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Red Heifer And Golden Calf: Dating Targum Pseudo-Jonathan

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Chapter Summary

It has long been known that Pseudo-Jonathan (PJ) at times diverges quite sharply from accepted rabbinic rulings. In order to discover fixed points from which to chart the targum's relationship to other rabbinic writings, its peculiar interpretations of a difficult, disputed, and much debated matter like the red heifer (Num. 19:1-10) need to be explained. The performance of the red heifer ceremony by priests other than the high priest offers such assurance: the sin of the golden calf is thereby forgiven, the cleansing being carried out by priests other than the high priest on behalf of all Israel and of the high priest himself. This chapter examines the targum's treatment of the red heifer, and attempts to show how PJ's individual understanding of this much debated yet vitally important ritual may yield pointers to the date of that targum's origins.

Keywords: golden calf; high priest; Israel; Pseudo-Jonathan (PJ); rabbinic writings; red heifer; Targum



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