God Who Took Human Sacrifice
God ordered Israelites through Moses to offer their firstborn sons to him (Exodus 22: 29-30).
Exodus 22: 29 Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.
Exodus 22: 30 Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it to me.
Some Christians argue that the above verses means that God ordered Israelites to make their firstborn sons clergymen. Such interpretation is wrong. In Moses’ time, the job of serving God was permitted exclusively to Levites; the other eleven tribes of Israelites were not allowed to serve God (see Number 1: 47-51).
The context of the above verses means that Moses taught his people the custom of offering firstborn sons as burnt offering to Jehovah in the same manner of offering firstborn oxen and sheep to God.
The book of Leviticus says that God ordered the custom of human sacrifice (Leviticus 27: 28-29).
Leviticus 27: 28 Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord.
Leviticus 27:29 None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.
Ancient Semitic peoples such as Phoenicians and other people in the land of Palestine practiced human sacrifice for their gods. Moloch was the god to whom human sacrifice was offered. The World Book Encyclopedia states about “Moloch” as follows:1
Moloch, MOH lahk, also spelled Molech, was an idol worshipped especially by the ancient Phoenicians and Amorites. From them, the idol-worshipping heretics of Israel borrowed the custom of sacrificing babies on the altar of Moloch, or else casting them on the lap of his image after it had been heated red-hot. The Bible forbids this worship (Lev. 18: 21; 20: 3-5). Kings Ahaz and Manasseh of Judah built altars to Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom, outside the walls of Jerusalem. King Josiah ended the practice. (Contributed by Gleason L. Archer, Jr.)
Ralph Edward Woodrow relates the story of human sacrifice of ancient Semitic people in his book Babylon Mystery Religion/ Ancient and Modern as follows:2
Molech (who some identify with Bel or Nimrod) was worshipped “with human sacrifices, purifications…with mutilation, vows of celibacy and virginity, and devotion of the firstborn. Sometimes he was represented as a horrible idol with fire burning inside so that what was placed in his arms was consumed. In the illustration heathen priest has taken a baby from its mother to be offered to Molech. Lest the parents should relent, a loud noise was made on drums to hide the screams. The word for drums is tophim, from which comes the word “Tophet,” the place mentioned in verses such as Jeremiah 7: 31; “They have built the high place of Tophet… to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire.” While drums sounded, bands played, and priests chanted, human sacrifice were devoured in the flames (p. 64-65)
The Gehenna, which means “Valley of Hinnom” became the symbol of hell.
The World Book Encyclopedia states about “Gehena” as follows:1
Gehenna, gee HEN uh, was the Valley of Hinnom, southwest of Jerusalem. Its name comes from two Hebrew words, gai, and Hinnom, meaning valley of Hinnom. Sacrifice of children, called Moloch worship, took place there during the reigns of Ahaz, King of Judah in the 600’s B.C. The recollection of these hideous events caused the valley to become a symbol of the torment of the damned (Isaiah 66: 24). Gehenna became a synonym for hell in Jewish, Islamic, and Christian (Mark 9: 47) tradition.
(Contributed by Cyrus H. Gordon.)
Moses banned Moloch worship in the name of Jehovah (Leviticus 18: 21; 20: 3-5; Deuteronomy 12: 31). However, the reason Moses banned Moloch worship was not to put an end to the practice of human sacrifice itself but to ban the worship of gentile god (Moloch). As mentioned above, Moses ordered human sacrifice in the name of God.
Ahaz was the king of Judah from about 735 to 715 BCE. Manasseh was the king of Judah from about 692 to 638 BCE.1 Though the World Book Encyclopedia says that Moloch worship took place during the reign of Ahaz and Manasseh, it seems that Moloch worship had been practiced even before the two kings. For example, Solomon (about 900’s BCE.) also worshipped Moloch.
Solomon, the son of King David, was loyal to Jehovah as to offer huge amount of sacrifices to him in the dedication for the Temple of Jehovah (called also as the Temple of Solomon) (I Kings 8: 63).
I Kings 8: 63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.
But in the later days of his life, Solomon neglected Jehovah and worshipped many heathen gods, including Moloch, after many of his foreign wives and concubines (I Kings 11:1-8).
1 Kings 11: 1 But king Solomon love many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
1 Kings 11: 2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in into them: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
1 Kings 11: 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
1 Kings 11: 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.
1 Kings 11: 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
1 Kings 11: 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.
11: 7 Then did Solomon built an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
1 Kings 11: 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
After all, Solomon’s foreign wives were stronger than God when it comes to the ability to take the heart of Solomon. Throughout the Bible, God envied and hated gentile gods because gentile gods were abler than him in the ability to take the heart of many Israelites.
The reason many Israelites preferred gentile gods to Jehovah was that Jehovah was so terrible and fearful not only to gentile peoples but also to Israelites themselves. Jehovah’s laws were to execute the law-breakers or the disobedient mainly by stoning. So many Israelites, from kings to common people worshipped gentile gods until 600’s BCE. The history of Jews introduced in The World Book Encyclopedia explains how or why Israelites came to stop worshipping gentile gods after 600’s BCE.:1
When Solomon died, political and economic troubles split the kingdom. His son Rehoboam increased the heavy tax an ten of the tribes broke away an set up an independent nation in the north. They chose Jeroboam as king, and called themselves the kingdom of Israel. The two remaining tribes, Benjamin and Judah, formed the kingdom of Judah in the south. The citizens of the kingdom were called Judeans, The word Jew comes from this name.
Many great prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Hosea, preached to the nation. With fearless honesty, they reproached the people an rulers for their sins. The prophets taught that God was the God of all mankind, and not just the God of the Jews.
Assyria destroyed Israel in 721 B.C. Its people were deported and gradually became part of the surrounding nations. Jews speak of these Israelites as the ten lost tribes. The Babylonians conquered Judah in 587 B.C. and destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. They took some Jews as captives, but left many in Judah. The period is called the Babylon Exile. Unlike the scattered 10 tribes, the Judeans continued to practice their religious teachings even as captives in Babylon.
The Jews spent many years as captives in Babylon. The prophet Ezekiel encouraged them to believe that some day they would return to their homeland. In 538 B.C. Cyrus, the Persian Emperor, allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to build their temple. Scholars are not sure whether the return took place as a single movement or over many years. Some Jews did not return to Judea. Instead, they remained in their homes in Babylon. But the Jews who returned, and those who had been left in Judea, built new Temple in Jerusalem which they completed in 516 B.C.
(Contributed by Philip S. Bernstein.)
During the time Israelites were under the incessant invasions and rule of foreign nations many prophets interpreted such hardships of Israelites as the punishment from God for having neglected God and worshipped gentile gods of Israelites, from kings to common people. So prophets continuously warned and threatened Israelites to return to God.
After the experiences of long and painful ordeal due to the incessant invasions and rule of foreign nations, Israelites began to listen to the warnings of their prophets and they became loyal to Jehovah. For example, the Sabbath day was begun to observed strictly after the Babylonian exile.1
Had there been no foreign invasions, Jewish people and Jehovah worship might have disappeared long ago and Israelites might have assimilated to gentile peoples. (Then Christianity and Islam would not have come into being.) Actually "the lost ten tribes," including Levites, who had been allowed the exclusive role of worshipping Jehovah, assimilated to gentiles.
Today, the descendents of the lost ten tribes worship Allah and swear to destroy Israelites and Jews. Are these the history of the children of God? The history of Israelites can be interpreted at a different angle as follows:
The establishment of Judaism and Jewish people was largely due to the foreign nations that had kept harassing Israelites rather than the almighty power of Jehovah. It is true that religions grow and become strengthened in the hardships rather than in the happy and peaceful time.
Let us return to the theme of human sacrifice again. The story that God ordered Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to him (Genesis 22: 1-13) was obviously not a true story. This story is thought to be the legend or reflection of the children sacrifice of ancient Semitic people. In the episode of Abraham and his son, God ordered Abraham not to kill Isaac at the last moment Abraham was about to kill his son with a knife (Genesis 22: 9-10).
Genesis 22: 9 And they came to the place which God had told him [Abraham] of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
Genesis 22: 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
Abraham did not kill his son; instead he killed a ram, which God sent at the critical moment, and Abraham offered the ram as a burnt offering to God (Genesis: 22: 11-13). Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions admire Abraham for his absolute and unconditional obedience to God. Was God not able to know the mind (faithfulness and loyalty) of Abraham without such a “dangerous and horrible” test?
I wonder what kind of impression Isaac might have had toward God and his father throughout his life. If Isaac was an ordinary human, he must have suffered from severe mental trauma or nightmare or insanity throughout his life. But Isaac did not show any such symptoms because he was not an actual person. Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, etc. were not real characters (see Chapters 25 and 26). 3
Many Jews and Christians argue that the Abraham and Isaac story shows that God banned human sacrifice and that Israelites have not offered human sacrifice since. That is not true. Abraham was Moses’ ancestor six generation back(Exodus 1:1; 6: 16-20).
If God had banned human sacrifice in the time of Abraham, how could he order human sacrifice again in Moses’ time?
By the way, why did Jehovah order his people to offer mainly “male” animals (instead of both male and female animals) as sacrifice? Moses must have learned the customs of offering male sacrifices from Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians worshipped goddess Isis, among many other deities, very much, and they offered her exclusively mail animals. 4
Moses grew up in Egypt and absorbed many Egyptian customs such as circumcision, Sabbath, fast, dietary law (such as avoiding pork, camel, rabbit, hare, bat, and many other animals), etc. Moses taught these customs to his people in the name of Jehovah whom he identified with the creator of the universe.
Early Christians symbolized Jesus as a lamb offered to God as a sacrifice (John 2: 23). Christians believe that Jesus offered himself to God for the redemption of all humanity and that Jesus’ flesh and blood cleansed the sins of all humanity.
On the other hand, Christians believe that Jesus was the incarnation of God himself. How could God come to this world as little Jesus through a virgin woman and then offer his body as a sacrifice to Him? All things are possible in religion. (Religion is the synonym of lie.)
The Biblical concept of sin or evil and the method to cleanse sins are the remnant of the ancient custom of offering sacrifice to god; the offering is a ritual of begging pardon or reward (blessing). The act of offering sacrifice to god to achieve one’s goal is a kind of bribery. If any god takes such bribes and complies with the person’s wishes, such god is a low and unjust god. Yet Moses’ God said he did not receive reward (Deuteronomy 10: 17).
Deuteronomy 10: 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regarded not persons, nor taketh reward:
Jehovah lied. He took awful lot of rewards from Israelites.
Since ancient people thought God as human-like, they tried to please their god by offering precious items such as food animals, money, first-born sons, virgin women, etc.
Moses chose 32 women from 320,000 virgin women his army captured in the Midian war (Numbers 31), and he offered the 32 virgin women to God as “heave offering” (Numbers 31: 35-40). Heave offering was a kind of offering ritual of ancient Israelites in which the priest lifted the sacrifice before God (Leviticus 7: 32).
It seems that Moses did not kill the 32 virgin women; he offered them alive to God and then gave them to Eleazar, the priest (Numbers 31: 41). Eleazar was the grand son of Aaron, the elder brother of Moses (Numbers 25: 7).
It should be noted that Midianites were Moses’ people-in-law; Moses had killed an Egyptian before he led his people out of Egypt, and thus he fled to Midianites. At that time Moses lived in the house of Jethro, a priest of Midianites, and Jethro gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses as his wife. Later, Moses destroyed Midianites in order to soothe the wrath of Jehovah (Numbers 31: 16). Historians say that Midianties were an Arab tribe lived in the north-eastern part of the Red Sea.1
In order to please God, in the Median war, Moses killed all Median men and women save virgin women “who had not known man by lying with him” (Numbers 31: 7-18).
Numbers 31: 7 And they [Moses’ army] warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.
Numbers 31: 8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.
Numbers 31: 9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Median captives and their little ones, and took the spoil of all the cattle, and all their flocks and all their goods.
Numbers 31: 10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
Numbers 31: 11 And they brought the captives, and the prey, both of men and of the beasts.
Numbers 31: 12 And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.
Numbers 31: 13 And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of he congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.
Numbers 31: 14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
Numbers 31: 15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
Numbers 31: 16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
Numbers 31: 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
Numbers 31: 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Midian women prisoners became the ancestors of many, though not all, modern Jews. Midian women prisoners bore Israel men children, and the children worshipped the god of their mother’s enemies as the creator of the world. This is what monotheistic religions have done in the name of God throughout history. This is a kind of perfect crime.
Not only Midian women but also many women of other gentile people in the land of Canaan (Palelstine) became the ancestors of modern Israelites.
What an earth did God need sacrifice or food or reward in the first place? Had he no ability to subsist himself on his own? Did he not possess the entire world already? In Moses’ time, in the Sinai Desert, food was scarce let alone liquor. The leftover of the sacrifice and wine offered to God were consumed by Moses and his brother Aaron and their families (Leviticus 7: 31-34). Israelites had only scanty source of food—perhaps a small number of animals at best. So they depended largely on the loot they took from gentile people.
Israelites had only two choices then: one was to kill gentile people and loot their prosperities, and the other was to die of hunger. This kind of people could not but be excellent warriors. Their religion also supported their moral and conscience; killing the enemies of God and looting their properties was just and righteous and the blessing from God.
God became sick and tired of taking a lot of sacrifices by the time of Isaiah (about 720 BCE). So he said to Israelites through Isaiah that he did not like sacrifice any more (Isaiah 1: 11-14).
Isaiah 1: 11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or the he goats.
Isaiah 1: 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
Isaiah 1: 13 Bring no more vain oblations: incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
God had ordered Moses to offer various kinds of sacrifices to him (Leviticus 1-9). God had received such sacrifices, in order to forgive the sins of Israelites, for about 500 years, from Moses’ time to Isaiah. And then God suddenly asked Isaiah, saying, “Who has required the sacrifice at your hand to come to me?” Did God suffer from amnesia?
Christians believe that they have earned eternal life without price by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. They say that Jesus’ blood and flesh was offered to God and thus his blood and flesh atoned all the sins of humanity so that any one who believes in Jesus and eats his blood and flesh earns eternal life. Jesus said to his followers that one should eat his blood and flesh for eternal life (John 6: 53-54).
John 6: 53 So Jesus said to them “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;
John 6: 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is not sure whether Jesus said so or the author of the Book of John wrote that way. In any event, the strange doctrine of Jesus’ blood and flesh came from the animal sacrifice and human sacrifice of ancient Israelites.
In Moses time, sacrifice was consumed by God for the cleansing of the sins of Israelites. After Jesus, the blood and flesh of God [Jesus was Christians’ God] is consumed by Christians, and the sins of Christians are cleansed immaculately, according to Christian theology. Many cults are weird. Christianity is second to none.
(Note: this article is the 21st Chapter of my latest manuscript entitled Salvation from Religion vol. 4.
1. World Book-Childcraft International, Inc. 1979. The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book-Childcraft Interntional, Inc.
2. Woodrow, R. E. 1966. Babylon Mystery Religion/ Ancient and Modern. Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Inc.)
3. Ahn, B. 2011. Salvation from Religion vol. 4 (not published).
4. Penguin Books Ltd. 1972. Herodotus Histories. London. Penguins Books Ltd.