Sakkuth and Kaiwan

SAKKUTH and KAIWAN sǎk’ əth, ki’ wən (סִכּ֣וּת, כִּיּ֣וּן, τὴν σκηνήν, meaning uncertain; tabernacle, pedestal, astral deities have been suggested). A reference to Israelitish apostasy.

The worship of heavenly bodies constituted a real threat to Israel and she was warned against it and condemned for it repeatedly (Deut 4:19; 2 Kings 17:16). In the period of Assyrian domination, esp. after the reign of Shalmaneser III (858-824 b.c.) it became very popular. From a Babylonian incantation it is evident that Sakkuth and Kaiwan were interchangeable names for the god Saturn. Amos warned Israel that devotion to this god would bring ultimate ruin, and that she must detach herself from it (Amos 5:26).

The word sakkuth may also be vocalized as sukkōt, in which case it means tent or booth. It is so taken in the DSS (CD p. 7, 1:15), the LXX, and NT (Acts 7:43). This may be because of the word’s basic meaning or because of a play on words. The tabernacle of Moloch is thus an element of heathen worship and the mention of the god chiun, Saturn, serves the same purpose. The vocalization kiyyun of the Heb. text instead of the normal kaiwan is a Jewish device whereby the vowels of the Heb. word abominable (shiqqus) are attached to the name of the heathen deity. The NT, following the LXX, uses rephan, apparently from repa, an Egyp. name of the god Saturn (cf. F. F. Bruce, Acts of the Apostles, in loc.).