God’s comdemnation of child sacrifice

Many people know that in ancient societies, there was a prevalence of the idea of child sacrifice. In order to demonstrate your devotion to the deity, or perhaps to cover for a corruption that has been committed, you were to offer your child as a sacrifice. Recently, as I was reading through the Book of Jeremiah, a verse came out and took my attention:

Jeremiah 7:31: And they go on building the high place of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire—which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.

The Book of Jeremiah is one of the major prophetic books of the Old Testament that’s mostly devoted to condemning the evil and sins of God’s people, similar to other prophetic books (like Amos). Anyhow, as God was listing the sins and evil of the Israelite’s in Jeremiah, he mentions yet another one: they were sacrificing their own children. God says He never commanded this to them, nor had it even entered His mind. If God made no such command, why were the Israelite’s doing it? Well, the passage makes it clear, the Israelite’s were going to the high place of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom where they sacrificed their children. Throughout the Old Testament, this is a location in particular where Israelite’s who followed pagan and Canaanite religions would go to in order to burn their children alive (child sacrifice) to deities like Molech and Baal.

2 Kings 23:10: He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, so that no one would make a son or a daughter pass through fire as an offering to Molech.

The continuation of the passage from Jeremiah above is worth quoting in full where God declares He will destroy this practice by turning Topheth into a desolate wasteland:

Jeremiah 7:31-34And they go on building the high place of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire—which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. 32 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter: for they will bury in Topheth until there is no more room. 33 The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the animals of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. 34 And I will bring to an end the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of the bride and bridegroom in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for the land shall become a waste.

Topheth is also mentioned in Jeremiah 19:6; 19:11-14, and Isaiah 30:33. The implication is clear, God seriously condemns child sacrifice. It is popular on the internet in anti-religious circles to argue that God commanded child sacrifice with regards to Abraham and Isaac, where God tells Abraham to sacrifice his child Isaac to him. However, scholars consider this ridiculous. God stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac in the end, and the entire event is meant as an event to see whether or not Abraham would do the most extreme thing had God commanded it. Consider Abraham’s circumstances. God had told him earlier that he would become the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5), and that Abraham was the one to whom God promised the promised land for his descendants (Genesis 15:18) and that through his descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). However, Abraham’s wife, Sarah (her name Sarai at the time), is barren, and her age is ninety years old. However, God tells Abraham that through Sarah, he will bring Abraham a son, and he will name that son Isaac, and it will be through Isaac that God establishes His covenant with Abraham and through Isaac that his descendants will become a nation, etc etc. God miraculously gives Abraham and Sarah the ability to have Isaac. However, all of a sudden, God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The entirety of God’s plan with Abraham’s descendants, everything God has put Abraham through in his entire life was for this one moment: for Isaac to live on and make way for the future of Abraham’s promise and covenant with God. Yet God commands Abraham to give Isaac’s life for God’s sake. This was the ultimate command God could have given Abraham, and one that established Abraham’s trust in God to the very end. Abraham succeeded, and in the end, God made sure that Isaac did not die and in fact fulfilled His promise to Abraham. This does not condone child sacrifice in any way, and we have seen from previously mentioned verses, among many others that child sacrifice is not only an evil, but one of the greatest reasons why God utterly destroyed the Canaanite’s (Deuteronomy 12:29-32).

God is a God of righeousness, and Jeremiah made that very clear when he wrote “In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”” (Jeremiah 33:16).

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Canaanites still alive?

Recently, some geneticists found out that the ancient Canaanite’s are still around. Some people around Lebanon have retained over 90% of their ancient Canaanite DNA. How did they (the geneticists) figure this out? Quite simple, really, they found some DNA belonging to some dead ancient Canaanite’s about 3,700 years old, deciphered the DNA, and compared it to DNA patterns in the modern Middle East and found a match!

The Canaanite’s aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still around. But doesn’t the Bible say they were to be wiped out thousands of years ago?

Deuteronomy 20:16-18: However, you must not let any living thing survive among the cities of these people the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. You must completely destroy them—the Hethite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite—as the Lord your God has commanded you,so that they won’t teach you to do all the detestable acts they do for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.

These verses caused a lot of media outlets to declare that the Bible had been wrong about the Canaanite’s, with one outlet (sciencemag, unfortunately one that usually publishes good media coverage of science) going so far as to title its report something as odious as “Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites”. So, has the biblical account been “countered”? As already proven, hardly.

Let’s take a look at the passage above. First of all, we need to start with the fact that the Bible never, at any one point, declares that the Canaanite’s had in fact been ever wiped out — in fact, later biblical books after Deuteronomy continue to mention the Canaanite’s. This account says that the Canaanite’s will be wiped out, as the Israelite’s continue taking the promised land. However, we know that the Israelite’s never took the entire promised land (or even close) because they continued to break their covenant with God and disobey His commandments — hence, His promise to the Israelite’s to grant them the entire promised land, contingent on them following His laws, never went through. Thus, the ancient peoples inhabiting the promised land were also allowed to remain in it because of the sin of Israel. That is the biblical account in its full context, and now that we know exactly what the biblical account says, the latest skeptical assault on the authority of the Bible has been countered, one might say.

Update: The ScienceMag article realized its mistake when trying to discredit the veracity of the biblical account, and so it recently changed the title of its page from Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites to Ancient DNA reveals fate of the mysterious Canaanites

A Castle Built By Solomon

The third king of Israel, the son of David, was the famous Solomon. Although during king David’s reign Israel was preoccupied in war with many of its neighbors, including the Arameans, Ammonites, Philistines, and other foes, the reign of Solomon was a time not of expansion, but of prosperity, wealth, and building. Allow me to share with you another small, yet important finding in the recent archaeology of the biblical lands regarding this man.

Image result for solomons palace

Indeed, according to the biblical account, Solomon’s enormous wealth allowed him to build impressive palaces, houses, and other types of buildings throughout many cities of Israel.

1 Kings 9:15: Now this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer.

If 1 Kings 9:15 is right, we should find many impressive features of ancient cities in Israel, including Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer that date to the time of Solomon, about the middle of the tenth century (970-930) BC. Recent attacks against the historicity of the Bible have claimed that Solomon was nowhere near as wealthy as the Bible said he was, and have attempted to point to a lack of evidence for such fortifications and features of ancient cities such Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer to prove their accusations against the biblical account of the life of Solomon.

As archaeology continues to unearth the ancient world and prove the Bible’s historicity to be entirely accurate, these criticisms continuously fall. Although the claims against David and Solomon have fallen one by one in recent years, this one we just mentioned in particular has been dealt heavy blows in the past, especially after 2016 proved another great year for the establishment of the veracity of the life of Solomon as described in the Bible. Indeed, in 2016, a large palatial building was found in the royal city of Gezer, proving that during Solomon’s reign, construction of large palaces and exquisite architecture was underway just as described in the Bible. Behold it with your own eyes!

Aerial view of the palatial building found in ancient Gezer, which archaeologists have tentatively dated to King Solomon's time.

Praise the Lord! It was true all along! It dates exactly to the time of Solomon (in the 10 century BC) and reveals evidence of Philistine occupation of the site until David’s reign (giving evidence that he conquered them, as described in the records of the Bible). Indeed, a full and fantastic explanation of this recent discovery can be found here.

Truly, the case is being made very quickly. How long can the foes of the Bible last, when history is establishing its truth virtually every other year?