The New International Encyclopædia/Onkelos

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ON'KELOS. The supposed author of an Aramaic version of the Pentateuch. Onkelos is evidently, however, the Aramaic equivalent of Aquilas (or Aquila, q.v.), the Greek translator of the Pentateuch, and the term Targum Onkelos indicates merely that the translation is done in the style of Aquilas. The translation is written in Judæan Aramaic, though edited in Babylonia probably not before c.400 A.D. (See Bible.) The method of Onkelos is in sharp contrast to that of the other Targums. It seeks to translate literally, keeping very close to the Hebrew text. One of its distinguishing features is the attempt to soften the anthropomorphic expressions of the Pentateuch — ‘The Word of the Lord,’ ‘The Presence of the Lord,’ or ‘Glory of the Lord’ being used instead of the name of the divinity. In some places, moreover, particularly in the poetic portions (Gen. xlix.), Onkelos indulges in midrashic exegesis and weaves in some haggadistic turns. By Rabbinical prescription the Targum was to be read along with the Hebrew text — ‘twice Hebrew and once Targum.’ For editions and translations, see Targum.