The Septuagint



All manuscripts can have copyist errors in them so there is much argument and debate about which text is the more accurate. However for the average student of God’s word these errors do not generally affect doctrine.  The problem is when God’s word is deliberately altered in order to mislead the student from the truth and perpetrate a lie.

The Masoretic text and the Septuagint text are two important texts that cause reaction among Christians and Jews.

The Masoretic text is the Hebrew text that was written around the fifth to tenth century AD.  This was copied from the Hebrew translations of the second century AD.

The Septuagint was written between the second and third centuries BC.  The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures.

It appears that the Septuagint is based on an earlier version of Hebrew than that which the Masoretic text is based.  The Hebrew of the Masoretic text is not the same as ancient Hebrew.  The copies of any ancient text have long since disappeared and it is believed that in the second century certain Jews tampered with the text in order to undermine the Christians and their New Testament. If this is so then the Masoretic text is based on this corrupted text. That does not mean to say that the MT on a whole is wrong but just certain Old Testament scriptures that relate to Jesus Christ and also scriptures that show the acceptance by God of the Gentiles.

“The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, dating from c. 150 BCE-75 CE, shows that in this period there was not always the scrupulous uniformity of text that was so stressed in later centuries. According to Menachem Cohen, the Dead Sea scrolls decided these issues 'by showing that there was indeed a Hebrew text-type on which the Septuagint-translation was based and which differed substantially from the received MT'.[5] The scrolls show numerous small variations in orthography, both as against the later Masoretic text, and between each other. It is also evident from the notings of corrections and of variant alternatives that scribes felt free to choose according to their personal taste and discretion between different readings.[5]

“Such ancient recensional forms of Old Testament books bear witness to an unsuspected textual diversity that once existed; these texts merit far greater study and attention than they have been accorded till now. Thus, the differences in the Septuagint are no longer considered the result of a poor or tendentious attempt to translate the Hebrew into the Greek; rather they testify to a different pre-Christian form of the Hebrew text".  (Joseph Fitzmyer. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible: After Forty Years, page 302.)”

It seems that the Christians could prove by scripture that Jesus was the Messiah which wasn’t accepted by the Jewish hierarchy who hated Jesus and the Christians.

The high respect for the Septuagint that the Jews had turned to hatred as the Christians used it more and more to prove their point.  The Hebrew text was changed in order to undermine the Septuagint and the original manuscripts disappeared.


 “The veneration by which the Jews had treated this version (the Septuagint) {as is shown in the case of Philo and Josephus}, gave place to a very contrary feeling when they found how it could be used against them in argument: hence they decried the version, and sought to deprive it of all authority”. (Introduction to the Septuagint by Brenton).

The Jews now tried to promote their new version among the Christians who immediately rejected it.

One of the many scriptures that was unacceptable was Isaiah 7 v 14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel.” The Hebrew now replaced “virgin” with “young woman”.

Justin Martyn (150AD) said that the Jews had removed scriptures deliberately in order to undermine the Christians.

In his dialogue with Trypho we read:

Chapter 71. The Jews reject the interpretation of the Septuagint, from which, moreover, they have taken away some passages

Justin: But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying; but since I am aware that this is denied by all of your nation, I do not address myself to these points, but I proceed to carry on my discussions by means of those passages which are still admitted by you. For you assent to those which I have brought before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive,' and say it ought to be read, 'Behold, the young woman shall conceive.' And I promised to prove that the prophecy referred, not, as you were taught, to Hezekiah, but to this Christ of mine: and now I shall go to the proof.

Justin went on to show in scripture how the Jews had changed it.  There are a lot more scriptures than the ones he mentions, some of these can be found in the internet address links that I have highlighted, others can be found through a search engine.

The Jews now worked hard to get the Christians to reject the Septuagint however while ever Isaiah 7 v 14 still said “young woman” the Christians knew that the Hebrew text was faulty.

When the Hebrew text was translated into Spanish in order to get the Christians to accept it “young woman” was changed to “virgin”, but only in the Christian copies, it remained as “young woman” in the Jewish copies.

Eventually the Hebrew text was accepted  and “young woman” remained in Isaiah 7 v 14.

Today the Judaizes still visit Christian churches posing as Christians and at the same time denouncing the Septuagint and promoting the Hebrew text with its many anti-Jesus Christ text that undermine the New Testament.

They say that the only way to really understand scripture is from a Jewish perspective therefore you have to have a Hebrew copy of the Bible to see what God was really saying. They seem to forget it is only by revelation of the Spirit that we can understand God’s word and that the prophecies from the Old Testament that are recorded in the New testament are often missing in the Hebrew Bible yet they are there in the Septuagint.

It certainly can put meat on the bones to study the history of Israel and learn about Israel in the time of Jesus Christ however we don’t need to take on the mantle of a Jew to do this. I recommend Alfred Edersheim, Arnold Fruchtenbaum and Living God Ministries of Aaron Budjen, although I don’t agree with some of Aaron’s doctrinal teaching his description of the times of Christ is excellent.


Even today there is a bias by the Hebrew publishers towards changing anything in scripture that proves Jesus is the Messiah. Ronald Cohen commenting on the JPS Hebrew to English TANAKH wasn’t impressed with the translation from the Hebrew to the English.

He writes,

“The English translation is not very good.

I found constant errors in Genesis. Take for instance Genesis 3:15, the JPS translate it "They will smash..."

The Hebrew text says "Hu" (a transliteration of course). "Hu" is 3rd person masculine singular in Hebrew meaning "He". The text should read "He will smash". But the sentence uses "He" (Hu)... not they(Henah or Heym). Hebrew has a word for plural fem. it is "Henah".

Therefore, the next sentence is not talking of "descendents" (They) but a particular descendent or offspring of the woman... "Hu", or in English "He".

If the text were intended to read "They will smash.." Moses (or whoever one may think was the author) would have used "Henah" or "Heym" (They 3mp). The text clearly reads "Hu..rosh". "He will smash your head".

Also the Hebrew verb conjugation of smash does not make sense, if the subject (actor of the verb) is "They". It is also conjugated in 3rd (ms). and is directed toward "rosh" meaning (head, or chief). In this case "your head". It should read "He will smash your head and you will strike his heel".

They most likely translated it differently for theological reasons, i.e. Messianic Jews and Christians use it as a Messianic Prophecy. I do not think ("they") is justified in this case, since Zerah "meaning seed or offspring" in the previous sentence is used in the 2nd. fem. singular form "her seed (singular)", "her offspring (singular)". Also the Rabbis (70 or 77 Rabbi's) who translated the Hebrew text into the Greek Septuagint 300 years before Jesus or Christianity, translated it "He will smash your head.." as well. And their text predated the Len. Codex, Theological bias should not prevent one from accurately translating the text”.