Tosefta Shabbat 14(13?):2-3 describes a targum to the book of Iyov which was subsequently hidden away.

א"ר יוסי מעשה [שהלך ר'] חלפתא אצל רבן גמליאל לטבריא ומצאו שהיה יושב על שולחנו של ר' יוחנן [בן נוזף] ובידו ספר איוב תרגום והיה קורא בו אמר לו רבי חלפתא זכור הייתי ברבן גמליאל הזקן אבי אביך שהיה יושב על גב מעלה בהר הבית והביאו לפניו ספר איוב תרגום ואמר לבנאי תגנזו תחת הנדבך באותה שעה שלח רבן גמליאל וגנזו ר' יוסי בר יהודה אומר ערבה של טיט כפה עליו [ר' אומר] שתי תשובות בדבר דטיט לא היה בהר הבית [דבר אחר] וכי מאבדין [אותן] ביד אלא מניחין [אותה] במקום התורפה והן מתאבדין מאליהן

I would like to know if there is any additional information know about this work.

  1. Who was the author? To my knowledge the targum found in current mikraot gedolot on Iyov is erroneously attributed to Yonatan ben Uziel who did not write a targum on ketuvim Megillah 3a). Is there any opinion that the targum we currently have for Iyov is the same as that referenced in the Tosefta?
  2. Why was it deemed unfit for public consumption such that it needed to be hidden away?
  3. Assuming the targum we have is not the same, are there any surviving copies of this targum?
  4. Does anyone suggest that it is in any way related to the work 'the testament of Job'?

2 Answers 2


There do exist a few fragments of a Targum to Job from Qumran (11QtgJob). They can be found online here with an English translation or here as plaintext.

This article by A. S. Van der Woude dates these Targum fragments to the first half of the first century CE. If so, Rabban Gamliel the Elder would have contemporaneous with the manuscript, so it was either a copy of the same Targum that Rabban Gamliel hid away, or another translation from the same time period.

If this was the translation that Rabban Gamliel hid, the article points to the translation of Job 35:10 (column XXVI 4-6) as a possible reason:

ולא אמר[ין אן הוא ]אלהא די עבדנה ודי חלק לנא ל[...] לנצבתנא בליליא

But they don't say, where is God, who has made and given us [...] for our plantation in the night?

He suggests that "plantation" may have originally had an apocalyptic connotation (and so the text might also have originated from a sectarian community). He points to Jubilees 16:26 and 21:24 for this. Admittedly, this is a weak reason, since there are also many metaphors related to planting in the Bible and liturgy. If this was the translation that Rabban Gamliel hid, there must have been more objectionable content that is no longer extant.

  • regarding question #4 see page 6 of this pdf (Anchor Bible entry) ericlevy.com/Writings/Job/… Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 2:55
  • @rikitikitembo Are you referring to the line "In this respect the sentiments of the translator seem to fall somewhat in line with the view of Job found in the pseudepigraphical Testament of Job"? If so, the only relation would be the more positive portrayal of Job in both.
    – b a
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 12:23

Pinchas Churgin wrote in his book תרגום כתובים, pp. 87-88 that he believes that when both Rabban Gamliels ruled that the targum should be hidden, it was a stringency specifically for the sages and whoever else wanted to be stringent - but most people continued using the targum, for the following reasons:

  1. In what way would have Rabban Gamliel II's ruling been more effective than his grandfather's? If another ruling was necessary, evidently not everyone hid away their copies. If that was the case during the first ruling, who's to say that didn't happen during the second one?

  2. It is difficult to imagine that if Rabban Gamliel I had ruled for everyone to hide it away, that a copy would not only find its way to his grandson, but that he would also read from it.

Therefore, it seems more likely that for some reason, Rabban Gamliel I thought it not respectable to use that targum and issued a stringency - but it was not a full halachic ruling for the whole public. Hence, his grandson had not heard about it, because it was specific for a certain group at a certain time.

Meanwhile, most people kept using that targum, and as time passed, more layers were added to the targum, but at its core, it preserves at least part of the original from the time of the tannaim. He notes that there isn't really any way to approximate the date of the creation of this targum, which is one of the signs that it's old - later targums were heavily midrashic in character. This targum does have midrashic interpretations, but in manuscripts, scribes differentiated between the midrashic additions and the older, more p'shat targum with the letters ת"א (targum Iyov).

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