Who was Chemosh in the Bible?Chemosh was an ancient god worshipped by the Moabites (Numbers 21:29; Jeremiah 48:7). Scholars believe the name Chemosh possibly means "destroyer" or "fish-god." Chemosh is very similar to the other gods of the time. He is associated with the goddess Ashtaroth, and some scholars believe that other gods of the region, like Molech, were all manifestations of the same deity (1 Kings 11:7, 33). Worship to Chemosh included child sacrifice, as demonstrated by the Moabite king sacrificing his eldest son when he saw they were losing in battle (2 Kings 3:27). There is very little information on who the Moabites believed Chemosh to be, with two of the major sources being Old Testament Scripture and a Moabite tablet, the Mesha Stele (or Moabite Stone), a stone dating back to 9th century BC.
The Moabites were not the only ones to worship Chemosh. The Israelites, in their rebellion to God, had a temple to Chemosh. First Kings 11:6–8 says, "So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods."
King Josiah of Judah later tore down the temple to Chemosh, along with temples to other deities: "And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites" (2 Kings 23:13).
Chemosh also makes an appearance in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Milton's fictional epic poem associates Chemosh with lust because ancient gods were often worshipped through sexual acts. Milton describes how King Josiah "drove them thence to Hell" (Book 1, line 418).
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