This answer to a different question states that the only other language a sefer torah can be written in and be kosher is Greek. (Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 1:19 says that this Greek no longer exists as a language.)

Was a sefer torah ever actually written in Greek?

I am not referring to the Septuagint translation, which was never intended to be a kosher sefer torah.

  • The answer is we don't know if a defer for was written in Greek because we don't have any evidence for or against it. However, we do have copies of Torot written in Paleo Hebrew. My best guess would be that there probably were privately commissioned Greek scrolls for rich Hellenistic Jews of Alexandria for personal study use. Like maybe Philo
    – Aaron
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 17:22
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    "Septuagint translation, which was never intended to be a kosher sefer torah".this is false .actually you are completely contradicting the Gemora i brought which was to show :א"ר יהודה אף כשהתירו רבותינו יונית לא התירו אלא בספר תורה ומשום מעשה דתלמי המלך - Rabbi Yehuda said: Even when our Rabbis permitted Greek, they permitted it only in a Torah scroll, and not for other books of the Bible, which must be written only in Hebrew And this was due to the incident of King Ptolemy Your original question has been answered to satisfaction and you are wrong.
    – user15464
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 15:50
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    I don't think that the Rambam is talking about writing in Greek language - I understood that he's talking about Greek letters (i.e, Hebrew words, but with Greek alphabet)
    – Zvika
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 13:36

5 Answers 5


According to Rabbi Eliezer Eisikovits from Arachim - (who gave an hour-long lecture on this topic recently) the great (enormous) synagogue in Alexandria used to read (only) from a Greek-Sefer-Torah.

  • What's the evidence that they used a Torah scroll and not, e.g., a codex?
    – b a
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 17:07
  • @ba - I don't recall; he brought proofs and even had handouts, but I forgot where I filed mine. And being on Shabbat I couldn't record it. Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 10:06

The Talmud indicates that at one time Torah scrolls were written and accepted in Greek.

b. Megillah (8B)

מתני׳ אין בין ספרים לתפלין ומזוזות אלא שהספרים נכתבין בכל לשון ותפלין ומזוזות אינן נכתבות אלא אשורית

MISHNA: The difference between Torah scrolls, and phylacteries and mezuzot, 
in terms of the manner in which they are written, is only that Torah scrolls 
are written in any language, whereas phylacteries and mezuzot are written 
only in Ashurit, i.e., in Hebrew and using the Hebrew script.

רשב"ג אומר אף בספרים לא התירו שיכתבו אלא יוונית:

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: Even with regard to Torah scrolls, the Sages 
permitted them to be written only in Greek. Torah scrolls written in any > 
other language do not have the sanctity of a Torah scroll.
  • 2
    All that indicates is that you could write one in theory. The OP knew that. It doesn't prove that anyone ever actually did.
    – Heshy
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 22:47

As +user15464 said, the Gemara in Maseches Taanis cites the incident of Talmai HaMelech and that he commanded 70 Chachamim to write a Torah in Greek. As a remembrance to this, Sifrei Torah written in Greek are Kosher.

  • 3
    "I am not referring to the Septuagint translation"
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 1:06
  • 2
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Please check carefully if your post actually answers the question. We hope you stick around our community!
    – LN6595
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 2:59

I believe the Jews in Alexandria, full of ignorami who could not understand Hebrew, would have used such a sefer Torah. Also, maybe Philo's community used such a Greek sefer Torah.

  • why was this downvoted? Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 12:30

Assuming that the comission of the Setuagint was accomplished around 250 BCE, It is just possible that indeed around the year 200 before the Common Error (BCE) there could have been other privately owned circulating copies of the Septuagint, probably not for their use in a Jewish synagogue, thus non kosher, but none has been found so far and that does not mean it does not exist. I have read articles that attest that there was at least a copy of the Septuagint in the Library of Constantinople when it was burned in 473 AD, according to the recounts of Themistios and Constantius, thus, making it plausible the existence of other copies of the Septuagint in the prior 600 years or so.
If you are not referring to the Septuagint, then your question comes into ambiguity or you have posted it in such a general way that any answer may be valid yet unsubstantiated. We the Jews, mostly Sephardic, have been present in Greece since at least the fourth century BC. However, since there are such strict laws to write the Torah, I have not read ever that even in the times of the Romaniotes, or Jewish Greeks the Torah was read in other language than Hebrew. Following here some interesting references:

  1. Short History Of The Jewish Communities In Greece, publicised by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece" (PDF). 26 September 2007.
  2. Usque, Samuel, The Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture.
  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question which was specifically about a kosher Sefer Torah.
    – Heshy
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 13:50
  • Please, read between lines "... since there are such strict laws to write the Torah, I have not read ever that even in the times of the Romaniotes, or Jewish Greeks the Torah was read in other language than Hebrew..." Thus, there are not Greek Kosher Seferim Totah known to date. It is obvious that to be Kosher the Sefer must be in Hebrew! Commented May 4, 2019 at 11:26

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