304. Ashtoreth Milcom

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1 Kings 11:5. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
1. Ashtoreth was the companion deity to Baal. See note on Numbers 22:41 (#184). This text, verse 33 of this chapter, and 2 Kings 23:13, are the only places where the word is used in the singular. In all other passages it is Ashtaroth, which is a term probably corresponding to Baalim, the plural of Baal. See note on Judges 3:7 (#222). The two words are in several places coupled together. See Judges 10:6; 1 Samuel 7:4; 12:10. Ashtoreth, or Astarte, was a goddess of the Sidonians, and also of the Philistines (1 Sam. 31:10). Under different names she was worshiped in all the countries and colonies of the Syro-Arabian nations. As Baal is supposed to have represented the sun, so Astarte is thought to have represented the moon; though some take the two to stand for Jupiter and Venus. The worship of Astarte is very ancient, and was undoubtedly connected with impure rites. But little is known of the form of the goddess or of the mode of worship. She is sometimes seen represented with the head and horns of a cow, and sometimes with a woman’s head having horns. We read in Genesis 14:5 of the city of Ashtaroth Karnaim, that is, the horned Ashtaroth. As the city was doubtless named because of the worship of Astarte, the word Karnaim (horns) is thought to have reference to the horns of the goddess, either lunar or bovine, or both. If “the queen of heaven” spoken of by Jeremiah was meant for Astarte, as many suppose, we have a little light thrown on the mode of her worship. “Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger” (Jer. 7:17-18). See also Jeremiah 44:17-19. Here a whole family is represented as engaging in the worship of the goddess. They present to her meat offerings and drink offerings, and burn incense. The worship of Astarte is also referred to in Judges 2:13; 1 Samuel 7:3; 12:10.. See likewise note on Isaiah 65:11 (#535).
2. Milcom, also called Malcham (Zeph. 1:5), is another name for Molech. See note on Leviticus 18:21 (#163).