Here is one a many questions that has always puzzled me concerning the Septuagint:

Why would faithful Jews want to translate the Holy Scriptures into Greek in 250 BC? This would be totally contrary to God’s law before the coming of the Christ.


Because Hebrew had fallen into dis-use. Remember, there were large communities of Jews all over the Roman empire, who gathered together for large Jewish festivals in Jerusalem. They all spoke Greek. Hence, Hebrew simply died on the vine, so to speak.

A similar analogy is Latin from the Middle Ages to today. Only a handful of people (relatively speaking) still speak Latin, which influenced the Church’s decision to tend toward the vernacular.

I’ve heard that theory before, but it doesn’t hold water.

While ancient Hebrew is all but a lost language we could compare it to changes within the English language - no one says “thee” and “thou” these days.

The English spoken in Shakespeare’s day is a lost language in this same sense.

To this day, Jewish children are taught Hebrew.

Also, Jews in Jesus day knew other languages as second languages, but didn’t need these other languages to communicate amongst themselves. They used the Greek language to spread the Gospel to gentiles. They did not speak Greek to communicate with fellow Jews.

It makes no sense for Jews to translate Hebrew Scriptures to Greek, especially since they were still using the Hebrew more than 250 years later in Jesus’ day.


Please quote book, chapter, and verse from the OT where it says it’s against God’s law to translate the Scriptures in to any language at all.

Hebrew had died out as a vernacular langauge during the Babylonian exile and gotten replaced by Aramaic.

By 250 BC, Greek was the lingua franca for the eastern Mediterranean area.

And there were a large number of Hellenized Jews, as well as curious Gentiles.

I will add that it’s a good thing we have the LXX. It is based on a Hebrew text that is actually OLDER than the present Masoretic version, which was not stabilized until 1100 AD or so–rather late, don’t you think?

Until the discovery of the DSS, the oldest OT mss were in fact the LXX–and the DSS many times support LXX variants.

I didn’t mean to suggest a specific law was written forbidding translations. If that were so, our Bibles today would all be written in Hebrew. :slight_smile:

My comment was pertaining to the laws of separation. Hebrews were not to intermingle with pagans and all non-Hebrews were pagans. This is why it is so unbelievable.

If I thought you were correct that “Hebrew had died out as a vernacular langauge during the Babylonian exile and gotten replaced by Aramaic.” I would have to ask how it is that Jews today can speak Hebrew? It is part of their religious instruction.

I would really like to know what the rational behind translating to Greek would have been? It seems totally contrary to their culture at the time.


I believe they did so because they had gone under the rule of Alexander the Great who advanced Hellenism (Greek) wherever he conquered. Link.

You’ve been given the reason already, Ginger. The Hebrew language had to be re-learned - actually re-created - in its spoken form; it was Zionism which was the impetus for this re-learning.




That makes sense as to why they learned to speak Greek. (It always reminds me of a Canadian who told me that all French speaking Canadians can speak English but not all the English speaking Canadians can speak French. The French speaking refuse to speak English to the English speaking. Tee Hee. So childish.)

Anyway, one of the reasons this puzzles me is Luk 23:38, "And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. "

Why not simply write it in Greek if it had become a sort of universal language? Surely there would be no need to write in Hebrew if it was already a lost language. :shrug:

As a-matter-of-fact, if they no longer spoke or read Hebrew, how could they have written it in Hebrew to begin with???

See what I mean?

It wasn’t lost as a written language, but as a spoken language for every-day use (it was still used liturgically).

I’m asking, if the common everyday language was Greek, why write it in both Greek and Hebrew?

It makes no sense for Pilate to have it written in both Greek, and Hebrew. Why not just Greek?


People wanted to make $&@#(!@ sure that the Jews got the point, so he wrote it in such a way that EVERY Jew could read it.

Besides, the Jews didn’t speak Hebrew amongst themselves - they spoke Aramaic. Notice Jesus’ words are often spoken in Aramaic, which is different from Hebrew - such as “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani” (I hope I spelled that right).

Another thing to consider. It was the Jews in Alexandria (Egypt) who initiallty sanctioned the Septuagint. If I remember correctly, the Jewish community in Alexandria was rather sizable, maybe even larger than the Jewish community in Jerusalem.

Alexandria was considered one of the more learned cities in the world, housing the largest collections of writings until the Romans decided to burn the library. These Jews were rather Hellenistic and spoke Greek first. It made perfect sense to them (IMO) to create a Greek translation.

I sometimes wonder why I even bother asking questions in this forum…

I sometimes wonder why you won’t accept answers that are given to you.

What’s the problem?

BTW, I meant to say PILATE wanted to make $&@#(!@ sure that the Jews got the point, so he wrote it in such a way that EVERY Jew could read it.

Because you don’t provide answers, but speculation that doesn’t fit history. “People wanted to make $&@#(!@ sure that the Jews got the point, so he wrote it in such a way that EVERY Jew could read it.” doesn’t make you sound all that sincere.

Your point about the Alexandrian Jews would be well taken, but not to explain events in Jerusalem where even you admit they were speaking Aramaic if not Hebrew.

Maybe I should back up a little. The legend of how the LXX was created is what prompted my questions in the first place.

1st, it is based on a pseudepigraphc (sp?) letter. I can’t find any evidence that doesn’t depend solely on this fake letter to support the LXX as being what is claimed.

2nd, the legend doesn’t even make sense. This King set out to have 72 Jews (six from each tribe) translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek at a time when the Jews were relatively new to the Greek language and the tribes were scattered.

3rd, these faithful, God-fearing, well-educated Jews were willing to translate their sacred Scriptures for a pagan king without so much as hesitation. And also translate pseudo- scriptures and mix them together with the divine Scriptures.

4th, they had no objection to tossing the whole works in with secular writings. That is a far cry from the way YHWH told them to handle the sacred books.

Not to mention, how did they get copies of the Hebrew texts to translate? These books weren’t just set out for anyone to borrow.

If you don’t know the answers, why not just say so instead of playing guessing games and then being annoyed that I don’t accept your speculation as fact.

I don’t have the answers, that’s why I asked the questions - to see if someone might have some information.


Nothing wrong with the answers you are getting…
Short and to the point but all valid so far…
And yes, the popular conception of its origins is considered by scholars to be legendary


Judaism was not confined to Judah - it had spread. As there were Jews in Alexandria in the third century - Greek-speaking Jews in Egypt - various versions of the books of the Hebrew Bible were made, during the period 280-130, more or less.

Why should translating the books have been “totally contrary to God’s law” ? :confused:

So, in your opinion, Jews would be eager to share their Holy Scriptures with pagans and mix up the Holy writings with pagan writings and pseudo works?

I perfectly understand why the LXX was considered a great tool to witness to gentiles as it was written in a language they could read for themselves, but I am talking about a period in time long before Jesus.

What I don’t understand is how a pagan king can send his pagan librarian out to the Jews to request they turn over their Holy writings for him to copy into Greek - and actually get the Jews to willingly entrust the Scriptures to pagans.

Maybe the Catholics have yet another version of this legend that makes some sense…but I’ll have to search for it myself as none of you seem to want to share it.


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