In Leviticus 18:21 in the LXX it reads..

"And thou shalt not give of thy seed to serve a ruler; and thou shalt not profane my holy name; I the Lord"

... which is different from the Masoretic rendering of Molech, which reads:

You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

The sudden mention of Molech in this passage on fornication in the Masoretic has always stood out to me as odd, especially when it is addressed later in Lev 20. (incidentally, the LXX does go on to mention Molech specifically in Lev 20.)

So I'm thinking the LXX may be closer to the original in this verse. But can anyone shed more light on the Greek "To serve a ruler"? It seems pretty vague.

Thank you!

  • The sudden mention of Molech in this passage on fornication in the Masoretic has always stood out to me as odd - You're not alone, apparently. Children or offspring are the product of intercourse.
    – Lucian
    Aug 5, 2021 at 16:46

2 Answers 2


MT reads:

וּמִֽזַּרְעֲךָ֥ לֹא־תִתֵּ֖ן לְהַעֲבִ֣יר לַמֹּ֑לֶךְ 
and you shall not give your seed as an offering to m-l-ch

I think this is one of those situations where the three letter root m - l - ch (מלך) can be either "melech", "king, ruler", or "molech", the diety, depending on which unwritten vowels are used. Remember the LXX was translated 1000 years before the nikud pointing system was invented[1].

One can make a case for either reading, but I prefer the MT Molech, as the passing of children through the fire to Molech was a practice condemned in the law whereas the giving of children to rulers in general is not a violation of the law as children were sent to kings and others to both perform labor and religious duties (1 Sam 1.22), so I don't see why there would be a prohibition on such a common practice, nor why such a general prohibition would be less out of place than the one against Molech. In both cases parents would be tempted to get rid of children from illicit unions (particular children born of adultery with neighbors wives), but offering them as child sacrifices to Molech was prohibited.

[1] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberian_Hebrew

  • Right, dedicating (same word as give in Hebrew) your seed to serve or worship seems to be a clear reference of Moloch. Aug 5, 2021 at 16:26
  • @SolaGratia Well, Samuel was dedicated, so the idea of dedicating children in general is not prohibited. I should add some scripture links, but have to run to work now, will add later.
    – Robert
    Aug 5, 2021 at 16:27
  • Yes, however, my point was that dedicating one's childre "to serve" (worship) anyone else but God would be idolatry. Aug 5, 2021 at 16:34
  • Yes, agreed, it would be idolatry
    – Robert
    Aug 5, 2021 at 16:35
  • Very good answer +1.
    – Dottard
    Aug 5, 2021 at 21:50

Robert has given his excellent answer already. Here, I'll supplement a little.

H4432 מֹלֶךְ Molek is the name of a heathen god
H4428 מֶלֶךְ melek means king or ruler

The two words have the same Hebrew 3-letter root. Their meanings are related. Pulpit:

Molech was a Canaanitish and Phoenician deity, the name meaning King, just as Baal means Lord

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