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Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears,
Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud
Their children's cries unheard, that passed through fire
To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshipped in Eabba and her watery plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His temple right against the temple of God
On that opprobrious hill,1 and made his grove
The pleasant valley of Hinnom. Tophet thence
And black Gehenna called, the type of Hell.
Next Chemos,2 the obscene dread of Moab's sons
From Aroar to Nebo, and the wild
Of southmost Abarim; in Hesebon
And Horonaim, Seon's realm, beyond
The flowery dale of Sibma. clad with vines,
And Eleale to the Asphaltic pool.
Peor his other name, when he enticed
Israel in Sittim on their march from Nile
To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.
Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarged
Even to that hill of scandal,3 by the grove
Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate;
Till good Josiah4 drove them thence to Hell.
With these came they, who from the bordering flood
1 Solomon built a temple to Moloch on the Mount of Olives (1 Kings xi. 7), therefore called " that opprobrious hill;" and high places and sacrifices were made to him " in the pleasant valley of Hinuom," Jer. vii. 31, which lay south-east of Jerusalem, and was called likewise Tophet, from the Hebrew, ioph, a drum; drums and such like noisy instruments being used to drown the cries of the miserable children who were offered to this idol; and Gehenna, or "the valley of Hinnom," is in several places of the New Testament, and by our Saviour himself, made the name and type of Hell, by reason of the fire that was kept up there to Moloch, and of the horrid groans and outcries of human sacrifices.—Newton.
3 God of the Moabites, 1 Kings xi. 7.
3 His high places were adjoining to those of Moloch, on the Mount of Olives, therefore called here "that hill of scandal," as before "that opprobrious hill," for " Solomon did build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Moloch, the abomination of the children of Ammon," 1 Kings xi. 1
* 2 Kings xxiii. 18, sq.
Of old1 Euphrates to the brook that parts
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baalim and Ashtaroth,2 those male,
These feminine. For spirits when they please
Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is their essence pure,
Not tied or manacled with joint or limb,
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but in what shape they choose,
Dilated or condensed, bright or obscure,
Can execute their airy purposes,
And works of love or enmity fulfil.
For those the race of Israel oft forsook
Their living strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial gods; for which their heads as low
Bowed down in battle, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth,3 whom the Phoenicians called
Astarte, Queen of Heaven, with crescent horns;
To whose bright image nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs,
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her temple on the offensive mountain, built
By that uxorious king, whose heart, though large,
Beguiled by fair idolatresses, fell
To idols foul. Thammuz4 came next behind,
1 Because this river is mentioned in the earliest records of time.— See Gen. ii. 14.
* Probably the sun and the "host of heaven."
* The goddess of the Phoenicians, and the moon was adored under this name. She is rightly said to "come in troop " with Ashtaroth, as she was one of them, the moon with the stars. Sometimes she is called " queen of heaven," Jer. vii. 18, and xliv. 17, 18. She is likewise called "the goddess of the Zidonians," 1 Kings xi. 5, "and the Abomination of the Zidonians," 2 Kings xxiii. 13., as she was worshipped very much in Zidon or Sidon, a famous city of the Phoenicians, situated upon the Mediterranean.—Newton.
* The account of Thammuz is finely romantic, and suitable to what we read among the ancients of the worship which was paid to that idol. Maundrell gives the following account of this ancient piece of worship, and probably the first occasion of such a superstition. "We came to a fair large river—doubtless the ancient river Adonis, so famous for the idolatrous rites performed here in lamentation of Adonis. We had the fortune to see what may be supposed to be the occasion of that opinion which Lucian relates, viz., that this stream, at certain
Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured
Who mourned in earnest, when the captive ark
seasons of the year, especially about the feast of Adonis, is of a bloody colour, which the heathens looked upon as proceeding from a kind oi sympathy in the river for the death of Adonis, who was killed by a wild boar in the mountains, out of which this stream rises. Something like this we saw actually come to pass; for the water was stained to a surprising redness ; and as we observed in travelling, had discoloured the sea a great way into a reddish hue, occasioned, doubt less, by a sort of minium, or red earth, washed into the river by the violence of the rain, and not by any stain from Adonis's blood."— Addison.
Thammuz was the god of the Syrians, the same with Adonis, who, according to the traditions, died every year and revived again. He was slain by a wild boar in Mount Lebanon, from whence the river Adonis descends; and when this river began to be of a reddish hue, as it did at a certain season of the year, this was their signal for celebrating their Adonia, or feasts of Adonis, and the women made loud lamentations for him, supposing the river was discoloured with his blood.—Newton.
1 See Ezek. viii. 13, sq.
3 i. e. the threshold. See 1 Sam. v. 4.
3 See Layard's Nineveh, vol. ii. p. 467, note; and Calmet, p. 285, of my edition.
Next came one
A leper once he lost,1 and gained a king,
Ahaz his sottish conqueror, whom he drew
God's altar to disparage and displace
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious offerings, and adore the gods
Whom he had vanquished. After these appeared
A crew who, under names of old renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train,
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abused
Fanatic Egypt and her priests, to seek
Their wandering gods disguised in brutish forms
Bather than human. Nor did Israel 'scape
The infection, when their borrowed gold composed
The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king
Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,3
likening his Maker to the grazed ox;
Jehovah, who in one night when he passed
From Egypt marching, equalled with one stroke
Both her first-born and all her bleating gods.3
Belial came last, than whom a spirit more lewd
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself: to him no temple stood
Or altar smoked; yet who more oft than he
In temples and at altars, when the priest
Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who filled
With lust and violence the house of God 1
In courts and palaces he also reigns
And in luxurious cities, where the noise
Of riot ascends above their loftiest towers,
And injury and outrage: and when night
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
1 Naaman, who, on account of his cure, resolved henceforth to "offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice to any other god, but unto the Lord," 2 Kings v. 17.
* Great, however, as was the sin of the Israelites in setting up these calves, it has been well observed by Dean Graves (on the Pentateuch) part iii. Iect. ii., that " such relapses into idolatry never implied a rejection of Jehovah as their God, or of the Mosaic law, as if they doubted its truth. The Jewish idolatry consisted, first, in worshipping the true God by symbols; but, in every one of these instances, far from rejecting Jehovah as their God, the images, symbols, and rites employed were designed to honour him, by imitating the manner in which the most distinguished nations the Jews were acquainted with worshipped their divinities."
* Alluding to the worship of Ammon under the form of a rani
Of Belial,1 flown 3 with insolence and wine.
All these and more came flocking; but with looks Downcast and damp, yet such wherein appeared Obscure some glimpse of joy, to have found their chief
1 See Calmet, p. 141, of my edition.
2 i. e. heightened, excited.
3 Gen. xix. 8.
4 Javan, the fourth son of Japhet, is supposed to have settled in the south-west part of Asia Minor, about Ionia, which contains the radical letters of his name. His descendants were the Ionians and Grecians; and the principal of their gods were Heaven and Earth. Titan was their eldest son ; he was father of the giants, and his empire was seized by his younger brother Saturn, as Saturn's was by Jupiter, son of Saturn and Rhea. These first were known in the island Crete, now Candia, in which is Mount Ida, where Jupiter is said to have been born; thence passed over into Greece, and resided on Mount Olympus, in Thessaly; "the snowy top of cold Olympus," as Homer calls it, which mountain afterwards became the name of Heaven among their worshippers; "or on the Delphian cliff," Parnassus, whereon was seated the city Delphi, famous for the temple and oracle of Apollo; "or in Dodona," a city and wood adjoining, sacred to Jupiter; "and through all the bounds of Doric land," that is, of Greece, Doris being a part of Greece; "or fled over Adria," the Adriatic, "to the Hesperian fields," to Italy; "and o'er the Celtic," France and the other countries overrun by the Celtes, "roamed the utmost isles," Great Britain, Ireland, the Orkneys, Thule, or Iceland, "Ultima Thule," as it is called, the utmost boundary of the world.— Newton,