I have often wondered what the meaning of the word Tophet-flare in Kipling’s Kim Chapter 1 means? The quotation is

'Oh ye who tread the Narrow Way
 By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day,
 Be gentle when the heathen pray
     To Buddha at Kamakura!’

Tophet-flare does not appear in the online OED as a derivative and it is not quoted in any of the meanings.

I would be most grateful for any enlightenment. Thanks for any help.


  • From the Kipling Society, here:

    Tophet-flare the name Tophet has a number of parallel associations which led to its becoming a synonym for Hell. It was the eastern end of the valley of Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem, where the city’s refuse used to be burned night and day. More disturbingly, it was at Tophet that the Jews, lapsing into idolatry, were said to burn children alive by passing them through the fire in sacrifice to Moloch; see Isaiah 30.33, Kings 23.10, Jeremiah 7.31 and 19.6. ‘Tophet’ may be derived from toph a drum, or tabret referring to the drums struck to drown out the cries of these children. By this reference Kipling invokes an established image of the destruction of children in such a way that a link is made between this destruction and Christian teaching.

  • Thank you Amos that is a most helpful answer. Cheers.

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