A place outside Jerusalem where, for a considerable period, apostate Israelites, including Ahaz and Manasseh, engaged in child sacrifice. Finally, King Josiah made it unfit for worship. (2Ki 23:10; 2Ch 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31-33; 19:3-14; 32:35) Topheth probably occupied a section of the eastern part of the Valley of Hinnom near the Gate of the Potsherds.—Jer 19:2, 6, 14; see HINNOM, VALLEY OF.
Commenting on 2 Kings 23:10, the Jewish commentator David Kimhi (1160?-1235?) offers this possible explanation concerning Topheth: “The name of the place where they caused their sons to pass through [the fire] to Molech. The name of the place was Topheth, and they said it was called thus because at the time of worship they would dance and strike tambourines [Heb., tup·pimʹ] so that the father would not hear his son’s cries when they were causing him to pass through the fire, and that his heart might not become agitated over him and he take him from their hand. And this place was a valley that belonged to a man named Hinnom, and it was called ‘Valley of Hinnom’ and ‘Valley of the Son of Hinnom’ . . . . And Josiah defiled that place, reducing it to an unclean place, to cast there carcasses and all uncleanness, that it might never again come up into the heart of a man to cause his son and his daughter to pass through in the fire to Molech.”—Biblia Rabbinica, Jerusalem, 1972.
At Isaiah 30:32, 33 it is stated that the punishment that Jehovah will bring against Assyria “will certainly prove to be with tambourines [Heb., bethup·pimʹ] and with harps . . . . For his Topheth is set in order from recent times . . . . Fire and wood are in abundance. The breath of Jehovah, like a torrent of sulphur, is burning against it.” Here Topheth is used figuratively as a place of burning with fire, to represent the destruction that was to come upon Assyria.