The Targum Sheni ("Second Targum") is an Aramaic translation (targum) and elaboration of the Book of Esther, that embellishes the Biblical account with considerable new apocryphal material, not on the face of it directly germane to the Esther story. Notable among these additions is an account of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, which sees the King commanding a daunting army of animals, birds and demonic spirits as subjects; and the Queen demanding from him the answer to three riddles, before she will pay homage. The Jewish Encyclopedia characterises the story as a "genuine and exuberant midrash", i.e. a free elaboration, of a kind not unusual in Rabbinic literature.
There are a number of notable parallels between the Targum Sheni account and the Qur'anic account of Solomon and the Queen in Sura 27 (and also some notable differences). Some scholars believe that the Qur'anic account islamicises pre-existing Jewish and folkloric traditions, perhaps including sixth century Christian input, which were closer to those presented in the Targum Sheni.
Nineteenth Century scholars had earlier placed the composition anywhere from the fourth to the eleventh century CE.
- This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.
- ↑ Jacob Lassner, Demonizing the Queen of Sheba: Boundaries of Gender and Culture in Postbiblical Judaism and Medieval Islam. University of Chicago Press, 1993, pp.14-17
- ↑ cf Lassner, p. 227 n.2 and pp. 132 et seq
The Encyclopedia Judaica has a long article about this midrash.
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