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Moloch(mō`lŏk), in the Bible: see MolechMolech
, Canaanite god of fire to whom children were offered in sacrifice; he is also known as an Assyrian god. He is attested as early as the 3d millennium B.C.
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(biblical Molech, Milcom), a god of the west Semitic tribes (referred to in the Bible as the god of the Ammonites); to propitiate Moloch, burnt sacrifices, primarily young children, were offered.
In the view of a number of scholars,“Moloch” was not the name of the divinity but was actually the ritual of the sacrificial burning of the children, the details of which are little known. The cult of Moloch became especially widespread at a later time in Carthage (introduced by the Phoenicians), as is testified by thou-sands of urns found with the ashes of children and by numerous inscriptions. The purpose and meaning of this ritual remain somewhat unclear. As an epithet,“Moloch” has come to mean a fearsome, insatiable force ceaselessly demanding human vic-tims.
( Moloch horridus), a lizard of the family Agamidae. The type species of the genus Moloch, it is also known as the thorny devil. Body length, up to 22 cm. The head is small and narrow, and the broad, flat body is covered with curved, horny spines. The spines above the eyes and on the back of the head resemble horns. The body is brownish yellow with ocher stripes above and light ocher with dark stripes beneath. The moloch can change color in relation to variations in illumination and temperature. It lives in Australia in sandy deserts and feeds on ants, which it catches with its sticky tongue. It is active during the day. The female deposits six or seven eggs in a burrow, which hatch in 90–130 days.