Chapter 1 - Messianic and Visionary Recitals

These texts constitute some of the most thought-provoking in the corpus. We have placed them in the first Chapter because of the importance of their Messianic, visionary and mystical - even Kabbalistic - content and imagery. These are not the only texts with such import. This kind of thrust will grow to a climax in Chapters 5 and 7.

But the Messianic theorizing these texts exhibit is particularly interesting - it has heretofore either been underestimated or for some reason played down in the study of the Scrolls. In at least two texts in this Chapter (not to mention other Chapters), we have definite Messianic allusions: the Messianic vision text we call, after an allusion in its first line, the Messiah of Heaven and Earth, and the Messianic Leader (Nasi) text. In both there are clear correspondences to recognized Messianic sections in the Prophet Isaiah.

Interestingly, we do not have the two-Messiah doctrine highlighted in a few of the texts from the early days of Qumran research, like the Damascus Document found in two recensions at the end of the last century in the Cairo Genizah or the Community Rule from Cave 1, but rather the more normative, single Messiah most Jews and Christians would find familiar. Though in the Messianic Leader (Nasi) text, this figure is nowhere declared to be a ‘Messiah’ as such, only a Messianic or eschatological ‘Leader’, the Messianic thrust of the Biblical allusions underpinning it and the events it recounts clearly carry something of this signification.


Its relation to the Damascus Document, further discussed in our analysis of the Messianic Florilegium in Chapter 4, do as well. But even in the published corpus, there is a wide swath of materials, particularly in the Biblical commentaries (the pesharim) on Isaiah, Zechariah, Psalms, etc., and compendiums of Messianic proof texts, that relate to a single, more nationalist, Davidic-style Messiah, as opposed to a second with more priestly characteristics that has been hypothesized. This last is, of course, in evidence too in the Letter to the Hebrews, where the more eschatological and high-priestly implications of Messiah-ship are expounded.

Even in the Damascus Document, there is some indication in the first column of the Cairo recension that the Messianic ‘Root of Planting out of Aaron and Israel’ has already come. The ‘arising’ or ‘standing up’ predicted in the later sections can be looked upon, as well, as something in the nature of a Messianic ‘return’ - even ‘resurrection’ (see Dan. 12:13 and Lam R ii-3.6 using ‘amod or ‘standing up’ in precisely this vein and our discussion of the Admonitions to the Sons of Dawn below).


Nor is it completely clear in the Cairo Damascus Document that the allusion to ‘Aaron and Israel’ implies dual Messiahs, and not a single Messiah out of two genealogical stalks, which was suggested by scholars in the early days of research on it, and is, as we shall see, the more likely reading.

The very strong Messianic thrust of many of the materials associated with Qumran has been largely overlooked by commentators, in particular the presence in the published corpus in three different places of the ‘World Ruler’ or ‘Star’ prophecy from Num. 2 4:17 - that ‘a Star would rise out of Jacob, a Sceptre to rule’ the world - i.e. in the Damascus Document, the War Scroll, and one of the compendiums of Messianic proof texts known as a Florilegium. There can be little doubt that the rise of Christianity is predicated on this prophecy. Our own Genesis Florilegium, playing on this title, also ends up with an exposition of another famous Messianic prophecy - the ‘Shiloh’ from Gen. 49:10, which also includes the ‘sceptre’ aspect of the above prophecy.

The first-century Jewish historian Josephus, an eye-witness to the events he describes, identifies the world ruler prophecy as the moving force behind the Jewish revolt against Rome in AD 66-70 (War 6.317). Roman writers dependent on him, like Suetonius (Twelve Caesars 10.4) and Tacitus (The Histories 2.7 8 and 5.13) do likewise. Rabbinic sources verify its currency in the events surrounding the fall of the Temple in AD 7 0 (ARN 4 and b. Git 56b).


However, reversing its thrust, these last present their hero, the Rabbi Yohanan b. Zacchai as applying it - as Josephus himself does - to the destroyer of Jerusalem and future Roman Emperor Vespasian! The Bar Kochba uprising in AD 132-6 can also bethought of as being inspired by this prophecy, as Bar Kosiba’s original name seems to have been deliberately transmuted into one incorporating this allusion, i.e. Bar Kochba - ‘Son of the Star’.


The other texts in this section are all visionary and eschatological, most often relating to Ezekiel, the original visionary and eschatological prophet and a favourite in Qumran texts. Whatever else can be said of them, their nationalist, militant, apocalyptic and unbending thrust cannot be gainsaid, nor should it be overlooked.


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1. The Messiah Of Heaven And Earth (4Q521) (Plate 1)

This text is one of the most beautiful and significant in the Qumran corpus. In it many interesting themes that appear in other Qumran texts reappear. In the first place, there is continued emphasis on ‘the Righteous’ (Zaddikim), ‘the Pious’ (Hassidim), ‘the Meek’ (‘Anavim), and ‘the Faithful’ (Emunim). These terms recur throughout this corpus (in particular see the Hymns of the Poor below) and should be noted as more or less interchangeable allusions and literary self-designations.


The first two are important in the vocabulary of Jewish mysticism; the last two in that of Christianity. New themes also appear, such as God’s ‘Spirit hovering over the Meek’ and ‘announcing glad tidings to the Meek’, themes with clear New Testament parallels. These also include the Pious being ‘glorified on the Throne of the Eternal Kingdom’, which resonates as well with similar themes in the New Testament and the Kabbalah, and God ‘visiting the Pious’ and ‘calling the Righteous by name’, both paralleled in the Damascus Document. In CD, i.7 God is said to have ‘visited’ the earth causing, as we have seen, a Messianic ‘Root of Planting’ to grow, and following this, in iv.4, ‘the sons of Zadok’ are described as being ‘called by name’.


This phrase ‘called by name’ is also found in column ii. II of the Damascus Document, where it is followed by the statement that God ‘made His Holy Spirit known to them by the hand of His Messiah’- words which resonate with the language of the present text as well.


Not only do parallel allusions confirm the relationship of the ‘sons of Zadok’ with the ‘Zaddikim’ (‘the Righteous’/’Righteous Ones’), but ‘naming’ and predestination are important themes in both the early columns of CD and Chapters 2 - 5 of Acts, where, for instance, the predestination of Christ and the language of the Holy Spirit are signaled. If the additional fragments of this text - which may or may not be integral to it - are taken into consideration, then there is some allusion to ‘anointed ones’ or ‘messiahs’ plural, probably referring to the priests doing service in the Temple.


The two columns of the major fragment on this plate (no. 1) very definitely, however, evoke a singular, nationalist Messiah, as does the interpretation of the ‘Shiloh Prophecy’ related to it in the Genesis Florilegium below.

He is to a certain extent a supernatural figure in the manner of Dan. 7’s ‘Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven’. This imagery is recapitulated in Column xif. of the War Scroll from Cave 1 at Qumran, which interprets the ‘Star Prophecy’ in terms of it and the rising of ‘the Meek’ in some final apocalyptic war. The War Scroll, of course, also uses eschatological ‘rain’ imagery to identify these ‘clouds’ with the ‘Holy Ones’ (‘the Kedoshim’ or ‘Heavenly Host’).


In the Messiah of Heaven and Earth text, not only are the ‘heavens and the earth’ subsumed under the command of the Messiah, but so, too, are these presumed ‘Kedoshim’ or ‘Holy Ones’ from the War Scroll. There are also the very interesting allusions to ‘My Lord’ / Adonai, referred to in Isa. 6 1:1, which seems to underlie much of the present text; but since the sense of this is often so imprecise, it is impossible to tell whether the reference is to God or to ‘His Messiah’ whom it so celebrates.


If the latter, this would bring its imagery closer still to similar New Testament recitations. The reader should note, however, that for Josephus mentioned above, one of the determining characteristics of those he calls Essenes and Zealots was that they would not ‘call any man Lord’ (italics ours). By far the most important lines in Fragment 1 Column 1 are Lines 6-8 and 11- 13, referring to ‘releasing the captives’, ‘making the blind see’, ‘raising up the downtrodden’, and ‘resurrecting the dead’. The last allusion is not to be doubted. The only question will be, who is doing this raising, etc. - God or ‘His Messiah’? In Lines 6-8 the reference seems to be to God. But in Lines 11- 13, it is possible that a shift occurs, and the reference could be to ‘His Messiah’. The editors were unable to agree on the reconstruction here.

In any event, language from Isa. 6 1:1 (see above) is also clearly identifiable in both line 8 and line 11. But likewise, there are word for-word correspondences to the Eighteen Benedictions, among the earliest strata of Jewish liturgy and still a part of it today: ‘You will resurrect the dead, uphold the fallen, heal the sick, release the captives, keeping faith with those asleep in the dust...’, referring obviously to God.


It should be noted too that these portions include reference to the Hassidim, also evoked several times in the present text. It is also interesting to note that Isa. 60:2 1, which precedes Isa. 61:1, contains the ‘Root of Planting’ imagery used in the first column of the Damascus Document referred to above and the ‘Branch’ imagery that will be so prominent in the Messianic Leader (Nasi) text that follows below.

The reference to ‘raising the dead’ solves another knotty problem that much exercised Qumran commentators, namely whether those responsible for these documents held a belief in the resurrection of the dead. Though there are numerous references to ‘Glory’ and splendid imagery relating to Radiance and Light pervading the Heavenly abode in many texts, this is the first definitive reference to resurrection in the corpus. It should not come as a surprise, as the belief seems to have been a fixture of the Maccabean Uprising as reflected in 2 Macc. 12:44-45 and Dan. 12:2, growing in strength as it came down to first-century groups claiming descent from these archetypical events.





Fragment 1

Column 2 (1)[... The Hea]vens and the earth will obey His Messiah, (2) [... and all th]at is in them. He will not turn aside from the Commandments of the Holy Ones. (3) Take strength in His service, (you) who seek the Lord. (4) Shall you not find the Lord in this, all you who wait patiently in your hearts? (5) For the Lord will visit the Pious Ones (Hassidim) and the Righteous (Zaddikim) will He call by name. (6) Over the Meek will His Spirit hover, and the Faithful will He restore by His power. (7) He shall glorify the Pious Ones (Hassidim) on the Throne of the Eternal Kingdom. (8) He shall release the captives, make the blind see, raise up the do[wntrodden.] (9) For[ev]er will I cling [to Him ...], and [I will trust] in His Piety (Hesed, also ‘Grace’), (10) and [His] Goo[dness...] of Holiness will not delay ...(11) And as for the wonders that are not the work of the Lord, when He ... (12) then He will heal the sick, resurrect the dead, and to the Meek announce glad tidings. (13)... He will lead the [Holly Ones; He will shepherd [th]em; He will do (14)...and all of it... Fragment l Column 3 (1) and the Law will be pursued. I will free them ... (2) Among men the fathers are honored above the sons ...(3)I will sing (?)the blessing of the Lord with his favor...(4) The 1[an]d went into exile (possibly, ‘rejoiced) every-wh[ere...] (5) And all Israel in exil[e (possibly ‘rejoicing’) ...] (6) ... (7) ...

Fragment 2

(1) ... their inheritan[ce...] (2) from him ...
Fragment 3 Column 1 (4) ... he will not serve these people (5) ... strength () ... they will be great Fragment 3 Column 2 (1) And... (3) And ... (5) And ... (6) And which ... (7) They gathered the noble[s...] (8) And the eastern parts of the heavens ... (9) [And] to all yo[ur] fathers ... Fragment 4 (5) ... they will shine (6)... a man (7) ... Jacob (8)... and all of His Holy implements (9)... and all her anointed ones (10)... the Lord will speak... (11) the Lord in [his] might (12)... the eyes of Fragment 5 (1)... they [will] see all... (2) and everything in it... (3) and all the fountains of water, and the canals... (4) and those who make... for the sons of Ad[am...] (5) among these curs[ed ones.] And what ...(6) the soothsayers of my people ... (7) for you ... the Lord ... (8) and He opened...

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2. The Messianic Leader (NASI - 4Q285) (Plate 2)


We released this text at the height of the controversy over access to the Dead Sea Scrolls in November 1991. Since then much discussion has occurred concerning it. Our purpose in releasing it was to show that there were very interesting materials in the unpublished corpus which for some reason had not been made public and to show how close the scriptural contexts in which the movement or community responsible for this text and early Christianity were operating really were. However one reconstructs or translates this text, it is potentially very explosive.


As it has been reconstructed here, it is part of a series of fragments. There is no necessary order to these fragments, nor in that of other similar materials reconstructed in this book. Such materials are grouped together on the basis either of content or handwriting or both, and the criterion most often employed is what seemed the most reasonable.

Here, the key question is whether Fragment 7 comes before or after Fragment 6. If after, as we have placed it in our reconstruction, then the Messianic Nasi or ‘Leader’ would be alive after the events described in Fragment 6 and could he the one ‘put to death’. This was our initial assessment. If before, then it is possible that the Messianic Leader does the ‘putting to death’ mentioned in the text, though such a conclusion flies in the face of the logic of the appositives like ‘the Branch of David...’ grouped after the expression ‘the Nasi ha—‘Edah’, which would be clumsy even in Hebrew.


Another question that will arise concerning this text is whether the individual who appears to be brought before ‘the Leader of the Community’ in Fragment 6 is the same as the one referred to in Fragment 7 by the pronoun ‘him’, if in fact a him’ can be read into this line at all and not simply the plural of the verb, ‘kill/killed’. In Hebrew the spelling is the same. The reader should keep in mind that whether there is any real sequentiality in these fragments or whether they even go together at all is conjectural, and these questions will probably not be resolved on the basis of the data before us.


In favour of the Nasi ha—‘Edah being killed - which, all things being equal, makes most sense if Fragment 7 is considered by itself only - even without the accusative indicator in Biblical Hebrew, ‘et’ there are many texts at Qumran and from the Second Temple period generally that are not careful about the inclusion of the object indicator in their Hebrew, including the Messiah of Heaven and Earth above and the Eighteen Benedictions mentioned above.


Another counter example where the object indicator is not employed occurs m Column ü.12 of the Damascus Document, where reference is made to ‘His Messiah making known the Holy Spirit’, also mentioned above. Concerning whether our reconstruction of Line 4 of Fragment 7 attaching ‘the Branch of David’ to ‘the Leader of the Community’ is correct, it is interesting to note that not only is ‘the Prophet Isaiah’ mentioned in Line 1, but Line 2 quotes 11:1: ‘A staff shall rise from the stem of Jesse and a shoot shall grow from his roots.’ There even seems to be an allusion to its second line, ‘the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him’, in Line 6 of the Messiah of Heaven and Earth above, and we will see this same passage actually evoked at the end of the beautiful Chariots of Glory text in Chapter 7 below.


This prophecy was obviously a favourite proof text at Qumran, as it very definitely was in early Christianity. But this prophecy has already been subjected to exegesis in the already-published Isaiah Commentary {a} from Cave 4. There are many such overlaps in Qumran exegeses, including that of the ‘Star Prophecy’ already noted.

In 4QpIs{a}, the exegesis of Isa. 11:1- 3 is preceded by one of Isa. 10:33-4 about ‘Lebanon being felled by a Mighty One’ amid allusions to ‘the warriors of the Kittim’ and ‘Gentiles’. This seems to be the case in the Messianic Leader (Nasi) text as well, where allusions to ‘the Kittim’ in other fragments - including ‘the slain of the Kittim’ abound, showing the context of the two exegeses to have been more or less parallel.


These kinds of texts about ‘the falling of the cedars of Lebanon’ or ‘Lebanon being felled by a Mighty One’, as it is expressed in both texts, usually bear on the fall of the Temple or the priesthood. In Rabbinic literature, Isa. 10:3 3 -4 is interpreted in this way, and specifically and one might add definitively - tied to the fall of the Temple in AD 70 (see ARN 4 and b. Girt 56ª). Sometimes ‘Lebanon’ imagery, which like ‘Kittim’ is used across the board in Qumran literature, relates especially when the imagery is positive, to the Community leadership.


The reference is to the ‘whitening’ imagery implicit in the Hebrew root ‘Lebanon’. This is played upon to produce the exegesis, either to Temple, because the priests wore white linen there or to the Community Council, presumably because its members also appear to have worn white linen. Readers familiar with the New Testament will recognize ‘Community’ and ‘Temple’ here as basically parallel allusions, because just as Jesus is represented as ‘the Temple’ in the Gospels and in Paul, the Community Rule, using parallel spiritualized ‘Temple’ imagery in viii. 5 -6 and ix.6, pictures the Qumran Community Council as a ‘Holy of Holies for Aaron and a Temple for Israel’. This imagery, as we shall see, is widespread at Qumran, including parallel allusions to ‘atonement’, ‘pleasing fragrance’, ‘Cornerstone’, and ‘Foundation’ which go with it.

Completing the basic commonality in these texts, 4QpIs{a} also sympathetically evokes ‘the Meek’ and goes on to relate Isaiah 11:1’s ‘Staff’ or ‘Branch’ to the ‘Branch of David’ in Jeremiah and Zechariah. Highlighting these Messianic and eschatological implications, it describes the Davidic ‘Branch’ as ‘standing at the end of days’ (note the language of ‘standing’ again). In the process, it incorporates ‘the Sceptre’ language from the ‘Star Prophecy’, which will also reappear, as we shall see, in the Shiloh Prophecy in the Genesis Florilegium below. The ‘Star Prophecy’, too, as the reader will recall, was quoted in a passage in the War Scroll with particular reference to ‘the Meek’. The War Scroll too makes continual reference to ‘Gentiles’ and ‘Kittim’.

To complete the circularity, 4Qpls{a} ends with an evocation of ‘the Throne of Glory’, again mentioned in the Messiah of Heaven and Earth text above and alluded to in jet. 33:18 - which in turn also evokes ‘the Branch of David’ again and other texts below like the Hymns of the Poor and the Mystery of Existence. We are clearly in a wide-ranging universe here of interchangeable metaphors and allusions from Biblical scripture.

The reference to ‘woundings’ or pollution’s in Line 5 of Fragment 7 of the present text and the total ambiance of reference to Messianic prophecy from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, etc. heightens the impression that a Messianic ‘execution’ of some kind is being referred to. This is also the case in Isa. 11:4 where the Messianic Branch uses ‘the Sceptre of his mouth ... to put to death the wicked’, however this is to be interpreted in this context.

The reader should appreciate that the Nasi ha-‘Edah does not necessarily represent a Messiah per se, though he is being discussed in this text in terms of Messianic proof texts and allusions. ‘Nasi’ is a term used also in Column v. l of the Damascus Document when alluding to the successors of David. In fact, the term ‘Nasi ha—‘Edah’ itself actually appears in CD’s critical interpretation of the ‘Star Prophecy’ in Column vii, which follows. In its exegesis CD ties it to ‘the Sceptre’ as we shall see in Chapter 3 below.


Not only is it used in Talmudic literature to represent scions of the family of David, but coins from the Bar Kochba period also use it to designate their hero, i.e. ‘Nasi Israel’ ‘Leader of Israel’. Today the term is used to designate the President of the Jewish State. This reference to meholalot (woundings) in Line 5 of Fragment 7, followed by an allusion to ha-cohen (the priest) - sometimes meaning the high priest - would appear to refer to an allusion from Isa. 5 3:5 related to the famous description there of the ‘Suffering Servant’, so important for early Christian exegetes, i.e. ‘for our sins was he wounded’ or ‘pierced’.


Though it is possible to read meholalot in different ways, the idea that we have in this passage an allusion to the ‘suffering death’ of a Messianic figure does not necessarily follow, especially when one takes Isa. 11:4 into consideration. Everyone would have been familiar with the ‘Suffering Servant’ passages in Isaiah, but not everyone would have used them to imply a doctrine of the suffering death of a Messiah.


In fact, it is our view that the progenitors of the Qumran approach were more militant, aggressive, nationalistic and warlike than to have entertained a concept such as this in anything more than a passing manner. It has also been argued that this Messianic Nasi text should be attached to the War Scroll. This would further bear out the point about violent militancy, because there is no more warlike, xenophobic, apocalyptic and vengeful document - despite attempts to treat it allegorically - in the entire Qumran corpus than the War Scroll.

There can be no mistaking this thrust in the present document, nor the parallel 4QpIs{a}. Its nationalistic thrust should be clear, as should its Messianism. If these fragments do relate to the War Scroll, then they simply reinforce the Messianic passages of the last named document. The ‘Kittim’ in the War Scroll have been interpreted by most people to refer to the Romans. The references to Michael and the ‘Kittim’ in the additional fragments grouped with the present text simply reinforce these connections, increasing the sense of the Messianic nationalism of the Herodian period. However these things may be, the significance of all these allusions coming together in a little fragment such as this cannot be underestimated.



Fragment 1

(1) ... the Levites, and ha[lf...] (2) [the ra]m’s horn, to blow on them ... (2) the Kittim, and
Fragment 2

(1)... and against ...(2) for the sake of Your Name ... (3) Michael ...(4) with the Elec[t...] Fragment 3 (2)...rain ...and spring [rain ...] (3) as great as a mountain. And the earth ... (4) to those without sense ... (5) he will not gaze with Understand[ing ...] (6)from the earth. And noth[ing ...] (7) His Holiness. It will be called ... (8) your...and in your midst...

Fragment 4

(1) ... until ... (2) you to (or ‘God’)...(3)and in Heaven ...(4) in its time, and to...(5)[he]art, to...(6)and not... (7) all... (8) for God...

Fragment 5

(1) ...from the midst of[the]community ...(2) Riches [and] booty .. . (3) and your food . ..
(4) for them, grave[s . ..] (5) the[ir] slain... (6) of iniquity will return... (7) in compassion and...
(8) Is[r]ael...

Fragment 6

(1)... Wickedness will be smitten ...(2) [the Lea]der of the Community and all Isra[el...] (4) upon the mountains of... (5) [the] Kittim... (<) [the Lea]der of the Community as far as the [Great] Sea... (7) before Israel in that time . .. (8) he will stand against them, and they will muster against them ...(9) they will return to the dry land in th[at] time ...(10) they will bring him before the Leader of [the Community ...]


Fragment 7

(1) ... Isaiah the Prophet, [’The thickets of the forest] will be fell[ed with an axe] (2) [and Lebanon shall f]all [by a mighty one.] A staff shall rise from the root of Jesse, [and a Planting from his roots will bear fruit.’] (3)... the Branch of David. They will enter into judgement with ...(4) and they will put to death the Leader of the Community, the Bran[ch of David] (this might also be read, depending on the context, ‘and the Leader of the Community, the Bran[ch of David’], will put him to death) ... (5) and with woundings, and the (high) priest will command ... (G)

[the sl]ai[n of the] Kitti[m]...

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3. The Servants Of Darkness (4Q471)

This is a text of extreme significance and another one related to the War Scroll. The violence, xenophobia, passionate nationalism and concern for Righteousness and the Judgements of God are evident throughout. Though these may have a metaphoric meaning as well as an actual one, it is impossible to think that those writing these texts were not steeped in the ethos of a militant army of God, and hardly that of a peaceful, retiring community. Their spirit is unbending, uncompromising. They give no quarter and expect none.

There is the particularly noteworthy stress on ‘Lying’, a theme one finds across the spectrum of Qumran literature, in particular where the opponents of the community or movement responsible for these writings are concerned. There is also the actual use of the verb ma’as (meaning to ‘reject’ or ‘deny’) in Fragment 2.7, paralleling similar usages in the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher, etc.


In texts such as these, ma~as is always used to portray the activities of the ideological adversary of the Righteous Teacher, the ‘Liar’/ ‘Spouter’ who ‘rejects the Law in the midst of the whole congregation’ or the parallel activities of those archetypical ‘sons/servants of Darkness’ who do likewise. Here it is used in contradistinction to ‘choosing’ in this case the groups’ opponents reverse the natural order; they ‘choose the Evil’, instead of ‘the Good’, which they ‘reject’.

Similar reversals occur across the board in Qumran literature - one particularly noteworthy one in Column i of the Damascus Document, where ‘justifying the Wicked and condemning the Righteous’ on the part of ‘the Breakers’ of both ‘Law and Covenant’ is juxtaposed in Column iv with the proper order noted below of ‘justifying the Righteous and condemning the Wicked’. This last is definitive of ‘the sons of Zadok’, itself synonymous probably too with ‘the Zaddikim’ in Line 5 of the Messiah of Heaven and Earth text. Both texts use the same reference, ‘called by name’, as descriptive of these respective terminologies.

There is the usual emphasis on fire, presumably the judgements of Hellfire, and there is no shirking the duty for war, which is to be seen in some sense, if Fragment 4 is taken into account, as being fought under levitical or priestly command (cf. War Scroll ii. l- 3). There is the usual emphasis on ‘works’ (Fragment 2, Column 4 reconstructed) and particularly noteworthy is the reference to ‘Servants of Darkness’ as opposed presumably to ‘Servants of Light’.

The Jamesian parallels to the theme of ‘works’ should be clear; so too should Paul’s characterization in 2 Cor. 11-12 of the Hebrew ‘archapostles’ - presumably including James - as disguising themselves as ‘Servants of Righteousness’ (cf. the actual use of this allusion in the Testaments of Naphtali below) and ‘apostles of Christ’, when in fact they are ‘dishonest workmen and counterfeit apostles’.


Paul also employs ‘Light’ terminology in this passage, not to mention an allusion to ‘Satan’ so important in referring to Mastemoth /Mastema and its parallels below, i.e. ‘even Satan disguises himself as an Angel of Light.’ Emphasizing ‘Truth’ (the opposite, it will be noted, of ‘Lying’) and at the same time parodying the position of everyman according to his works, in 11:31 he revealingly insists, ‘he does not lie’, thus demonstrating his awareness of the currency of these kinds of accusations at this time.

His application of such ‘Lying’ terminology so widespread in these Qumran documents - to himself, even if inadvertently, is noteworthy indeed.

One should also note, in particular, the widespread vocabulary of ‘Judgement’, the ‘Heavenly Hosts’ and even ‘pollution’. Notice, too, the consistent emphasis on ‘Righteousness’ and ‘Righteous judgement’, and on ‘keeping’, i.e. ‘keeping the Law’ - ‘Covenant’ in this text. The group responsible for these writings is extremely Law oriented and their zeal in this regard is unbending. The very use of the word ‘zeal’ connects the literature with the Zealot mentality and movement.


The terms ‘keeping’ and ‘Keepers of the Covenant’ also relate to the second definition in Column 4 of the Community Rule of ‘the sons of Zadok’, a term with probable esoteric parallels and variations in ‘sons of Righteousness’, as we have seen above. One should also note the use of the word ‘reckoned’ in Line 5 of Fragment 1, which resonates with the use of this term in the key Letters on Works Righteousness below in Chapter 6.



Fragment 1

(1) ... the time You have commanded them not to (2) ... and you shall lie about His Covenant (3) ... they say, ‘Let us fight His wars, for we have polluted (4)... your [enemie]s shall be brought low, and they shall not know that by fire (5)... gather courage for war, and you shall be reckoned (6)... you shall ask of the experts of Righteous judgement and the service of (7)... you shall be lifted up, for He chose [you]... for shouting (8) ... and you shall bur[n...]and sweet...


Fragment 2

(2) to keep the testimonies of our Covenant ...(3) all their hosts in forbear[ante...] (4) and to restrain their heart from every w[ork ...(5) Se]wants of Darkness, because the judgement ...(6) in the guilt of his lot... (7) [to reject the Go]od and to choose the Evil... (8) God hates and He will erect ... (9) all the Good that...

Fragment 3

(2) Eternal, and He will set us ...(3)[He jud]ges His people in Righteousness and [His] na[tion in ...] (4) in all the Laws of ...(5) us in [our]sins...

Fragment 4

(1) from all tha[t...] (2) every man from his brother, because (3) ... and they shall remain with Him always and shall se[rvel (4) ... each and every tribe, a man (5) . . [twen]ty-[six] and from [the] Levites six(6) [teen...] and [they] shall se[rve before Him] always upon (7)... [in] order that they may be instructed in ...

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4. The Birth Of Noah (4Q534-536)

A pseudepigraphic text with visionary and mystical import, the several fragments of this text give us a wonderfully enriched picture of the figure of Noah, as seen by those who created this literature. In the first place, the text describes the birth of Noah as taking place at night, and specifies his weight. It describes him as ‘sleeping until the division of the day’, probably implying noon.


One of the primordial Righteous Ones whose life and acts are soteriological in nature, Noah is of particular interest to writers of this period like Ben Sira and the Damascus Document. The first Zaddik (Righteous One) mentioned in scripture (Gen. 6:9), Noah was also ‘born Perfect’, as the rabbis too insist, as is stressed in this passage. Because of this ‘Perfection’, Rabbinical literature has Noah born circumcized.


However this may be, ‘Perfection’ language of this kind is extremely important in the literature at Qumran, as it is in the New Testament. See, in this regard, the Sermon on the Mount’s parallel: ‘Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is Perfect’ (Matt. 5:48). ‘Perfection’ imagery fairly abounds in the literature at Qumran, often in connection with another important notation in early Christianity, ‘the Way’ terminology.


For Acts, ‘the Way’ is an alternative name for Christianity in its formative period in Palestine from the 40s to the 50s thrust. Noah is, therefore, one who is involved in Heavenly ‘ascents’ or ‘journeying’ or at least one who ‘knows’ the Mysteries of ‘the Highest Angels’. For more on these kinds of Mysteries see Chapters 5 and 7 below, particularly the Mystery of Existence text.

This emphasis on ‘Mysteries’ is, of course, strong again in Paul, who in 2 Cor. 12:1- 5 speaks of his own ‘visions’ and of knowing someone ‘caught up into the Third Heaven’ or ‘Paradise’. One should also not miss the quasi-Gnostic implications of some of the references to ‘knowing’ and ‘Knowledge’ here and throughout this corpus. These kinds of allusions again have particular importance in Chapters 5 and 7.

As the text states, echoing similar Biblical and Kabbalistic projections of Noah, Noah is someone who ‘knows the secrets of all living things’. Here, the ‘Noahic Covenant’ is not unimportant, not only to Rabbinic literature, but also in directives to overseas communities associated with James’s leadership of the early Church in Jerusalem from the 40s to the 60s AD. (James also seems to have absorbed some of Noah’s primordial vegetarianism.)


This abstention from ‘blood’, ‘food sacrificed to idols’ (i.e. idolatry), ‘strangled things’ (probably ‘carrion’ as the Koran 1 6:115 delineates it) and ‘fornication’, which Acts attributes to James in three different places, are also part and parcel of the ‘Noahic Covenant’ incumbent on all ‘the Righteous’ of mankind delineated in Rabbinic literature. They survive, curiously enough, as the basis of Koranic dietary regulations, in this sense, the Arabs being one of the ‘Gentile peoples’ par excellence.

The specifics of Noah’s physical characteristics are also set forth in this text, and the reference to his being ‘the Elect of God’ is extremely important. A synonym for Zaddik or ‘Righteous One’ in the minds of the progenitors of this literary tradition, the term ‘the Elect’ is also used in the Damascus Document in the definition of ‘the sons of Zadok’ (iv.3f.), showing the esoteric or qualitative - even eschatological - nature of these basically interchangeable terminologies. It also appears in an extremely important section of the Habakkuk Pesher, having to do with ‘the judgement God will make in the midst of many nations’, i.e. ‘the Last judgement’, in which ‘the Elect of God’ are actually said to participate (x.13).

The reference to the ‘Three Books’ is also interesting, and certainly these ‘books’ must have been seen as having to do with the mystic knowledge of the age, or as it were, the Heavenly or Angelic Mysteries. In regard to these, too, the second half of this text has many affinities with the Chariots of Glory and Mystery of Existence texts in Chapter 7. AD (Acts 16:16, 18:2 4f., and 2 4:22). At Qumran it is widespread and also associated with ‘walking’, as well as the important ‘Way in the wilderness’ proof text. One has phrases like the Perfect of the Way’, ‘Perfection of the Way’, ‘walking in Perfection’, and the very interesting ‘Perfect Holiness’ or ‘the Perfection of Holiness’ also known to Paul in 2 Cor. 7:1.

In this text, too, the Kabbalistic undercurrents should be clear and the portrayal of Noah as a Wisdom figure, or one who understands the Secret Mysteries, becomes by the end of Fragment 2 its main



Fragment 1

(1) ... (When) he is born, they shall all be darkened together... (2) he is born in the night and he comes out Perfe[ct...] (3) [with] a weight of three hundred and fifty] shekels (about 7 pounds, 3 ounces)... (4) he slept until the division of the days... (5) in the daytime until the completion of years... (6) a share is set aside for him, not ...years...

Fragment 2

Column 1 (1)... will be ...(2) [H]oly Ones will remem[ber ...] (3) lig[hts] will be revealed to him (4)... they [will] teach him everything that (5)... human [Wi]sdom, and every wise ma[n...] (6) in the lands(?),and he shall be great (7)... mankind shall[be]shaken, and until (8)... he will reveal Mysteries like the Highest Angels (9)... and with the Understanding of the Mysteries of (10)... and also (11) ... in the dust (12) ... the Mystery [as]cends (13) ... portions ...


Fragment 3

Column 2 (7) from... (8) he did... (9) of which you are afraid for all... (1 0) his clothing at the end in your warehouses. (?) I will strengthen his Goodness ...(11) and he will not die in the days of Wickedness, and the Wisdom of Your mouth will go forth. He who opposes You (12) will deserve death. One will write the words of God in a book that does not wear out, but my words (13) you will adorn. At the time of the Wicked, me will know you forever, a man of your servants...


Fragment 4

Column 1(1) ... of the hand, two ... it lef[t] a mark from ... (2) barley [and] lentils on ... (3) and tiny marks on his thigh ...[Aftertw]o years he will be able to discern one thing from another ... (4) In his youth he will be... all of them ...[like a ma]n who does not know anyth[ing, until] the time when (5) he shall have come to know the Three Books. (6) [Th]en he will become wise and will be disc[rete ...] a vision will come to him while upon [his] knees (in prayer). (7) And with his father and his forefa[th]ers... life and old age; he will acquire counsel and prudence, (8)[and] he will know the Secrets of mankind. His Understanding will spread to all peoples, and he will know the Secrets of all living things. (9)[A1]1 their plans against him will be fruitless, and the spiritual legacy for all the living will be enriched. (10) [And all] his [p]lans [will succeed], because he is the Elect of God. His birth and the Spirit of his breath (11) ... his[p] fans will endure forever ... (12) that ... (13) pl[an ...

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5. The Words Of Michael (4Q529)

This text, which could also be referred to as ‘The Vision of Michael’, clearly belongs to the literature of Heavenly Ascents and visionary recitals just discussed regarding the birth of Noah and alluded to by no less an authority than Paul. Such recitals are also common in the literature relating to Enoch and Revelations.


They are part and parcel of the ecstatic and visionary tendencies in the Qumran corpus that succeeding visionaries are clearly indebted to, including those going underground and reemerging in the Kabbalistic Wisdom of the Middle Ages and beyond. In our discussion of the Mystery of Existence text in Chapter 7 we highlight some of these correspondences to the work of a writer like Solomon ibn Gabirol in the eleventh century AD.

This genre can be seen as having one of its earliest exemplars here. The reference to the Angel Gabriel in Line 4 is of particular importance and follows that of one of the first such visionary recitals, Daniel, a book of the utmost importance for Qumran visionaries and in the Qumran apocalyptic scheme generally.


Daniel, too, is a work integrally tied to the Maccabean Uprising, as are - at least in spirit - many of the Qumran documents. As in Dan. 8:16, Gabriel is here the interpreter of the vision or, if one prefers, the Heavenly or mystic guide though by the end of the vision as extant in this fragment, it is no longer clear whether Michael or Gabriel is having the vision. In the Islamic tradition - a later adumbration clearly owing much to the tradition we see developing here - Gabriel serves as the revealing or dictating Angel co-extensive with what in Christian tradition might otherwise be called the Holy Spirit.


Here, whatever else one might say of him, Gabriel is the guide in the Highest Heaven - traditions about Muhammad too are not immune from such Heavenly Ascents - not unlike the role, Dante ascribes to Virgil and finally Beatrice in his rendition of a similar ecstatic ascent and vision.

Here the Archangel Michael ascends to the Highest Heaven. Some practitioners of this kind of mystic journeying speak of three ‘layers’ (again see Paul in 2 Cor. 12:2), some of seven, and some of twelve. He then appears to descend to tell the ordinary Angels what he has seen, though, as we have noted, how his role differs from Gabriel’s is difficult to understand in the text as presently extant. While in Heaven Michael beholds the ‘Glory of God’ - literally ‘Greatness’ in Aramaic.


Ezekiel - a prophet of the utmost importance in Qumran tradition, not only for works of this kind, but also for the notion of the ‘sons of Zadok’ terminology generally - is one of the first to have had such visions relating to the divine ‘Glory’. The terminology is also important in the New Testament and fairly widespread at Qumran.

Most of the vision is incomprehensible, but one idea, which reappears in Paul and Kabbalistic tradition generally, is found here that of the New or Heavenly Jerusalem, i.e. while in Heaven Michael learns of a city to be built. This apocalyptic and visionary genre clearly owes much to imagery in Daniel and is reiterated in the pseudo-Daniel works in Chapter 2.


But the actual themes of Heavenly Ascents and a Heavenly Jerusalem again go all the way back to Ezekiel’s visions. Not only is Ezekiel picked up by an Angel-like ‘Holy Spirit’ and deposited in Jerusalem as part of his ecstatic visionary experience early in that book (Ezek. 8:3), but at the end of the book ascribed to him, he is picked up again and proceeds to measure out a new Temple (40-48). This theme is the crux of the next work, which was either directly ascribed to Ezekiel or operated as part of a pseudo-Ezekiel genre.



(1) The words of the book that Michael spoke to the Angels of God [after he had ascended to the Highest Heaven.] (2) He said ‘I found troops of fire there .. . (3) [Behold,] there were nine mountains, two to the eas[t and two to the north and two to the west and two] (4)[to the south. There I beheld Gabriel the Angel... I said to him, (5)’... and you rendered the vision comprehensible.’ Then he said to me . .. (6) It is written in my book that the Great One, the Eternal Lord... (7) the sons of Ham to the sons of Shem. Now behold, the Great One, the Eternal Lord ...(8) when ... tears from... (9) Now behold, a city will be built for the Name of the Great One, [the Eternal Lord]... [And no] (10) evil shall be committed in the presence of the Great One, [the Eternal] Lord ...(11) Then the Great One, the Eternal Lord, will remember His creation [for the purpose of Good]... [Blessing and honor and praise](12)[be to] the Great One, the Eternal Lord. To Him belongs Mercy and to Him belongs... (13) In distant territories there will be a man ...(14) he is, and He will say to him, ‘Behold this... (15) to Me silver and gold ...’

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6. The New Jerusalem (4Q554) (Plate 3)

The Aramaic work known as ‘The New Jerusalem’ has turned up in Qumran Caves 1, 2, 4, 5 and 11 with the most extensive portions coming from Caves 4 and 5. The author is obviously working under the inspiration of Ezekiel’s vision of the new Temple or the Temple of the end of days referred to above (Ezek. 40-48), which he elaborates or extends into the ideal picture of Jerusalem. This vision is reminiscent not only of Ezekiel’s description of how he measures out the new Temple, but also of parts of the Temple Scroll from Qumran and the New Testament Book of Revelation.

In the New Jerusalem the visionary, most likely Ezekiel himself though in the extant fragments no name is accorded him - is led around the city that will stand on the site of Zion. His companion, presumably an Angel - possibly even Gabriel or Michael of the previous visionary recitals - points out various structures while measuring them with a cane seven cubits long, i.e. about 10.5 feet.


A precise understanding of the text remains elusive because of several problems: the use of rare or previously unknown vocabulary, the many breaks in the manuscripts, and the inherent difficulty of using words to convey ideas that really require an architectural drawing. In spite of these problems, these Cave 4 materials contribute substantially to our knowledge of the city that the author envisaged.


He conceived of a city of immense size, a rectangle of some 13 x 18 miles. Surrounding the city was a wall through which passed twelve gates, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. In keeping with the priestly emphasis of the text, an emphasis common to other texts like the Testament of Levi or the Testament of Kohath, which might indicate a Maccabean or at least a pro-Maccabean ethos to the vision, the Gate of Levi stood in the position of greatest honour in the centre of the eastern wall - that is to say, directly in line with the sacrificial altar and the entrance to the Temple.


With the Cave 4 additions to what was previously known of this text, we find that nearly 1,5 00 towers, each more than 100 feet tall were to guard the city. The final fragment, if it is part of the manuscript in the manner indicated (Column 11 or later), moves into more apocalyptic and eschatological motifs. The ‘Kittim’ are specifically referred to. It is generally conceded that, as in the Book of Daniel, the Kittim refer to the Romans (Dan. 11:3 0), though in 1 Macc. 1:1 the expression is applied to Alexander the Great’s forces.

These ‘Kittim’, as noted, are a key conceptuality in the literature found at Qumran, and reference to them, as we have seen, is widespread in the corpus, particularly in texts like the War Scroll, the Nahum Pesher, the Habakkuk Pesher, the Isaiah Pesher a, etc., not to mention the Messianic Leader (Nasi) text.


The reference here reinforces the impression of the total homogeneity of the corpus, i.e. that manner of the War Scroll, the Nahum Pesher (where they come after Greek Seleucid Kings like Antiochus and Demetrius) and the Habakkuk Pesher, then references to Edom, Moab and the like could refer to various petty kingdoms what in the Damascus Document are called ‘the Kings of the Peoples’ like the Herodians and others.

At the end of the New Jerusalem the Aramaic equivalent to the word ‘Peoples’ is also signalled. This is an expression used in the jargon of Roman law to refer to petty kingdoms in the eastern part of the Empire. In both the Damascus Document, where the expression ‘Kings of the Peoples’ is actually used (viii. 10) and in the Habakkuk Pesher, where the terms ha—‘Amim and yeter ha-‘Amim (‘the additional ones of the Peoples’) are expounded Ox. 5T), similar meanings can be discerned. This expression also has to be seen as generically parallel to Paul’s important use of it in Rom. 11:11- 13 when describing his own missionary activities (i.e. he is ‘the Apostle to the Peoples’). However, it is possible that we do not have a chronological sequentiality here.

At the end of Column 11 according to our reconstruction, it is clear that Israelis to emerge triumphant; and there may even be a reference to that Messianic ‘Kingdom’ that ‘will never pass away’ first signalled in Dan. 2:4 5 and, in fact, referred to in the Pseudo-Daniel texts later in this collection. The intense imagery of these great eschatological events centred in some way on Jerusalem might seem strange to the modern reader, but such ideas are directly in line with the scheme of the ‘tear Scroll already referred to, not to mention the Book of Revelation, where the same word ‘Babylon’ occurs and is clearly meant to refer to Rome.


That such religious and nationalistic intensity could be bound up with measurement and the matter-of-factness of often barren description is precisely the point: the future could be so certain as to acquire such a patina. This was reassuring indeed.



Column 2

(9)...sixteen ...(10) and all of them, from this building ... (11)[and he measured from] the northeast [corner] (12) [towards the south, up to the first gate, a distance of] thirty-five [r]es. The name (13) [of this gate is called the Gate] of Simeon. From [this gat]e [until the middle [g]ate (14) [he measured thirty-five red. The name of this gate, by which they desig[nate] it, is the Gate (15) [of Levi. From this gate he measured south]wards thirty-five res. (16) [The name of this gate they call the Gate of Judah. From] this gate he measured until the corner (17) [at the southeast; then he measured] from this corner westwards (18) [twenty-five res. The name of this gate] they call the Gate of Joseph. (19) [Then he measured from this gate as far as the middle gate,] twenty-five [re]s. (2 0) [This gate they call the Gate of Benjamin. From] this ga[te] he measured as far as the [third] gate, (2 1) [twenty-five res. They call this one] the Gate of Reuben. And [from] this [ga]te (22)[he measured as far as the western corner, twenty-five res.] From this corner he measured as far as ...


Column 3

(5)... he meas]ured (6)[twenty]five [res. They call this gate the Gate of Dan. And he measured] from [this] gate [to] (7) the middle [gate], [25] res. And they call that gate the Gate of Naphtali. From (8) the gate he measured to the [g]ate... and they call the name of that gate (9) the Gate of Asher. And he m.eas[ured from] that ga[te] to the northern corner, (10) 2 5 res. (11) And he brought me into the city, and measured every block for length and width: 51 (12) canes by 51 canes square, 357 (13) cubits in every direction. And a free space [s]urrounded the squares on the outside of (each) street: (its measurement) in canes (14) three, in cubits 21. In Mike manner he [sh]owed me the measurements of all the squares. Between every two squares (15) ran a road, width (measuring) in canes six, [in cubits 42]. As for the great roads which went out (16) from east to wes[t, (they measured) in canes] as to width ten, in cubits (17) 7 0 for 2 of them; a t[hi]rd, which was on the n[orth] of the temple, he measured (18) at 18 canes width, [which is in cubits one-hundred and twenty s]ix. As for the width (19) of the streets which went out from s[outh to north, two of them were] nine caked (20) 4 cubits each, [which is sixty seven cu]bits. And he measured [the central one, which was in the mid]dle of the (21) city. Its width: [13 ca]nes [and one cubit, in cubits 9]2.(22) And every street and the entire city was [paved with white stone].

Column 4

(1)... marble and jasper. And he showed me (2) the dimensions of the eighty side doors. The width of the side doors was two canes, i.e., fourteen cubits. (3) ... each gate had two doors made of stone. The width of the doors (4) was one cane, i.e., seven cubits. Then he showed me the dimensions of the twelve . .. The width (5) of their gates was three canes, i.e., twenty-one cubits. Each such gate possessed two doors. (6) The width of the doors was one and one-half canes, i.e., ten and one-half cubits ... (7) Alongside each gate were two towers, one to the right (8) and one to the left. Their width and their length were identical: five canes by five canes, by cubits (9) thirty five. The staircase that ascended alongside the inner gate, to the right of the towers, was of the same height as (10) the towers. Its width was five cubits. The towers and the stairs were five canes and five cubits, (11) i.e., forty cubits in each direction from the gate. (12) Then he showed me the dimensions of the gates of the blocks of houses. Their width was two canes, i.e., fourteen cubits.] (13) And the width of the . .., their measurements in cubits. Then he [measured] the width of each threshold, (14) two canes, i.e., fourteen cubits; and the roof, one cubit. [And above each thres]hold [he measured] (15) the doors that belonged to it. He measured the interior structure of the threshold, length four[teen cub]its and width twe[nty-one cubits.] (16) He brought me inside the threshold, and there was another threshold and yet another gate. The interior wall off to the right had (17) the same dimensi[ons] as the exterior gate: its width, four cubits; its height, seven cubits. It had two doors. In fron[t of] (1 8) this ga[te] was a threshold extending inwards. Its width was [o]ne cane-seven cubits-and its length extended toward the inside two canes or (19) fourteen [cu]bits. Its height was two canes, i.e., fou[r]teen cubits. Gates opposed gates, opening toward the interior of the bloc[ks] of houses, (20) each possessing the dimensions of the outer gate. On the left of this entry way he showed me a building housing a sp[iral] staircase. Its wid[th] was (21) the same in every direction: two canes, i.e., fourteen cubits. G[ate opposed gate], (22) each with dimensions corresponding to those of the house. A pillar was located in the middle of the structure [upon which] the staircase was supported as it spir[aled upward. Its (the pillar’s) width and length


Column 5

(1) were a single measurement, six cubits by six cubits square.] The staircase tha[t rose by its side] was four cubits wide, spiraling [upward to a height of two canes until...] (3) [Then he brought me inside the blocks of houses and showed me houses there,] fifteen [from gat]e to gate: eight in one direction as far as the corner, (4)[and seven from the corner to the other gate.] The length of the houses was three canes, i.e., twenty-one cubits, and their width (5) [was two canes, i.e., fourteen cubits. Of corresponding size were all the chambers.] Their height was two canes, i.e., fourteen cubits, and each had a gate in its middle. (6)[...flour. Length and height were a single cane, i.e., seven cubits. (7) ... theirleng [th], and their width was twelve cubits. A house (8)... alongside it an outer gutter (9) [...The heig]ht of the first was... cubits. (10) The..., and their width was .. . cubits. (11)... two canes, i.e., four[teen] cubits (12) []bits one and one-half, and its interior (?) height (13)... the roof that was over them Column 9 (or later) (14)... two [can]es, (15) [i.e., fourteen cubits...] cubits (1 6)... the measurement of (17)[... the bound]cries (?) of the city Column 10 (or later) (13)... its foundation. Its width was two canes, (14) i.e., fourte[e]n cubits, and its height was seven canes, i.e., forty-nine cubits. And it was entirely (15) built of elect[rum] and sapphire and chalcedony, with laths of gold. Its (the city’s) towers numbered one thousand (16)[four hundr]ed thirty-two. Their width and their length were a single dimension, (17)... and their height was ten canes, (18) [i.e., seventy cubits... two canes, i.e.] fourteen [cubits.] (19) []eir length (20)... the middle one ... cubits (21)... two to the gate (22)[in every dir]ection three towers extended Column 11 (or later) (15) after him and the Kingdom of... (16) the Kittim after him, all of them one after another... (17) others great and poor with them ...(18) with them Edom and Moab and the Ammonites... (19) of Babylon. In all the earth no ...(20) and they shall oppress your descendants until such time that ...(21) among all natio[ns,the] Kingdom ...(22)andthe nations shall ser[ve] them ... 

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7. The Tree Of Evil (A Fragmentary Apocalypse-4Q458)

We close this Chapter with another work in the style of the Words of Michael and these final sentences of the New Jerusalem. This Hebrew apocalypse, while fragmentary, again recapitulates themes known across the broad expanse of Qumran literature, most notably tem{c}a (polluted), teval{c}a (swallow or swallowing), ‘walking according to the Laws’, yizdaku (justified or made Righteous), etc. These themes should not be underestimated and reappear repeatedly in the Damascus Document, the Temple Scroll, Hymns, and the like.

‘Swallowing’ has particular importance vis-à-vis the fate of the Righteous Teacher and his relations with the Jerusalem establishment, i.e. ‘they consumed him.’ ‘Justification’ also has importance via-à-vis his activities and those of all the ‘sons of Zadok’ (primordial Zaddikim Righteous Ones), who in CD, iv above ‘justify the Righteous and condemn the Wicked’ - this in an eschatological manner.


It also has to do, as Paul demonstrates, with the doctrine of Righteousness generally. ‘Pollution’ - particularly Temple Pollution - is one of ‘the three nets of Belial’, referred to as well in Column iv of the Damascus Document, and we shall discuss it below. It usually involves charges against this upper-class establishment, relating to the foreign appointment of high priests, consorting with foreigners and foreign gifts or sacrifices in the Temple.

As fragmentary as the Tree of Evil text is, there are apocalyptic references to ‘Angels’, ‘burning’, ‘flames’, etc. Images like ‘burning fire’ have an almost Koranic ring to them, as do references to ‘the moon and stars’. There is also an intriguing reference to ‘the beloved one’ - possibly referring to Abraham as ‘friend of God’ - of the kind one finds in texts like the Damascus Document and notably the Letter of James.


We shall meet these references to Abraham as ‘beloved’ again below. Some might wish to consider its resonance’s with ‘the beloved apostle’ in the Fourth Gospel. The text also evokes ‘the Tree of Evil’, most likely an eschatological reference to the Adam and Eve story. The language of ‘polluting’ and ‘pollution’ runs all through Qumran literature, particularly the Damascus Document, the Habakkuk Pesher, the Temple Scroll and the two Letters on Works Righteousness in Chapter 6 below. It use in this text, particularly in relation to the parallel allusions to ‘swallowing’ and ‘foreskins’, is important.

One finds the same combination of themes in the Habakkuk Pesher, xi.13 - 15. There the usage deliberately transmutes an underlying scriptural reference to ‘trembling’ into an allusion about the Wicked Priest ‘not circumcizing the foreskin of his heart’. This image plays on Ezek. 44:7 -9’s reconstructed Temple vision, also including the language of pollution of the Temple. This last image is specifically related to the demand to ban from it rebels, Law-breakers, foreigners and those ‘of uncircumcized heart’.


This is also the passage used to define ‘the sons of Zadok’ in the Damascus Document above. Here in the Habakkuk Pesher, what is being evoked is the imagery of apocalyptic vengeance relating to the ‘swallowing’ of the Wicked Priest and his ‘swallowing’, i.e. destruction, of the Righteous Teacher (xi.5 -7 and xii.5 -7). These passages also play upon the image of the ‘cup’ of the Lord’s divine ‘anger’. This genre of apocalyptic imagery is also found in Isa. 6 3:6 and Rev. 14:10. This ‘swallowing’ imagery at Qumran is linguistically related too to a cluster of names like Bela{c}(an Edomite and Benjaminite king name), Balaam and Belial - this last a name for the Devil at Qumran.


For New Testament parallels to all of these names, see Paul on Christ and ‘Beliar’ in 2 Cor. 6:15, 2 Pet. 2:15, Jude 1:11 (interestingly enough preceded by an allusion to the Archangel Michael disputing with the Devil) and Rev. 2:14. This cluster parallels the more Righteousness oriented one we have been delineating above.

In this text, too, the allusion that follows is to the fact that ‘they were justified’ or ‘made Righteous’, again heavy with portentousness for early Christian history. The ‘justification’ referred to has, of course, to do with ‘walking according to the Laws’, a typically ‘Jamesian’ (as opposed to ‘Pauline’) notion of justification. It is encountered across the spectrum of Qumran documents - for instance, at the end of the Second Letter on Works Righteousness in Chapter 6 below and in the definition of ‘the sons of Zadok’ above.

Again, the nationalist, Law-oriented nature of the apocalypse should be clear, but the last line is portentous too. We have read the word mashuah in it as ‘anointed’, but it could just as easily be read ‘Mashiah’ - Messiah (i and ulo being interchangeable in Qumran epigraphy) - which then adds to the weightiness of the text. However this may be, that this text is now moving into some concept of ‘Kingdom’ or ‘Kingship’, possibly that ‘Kingdom’ in Dan. 2:44 mentioned above ‘that will never be destroyed’, is self-evident.



Fragment 1

(1) ... to the beloved one ... (2) the beloved one ... (3) in the tent... (4) they did not know... (5) burning of fire... (6) and the peoples of the ... arose ... (7) spoke to the first, saying ...(8) flames, and He will send the first Angel... (9) drying up. And he smote the Tree of Evil... Fragment 2 Column 1 (2) [... the mo]on and the stars (3)... the years (4)... he fled in (5) ... the polluted (one) (6) ... the harlots(?)
Fragment 2 Column 2 (2) And he destroyed him, and ...(3) and swallowed up all the uncircumcised, and it ...(4) And they were justified, and walked according to the L[aws... (5) anointed with the oil of the Kingship of ...

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(1) The Messiah of Heaven and Earth (4Q5 2 1)
Previous Discussion: R. H. Eisenman, ‘A Messianic Vision’, Biblical Archaeology Review Nov/Dec (1991) p. 65.

Photographs: PAM 43.604, ER 1551.

(2) The Messianic Leader (Nasi-4Q285)
Previous Discussions: None. A discussion, taking as its starting point our announcement of this text in November 1991: G. Vermes, ‘The Oxford Forum for Qumran Research Seminar on the Rule of War from Cave 4 (4Q285)’ will be forthcoming in the Journal of Jewish Studies.

Photographs: PAM 43.285 and 43.325, ER 1321 and 1352.

(3) The Servants of Darkness (4Q57 I)
Previous Discussions: None.

Photographs: PAM 42.914 and 43.551, ER 1054 (43.551 not listed). The DSSIP lists the text as 4QM(g).

(4) The Birth of Noah (4Q534 - 5 36)
Previous Discussions: J. Starcky, ‘Un texte messianique araméen de la grotte 4 de Qumrân’, École des langues orientales anciennes de l’Institut Catholique de Paris: Mémorial du cinquantenaire 1914 -1964 (Paris: Bloud et Gay, 1964) 51-66; Milik, Books of Enoch, 56.

Photographs: PAM 4 3.572 (bottom), 43.575, 43.590 and 43.591, ER 1520, 1523, 1537 and 1538. Our Fragment 1 is an eclectic text based on Birth of Noah Manuscripts C and D. Fragment 2 represents portions of Manuscript D. Fragment 3 has been known as 4QMessAram; it is not certain - merely probable that it is a third copy of the Birth of Noah text.

(5) The Words of Michael (4Q529)
Previous Discussion: Milik, Books of Enoch, 91.

Photograph: PAM 43.572 (top), ER 1520.

(6) The New Jerusalem (4Q549)
Previous Discussions: Milik, DJD 3, 184-9 3; J. Starcky, ‘Jerusalem et les manuscrits de la met Morte’, Le Monde de la Bible 1 (1 97 7) 3 8-40; Beyer, Texte, 214-22.

Photographs: PAM 41.940, 43.564 and 43.589, ER 521, 15 12 and 15 3 6. The restorations of column 4 are possible because it overlaps with preserved portions of the New Jerusalem text from Cave 5.


(7) The Tree of Evil (A Fragmentary Apocalypse - 4Q4 5 8)
Previous Discussions: None.

Photograph: PAM 43.544, ER 1493.


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