The Septuagint

for Seree Cohen Zohar

The seventy-two elders

sequestered by Ptolemy

Philadelphus in chambers,

a cell for every scholar,

were told by the King of Egypt:

“Translate the books of Moshe,

your teacher, into Greek.”


Two days and ten weeks later

seventy-two translations

transcribed from memory

by grey-bearded rebbis

were word for word the same.

When you believe this legend,

you will know the Holy Spirit.

Published in the 2011-09-23 issue: 

Timothy Murphy, a frequent contributor to Commonweal, died on June 30 at his home in Fargo, North Dakota. His books include Very Far North (2002), Mortal Stakes and Faint Thunder (2011), and Devotions (2017). Requiescat in pace.

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