Leviticus 18:21
And you shall not let any of your seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(21) And thou shalt not let any of thy seed.—Literally, And thou shalt not give any of thy seed. Those who violate the sanctity of the marriage ties will readily sacrifice their children. Hence the prohibition to offer up their children to idols follows the law about unchastity.

Pass through the fire to Molech.—Literally, to let it pass to Molech, that is, to put the child into the hands of the figure of Molech, when it fell into the fire which was kindled in the hollow statue of this idol. Molech, also called Milcom, which denotes king, is described as the hideous idol, or “the abomination of the Ammonites” (1Kings 11:5; 1Kings 11:11). The following graphic description has been handed down traditionally of this idol and its worship :—“Our sages of blessed memory say that whilst all other idols had temples in Jerusalem, Molech had his temple outside Jerusalem, in a place by itself. It was a brass and hollow image, bull-headed, with arms stretched out like a human being who opens his hands to receive something from his neighbour. Its temple had seven compartments, into which the offerers went according to their respective gifts. If one offered a fowl, he went into the first compartment; if a sheep, into the second; if a lamb, into the third; if a ram, into the fourth; if a bullock, into the fifth; if an ox, into the sixth; and if he offered his son, he was conducted into the seventh compartment. He first kissed the image, as it is written, ‘let the sacrificers of men kiss the calf’ (Hosea 13:2), whereupon a fire was kindled in Molech till its arms became red hot; the child was then put into its hands, and drums were beaten to produce tremendous noises so as to prevent the shrieks of the child reaching the father’s ears, lest he should be moved with pity towards his offspring.” It was to this idol that Solomon erected a temple on the southern side of Mount Olivet (2Kings 23:13). This idolatrous worship was punished with death by stoning. (See Leviticus 20:2.)

Neither shalt thou profane.—Better, And thou shalt not profane, that is, by causing other nations to say that the Israelites regard their God as an inferior deity, and hence offer unto him animals, whilst to Molech they sacrifice their own children. Hence any act which is done in violation of his commands, or misrepresents God, or by which He is put on a par with other gods, is called “profaning the name of God.” (See Leviticus 19:12; Leviticus 20:3; Leviticus 21:6; Leviticus 22:2; Leviticus 22:32, &c.)

Leviticus 18:21. Pass through the fire to Molech — In the Hebrew it is only pass through to Molech. But though the word fire be not in the original, it is reasonably supplied from other places, where it is expressed, as Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 23:10. Molech, called also Milcom, was the idol of the Ammonites. The name signifies king, or regal dominion, and is thought to denote the sun, the supreme, and probably the first object of idolatrous worship. Or, as others, the planet Saturn; for it appears from Amos 5:26, that Molech represented one of the celestial luminaries. Now, as fire is a fit emblem of the sun, the causing their seed to pass through the fire is thought to have been a rite of purification whereby parents consecrated their children to that deity, either by waving them over the fire, or by making them walk between two fires, or jump over a fire. This is the opinion of many able interpreters. But Selden, who has given a large account of this idol, and of the rites with which it was worshipped, shows, from several testimonies, that the Phœnicians, and other nations in the neighbourhood of Judea, actually sacrificed their children, in times of great calamity, to this blood-thirsty demon. Accordingly this phrase of causing them to pass through the fire, signifies sacrificing them in the following horrid manner, Ezekiel 16:20-21. Fagius informs us, that the image of Molech was of brass, contrived with seven cells or receptacles, probably representing the seven planets, the first for receiving an offering of flour; the second of turtle-doves; the third for a ewe; the fourth for a ram; the fifth for a calf; the sixth for an ox; the seventh for a child. who, being shut up in this cell, as in a furnace, was therein burned to death, while the people danced about the idol, and beat timbrels, that the cries of the tormented infant might not be heard. We have authority from the sacred writings to believe that these nations actually sacrificed their children to that grim idol, in some such horrid manner. Compare 2 Chronicles 28:3, and Jeremiah 7:31, with Jeremiah 32:35; Jeremiah 19:5; Psalm 106:37-38, and Ezekiel 16:20-21. In all which places, to pass through the fire, signifies the consuming of the victim by fire. And Le Clerc ingeniously conjectures, that this phrase, passing through to Molech, was invented by the impious priests, in order to convey a softer idea of that horrid rite. We may further observe, that there was a place near Jerusalem, where this horrid custom was observed. It was called the valley of the sons of Hinnom, (2 Chronicles 28:3,) from the yelling of the sacrificed infants. And for the same reason it had the name of Tophet, (2 Kings 23:10,) from Toph, a tabret or drum, with which they used to drown the dreadful outcries of the unhappy victims. Neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God — This idolatry in the Israelites would be the foulest and most profane renunciation of the true GOD, to whom they and their posterity were solemnly devoted, and at the same time it would give occasion to strangers to blaspheme the name of Jehovah, as if he authorized such barbarities in his worshippers.18:1-30 Unlawful marriages and fleshly lusts. - Here is a law against all conformity to the corrupt usages of the heathen. Also laws against incest, against brutal lusts, and barbarous idolatries; and the enforcement of these laws from the ruin of the Canaanites. God here gives moral precepts. Close and constant adherence to God's ordinances is the most effectual preservative from gross sin. The grace of God only will secure us; that grace is to be expected only in the use of the means of grace. Nor does He ever leave any to their hearts' lusts, till they have left him and his services.Molech - See the note at Leviticus 20:2-5. 21. thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, &c.—Molech, or Moloch, which signifies "king," was the idol of the Ammonites. His statue was of brass, and rested on a pedestal or throne of the same metal. His head, resembling that of a calf, was adorned with a crown, and his arms were extended in the attitude of embracing those who approached him. His devotees dedicated their children to him; and when this was to be done, they heated the statue to a high pitch of intensity by a fire within, and then the infants were either shaken over the flames, or passed through the ignited arms, by way of lustration to ensure the favor of the pretended deity. The fire-worshippers asserted that all children who did not undergo this purifying process would die in infancy; and the influence of this Zabian superstition was still so extensively prevalent in the days of Moses, that the divine lawgiver judged it necessary to prohibit it by an express statute.

neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God—by giving it to false or pretended divinities; or, perhaps, from this precept standing in close connection with the worship of Molech, the meaning rather is, Do not, by devoting your children to him, give foreigners occasion to blaspheme the name of your God as a cruel and sanguinary deity, who demands the sacrifice of human victims, and who encourages cruelty in his votaries.

Pass through the fire this was done two ways; either,

1. By burning them in the fire, of which see 2 Kings 3:27 2 Chronicles 28:3 Psalm 106:37,38 Isa 57:5.

Or, 2. By making them pass between two great fires, which was a kind of illustration or consecration of them to that god; which latter seems to be here meant. See Poole "Deu 18:10", where the word fire, here understood, is expressed.

To Molech, or, Moloch; called also Milcom; an idol chiefly of the Ammonites, as appears from 1 Kings 11:7 2 Kings 23:13 Jeremiah 49:1,3. This seems to be the Saturn of the heathens, to whom especially children and men were sacrificed. This is mentioned, because the neighbours of Israel were most infected with this idolatry, and therefore they are particularly cautioned against it, though under this one instance all other idols and acts, or kinds of idolatry, are manifestly comprehended and forbidden.

Neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God; either by joining him with, or by forsaking him for, such a base and bloody idol, whereby the name, honour, and service of God would be horribly defiled, and exposed to the scorn of the heathen, as if he were but one of the same kind with their mongrel deities. And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech,.... The name of an image or idol, according to Aben Ezra, who observes, that their wise men interpret it as a general name for everyone whom they made to reign over them; and it is right, he says, that it is the abomination of the children of Ammon, and so the same with Milcom, 1 Kings 11:5; and with Baal, as appears from Jeremiah 32:35; and they are both of much the same signification, the one signifies a king, the other a lord; and perhaps is the same with the Melicarthus of Sanchoniatho (y), who is also Hercules; to whom Pliny says (z) that the Phoenicians offered human sacrifices every year: of Molech; see Gill on Jeremiah 7:31, Amos 1:13; by "seed" is meant children and offspring; and because the word "fire" is not in the original text, some, as Aben Ezra observes, explain the phrase, "let to pass through", of their causing them to pass from the law of God to the religion of Molech, or of devoting them to his service and worship; but the word "fire" is rightly supplied, as it may be from Deuteronomy 18:10; and the same writer says, the phrase to pass through is the same as to burn; but though this they sometimes did, even burn their infants, and sacrificed them to idols, 2 Chronicles 28:3; yet this seems to be something short of that, and to be done in the manner, as Jarchi and other Jewish writers (a) relate; who say, the father delivered his son to the priests (of Molech) and they made two great fires, and caused the son to pass on foot between the two fires, which was a kind of a lustration, and so of a dedication of them to the idol; though it must be owned that both were done; yea, that both the phrases of passing through the fire, and of burning, are used promiscuously of the same, see 2 Kings 16:3; compared with 2 Chronicles 28:3 and also Ezekiel 16:20; and they might be both done at different times, or the one previous and in order to the other; and perhaps they might cause the child so often and so long to pass through the fire, as that at last it was burnt and destroyed:

neither shall thou profane the name of thy God; who had given them children, and to whom they ought to have devoted them, and in whose service they should have trained them up to the honour of his name; but instead of that profaned it, by the above idolatrous and cruel usages:

I am the Lord; who would avenge such a profanation of his name.

(y) Apud, Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p. 38. (z) Nat. Hist. l. 36. c. 5. (a) Ben Melech in loc. Kimchii Sepher Shorash. rad.

And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to {l} Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

(l) Which was an idol of the Ammonites, to whom they burned and sacrificed their children, 2Ki 23:10. This seemed to be the chief and principal of all idols: and as the Jews write, was of a great stature, and hollow within, having seven places or chambers within him: one was to receive meal that was offered: another turtle doves: the third, a sheep: the fourth, a ram: the fifth a calf: the sixth an ox: the seventh a child. This idols face was like a calf: his hands were ever stretched out to receive gifts: his priests were called Chemarims, 2Ki 23:5, Ho 10:5, Zep 1:4.

21. A more suitable position for this precept would be at the end of the laws in Leviticus 18:7-23. It occurs in a developed form in Leviticus 20:2-5. Its sudden interposition may be accounted for by remembering the condemnation of idolatry under the figure of unfaithfulness to the marriage tie (cp. the expressions in Leviticus 20:5 a), see Jeremiah 3:1 ff. For the worship of Molech (Milcom), the god of the Ammonites, see Barnes (C.B.) on 1 Kings 11:5.Verse 21. - The third prohibition is, Thou shall not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech. The words the fire are properly inserted, though not expressed in the original (cf. Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 22:10). What was the nature and purpose of the idolatrous rite in question is, however, uncertain. It is generally assumed that reference is made to the practice of offering children in sacrifice to Molech, Deuteronomy 12:31, Ezekiel 16:20, and Psalm 106:37 being quoted in support of that view. But it is by no means certain that this was the case. It might have been a rite by which children were dedicated to Molech - a baptism by fire, not resulting in the death of the child. Its mention here, in close connection with carnal sins, has led some to regard it as an impure rite; but this is a mistaken inference, for the prohibition of adultery naturally suggests the prohibition of a spiritual unfaithfulness. That it was some kind of idolatrous ceremony is shown by the addition of the words, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God. But if the children were burnt to death in honour of the idol, from the beginning, we should expect to find a notice of the fact in less ambiguous language than the expression, pass through the fire, conveys, earlier than the days of Ahaz. It is easy to imagine that what began as a dedication ceremony may have become converted into an absolute sacrifice, retaining still its original designation. Molech was a Canaanitish and Phoenician deity, the name meaning King, just as Baal means Lord (see Selden, 'De Diis Syris,' 1:6). Jarchi, quoted by Wordsworth, describes the idol as "made of brass, having the face of an ox, with arms stretched out, in which the child was placed and burnt with fire, while the priests were beating drums, in order to drown the noise of its shrieks, lest the fathers might be moved with pity thereby." The place where the children were offered, in the later period of the Jewish history, was the valley of Hinnom (Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 32:35; 2 Kings 23:10). Sexual connection with a daughter-in-law, a son's wife, is called תּבל in Leviticus 20:12, and threatened with death to both the parties concerned. תּבל, from בּלל to mix, to confuse, signifies a sinful mixing up or confusing of the divine ordinances by unnatural unchastity, like the lying of a woman with a beast, which is the only other connection in which the word occurs (Leviticus 18:23).
Leviticus 18:21 Interlinear
Leviticus 18:21 Parallel Texts

Leviticus 18:21 NIV
Leviticus 18:21 NLT
Leviticus 18:21 ESV
Leviticus 18:21 NASB
Leviticus 18:21 KJV

Leviticus 18:21 Bible Apps
Leviticus 18:21 Parallel
Leviticus 18:21 Biblia Paralela
Leviticus 18:21 Chinese Bible
Leviticus 18:21 French Bible
Leviticus 18:21 German Bible

Bible Hub
Leviticus 18:20
Top of Page
Top of Page