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The Preposition (“Before”): A Pseudo-Anti-Anthropomorpism In The Targums

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Chapter Summary

It has often been asserted that whereas the Hebrew Bible indulges freely in anthropomorphic and anthropopathic phrases descriptive of God, the various targums have, on the whole, avoided the attribution of human forms and feelings to the Deity. This chapter examines one widespread targumic feature that has traditionally been labeled as a circumlocutionary device for avoiding direct contact or intercourse between man and God, namely the buffer preposition קדם (before). The use of the buffer preposition קדם in the targumim as a substitute for the nota accusative את, or for other more direct prepositions, is common in both the divine and the human contexts. It occurs as an expression of deference to a respectable person or institution. It also occurs as a natural result of the idiomatic variance between the biblical Hebrew and Targumic Aramaic, or simply, as the translation of a biblical phrase that was understood figuratively.

Keywords: anthropomorphic phrases; buffer preposition קדם; Hebrew Bible; targums



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