Moloch (religion)

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Moloch is the biblical name for Phoenician - Canaanite sacrificial rites , which, according to biblical tradition, provided for the sacrifice of children through fire.

Occurrence and meaning

The word Moloch is the Greek description of the Hebrew מֹלֶך ( molech ). In the book of Jeremiah , Moloch is associated with Tofet , another term for human sacrifices offered in the Ben-Hinnom valley ( Jer 7:31  EU ). According to Otto Eißfeldt's investigations , molk was originally the technical and cultic name for a fire victim. In the biblical tradition it was only reinterpreted as the name of God with the Deuteronomistic editing . Similar sacrificial cultic names ( molk , molchomor ) are used for Punic .

In the Old Testament the name Moloch is in Lev 18.21  EU , 20.2–5 EU ; 2 Kings 23.10  EU and Jer 32.35  EU . The word also occurs in 1 Kings 11.7  EU , where the reading Milkom ( ... for Milkom, the idol of the Ammonites ) is adopted, which is in the corresponding place in some ancient Greek translations. In all references, the word always appears in the fixed phrase "offer child sacrifice to Moloch".

In the New Testament the name Moloch appears in Acts 7.43  EU in connection with an incident from the Old Testament.

Rabbinical tradition

In the rabbinical tradition, "Moloch" was represented as a bronze statue that was heated with fire. The biblical-rabbinical tradition of this human sacrifice has often been taken up again by commentators and brought in connection with the sacrifices of children for Kronos-Baal in Carthage reported by ancient Greek and Latin authors .

Literary adaptations

In the middle, a bronze statue of the Canaanite , Ammonite and Phoenician god Moloch from the film Cabiria by Giovanni Pastrone in the "Museo nazionale del Cinema" (Turin)

A literary adaptation of this victim complex was undertaken by Gustave Flaubert in a chapter of his novel Salammbô and included in Giovanni Pastrone's film Cabiria .

In John Milton's epic Paradise Lost , Moloch is one of the lords of Hell. He loves children's blood and parents' tears and speaks out in favor of another open war against heaven.

Friedrich Hebbel's play Der Moloch dramatizes the landing of the Moloch in Germany from 1849–50.

See also


  • Otto Eißfeldt: Molk as a victim term in Punic and Hebrew and the end of the god Moloch . Contributions to the religious history of antiquity 3. Halle 1935.
  • George C. Heider: The Cult of Mol. A Reassessment , Department of Biblical Studies, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield: 1985, ISBN 1-85075-018-1
  • John Day: Molech. A god of human sacrifice in the Old Testament , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 1989, ISBN 0-521-36474-4

Web links

Commons : Moloch  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Article molech in: Köhler-Baumgartner, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon for the Old Testament (1967–1995), Leiden-Boston: 2004.
  2. In the Codex Alexandrinus of the Septuagint and in Lukian's commentary , the readings melcho , melchom or melchol are documented. (Critical appendix to 1. Kings 11.5 in A. Rahlfs (ed.), Septuaginta (1935), Stuttgart: 2004).
  3. Reports of human sacrifices by the Punic can be found in Kleitarchos , Diodorus Siculus , Plutarch and others. a., see: DD Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece , London: 1991, p. 115 ff.
  4. ^ Gustave Flaubert : Salambo in the Gutenberg-DE project
  5. ^ Friedrich Hebbel : The Moloch ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), tragedy