, surnamed the Proselyte, a famous Rabbi of the first century, and author of the Chaldee Targum on the Pentateuch, flourished in the time of Jesus Christ, according to the Jewish writers; who all agree that he was, at least in some part of his life, contemporary with Jonathan Ben Uzziel, author of the second “Targum upon the Prophets.” Prideaux thinks, he was the elder of the two, for several reasons the chief of which is the purity of the style in his “Targum,” coming nearest to that part of Daniel and Ezra which is in Chaldee. This is the truest standard of that language, and consequently the most antient; since that language, as well as others, was in a constant flux, and continued deviating in every age from the original: nor does there seem any reason why Jonathan Ben Uzziel, when he understood his “Targum,” should pass over the law, and begin with the prophets, unless that he found Onkelos had done this work before him, and with a success which he could not exceed.

Azarias, the author of a book entitled “Meor Ena’im,” or the Light of the Eyes, tells us, that Onkelos was a proselyte in the time of Hillel and Samnai, and lived to see Jonathan Ben Uzziel one of the prime scholars of Hillel. These three doctors flourished twelve years before Christ, according to the chronology of Gauz; who adds, that Onkelos was contemporary with Gamaliel the elder, St. Paul’s master, who was the grandson of Hillel, who lived twentyeight years after Christ, and did not die till eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem. However, the same Gauz, by his calculation, places Onkelos 100 years after Christ; and, to adjust his opinion with that of Azarias, extends the life of Onkelos to a great length. The Talmudists tell us, that he assisted at the funeral of Gamaliel, and was at a prodigious expence to make it most magnificent. Some say, he burnt on the occasion goods and effects to the value of 7000 crowns; others, that he provided seventy pounds of frankincense, which was burnt at the solemnity.

Whatever may be in these reports, we may observe, from Prideaux, that the “Targum” of Onkelos is rather a version than a paraphrase; since it renders the Hebrew | text word for word, and for the most part accurately and exactly, and is by much the best of all this sort. It has therefore always been held in esteem among the Jews, much above all the other Targums; and, being set to the same musical notes with the Hebrew text, it is thereby made capable of being read in the same tone with it in their public assemblies. That it was accordingly there read alternately with the text (one verse of which being read first in the Hebrew, the same was read afterwards in the Chaldee interpretation) we are told by Levita; who, of all the Jews that have handled this argument, has written the most accurately and fully. He says, that the Jews, holding themselves obliged every week, in their synagogues, to read that parashah or section of the law which was the lesson of the week, made use of the “Targum” of Onkelos for this purpose; and that this was their usage even down to his time, which was about the first part of the 16th century. And for this reason; that though, till the art of printing was invented, there were of the other Targums scarce above one or two of a sort to be found in a whole country, yet then the “Targum” of Onkelos was every where among them.

From the excellence and accuracy of Onkelos’s “Targum,” Prideaux also concludes him to have been a native Jew; since, without being bred up from his birth in the Jewish religion and learning, and long exercised in all the rites and doctrines thereof, and also thoroughly skilled in both the Hebrew and Chaldee languages, as far as a native Jew could be, he can scarce be thought thoroughly adequate to that work which he performed; and that the representing him as a proselyte seems to have proceeded from the error of taking him to have been the same with Akilas, or Aquila, of Pontus, author of the GreekTargum,” or version on the prophets and Hagiographia, who was indeed a Jewish proselyte. The first Latin version of the Targum of Onkelos was by Zamora, and published in the Complutensian Polyglot, whence it was copied into others, and is in Walton’s. 1


Prideaux’ Conaections, WoJfii BibJ, Heb, -—Chaufepie.