Rashi on Bamidbor 26(5) remarks on the way the names of the families are written (e.g. חֲנוֹךְ֙ מִשְׁפַּ֣חַת הַֽחֲנֹכִ֔י) as follows:

… Therefore, the Holy One, blessed is he, appended His Name to them, the [letter] ‘hey’ to one side and the ‘yud’ to the other side, as if to say, ”I bear witness for them, that these are the sons of their fathers.”

I noticed some peculiarities in the way the Targum Onkelos translates these family names. For the most part, he takes no notice of the extra ‘hey’ and ‘yud’ - see below for 26 (5):

Hebrew Text רְאוּבֵן, בְּכוֹר יִשְׂרָאֵל; בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן, חֲנוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחַת הַחֲנֹכִי, לְפַלּוּא, מִשְׁפַּחַת הַפַּלֻּאִי.

Onkelos רְאוּבֵן בּוּכְרָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן חֲנוֹךְ זַרְעִית חֲנוֹךְ לְפַלוּא זַרְעִית פַּלוּא

There are exceptions:

Possuk 17 Targum reads אֲרוֹדִי for הָאֲרוֹדִי

Possuk 31 Targum reads אַשְׂרִיאֵלִי for הָאַשְׂרִאֵלִי and

Possuk 40 Targum reads הָאַרְדִי for הָאַרְדִּי (the only full use of the hey and the yud) and נַעֲמִי for הַנַּעֲמִי.

I used the text for the Targum from my Chumash (זכר חנוך) and Sefaria which agree. The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel is consistent and never uses the hey and the yud.

Is there an explanation of these differences in translation by Onkelos?

  • 3
    Mechon Mamre's Targun Onqelos has (v. 17) "לַאֲרוֹד, זַרְעִית אֲרוֹד", (v. 31) "וְאַשְׂרִיאֵל--זַרְעִית, אַשְׂרִיאֵל", and (v. 40) "וַהֲווֹ בְּנֵי בֶּלַע, אַרְדְּ וְנַעֲמָן--זַרְעִית, אַרְדְּ, לְנַעֲמָן, זַרְעִית נַעֲמָן". I haven't checked what it does for the rest of them.
    – Tamir Evan
    Jul 2, 2018 at 12:58
  • 3
    Artscroll's version is consistent, and does not have the added hey or yud even in the pesukim you listed [17, 31, and 40]. Jul 2, 2018 at 13:19
  • This question might be more fitting for Biblical Hermeneutics... Jul 2, 2018 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, the answer is probably that it is a copyist error that was repeated in later printings. Recently a lot of work has been done to correct errors by different publishers, but many older versions and even newer ones still have errors.

  • To add to this, there are a number of good sefarim that help work out versions of Onkelos; I've seen יין הטוב and now Artscroll has one, but others could perhaps suggest a lot more sources. Always good to check them with a question on Onkelos, since there are a lot of variants.
    – MichoelR
    Jan 7, 2021 at 15:35
  • 1
    Nesinah L'Ger and the Oz Vehadar Mikraos Gedolos.
    – N.T.
    Jan 7, 2021 at 21:05

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