Commentary on the Targums 

“The Targums are interpretive renderings of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures (with the exception of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel) into Aramaic. Such versions were needed when Hebrew ceased to be the normal medium of communication among the Jews. In synagogue services the reading of the Scriptures was followed by a translation into the Aramaic vernacular of the populace. At first the oral Targum was a simple paraphrase in Aramaic, but eventually it became more elaborate and incorporated explanatory details inserted here and there into the translation of the Hebrew text. To make the rendering more authoritative as an interpretation, it was finally reduced to writing.”

As Sabbath closed a few months back, I was watching ‘Back to our Roots’ on 3ABN, a program by three Adventist Messianic Jews who speak about Christianity’s Hebrew roots.   The subject was the Trinity.  During the program, Sasha, an Adventist Jewish scholar, said the word ‘bara’ (in Genesis 1:1 -- which means ‘to create’) is believed by scholars to be from the word ‘bar’ meaning ‘son’.  

Suddenly I remembered receiving something from my Hebrew teacher some years back on Genesis 1 that sounded similar.   I had been asked not to share it at the time, but have written since and requested permission.  He wrote the following:

“Dear Margaretha, Feel free to use the information about Targum Neofiti that I sent you. It's fine. I'm not sure that I would say that bara' is from "bar" in Hebrew, but the word ‘bara' in Gen. 1 provided a convenient midrash since that exact form in Aramaic בָּרָא means "the son". Thus, some creative soul intertwined the notion of wisdom being with God in the beginning (Prov. 8) with the notion that this wisdom is God's Son. And this certainly corresponds with John's Gospel, that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God.”   
(Midrash is an attempt to explain the text)

This man is a Christian and a Trinitarian, so he does not believe there is a link between wisdom and God’s Son, however, his words are very interesting to us.

The Targum Neofiti says:

מלקדמין 6בחכמה 6ברא 6 דייי 7 בחוכמתא ברא ייי 1שׁכלל 2 ושׁכלל ית שׁמיא וית ארעא׃


1. From the beginning by wisdom the son of the LORD created the heavens and the earth.

2. From the beginning by (the) wisdom the LORD created and formed the heavens and the earth.

My teacher continued:   “Note that this text gives two readings. The main text (and reading) is in bold [No.1] in both the text and in my translation. The yod, yod, yod (yyy) is the divine name, of course. In the bolded [No.1] text bara’ “the son” precedes the preposition “di” that is attached to the divine name. The preposition “di” is a genitive marker in Aramaic and means “of” in this context and is one way Aramaic writes the construct state, i.e. “the son of YHWH”.

Note that the verb שׁכלל means “to form”, so in the main reading, it is this verb that is used to translate ‘bara’ from Hebrew. The other reading, which I also translate below, “cleans things up”. I would consider this a later “clean up” so that it doesn’t read that “The Son of the Lord” created the heavens and the earth, but that “by wisdom the Lord created (bara’) and formed the heavens and the earth”, but not all agree. It is possible that what I call the main reading is secondary and that the “other reading” was primary. Either way, it’s interesting.”

Yes, it is very interesting.   Oh that we knew more of what the Hebrew contains!


Jewish Chronology

I have always wondered why the Jewish date of the current year is always different from our own.   

We are in 2004, but the Jews are in the year 5765 from creation.   (Since their New Year’s Day [Rosh Hashanah -- Sept 15, 2004], they entered 5765.)   Noting how particular they are regarding details (although not always correct), I wondered if we still have 235 years to go before time reaches 6000.   I have always hoped they were wrong, and looking at Bible prophecy and world events, have felt sure they must be wrong.  Our dating has gone beyond 6000, but it is more encouraging to be overtime, than to still have 235 years to go!

In front of me I have James Ussher’s book ‘The Annals of the World’.   Near the back, he has an article headed, ‘Why Jewish Dating is Different’.

A book was written by Rabbi Yose ben Halafta (died AD160) entitled the ‘Seder Olam Rabbah’, meaning the ‘Book of the Order of the World’.   It is from this book that traditional Jewish chronology is taken.

When the ‘Seder Olam’ was compiled, the Jews generally dated their years from 312BC, the beginning of the Seleucid era, and the ‘Seder Olam’ was of interest only to students of the Talmud.  

However, when the centre of Jewish life moved from Babylonia to Europe during the 8th and 9th centuries AD, calculation from the Seleucid era became meaningless.   Over those centuries, it was replaced by dating from the ‘Seder Olam’, beginning from the creation of the world.   From the 11th century, this became dominant throughout most of the Jewish world communities.

As Jewish dating is taken from the Old Testament Scriptures, we would assume it would be similar to Ussher’s chronology.  Yet rather than 4004BC, the ‘Seder Olam’ places creation at 3761BC.  On what basis do they have a 243-year shortfall?

There are four discrepancies.  1. The first is of 60 years, where Ussher dates the birth of Abraham as 2008BC, while  the ‘Seder Olam’ dates it 1948BC. 2. The birth of Abraham to the Exodus has a 5-year difference.  3. From the foundation of the first temple to the consecration of the second temple has a difference of 17 years.   4. The largest shortfall is between the consecration of the second temple to its destruction by Titus of Rome.  This is 164 years.

On checking standard dates, it is quite clear that the Jewish ones are incorrect, such as Alexander the Great’s defeat.  Instead of 331BC, the ‘Seder Olam’ has it in 321BC.

The Jewish dating discrepancy of 164 years is almost entirely from within the Persian period, allowing only 34 years from the dedication of the second temple to Ptolemy 1 Soter’s invasion of Jerusalem.  This gives only 30 years from the dedication of the second temple to Darius’ defeat at the hands of Alexander in 321BC, and merely four years after that unto Jerusalem’s capture by Ptolemy following Alexander’s death.

Thus the ‘Seder Olam’ depicts the Kingdom of Persia as lasting a mere 53 years from 374BC to 321BC, rather than about 207 years (538-331BC).

Present-day Jewish scholars acknowledge that there is something enigmatic about the ‘Seder Olam’s dating.    Simon Schwahb, a Jewish writer, says, “It should (could) have been possible that our Sages – for some unknown reason – had ‘covered up’ a certain historic period and purposely eliminated and suppressed all record and other material pertaining thereto.

If so, what might have been their compelling reason for so unusual a procedure? 

Nothing short of a Divine command could have prompted… those saintly ‘men of truth’ to leave out completely from our annals a period of 165 years and to correct all data and historic tables to such a fashion that the subsequent chronological gap could escape being noticed by countless generations, known to a few initiates only who were duty-bound to keep the secret to themselves.”Simon Schwahb, quoted by James Ussher in ‘The Annals of the World’ p932.

Ussher continues, “This is an astonishing proposal!!" Schwahb, along with other Jewish commentators, further suggests that the reason God directed the sages of the 2nd century AD to become involved in falsifying the data was to confuse anyone who might try to use the prophecies of Daniel to predict the time of the Messiah’s coming.

This was supposedly done to honour Daniel 12:4 “shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end.”   He adds that the reason the sages had adopted the non-Jewish Seleucid Era calendar was part of the scheme to do just that – to close up the words and seal the book of Daniel.   Schwahb also states that if the 165 years were included it would reveal, “we are much closer to the end of the 6th Millennium than we had surmised.”

Ussher says, “It is manifestly apparent that the real reasons for the deliberate altering of their own national chronology in the ‘Seder Olam’ were,  (1) to conceal the fact that the Daniel 9:25 prophecy clearly pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as its fulfilment and therefore the long-awaited Messiah, and  (2) to make that seventy-week of years prophecy point instead to Simon Bar Kokhba…”

At the destruction of Jerusalem, Simon Bar Kokhba was seen as the long-awaited Messiah, and when the Emperor Hadrian of Rome declared his intention to raise a shrine to Jupiter on the site of the temple, the 90-year-old Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph gave his blessing to a revolution by proclaiming that Bar Kokhba was the “star out of Jacob” and the “sceptre out of Israel”.

In his 98th year, Rabbi Akiva was condemned to death by the Romans, but this elevated him to a pre-eminent authority.   One of his students was Yose ben Halafta who wrote the ‘Seder Olam’.

This explains why this book and its historic dating is held in such veneration, even today.        

                                  From The Annals of the World by James Ussher p931-934.


Obviously it is no longer 2004.  It is an old study!   

We are now in 2017, quite a few years over the 6000, however, God will begin His Sabbath for the earth at the end of the 6000th year.  He will not be late for His Sabbath in the 7000th year.

What we need to realise is that sin will reign for 6000 years, which is not from creation, but from when Adam and Eve first sinned.   Many think our first parents sinned a few days after they were created, but obviously it was at least seventeen years.  We know Usshur did not get the 4000 years for creation right, and 4004 may not be correct either.  It all depends on when King Herod died, and no one is certain.

So let us be encouraged that Jesus will be coming soon.

Fulfilment Bible Prophecy – “The sceptre shall not depart…”

“The sceptre (tribal staff) shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh (the Messiah) comes.” 
Genesis 49:10.

Two signs were to occur soon after the arrival of the Messiah:

Removal of the sceptre or identity of the Hebrew tribe of Judah.
Suppression of the judicial power (lawgiver)

It is important to note that right through history (even during the captivity in Babylon in the 6th century BC), the tribe of Judah never lost its ‘tribal staff’ or ‘national identity’.   They always possessed their own lawgivers or judges, even while in captivity. 
Ezra 1:5.8.

It was not until AD11 that "the Roman procurators took away the power of the Jewish Sanhedrin (ruling council), to exercise the jus gladii (the sovereign right of life and death) themselves.  This deprived the nation of Judah of its ability to pronounce capital sentences."   
Flavius Josephus. The Antiquities of the Jews. New York: Ward, Lock, Bowden & Co. 1900. Book 17. Chap 13, 1-5.

The Jewish Talmud itself admits that this occurred.   Talmud. Jerusalem. Sanhedrin, fol. 24. recto.

Rabbi Rachmon says:   “When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them;  they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming:  ‘Woe unto us, for the sceptre has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come!’”  
M.M. LeMann, Jesus Before the Sanhedrin. Trans. By Julius Magath.  Nashville: Southern Methodist Publishing house. 1886 pp 28-30.  From The Forbidden Secret by Jonathan Gray p 272.273.


Genesis 1:1 - Targums