Jehovah defeated by Chemosh

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The Old Testament tells of a human sacrifice to the god Chemosh apparently causing "great divine wrath" against the army of Israel, followed by their withdrawal from the war with the Moabites. Jehovah have previously promised that Israel would prevail. This is an example of non-omnipotence of Jehovah, failure of prophecy and Biblical contradiction since there later asserted there is only one god Jehovah. This is an example of polytheism in the Bible.

2 Kings 3:27[edit]

In 2 Kings 3:18-19 Bible-icon.png, Elisha relates Jehovah's prophecy that the armies of Israel will defeat the Moabites:

And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.

and ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.

The Moabites suffer a series of military defeats. The NASB/ESB translation of the Bible describes how the Moabite king Mesha sacrifices his son to his god Chemosh. This apparently causes the defeat of Israel and their allied armies: 2 Kings 3:27 Bible-icon.png

"Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land."

This is an example of failed prophecy in the Bible. [1] However, there is an even greater significance to this verse. The great wrath may refer to the divine wrath of Chemosh! As noted in the footnotes of the NET bible: [2]

"The meaning of this statement is uncertain, for the subject of the anger is not indicated. Except for two relatively late texts, the noun קֶצֶף (qetsef) refers to an outburst of divine anger. But it seems unlikely the Lord would be angry with Israel, for he placed his stamp of approval on the campaign (vv. 16-19). D. N. Freedman suggests the narrator, who obviously has a bias against the Omride dynasty, included this observation to show that the Lord would not allow the Israelite king to “have an undiluted victory” (as quoted in M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings [AB], 52, n. 8). Some suggest that the original source identified Chemosh the Moabite god as the subject and that his name was later suppressed by a conscientious scribe, but this proposal raises more questions than it answers. For a discussion of various views, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 47-48, 51-52."

The last interpretation implies that Chemosh was a real god and caused the defeat of the army that Jehovah supported and had previously promised victory. This rules out Jehovah's omnipotence.

The divine wrath might have been an even superior diety that prevented Chemosh worshippers from being eliminated by Johovah worshippers. [3]


The Geneva Study Bible suggests that the sacrifice moved "Israelites hearts of pity to depart" causing their defeat or repulsed in horror, rather than the influence of Chemosh. This does not explain how "divine wrath" was involved in their departure. [4]

Matthew Henry suggests that the sacrifice was inspired by Satan. [5] The great divine wrath might have therefore been satanic.

The Moabites may have been inspired by the sacrifice and fought harder. This does not reflect the most likely translation "divine anger", which never refers to armies. [1]

Some thing that it was the king of Edom's son, not Mesha's own son, that was sacrificed but there is little support for that in the text. [4] [1]

Other argue that Jehovah was angry because of the sacrifice but this does not account for Israel's defeat and withdrawal. [6]

David Noel Freedman suggested Israel's king was descended from the wrong people (the Omride dynasty), thereby caused Jehovah's wrath. [7] Possibly Israel had the wrong allies and this angered Jehovah. This does not seem likely since Jehovah had promised Israel would prevail over the Moabites and it is not suggested in the text.

Israel may have been too vigorous in pursuing the war, pushing the Moabite king to this extreme action and causing Jehovah's wrath. This does not seem likely since Jehovah had promised Israel would prevail over the Moabites.

Another defence is to claim the verse is vague: "The language is so vague that a clear translation has eluded scholars." [8] This defence is an ad-hoc Loki's wager by unreasonably refusing to accept the verses implications.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Thom Stark, June 23, 2011 More on Richard Hess and 2 Kings 3:27 [1]
  2. NET Bible footnote, 2 Kings 3:27 [2]
  3. [3]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Geneva Study Bible, 2 Kings 3 [4]
  5. The Concise Matthew Henry Commentary, (2KG 3,7), 1838 [5]
  6. George M. Hartion, The Meaning of II Kings 3:27, Grace [6]
  7. Robert B. Chisholm, Jr. Making Sense Of Propecy, Recognizing The Precence Of Contingency, ETS Far West Regional Meeting, April 2007 [7]
  8. [8]

See also[edit]

  • Chariots of iron, Israel could not defeat chariots of iron even with Jehovah's help.
  • Jephthah offers the first thing to come out of his house as a burnt offering to Jehovah if he is victorious in battle. When he gets home, it turns out he meets his daughter.

External links[edit]