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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Targums on the Prophets

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ON THE PROPHETS The official Targum on the Prophets is stated by the Babylonian Talmud' to have been " said " by Jonathan ben Uzziel, the disciple of Hillel, and is usually known, therefore, as the Targum Jonathan. Elsewhere in the Talmud, however, the quotations from this Targum are given under the name of Joseph bar Chijah, head of 4 M.G. W. J. Meg. i. 1 .

6 Urschrift (1857), pp. 162 1 ff.; Nachgelassene Schriften, iv. p. 98 f.; Jiidische Zeitschrift (1871), ix. p. 85 f.

7 Meg. 3a. the school at Pumbadita in the 4th century A.D. Both in language - though naturally there is some variation of vocabulary - and style it closely resembles the Targum of Onkelos, and appears to have been modelled on that translation: in certain passages, indeed, it appears to have made use of it.' Probably, like Onkelos, it did not assume its final form in Babylon before the 5th century A.D. It naturally follows from the character of the original that the rendering of this Targum is less literal than that of Onkelos, especially in the prophetic books, but, when due allowance is made for the difficulty of the Hebrew, it may be described on the whole as a faithful reproduction of the original text. Its peculiarities of rendering are due to the same principles which were noted as underlying the translation of the Pentateuch. Anthropomorphisms, as a rule, are avoided by means of the same expedients as those employed by Onkelos, expressions derogatory to the dignity of God, or of the heroes of the nation, are softened down, while figurative language is either boldly transposed, or its character clearly shown by the introduction of the particle " as " or " like." There is, further, a tendency to narrow down the scope of the prophetic utterances, and to limit their application to Israel and its immediate enemies. Lastly, in the obscurer passages the Haggadic method of interpretation is employed to its fullest extent, while the translation throughout shows a marked tendency to explanatory additions.

Of a Targum Jerushalmi to the Prophets but little is known, though it is hardly doubtful that such a Targum existed, if only in oral form. Traces of this version have been discovered by Bacher 2 in the variants attached to the margin of the Codex Reuchlinianus, and printed by Lagarde in his edition of Prophetae Chaldaice (1872). These fragments, which have been preserved under the headings env, "w, "n' "»n, exhibit certain features in common with the Jerusalem Targums to the Pentateuch, and are demonstrably of post-Talmudic date. According to Kohut's list of Targum quotations in ' Aria, a Jerusalem Targum existed also for the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther, but this list is scarcely reliable, and, as Dalman has pointed out,' the quotations in `Aruk to Kings, Ezekiel, Proverbs and Lamentations are the only ones that point with certainty to the existence of a Targum Jerushalmi. III. Targums To The Hagiographa These Targums possess but little interest for the student of Jewish literature as they are almost entirely the work of individuals, made in imitation of the older Targums. Despite the reference to a Targum of Job in the 1st century (see above), all the extant Targums to the Hagiographa are later in date than the Targums to the Law and the Prophets.

(I) Targums to the Psalms and Job. - These Targums present certain features in common and may therefore be treated under the same heading. Like all the later Targums they exhibit a large amount of explanatory addition, chiefly Haggadic in character. At the same time the translation of the original is not neglected; and, when separated from the later accretions, this is found to follow the Hebrew tolerably closely. Peculiar to these Targums are the double translations, which they give to many verses, one of which is usually Haggadic in character, while the other is more literal. Bacher 4 would assign these Targums to the 4th or 5th century, but, as Dalman has pointed out,' they exhibit linguistic features in common with the Jerusalem Targums to the Pentateuch. They cannot be earlier than the 7th century A.D., and possibly are of a considerably later date.

(2) The Targum to the Proverbs stands apart owing to the peculiarity of the language in which it is written. The influence of the Peshitta version is so clearly marked,' that Dalman (l.c.) describes it as a Jewish revision of that version. But setting aside the Syriasms due to the use of the Peshitta, the Targum shows affinity to the Targums to the Psalms and Job. The translation is literal and almost entirely free from Haggadic additions.' (3) The Targums to the Megilloth. - The chief characteristic of these Targums is their exaggerated use of paraphrase. They mark the final stage in the development of Haggadic interpretation, in which the translation of the text has practically disappeared in a mass of fantastic and irrelevant matter. The Targum of Esther is known to us in three recensions (I) that of the Antwerp Polyglot, almost a literal translation; (2) that of the London Polyglot, which gives practically the same text with many additions of a Haggadic character; (3) the so-called second ( sheni ) Targum, a much larger work, containing a collection of later Midrashim to this book. According Berliner, Targum Onkelos, ii. p. 124 f.

Z.D.M.G. xxviii. and xxix. 3 Gramm. p. 29. 4 Jiidische Monatschrift, xx. 208 f., xxi. 408 f., 462 f.

' Gramm. p. 34.

Dathe, De ratione consensus versionis chaldaicae et syriacae, proverbiorum Salomonis, ed. Rosenmiiller, 1814; cf. Maybaum and Noldeke in Merx Archiv., 1871, and Baumgartner, Etude critique sur l'etat du texte du livre des Proverbs, 1890.

7 Cf. Pinkuss, Die syrische Uebersetzung der Proverbien, Z.A.T.W., 1894.

to Zunz B this " second " Targum is quoted by Rashi (to Deut. iii. 4) as a Jerusalem Targum, and also (I Kings x. 19) as the " Haggada of the Megilloth Esther. The Targum to Canticles is of a similar character to that of the " second " Esther. Dalman assigns these Targums to a date half-way between the Babylonian Targums (Onkelos and that to the Prophets) and the Jerusalem Targums to the Pentateuch and those to the greater Hagiographa. The British Museum possesses three important Yemen manuscripts for the five Megilloth and the " second " Esther Targum in MSS. Or. 1302, 1476, and 2375.

(4) The Targum to the Chronicles was first edited from an Erfurt manuscript by M. F. Beck, 1680-1683. A more complete and accurate edition from a Cambridge manuscript was edited by D. Wilkins in 1715. In the translation, which at times is fairly literal, use appears to have been made of the Jerusalem Targums to the Pentateuch, and of the Targums to the books of Samuel and Kings. The text represented by the Erfurt manuscript is. assigned to the 8th, that of the Cambridge manuscript to the 9th century A.D.' No Targums have so far been discovered to Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah. (J. F. ST.)


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Targums on the Prophets'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/t/targums-on-the-prophets.html. 1910.

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