Child Sacrifice in the Bible
Child Sacrifice is Divinely Commanded in the Bible!
“You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.”
God admitted he did this in Ezekiel 20:25-26 where he purportedly said:
25 “Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; 26 and I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.”
The context of the Exodus passage concerns offerings and sacrifices, and it says God requires that first born sons are to be literally sacrificed to him. Hence, unlike other passages where there is the possibility of redemption with a substitute sacrifice (cf. Exodus 13:13; 34:10-20), none is specifically stated here. The concept of « redemption » is an interesting one that goes hand in hand with child sacrifice, because animals were substituted for the firstborn. Yet that says nothing against the idea that a better sacrifice was the firstborn child himself, and many people in the Old Testament did just that. Circumcision was probably a substitutionary child sacrifice (Exodus 4:24).
Child sacrifice should be understood within the whole concept of human sacrifice as a whole, which pleased God (Leviticus 27:28). Human sacrifice was probably only considered evil when it was done in the name of a foreign god, and doing so was punishable by death precisely because it was offered to another deity (Leviticus 20:2; 18:21 Deuteronomy 12:31 18:10; II Kings 17:17 23:10; II Chronicles 28:3 33:4-10; Ps 106:38; Isaiah 57:5,6; Jeremiah 7:31 32:35 Ezekiel 16:20,21 20:26,31 23:37,39 Acts 7:43).
Child sacrifice was something that several Biblical people either did, or assisted others in doing so. Abraham was not morally repulsed by the command itself (Genesis 22). Then there is Jepthah who probably sacrificed his daughter because of a stupid vow (Judges 11); David (II Sam. 21:7-9); Solomon and his wives (I Kings 3:16); Ahab (I Kings 16:33-34); Ahaz (II Kings 16:2-3); Hoshea (II Kings 17:7); and Manasseh (II Kings 21:6, II Chronicles 33:6). It was a problem for King Josiah ( II King 23:10), for Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:30-31; 19:3-5; 32:35), and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:20-21; 20:25-26, 30-31). The prophet Micah wonders if he should sacrifice his oldest son “as a sin offering” (6:6-8). Child sacrifice to foreign gods was so prevalent that it’s named as one of the major reasons why God sent the Babylonians to conquer Israel and forcibly take many of them as captives (II Kings 17:16-18).
We even read where the King of Moab sacrificed his son which caused the Israelites to retreat in defeat. Moab’s sacrifice created a great “wrath,” (ketzef), which was an external divine force to the warriors in the story, indicating that his sacrifice caused some divinity to act on behalf of Moab. (II Kings. 3:26-27).
In the New Testament God the Father sacrifices his only son (Jesus) as the central redemptive act of Christianity, and God still seeks to fulfill his lust for human sacrifice by burning humans forever in the lake of fire.