Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Abortion: Child Sacrifice in the 90s
Primitive cultures show little evidence of ABORTION or infanticide; they are primarily the practices of the higher cultures of antiquity. The only enlightening difference between our societies and Carthage of old is that we have sanitized the process. Today we do not offer our children to some idol; we destroy them in a hospital, in a most orderly and hygienic fashion. Ours are SACRIFICES OF CONVENIENCE without any facade of religious motivation. In truth, we are merely UNMASKED CARTHAGINIANS.
by Dr. John Currid
"People often ask me what has been my most interesting and rewarding archaeological experience. Apart from watching Raiders of the Lost Ark five times, I would have to say it was serving as a Field Supervisor of the recent excavations at Carthage in Tunisia. The effort to unearth the city of Carthage has been a tremendous international endeavor, including archaeological teams from Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere. The city has undergone intensive, full-scale excavations from the 1970's until today.
"Carthage is a port city located in northern Tunisia on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, roughly the time that Ahab and Jezebel were on the thrones of Israel. The Phoenicians resided on the northern coast of Israel and were well-known for their seafaring exploits. They colonized much of the Mediterranean world in antiquity, moving from Phoenicia to Cyprus, North Africa, Italy, Corsica, and Spain (some have even suggested that they discovered the New World).
"The most important colony founded by the Phoenicians was Carthage. Many people know of the city because of famous events associated with it, such as the great wars with Rome, Hannibal and his elephants, or Virgil's Aeneid.
"The most significant part of the American excavations occurred in the Tophet. The word Tophet comes from the Old Testament (e.g., 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:30-32), referring to a [lace of CHILD SACRIFICE and burial. Modern excavators applied the term Tophet to a cemetery we excavated bearing remains of children who had been ritually sacrificed as burnt offerings. It is the largest sacrificial cemetery ever found, measuring at least 60,000 square feet. Most stunning is the number of children sacrificed here -- estimated at a minimum of 20,000 burials between 400-200 BC during only one-third the life of the cemetery!
"The Phoenician barbaric practice of child sacrifice was well-attested in antiquity. Consider, for example, the comments of the Greek author Kleitarchos in the 3rd century BC:
'Out of reverence for Kronos (Baal Hamon), the Phoenicians, and especially the Carthaginians, whenever they seek to obtain some great favor, vow one of their children, burning it as a sacrifice to the deity, if they are especially eager to gain success. There stands in theor midst a bronze statue of Kronos, its hands extended over a bronze brazier, the flames of which engulf the child. When the flames fall on the body, the limbs contract and the open mouth seems almost to be laughing, until the contracted body slips quietly into the brazier.'
"Ironically, the Carthaginians called the immolations the 'act of laughing.'
"Scholars vigorously debate the purpose of child sacrifice at Carthage. Some ancient cultures sacrificed humans to gain an increase from the gods. Other cultures sacrificed humans in order to avert or dispel evil things. Thus, if one built a house or went to war, his children were sacrificed to keep evil or the bad gods away.
"These cultic rituals played a major role in the practice of child sacrifice at Carthage. However, they do not account for all aspects of it. For example, we should note that most children were sacrificed at Carthage when the city was at its heights, prosperous and militarily powerful. Conversely, when Carthage was at its most vulnerable, during the wars with Rome, FEWER chlid immolations occurred. If human sacrifice were merely for the intervention of the divine, we would expect the EXACT OPPOSITE. Why were there not more sacrifices later when Carthage really could have used the gods' help?
"Such problems have led archaeologists at Carthage to suggest another possibility: what appeared at Carthage was really infanticide for the purpose of population control. In other words, child sacrifice was not merely religious ritual, but was also a practical solution to a civic problem -- overpopulation. We know that at its height Carthage sustained a population of about 200,000 people. Recent scholarly studies have shown that the agricultural capacity of the area simply could not support such a large group. So, archaeologists have theorized that the Carthaginians helped to ease the population strain by destroying a non-threatening segment of the city's inhabitants.
"Whether or not this theory is correct is debatable; we must await further materials from excavations and an analysis of literary remains before solid conclusions may be drawn. At this time, however, it does appear to be a plausible reconstruction of the evidence available to us. With that in mind, I would like to suggest that this theory raises some interesting parallels with MODERN ABORTION and infanticide practices.
"Rarely do pro-abortion groups today fail to mention what they perceive as a noble advantage of their position: abortion is a means of population control in a world that can not sustain the people already here. In other words, since the world contains so many starving, unclothed, poor people, they claim we must take action; ABORTION AND INFANTICIDE, they say, are proper means to help solve these social ills. Frankly, that appears to be the same logic used by the ancient Carthaginians.
"Some critics have responded by saying that such a parallel is bogus because modern societies are more enlightened or 'civilized' than ancient Carthage. Is this really true? Are we really more 'civilized' than the Carthaginians?
"It is interesting to note that of all the societies I have studied, primitive cultures have LITTLE EVIDENCE OF ABORTION OR INFANTICIDE; they are primarily the practices of the higher cultures of antiquity. It seems to me that the only enlightening difference between our societies and Carthage of old is that we have sanitized the process. We do not offer our children to some idol; we destroy them in a hospital, in a most orderly and hygienic fashion. Ours are SACRIFICES OF CONVENIENCE without any facade of religious motivation. In truth, we are merely UNMASKED CARTHAGINIANS."
-- Bible and Spade, Winter 1994.
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