: not in my law, as the Targum; nor by any of the prophets, as Jarchi paraphrases it; he commanded them, as Kimchi observes, to burn their beasts, but not their sons and daughters. The instance of Abraham offering up Isaac will not justify it. The case of Jephthah's daughter, if sacrificed, was not by divine command. The giving of seed to Moloch, and letting any pass through the fire to him, is expressly forbidden, Leviticus 18:21,

neither came it into my heart; it was not so much as thought of by him, still less desired, and much less commanded by him. Jarchi's note is,

"though I spoke to Abraham to slay his son, it did not enter into my heart that he should slay him, but to make known his righteousness.''

(z) Bibliothec. Par. 2. l. 20. p. 756.

And they have built the high places of {q} Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I {r} commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

(q) Of Topheth, read 2Ki 23:10.

(r) But commanded the opposite, as in Le 18:21,20:3, De 18:10.

31. high places] read high place. There would not be more than one altar in Topheth. So LXX and Targ.

Topheth] This probably is not the original vocalisation (LXX Ταφέθ), though the latter cannot be determined with certainty. As Bosheth was a frequent substitute for Baal (see on Jeremiah 3:24), and as the vowels of the former word were for a similar reason given to the consonants MLK (Melech, king), in order that offerings which the more enlightened felt it shameful to connect with Israel’s Divine King (Melech) might be represented as really made to a heathen god (Molech); so here the original form of the word Topheth is thought to have been disguised for the same purpose of discredit. The etymology of the word is doubtful. Perhaps it comes from a root appearing in Aramaic in the sense of fire-place. So Rob. Sm. Rel. of the Semites, p. 377 (1894), who points out that when the term “first appears in Hebrew, the chief foreign influence was that of Damascus” (2 Kings 16). A great pit constituted the “fire-place,” where the victims were consumed. See C. B. on Isaiah 30:33, where the word is from the same root, though in a slightly different form. As to the position of Topheth see next note. It was defiled by Josiah (2 Kings 23:10) as the scene of idolatrous and cruel rites.

valley of the son of Hinnom] The majority of scholars identify it with the Wady er-Rubâbeh, running W. and S. of Jerusalem, rather than with the Tyropoeon or the Kidron valleys. The derivation and meaning of Hinnom are unknown. Possibly it was the name of a former owner. See further on Jeremiah 2:23. As to the position of Topheth in connexion with it, all that we can say with tolerable certainty is that it was near the junction of the three valleys which encompass Jerusalem, and below Siloam. See HDB. Hinnom, Valley of, and Topheth.

to burn, etc.] The law laid down that firstborn alike of men and of cattle were dedicated to Jehovah. The firstborn of men and of unclean animals were to be redeemed, those of clean animals to be offered in sacrifice (Exodus 13:2; Exodus 13:12 f., Jeremiah 22:29, Jeremiah 34:19 f.; cp. Numbers 3:46 f., Jeremiah 18:15 f.). The fact that neighbouring nations, Arabs, Phoenicians, Moabites, actually sacrificed their firstborn, together with a misinterpretation of the above passages, may have led to a belief that Jehovah meant that this should be done, and possibly Jeremiah in Jeremiah 8:8 refers to a written perversion of the law in this direction. See note there. According to Ezek. (Ezekiel 20:25) the people were left by God in this belief as a judicial punishment. (Cp. for a parallel case Ezekiel 14:9.) Ezekiel there traces the custom to wilderness days. As human sacrifices came under the category of the burnt offering, and as animals were slain before they were consumed, we may presume that the same was done in these cases. (Milton, P.L. I. 394 ff. takes the other view.)

which I, etc.] Micah 6:7 shews that in his day the question of the efficacy of such sacrifices was a practical one.

mind] mg. heart. See on ch. Jeremiah 5:21.

31, 32. For a recurrence of the substance of this passage see ch. Jeremiah 19:5 f., 11.Verse 31. - The high places of Tophet; rather, the high places of the Topheth - (on the "high places" (Hebrew bamoth) - hero probably artificial mounds to erect the altars upon, and on "the Topheth," see Commentary on 1 Kings). In the valley of the son of Hinnom. Hitzig and others would take Hinnom as a noun meaning "groaning" (Rashi, the great Jewish commentator. had already proposed this view), which is at first sight very plausible. But this name of the valley is already found in the description of the boundaries of Judah and Benin-rain in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16. To burn their sons, etc. (On the worship of Moloch (Saturn), see on Leviticus 18:21, and comp. Ezekiel 16:20, 21, from which it appears that the children were first slain before being "caused to pass through the fire.") But they have not regarded that which was foremost and most cardinal in the law. They hearkened not, sc. to my voice; and instead of walking in the ways commanded, they walked in the counsels of the stubbornness of their evil heart. בּמעצות is stat. absol., and בּשׁררוּת is co-ordinated with it in apposition, instead of being subordinated; cf. Ew. 289, c. The lxx have not seen their way to admit such a co-ordination, and so have omitted the second term; and in this, Movers, Hitz., and Graf have followed them, deleting the word as a mere gloss. As to "the stubbornness of their evil heart," see on Jeremiah 3:17. יהיוּ לאחור, they were backwards, not forwards, i.e., they so walked as to turn to me the back and not the face. היה with ל expresses the direction or aim of a thing. The subject to these clauses is the Israelites from the time of Moses down to that of Jeremiah. This is shown by the continuation of the same idea in Jeremiah 7:25 and Jeremiah 7:26. From the time the fathers were led out of Egypt till the present time, God has with anxious care been sending prophets to exhort and warn them; but they have not hearkened, they have made their neck hard, i.e., were stiffnecked, and did worse than their fathers, i.e., each succeeding generation did more wickedly than that which preceded it. On למן היּום, (the period) from the the remarks on Haggai 2:18. The ל gives to the mention of the time the value of an independent clause, to which that which is said regarding that time is joined by ו consec. יום is adverbial accusative: by the day, i.e., daily, in early morn, i.e., with watchful care sending (on this expression, see at Jeremiah 7:13). יום acquires this sense, not in virtue of its standing for יום יום, but by reason of its connection with the two infinitives absoll.
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