Who Was Moloch?
the national deity
of the Ammonites,
a fire god commonly worshiped throughout the ancient near East and North Africa, by Canaanites and Philistines, Arameans and Semitic peoples and later, Phoenicians. He was known by many names, all signifying the same false god.
Names of Molech
In Islam, Molech is called Malec or Malik (meaning King), believed to be the principle angel in charge of Djahannam, the Islamic version of hell.
That Molech worship was already common among the Canaanites when Israel entered the land is evident from the fact that God warned Israel against Molech worship as an abomination the Israelites were forbidden to practice, Leviticus 18:21.
Fire gods like Moloch and his fertility goddess consort, Ashtoreth, were not religious fantasies. They exercised a very real power over the primitive Canaanites. And their pagan worship snared some of the children of Israel.
Who Was Ashtoreth?
Ashtoreth is mentioned three times in scripture, in 1 Kings 11:5 & 33, 2 Kings 23:13. When Ashtoreth is mentioned in scripture, she is linked to Molech, (also called Milcom in the Bible).
Ashtaroth is mentioned 12 times in the Old Testament. The word is used as the name of a town in ancient Israel in Deuteronomy 1:4, Joshua 9:10, 12:4, 13:12, 13:31 and 1 Chronicles 6:71. That towns were named after the fertility goddess indicates that her worship was already widespread when the children of Israel entered the land of Palestine.
In Judges 2:13 & 10:6, 1 Samuel 7:3 & 4, 12:10 & 31:10, Ashtaroth refers to the ancient Canaanite fertility goddess, with a slightly different spelling than Ashtoreth.
Ashtoreth was the goddess of war and fertility, called Ishtar by Assyrians and Babylonians, called Astarte by Greeks and Romans and called Tanith by North Africans.
Molech represented the male principle of life and reproduction while Ashtoreth represented the female principle of fertility.
The sexual relationship between these false gods set the example for unbridled sensuality among their worshipers.
Anal sex between male and male worshipers and male and female worshipers was viewed as an offering to the goddess.
Some 1450 years after Leviticus, the Apostle Paul references pagan worship in Romans 1:26-27, when he blasts the same kind of fertility goddess worship in first century Rome.
a Molech idol.
The Mo-lech idol was a large, hollow brass statue with the head of a bull and the bulging belly of a man. It was designed like an old fashioned pot-bellied stove, with the belly as the firebox.
A child sacrifice laid on the hands, would roll into the fire in the belly cavity. Scripture describes this practice as "passing through the fire to Molech," Leviticus 18:21.
Cleitarchus On Molech
Cleitarchus, an ancient historian, around 315 BC, gives this description of a fire god at Carthage. Kronos is the north African name for Molech.
“There stands in their midst a bronze statue of Kronos, its hands extended over a bronze brazier, the flames of which engulf the child. When the flames fall upon the body, the limbs contract and the open mouth seems almost to be laughing until the contracted body slips quietly into the brazier.”
Diodorus Siculus On Molech
Diodorus Siculus, 90-30 BC, gives this description of a Carthaginian fire god.
“There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.”
Plutarch On Molech
Plutarch, AD 46-127, senior priest of the oracle at Delphi, gives this description of the fire god.
“The whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums so that the cries of wailing [of the children being sacrificed] should not reach the ears of the people.”
One can readily see why God and Moses called this pagan religious practice and the sexual rites associated with it, abomination.
Mo-loch worship is essentially identical with worship of Chemosh of Moab, Cronos-Kronos of Carthage and Melkart-Melqart of Tyre.
The general name, used throughout Palestine and in the Bible, for this type of fire god, was Baal. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the Hebrews first learned Baal worship from the agricultural Canaanites.
The religious Canaanites of Palestine worshiped a fertility goddess named Ashtoreth.
In Ashtoreth’s worship services, male worshipers had anal sex with priests and priestesses of the goddess. This was viewed as an offering to the fertility goddess.
The priests and male prostitutes, who were consecrated to her cult were called qadesh, qedishim or sodomites, Deuteronomy 23:18; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46.
Male qedishim engaged
Instead, God intended to forbid Israel, His people, from practicing the same sex religious rites with which the ancient Canaanites worshiped their fertility goddess.
The material on this page is excerpted from our thoughtful book, Gay Christian 101 - Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay Christians, by Rick Brentlinger.