During my recent readings into Leviticus, I noticed a difference between the Masoritic Text and that of the Septuagint.
|Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “You shall also say to the sons of Israel: ‘Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
(Lev 20:1-2 NASB)
|And the Lord spoke to Moyses, saying: You shall also speak to the sons of Israel: If any of the sons of Israel or of the guests who have come in Israel – whoever gives any of his offspring to a ruler, by death let him be put to death; the nation in the land shall stone them with stones.
(Lev 20.1-2 New English Translation of the Septuagint)
The Greek reads,
καὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ λαλήσεις ἐάν τις ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν προσγεγενημένων προσηλύτων ἐν Ισραηλ ὃς ἂν δῷ τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτοῦ ἄρχοντι θανάτῳ θανατούσθω τὸ ἔθνος τὸ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς λιθοβολήσουσιν αὐτὸν ἐν λίθοις
The bold word is ruler. The Orthodox Study Bible translates this passage as ‘to worship a ruler’, although I am not sure where they get ‘worship’ from.
I can understand the Molech bit, with its connotation of child sacrifice. But in my opinion, the passage in the Greek becomes more about idolatry, and more than that, nationalistic idolatry. We read in Deuteronomy that a King would require the sons of the people in his army, but this is counseling against giving children to a ruler. Could this translation choice be directed towards Jews serving in either Ptolemy’s or the Roman armies of the time?
What do you think? How far off am I?