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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 2 (Negative) -- Prohibition: 7 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 2 - The 365 Prohibitions of the Tora

7 - HANDING OVER SOME OF OUR OFFSPRING TO THE MOLECH


Leviticus 18:21 -- “And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.”
Deuteronomy 18:10 --There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer”

One who causes all his offspring to pass through fire in the worship of Molech is not guilty under the terms of this commandment.* Rabbi Moses of Coucy (French Rabbi of the thirteenth century) explains that he who gives all his offspring to Molech commits such a heinous crime that no human punishment – the function of which, according to Jewish religious thought, is primarily expiatory – could be sufficient for him.**

* Mishneh Torah, Mada, Hilchoth Abodath Kochabim VI, 4
** Sefer Mitzvoth ha-Gadol, Neg. comm. 40

This form of idolatry, as explained in the seventh chapter of Sanhedrin, consisted of kindling a fire and fanning its flame, whereupon the father would take some of his offspring and hand them over to the priest engaged in the service of that idol, and then cause them* to pass through the fire from one side to the other.

* The reference is to the father (Mishneh Torah, Mada, Hilchoth Abodath Kochabim VI, 3). Rashi, however, in his commentary on the Pentateuch, says that it was the priest who passed the child through the fire (Lev. XVIII, 21, Rashi)

In his “Mishneh Torah”, Maimonides clearly states that in the rite of Molech the child was not burned. Human sacrifices, he says, were used in the worship of other idols,* but in the service of Molech, the child was merely passed through the fire. “Hence he who performs this rite to an idol other than Molech is not liable.”**

* See 2 Kings 17: 31
** Mishneh Torah, Mada, Hilchoth Abodath Kochabim VI, 3

The horror with which Judaism has looked upon these abominable practices of idolatry throughout the ages may be gathered from the following Scriptural verses: “Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them… and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:30-31) As Maimonides says: “Consider how great the evil consequences of idolatry are, and say whether we ought to oppose it with all our power or not!”*

* Moreh Nebuchim III, 49

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