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The Priestly Blessing In Targum Pseudo-Jonathan

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Chapter Summary

Both Targum Neofiti I and most manuscripts of Targum Onqelos coincide with a famous rabbinic ruling that the priestly blessing is read in Hebrew, but not translated into Aramaic. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan's paraphrase apparently ignores the rabbinic rules. This chapter investigates its peculiar exegesis of the blessing, in the hope of deciphering its development. While Jubilees might provide evidence for the antiquity of elements of the midrashim, it tells little about Targum Pseudo-Jonathan's exegesis. The Qumran writer is firmly fixed on heavenly realities. Finally, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan's application of demonic characteristics to Israel's ancient enemies gives a political and military twist to his plea for peace in Israel's borders, another non-rabbinic sentiment reflected in Sirach's understanding of the blessing as a prayer for God's mercy in Israel's defence against hostile nations.

Keywords: Israel's prayer; Jews of Qumran; Jubilees; midrashim; priestly blessing in Aramaic; Sirach; Targum Pseudo-Jonathan



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