70 or 75 souls - Hebrew text or LXX? Comparing Acts 7:14 with Genesis 46:27
70 or 75 souls - Hebrew text or LXX? Comparing Acts 7:14 with Genesis 46:27
Was Stephen quoting from a pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint (LXX)?
Many Bible critics claim that Stephen was quoting from an alleged Greek translation of the Old Testament when he says in Acts 7:14 "Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers."
There is another explanation of how Stephen arrived at the number of 75 persons, rather than the 70 souls mentioned in the book of Genesis, without having to resort to the idea that he supposedly was quoting from the LXX. We will get to that explanation in a moment.
First, let's look at what passes today as the Greek Septuagint. Most people are utterly unaware of just how really bad and inaccurate this version is.
In the Hebrew texts the number 70 is mentioned three times - Genesis 46:27 "All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, BESIDES JACOB'S SON'S WIVES, all the souls were threescore and ten".
"Threescore and ten" or 70 is the reading of ALL Hebrew texts and ALL Bible versions in all languages, except the LXX.
This number is repeated two more times. In Exodus 1:5 we read: "All the souls that came OUT OF THE LOINS of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already."
Here again, all Hebrew Masoretic texts, and the ancient Samaritan Pentateuch, and all Bible versions read 70, except the Greek LXX, which says 75.
It is reported that the pieced together fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls also read 75 souls in Exodus 1:5 (thus agreeing with some of the LXX readings), but the other portions found in Genesis 46 and Deuteronomy 10:22 are missing from the DSS, so they do not go far in establishing the true reading.
One more time we read of the 70 and this is found in Deuteronomy 10:22. "Thy fathers went down into Egypt with THREESCORE AND TEN persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude."
Here again, all Hebrew texts and Bible versions read 70, INCLUDING THE LXX. The LXX version contradicts itself by saying 75 persons in two passages and 70 in the third. But wait! It gets much worse.
When we go back to Genesis chapter 46 we read in the Hebrew texts and in all Bible versions the following numbers of the children of Israel. The totals are 33 + 16 + 14 + 7 which equal 70.
The LXX however is quite different from the Hebrew texts and seriously contradicts itself. Comparing the Hebrew texts and all Bible versions in all languages along with the so called Greek Septuagint we read the following.
Verse 15 counts the sons of Leah, wife of Jacob - "all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three." LXX has 33 too.
Verse 18 lists the sons of Zilpah - "and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls." LXX also has 16.
Verse 20 is radically different in the LXX than it is in the Hebrew texts. Verses 19 through 22 list the sons of Rachel, Jacobs wife as Joseph and Benjamin.
Then it lists the sons of Joseph and Benjamin by name, and the total is FOURTEEN. Verse 22 "all the souls were fourteen."
The Hebrew texts and the King James Bible read: 19."The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin. 20. And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. 21. And the sons of Benjamim were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard. 22.These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were FOURTEEN."
Go ahead, and count the names. You will come up with exactly fourteen.
However the LXX version says in verse 20 AFTER listing Manasseh and Ephraim: "And there were sons born to Manasses, which the Syrian concubine bore to him, even Machir. And Machir begot Galaad. And the sons of Ephraim, the brother of Manasses: Sutalaam, and Taam. And the sons of Sutalaam: Edom. And the sons of Benjamin; Bala, and Bochor, and Asbel. And the sons of Bala were Gera, and Noeman, and Amchis, and Ros, and Mamphim. And Gera begot Arad. These are the sons of Rachel, whcih she bore to Jacob, all the souls WERE EIGHTEEN."!!!
Instead of listing 14 names and coming up with the total of 14, the LXX version lists 18 different names. Thus, the Hebrew text - 14; and the LXX -18.
Then in verse 25 we have the list of Jacob's wife Bilhah "all the souls were seven", and here the LXX has seven too.
In verse 26 again the LXX agrees with the Hebrew text reading 66. Here we read: "All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six."
The number of 66 excludes Jacob himself, and Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, because they were already in Egypt. This number also EXCLUDES the wives of Jacob's sons. Thus 66 plus these additional 4 (Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim) makes 70.
However, instead of equaling the number 66 in verse 26, the LXX count is already up to 70, and we haven't even gotten to verse 27 yet.
In Genesis 46:27 we read: "And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were TWO SOULS: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were THREESCORE AND TEN (70) souls."
This number 70 is the 66 of verse 26, plus the additional 4 of Jacob himself, and his son Joseph and his two grandchildren of Manasseh and Ephraim - 66 + 4 = 70.
BUT, when we look again at the LXX, which already has a total of 70 instead of 66, we read in Genesis 46:27 "And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in the land of Egypt, were NINE SOULS (not TWO), all the souls of the house of Jacob who came with Joseph into Egypt, were SEVENTY-FIVE souls."
The LXX's numbers do not add up!! Let's count the LXX numbers again. 33 + 16 + 18 (not the Hebrew 14) + 7 + 9 (not the 2 of the Hebrew texts) = 83, yet the LXX says there were 75!!!
So how did the Greek Septuagint get so messed up? I think I know how it happened, but of course I can't prove it, but it makes a lot of sense to me.
The copies of the LXX we have today are in fact Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and both of these date out at 150 years AFTER the New Testament was already complete.
I think is quite likely that there were two different scribes who "doctored up" the Greek copies, both thinking they were "helping God out".
The first scribe comes along and he sees the number 70 in Gen. 47:27. He then adds up the numbers, and sees 66 souls mentioned in verse 26, and thinks the account is 4 persons short. So, he goes back to verses 20-22 and adds four new names to the list to equal the number 70 in verse 27.
Then another scribe comes along and he has Acts 7:14 IN FRONT OF HIM, and sees that Stephen mentions 75 persons, and not the 70 as it reads in the Hebrew and the existing Greek translation at that time.
So he decides to help reconcile the apparent contradiction by taking the number of 66 souls in v. 26, and changes the "two souls" in verse 27 to "nine souls", thinking that 66 + 9 will equal the 75 he wants to write in.
However, he missed the fact that the number of 66 souls found in verse 26, excludes Jacob, Joseph and his two sons born in Egypt. By failing to notice that the number 14 in verse 22 had already been changed to 18 by a previous scribe, and the exclusion of Jacob, Joseph and his two sons in verse 26, this new scribal correction ends up giving us a larger number that even the 75 he put into the text.
The Greek Septuagint is such a mess in hundreds of verses. It is one of the worst translations out there. It is consistently inconsistent with itself.
The LXX tells us there were 75 persons who went down into Egypt here in Genesis, yet the LXX count is 83.
But in Deuteronomy 10:22 the LXX DOES match the Hebrew text and tells us there were 70 persons who went down into Egypt.
Now for a simple explanation by Dr. Thomas Holland on how to reconcile the apparent contradiction of Stephen saying there were 75 persons, and yet the Hebrew texts consistently tell us there were 70 souls who went down into Egypt.
by Dr. Thomas Holland -
“It should also be noted that not every passage cited as an Old Testament quotation is in fact a quotation. Many times they are allusions or simply a general reference, but not an excerpt from an OT passage. For example, in Acts 7:14 Stephen states, "Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls."
The number which Stephen gives is 75. However, the passage in Genesis 46:27 totals 70. There we read, " And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten."
The Greek LXX agrees with Stephen in Genesis 46:27 and lists the number as 75 souls. This passage is often used as an example of a NT saint citing the LXX. The truth is that Stephen is not quoting anything, he is referring to something.
Dr. George Ladd writes, "These two texts reflect two ways of numbering Jacob's family." (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p.1136). Although Dr. Ladd was commenting on how the LXX and the Hebrew text derived their totals, the same may be said at how the passage in Gen. 46 and Stephen derived theirs.
In his book, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, Dr. John W. Haley lays out the differences without referencing the LXX. Haley writes, “Jacob's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren amounted to sixty-six (Gen. 46:8-26). Adding Jacob himself, and Joseph with his two sons, we have seventy.
If to the sixty-six we add the nine wives of Jacob's sons (Judah's and Simeon's wives were dead; Joseph could not be said to call himself, his own wife, or his two sons into Egypt; and Jacob is specified separately by Stephen), we have seventy-five persons, as in Acts." (Baker Book House, 1983 ed., p.389).
Therefore the difference in number can be clarified by an examination of the Biblical texts and not referencing the citation to that of the LXX. Further, scrutiny of the passage in Acts clearly shows that Stephen was referring to events in Genesis 46 and not quoting the passage."
There is Scriptural evidence that when the number of the wives are added to the 66 persons mentioned, the total would be 9 and not 11, which would give us the number 75 which Stephen mentions in Acts 7:14.
We know for a fact that Judah's wife had died. It is recorded in Genesis 38:12 "And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died."
The other wife that seems to have died as well, is that of Simeon. In Genesis 46:10 we read: "And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, AND SHAUL THE SON OF A CANAANITISH WOMAN."
His youngest son was born to him from a different woman than his wife, so it is surmised that his first wife had died.”
John Gill comments on Genesis 46:10 "... and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman - "whom Simeon married, VERY PROBABLY AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS FIRST WIFE, or she was his concubine."
By this reckoning we arrive at the number 75 mentioned by Stephen (66 plus the 9 wives = 75), without having to assume, as many adamantly assert, that Stephen was somehow "quoting" from an alleged pre-Christian Greek Septuagint.
John Gill has these interesting comments on Acts 7:14 where Stephen says there were 75 souls who went down into Egypt. "and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls - which seems to disagree with the account of Moses, who says, that "all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten" (Genesis 46:27).
But there is no contradiction; Moses and Stephen are speaking of different things; Moses speaks of the seed of Jacob, which came out of his loins, who came into Egypt, and so excludes his sons' wives; Stephen speaks of Jacob and all his kindred, among whom his sons' wives must be reckoned, whom Joseph called to him.
According to Moses's account, the persons that came with Jacob into Egypt, who came out of his loins, and so exclusive of his sons' wives, were threescore and six; to which if we add Jacob himself, and Joseph who was before in Egypt, and his two sons that were born there when Jacob went down, the total number is threescore and ten... NOR WAS THERE ANY NEED TO ALTER AND CORRUPT THE SEPTUAGINT VERSION of Genesis 46:27 TO MAKE IT AGREE WITH STEPHEN'S ACCOUNT." [End of John Gill's comments]
All of grace, believing the Book - The King James Bible
For much more information about the so called Greek Septuagint versions See -
Scatterbrained Septuagint Silliness - Judges 16:13; 1 Samuel 14:41; 1 Samuel 17:4; 2 Samuel 7:16; 2 Samuel 13:21, 34; 2 Samuel 14:30; 1 Kings 5:17-18; 6:1; 1 Kings 10:22; Jonah 3:4; Ezekiel 8, 40, 45 examples
And here is a LOT more information on the "Septuagint"
NO LXX - The Fictitious Use of the so-called Greek Septuagint.
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