Friday, January 02, 2015

The Tenth of Tevet and the LXX in the Talmud

THE LEGEND OF THE SEPTUAGINT reportedly receives mixed reviews in Talmudic tradition: The Tenth of Tevet. A day commemorating a variety of Jewish tragedies. (Rabbi Berel Wein, The Jewish Press)
The Tenth of Tevet marks the onset of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylonia, and the beginning of the battle that ultimately destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon, and sent the Jews into the 70-year Babylonian Exile. ...

However, there are other commemorative days that fall immediately before the Tenth of Tevet and their memory has been silently incorporated in the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet as well. On the eighth of Tevet, King Ptolemy of Egypt forced 70 Jewish scholars to gather and translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek. Even though the Talmud relates to us that this project was blessed with a miracle — the 70 scholars were all placed in separate cubicles and yet they all came up with the same translation — the general view of the rabbis of the time towards this project was decidedly negative. The Talmud records that when this translation became public “darkness descended on the world.”

This translation — the Septuagint — eventually became the basis for the Old Testament section of the Christian bible a few centuries later. The Greek translation of the Bible also further aided the advance of the agenda of the Hellenist Jews to bring Greek culture into Jewish life, and to attempt to reform Judaism in the image of Greek values and lifestyle. The “koshering” of the Greek language by its use in translating the Hebrew Bible had wide ramifications in Jewish society and undermined some of the efforts of the rabbis in combating the allure of Greece in Israel of then.
Unfortunately, the article gives no specific Talmudic references. The Tenth of Tevet was on New Year's Day 2015.