[b-hebrew] Christian Use of Targums (Was "cognate alphabet"); Targums Online

Dewayne Dulaney dewayne.dulaney at gmail.com
Sat Dec 4 15:39:49 EST 2010

שלום עלכלכם

Hi Chris and Yigal,

While the average Christian is unaware of the Targums, Bible
translations made by Christians do take into account their readings
for textual criticism, and for some exegetical decisions bearing on
translation. This is stated in the preface to the New International
Version, the most widely used Christian Bible in English (1984
edition; no doubt the later TNIV and the 2011 NIV do also), for
example. No doubt other such Bibles consult the Targums also, as well
as the Syriac Peshitta.

Christians like myself who use Hebrew and Aramaic also sometimes
consult Targums. I am teaching an adult Bible class about the
non-writing prophets such as Elijah and Elisha in the books of Kings
and Chronicles. Recently I was studying 2 Kgs. 3, concerning the
revolt of Moab against Israel (referred to on the famed Mesha Stele)
and trying to understand why most English versions had "wrath" or
"fury" against/upon Israel (Hebrew: ויהי קצף־גדול על־ישראל Vayehi
qetzef gadol al Yisrael)
when King Mesha of Moab sacrificed his son as a burnt offering (3:27),
as the reason why the Israelite forces withdrew from attacking Moab.
After consulting Jastrow (Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic
Literature, online at
http://www.TyndaleArchive.com/TABS/Jastrow/index.htm) and the Targums
at the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, or CAL (online at
http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/searching/targumsearch.html), as well as
several alternate renderings of the Hebrew phrase in other English
versions, I concluded that, while the idea of divine anger (of Yahweh)
fit the uses of "qetzef" in other contexts, probably the idea in 2
Kgs. 3:27 is that the Israelite forces were horrified,
saddened/terrified and thus demoralized enough to break off the attack
and go home. The Targum uses "regaz", which can mean "anger", but can
also mean "quaking"—with fear or some other emotion, I gather. I wrote
up my conclusions in a brief note for myself and used it when teaching
the class; I have it as a Word document. If anyone would like a copy,
email me off-list and I will gladly send it to you. Comments are

Someone also asked if there were some online sites with the texts of
Targums. The CAL site mentioned above is one; another good one is the
Melchon Mamre site at http://www.mechon-mamre.org/. It has Targum
Onqelos on the Torah (Pentateuch), including a parallel Hebrew-Aramaic
Torah. (Note: there is an English introduction, and some of the Bible
texts are in English; site navigation once you select a Hebrew or
Aramaic text, however, is in Hebrew.) The site also has Rashi's
commentary and the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds.

Hope these help.

ברכך יהוה וישמרך׃ (Num. 6:24)

דוין דולני Dewayne Dulaney

"From the world you will have trouble. But, be brave! I have defeated
the world!"—John 16:33, DDV (Dewayne Dulaney Version)

My Bible blogs: http://my.opera.com/Loquor/blog/ and

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