I had the privilege today of perusing the library of our Messianic Pastor. He introduced me to a set of books called the Targumim that he picked up while he was in Israel. Beginning up to 200 years before Christ, the Hebrew scriptures began to be translated from Hebrew into Aramaic – the language of that day. As I understand it, the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) were in danger of not being fully understood as Aramaic became the common language. The Targumim preserved not only a translation of Hebrew scripture into the common language of that day, but also included additional information that had been passed on and commonly accepted as Jewish tradition.
One passage that I found interesting was that of the first Pentecost – the giving of God’s word as the Ten Commandments. Below is the passage I copied that describes how the tablets that were engraved by God may have come to be (the italicized words would have been included as the Jewish understanding/tradition of how this happened):
Exodus 20:1-3 (Neofiti)
And the Lord spoke all the praise of these words, saying: The first word that went out from the mouth of the Holy One, may his name be blessed, (was) like shooting stars and lightnings and like torches of (fire), a torch of fire to the right and a torch of fire to the left. It flew and winged swiftly in the air of the heavens and came back, and all Israel saw it and feared; and returning, it becomes engraved on the two tables of the covenant and said: “My people, children of (…). And it came back and hovered over the camps of Israel and, returning, it became engraved on the tables of the covenant and all Israel beheld it. Then it cried out and said: “My people, children of Israel, I am the Lord, your God, who redeemed you and led you out, redeemed from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.” The second word, when it went out from the mouth of the Holy One, may his Name be blessed, (was) like shooting stars and like lightnings and like torches of fire, a torch of fire on the right and a torch of flame to the left. It flew winged swiftly in the air of the heavens and came back, and all Israel saw it and feared; and, returning, it became engraved on the two tables of the covenant and all Israel beheld it, and thus it cried out and said: “My people, children of Israel, you shall have no other God beside me.
How amazing would it have been to be in the Israelite camp seeing the fiery words that God spoke actually fly through the air! Perhaps the scene from The Ten Commandments is not too far off!