This date marks the completion of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible in the third century BCE -- the oldest Bible translation. The Septuagint derives its name from the Latin word for ' seventy,' alluding to the 72 Jewish scholars drafted by Egyptian King Ptolemy to translate the Bible for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria. The project was viewed tragically by the rabbis, as it promised to drain Jewish vitality and increase the ability of non-Jewish sects to proselytize the Jews. Legend says that the rabbis tried to disrupt the project: Although the translators were kept in separate chambers, they all produced identical versions of the text -- including 15 intentional "mistranslations." On the positive side, the Septuagint opened up the Bible to the masses -- helping to spread Jewish ideals of monotheism, peace and justice, which became the basic moral standards of the civilized world.
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