EXCERPT The Winter 2012 issue of Bible and Spade may be the most important issue we have ever produced. It is dedicated to the subject of child sacrifice in the ancient world and Israel, and modern day abortion. In conjunction with the release of this issue, ABR will also be posting online articles to supplement Bible and Spade. In addition, ABR is offering the “180” DVD, featuring Ray Comfort. This 33 minute video documents discussions with 8 individuals who are pro-abortion. With impeccable logic and grace, Mr. Comfort helps these folks change their minds about modern day child sacrifice taking place in abortion clinics all across our land. We pray that this DVD, Bible and Spade, and our online articles will help changes hearts and minds on this critically important subject.
Despite considerable biblical evidence already summoned to support a strong pro-life position, more scriptural testimony seems to be needed to convince some Christians that anything less than such a position is unbiblical. One objection frequently raised to a dogmatic stand against abortion is that the Bible never specifically addresses the issue.
The reason for this omission has been pointed out by the Old Testament scholar Meredith Kline who, commenting on the lack of abortion legislation in biblical law says, “It was so unthinkable that an Israelite woman should desire an abortion that there was no need to mention this offense in the criminal code.”
There was, however, a rite performed in ancient Israel which has many parallels to the modern practice of abortion and is specifically addressed in the Sciptures. It was the rite of child sacrifice and Moses said it was one of the “detestable things the Lord hates” (Deuteronomy 12:31). In this article the largely neglected parallels between the ancient rite of child sacrifice and the modern practice of abortion will be examined in detail.
Archaeological and Extra-Biblical Literary Data
Before the biblical texts which address the practice of child sacrifice are examined, it will be helpful to draw on some of the archeological and extra-biblical literary data for the background they provide.
In 1921 the largest cemetery of sacrificed infants in the ancient Near East was discovered at Carthage. It is well established that this rite of child sacrifice originated in Phoenicia, ancient Israel’s northern neighbor, and was brought to Carthage by its Phoenician colonizers. Hundreds of burial urns filled with the cremated bones of infants, mostly newborns but even some children up to age six years old, as well as animals have been uncovered at Carthage.
They were buried there between the 8th century B.C. and the fall of Carthage during the third Punic War in 146 B.C. On the burial monuments that sometimes accompanied the urns, there was often inscribed the name or symbol of the goddess Tanit, the main Phoenician female deity, and her consort Ba’al Hammon. Infants and children were regularly sacrificed to this divine couple.
Fulfillment of a vow was probably the most frequent reason an infant or child was sacrificed as witnessed by the third century B.C. Greek author Kleitarchos (paraphrased by a later writer):
Out of reverence for Kronos (the Greek equivalent of Ba’al Hammon), the Phoenicians, and especially the Carthaginians, whenever they seek to obtain some great favor, vow one of their children, burning it as a sacrifice to the deity if they are especially eager to gain success.….
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