No one devoted, that shall be devoted from among men, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death. (ASV)
This verse confirms that the ancient Hebrews regularly indulged in human sacrifice.
Sacrifice of captured enemy soldiers was commonplace throughout the ancient world, but here it's endorsed in the Bible. The Bible also mentions two nasty variants: sacrifice of captured virgin girls (see Numbers 31:41) and sacrifice of their own firstborn children (see Ezekiel 20:26). --Robert Stevens 10:42, 4 Apr 2006 (CDT)
There are numerous problems with the idea that this passage refers to ritual human sacrifice:
- The first clause is not clear: it is "anything devoted by man", or "any man devoted"?
- The second clause is not clear: is it "shall be put to death", or "shall be unto death [i.e., remain dedicated until they die]" (cf. Jer. 25:9)?
- There is no indication in the passage of why a person would be "devoted to destruction" — it could be as with the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15:2-3, 18, who were thus "devoted" as a just punishment (which appears to be the idea in Num. 21:2; Deu. 7:2, 20:17; Jdg. 21:11; &c); thus making it a civil sanction of the death penelty, not a sanction of ritual human sacrifice.
- All other ritual laws are explained in great detail and belabored in several places — if the passage did refer to ritual human sacrifice, how come it is left to an obscure, hard to understand, fews words, tucked away at the back of the back?
- Other passages specifically condemn child sacrifice (e.g., Ezekiel 20:26). --126.96.36.199 12:19, 4 Apr 2006 (CDT)
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