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Onkelos on the Torah: Numbers

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Onkelos on the Torah: Numbers

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Onkelos on the Torah: Numbers
Understanding the Bible Text

By Israel Drazin and Stanely M. Wagner
Gefen Publishing House: Jerusalem and New York, (2009)
ISBN: 978-965-229-461-6

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - July 27, 2009

The Targum Onkelos is an Aramaic translation of the Torah that was written by Onkelos, a Ger (convert to Judaism). His translation was completed sometime around 400 C.E. It was immediately accepted as authoritative, and has been in use ever since. Israel Drazin and Stanley M. Wagner have striven and succeeded in producing an accessible English translation of the Targum Onkelos that is faithful to the spirit and excellence of Onkelos' work. They have combined this eminently readable translation with original source material and a wealth of essential study aids. Their monumental work on Onkelos is entitled, Onkelos on the Torah: Understanding the Bible Text. The newest installment in this series covers Sefer Bemidbar (Book of Numbers), and this volume includes not only the Hebrew text of Sefer Bemidbar, but also the Aramaic text of Targum Onkelos, Rashi's text in vowelized Hebrew, and the astute English translation of Targum Onkelos, composed by the authors.

Detailed commentaries (in English) on the text are included, as is a detailed introductory essay on the Book of Numbers and on the difficulties that Onkelos faced in translating the text from Hebrew to Aramaic. To date, the first four volumes in this five-volume series have been published. Each volume in this series contains a different introductory essay, and combined they provide an informative overview of not only Onkelos' personal history and the Targum Onkelos, but they also provide information on the period in which he completed his translation, important historic and linguistic elements that aid our understanding of the text, and the various methodologies used to study it. Most important, the authors explain the vital role that studying Onkelos' translation has for anyone desirous of gaining a greater appreciation and understanding of the Torah.

In addition to the text of the Book of Numbers, the corresponding Haphtarot (Readings from the Prophets), for this book, have also been included. The Haphtarot are translated into English from the Aramaic Targumin, as well as in the original Aramaic.

In addition to the commentaries, you will find two very helpful study aids interwoven within the body of this text. They are the Onkelos Highlights and the Beyond the Text sections. The highlights (noted by being contained with boxes and featuring a slight darker background color) serve to highlight important aspects of each section of the text. The Beyond the Text segments serve to explore difficult, and sometimes controversial topics, in greater detail. These segments also pose thought-provoking questions that will enhance your appreciation and understanding of the text. As well, the Haphtarot are each proceeded by a brief introduction.

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. In short, Israel Drazin and Stanely M. Wagner have done a stellar job in organizing, writing, translating, and explaining the material contained within this volume, and its companion volumes. Onkelos on the Torah: Understanding the Bible Text is a phenomenal study aid and invaluable resource for anyone who is serious about studying the literal meaning of the Torah and the series, as a whole, is a 'must-have' for both home and school libraries.

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: Back to top

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