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The answer to this might be "go back in time to ask those who said it" but …

There are several documents extant that say 72 scholars produced the Septuagint.  So why is it called Septuagint (for Septuagint, 70) and abbreviated LXX (70) rather than 72?

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  • the answer can be found here. The tradition was that 72 translators were involved, 6 from each Jewish tribe. But somehow it was titled "The Translation of the 70." Apr 7, 2023 at 16:51
  • @DanFefferman, yes, it is there. Or at least one person's opinion of a reason. Stephen Disraeli offers another plausible explanation. I didn't read far enough in Wikipedia before asking. Higher up it says Septuagint/LXX without an explanation.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 7, 2023 at 18:40

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Perhaps we should ask ourselves also why the number "70" keeps cropping up in these traditions. It was the number of elders who accompanied Moses and Aaron to see the Lord (Exodus ch24 v9), the number of years of waiting time for the fall of Babylon (Jeremiah ch29 v10), the number of weeks in Daniel ch9, and also, of course, the number of disciples sent out in Luke ch10 v1.

My theory of the Biblical symbolism of numbers is that "7" is the number associated with God, and "10" the number associated with "completeness" or "the whole world". So that "70", as the multiplication of 7 and 10, would carry the significance of "the completeness of what God intends" or "God's work for his whole people" or "God's work for the whole world".

One or other of those suggested meanings of "70" would cover the examples I've quoted and also the Septuagint number; that could explain why tradition consciously or unconsciously drifted towards "70" as the "official" number of translators.

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  • Dan Fefferman got me to read further in Wikipedia to see the opinion of Brenton, which is also plausible. Don't know which to accept—but maybe there are other hypotheses.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 7, 2023 at 18:45
  • @WGroleau I see Brenton transfers the number to the Sanhedrin. I think my number-symbolism theory may apply to the Sanhedrin as well. Apr 7, 2023 at 18:59
  • Some suggest that three is symbolic of Deity, seven is the number of perfectness and ten is the number of completeness.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 7, 2023 at 20:54
  • @ Nigel J However, associating "7" with God gives a reason, in Revelation, to associate "6" with humanity, as a deliberate contrast. That doesn't stop us giving the same sigificance to "3", but isn't that more a New Testament thing? Apr 7, 2023 at 21:32

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