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orion: Musings on 4Q448

The mention of 4Q448 with its apparent reading praising king Jonathan 
brings this comment.  Almost a year ago I ordered a color negative of that 
text from Bruce Zuckerman to check that reading.  I was suspicious of 
this reading on two grounds: (1) it didn't seem to make sense--the other 
comparative parallels in 1QH of language praising the great king, etc. is 
the language of God, not a human.  The prediction would be for an 
attribute descriptive of or praising God, not the name "Jonathan".  
A reading of "Jonathan", then, did not fit into a natural slot as 
expected but is an "oddball" reading.  An odd or unexpected reading is a 
reading if it is a reading.  But (b) this particular reading is right 
at the margin of legibility, i.e. it both lacks comparative attestations 
elsewhere in Qumran texts and is a difficult reading on letter-remains 
grounds.  That was the background of my question about this.

Anyway at the end I was persuaded the Jonathan reading (of Yardeni, 
Eshel, and Eshel) looks like its there (in keeping with a lot of other 
sets of good eyes).  The letter remains seem readable as YNTN and 
there seems to be no alternative reading giving a sensible word (if 
anyone can suggest another possibility this would be of interest).  
Therefore odd as it may be, it looks like its there.

A pro-Jonathan text (I have never heard and cannot imagine this 
reading being interpreted as an anti-Jonathan text) is obviously of 
much significance for the Qumran texts.  First the identity of the 
Jonathan--in principle one could imagine a fictitious Jonathan or a 
biblical Jonathan as the referent, but no known biblical or fictive 
Jonathan correlates to the image in this text of this king, and a 
real king Jonathan is attested by coins at the very time when many, 
if not practically all, of the scrolls were produced and copied.  
This points to Jannaeus.

Yet assuming the soundness of the reading and the correctness of the 
identity of the Jonathan, what might it mean?  The puzzle is that if 
this is really a pro-Jannaeus text, why are there not five or ten
pro-Jannaeus texts?  Why only this one?  No answer proposed here for 
this (this was one of the original reasons to me for scrutiny of the

But what to make of it?  One line of reasoning would be, "the sages, 
the pharisees, were persecuted by Jannaeus, according to all the 
stories from that era, so this text, 4Q448, could not come from the ones 
Josephus calls pharisees."  But this may be an example of the kind of 
leaping to conclusions on the basis of slender data that has plagued 
the Qumran field.  

For does it not say somewhere in Josephus that the Pharisees gave 
Alexander Jannaeus an honorable burial and praised him after his death?  
And would not this strange text, 4Q448 with its hymn of praise to king 
Jonathan, sound like something to be read at a funeral, or composed 
in memory of a dear departed ruler?

There--is this not "evidence"--from 4Q448--that the Qumran 
scribes were all Pharisees?    :-)     

Greg Doudna