V.3. What Is the Septuagint?

Question: Do you have any information on the Septuagint translation of the Bible?

Answer: "Septuagint" is from the Latin, meaning “seventy.” There were really 72 translators; i.e., six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. They translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek for the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, Egypt, and surrounding areas. The abbreviation for “Septuagint” is LXX, the Roman Numerals for 70.

Shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., Jews emigrated to Egypt (Jeremiah 43:5-7; 44:1). Later came Alexander the Great, who conquered Phoenicia, Palestine, and Egypt, founding the great city of Alexandria. He was impressed with the intelligence of the Jews in Palestine and showed them his kindness; causing many to accompany him into Egypt, settling in and around Alexandria. They were admitted into full citizenship and became valuable citizens.

Alexander’s aim was to conquer the world and make it Greek in language and civilization. After his premature death in 323 B.C., his kingdom was divided into a line of kings called Ptolemy's. Ptolemy I brought thousands of Jews from Jerusalem to Alexandria, giving them religious freedom, full citizenship rights, and many other favors. He founded the famous Alexandrian Library, the greatest of the ancient world; also, a museum and a college.

By this time, Greek had become the common language in Egypt and the East. It had become impossible for the Jews to maintain their social and business standings in Egypt and still retain their Semitic speech. Just as they had dropped the Hebrew and adopted the Aramaic; so now they adopted the Greek. Therefore, the need for a translation of Old Testament Scriptures into the Greek; thus, the Septuagint.


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