Targum - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Hebrew Letter Tav

While the word "targum" means translation in general, it usually refers to the Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible. After the Babylonian exile, most Jews spoke Aramaic as their first language, so translation became necessary to understand the Biblical readings. Many of the Targum contained interpretations or explanatory notes in addition to the literal translation.

This body of work includes:


Targum Onkelos (Onqelos) on the Torah  (composed originally in 2nd cent. CE Eretz Israel but tradited and studied primarily in Babylonia).  It is generally quite literal in its translation, but expansive in the poetic sections.

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (know as Targum Jonathan in rabbinic bibles, but referred to as Yerushalmi I in Jastrow's dictionary of rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic); an eighth century CE composition incorporating earlier midrashic and targumic material

Targum Yerushalmi : a targum used in Eretz-Israel and the west, built on the basis of Onqelos but adding extensive midrashic exposition, finalized only in the Byzantine era (Jastrow: Yerusalmi II).  Prior to the 1950's it was known only from fragments preserved in what are called the "fragment targums" and in fragmentary pages from the Cairo Genizah.  At that time a complete 16th century manuscript of the entire torah in that tradition was discovered in a library at the Vatican, now referred to as Targum Neophyti.

The Prophets:

Targum Jonathan, roughly contemporary with Targum Onqelos but with extensive interpretive material.  These texts are especially noteworthy as representatives of rabbinic theology.

The Writings:

Targums to Psalms and Job, are quite similar in nature and origin to Pseudo-Jonathan on the Torah.

Targum Song of Songs and the so-called Second Targum (Targum Sheni) to Esther, are rich storehouses of midrash.

The remaining texts (excepting Targum Proverbs which was a Judaized version of the Syriac Peshitta to that book) are generally thought to have a Palestinian origin, but much remains to be studied.

Finding Targum in the catalog

Do a title browse search under the part of the Bible you want, and add Aramaic and the name of the Targum. For example:
Bible. O.T. Pentateuch. Aramaic Onkelos

Recommended websites


Bar Ilan Responsa Project

Includes the Hebrew texts of the Tanakh, Talmuds, early commentaries, codes, and many responsa. Searching is allowed from anywhere, more features are available (saving, printing, etc.) from the HUC campus or through the Jewish Studies Portal.

Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon

This Lexicon includes every dialect of Aramaic from the 9th century BCE through the 13th century CE.

Targum to Lamentations

Translated by C.M. M. Brady, this text is based upon the text of MS Urb. 1

Translations at the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies

Includes the Translations