In the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem stood a giant statue of the god Moloch. The valley and the deity are infamous for their historical association with child sacrifice. According to some historical accounts, the statue had its arms outstretched, and a fire was kindled within. Children were placed into Moloch’s hands, where they burned to death while drums beat rhythmically to drown out their agonizing screams. The valley, also known as Gehenna (its Aramaic name which was adopted into Greek), features prominently in the Bible.
Depiction of the Moloch idol in Athanasius Kircher’s Oedipus aegyptiacus in the Valley of Gehenna (1652) ( Public Domain )
Depicted as a hellish, fiery location, Judah’s kings burned their children there, and the location is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew, James, Mark, and Luke, although sometimes the English translations incorrectly render Gehenna as Hell:
“Whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into Gehenna” (Matthew, 5:22).
“It’s better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna” (Matthew, 5:29).
“Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matthew 10:28).
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of Gehenna?” (Matthew, 23:33)
“The tongue is a fire,…and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by Gehenna” (James, 3:6).
“It is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into Gehenna into the unquenchable fire” (Mark, 9:43)
“It is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into Gehenna” (Mark, 9:45).
“Fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast [people] into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, fear Him” (Luke, 12:5).
Child sacrifices to Mol och from ‘the Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us’ by Charles Foster ( 1897 ) ( Public Domain )
It is probable that the biblical references to the Valley of Hinnom and references to the one who kills and then burns bodies there refers to God, but the location was used for child sacrifice before the Bible existed, and the deity Moloch was the one appeased and summoned. He was depicted as a bull-headed god, similar to a minotaur, and in historical literature is connected to the deities Anmmelech, Adrammelek, and Milcom.
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DR. KEN JEREMIAH has written several books about religions, mummification, and spirituality, including Living Buddhas, Christian Mummification , Eternal Remains. Making Millions: A 500-Year-Old Kabbalist’s Guide to Conquering Chance, and Zen Art, Zen Writing Daily Meditations for Improving your Craft and Finding Joy in Life
Top Image : The Adoration of the Golden Calf – Picture from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century) ( Public Domain )
By: Ken Jeremiah