Ancient Near Eastern Pagans May Have Practiced Child Sacrifice

In 1956, Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” ensured that the demonic figure of Moloch would be known even to those who are not careful readers of the Hebrew Bible. Generally assumed to be a Canaanite deity, Molech (as the name is spelled in Jewish Bibles) is mentioned in the book of Leviticus, which states, “thou shalt not give any of thy seed to set them apart to Molech.” The Tanakh elsewhere refers to the same pagan ritual as “passing one’s son or daughter through a fire.” Both rabbinic commentators and modern scholars debate whether this is a reference to literal child sacrifice or symbolically passing a child over a flame.

Daniel Vainstub explores the archaeological evidence in support of the former view:

So far, no archaeological discovery has been found in . . . the Land of Israel or in the surrounding areas that points to human sacrifices. Nevertheless, extensive evidence of child sacrifice has been found in the western colonies of Phoenicia. . . . Phoenicians belonged to the Canaanite cultural sphere in all ways, including religion and language. The Canaanites who lived in these coastal city-states, especially Tyre, were powerful sailors, who established colonies on the Mediterranean shores.

Eight of these Punic colonies, [as they were known to the Romans], established in today’s Tunisia, Sicily, and Sardinia contain burial grounds for burnt remains of babies—ashes and charred bones. The children ranged from several days up to one year old, and their ashes were placed in jars used as urns, and buried in the ground. . . . Anthropological studies have shown that in all of them the babies were sacrificed in the same manner: they were laid on their backs on a pile of firewood in the open air before the fire was lit.


More about: Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Idolatry, Phoenicia

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy