Yaacov Azuelos - Francesco Giosuè Voltaggio, «The 'angel sent from before the Lord' in Targum Joshua 5,14», Vol. 96 (2015) 161-178
The aim of this essay is to analyze the angelologic world of the Targum Jonathan of Joshua. The 'angels' in Josh 6,25 and 7,22 are considered in the Targum as 'messengers' of flesh and blood. Although 'angels' as noncorporeal emissaries of God do not appear explicitly in Joshua, 'the commander of the Lord’s army' in 5,15 is interpreted by the targumists as 'an angel sent from before the Lord'. After presenting his description in the Targum, we discuss his identity and mission. On the basis of biblical, pseudepigraphal and targumic sources, we claim that the angel is Michael.
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The “angel sent from before the Lord” in Targum Joshua 5,14
Studying the way Aramaic Targums deal with the phenomenon
of angels and other heavenly creatures in the Bible can reveal much
about the faith and beliefs of worshippers 1 and scholars 2 of the
time in which they were redacted. In an earlier study 3 we examined
beliefs about angels in Aramaic Targums of the Pentateuch and ana-
lyzed the Aramaic translations of the term ~ykalm/$alm
(“angel”/“angels”) when it appears explicitly in the Pentateuch,
both in the meaning of an emissary of flesh and blood, and in the
meaning of a non-corporeal one. We also examined all the Targum
sources that inserted an “angel” into their translation where it did
not appear in the original Hebrew Pentateuch.
The study revealed that, in most of the cases where the term
“angel” does appear explicitly in the Pentateuch, it is translated lit-
erally, without any additions. In a few cases, the Targums supple-
ment the term “angel” as it appears in the Pentateuch with a name,
title, function or quantifier. Such additions appear only in the Pales-
tinian Targumic versions, whereas Targum Onqelos remains faithful
in translation throughout the Pentateuch translations. Our study
found 42 instances altogether where the Targumic sources inserted
an “angel” into their translation of a biblical story. When an “angel”
See A. SHINAN, “Knesset Ezra”, Literature and Life in the Synagogue.
Studies Presented to Ezra Fleischer (eds. S. ELIZUR – M.D. HERR – G. SHAKED
– A. SHINAN) (Jerusalem 1994) 135 (Hebrew); n. 18 emphasizes the relation-
ship between the Targums and the reading of the Torah. See also A. SHINAN,
The Embroidered Targum. The Aggadah in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan of the
Pentateuch (Jerusalem 1992) 14 (Hebrew); F.G. VOLTAGGIO, La oración de
los padres y las madres de Israel. Investigación en el Targum del Pentateuco.
La antigua tradición judía y los orígenes del cristianismo (BMid 33; Estella
[Navarra] 2010) 31-35.
See R. KASHER, “The Aramaic Targums of the Bible”, Peamim 83 (1999)
75-85 (Hebrew). The Targums were studied early on and alongside the Bible
as part of the training of Torah scholars; see, for example, on Rabbi Yohanan
ben Zakkay in Sof 16:8: “He studied Bible and Targum, Midrash, halakhot,
aggadot and allegories; he studied everything”.
Y. AZUELOS, The Angelology of the Aramaic Targums on the Pentateuch
(Dissertation, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies; Jerusalem 2002) (Hebrew).
BIBLICA 96.2 (2015) 161-178