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Demon worship in The Old Testament. Part.1.

Demon worship in The Old Testament

Demon worship in The Old Testament. Part.1.

By John Chopores


Leviticus 17:7  "They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations."'

The Hebrew word for “offer” is the word “zabach”, which means: “to slaughter,  kill,  sacrifice,  slaughter for sacrifice”.

The word for “played the harlot” is the Hebrew word, “zanah”, it means (in a fig. Sense): “to be unfaithful (to God)”.

The word “statute” is the Hebrew word, “chuqqah”, which means: “statute,  ordinance,  limit,  enactment,  something prescribed”.


We see that fallen Mankind has an habit of demon worship. Cf. Revelation 9:20  But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.


Comments by others:

“they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils--literally, "goats." The prohibition evidently alludes to the worship of the hirei-footed kind,  such as Pan,  Faunus,  and Saturn,  whose recognized symbol was a goat. This was a form of idolatry enthusiastically practised by the Egyptians,  particularly in the nome or province of Mendes. Pan was supposed especially to preside over mountainous and desert regions,  and it was while they were in the wilderness that the Israelites seem to have been powerfully influenced by a feeling to propitiate this idol. Moreover,  the ceremonies observed in this idolatrous worship were extremely licentious and obscene,  and the gross impurity of the rites gives great point and significance to the expression of Moses,  "they have gone a-whoring."” [JFB].

“And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils,  &c.] As it seems they had done,  which was monstrously shocking,  and especially by a people that had the knowledge of the true God.  

… for if men do not worship God and Christ,  let them worship what they will,  it is only worshipping devils,  #1Co 10:20 Re 9:20; and so the calves of Jeroboam are called devils,  #2Ch 11:15; hence the golden calf also,  the Israelites worshipped but lately in the wilderness,  might go by the same name; to which sense is the Targum of Jonathan,


``and they shall not offer again their sacrifices to idols, which are like to devils.''


The word here used signifies "goats",  and these creatures were worshipped by the Egyptians,  and so might be by the Israelites,  while among them; this is asserted by several writers. Diodorus Siculus says {c},  they deified the goat,  as the Grecians did Priapus,  and for the same reason; and that the Pans and the Satyrs were had in honour by men on the same account; and Herodotus {d} observes,  that the Egyptians paint and engrave Pan as the Greeks do,  with the face and thighs of a goat,  and therefore do not kill a goat,  because the Mendesians reckon Pan among the gods; and of the Mendesians he says,  that they worship goats,  and the he goats rather than the she goats; wherefore in the Egyptian language both Pan and a goat are called Mendes; and Strabo {e} reports of Mendes,  that there Pan and the goat are worshipped: if these sort of creatures were worshipped by the Egyptians in the times of Moses,  which is to be questioned,  the Israelites might be supposed to have followed them in it; but if that be true,  which Maimonides {f} says of the Zabii,  a set of idolaters among the Chaldeans,  and other people,  long before the times of Moses,  that some of them worshipped devils,  whom they supposed to be in the form of goats,  the Israelites might have given in to this idolatry from them,  and be the occasion of this prohibition:


after whom they have gone a whoring; idolatry being a spiritual adultery,  a forsaking God,  who had taken them into a conjugal relation, and been as an husband to them,  and cleaving to idols,  which were as paramours; see #Jer 31:32 Eze 16:26;


this shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations: not only this of not sacrificing to devils,  but all before commanded,  particularly that they should bring their sacrifices to the priest,  at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.


{a} P. Martyr. de Angleria,  Decad. 1. l. 9.

{b} Vartoman. Navigat. l. 5. c. 2. 23. & 1. 6. c. 16. 27.

{c} Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 58, 79.

{d} Euterpe,  sive,  l. 2. c. 46.

{e} Geograph. l. 17. p. 551.

{f} Moreh Nevochim,  p. 3. c. 46.” [JOHN GILL].          


Deuteronomy 32:17  They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear.

The Hebrew word for “know” use here is, “yada”, it can mean: “to know by experience”. The word is in the Hebrew perfect tense, which means a completed action.    



2 Chronicles 11:15  Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made.

Comments by others:

“for the calves which he had made--figures of the ox gods Apis and Mnevis,  with which Jeroboam's residence in Egypt had familiarized him.” [JFB].

“and for the devils; demons in the shape of goats,  as this word signifies,  in which form many of the Heathen deities were worshipped; idols of whatsoever kind are so called; for whosoever worships them worships not God,  but devils,  #1Co 10:21 the images which Jeroboam set up may be meant,  and the next clause may be rendered as explanative of them:” [JOHN GILL].



Psalms 106:37  They even sacrificed their sons And their daughters to demons,

Comments by others:

“Ver. 37. Yea,  they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils. We need no better argument to discover the nature of these gods than this very service in my text accepted of them: for both by the record of sacred writ,  and relation of heathen authors and other writers,  we know that nothing was so usually commanded nor gratefully accepted by these heathenish gods,  as was the shedding of man's blood, and the sacrificing of men,  maids,  and children unto them,  as appears by the usual practice of men in former times.  From the testimonies of Scripture,  I give only the example of the king of Moab,  mentioned in #2Ki 3:27,  where it is said,  that,  being in some straits,  "He took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead,  and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall."


The stories likewise of the heathen are full of like examples. When the oracle of Apollo was asked by the Athenians how they might make amends for their killing of Androgens,  it willed them to send yearly to king Minos seven bodies of each sex to appease the wrath of god.  Now this kind of yearly sacrifice continued still in Athens in the time of Socrates. Thus the Carthaginians,  being vanquished by Agathocles,  king of Sicily,  and supposing their god to be displeased, to appease him did sacrifice two hundred noble men's children.  This custom was ancient even before the Trojan war,  for then was Iphigenia sacrificed. Thus we read that the Latins sacrificed the tenth of their children to Jupiter; that men and children were usually sacrificed to Saturn in many places in Candia,  Rhodomene,  Phoenice,  Africa,  and those commonly the choice and dearest of their children and most nobly descended. The manner of sacrificing their children to Saturn, Diodorus relates to be this: bringing their children to the statue or image of Saturn,  which was of huge greatness,  they gave them into his hands,  which were made so hollow and winding that the children offered slipped and fell down through into a cave and furnace of fire.  These sacrifices continued in use till the birth and death of our Saviour Christ,  who came to destroy the work of the devil; for such sacrifices were first forbidden by Augustus Caesar; after more generally by Tiberius (in whose reign our Saviour suffered) who,  as Tertullian writes,  so straitly forbade them,  that he crucified the priests who offered them: howbeit,  even in Tertullian's time,  and after in Eusebius' and Lactantius' times,  such sacrifices were offered (but closely) to Jupiter Latialis.


Who can now doubt,  seeing such exceeding superstitious cruelty, but that the gods commanding such sacrifices were very devils and enemies to mankind?  God commands no such thing,  but forbids it,  and threatens plagues to his people,  because they had forsaken him and "built also the high places of Baal,  to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal,  which I commanded not,  not spake it, neither came it into my mind" (#Jer 19:5). Most infallibly then we may conclude that none but Satan,  that arch devil,  with his angels, were the commanders of such service,  for this agrees right well with his nature,  who hath been a murderer from the beginning. --Robert Jenison,  in "The Height of Israel's Heathenish Idolatrie,  in Sacrificing their Children to the Devil", 1621.”