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orion Nahum Pesher Pharisees? (a little long)
Martin Jaffee expressed interest in "probing the consensual view that the
references to dorshei halaqot in pNah" and elsewhere refer to the Pharisees,
pointing out that the term halaqot (in the modern sense) is unattested at a
Pharisee (or indeed Jewish) term at this time. Davies seconded Jaffee on
this point. Stephen Goranson posits that the identification of the doreshei
halaqot as Pharisees is as good as a fact, and has encouraged anyone with
differing views to make a case. He even suggests that the term halaqot
itself was a "bone of contention," implying that the complete absence of this
term in the Qumran corpus was due to opposition to the Pharisees -- which is
certainly a circular argument, as it assumes what needs to be proven, namely
the BCE association of this term with the Pharisees.
Let me weigh in here by observing that the association of pNahum with the
time of Alexander Jannaeus is still an unproven proposition. This despite
the current scholarly concensus on this point: concensus is never a
substitute for argument. This association is based on the coincidence of
Demetrius III in Judea (Shechem) with a reference to crucifixions under
Alexander Jannaeus, leading to the identification of AJ with the Ferocious
Lion and the Pharisees with the doreshei halaqot (Seekers of Smooth Things =
henceforth SST). But cautionary notes are (1) the absence of independent
attestation of halaqot as a Pharisee term in BCE times. (2) The absence of a
direct statement in Josephus that Demetrius III sought to enter Jerusalem, or
that he was supported by the Pharisees. (3) Crucifixions took place in Judea
under Antiochus III and probably under Bacchides (see Hengel's book on
Hellenism on this point - I don't have the exact citation in front of me), so
crucifixions in a Demetrius I context are not impossible.
I have specific problems with the identification of the Ferocious Lion with
Alexander Jannaeus (AJ), a Jew. To begin with, at pNah 3+4 i 1-2 the phrase
"the lion's den" in the lemma appears to be interpreted as Jerusalem, which
had become the "residence of the wicked of nations." This sets up an
equation between the lions and the gentiles, which appears highly
inconsistent with AJ as Ferocious Lion.
I've made a comprehensive study of animal symbolism in the dead sea
scrolls, and in sectarian symbolism wild/unclean animals consistently
symbolize Gentiles, domestic/clean animals Jews.
(1) Ignoring whether the Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 85-90) is sectarian (I
believe it is, for reasons beyond Dimant's analysis), there is consistent
imagery here of the Jews as domestic livestock (the patriarchs are bulls, the
Israelites are sheep, the Maccabees are rams), while the Gentiles are wild
animals, generally predators (lions, leopards, foxes, wolves = Egyptians,
boars = Edomites, dogs = Philistines, snakes, hyenas, squirrels, hawks,
eagles, kites, crows, ravens). Bad Jews were bad domestic animals (e.g.
89:44-45 Saul a ram that began to attack the other sheep). Numerous
fragments of I Enoch 85-90 were found in cave 4.
(2) CD 1:13-14 congregation of traitors of Israel are like a straying
(3) CD 8:9-12 serpents are "kings of the peoples"; more specifically,
"kings of Greece."
(4) Nahum Pesher 3+4 i 4-8 the angry lion's prey (apparently domestic
animals) are those "in Israel."
(5) Habakkuk Pesher 3.6-12, especially 11 eagle is Kittim (maybe wolves and
(6) Habakkuk Pesher 12:4 beasts are the simple folk of Judah.
(7) Psalms Pesher 3:5-8 lambs are the congregation of Israel.
(8) Psalms Pesher [1Q16] 9 2-4 the boar of the reedbed are the Kittim;
apparently the herd of bulls in the lemma are Israelites.
(9) Hymns 4.8-9 congregation like sparrows driven from nest.
This systematic principle in sectarian interpretation is at variance with
AJ as a lion, which in turn undermines the SST as Pharisees and indeed the
widely assumed Demetrius III context. The "dominion of the SST" at pNah 3-4
ii 4 has always been problematic anyway.
These observations make a Demetrius I context for pNah more attractive. Let
me point out that Daniel 11:21, 32 associates the term "flatteries"
(halaqlaqot) with Antiochus III and his Jewish supporters, i.e. the
Hellenists, while Daniel 11:30 calls this same group the "forsakers of the
holy covenant," a term apparently synonymous with the SST at CD 1:17. Hence
one need not resort to a historically questionable pun on Pharisee halaqot to
understand the SST - the vocabulary has contemporary attestation in the late
Maccabean period. And the "dominion of the SST" is historically
comprehensible against this earlier context as well.
-- Russell Gmirkin