Leviticus 18:21

21 "You are not to make any of your children pass through [the fire] to Molech.[a] Do not profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.

Leviticus 18:21 Meaning and Commentary

Leviticus 18:21

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 F25, who is also Hercules; to whom Pliny says F26 that the Phoenicians offered human sacrifices every year: of Molech, (See Gill on Jeremiah 7:31) (See Gill on 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 ) ( Psalms 106:37 Psalms 106:38 ) ( Ezekiel 16:20 Ezekiel 16:21 ) ; yet this seems to be something short of that, and to be done in the manner, as Jarchi and other Jewish writers F1 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 Ezekiel 16:21 ) ; 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.


F25 Apud, Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p. 38.
F26 Nat. Hist. l. 36. c. 5.
F1 Ben Melech in loc. Kimchii Sepher Shorash. rad. (Klm) .

Leviticus 18:21 In-Context

19 "You are not to come near a woman during her menstrual impurity to have sexual intercourse with her.
20 You are not to have sexual intercourse with your neighbor's wife, defiling yourself with her.
21 "You are not to make any of your children pass through [the fire] to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
22 You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.
23 You are not to have sexual intercourse with any animal, defiling yourself with it; a woman is not to present herself to an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. An ancient Near Eastern god to whom child sacrifices were offered by fire; Lv 20:2-5; Dt 18:10; 1 Kg 11:7; 2 Kg 23:10
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