Contact Us

Ptolemy And The Sages

Ptolemy And The Sages

(287-47 BC)

 Email

King Ptolemy of Egypt gave a royal welcome to the Seventy Sages from the Land of Israel whom he had invited to Alexandria to translate the Law of Moses into the Greek language.

At the feast, the Sages of Israel were seated at a separate table on which Kosher food was served for them. The feast lasted for seven days, and each day the King asked the Sages of Israel, in turn, one question each.

Turning to the oldest one among them, he asked,

"What would your Torah advise the King to do so that all the years of his reign be peaceful and happy?"

The Sage replied, "The King should reign with justice. He should know that there is a supreme King of kings over all the world, Who reigns with justice and mercy, and every king should be a servant to Him. In this way all the King's subjects will love the King and he will reign in peace and happiness all his life."

The King turned to the next Sage and asked him,

"How can man find happiness in his life?"

Replied the Sage, "Let man remember that G‑d knows everything he does, sees or thinks. Let him be kind and just and worship G‑d."

Turning to the third Sage the King asked,

"How should a man win friends?"

The Sage replied, "Let him be a friend to others, always trying to do somebody a favor without expecting anything in return, just as G‑d is kind to all His creatures, without demanding a reward."

To the fourth Sage the King addressed the following question,

"What should the King do to those who find fault with his actions?"

The Sage replied, "Let the King be patient and forgiving. Even in his anger he should not be harsh in his judgment and show mercy always. Then his subjects will speak well of the King."

It was the turn of the fifth Sage to answer the following question:

"How should the King deal with enemies?"

"Let him seek peace always, for peace is stronger than all armies and weapons," was the reply.

"Would not the enemies think that this is a sign of the King's weakness?" asked the King of the sixth Sage.

"While seeking peace always, the King should not neglect his army. He must be ready to beat off any enemy attack," was the reply.

The King now turned to the seventh Sage and asked him,

"What is the greatest treasure in the world?"

The Sage replied, "The knowledge of G‑d; to know that G‑d is the Master of the world and the Source of All Life and All Good."

"What is the greatest treasure that we may leave to our children?" the King asked of the next Sage.

"To teach them to be humble, to love G‑d, and follow his ways," was the reply.

Again the King turned to the next Sage and asked him,

"What should a man do when he is in trouble?"

The Sage replied, "He should pray to G‑d to save him and he should have faith in the Almighty that He will deliver him. He should know that there is not a man in the world who has no trouble at one time or another, but that G‑d helps everybody."

"I have asked enough questions for today," the King finally said. "I see that the wisdom of G‑d is in you, and I am very grateful to you for having come here to translate the Holy Torah into our language so that the rest of the world may also benefit from G‑d's wisdom. I shall look forward to seeing you at tomorrow's feast when I will continue my questions."

The following day the feast was continued. Again the King asked many questions of the Sages and was very pleased with the answers. And so it went on, day after day, until the seven-day feast was over and each one of the seventy Sages answered a question by the King. The more the King spoke to them the more he was amazed at their great wisdom.

After the feast, the King placed the Sages in separate rooms and asked each one of them to translate the Torah in his own way. During the whole time of the translation, the Sages could not see each other or speak to each other. When all the translations were ready, the King compared them and found them exactly the same in every detail!

 Email
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
Related Topics