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A pagan deity of certain Semitic peoples. Worship of Molech involved the sacrifice of a child by passing through a fire or a furnace, a custom reminiscent of the stories concerning Abraham and Isaac and Jephthah and his daughter. This savage ritual was forbidden by Hebrew law (Leviticus 18:21), which specified stoning to death as an appropriate punishment. The notorious King Manasseh was responsible for introducing Molech worship in the seventh century B.C., using his own son as a sacrificial offering (II Kings 21:6). One of the reforms King Josiah made was the destruction of the furnace in the Valley of Ben-hinnom to end this dreadful practice (II Kings 23:10). Also spelled Moloch.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.