In its verb form the Hebrew root tirgem means both "to explain" and "to translate." The nominal form means "translation." Although technically it can apply to translation into and from any language, the word is employed in rabbinical literature almost exclusively for Aramaic biblical text, both the Aramaic translation of the Bible's Hebrew (cf. Meg. 3a) and the originally Aramaic portions, including individual words (e.g., Gen 31.47; cf. Shab. 115a; Yad. 4:5). The Targum, i.e., the Aramaic translation par excellence, is the Targum *Onkelos, which was regarded as so authoritative that worshipers were enjoined to read the weekly portion privately "twice in the original and once in the Targum" (Ber. 8a), a custom which is still maintained in orthodox circles. To such an extent was "targum" regarded as synonymous with Aramaic that the Kurdistani Jews, who speak Aramaic, refer to their language as "Targum."
For the language, see *Aramaic; for the Aramaic Bible translations, see *Bible, Translations.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.