The Jewish Eye
Onkelos on the Torah
Onkelos on the Torah: Genesis
Understanding the Bible Text
By Israel Drazin and Stanely M. Wagner
Gefen Publishing House: Jerusalem and New York, (2006)
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - February 12, 2007
Onkelos on the Torah: Understanding the Bible Text is a five-volume translation of the Torah (Chumash), complete with extensive commentaries, Aramaic, Hebrew and English texts, and the Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets) for each weekly Torah portion and for the Holidays. This unique series will prove invaluable to anyone seeking to study the Torah in either English or Hebrew, and who need or desire commentaries in English. It is also a vital study aid for anyone interested in studying Onkelos' Aramaic translation and in examining the literal meaning of the Torah.
In the volume on Genesis (Sefer Bereishis), the text begins with an informative table of contents that includes a concise outline of the narrative covered in each Torah portion, as well as the name of each portion and the chapters that it covers. This is followed by the authors' note, which provides an overview of what is contained in this volume. For example,
The authors' notes are followed by publisher's notes and the book's preface, then by a detailed, scholarly, and highly informative introduction to Targum Onkelos. This introduction explores a variety of topics including who Onkelos was, why his Aramaic translation of the Torah is held in such high regard, how scriptural language is interpreted, the history of the Targum Onkelos, and why it is still important to study Onkelos' translation. This detailed introduction is followed by a brief introduction to Beyond the Text. These are commentaries that are found throughout the volume that explores Biblical themes and which propose questions for further study that will help you to better understand and appreciate the material studied in the Biblical text. This secondary introduction is followed by the Torah Blessings, in Hebrew, which are to be said before and after studying the Torah.
- The complete text of Sefer Bereishis, in English translation.
- Targum Onkelos text, in vowelized Aramaic.
- Rashi's commentaries, in vowelized Rashi script.
- The Hebrew text of Sefer Bereishis.
- The targumic version of the Haftarot, with English translation.
- A wealth of commentaries, in English, from a variety of sources including Joseph Bechor Schor and Joseph ibn Kaspi, Ezra, Rashi, Nachmanidies, Radak, Rashbam, Sforno, and more.
- Highlights of each chapter, and thoughts to ponder are also included.
The detailed introductory material gives you a foundation to understand the format and layout of this volume. It also explains the importance of the material found in the main body of this work, namely the text of Sefer Bereishis, and its related commentaries. This volume concludes with several appendixes that provide additional commentary, an abridged bibliography, and a glossary of terms, works cited, and brief biographical sketches of the volume's commentators.
As with the other volumes in this series, this volume features a brownish-red cover with gold lettering and a raised design. The paper used in the text is cream colored and the print is dark and clear. The pages have wide margins, the text is well organized and the various translations and commentaries are intuitively laid out.
Israel Drazin and Stanely M. Wagner have done a stellar job in organizing, writing, and explaining the material contained in this volume. One of the features of this text that makes it ideal for study is that terms in the English translation, which are commented on in the commentaries, are printed in bold, with the same text printed in bold in the English commentaries so that you can easily find the corresponding commentaries. In addition, the Hebrew text of the Torah includes not only vowels, but also cantillation marks.
All five volumes in the Onkelos On the Torah: Understanding the Bible Text series are now available and they can be purchased individually or as a boxed set via the following links:
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