Acts 7:43 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:43, NIV: You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile' beyond Babylon.

Acts 7:43, ESV: You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

Acts 7:43, KJV: Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

Acts 7:43, NASB: YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF YOUR GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL DEPORT YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’

Acts 7:43, NLT: No, you carried your pagan gods--the shrine of Molech, the star of your god Rephan, and the images you made to worship them. So I will send you into exile as far away as Babylon.'

Acts 7:43, CSB: You took up the tent of Molochand the star of your god Rephan,the images that you made to worship.So I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.

What does Acts 7:43 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jews who have traveled from northern Africa and modern-day Asia Minor to worship at the temple in Jerusalem have falsely accused Stephen, a Jewish Jesus-follower, of disrespecting Moses, the Mosaic law, and the temple. Stephen is giving a history of Israel to demonstrate the proper place of Moses, the Law, and the temple in Jewish worship: namely, that the Jews followed God for hundreds of years before they had any of these revered pillars. In this section, Stephen goes even further, quoting Amos 5:25–27 to compare the Jews' worship of religious trappings to their ancestors' worship of foreign gods.

Amos uses "Sikkuth" for "Moloch". Sikkuth was a Mesopotamian god. Melekh is Akkadian for "king"; most modern Bible readers are more familiar with the Canaanite "Moloch." Where Stephen used "Rephan," Amos used "Kiyyun." Kiyyun seems to be the Aramaic for the Akkadian god Kajamanu and the Assyrian Ka-ai-va-nu, who was associated with the Roman god Saturn. False gods traveled and changed names, often starting in Akkadian and changing as they went west into Canaan, Egypt, Greece, and Rome; for instance, the Akkadian Ishtar became the Babylonian Ashtoreth and the Greek Aphrodite. Stephen is not butchering Amos' text, he's just using more familiar terms for the false gods.

God warned the Israelites that idolatry would lead to exile before they entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 4:25–31). First, the northern kingdoms were taken to Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:26; 2 Kings 17:1–23), and then the southern tribes were taken to Babylon (2 Kings 24—25). Later the Babylonians conquered the Assyrians, and then the Persians conquered the Babylonians. The last phrase of Stephen's quote pairs with Amos 5:27. Amos was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel, and his prophecy that they would be taken "beyond Damascus" matches with the exile to Assyria. Stephen has the advantage of living several hundred years after the southern kingdom of Judah was taken to exile in Babylon and takes liberty with the passage to include this second exile. He is right that the Jews traveled "beyond Babylon," as because of the Babylonian exile, they settled farther east, into Iran and even India.

In Assyria, the Israelites of the northern kingdom intermarried and adopted some of the worship practices of those around them. Some of the mixed-Jews returned to their homeland and their descendants became the Samaritans whom the Jews reviled in Jesus' day (John 4:9). The Israelites who were exiled to Babylon returned after only seventy years. After several mis-starts, by the time of Jesus, they held the Mosaic law in high honor. Unfortunately, instead of worshiping God, they worshiped the worship of God.