Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bnei Yisaschar on the authorship of Targum Yonasan

Someone recently sent me the following Bnei Yisaschar, regarding the authorship of Targum Yonasan. He is considering the gemara discussed in the previous post:

"'The Targum of the Torah, Onkelos the Convert said it... the Targum of Neviim, Yonatan ben Uziel said it...'

Behold, we have in our hands the Targum of Torah as well ascribed to Yonatan ben Uziel!

But the intent here is regarding that Targum which they translate in public the sidra of Chumash, and the haftara of Neviim; we use the Targum of Onkelos for the Torah and in Neviim in Targum Yonatan ben Uziel.

And it appears further that the Targum of Neviim, Yonatan said it to translate in public, and commanded to write it down, and so too Targum Onkelos of the Torah, which is not the case in the Targum of the Torah which Yonatan said; he did not say to translate it in public, but just to individuals, and did not give it over to be written, but just orally. And now that it has been written, because of עת לעשות לה, etc.

And a proof to our words is that the Targum in the Torah, many times something which is forbidden to translate so in public. Such as ומזרעך לא תתן להעביר למולך as לא תתן עאעברא בארמיותו {=a prohibition of intermarriage and giving your seed to impregnate a non-Jewish woman}. And this matter is forbidden to translate in public. Rather, it is like a midrash chachamim which was given to darshen to each person as the hand of Hashem which is good upon him."

The gemara in question is Megillah 3a:
וא"ר ירמיה ואיתימא רבי חייא בר אבא תרגום של תורה אונקלוס הגר אמרו מפי ר' אליעזר ור' יהושע תרגום של נביאים יונתן בן עוזיאל אמרו מפי חגי זכריה ומלאכי ונזדעזעה ארץ ישראל ארבע מאות פרסה על ארבע מאות פרסה יצתה בת קול ואמרה מי הוא זה שגילה סתריי לבני אדם עמד יונתן בן עוזיאל על רגליו ואמר אני הוא שגליתי סתריך לבני אדם גלוי וידוע לפניך שלא לכבודי עשיתי ולא לכבוד בית אבא אלא לכבודך עשיתי שלא ירבו מחלוקת בישראל ועוד ביקש לגלות תרגום של כתובים יצתה בת קול ואמרה לו דייך מ"ט משום דאית ביה קץ משיח ותרגום של תורה אונקלוס הגר אמרו
In English:
R.  Jeremiah  —  or  some  say  R. Hiyya b. Abba — also said: The Targum4 of the Pentateuch was composed by Onkelos the proselyte under the guidance5  of R. Eleazar and R. Joshua.6  The Targum of the Prophets was composed by Jonathan ben Uzziel under the guidance of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi,7 and the land of Israel [thereupon] quaked over an area of four hundred parasangs by four hundred parasangs, and a Bath Kol8 came forth and exclaimed, Who is this that has revealed My secrets to mankind?9 Jonathan b. Uzziel thereupon arose and  said, It is I who have revealed Thy secrets to mankind. It is fully known to Thee that I have not done this for my own honour or for the honour of my father's house, but for Thy honour l have done it, that dissension may not increase in Israel.10  He further sought to reveal [by] a targum  [the inner meaning] of the Hagiographa, but a Bath Kol went forth and said, Enough! What was the reason? — Because the date11 of the Messiah is foretold in it.12
Presumably the date of Mashiach is foretold in sefer Daniel, which is not read in public. Indeed, none of Ktuvim is. I suppose people read various megilot, so they can be exceptions. But Daniel is not read in this context, and once you are discussing Ketuvim, it is a bit odd that Torah is not mentioned.

Meanwhile, this is all a somewhat forced reinterpretation of the gemara sparked by the facts before the Bnei Yisaschar (1783-1841) -- that such a Targum exists. He saw a Targum on Chumash under this label. But that does not mean that he really knew that it was authored by the Tanna Yonasan ben Uziel. A much better answer is available to us, that the gemara did not speak of Yonasan ben Uzziel's targum on Chumash because he didn't write one; rather, it is a name that got tacked on to a variant of Targum Yerushalmi. And this is why even up to the time of the early Rishonim, all the way until Rabbi Menachem Ricaneti (1250-1310), there is no mention whatsoever of a Targum Yonasan al haTorah.


the "Someone" said...

Shkoich for sharing this with the olam. I was hoping you were going to post it.

Navi said...

As good as I am this I didn't see coming! Err...


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