The Greek word holokaustos means "burnt whole". For the early Jews who followed the laws given in the first books of the Bible, a holocaust was a sacrifice to God, the burning on an altar of a lamb, goat, or young bull. The word is used about 200 times in the traditional Greek version of the Old Testament, though it rarely appears in English translations. In the 1700s holocaust began to be used to refer to the mass destruction of life. But no mass murder in Western history ever approached the scale achieved by the Nazis. As many as 6 million Jews may have died at their hands; when the slaughter of non-Jews is included, the number of murdered victims may have amounted to over 15 million.