Kenneth Cohen

Incredible Miracle

The story of the Greek Emperor Ptolemy, and the seventy-two Jewish sages, is one of the most miraculous stories in all of Jewish history. The depth of this miracle is not fully appreciated.

Ptolemy commissioned these sages to each go into a different dwelling, and translate the Torah into Greek. The miracle was that despite numerous problematic verses in the Five Books, their translations were exactly identical.

For example, the literal translation of the Pasuk in Bereishit, is, “Let us make man.” All seventy-two sages were concerned that a literal translation would mean that there is more than one deity. Miraculously, they all translated the verse as, “I will make man.”

Another example was in connection with the word, “Arnevet,” which means rabbit. It was given as an example of a non-kosher animal. When the wise men came to this word, they realized that the first name of Ptolemy’s wife was “Arnevet.” They all miraculously translated the animal as צעירת רגליים, meaning, “young of legs,” to avoid insulting the emperor’s wife.

If we were to take several of our English translations of the Torah, we would find numerous examples of where different synonyms are used in translating words. There could be hundreds of such examples.

Yet, somehow back in the period of the Greeks, there were no discrepancies whatsoever. Obviously, these holy men received Divine help to ensure that the Torah would not be compromised.

This truly was an incredible miracle that is not fully appreciated.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at