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The very odd crucifixion of King Mesha’s firstborn

Occasionally there are conundrums in the Bible that are difficult to understand and appear to demonstrate some error of God, or some anomaly that appears to demonstrate that God never kept his promise. Detractors of Christianity can’t wait to jump on a troubling verse or a parenthetical scripture.

One such event is found in 2Kg.3, where its reports that after an onslaught by the three armies of Israel, Judah and Edom, Mesha, king of Moab, made a human sacrifice of his first son to the god Chemosh. This action appears to have resulted in a win over the armies of the Hebrews and their vassal state Edom [the children of Esau]. The win was the last chance for Moabite survival, and that of its capital Kir Hareseth – the last major stronghold and population of the Moabites.

When at war Israel, Judah and Edom warred by virtue of a scorched earth policy. Prior to this final assault on the capital of Moab, the three armies had stopped up or poisoned wells, threw large rocks and boulders on the cleared farmlands, and cut down every fruit tree.

Moabite Stone of King Mesha
Moabite Stone of King Mesha (896 BC)
Courtesy of Anderson Museum of Bible – Near Eastern Studies

What makes this event so confounding is that Elisha, of Abel-Meholah, who had received twice the Spirit of Elijah the Tishbite, had prophesied that the Judean and Israelite armies would have;

  • lots of water, without a rain cloud in sight;
  • Moab [the Nation] would be handed over;
  • every fortified city and major town would be destroyed.

If victory was promised by God to be so complete, why was the last stand army and citizens of Kir Hareseth able to obtain a last minute victory?

2Kg.3:20, 25, reports that Moab was overrun so thoroughly that the country was left treeless and every plowed field was peppered with stones [large stones]. So much for the prophecy, but it appears to fail in that a major town [Kir Hareseth] with its rock walls [no tower], was left standing; yet it was surrounded by men – armed with slings. Apparently, no siege works or battle tower was thought necessary.

However, the Moabite King, Mesha, took seven hundred men on horses and attacked the army of the Edomites; which means, the Edomites were the ones with the slings. Mesha realizing that the end was near for the whole of Moab, did the last thing he could do, and sacrificed his first son, by impaling or crucifying him – on the highest wall – to his god Chemosh. After that, the Bible states;

“The fury against Israel was great; and they [the armies] withdrew and returned to their own land” [2 Kg.3:27]. The KJV has it; “There was great indignation against Israel…”

The Hebrew word for “indignation” [fury] is ‘qetseph,’ and interprets as, “wrath”. What this suggests is that the sacrifice of the crown prince of Moab, caused the men of Moab, and probably the women as well, to throw caution to the wind and fall headlong into the battle with no regard for their lives. In any war, each side hopes the other cherishes life. When the continuance of life is not sought in a war, mayhem, wanton beastly and renegade slaughter prevails.

From a Hollywood standpoint, it is reminiscent of the movie, “Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves,” with Keven Costner. When the merry band of forest dwellers realized hordes of aboriginal Pics were descending upon them like stampeding wild buffaloes – both sexes painted up – decorated with bones in their noses, many naked, evincing braids of animal and human teeth garland around their necks – eyes on fire, mouths gaping wide-open – screaming like banshees – and armed with deer antlers for flesh pickers and gougers – well, Keven Costner’s eyes bulged and he yelled, “To the trees…to the trees!” It wasn’t much different for Edom, Israel and Judah. A man could get killed in this kind of combat!

It was a natural occurrence in those days to posture on the field of battle, in the hopes of frightening the enemy into surrendering or submitting. Nobody really wanted to get killed, but they had their honor to protect.

Alexander the Great would psyche the opposition by taking advantage of his attributes of stealth, tactics and propaganda. It was repeated far and wide that Alexander was the offspring of a god, and so a giant – cunning, strong and armed like Goliath with weapons the size and weight of a weaver’s rod. Alexander would have giant horse shoes cast, and giant bridles and bits made up, for the pre-battle psyche demonstrations. He would then crank up his catapults and heave the menacing looking items into the opposing side’s encampment. From the hills they would insult and intimidate the opposition with words and gestures. However, if one side did not submit, the battle would commence.

The wounded were simply the dead, or the eventually dead, simply because the weapons used were whole-hog chopping machines that could amputate, heads, arms and legs. A three inch wide double-sided blade 30 to 36 inches long can do great harm quickly – better than a 25-30 caliber bullet. Warriors either stood their ground until death, or became the last man standing. Many times, when the battle became entangled and lustfully bloody, men would run in all directions – away from the battle.

I have seen video of just such behavior from Islamic jihadi forces, as they desecrate the dead bodies: beheading, dissecting, chopping, dragging and some even cutting out a heart in order to crew on it. This was the way of war three millennia ago. The Islamic jihad armies of today still fight this way.

But where was Judah during the siege of Kir Hareseth? They may have returned home, since everything else in Moab was totally destroyed. Rationally speaking, how many hundreds of thousands would a general need to capture a ten acre city? However, because Judah’s vassal Edomite army was directly in the fray, Jehoshaphat’s Judean remnant soldiers were probably up on a rise, ready to support the Israelites, by directing the Edomite forces.

Moab, however, was Israel’s vassal that had previously rebelled. It was not Judah’s responsibility; to subdue Moab, and so King Jehoshaphat’s army was probably in the rear, or up on some hill to mop up the fleeing remnants or most of Jehoshaphat’s army had simply gone home early, because they anticipated an easy victory at Kir Hareseth.

Nonetheless, the Moabites rallied at Kir Hareseth, and were not utterly defeated, thus lay ing the framework to the charge that God couldn’t get the job done, or that Elisha the Prophet was not a prophet at all.

EXEGETING THE ANALYSIS

For those who have just a little faith, know that God did not renege on His promise, nor was he unable to check the rage displayed by the remnant of the Moabite army.

There is a reasonable solution to the failure of total victory.

* The original lack of faith that lead to the Kir Hareseth incident, was accomplished by Israel’s Ahaziah, in 2Kg.1, after King Ahab’s death. The failure belonged to the Northern kingdom of Israel – not to Judah. Instead of seeking out Elijah the Tishbite for God’s will concerning his declining health, Ahaziah sought the will of Baal-Zebub, the “fly god” of Ekron. For Ahaziah’s blatant disregard for Yehovah he was smitten with death [2Kg.1:1-4]. With two successive deaths of Israel’s kings, Moab reasoned it had a chance to get out from under its vassal status.

* Joram, who succeeded Ahaziah. Though he took some care to placate Yehovah, by removing the Baal Stone. Later he decided to seek out help against Moab, through his friendship with Judah’s King Jehoshaphat. His desire rested on the arm of man, not God. When the ill-considered war plan was about to collapse, Joram blames God [2Kg3:10]. Elisha was found to be with the armies and it was Judah’s King Jehoshaphat that asked for the prophet. The Prophesy was given to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, because Elisha refused to honor King Joram of Israel.

* Israel was not responsive to the word of God, by faith and placed the second rate Edomite army up front, for the final kill [3Kg.24-26]. A similar situation can be found in Judges 4, between Deborah and Barak.

* The archeological find, called the Moabite Stone – a black basalt ledger that King Mesha erected – displays the history of King Mesha of Moab; his personal victory over the suzerain Israelites, and makes no mention of Judah.

* King Joram of Israel failed to trust God and fully defeat their enemies. A similar situation can be found in 2Kg.13: 14-19, between King Jehoash and Elisha. The king’s failure to go beyond what was expedient and easy prevented a complete victory. It was also a deficiency of Israelite Kings to barter away their victories for earthly wealth, as Ahab did with Ben-Haddad of Syria, as found in 1Kg.20:29-34.

* Yehovah defends the ill-conceived league, between Jehoshaphat and Joram, for the honor of Jehoshaphat and Judah, and God diminishes the future riches and prestige of the Israeli, Edomite and Moabite kings, making Judah the overall winner. Yet the Judean Kings had a penchant for making quick compacts with the backslidden Israelite kings. Ill-conceived pacts cost Ahaziah of Judah his life, as found in 2Kg.9:21-27.

To gain better insight into this analysis, we must look at: who Moab and Chemosh were; the expectation of the Abrahamic circumcision covenant; and the prohibitions set upon the Kings of children of Jacob.

WHO WERE THE MOABITES?

The Moabites were the incestuous offspring of Lot and his oldest daughter [Gen.19:30-38].

As the story goes in Gen.19, Lot, his wife and daughters, quickly fled the five city plane, albeit without his daughter’s betrothed husbands. The men thought Lot was joking about the impending destruction of the plain cities [Gen.13:10-13]. The two angels told Lot to go to the mountains, but Lot dawdled, and the four-some were caused to scurry to a small village called Zoar. The people of Zoar saw the destruction, and believed Lot was directly responsible for calling down the fire on the cities of the plain. The outcome was that no man wanted to marry Lot’s daughters. Could you blame them? It would be like marrying the sister of Elijah.

The scattering or fleeing of Lot’s family – for cover and safety – “like a flock of birds” – is consistent with scripture that refers to Moab as “fluttering birds” [Is.16:2]. In Is.15:5 and also Jer.48:34, the Moabites would flee back to the place from whence they came – to Zoar. So the trio of Lot’s family lived in the low rent district of caves for a while. Similarly, because of the future sin of the Moabite nation – that of trusting in the wrath [burning] of Chemosh – God will make them like Sodom and Gomorrah – a furnace from whence they fled [Zeph.2:9].

The fluttering bird analogy is an entandre that goes back to when the Moabite king, Balak, who was son of Zippor, called for the magi Balaam to curse Israel. The word Zippor means, “bird.”

As for calling Balaam magi; do not forget he was the one – inspired by Yehovah in Numbers 24:17 – who made the prophesy, “a star will come out of Jacob, a scepter will rise out of Israel…” Magi were a special brand of pagan priests. They were soothsayers and star gazers, who mixed scientific observation with occult prophesy. The magi of Mt.2:1-2 looked for the star that was prophesied by Balaam, but it was the Hebrew priests and scribes that pointed to Bethlehem, from the prophet Micah.

A full treatment of Balaam is not justified here, but suffices to say, God used many men who were not Abraham’s descendants, in order to bring civility to different areas of the earth. The fact that Balaam liked money, and weaseled for profit, just means he had clay feet. He was careful to keep the letter of God’s command, while finding a way around the spirit of the same demand.

However, back to Moab; since the Moabites and the Midianites conspired with Balaam – to seduce the Israelites at Peor [Num.22-25, 31:16] – they would flee like the birds they were [Jer.48:6, 40-44] – back to the place of their beginnings – there to die with the Sodomites {five cities of the plain] in a furnace. The multiple entandre are a sophisticated way of God displaying that Moab was not a “fury” to be reckoned with, but a “bird” that would flee, and when caught would cook up nicely in God’s furnace of “brimstone and fire.”

After Lot and his two daughters left Zoar for the caves, the women – desiring to perpetuate their clan, got their father drunk and laid with him. The offspring names were Moab [meaning, “from my father”] and Ben Ammi [meaning, “son of my people”]. Thus we have the Moabites and the Ammonites.

They, like their cousins the Edomites, and the other descendants of Abraham’s wives and concubines – Hagar, and Keturah – were, and still are, “People of the Circumcision Covenant.” This is why Jer.9:25-26 prophesies,

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised only in the flesh – Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the desert in distant places [Saudis, Jordanians, Yemenis, Bahrainis, Qataris etc.] All Muslims are circumcised.

Fast forward 500 hundred years. The Moabites have developed a religious system around the winged Cherub, called Chemosh – concerning the exploits of their patriarch Lot who fed from the furnace – and therefore, Moabites are called by the scriptures, the “people of Chemosh” [Num.21:29; Jer.48:7, 46]. It was Lot who summoned the destruction from heaven, brought by a Cherub, because it was Lot who sat in the gate of Sodom city as a judge, and was distressed by the behavior of the sodomites, homosexuals, lesbians, pedophiles and rapists [Gen.19:1, 2Pe.2:6-8, Jude 7].

CHEMOSH:

The Moabite idea was; if the Cherub came down because of Lot’s prayer, and at the loss of his future son-in-laws, then the sacrifice of the first born child would bring a desired response from Chemosh – also known as Molech by the Ammonite. This god was introduced to Judah via

Solomon when he built a grotto for Molech in order to placate one of his wives. The grotto mound was also the place of worship for other deities [1Kgs.11:4-8].

The ritual of Chemosh or Molech is to heat a hearth until it is red hot and then set your infant down into the burning arms of the icon or its coal hearth, as a redemptive sacrifice. A similar ritual is found today in the U.S.A., at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. The idol is a monstrous owl that represents the Roman god Minerva. A life like effigy, or cadaver of a child, [a living child?] that the adherents refer to as “CARE,” is thrown into the burning hearth at the base of the owl. The Persian Zoroastrian god Mithras is similar, in that he was believed to bring fire down from the heavens.

Compare the ritual of Chemosh [Molech] with God’s prohibition found in Deut.18:10-11. The descendants of Jacob are not to sacrifice their children through the fire. However this occult practice was brought into Judah by Solomon [1Kg.11:7], and thoroughly practiced by King Manasseh’s building of Molech’s sanctuary [2Chron.33:6, 2Kg.21:6 Jer.19:5]. However, King Josiah demolished the occult shrine, as written in 2Kg23:10.

The place where Solomon built the “high place shrines” to both Chemosh and Molech, was to the east of Jerusalem [1Kg.11:5-7], which is toward the Mount of Olives. We are told he did this for his wives, after he had become old. The particular wives that made him stray were, singled out by God as, the Moabite and Egyptian women – and in specific, “Pharaoh’s daughter” [literally in the Hebrew; “in standing with the Pharaoh”]. Solomon’s Egyptian princess wife, was actually a courtesan to Pharaoh’s family – a close relative – and was a gift most probably from Pharaoh Psusennes, the last king of the 21st Dynasty [1075-945 BC] – so states Keil, Delitzsch, Winer and Ewald.

The general area for occult offense was called To-Pheth [To-Phet], transliterated from the Aramaic and means “fireplace or hearth, and used as a moniker. This place was similar to the Grotto of Pan in Caesarea Philippi. It was strewn with totems and idols that had at their base a hearth in which a human or other sacrifice was offered [Jer.32-35]. It was associated with Hinnom which is translated into the Greek as, Gahanna or Hell. The Bible also states that the Hinnom Valley was to the South of Jerusalem [2Kg.23:10], but the “Tophet” was set on a hill to the east of Jerusalem [1Kg.11:7]. This description would set the Tophet on the S-E hill, which today is called, “the Mount or Hill of Offense.”

Getting back to our original discussion of the battle at Kir Hareseth; there is a play on words in the last verse of 2Kg.3:27, concerning the siege of Kir Hareseth; “The fury against Israel was great…” The name Chemosh comes from the Hebrew, ‘chem’ which means “fury.” The name is a hyphenation or conflation of ‘Chem’ and ‘mos(h),’ which means “dwelling.” Essentially, the country of Moab or its capital Kir Hareseth was the “Dwelling of Fury.” ‘Kir’ means “enclosure” and Hare-seth comes from ‘Har,’ a “hill” or “mountain,” and ‘sheth’ which means “destruction” – hence, the mound or hill of destruction by fire.

The words would invoke fear to outsiders; in that the descendants of Lot moved from the low plains to the circle of boulders upon the mountain of destruction, where great fury was to be found. The “fury” has more to do with demon possession than with the altruism of fearlessness. As the “demoniac of Gerasenes” [Gadarenes] – whom contingents of men could not subdue – who could break chains with his bare hands [Mt.8; Mk.5; Lk.8] – so to the Moabites, once they offered up a child, or an important human being, to the fallen angels and their legions of demons.

This child sacrifice is commonly understood to take place even today among dark-witch covens, Satanists, and other demonic styled secret organizations, as I have already specified with the San Francisco Bohemian Club. The occult idea explained; since Yehovah required Isaac’s sacrifice at the hands of Abraham, and that of Jesus Christ the Son of God, as the atoning-sacrifice, so too, the Devil desires similar honor and fealty. For every honor or sacrifice that God sanctions the Devil has its antithesis.

Once the child or persona is killed and burned, the adherents open themselves to possession, from which they are endued with magnificent strength. Even so, the child of God should not fear;

“When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will put him to flight” [Is.59:19].

The people of God are admonished;

“Stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord…” [Ex.14:13].

Fealty toward God, and faithfulness under pressure, results in the subduing of legions of demons!

The Moabite Stone refers to Moab’s triumph over Israel, not Judah. Similarly the stele makes reference to Chemosh, in similar manner that Judah refers to Yehovah. Apparently, some manifestation of supernatural apparition occurred where Chemosh directed the priest or king to complete certain tasks.

REASON FOR MOAB’S VASSAL STATUS:

Because Moab offended Yehovah, by not allowing Moses and Israel through their territory, and because they encouraged Israel into idolatry [Num.22-25, Jug.11:17-18], the LORD determined that he would remove Moab from its carefree and peaceful place. Naturally, Lot’s decedents chose the area of lower Jordan for its overall lush pastures and seasonal rains, as they were sheep herders. At the time of Israel’s, Judah’s and Edom’s attack on Kir Hareseth, we need to realize that Moab had cornered the market in sheep exports, whether for tribute or trade. The Bible records that Moab was expected to deliver 100,000 sheep and the wool of a 100,000 rams as tribute [2Kg.2:4].

As Judah and Israel increased in strength and wealth, they subdued the smaller nations around them. Eventually, Moab refused to pay tribute to the Northern Kingdom under the reign of the Israelite, King Joram [2kg.3:1-4].

Israel’s King Joram had the attitude to rely on the strength of man. However, he was in God’s will to keep the Ammonites and the Moabites in subjection. His way of getting the divine decrees completed, was to willy-nilly make preparation for war, without consulting Yehovah.

What we find is that many other prohibitions – set by Yehovah – were ignored by King’s Joram and Jehoshaphat. Of these rules of engagement are provided below.

PROHIBITIONS GIVEN TO THE KINGS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH:

Deut.17:16 – The Hebrew Kings were not to acquire great numbers of horses or chariots, because they were expected to rely on God for the victory.

  • Deut.17:17 – They were also not to acquire great amounts of silver gold and jewels, because they were to rely on God for their mammon.
  • Deut.17:20 – The Hebrew Kings were not to think of themselves as better than their brother Hebrews and tribesmen.
  • Deut.20:1 – When engaged in war they were not be fearful of an enemy, who has more of everything and is feared by other nations, because God will be with his children. “Not by might or power but by my Spirit says the Lord” [Zech.4:6]
  • Deut.20:2 – They are to be fearless and not faint hearted. They are to stand their ground, because God is will deliver them.
  • Deut. 20:10 – When a Hebrew king marches on a city, he was to first make the opposition an offer of peace. The Romans did this often.
  • Deut.20:13 – When God delivers the city into the king’s hand, the king was to kill the men, only.
  • Deut.20:19 – During war they were NOT to use “scorched earth” policies. They were not to destroy the fruit trees – but they could cut down other types of trees for siege-works, fuel or shelter.

SUMMATION:

As one can readily see, the campaign against Moab was all messed up, from a standpoint of Biblical Law. Yet God got what he wanted out of it. He was chastening Israel in order to bring

them back to proper worship. He was favoring Judah, for that is the tribe Messiah would come from. He was paying back the Moabites according to his earlier prophesies of Moses and Joshua. He was reducing the manpower of Edom according to prophesies of Moses and Joshua.

Yehovah even used the scorched earth policy of King Joram to reduce the economy of Israel. The word of God states that the armies destroyed everything, trees and cattle and goats; so where would Israel receive its 5 million pounds of free meat and 1 million pounds of free wool. And there was trade loss across the border, and the loss of a secondary market for fruits and vegetables, slaves and servants.

Similarly, during the US Civil War that Generals Grant and Sherman – with Lincoln’s assent – used scorched earth policies on the Confederate South. This military action caused a major recession after the Civil war, and caused the USA to borrow from European Banks – opening the door to a private central bank and fiat currency.

What can be summarized from this epic is that “obedience is better than sacrifice” [1Sam.15:22]; and that most promises or prophesies meant for our welfare, are conditional. In the end, God was not a liar or ineffectual, but we are generally unfaithful. Yet, King Jehoshaphat was able to glean the favor of Yehovah, because he alone was not slack in seeking the mind of God.

would succor from this event that the hand of God is never short when we act in obedience to his direction or commands. The Christian has the same difficulties these days, with prayer that only ends partially fulfilled. This event, found in the Old Testament, should be a wake-up call to every Christian.

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