When you compare the Targums with the Masoretic Text and the rest of the manuscripts that serve as the basis for Bible translations today, the content is the same!

The Targums are Aramaic translations (really paraphrases) of the Old Testament, the tradition for which date back over 400 years before Christ.  The purpose of a paraphrase is not to provide a word-for-word translation of the text; rather, it is to give a strong sense of each passage.   These are similar to the Living Bible, which is an English paraphrase of the Bible.  These are especially ideal for children and as they make an effort to give a sense of what each verse is saying.When the Jews came back from the Captivity in Babylon, the average person knew Aramaic and no longer spoke Hebrew.

The passage below speaks to this:

Nehemiah 8: 7-8  “Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.”

Most of the Targums we possess date to around the 8th Century AD. However, we have an edition dating back to the 2nd Century AD called the Onkelos Targum. This is named for a Jewish proselyte who translated the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, the language of the day.

didyouknowblurbIn Mel Gibson’s film The Passion, Jesus speaks Aramaic throughout the film (except when he speaks with Pilate in Latin).  Aramaic would have been the language the Lord spoke in.