Do not pass your children through the fire to Molech

The Literal Commandment

You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 18:21)

 

The literal commandment is that we should not give any of our offspring (children) to offer them to Molech.

Molech (also called Moloch) was a god of the ancient Phoenicians.  Worship of Molech usually involved passing children through a fire built in the lap of a Molech idol.  In some rabbinic accounts, the idol was hollow and was divided into seven compartments, in one of which they put flour, in the second turtle-doves, in the third a ewe, in the fourth a ram, in the fifth a calf, in the sixth an ox, and in the seventh a child, which were all burned together by heating the statue inside.1

In mild cases the child was simply passed through the fire with little to no injury.  In extreme cases the child was completely burned alive as a sacrifice to Molech.

This Leviticus passage specifically mentions Molech while a related passage in Deuteronomy 18:10 simply prohibits "passing [one's] son or daughter through the fire".  2 Kings 16:3 and 2 Kings 23:10 both mention this.

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

Pictures of Messiah

G-d told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Abraham was obedient and almost went through with the deed but the angel of the Lord interrupted him and G-d provided a ram instead. Before they proceeded up the hill where Isaac was to be sacrificed Abraham himself stated that "G-d will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering." (Genesis 22:8).

Abraham said that G-d would provide a lamb but G-d did not provide a lamb... He provided a ram.

There is only one Lamb of G-d... the One who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29): the Messiah.

This commandment alludes to the perfect sacrifice of the perfect Son and instructs us that we should not try to falsely emulate this work by offering our children to false gods.

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Messiah did not have any offspring to pass through the fire to Molech and so was unable to violate this commandment.

 

Traditional Observance

This commandment was repeated in Deuteronomy 18:10:

"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

 

Traditional observance is the literal fulfillment: not passing children through the fire to Molech. It is also found in a figurative observance: not giving our children over to idolatrous ways or idolatrous instruction (perhaps in certain schools or involving them in certain activities).

The central issue of this commandment is a prohibition of involvement with idolatry.

 

Other Notes

We are able to fulfill this commandment today and we should not pass our children through the fire to Molech.

In a similar way, we should also not surrender them to any teaching or activity that is idolatrous.

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. (Jonah 2:8 ESV)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5 ESV)

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corintians 10:14)

 

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Footnotes

1. Moloch, Wikipedia, taken 7/2/2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch [back]

Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 49
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 1
  • Mishneh Torah Book Knowledge
  • Mishneh Torah Category 4- Idolatry and Gentile Customs
  • Reference Leviticus 18:21
  • Scripture Book Leviticus
  • Chapter 18
  • Verse 21
  • English You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.
  • Hebrew כא וּמִזַּרְעֲךָ לֹא-תִתֵּן, לְהַעֲבִיר לַמֹּלֶךְ; וְלֹא תְחַלֵּל אֶת-שֵׁם אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֲנִי יְהוָה.
  • Greek 21 καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ σπέρματός σου οὐ δώσεις λατρεύειν ἄρχοντι καὶ οὐ βεβηλώσεις τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ἅγιον· ἐγὼ κύριος.
  • Parashah 29- Acharei Mot
  • Positive/Negative Negative
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 208
  • Sef. Hach. Command Not to give any of our children to the idol molech
  • Category Idolatry
  • We can fullfill today Yes

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