IOTS Paper – “Eschatological Lists” in TgMeg

Here is the abstract for my IOTS paper:

The Use of “Eschatological Lists” within the Targumim to the Megillot.

Several of the targumim to the Megillot contain lists (songs, famines, kings, etc.) that culminate in the future or messianic era. For example, TgSS opens with the list of Ten Songs and TgRuth opens with the list of Ten Famines. Such lists are well known from other midrashic texts and this paper will consider how and why these lists are used with the targumim to the Megillot and will propose that these additions are not merely the result of an opportunity presented by the Hebrew text but are being used specifically to further the overarching exegetical agenda of the targum in question.

You can read the opening to Targum Shir haShirim here in Jay Treat’s translation. Below is Samson Levey’s translation of TgRuth. The full translation and notes can be found at the NTCS/IOTS site here.

TgRuth 1:1 It came to pass in the days of the Judge of Judges that there was a great famine in the Land of Israel. Ten great famines were decreed by Heaven to be upon the earth, from the day on which the world was created until the coming of the King-Messiah, to admonish therewith the inhabitants of the earth. The first famine was in the days of Adam. The second famine was in the days of Lemech. The third was in the days of Abraham. The fourth famine was in the days of Isaac. The fifth famine was in the days of Jacob. The sixth famine was in the days of Boaz, who is known as Ivzan the Pious of Beth Lehem of Judah. The seventh famine was in the days of David, the king of Israel. The eighth famine was in the days of Elijah the prophet. The ninth famine was in the days of Elisha at Samaria. The tenth famine is due to come, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of prophecy from the Lord.

I will offer more detailed comments another time, but one of my fundamental premises is that the targumim of smaller texts such as those of the Megillot are able to have a sustained exegetical argument in a way that, for example, TgOnk to Genesis, cannot since Gen. is a much longer and larger work. Also if vital consideration to my view is that these texts would have been read in one sitting, thus a single argument could have been followed by the audience/reader. None of this is to suggest that there might not be more than one argument put forward by the targumist.

But more on this will have to wait…

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