The library at Alexandria was already one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But the king’s librarian saw that there was an important gap in their holdings: they had no copy of the Jewish Bible. So the king sent his deputy, Aristeas, to Jerusalem to convince the Jewish high priest to send 72 translators to Egypt to produce a Greek version of their scriptures.
Eleazar, the high priest in those years, agreed to recruit the men for the task, but was afraid they might be in personal danger in Alexandria. After all, the ink was scarcely dry on the edict that had freed Jews from their most recent slavery there. So Eleazar sent word to the king pleading for their safe return, and urged Aristeas himself to do his best “to help” in the matter.
This brings us to the Greek word for “help” (synantilambanomai – soon ahn tee lahm BAHN o my) and the promise of Romans 8:26. Literally, the word means “together / on the other side / take hold.” Eleazar had a plea so big and so vital, that he needed someone to help him carry it. If Aristeas would take hold on his side and help, then the old high priest’s petition to the king could be delivered effectively.
Like Eleazar, we often feel too weak and insignificant to petition our King. But there is good news! We have help! When we do not know how to pray effectively—or even how to pray at all—the Holy Spirit will “take hold with us on the other side” to carry the desire of our hearts to God.
(For further study, note that this same word is used when Martha wants Mary to pitch in and help, Luke 10:40; when Jethro advises Moses to select men to judge and bear the burden with him, Exodus 18:22; when 70 men stand with Moses to take heat from the angry people, Numbers 11:17; and when God promises to extend his hand to help and sustain David, Psalm 89:21.)