The History and Dating of Onkelos
By Israel Drazin
The Babylonian Talmud has the earliest report of the authorship and date of Targum Onkelos. It states that an individual named Onkelos composed the translation in the first third of the second century CE. Since the nineteenth century, scholars have generally rejected this recollection and dated the Targum, or its final redaction, in the third century CE. I will show that the proper date is more likely the late fourth or early fifth century CE. This dating is supported by seeing the consistent use of the targumist of the final version of tannaitic Midrashim that were not edited until the late fourth century.
The Traditional View and its Problems
The Babylonian talmudic scholars gave preference to the literal Aramaic translation of the Pentateuch, which they called targum didan (“our translation”), over other translations. However, they had but a single unreliable memory of its author.
A Palestinian Amora (in Megillah 3a) curiously states that Onkelos composed the authorized translation after it had been forgotten.
R. Jeremiah – or some say R. Hiyya b. Abba – also said: Onkelos the proselyte under the guidance of R. Eleazar and R. Joshua composed The Targum of the Pentateuch…. But did Onkelos the proselyte compose the targum to the Pentateuch? Has not R. Ika said in the name of R. Hananel who had it from Rab: What is meant by the text, “And they read in the book, in the law of God, with an interpretation, and they gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8)? “And they read in the book, in the law of God” this indicates the [Hebrew] text; “with an interpretation”: this indicates the Targum; “and they gave the sense” this indicates the verse stops; “and caused them to understand the reading” this indicates the accentuation; or, according to another version, the Masoretic notes? – These had been forgotten, and were not established again.
The Babylonian Talmud states that Onkelos was the son of Kolonikos, who was the nephew of the Roman Emperor Titus. He converted to Judaism. Several miraculous stories are revealed about him. These tales are virtually identical with those conveyed of the Greek translator Aquilas, and, as we shall see, were confusedly ascribed to Onkelos. Thus, according to R. Jeremiah and the Babylonian Talmud, Targum Onkelos was composed about 130 CE.
There are several serious problems with R. Jeremiah’s opinion. The Babylonian Talmud translates pentateuchal words eighteen times using the term u’m’targuminun, “and it is translated,” or “the Targum states.” Despite R. Jeremiah’s view of authorship, in none of these instances is Onkelos mentioned by name. Midrashim use the same formula seventeen times and Onkelos is cited only once, in a late twelfth-century midrash (Numbers Rabbah 9). An opinion is attributed to an individual called Onkelos only once in the Talmud. This opinion is in no way related to the Targum.
There is good authority confirming that Aquilas translated the Bible into Greek about 130 CE. There is, however, no corroboration for connecting the Aramaic translation currently called Targum Onkelos with a person named Onkelos other than the single statement in the tractate Megillah. The talmudic sages, R. Jeremiah or R. Hiyya, obviously confused the two translations. It is hardly possible that R. Eleazar and R. Joshua had two students with virtually identical names, both of whom were born of the same noble lineage under highly unusual circumstances, and both of whom underwent remarkably similar miraculous events.
It is more likely that the redactors of the Babylonian Talmud did not know who composed their “authorized” or “officially accepted” translation. They recalled that the Jerusalem Talmud of several generations earlier had stated that Aquilas composed the authorized Greek translation. They ascribed their Aramaic version to him as well.
The only essential difference between the names of Onkelos and Aquilas in Hebrew script is the addition of the letter nun, a characteristic insertion in Babylonian Aramaic. Onkelos is thus a Babylonian equivalent of the name Aquilas.
There are indicators that suggest, although admittedly they do not prove, that Targum Onkelos could not have been composed in the second century. If Onkelos existed, aside from the unbelievable circumstance that both he and Aquilas underwent the same curious life experiences, there must have been some differences. Why is no difference mentioned in the two stories? Moreover, why is there no allusion to Onkelos in the Talmud, where the Targum is extolled? If the Babylonian talmudic rabbis knew the author of the Targum, we would expect that Onkelos’ name should have been cited whenever the Targum is mentioned. If Onkelos was a noted Palestinian scholar of the second century, he should have been included in the Jerusalem Talmud whose final redaction occurred at the end of the fourth century. Further, if the author of the Targum was known, there should have been no need for the tradition of R. Jeremiah, and the Talmud should never have questioned this tradition.
Even more significantly, if Onkelos composed the Targum in the second century, why is his name not mentioned in the tannaitic midrashim that were edited in the late fourth century? Jewish tradition is meticulous about naming the source of every teaching. Furthermore, the Mishnah in the Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 8b, edited after the traditionally held composition date of the Onkelos Targum, quotes R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, who lived during and after the traditional composition date of Targum Onkelos. He identified only the Greek translation as being holy. The Mishnah knows nothing of Targum Onkelos. The Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 9b, comments upon this Mishnah and states in the name of R. Abbahu (circa 300 CE), who made his statement in the name of R. Johanan (circa 250 CE, both living several generations after the supposed composition of Targum Onkelos), that the halakhah follows R. Simeon b. Gamaliel.
The problems that refute the talmudic view of the dating of Targum Onkelos also confront and refute the views of modern scholarship. Some writers, such as M. H. Goshen-Gottstein and B. Grossfeld, accept the talmudic dating. Grossfeld, for example, maintains that Onkelos and Aquila are the same person, argues that the parallels between the Targum and the midrashim point to a common tradition upon which both genres of scriptural interpretations rest, and concludes that where the school of R. Akiba and R. Ishmael differ, Onkelos upholds the views of R. Akiba’s school. Grossfeld knew only 153 cases in the Pentateuch where Targum Onkelos and the tannaitic midrashim parallel each other. He attributes Onkelos’ translation to the Akiban school because he notes that in 19 of these 153 instances the Targum’s deviation were like those of R. Akiba. Grossfeld did not know that Targum Onkelos parallels the tannaitic Midrashim in 698 instances, as we will show, in just four of the pentateuchal books, and he did not analyze the parallels or take note of the frequent times that the targumist differed with the Akiban school (e.g. Exodus 21:3, 19; 22:3).
Most scholars reject the Talmud’s date and assign the date of composition to the first half of the third century CE. They rely on references to the Targum in a volume on targumic traditions collected in Die Masorah zum Targum Onkelos, which is said to have been composed in the first half of the third century CE. There is no evidence of the time of composition of this Masorah and no certainty that many elements were not added at later dates. A second proof for the third century dating is the existence of non-halakhic material in the Targum. The argument is that later rabbis could not have authorized divergences from halakhah. These scholars fail to note that rabbinic tradition has always tolerated dissident opinions as to the peshat, the literal sense of the text. Contra-halakhic biblical interpretations occur in the early midrashim and the Talmuds, as well as in the later commentaries of Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, and others. There is no rabbinic statement indicating that Targum Onkelos has halakhic authority. The rabbis only forbade teachings which encourage “behavior” that is contrary to halakhah.
Dating Onkelos by means of the Tannaitic Midrashim
While studying, translating and commenting upon Targum Onkelos to the Pentateuch, I noted the remarkable reliance of this Aramaic translation upon the present version of all of the tannaitic midrashim. This has led us to date the Targum to a time following the final redaction of these midrashim.
I will illustrate this conclusion by focusing on the book of Numbers. A comparison of the words used in Targum Onkelos and Sifrei to Numbers shows the reliance of the author(s) of the Targum upon this late fourth-century midrash and shows the many similarities between the two documents. The findings are rather startling when one realizes that the two documents were not only written in different languages, but that their authors and editors, as will be seen, had totally different agendas. While space constraints restrict us from detailing the findings in the other pentateuchal books, we will also outline these findings briefly and show the consistency of the targumic borrowings.
The method used in the following study of Numbers is relatively simple. Whenever the Onkelos translation replaces the biblical Hebrew word with a word that deviates from being an exact translation of the original, the tannaitic midrash is examined.
We will see, for example, that there are five instances where our targumist relied on Sifrei to Numbers’ definitions. Sifrei defined words with what we may call a full definition formula: ein bakhal makom elah (‘there is no place that X means anything else but ‘Y’). Onkelos quotes Sifrei’s word definition each time this formula is used, except where the midrash differentiates dabeir, ‘speak’, from amar, ‘said’.
Similarly, Sifrei uses what we could call a short definition formula, ein (‘There is no… but’), thirteen times. Again, Onkelos incorporates Sifrei’s exact word or uses a synonym of the midrashic term in each instance. Thus, repeatedly and consistently, Onkelos defines the biblical terms exactly like the midrash whenever the midrash states that it is giving a definition. In each instance, the targumist used Sifrei as a dictionary.
Additionally, our targumist repeats – one might even say “quotes” – Sifrei’s exact word in 53 other verses and is similar to the midrash an additional 35 times in the book of Numbers. Thus, when Onkelos parallels the midrash, it is more likely to repeat the midrash’s exact word than to use a synonym. These numbers are extraordinary since the Targum is an Aramaic translation and the midrash is a Hebrew documentary, and there is extant midrash on only a third of the biblical text.
In total, Targum Onkelos parallels Sifrei to Numbers in 106 instances, in over a third of the verses where Sifrei has commentary. This is not happenstance. The Targum uses the word because the targumist drew it from the midrash.
The Onkelos targumist not only drew his translation, indeed his very words, from Sifrei to Numbers but did so as well with the tannaitic midrash Sifrei Zutta to Numbers.
Sifrei Zutta does not use the full definition formula contained in Sifrei, but it has the short formula ein in five verses (7:3, 10:31, 11:3, 11:18 and 15:38). In each of these instances, our targumist deviates from the biblical text and uses an Aramaic synonym for Sifrei Zutta’s word.
In addition, Onkelos quotes Sifrei Zutta’s exact word 61 times and is similar to the midrash 38 times. In total, the Targum parallels this midrash in 104 places.
Lack of Similarities
Turning now to the opposite perspective, the following answers the question: why did the targumist not copy everything in the midrash and why did he include material not in the midrash? This will help us understand that the targumist consistently drew his material from the midrash and only failed to do so because of good reasons.
As mentioned earlier, the targumist and the midrash compilers had different agendas. The targumist quotes the midrash when their purposes are the same, when the midrash translates the text’s simple meaning. He deviates from the midrash when the midrash goes beyond this task. He adds material that is not in the midrash when the midrash did not attempt to clarify the text’s meaning and his rendering does so.
The following list catalogues some of the kinds of deviations inserted by the targumist to clarify the text that are not in Sifrei. These changes, which are explained in chapter 3 and in the author’s Targum Onkelos to Numbers, either did not concern the halakhic and aggadic-minded commentators of the midrash, or they are insertions that the compilers of the midrash did not feel compelled to add to every verse when they had already commented upon it elsewhere (e.g. Shekhinah or adding a preposition).
Explaining the text with an Aramaic idiom
Replacing el, which means “God,” with “idol”
Changing the harsh “take” to the softer “lead”
Grammatical and tense replacements
Explanation of metaphors
Using words to avoid anthropomorphisms, such as memra
Treating a name as verb
Updating and thereby identifying a place name
Being more explicit than the Bible
Avoiding an anthropomorphism and anthropopathism
Changes to preserve Israelite honor
Changes to protect God’s honor
Replacing the plural Elohim with the Tetragrammaton
Thus, the targumic insertions that are of not in the midrash are absent from the midrash because they do not concern the midrashic authors. Conversely, the targumist only incorporates Sifrei material that interprets biblical verses according to their literal meaning. He avoids using derash, interpretations trying to disclose the text’s hidden meaning, or where the midrash has halakhah, theology, legends, and parables.
Examples of midrashic derash that Onkelos refrains from using are: the Massoretic Text’s (MT’s) “uncover the woman’s head” (Numbers 5:18) teaches that Israelite women should keep their heads covered. MT’s “place in her hands” (5:18) is required to tire her out so that she will repent. MT’s “two turtledoves and two young pigeons” (6:10) implies that people may not substitute turtledoves for pigeons or pigeons for turtledoves.
Halakhic elements are on virtually every Sifrei page. They appear only rarely in the Aramaic translation, which also has contra-halakhic matter, and then only when they help readers understand the text’s simple meaning. MT’s “command” (5:2) is said to apply immediately and for future generations. MT’s “his sin” clarifies that one does not confess his father’s sins. MT’s “eyes” (5:11) excludes a blind person.
Aside from its avoidance of anthropomorphisms, theology and morality are also generally absent from Onkelos, but abound in the midrash. Sifrei derives the lesson that strength is granted to those who are strong, and encouragement to those who are stout of heart (5:2), Aaron was righteous because he did exactly what Moses told him to do (8:1), and the Israelites were virtuous because they did what Moses instructed (9:1). Merit flows to the meritorious and humiliation to those who are disgraceful (9:1).
Various legends and parables do not appear in Onkelos. For example, each of the seven days of preparing the Tabernacle, Moses set it up and then dismantled it (7:1). Aaron’s sons did not literally die before the Lord; they fell outside so as not to render the Tabernacle unclean. In fact, an angel sustained them after they had been struck with fire, helped them outside, and allowed them to fall in the courtyard (7:1). The Israelite desert leaders were the same individuals who were assigned as their supervisors while they were slaves in Egypt (7:3).
In summary, the Onkelos targumist consistently drew the explanations and definitions from the late fourth century midrashim that helped explain the text’s simple meaning, and frequently even quoted the midrash. He ignored material that did not further this agenda. Thus he could not have composed his translation before the end of the fourth century.
Consistency With Other Biblical Books
The significant and unswerving reliance by Targum Onkelos on the tannaitic midrashim to Numbers to clarify the simple meaning of the biblical text also occurred in the other books of the Pentateuch. The Onkelos deviations from the literal Hebrew translation consistently reflect the late fourth century tannaitic midrashim in about a third of the verses where midrashic commentary are present.
Although the tannaitic midrash Mekhilta d’R. Ishmael exists for only about fourteen Exodus chapters, Targum Onkelos deviates from rendering the biblical text literally 158 times. It consistently and remarkably uses midrashic words, including 95 instances where the targumist quotes the Mekhilta’s exact word, an average of eight times in each chapter. He parallels Mekhilta in more than thirty per cent of the verses where midrashic comments occur. This is startling since most of the midrash is derash, comments that are contrary to his purpose and which he avoids.
The targumist never explains Exodus contrary to Mekhilta’s peshat, the text’s plain and explicit meaning. He uses all, or virtually all Mekhilta interpretations that are peshat and neglects only the Mekhilta’s derash, halakhah, theology, legends and parables, since the Targum, as we said, is a translation and not a commentary. The reverse is not true: He deviates to add clarifications that are not in Mekhilta since it was composed after this midrash.
The findings for Numbers and Exodus are repeated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy: The targumist relied on the late fourth century tannaitic midrashim for the translation of the biblical text. His deviations in Leviticus parallel the midrash Sifra’s interpretation in 129 instances, including 82 times that he uses Sifra’s word. Again, he never explains Leviticus contrary to Sifra’s peshat, he incorporates all, or virtually all, of Sifra’s interpretations that are peshat and neglects its derash, halakhah, theology, legends and parables, and he has deviations that clarify the text that are not in Sifra.
In Deuteronomy as well, Onkelos’ deviations remarkably reflect the late fourth century tannaitic midrash Sifrei’s interpretation in about a third of the verses in the less than half of Deuteronomy where there is extant midrash. The Targum deviates 201 times using words reflecting interpretations in Sifrei. This represents about thirty percent of Sifrei’s interpretations.
A few statistics will demonstrate how remarkable this is. There are, for example, 489 verses in the first 17 chapters, the first half of Deuteronomy. Only 186 of these sentences, about 38 percent, have comments by Sifrei. The targumist’s deviations from a literal rendering of Deuteronomy parallel Sifrei in 56 passages (in 60 instances) or about thirty per cent. The sentences where he does not reflect Sifrei are all instances, as we noted previously, where the midrash has derash. Thus, again, Onkelos contains all of virtually all of the non-aggadic Sifrei material, and there is no instance where the Targum differs with this midrash except where the latter has derash or there is a scribal error in the Targum.
H. Albeck noted that the author or authors of the fourth-century midrash Genesis Rabbah did not use Onkelos despite having difficulty in understanding verses that the targumist understood and translated. For example, Genesis Rabbah cites an incident where rabbis wanted to know the Aramaic equivalent of a biblical word and had to travel to a place where Aramaic was spoken, and they did not look at Onkelos where the word is explained in Aramaic. Albeck’s observations are supplemented in the author’s Targumic Studies. We now know that the midrash’s authors could not have utilized Onkelos as a source because it did not exist when the midrash was composed.
My studies of the Targum Onkelos Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible compared the words used in the Aramaic translation when the translator did not render the Bible literally with the language used in the late fourth century midrashim. The study showed that Onkelos consistently used the language in the midrashim. There were a total of 698 similarities between Targum Onkelos to the four biblical books that we studied (excluding Genesis) to the text contained in the five midrashic volumes that we analyzed, most of which were exact quotes. The Targum parallels these midrashim in a third of the verses where there are midrashic comments. Since the targumist drew material from these volumes, his Targum Onkelos had to have been composed after the end of the fourth century CE.
Since the editors of the Babylonian Talmud had Targum Onkelos in hand and were unable to recall its author, it stands to reason that the Targum must have been completed before the editing of this Talmud began in the fifth century. Thus a dating of 400 CE is probably very close to the exact date of our Targum’s composition.
It is worthwhile repeating the following from Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy.
As to which composition, Sifrei or Targum Onkelos, is earlier there are four
possibilities. First, Sifrei was composed after Targum Onkelos and follows an
interpretative tradition that originated with or was incorporated into the
Targum. This is possible, but in view of the subtle, concise, and often
ambiguous nature of Targum Onkelos’s deviations, it is doubtful that the editor
of Sifrei sat down, examined every deviation, found a reason for it, and then
wrote an expansion of it, proving his point by citing the opinion of tannaitic
sages who lived over a period of many generations. Furthermore, this would
fail to explain Sifrei’s derash, the material in Targum Onkelos not included in
Sifrei, the collection of divergent tannaitic views, and so forth.
The second possibility is that both Sifrei and Targum Onkelos were composed
during several generations, by a series of authors, with mutual borrowing,
both basing their interpretations on the same rabbinic tradition, which was
transmitted orally or which was in written form, but is no longer extant.
Thirdly, it is similarly possible that both Sifrei and Targum Onkelos are based
on an earlier, more expansive Targum that is no longer extant. While both (2)
and (3) are possible, they are unlikely because of the remarkable and
consistent parallels between the two documents and for the other reasons
mentioned above. Furthermore, if Sifrei drew from a Targum, one would
expect some mention of a Targum among the many other sources that are
cited, but there is none in Sifrei.
The fourth possibility is that Sifrei preceded Targum Onkelos and the
author(s) of the Targum translated with “one finger in the MT and another in
Sifrei.” This would explain the remarkable parallelism and the additional
material in Targum Onkelos.
The author recognizes that his late fourth or early fifth century CE date for
Onkelos depends upon the generally accepted scholarly dating of the
tannaitic midrashim. A point can be made that versions of these midrashim
existed at an earlier time. The author would dismiss this idea because the
targumist follows the present midrashic text consistently and must have used
the final version. Another argument could insist upon the minority view of an
earlier redaction date for the midrashim. In any event, however one dates the
midrashim, the author’s contribution remains. The Onkelos targumist
borrowed from the tannaitic midrashim and must be dated after them.’
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of thirty-three books, twelve of which are on Targum Onkelos. His website is www.booksnthoughts.com
 The word “Targum” means “translation”, “interpretation”, or “version.” See Targum Onkelos to Genesis 42:23; Exodus 4:16, 7:1; Targum to II Chronicles 32:31; and Targum Sheni to Esther 3:8, 7:5. The words “Targum Onkelos,” as we shall see, denote “the Translation of Aquilas.”
In the Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 49a, Rabbi Judah said: “If one translates a verse literally, he is a liar; if he adds thereto, he is a blasphemer and a libeler. Then what is a proper translation? Our translation.”
The first mention of Targum Onkelos after the Babylonian Talmud does not occur until the seventh century. Sar Shalom in Sefer Shaarei Teshuvah, ed. F. Hirsch (Leipzig. 1858), 29c, and Seder Rab Amram (1865), 29.
 The translation is from The Babylonian Talmud, ed. I. Epstein, Soncino Press (London, 1938). This passage, it is important to note, is the only source for this legend. The verse itself is discussed again in the Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 37b. If Onkelos received guidance from R. Eleazer and R. Joshua, who lived around 130 C.E, this opinion would date the translation to the early part of the second century.
 In the Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah 11a and Gittin 56a, b, and 57a. Cf. Tosefta Shabbat 7(8):18; Haggigah 3:2 and 3; and the midrashim Genesis Rabbah 70:5 and Tanchuma 41a, Mishpatim 3.
 The Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 1, 71c; Kiddushin 1, 59a; Haggigah 2:5, 77a. Although the contemporary English spelling is Aquila, the name is Aquilas in Greek and Hebrew. Those familiar with rabbinic studies will recall that errors in names frequently occur in the Talmud. While writing this note, the author was studying the Babylonian Talmud Bava Kamma and found the following errors in a few pages; R. Abba v. R. Abin in 112a; R. Ashi v. R. Assi in 112b, 113a, 114a; Rava v. Rabba in 114a, R. Huna v. R. Kahana in 114a, Rav v. Abbahu in 114b; and the Talmud itself was unsure of a name in 114b.
 See M. M. Kasher, Torah Shelemah 24 (Jerusalem, 1974), pages 155-161; and J. Reifman, Sedeh Aram (Berlin, 1875), pages 8-10.
 See Kasher, op. cit., pages 195-238, and Reifman, op. cit., pages 12-14. Numbers Rabbah is hardly older than the twelfth century. See The Jewish Encyclopedia, volume II, page 671, and Encyclopedia Judaica, volume 12, column 1261.
 Babylonian Talmud, Bava Bathra 99a: “Onkelos the proselyte said, the cherubim were of tza’atzu’im (image work) and their faces were turned sideways, as a student who is leaving his teacher.” The statement is somewhat obscure. It probably comments upon II Chronicles 3:10 (where the word is spelt with ayins) by referring to a similar word in Isaiah 22:24 (spelt with alephs). Targum Jonathan translates the latter word “son,” which suggests “student.” The reference to Onkelos is certainly incorrect. There is no Targum Onkelos to either the Writings or the Prophets, and Onkelos in the Pentateuch never translates “cherubim.” It always repeats the biblical Hebrew word. It is possible that the Talmud is referring to Jonathan ben Uzziel or Aquilas and not Onkelos.
 R. Jeremiah lived about 350 CE and his teacher R. Hiyya b. Abba, a generation earlier. It is likely that he did not make the statement that tradition attributes to him. First of all, the talmudic tradition is itself uncertain as to who made the statement. Secondly, since both R. Jeremiah and R. Hiyya b. Abba were scholars of Eretz Israel and not Babylon; the tradition, if correct, probably referred to the Eretz Israel Greek translation of Aquilas, and not the Babylonian Aramaic translation of “our translation.” Thirdly, in the Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 9b, R. Hiyya b. Abba is clearly speaking about the Greek Bible translation and seems to know nothing of the Aramaic version.
 H. Graetz, History of the Jews (Philadelphia, 1893), volume 2, pages 387, 581, 582, argues that the Aramaic translation “was made partly from that of Akylas (sic) on account of its simplicity, and was called Targum Onkelos.” See the author’s Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy (Ktav, 1982), pages 2, 14, 15, and A. E. Silverstone, Aquila and Onkelos (Manchester University Press, 1970), and other volumes cited therein.
 Note, for example, that תגי and מדע in Palestinian Aramaic are תנגי and מנדע in Babylonian Aramaic. Another difference is that Onkelos is spelt with an aleph and Aquilas with an ayin. Many Palestinian words with an ayin were transposed in Babylonia to an aleph because Babylonians had difficulty pronouncing laryngeals; for example, עד=אד.
 See notes 4 and 5, and related text.
 See for example Mishnah Aboth 6: 6; Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 97a; Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 2:1 (4b). Also, many talmudic discussions are based on the idea that Amoraim never dispute a subject that was previously disputed in a Mishnah without citing the earlier dispute. See for example Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 4a and 16b, middle of pages.
 M. H. Goshen-Gottstein, “The Language of Targum Onkelos and the model of Literary Diaglossia in Aramaic,” JNES 37 (1978), pages 169-179; B. Grossfield, “Onqelos, Halakhah and the Halakhic Midrashim,” in D. R. G. Beattie and M. McNamara (editors), The Aramaic bible (1994), pages 228-46.
 See edition by A. Berliner (Leipzig, 1877).
 See for example P. Kahle, The Cairo Geneiza (Oxford, 1959), pages191-228; H. Albeck, Jubilee Volume to B. M. Lewin (1940), pages 93-104; A. Diez Macho, Neophyti, I: Genesis (1968), page 98; Leopold Zunz, Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden (Berlin, 1832). These views and others are discussed in I. Drazin, Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy (Ktav, 1982), pages 2-6, and B. Grossfeld, Targum Onqelos to Genesis (Michael Glazier, 1988), pages 30-35. No critical evaluation was ever made of Berliner’s Masorah and every modern author refers to it without comment. The book and the conclusions drawn from it require extensive study. It should be noted that there was or were early Aramaic translations of parts of the Hebrew Bible, as confirmed by the fragments found in Qumran. See J. T. Milik, Discoveries in the Judean Desert, Volume 6: Qumran Grotte 4, II: Tefillin, Mezuzot, et Targums (4Q128-4Q157) Oxford, 1977. The comparison between these finds and Onkelos are discussed in I. Drazin’s Targum Onkelos to Leviticus (Ktav, 1994), pages 36, 146, 149, 151.
 With the participation of the Center for Judaic Studies of the University of Denver, the author published, through the Ktav Publishing House, Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy in 1982, Targum Onkelos to Exodus in 1990, Targum Onkelos to Leviticus in 1993, and Targum Onkelos to Numbers in 1998. Targum Onkelos to Genesis was written by Moses Aberbach and Bernard Grossfeld, and was published in 1982. The latter authors ascribe a dating of Onkelos “towards the end of the third century CE” (page 9).
 A tannaitic document is one that transmits the views of the Jewish sages from the period of Hillel to the compilation of the Mishnah. This period began about 20 BCE and ended about 200 CE, although the documents may not have been committed to writing until a later time. The tannaitic midrashim were not redacted until the end of the fourth century.
The tannaitic midrashim are Mekhilta deR. Ishmael and Mekhilta deR. Simeon b. Yochai to Exodus; Sifra to Leviticus; Sifrei and Sifrei Zutta to Numbers; and Sifrei and Midrash Tannaim to Deuteronomy. Each is individualistic in halakhic view, style, and character.
Although the tannaitic midrashim appear, by their name, to have been composed during the tannaitic period, ending in the early third century, later scholars are mentioned therein. The tannaitic midrashim, in their present form, were unknown to the scholars in the two Talmuds and must have been composed in Eretz Israel no earlier than the end of the fourth century, after the completion of the Jerusalem Talmud. They were unknown in the Jerusalem Talmud because they were not yet composed. They were unknown in the Babylonian Talmud because of their composition in Eretz Israel. See Encyclopedia Judaica for sources regarding the dating of each midrash.
J. Neusner, Midrash in Context (Fortress Press, 1983), dates the tannaitic midrashim in the fifth and sixth centuries. We will see in this study that (1) our targumist drew material from the midrashim, which must have pre-existed the Targum, and (2) the scholars of the Babylonian Talmud, composed and edited in the fifth and sixth century, mention our Targum but did not know the name of its author. Therefore, the Targum must have been composed before the Babylonian Talmud. Thus, a sixth-century date for the composition of the midrashim is incorrect.
 This was done first in the Deuteronomy volume in pp. 8-10. This book showed the reliance of Onkelos upon the midrash Sifrei. The subsequent studies did the same with the other midrashim.
 The midrash Sifrei to Numbers comments on parts of nineteen of the thirty-six biblical chapters of Numbers (5-12; 15; 18-19; 25:1-13; 26:52-31:24; and 35:9-39), less than a third of the biblical text. It contains a considerable amount of aggadah and halakhah, items that Onkelos avoids, and has little narrative, areas where Targum Onkelos deviations abound.
 Onkelos has many Hebraisms because its audience’s language included many Hebrew words. They were used in the translation whenever the Hebrew was more familiar or understandable to the reader than the Aramaic equivalent. Similarly, although the midrash was composed in Hebrew, there are many Aramaic words in it.
 שקר twice, 5:6; כיור, 5:17; יפרש used in 6:2 to help define גזר; equals Sifrei’s pisqahs 7, 10, and 23, respectively.
The exception of דבר in 12:1 (=pisqah 99) is understandable. Sifrei interprets דבר as “harsh speech.” This is derash, a homiletical exposition, and not a true definition; and Onkelos only translates according to the peshat, the simple meaning of the text. Yet, even in this instance, although the Targum does not quote the adjective “harsh,” it differentiates the two words, rendering מלל for “speak” and retaining אמר for the second.
 A chart of these instances is in I. Drazin, “Dating Targum Onkelos by means of the Tannaitic Midrashim,” Journal of Jewish Studies, Autumn 1999.
 The 106 instances are listed in the Journal of Jewish Studies article.
 Like Sifrei, Sifrei Zutta was composed at the end of the fourth century CE. But, unlike the former, the latter disappeared and only fragments were rediscovered in the Genizah, in Yalkut Shimoni, Midrash ha-Gadol, and other works. H. S. Horovitz compiled these findings and published them in Sifrei al Sefer be-Midbar VeSifrei Zutta (1917). Later, J. N. Epstein published an additional large fragment in Tarbiz 1/1 (1930). Sifrei Zutta contains many halakhot that are not mentioned elsewhere and many that differ with those in the Mishnah. Its style and terminology are unique.
 These deviations are identified and explained in the author’s Targum series. See Note 16. Targum Onkelos’s understanding and use of peshat will be addressed in the next chapter.
 See the author’s Targum Onkelos to Exodus (Ktav), pages 8-11, 32-33, for details.
 See the author’s Targum Onkelos to Leviticus (Ktav), pages 9-11, 26-28, for details.
 See the author’s Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy (Ktav), pages 9-10, 43-44, for details.
 “Mekoroth Ha-Bereshit Rabbah,” Einleitung und Register zu Berechit Rabba volume 3 (Jerusalem 1965), pages 44-54. Albeck did not reach the author’s discovery that the Onkelos targumist took material from the tannaitic midrashim.
 See the author’s Targumic Studies, “Analysis of Targum Onkelos Deviations to Genesis” (University Microfilms International, 1981), pages 1-76.
 No study was made of Bereshit Rabbah, Mekhilta deR. Simeon b. Yochai and Midrash Tannaim. The author believes that more parallels will be found between Targum Onkelos and the other tannaitic midrashim when these books are studied.