The Septuagint Online
Electronic Resources for the Study of the Septuagint and Old Greek Versions - Introduction
THE SEPTUAGINT, derived from the Latin word for "seventy," can be a confusing term, since it ideally refers to the third-century BCE Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, executed in Alexandria, Egypt. But the full story behind the translation and the various stages, amplifications, and modifications to the collection we now call the Septuagint is complicated. The earliest, and best known, source for the story of the Septuagint is the Letter of Aristeas, a lengthy document that recalls how Ptolemy (Philadelphus II [285""247 BCE]), desiring to augment his library in Alexandria, Egypt, commissioned a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. Ptolemy wrote to the chief priest, Eleazar, in Jerusalem, and arranged for six translators from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The seventy-two (altered in a few later versions to seventy or seventy-five) translators arrived in Egypt to Ptolemy's gracious hospitality, and translated the Torah (also called the Pentateuch: the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures) in seventy-two days. Although opinions as to when this occurred differ, 282 BCE is a commonly received date.