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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Human Sacrifice in the Bible Part 2

Prior to reading this post please at least skim my posts Passover, and Human Sacrifice in the Bible (Part 1).

There is an interesting story where the King of Moab sacrifices his eldest son (his first born ?) and it seems to have efficacy. We also have an example of a failed Tenach prophecy.

2 Kings Chapter 3

1 Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother; for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom. {P}

4 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep-master; and he rendered unto the king of Israel the wool of a hundred thousand lambs, and of a hundred thousand rams. 5 But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 And king Jehoram went out of Samaria at that time, and mustered all Israel. 7 And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying: 'The king of Moab hath rebelled against me; wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle?' And he said: 'I will go up; I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses.' 8 And he said: 'Which way shall we go up?' And he answered: 'The way of the wilderness of Edom.' 9 So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom; and they made a circuit of seven days' journey; and there was no water for the host, nor for the beasts that followed them. 10 And the king of Israel said: 'Alas! for the LORD hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.' {S} 11 But Jehoshaphat said: 'Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?' And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said: 'Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.' 12 And Jehoshaphat said: 'The word of the LORD is with him.' So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. 13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel: 'What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother.' And the king of Israel said unto him: 'Nay; for the LORD hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.' 14 And Elisha said: 'As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. 15 But now bring me a minstrel.' And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. 16 And he said: 'Thus saith the LORD: Make this valley full of trenches. 17 For thus saith the LORD: Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain, yet that valley shall be filled with water; and ye shall drink, both ye and your cattle and your beasts. 18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. 19 And ye shall smite every fortified city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all fountains of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.' 20 And it came to pass in the morning, about the time of making the offering, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. 21 Now when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered themselves together, all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood on the border. 22 And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water some way off as red as blood; 23 and they said: 'This is blood: the kings have surely fought together, and they have smitten each man his fellow; now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.' 24 And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them. And they smote the land, even Moab, mightily. 25 And they beat down the cities; and on every good piece of land they cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the fountains of water, and felled all the good trees; until there was left only Kir-hareseth with the stones of the wall thereof; so the slingers encompassed it, and smote it. 26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew sword, to break through unto the king of Edom; but they could not. 27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they departed from him, and returned to their own land. {P}

Notice Verse 15 But now bring me a minstrel.' And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. 

To understand verse 15 - This was a practice common in various cultures where a minstrel plays to induce an ecstasy.  

The Prophet says in verse  18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. Yet at the end of the story the Moabites are not delivered. See verse 27. This is a failed  Tenach prophecy. For more on prophecy see Proof of God From Prophecy .

 In addition, somehow the human sacrifice changes the outcome of the war because we see in verse  27 Then he [King of Moab] took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

There are several possibilities, and they are not all mutually exclusive.

1) The sacrifice was to the Moabite god Chemosh who has real power and human sacrifice to Chemosh works. Chemosh somehow intervenes and Israel withdraws because of that intervention.

So perhaps Chemosh had real power and enough power to overcome Yahweh !

2) The Israelites thought Chemosh was real and thought human sacrifice to Chemosh works. The sacrifice to Chemosh had psychological effect.

3) The Israelites were overcome with emotion as the King of Moab sacrifices his own son.

4) Rashi explains the Israelites remembered their sin of worshiping pagan deities and are thus not worthy of miracles.

Rashi does not fully explain the situation because a) the Israelites had been winning the war regardless of their past sins, and had the water miracle, both proving they were worthy of miracles b) If the Israelites had been sinning they would not need a reminder c) The prophet said they would win the war proving they were worthy of miracles. d) And the enemies of Israel were worthy of a miracle ? 

5) During a war or siege disease may spread. It is possible this happened to the Israelites army and they withdrew. The sickness and deaths were attributed to the efficacy of human sacrifice by the King of Moab.

6) It is Israeli  propaganda to explain a failed mission to the public. It was not our fault we lost the war, we lost the war because of the King of Moab’s sacrifice.

7) The text is not clear to which God(s) the King of Moab is sacrificing to. Suppose it was to Yahweh. Then perhaps the Israelites  thought the sacrifice would interfere with Yahweh assisting the Israelis and even turn Yahweh against the Israelites. But why would the Israelites think human sacrifice to Yahweh, (by a Moabite no less)  have any efficacy ?  Also, if  Yahweh truly disapproves of human sacrifice, then why would he accept the human sacrifice and send a wrath upon Israel ? This would encourage the use of human sacrifice ! 

Continued Human Sacrifice ? in Bible Part 3

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