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Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, (which extend over the most considerable portion of the Old Testament), are more to be depended on in difficult cases, than any other aid to which we can resort, in all the store-houses of antiquity. In all probability they are older than the Christian era, (excepting a few later adscititious passages that have been mingled with them); and inasmuch as they are substantially of the same idiom with the Hebrew, so they often give us the exact shape, as well as meaning of the Hebrew, better than any or all other ancient versions. Let the attentive student note the use which Rosenmueller has, with so manifest advantage to his commentaries, often made of the Targums. We may reasonably have a confidence in such ancient Chaldee translators, that they, at least for the most part, rightly understood their original.
(3) Several chapters in Ezra and Daniel, as exhibited in our Hebrew Bibles, are in the Chaldee language. The student, then, who designs to acquire the power of consulting all the original Scriptures, must make himself acquainted with the Chaldee language.
(4) Whoever designs to pursue Talmudic and Rabbinic literature, or to be able to judge of quotations from the Talmud or the Rabbins, must have some acquaintance with the Chaldee. The Gemara of the Talmud, is Chaldaic in its idiom; and so are nearly all of the older Rabbinical writings. All the works of this class are, indeed, of a corrupt dialect and mixed nature; but they all Chaldaize.
(5) The Chaldee is a very easy conquest to the well-grounded Hebrew student. A few weeks devoted to it will enable him to read it with as much facility as he does the Hebrew. Buxtorf's Lexicon Chald. Talmud. Rabbinicum, is a complete store-house of these dialects, and is a book which may be procured for a trifle. It is an "opus triginta annorum;" and truly a paragon in this species of lexicography. Every biblical student should possess it. A Polyglott Bible will present the student with all the Targums; and Buxtorf's Biblia Rabbinica, will not only give these, but all the distinguished Rabbinic commentaries, such as those of Kimchi, Jarchi, Aben Ezra, etc.
The present volume renders Chaldee accessible to our American students. Hitherto the means have not been in their power, and could not be without much expense and trouble. The price of such works as the present must be enhanced among us, because the cost of publishing is so great, and the sale so limited and slow. The student, who takes all these things into consideration, will not complain of the price of the present work.
I should not do justice to my feelings, if I should omit to say a word in this connection, respecting the publishers of this little volume. They
have engaged in the present undertaking, without any expectation of pecuniary remuneration for their labours. My meaning is, that neither myself nor they, have thought it probable, that such a volume as the present could find purchasers sufficiently numerous, in our country, to yield any profit to the publishers. And on the same ground, the author of the volume has voluntarily relinquished a part of the reward which his labours might justly claim in other circumstances. The thanks of all who are engaged in the promotion of oriental study in our country, are justly due, for the generous adventure in which both author and publishers engage, in sending out this little volume into the world.
Nearly all the sheets of the present volume have passed under my eye before they were struck off. My engagements have been so urgent during the printing of them, that I have not been always able to give that minute attention to them which I wished; but I have no hesitation in saying, that the student will not find many errors in the printing which will give him any serious annoyance.
As to the work itself, the plan and the execution are throughout such as I can commend. The grammar is brief; but quite copious enough for the student who is well versed in Hebrew. In the text, notes, and lexicon of the Chrestomathy, will be found all that is needful in an introduction to the Chaldee language. With Buxtorf's Lexicon and the Targums, one can easily make his own way, after reading this Chrestomathy.
To all lovers of oriental study, I commend the work, and my young friend who has executed it. I hope and trust, that this is only the first fruits of a golden harvest which he may yet produce, to enrich the treasuries of sacred Literature.
Theol. Seminary; Andover,
In the tables of pronouns and numerals, and generally in the grammar, unusual forms are included in parentheses.
In references to the Scriptures, where the name of the Targum is not given, that of Onkelos is to be understood, when the passages cited are from the Pentateuch, and that of Jonathan, when they are taken from the prophets.
Distinct meanings of words are separated, in the vocabulary, by semicolons. Where two or more words are employed to express or illustrate the same definition, they are separated by commas.
I ought not to omit this opportunity of expressing my sincere gratitude to those gentlemen who have in various ways rendered me assistance in the execution of this work; especially to the Rev. Prof. Stuart, to whose revision nearly all the sheets have been submitted before going to the press, and who has kindly prepared the above preface.
Theol. Sem.; Andover,
APPENDIX A. Rabbinical Character and Style