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Simply put, the “Septuagint” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament text.  It is often abbreviated as “LXX.”  The word means, “Seventy.”  According to the “Targum,” 70 men were placed in 70 different locations apart from each other; and when they were done with their individual translations they came together and all of them essentially had to agree with each translation presented in order for their translation to be accepted; which it was.






The origins of the legend that 70 separate men came up with the same translation from Hebrew to Greek started in the late 2nd century B.C., where we have a document named, “The Letter Of Listia.”  Later, Philo exonerated it by touting its miraculous elements.


Aristeas, in “The Letter of Aristeas,” justified the document in order to justify the “Alexandrian Translation.”  Aristeascontacted the librarian of the Alexandrian library and learned that he, the librarian, was contacted by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (B.C. 285–246), one of the four kings of the Grecian empire, king over Egypt, to gather together all the known extent writings, including the literature of the Jews, that was not already in the library.


Thus, Prolemy brought in Jewish scholars in order to translate their works, and when finished, he declared all Jews may be free because of the translation that these Jewish scholars had produced.


In a side note, by legend, there were six elders from each of the twelve tribes, creating the number of 72 translators.


But it reality, wasn’t about making a translation for the Jews.  It was about the Jewish community in Alexandria Egypt having their very own translation of their Bible that they could read.  At this point in history, apparently the Egyptian community of Jews couldn’t read Hebrew anymore.






It is thought that the translation is not up to par with higher literature of the time in Alexandria Egypt.  However, the translators were translating to street level Greek in order to reach an entirety of the Jewish population.  Analysis of the language has established that the “Torah,” or “Pentateuch” (the first five Books of the Old Testament), were translated into Greek near the middle of the 3rd century B.C., and that the rest of the Old Testament was translated in the 2nd century B.C.


This Greek text, not the original Hebrew, was the main basis for the Old Latin, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Georgian, Slavonic, and part of the Arabic translations of the Old Testament, and has never ceased to be the standard version of the Old Testament in the Greek church.  Indeed, Jerome used the “Septuagint” to begin his translation of the “Latin Vulgate” in 382 A.D.


The “Septuagint” has four divisions:  The Law, history, poetry, and the prophets, with the books of the “Apocrypha” inserted where thought to be appropriate.  This division has continued in the Western church in most modern Bible translations, except that in Protestant versions, the “Apocrypha” is either omitted or grouped separately.


The text of the “Septuagint” is contained in a few early, but not necessarily reliable manuscripts, due to the Protestant influence.  The best known of these are the “Codex Vaticanus (B),” and the “Codex Sinaiticus (S),” both dating from the 4th century A.D., and the “Codex Alexandrinus (A),” from the 5th century.  There are also numerous earlier papyrus fragments and many later manuscripts.  The first printed copy of the “Septuagint” was in the “Complutensian Polyglot,” (1514–22).






The translation in the 2nd century B.C. is not as close to the “Masoretic Text,” as the 1st century B.C. translation, if we compare them to the “Minor Prophets.”  Thus, we can see the influence that the “Masoretic Text” had over the “Septuagint.”


Even more interesting, is that many of the Manuscripts match with the “Dead Sea Scrolls.”  This may be because many of the “Dead Sea Scrolls” date to the 3rd and 2nd B.C. century.


Since the Hebrew translators were all from the same town (Alexandria, Egypt), and that they all agreed upon witch Greek word best translated from the Hebrew equivalent, is understandable.  Thus, the closeness in the 70 or 72 translators.  An example would be that when Joseph is governor of Egypt, so is the chief butler and chief baker, chief of their professions.  This is the same distinguishing features of Ptolemy II Philadelphus’ court setup.  Similarly, Moses’ “baskets” equals “container” in Egyptian, and was translated as such.  Plus, the Greek starts out speaking of Moses as, “There was a man,” instead of the typical Hebrew, of there being a baby in a basket.  Thus, the Egyptian influence of the time.


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