(English Index)

(Original Index)




A Targum ( plural: targumim) is an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) written or compiled in the Land of Israel or in Babylonia from the Second Temple period until the early Middle Ages (late first millennium). (Targum is also the name used for the dialects of Aramaic spoken by Jews in Kurdistan).

As translations, the targumim largely reflect rabbinic (i.e. midrashic) interpretation of the Tanakh. This is true both for those targumim that are fairly literal, as well as for those which contain a great many midrashic expansions (exegesis of Biblical texts).

Aramaic was the dominant language or lingua franca for hundreds of years in major Jewish communities in the Land of Israel and Babylonia. In order to facilitate the study of Tanakh and make its public reading understood, authoritative translations were required.

The two most important targumim for liturgical purposes are:

  • Targum Onkelos on the Torah (the Law),

  • Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel on Nevi'im (the Prophets).