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Re: Testament of Naphtali

>In the course of editing the 4Q Testament of Naphtali fragments
>the following issue arose in my mind.
>These fragments present a geneology of Bilhah, which is related
>in the first person by her younger son Naphthali. They seem to
>be part of a larger document dealing with Naphtali which may
>have been known, in some form or another, to R. Moshe ha-
>Darshan (Narbonne, eleventh century).
>The point of the geneology is to show that Bilhah is of Aramean
>stock on both paternal and maternal sides.
>There exists a medieval Hebrew Testament of Naphtali,
>embedded in ms Oxford Hebrew d 11 (The Chronicles of
>Jerahmeel). There is no overlap between 4Q Napht and the
>medieval Hebrew apocalypse.
>My question is: Why Naphtali? He seems to have had some
>importance, since Tobit was also said to be of that tribe (1:1, 4, 7
>and 7:3).
>Does anybody have any suggestions as to why this document
>should have been devoted to Naphtali in antiquity, and also
>why Naphtali should have played an important enough role
>for a medieval Hebrew work to have been devoted to him.

I would like to comment on a few points here. A. There seems to be some
similarity between the 4QTNaph and Test. Naph. 1. Bilha's mother is the same
in both places Chanah. 2. Bilha's mother's sister was Devorah the 'nurse' of
Rivkah, while in 4QTNaph there is a mention of Bilha's parents and Devorah. 3.
In both Bilha and Zilpa are sisters. (It is interesting to note that this is
also known from Rabbinic liturature Perkei De'Rabbi Eliezer 36). B. Test. Naph
describes Naphtali as being swift and describes an incident of this. This
appears likewise in Rabbinical liturature where two other incedents appear. In
BSotah 13a (Targum Yonason and Targum Yerushalmi Gen. 49:21; Targum Yonason
Gen. 50:13; Perkei De'Rabbi Eliezer 39; Ber. Rabbah 98:16) Naphtali is
described as being the messenger to run on a mission to Egypt, as he was the

I would like to point out that if we exclude Joseph and Judah, according to
the Rabbinical interpretations none of the other brothers were praised for
their own actions when they were being blessed by Jacob. 

            /\                                                    /\
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       \  ___\ \  /               Moshe Shulman              \  ___\ \  /
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