Against the Ammonites (Jer 49:1-49:2)

“Concerning the Ammonites!

Thus says Yahweh!

‘Has Israel no sons?

Has he no heir?

Why then has Milcom

Dispossessed Gad?

Why has he dispossessed

His people?

Why has he settled

In its cities?’”

The Ammonites, like the Moabites, were considered the descendants of the incest of Lot with his second daughter from the story in Genesis, chapter 19. The country of Ammon was north of Moab, but south of Aram and Damascus.  The country of Ammon existed from about the 10th century to the 4th century BCE in what would have been the Gad territory as outlined in Joshua chapter 13. Today it is part of the country of Jordan. Yahweh seems upset at Ammon. Did not Israel have sons and heirs to live in this Gad territory? Milcom, the god of the Ammonites, was a lot like Molech, the god of the Moabites. Some believe it was the same god with slightly different spellings for each country. This god Milcom had dispossessed the people of Yahweh and settled in their cities. In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 30, not chapter 49 as here.

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False worship (Jer 32:34-32:35)

“They set up

Their abominations

In the house

That bears my name.

They defiled it.

They built

The high places of Baal

In the valley

Of the son of Hinnom,

To offer up

Their sons

As well as their daughters

To Molech.

I did not command them,

It did not enter my mind

That they should do

This abomination,

Causing Judah to sin.”

The major fault of the Israelites and Judeans was their false worship. First, they defiled the Temple, the house of Yahweh, by placing these false idols in the Temple itself. Then they also built the high altars for the false god Baal. Finally, they were offering up their sons and daughters to Molech in Hinnom valley, outside Jerusalem, that later became known as Gehenna or hell. Molech was a Canaanite god that demanded child sacrifices, who was specifically mentioned in Leviticus, chapter 20. Once again, Yahweh, as in chapter 19, said that he had not commanded or had it even entered his mind to ask for child sacrifices. Clearly, this worship of false gods and sacrificing children was against the will of Yahweh.

Against Molech (Isa 57:9-57:10)

“You journeyed to Molech

With oil.

You multiplied your perfumes.

You sent your envoys far away.

You sent them down even to Sheol.

You grew weary

From your many wanderings.

But you did not say.

‘It is useless.’

You found your desire rekindled.

Thus you did not weaken.”

Third Isaiah was also against Molech, a local Canaanite god that must have had a lot of Israelite worshippers. Apparently, many worshippers of Molech brought oils and perfumes to offer to Molech, who was sometimes associated with the Baal temples and altars. They sent messengers that were willing to go to Sheol, the afterlife underworld. However, they grew weary from their many trips. However, they were not able to say that it was useless. In fact, they rekindled their desire for Molech, instead of weakening it.

Destruction of the foreign god’s worship places (2 Kings 23:10-23:14)

“King Josiah defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Ben-hinnom, so that no one would make a son or daughter pass through fire as an offering to Molech. He removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were at the entrance to the house of Yahweh, by the chamber of the eunuch Nathan-melech, which was in the precincts. Then he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. He pulled down the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of King Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made as well as the altars which King Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of Yahweh. He broke them into pieces. He threw the rubble into the Wadi Kidron. The king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Destruction, which King Solomon of Israel had built for Astarte the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones.”

King Josiah eliminated the ancient Ammonite and Canaanite practice of burning children as a sacrifice to the fertility god Molech at a place called Topheth, which was in the valley of Ben-hinnom. The sacrifices to Molech were also mentioned in Leviticus, chapters 18 and 21. He then eliminated the horses of the kings of Judah that had been dedicated to the sun god. These must have been at the entrance to the temple, somehow near where a eunuch official named Nathan-melech lived. The king also burned the chariots dedicated to the sun god. Worship of sun must have been prevalent. This king tore down and broke into pieces the altars that King Ahaz had made for his upper chamber and the altars that King Manasseh had put into the temple of Yahweh itself. Finally, he put the rubble into the Wadi Kidron, which turned out to be some sort of garbage dump for all this sacred stuff. Next, the king tore down the houses of worship that King Solomon had built for his wives to worship the foreign gods of Astarte, Chemosh, and Milcom. He broke all their pillars and sacred poles and covered them with human bones.