MOLOCH (more correctly MoLEcH), also MILKOM, 31aucom (their king), from Heb. Helech, king, the chief Ammonite deity (the Chemosh of the Moabites), whose worship. consisted chiefly of human sacrifices, purifications, and ordeals by i fire, mutilation, per petual virginity, and the like; practices specially inveighed against n the Mosaic records. Even the stranger who should devote his offspring to this idol was to be put to death by stoning. It is not quite certain which was the particular manner of this sacrifice. Rab binical tradition represents Moloch as a human figure of brass or clay, with a crowned. bull's head, upon whose extended arms were laid the doomed children. A fire within the hollow statue soon scorched them to death, while their shrieks of agony were dead ened by a loud noise made by the priests upon various instruments. But although this. description nearly coincides with that of the statue of the Carthaginian Kronos, and although so late a traveler even as Benjamin de Tudela speaks of having seen the remains of an ancient Ammonite temple at Gebal, with the fragments of an idol somewhat cor responding to the above representation, yet nothing certain is known about this point at. present; nay, even the burning of the children itself has been questioned; and it is con tended, yet without much show of reason, that the victims were merely carried through., two pyres of fire by way of solemn purification or baptism. It seems, however, certain that the worship of Moloch, in whatever shape it may have been, was common through out the Canaanite nations. The Carthaginians, through whom it was probably spread over the whole east, worshiped Kronos in rites of lire and bloodshed; and beings, children or grown-up persons, prisoners or virgins, were, either on certain peri odical festivals, or on sudden emergencies, offered up throughout almost all the lands. and islands which the merchant-people of antiquity may be supposed to have touched at.
The description of the Kronian statue, as given by classical writers, differs only in that small respect from the one given above, that the child fell, according to the former, from the hands of the god into a burning fire below, instead of being slowly burned to death. On fire worship In general, which is the main idea of " Moloch"—probably worshiped originally as the symbol of the sun—we have spoken under GUEBRES:' The name itself gives no clew to its special nature, nor does any comparison with cognate roots lead any further. Molech, or Melech, is the supreme king or deity of the people, who have enthroned.him as their tutelary god. Naturally, the princes of Ammon are the print es. of Malcham = their (the Ammonites') king or god, and his priests were high in soe;a1 .rank.
Respecting the special history of this worship among the Israelites, we can only say that, although we do not see any more reason to presuppose its wide spread at early times (on account of the frequent occurrence of the word " king " in doubtful passages)• than there is the slightest ground for assuming (as has been done by Daumer and that the whole Mosaic religion originated in a Moloch-service (a notion which hardly required a serious refutation for its instant explosion), yet there is no doubt that it bad its secret, although few adherents, even before the Canaanite women in Solomon's harem reintroduced it publicly. The Valley of Hinnom and the Mount of Olives were the chief places of these abominable rites; the former being afterwards adopted as the name for hell, even in Islam. Not until the time of Josiah was it rooted out from among the: people. The word has now become a designation for a kind of irresistible dread influence,. at whose shrine everything would be sacrificed, even as the deluded father offered his own; child to the terrible idol.