Jeremiah 7:31
And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) High places.—Not the same word as in Jeremiah 7:29, but bamoth, as in the “high places” of Baal, in Numbers 22:41; Numbers 23:3, the Bamoth-baal of Joshua 13:17. The word had become almost technical for the mounds, natural or (as in this passage) artificial, on which altars to Jehovah or to other gods were erected, and appears in 1Samuel 9:12; 1Kings 3:4; Ezekiel 20:29; Amos 7:9.

Tophet.—This appears to have been originally, not a local name, but a descriptive epithet. The word appears in Job 17:6 (“by-word” in the Authorised version) as a thing spat upon and loathed. Its use is probably therefore analogous to the scorn with which the prophets substituted bosheth, the “shameful thing,” for Baal (e.g., Jeremiah 3:24; Jeremiah 11:13). When the prediction is repeated in Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35, we have the “high places of Baal,” and “Tophet” here is obviously substituted for that name in indignant contempt. The word in Isaiah 30:33, though not identical in form (Tophteh, not Tophet), had probably the same meaning. Other etymologies give as the meaning of the word “a garden,” “a place of burning,” or “a place of drums,” i.e., a music grove, and so connect it more closely with the Molech ritual. Possibly the last was the original meaning of the name, for which, as said above, the prophets used the term of opprobrium.

The son of Hinnom.—Possibly the first recorded owner, or a local hero. The name is perpetuated in later Jewish language in Ge-henna = Ge-Hinnom = the vale of Hinnom. It was older than the Molech worship with which it became identified, and appears in the “Doomsday Book” of Israel (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16).

To burn their sons and their daughters.—The words are important as determining the character of the act more vaguely described in Jeremiah 32:35, as “making to pass through the fire.” The children were, in some cases at least, actually burnt, though often, perhaps (see Ezekiel 16:21), slain first. Horrible as the practice seems to us, it was part of the Canaanite or Phœnician worship of Molech or Malcom (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5), and had been practised by Ahaz (2Kings 16:3; 2Chronicles 28:3) and Manasseh (2Kings 21:6; 2Chronicles 33:6).

7:29-34 In token both of sorrow and of slavery, Jerusalem must be degraded, and separated from God, as she had been separated to him. The heart is the place in which God has chosen to put his name; but if sin has the innermost and uppermost place there, we pollute the temple of the Lord. The destruction of Jerusalem appears here very terrible. The slain shall be many; they having made it the place of their sin. Evil pursues sinners, even after death. Those who will not, by the grace of God, be cured of vain mirth, shall, by the justice of God, be deprived of all mirth. How many ruin their health and property without complaining, when engaged in Satan's service! May we learn to relish holy joys, and to sit loose to all others though lawful.The high places - Here, probably, not natural hills, but artificial mounts, on which the altars were erected.

Tophet (marginal reference note) is not here a proper name; as applied to Baal-worship the term is not an ordinary one, but almost unique to Jeremiah. Comparing this verse with Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35, it will be found that Baal is in those passages substituted for Tophet. Just as it is the practice of the prophets to substitute "Bosheth, shame," for Baal (see Jeremiah 3:24), so here Jeremiah uses "Tophet, an object of abhorrence" (compare Job 17:6 note), in just the same way.

Valley of the son of Hinnom - See Joshua 15:8 note.

To burn ... - The children were not burned alive, but slain first Ezekiel 16:21.

31. high places of Tophet—the altars [Horsley] of Tophet; erected to Moloch, on the heights along the south of the valley facing Zion.

burn … sons—(Ps 106:38).

commanded … not—put for, "I forbade expressly" (De 17:3; 12:31). See on [902]Jer 2:23; [903]Isa 30:33.

High places of Tophet; See Poole "Isaiah 30:33". It comes from Toph, that signifies a drum, because they did beat drums to hinder the noise of their children’s screeches, when they burnt them in sacrifice upon the altars, called here, high places, to Moloch, which is also called Melchom.

Which is in the valley of the son on Hinnom: Tophet was situate in a pleasant valley near Jerusalem, a place in the possession of the children of one Hinnom, Joshua 15:8, watered by the river of Siloe.

To burn their sons and their daughters in the fire: this most inhuman practice of burning their children, even their own bowels, to Moloch, not their sons only, but their daughters, who were most tender, the did expressly against the command and caution of God; See Poole "Deu 18:10"; having learned it of the heathen, Deu 12:30,31, the devil commanding them so to do by his oracles. They took pattern from the Samaritans where those of every nation make gods of their own, 2 Kings 17:29-31.

Neither came it into my heart; which was always so far from my approving, that I never let it come into my thought or debate, whether I should or not; or which I abhorred from my heart: he speaks herein after the manner of men: see Jeremiah 3:16 32:35And they have built the high places of Tophet,.... Where was the idol Moloch; and which place had its name, as Jarchi thinks, from the beating of drums, that the parents of the children that were burnt might not hear the cry of them: which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom; a valley near Jerusalem, and lay to the south of it, Joshua 15:8,

to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire: which was done, as Jarchi says, by putting them into the arms of the brasen image Moloch, heated hot. The account he gives of Tophet is this,

"Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved:''

but in this he is mistaken; for "Tophet" was not the name of an idol, but of a place, as is clear from this and the following verse. There is some agreement between this account of Jarchi, and that which Diodorus Siculus (z) gives of Saturn, to whom children were sacrificed by the Carthaginians; who had, he says, a brasen image of Saturn, which stretched out his hands, inclining to the earth; so that a child put upon them rolled down, and fell into a chasm full of fire:

which I commanded them not: not in my law, as the Targum; nor by any of the prophets, as Jarchi paraphrases it; he commanded them, as Kimchi observes, to burn their beasts, but not their sons and daughters. The instance of Abraham offering up Isaac will not justify it. The case of Jephthah's daughter, if sacrificed, was not by divine command. The giving of seed to Moloch, and letting any pass through the fire to him, is expressly forbidden, Leviticus 18:21,

neither came it into my heart; it was not so much as thought of by him, still less desired, and much less commanded by him. Jarchi's note is,

"though I spoke to Abraham to slay his son, it did not enter into my heart that he should slay him, but to make known his righteousness.''

(z) Bibliothec. Par. 2. l. 20. p. 756.

And they have built the high places of {q} Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I {r} commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

(q) Of Topheth, read 2Ki 23:10.

(r) But commanded the opposite, as in Le 18:21,20:3, De 18:10.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. high places] read high place. There would not be more than one altar in Topheth. So LXX and Targ.

Topheth] This probably is not the original vocalisation (LXX Ταφέθ), though the latter cannot be determined with certainty. As Bosheth was a frequent substitute for Baal (see on Jeremiah 3:24), and as the vowels of the former word were for a similar reason given to the consonants MLK (Melech, king), in order that offerings which the more enlightened felt it shameful to connect with Israel’s Divine King (Melech) might be represented as really made to a heathen god (Molech); so here the original form of the word Topheth is thought to have been disguised for the same purpose of discredit. The etymology of the word is doubtful. Perhaps it comes from a root appearing in Aramaic in the sense of fire-place. So Rob. Sm. Rel. of the Semites, p. 377 (1894), who points out that when the term “first appears in Hebrew, the chief foreign influence was that of Damascus” (2 Kings 16). A great pit constituted the “fire-place,” where the victims were consumed. See C. B. on Isaiah 30:33, where the word is from the same root, though in a slightly different form. As to the position of Topheth see next note. It was defiled by Josiah (2 Kings 23:10) as the scene of idolatrous and cruel rites.

valley of the son of Hinnom] The majority of scholars identify it with the Wady er-Rubâbeh, running W. and S. of Jerusalem, rather than with the Tyropoeon or the Kidron valleys. The derivation and meaning of Hinnom are unknown. Possibly it was the name of a former owner. See further on Jeremiah 2:23. As to the position of Topheth in connexion with it, all that we can say with tolerable certainty is that it was near the junction of the three valleys which encompass Jerusalem, and below Siloam. See HDB. Hinnom, Valley of, and Topheth.

to burn, etc.] The law laid down that firstborn alike of men and of cattle were dedicated to Jehovah. The firstborn of men and of unclean animals were to be redeemed, those of clean animals to be offered in sacrifice (Exodus 13:2; Exodus 13:12 f., Jeremiah 22:29, Jeremiah 34:19 f.; cp. Numbers 3:46 f., Jeremiah 18:15 f.). The fact that neighbouring nations, Arabs, Phoenicians, Moabites, actually sacrificed their firstborn, together with a misinterpretation of the above passages, may have led to a belief that Jehovah meant that this should be done, and possibly Jeremiah in Jeremiah 8:8 refers to a written perversion of the law in this direction. See note there. According to Ezek. (Ezekiel 20:25) the people were left by God in this belief as a judicial punishment. (Cp. for a parallel case Ezekiel 14:9.) Ezekiel there traces the custom to wilderness days. As human sacrifices came under the category of the burnt offering, and as animals were slain before they were consumed, we may presume that the same was done in these cases. (Milton, P.L. I. 394 ff. takes the other view.)

which I, etc.] Micah 6:7 shews that in his day the question of the efficacy of such sacrifices was a practical one.

mind] mg. heart. See on ch. Jeremiah 5:21.

31, 32. For a recurrence of the substance of this passage see ch. Jeremiah 19:5 f., 11.

Verse 31. - The high places of Tophet; rather, the high places of the Topheth - (on the "high places" (Hebrew bamoth) - hero probably artificial mounds to erect the altars upon, and on "the Topheth," see Commentary on 1 Kings). In the valley of the son of Hinnom. Hitzig and others would take Hinnom as a noun meaning "groaning" (Rashi, the great Jewish commentator. had already proposed this view), which is at first sight very plausible. But this name of the valley is already found in the description of the boundaries of Judah and Benin-rain in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16. To burn their sons, etc. (On the worship of Moloch (Saturn), see on Leviticus 18:21, and comp. Ezekiel 16:20, 21, from which it appears that the children were first slain before being "caused to pass through the fire.") Jeremiah 7:31Therefore the Lord has rejected the backsliding people, so that it shall perish shamefully. - Jeremiah 7:29. "Cut off thy diadem (daughter of Zion), and cast it away, and lift up a lamentation on the bald peaked mountains; for the Lord hath rejected and cast out the generation of His wrath. Jeremiah 7:30. For the sons of Judah have done the evil in mine eyes, saith Jahveh, have put their abominations in the house on which my name is named, to pollute it; Jeremiah 7:31. And have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of Benhinnom, to burn their sons and daughters in the fire; which I have not commanded, neither came it into my heart. Jeremiah 7:32. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jahveh, that they shall no longer say, Tophet and Valley of Benhinnom, but, The valley of slaughter; and they shall bury in Tophet for want of room. Jeremiah 7:33. And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the earth, with no one to fray them away. Jeremiah 7:34. And I make to cease out of the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for a waste shall the land become. Jeremiah 8:1. At that time, saith Jahveh, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah and the bones of his princes, the bones of the priests and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves. Jeremiah 8:2. And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, which they have loved, and which they have served, after which they have walked, and which they have sought and worshipped: they shall not be gathered nor buried; for dung upon the face of the earth shall they be. Jeremiah 8:3. And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue which is left of this evil race, in all the places whither I have driven them that are left, saith Jahveh of hosts."

In these verses the judgment of Jeremiah 7:20 is depicted in all its horror, and the description is introduced by a call upon Zion to mourn and lament for the evil awaiting Jerusalem and the whole land. It is not any particular woman that is addressed in Jeremiah 7:29, but the daughter of Zion (cf. Jeremiah 6:23), i.e., the capital city personified as a woman, as the mother of the whole people. Cut off נזרך, thy diadem. There can be no doubt that we are by this to understand the hair of the woman; but the current opinion, that the words simply and directly means the hair, is without foundation. It means crown, originally the diadem of the high priest, Exodus 29:6; and the transference of the same word to the hair of the head is explained by the practice of the Nazarites, to wear the hair uncut as a mark of consecration to the Lord, Numbers 6:5. The hair of the Nazarite is called in Numbers 6:7 the consecration (נזר) of his God upon his head, as was the anointing oil on the head of the high priest, Leviticus 21:12. In this sense the long hair of the daughter of Zion is called her diadem, to mark her out as a virgin consecrated to the Lord. Cutting off this hair is not only in token of mourning, as in Job 1:20; Micah 1:16, but in token of the loss of the consecrated character. The Nazarite, defiled by the sudden occurrence of death near to his person, was bound to cut off his long hair, because by this defilement his consecrated hair had been defiled; and just so must the daughter of Zion cut off her hair and cast it from her, because by her sins she had defiled herself, and must be held as unconsecrate. Venema and Ros. object to this reference of the idea to the consecrated hair of the Nazarite: quod huc non quadrat, nec in faeminis adeo suetum erat; but this objection is grounded on defective apprehension of the meaning of the Nazarite's vow, and on misunderstanding of the figurative style here employed. The allusion to the Nazarite order, for the purpose of representing the daughter of Zion as a virgin consecrated to the Lord, does not imply that the Nazarite vow was very common amongst women. Deprived of her holy ornament, Zion is to set up a lament upon bare hill-tops (cf. Jeremiah 3:21), since the Lord has rejected or cast out (Jeremiah 7:30) the generation that has drawn His wrath down on it, because they have set idols in the temple in which He has revealed His glory, to profane it. The abominations are the image of Asherah which Manasseh set up in the temple, and the altars he had built to the host of heaven in both the courts (2 Kings 21:5, 2 Kings 21:7). Besides the desecration of the temple of the Lord by idolatry, Jeremiah mentions in Jeremiah 7:31, as an especially offensive abomination, the worship of Moloch practised in the valley of Benhinnom. Here children were burnt to this deity, to whom Manasseh had sacrificed his son, 2 Kings 21:6. The expression "high altars of Tophet" is singular. In the parallel passages, where Jeremiah repeats the same subject, Jeremiah 19:5 and Jeremiah 32:35, we find mentioned instead high altars of Baal; and on this ground, Hitz. and Graf hold התפת in our verse to be a contemptuous name for Baal Moloch. תּפת is not derived from the Persian; nor is it true that, as Hitz. asserts, it does not occur till after the beginning of the Assyrian period, since we have it in Job 17:6. It is formed from תּוּף, to spit out, like נפת from נוּף; and means properly a spitting out, then that before or on which one spits (as in Job 17:6), object of deepest abhorrence. It is transferred to the worship of Moloch here and Jeremiah 19:6, Jeremiah 19:13., and in 2 Kings 23:10. In the latter passage the word is unquestionably used for the place in the valley of Benhinnom where children were offered to Moloch. So in Jeremiah 19:6, Jeremiah 19:13 (the place of Tophet), and Jeremiah 19:14; and so also, without a doubt, in Jeremiah 7:32 of the present chapter. There is no valid reason for departing from this well-ascertained local signification; "high altars of the Tophet" may perfectly well be the high altars of the place of abominable sacrifices. With the article the word means the ill-famed seat of the Moloch-worship, situated in the valley of Ben or Bne Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem. Hinnom is nomen propr. of a man of whom we know nothing else, and בּן( בּני הנּום) is not an appellative: son of sobbing, as Hitz., Graf, Bttcher explain (after Rashi), rendering the phrase by "Valley of the weepers," or "of groaning, sobbing," with reference to the cries of the children slain there for sacrifices. For the name Ben-hinnom is much older than the Moloch-worship, introduced first by Ahaz and Manasseh. We find it in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16, in the topographical account of the boundaries of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. As to Moloch-worship, see on Leviticus 18:21 and Ezekiel 16:20. At the restoration of the public worship of Jahveh, Josiah had extirpated Moloch-worship, and had caused the place of the sacrifice of abominations in the valley of Ben-hinnom to be defiled (2 Kings 23:20); so that it is hardly probable that it had been again restored immediately after Josiah's death, at the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign. Nor does the present passage imply this; for Jer. is not speaking of the forms of idolatry at that time in favour with the Jews, but of the abominations they had done. That he had Manasseh's doings especially in view, we may gather from Jeremiah 15:4, where the coming calamities are expressly declared to be the punishment for Manasseh's sins. Neither is it come into my heart, i.e., into my mind, goes to strengthen: which I have not commanded.

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