Much contemporary preaching proceeds as if all that counts is selected sections or verses of the apostle Paul and the cross of Jesus. (Minister Anthony Buzzard, 1998)

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Acts 7:14 - Another Septuagint Error Adopted in NT

In Acts 7:14, we read in the KJV a part of Stephen's speech prior to being martyred:

Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

Hence, Stephen says Joseph called 75 relatives of Jacob into Egypt.

However, in Genesis 46: 27, the statement in the Hebrew original is very precise that "all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were three score and ten," including Joseph and his two sons. This means Joseph called 70 relatives of Jacob into Egypt, not 75, as Stephen claimed.

In verse 26 of Genesis, Moses records that if you excluded the wives of Jacob's son, the number was 66. We read in Genesis 46:26: "All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob's sons, were sixty-six persons in all...." Hence, the wives must be 4 persons.

And this 70 total in verse 27 is confirmed in another way. The "names of the sons and daughters of each patriarch are given, and they are found, on counting them, to amount to exactly seventy. And then the totals of the descendants of each of Jacob's four wives is given separately, and again the total is exactly seventy (33 + 16 + 14 + 7 = 70)." (The Pulpit Commentary.) 

Whence comes the view in Acts 7:14 that it is 75 relatives, not 70?

The Septuagint Greek mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible in 257 BC, including major alterations of Genesis 46! 

As Pulpit Commentary explains the alterations in persons listed which precede verse 27:

But when we turn to the LXX [i.e., the Septuagint], we find that in Genesis 46:20 there are added to Manasseh and Ephraim Machir the son and Gilead the grandson of Manasseh; and Suthelah and Taam the sons, and Edom (meaning Eran, LXX.Eden, Numbers 26:36) the grandson, of Ephraim, making the descendants of Rachel eighteen (it should be nineteen if Huppim,Genesis 46:21, is added) instead of fourteen; the number sixty-six of ver. 26 is preserved; the number of Joseph's descendants is given as nine (Huppim apparently being now reckoned), which, added to sixty-six, makes seventy-five; and accordingly in ver. 27 the LXX. reads "seventy-five souls", instead of "three score and ten."

The Septuagint added in the lists -- at odds with the Hebrew Bible -- grandchildren to various persons to whom it was not likely or were impossible. As a result, the Pulpit Commentary states:

Therefore we may conclude certainly that the additional numbers of the LXX. [i.e., the Septuagint] are incorrect, if understood literally, of these who came down with Jacob from Canaan to Egypt....a literal interpretation of the statement of the Hebrew Bible involves no impossibilities, but a literal interpretation of the statement of the LXX [i.e.Septuagint] does, [i.e., involves impossibilities.]

Gill, however, tries to claim there is no contradiction, despite the texts being rewritten virtually in the Septuagint and are in direct conflict. Gill begins:

Then sent Joseph,.... Gifts and presents to his father, and wagons, to fetch down him and his family into Egypt, Genesis 45:21

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

Then Gill gives a very incorrect summary if you can track him on what he means to try to deflect the contradiction:

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 who might be truly said to come into it, and his two sons that were born there, who came thither in his loins, as others in the account may be said to do, who were not yet born, when Jacob went down, the total number is threescore and ten, Genesis 46:26 out of which take the six following persons, Jacob, who was called by Joseph into Egypt, besides the threescore and fifteen souls, and Joseph and his two sons then in Egypt, who could not be said to be called by him, and Hezron and Hamul, the sons of Pharez not yet born, and this will reduce Moses's number to sixty four; to which sixty four, if you add the eleven wives of Jacob's sons, who were certainly part of the kindred called and invited into Egypt, Genesis 45:10 it will make up completely threescore and fifteen persons: or the persons called by Joseph maybe reckoned thus; his eleven brethren and sister Dinah, fifty two brother's children, to which add his brethren's eleven wives, and the amount is threescore and fifteen: so that the Jew (w) has no reason to charge Stephen with an error, as he does; nor was there any need to alter and corrupt the Septuagint version of Genesis 45:27 to make it agree with Stephen's account; or to add five names in it, in Acts 7:20 as Machir, Galaad, Sutalaam, Taam, and Edom, to make up the number seventy five: and it may be observed, that the number is not altered in the version of Deuteronomy 10:22 which agrees with the Hebrew for seventy persons. 

Gill is first saying that Moses speaks of the "seed of Jacob" in Genesis 46:27,  and thus we would exclude from the count the wives of the sons of Jacob. As to verse 27, the verse in question, this is untrue. It says 70 is the total of Jacob's "kindred" or other translations say his "House," but not his "seed." In verse 26, it excludes the wives of Jacob's children, and then the number is 66, which Gill mentions.

What Gill is alluding to is that in Exodus 1:5 it says those coming from the "loins" of Jacob are 70. If Gill is correct that the difference in Exodus is giving the total exclusive of the wives of Jacob, then Moses contradicts himself between Genesis 46:26 and Exodus 1:5 because both are supposedly trying to total the number exclusive of wives of Jacob's sons, and in 46:26, the total is 66, but in Exodus 1:5 it is 70. Gill would throw Moses under the bus to save Stephen -- a non-prophet - from proof he was what Luke portrays him as - a heroic figure but not a prophet. 

It is obvious that the 70 figure in both Exodus 1:5 and Deut 46:27 are totalling the same, and from "loins" includes sons and their wives, and Exodus' use of "loins" is not to be hyper-literally read. Moses does not contradict himself.  

Hence, this misdirection by Gill proves nothing. Still verse 27 in the Hebrew original is directly at odds with Acts 7:14 as well as the Septuagint-Greek of verse 27 of Genesis 46.

Next, Gill begins to adjust the relatives by saying "sons" cannot be called, although the text refers to all "kindred" of Jacob are called, and then totals the number excluding 'sons.'  

Then Gill falls over himself when he says there are "eleven wives of Jacob's sons" who were kindred "called" by Jacob, but ignores that the difference must be 4, not 11.

A lot of Gill's exposition is unclear, confused, and a random collection of confusing numbers. I hate to say it: but it appears deliberate -- to make one think he reconciled the contradiction. The proof he could not do so is however the very means of using confusing, confounding, and baffling numbers to reconcile the passages. Was Gill trying to bamboozle us? Or was he himself confused? This side of heaven, we cannot know.

Next, Gill also realizes that the Septuagint was "altered" to add "five names in it" so that on its face, its number of 75 totals correctly compared to the revised list of names. But Gill is claiming that was done falsely to try to reconcile its greater total of 75 versus the Hebrew of 70 which equally detailed the names, leaving 70 as irrefutably the original intended total.  Rather, the reality which Gill would not open his eyes to see is that the Septuagint translation is not inspired, and made up 5 more names. It then adjusted the number from 70 to 75 of the total souls in Jacob's family called into Egypt. To do so, extra names not present in the Hebrew Bible were added almost a milennium after Moses died. (Moses died around 1250 BC, and the Septuagint translation appeared in 257 BC.)

A translator made a blatant change of the Holy Word of God 1000 years after the fact!

Oh what a tangle web we weave when we do not accept the facts: Stephen the Martyr is no prophet. He made a mistake, born of relying upon the Septuagint error.

Conclusion

The correct analysis is to follow the comment of Bengel's Gnomen:

Acts 7:14. (Greek word=seventy-five) Stephen, or Luke, follows the Septuagint translation, as being then the best known; which in Genesis 46:27, or even in Deuteronomy 10:22 [of the Septuagint] has given the number Seventy-five; whereas in the Hebrew and Samaritan Pentateuch, and in Josephus, the number is Seventy.

Hence, the Septuagint errs once more. This error shows that simply because someone like Stephen dies a martyr does not mean Stephen is an inspired person. He relied upon in good faith the Septuagint mistranslation.


Study notes

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls which were written after the Septuagint also have the same error as the Septuagint. It says 75 souls as well. See Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, supra, at 127 et seq.