In Devarim 27:8, the Torah says to "write all the words of the Torah explained well" (- "Ba'aer Hetev".

Rash"i, citing Sotah 35b, says that this was translated into 70 languages. Sifsei Chachamim elaborates that this was done so that the nations of the world could make copies. Also, see Why translate Torah to 70 languages

When Joshua and the Jews crossed the Jordan River and camped in Gilgal, they wrote the Torah on stones, as Moshe had commanded them in Devarim.

Related questions:

Did they translate the Torah at that time? Was it done by one person or several people? Who knew all 70 languages? How did they get all 70 language translations of the whole Torah on 12 stones?

  • 1
    I must admit, this is a first for me ... This Q has been up for about 3 days, and not even a comment by anyone! What, I created a shocker???
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 14:41
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    I actually upvoted (strange that there's only one...) but it could be that people aren't taking the question seriously because it's a midrash agadah which may not be meant to be interpreted literally (as per Ksav VehaKabbala's interpretation) Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:23
  • (I didn't see the question till just now.) What are the nations going to do with copies, anyway?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 18:16
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    @DoubleAA - Good question. Then again, somehow, many years later, the GReeks and Romans figured out something from SOME language. Maybe it was from the Chinese version? :-o
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 18:45
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    This is a great question, and I wonder why you accepted the answer, as it seems illogical, e.g.: 1. learning Torah is forbidden for gentiles, 2 Tagin only apply to a Kosher Sefer Torah, you don't write Halokhos with Tagin, 3 this transgresses "לא תעשו כן לה'" as the stones can be smashed, 4 Sages testified Torah can not be translated (but to Greek?), 5 What the translation into 70 help the Jews to understand Torah באר היטב? and many more.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


To be on the sanhedrin one requirement was knowledge of all 70 languages. Moshe Rabbeinu was shakul kineged beis din shel shivim (equal to a 70-member court of law), so off the bat I'm willing to assume he knew all 70 (as it was required to know all 70 languages to be a member of the Sanhedrin). Plus we know that Yosef knew all 70, so its likely the knowledge was passed along from him to any number of people. As far as fitting on 12 stones, I think the Ramban (?) says it was a neiss (miracle). Or a condensed version according to another pirush. Sorry, not near any sfarim right now.

Edit. I will quote the Ramban on the pasuk.

R' Avraham, (ibn Ezra) says in the name of the gaon that they wrote the list of mitzvos, such as what is written in the Halachos Gidolos, the words ba'er heitev mean the writing. Our Rabbis (Sota 32a) say it means it was translated into seventy languages. And it's found in the seffer tagi that the whole torah was written on them from Breishis until "einei kol yisroel" with its tagin and zayonin(?) and from there they took tagin for the whole Torah. And it's plausible that the stones were extremely large or it was a maaseh nissim'.

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    When you do get near sfarim please remember to come back and improve this post.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 18:14
  • Better....I edited your answer for clarity but....whose translation is that? Give credit where credit is due.
    – MTL
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 3:55
  • My translation.
    – user6591
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 4:39
  • @user6591 or Shokhet (with an edited answer, it's unclear to me who gets what credit :-) - Can you clarify who said what you quoted? The title says Ramban, but you begin with the words "R' Avraham (Ibn Ezra). Also, please clarify the location (verse) where this is located. I also see the question mark on "zayonim". I have the same reaction as you. What are "zayonim"?
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 16:13
  • The ramban which is on passuk 3 started off by quoting the ibn ezra. I guess when he 'edited' for 'clarity' it became less clear.
    – user6591
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 19:09

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