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I believe the literal translation is that he passes his sons through the fire. Does that mean that they still lived but were scarred for life, or did they lose their lives?

2 Chronicles 28:3 (JPS)
Moreover he offered in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics--Stack Exchange! –  Jon Ericson Dec 1 '11 at 16:48
    
I'd always assumed based on the way passages such as these are translated that the purpose was burn their children to death. But ritual mutilation by fire is actually far more horrifying. –  Jon Ericson Dec 1 '11 at 17:17

2 Answers 2

The Ben Hinom valley appears a number of times in the Tanakh, and is the site of worship for the Molech god. Opinions differ as to how exactly the god was served, but it involves either burning (to death) or singeing. See Gehenna on the location, and Moloch on the practice.

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The verb in question (ba'ar) is "to set on fire", per the Analytical Key to the Old Testament. Furthermore, the Hebrew is clearly saying "into the fire" (the B in front of the clause is "In" such as "In the beginning")

The interesting thing to me in researching this, however, is that the incense that is burned in the previous verse is burned using a different verb. But, it does appear that the child was burned and consumed.

The sensious plenior, of course, is that offering your kids to Molech is a Bad Thing(TM) in any event. Whether or not the children survived the ordeal doesn't seem to affect the text in either way.

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What does "byd" mean and what does "akot" mean? –  Amichai Dec 1 '11 at 15:51
    
Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! Did Richard (in chat) guess right about what AKOT means? Is it the "Analytical Key to the Old Testament"? –  Jon Ericson Dec 1 '11 at 18:27
    
I wasn't sure how to transliterate the Hebrew - its a bet ayin & a d. :) Indeed, AKOT is the Analytical Key to the Old Testament. Basically I just fired up Logos and summarized my results... –  Affable Geek Dec 1 '11 at 20:23
    
You might consider using an online source for the purposes of linking. For instance, the NET Bible (classic) site transliterates it as: ba`ar <01197>. –  Jon Ericson Dec 1 '11 at 23:11

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