Septuagint is the name given the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The term is derived from the Latin word septuaginta ("seventy"; hence, the customary abbreviation LXX), which refers to the 70 (or 72) translators who were once believed to have been appointed by the Jewish high priest of the time to render the Hebrew Bible into Greek at the behest of the Hellenistic emperor Ptolemy II.
The legend of the 70 translators contains an element of truth, for the Torah (the five books of Moses-Genesis to Deuteronomy) probably had been translated into Greek by the 3rd century BC to serve the needs of Greek-speaking Jews outside Palestine who were no longer able to read their Scriptures in the original Hebrew. The translation of the remaining books of the Hebrew Old Testament, the addition to it of books and parts of books (the Apocrypha), and the final production of the Greek Old Testament as the Bible of the early Christian church form a very complicated history. Because the Septuagint, rather than the Hebrew text, became the Bible of the early church, other Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek were made by the 3rd century; these are extant only in fragments, and their history is even more obscure than that of the Septuagint.