Megillah, Daf Tet, Part 3



The Talmud now shows how the Greek elders translated the Torah. The central idea here is that the elders changed the verses to avoid various interpretive or theological problems.

Due to the nature of this passage I have lined it up in a table. The middle column is what is written in the Talmud. On the left is the translation of the purported Septuagint. The right side is the actual Hebrew text. I have not translated the Hebrew original but you should be able to understand it from my explanation below.



The Actual Biblical Verse

Septuagint (the Talmud’s reconstruction)

English Translation of How They Translated

בראשית פרק א פסוק א

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים


בראשית פרק א פסוק כו

נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ



בראשית פרק ב פסוק ב

וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי

וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי

בראשית פרק ה פסוק ב

זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם


בראשית פרק יא פסוק ז

הָבָה נֵרְדָה וְנָבְלָה שָׁם שְׂפָתָם



בראשית פרק יח פסוק יב

וַתִּצְחַק שָׂרָה בְּקִרְבָּהּ


בראשית פרק מט פסוק ו

כִּי בְאַפָּם הָרְגוּ אִישׁ וּבִרְצֹנָם עִקְּרוּ שׁוֹר


שמות פרק ד פסוק כ

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת בָּנָיו וַיַּרְכִּבֵם עַל הַחֲמֹר



שמות פרק יב פסוק מ

וּמוֹשַׁב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יָשְׁבוּ בְּמִצְרָיִם שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וְאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה


שמות פרק כד פסוק ה

וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶת נַעֲרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל


שמות פרק כד פסוק יא

וְאֶל אֲצִילֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ


במדבר פרק טז פסוק טו

לֹא חֲמוֹר אֶחָד מֵהֶם נָשָׂאתִי


דברים פרק ד פסוק יט

אֲשֶׁר חָלַק יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֹתָם לְכֹל הָעַמִּים


דברים פרק יז פסוק ג

וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיַּעֲבֹד אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לָהֶם וְלַשֶּׁמֶשׁ אוֹ לַיָּרֵחַ אוֹ לְכָל צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא צִוִּיתִי

וכתבו לו אלהים ברא בראשית,


אעשה אדם בצלם ובדמות,




ויכל ביום הששי, וישבות ביום השביעי,


זכר ונקבה בראו, ולא כתבו בראם,



הבה ארדה ואבלה שם שפתם,



ותצחק שרה בקרוביה,



כי באפם הרגו שור וברצונם עקרו אבוס,



ויקח משה את אשתו ואת בניו וירכיבם על נושא בני אדם,




ומושב בני ישראל אשר ישבו במצרים ובשאר ארצות ארבע מאות שנה,



וישלח את זאטוטי בני ישראל,



ואל זאטוטי בני ישראל לא שלח ידו,



לא חמד אחד מהם נשאתי,



אשר חלק האלהיך אתם להאיר לכל העמים,



וילך ויעבוד אלהים אחרים אשר לא צויתי לעובדם,

And they wrote for him, "God created in the beginning",


"I shall make man in image and likeness",


"And he finished on the sixth day, and rested on the seventh day,"

"Male and female he created him" [but they did not write "created them"],


"Come let me descend and confound their tongues,"


"And Sarah laughed among her relatives";


"For in their anger they slew an ox and in their wrath they dug up a stall";


"And Moses took his wife and his children, and made them ride on a carrier of men";


"And the dwelling of the children of Israel which they stayed in Egypt and in other lands was four hundred years,"


"And he sent the elect of the children of Israel";


"And against the elect of the children of Israel he did not send forth his hand";

"I have taken not one valuable of theirs";


"Which the Lord your God distributed to give light to all the peoples";


"And he went and served other gods which I commanded should not be served."



Genesis 1:1: Here they changed the order of the words around. According to Rashi the original order might give the impression that an entity named "Bereshit" created God. The change in order might also serve to emphasize that God preexisted the world.

Genesis 1:26: The plural form, which gives the impression of a multitude of gods, was changed into singular.

Genesis 2:2: The original is confusing did God complete creation on the sixth day or on the seventh day? The revised version makes more sense.

Genesis 5:2: In the original it sounds like two humans were originally created. The emendation changes the word to the singular.

Genesis 11:7: The original is plural and has been emended to the singular.

Genesis 18:12: In the Torah, both Abraham and Sarah laugh when told that they will have a child, but God gets angry only with Sarah. This is puzzling. To fix this problem, the translation reads that Sarah laughed in front of her relatives. Abraham laughed only to himself, and that is why God was not angry with him.

Genesis 49:6: In the original, Shimon and Levi are accused of killing a person. This is emended so that they only killed an ox.

Exodus 4:20: It is a bit dishonorable that Moses has no better vehicle for his wife and kids than a donkey. No horse, no camel! Therefore, the verse is emended.

Exodus 12:40: 430 years is emended to 400 years.

Exodus 24:5, 11: These verses are problematic because one verse says "the youth" and the other verse says "the nobility." Therefore, both have been emended to read "the elect" a group more appropriate to be sent to greet God.

Numbers 16:15: In the original Moses says he did not take a single "donkey." This could imply that he did take other objects. To correct this, the emendation reads "valuable item.

Deuteronomy 4:19: The original makes it sound like God created the sun, moon and stars so that non-Jews could worship them. The emended version says that they are just for light.

Deuteronomy 17:3: The original makes it sound like God didn’t command that the sun and stars should even be created. This would give the impression that they were created on their own or by another god. The emended version clarifies that God didn’t command that people should worship them.


וכתבו לו את צעירת הרגלים, ולא כתבו לו +ויקרא י"א+ ואת הארנבת, מפני שאשתו של תלמי ארנבת שמה, שלא יאמר: שחקו בי היהודים והטילו שם אשתי בתורה.


They also wrote for him "the beast with small legs" and they did not write "the hare" because the name of Ptolemy’s wife was hare, lest he should say, "The Jews are playing with me at me and put the name of my wife in the Torah."


According to this legend, Ptolemy’s wife’s name sounded like the Hebrew word "arnevet" which means "hare." The Jews didn’t want Ptolemy thinking they were mocking him, so they changed it to "beast with small legs." From a search on the web her name was actually "Arsinoe" close to arnevet.