A Common Heritage: Biblical Interpretation at Qumran and Its Implications*

Menahem Kister

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The World of Qumran and the Hebrew Bible

1. Biblical interpretation, as we have come to understandbetter in recent years, is bound up with the transmission of the biblical text: There is no firm distinction between variant readings in the biblical text, biblical paraphrases, such as the so-called 4QReworked Pentateuch and elaborated works of "the rewritten Bible" which include implicit exegesis and longer additions to the biblical narrative, such as the Book of Jubilees.1 In this sense, it seems that no clearcut border can be established between the Bible and its reworkings.2

On the other hand (and this has perhaps not been granted enough attention) it seems to me that the very existence of biblical commentaries as well as implicit biblical interpretations and re-use of biblical phrases in the Qumran texts, to the extent that many of them are a mosaic of quotations and allusions, clearly show that the world of the Qumran sect is distinct from that of the Bible, in spite of the high degree of resemblance between them, a resemblance underscored by the use of biblical language and biblical motifs in the sect's writings. Despite all this, the world of the Sect is a post-classical world in which the entire classical oeuvre -- the Bible -- is available and can be alluded to, interpreted, reworked and actualized.3 It is true that interpretation of ancient passages exists already in the Hebrew Bible itself, but the considerable volume of allusions in Qumran to many books of the Hebrew Bible clearly distinguishes the Qumran writings (as well as other writings of the period) from the classical period. Moreover, many interpretations of explicit quotations of the Hebrew Bible are found in Qumran, but scarcely of any other work.4 This fact by itself shows that post-biblical and sectarian works were not considered as equal in rank to the classical ones. Typically, eschatological mysteries, so essential for the Qumran sect, can only be revealed by re-interpreting the ancient, classical writings of the prophets (1QpHab 7:4-5: "The Teacher of Righteousness, to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of His servants the prophets"; cf. also below, #4, 5).5


The Use of Daniel ch. 11-12 and the Dating of the Splitting-up into Sects

2. The Qumran sect's use of the last chapters of Daniel is instructive. Daniel ch. 12 is of major importance for the eschatological setting of the War Scroll;6 explicit and implicit citations of Daniel ch. 12 are found elsewhere in the Sect's literature.7 Outside the Sect, an allusion to Dan 11:31
(Mmw#m Cwq#) is found in I Macc 1:54; the rabbis cite and interpret these chapters as part of their Bible, probably reflecting the Pharisaic acceptance of these visions as authoritative. (The Gospels [Mt 24:15, Mk 13:14] and Josephus [Ant., 10: 269-276] treat Daniel ch. 8, which is from the same period, as an authoritative text.)8 The last chapters of Daniel were thus accepted as sacred and worthy of interpretation and midrash in all streams of Judaism relatively shortly after they were composed. The interpretation of the Book of Daniel in the Sect's writings seems to provide a valuable historical datum about the relations between the different Jewish streams during the Hasmonean period and their common ground. It may indicate that the splitting-up into sects took place after the last chapters of Daniel were composed (at the time of the decrees of Antiochus and the Hasmonean revolt), as Judaism before the Hasmonean period was more unified (though certainly not homogenous) than is sometimes hypothesized. This datum should be taken into account in any model of the development of the Sect and its relation with other groups.


Explicit and Implicit Pesher-Exegeses

The discovery of the library of the Dead Sea Sect led also to the discovery of the oldest explicit commentaries known to us composed in the form of (continuous) exegesis of biblical verses: the pesharim. The goal of the pesharim is to interpret biblical texts (especially prophecies) verse by verse, lemma after lemma, with the clear distinction between the text and its interpretation so characteristic of commentaries. The pesharim demonstrate the antiquity of "actualizing" midrash, which has some parallels in classical rabbinic midrash and in early Christian writings.9 The pesharim led scholars to discern the presence of a similar type of pesher-exegesis within the biblical corpus itself, in Isa 9:13-14.10 (For the sake of clarity I shall refer to the composition as pesher and to the technique as pesher-exegesis.)

Well-preserved pesharim are all too few. Nonetheless, our knowledge of this exegetical technique enables us to reach an approximate reconstruction of exegeses of many verses cited or alluded to in sectarian writings.11 In fact, the phenomenon of "actualizing" exegesis, which in the Dead Sea Scrolls we label pesher-exegesis can be found in other Jewish writings as well. The recovery of biblical interpretation in the hidden pesher-exegeses in Qumran literature is only in its beginnings.

The following example illustrates the varied shapes of an implicit pesher-exegesis. Ben Sira (50:27-28) comments on the Samaritans:
Mk#b rdh lbn ywg(w) ... M( wnny) ty#yl#hw ("...the third is not a people ... the foolish nation that dwells in Shechem".) This reflects a kind of pesher-exegesis to Deut. 32:21c-d:
Msy(k) lbn ywgb M( )lk M)ynq) yn)w ("I will stir them to jealousy with a non-people, I will provoke them with a foolish nation"). The application of the verse in Deuteronomy to the Samaritans is also reflected in the Greek Testament of Levi (7:2)12 as well as in the covert anti-Samaritan polemical composition found at Qumran (4Q371-372), which was published by E. Schuller.13 This interpretation is found explicitly (in a "pesher-like" form) in a midrash (apparently Tannaitic) preserved only in the late compilation Midrash Ha-Gadol to Deut 32:21 (ed. Fisch, p. 717): "'I will stir them to jealousy with a non-people' - these are the Samaritans, as it is written 'when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard...' (Ezra 4:1)14 The parallel midrash in Sifre to Deuteronomy, (par. 320, ed. Finkelstein, p. 367), however, reads: "these are the Mynym" (rather than the Samaritans, who were the first "heretics": they shared with the Jews their basic beliefs and a Holy Book, and yet they did not belong to the same community). Deviating from the traditionally negative interpretation of the verse (dictated basically by the biblical context) Paul interprets this verse (Romans 10:19, 11:11) by applying it to the Gentile Christians (equivalent to the Mynym of the rabbinic midrash) in a paradoxically positive way ("through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous"). It seems reasonable to suppose that he is reversing a Jewish interpretation directed against Gentile-Christians by giving it a new, positive twist.15 It is not surprising to find a Samaritan midrash interpreting Deut 32:21a ("they stirred me to jealousy with a non-god") as referring specifically to the Jews and their worship in Jerusalem.16

Implicit Halakhic Exegesis and its Roots

Thus far we have been examining what we can learn from these early commentaries. I would like now to turn to another observation, namely the significant absence of any literature of continuous or thematic midrash other than the pesharim. Most Qumranic interpretations of legal passages in the Pentateuch consist of paraphrases (although several explicit interpretations of specific verses in the Pentateuch are found in the scrolls). Often, however, when we compare the sectarian law with that which is exposed by the biblical text and with rabbinic halakha, the sectarian law appears to derive from an interpretation of Scripture. This is the case in many instances where Qumranic and rabbinic halakha differ,17 and often also where they share a common ground. Some well-known instances will suffice: (a) the interpretation of Deut. 6:8 ("and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets [tp++] between your eyes") as referring to tefillin (and "these words" in Deut 6:6 and 11:18 as referring specifically to these biblical passages),18 were shared by the Rabbis and the Sect. (b) Similarly, the establishment of tb# Mwxt on the basis of exegesis of Ex 16:29 and Num 35:5 in CD and in Rabbinic literature.19 (c) The exegesis of Deut 5:12 as referring to bt# tpswt in CD 10:14-17 and Mekhilta to Ex 20:8. The second case is particularly illuminating, since both Pharisaic and sectarian halakha evidently have a common exegetical basis, though they differ significantly in their specific interpretations of the biblical verses and in the halakhic details.20 Such cases may reflect early halakhic exegesis, perhaps preceding the splitting-up into sects.21

The Qumran sectarians were, no doubt, deeply engaged in interpretation of the Pentateuch and considered it as the main source of their law. The biblical paraphrases and the "rewritten Bible" (e.g. Jubilees) are clearly very often mere reflections of certain interpretations of the biblical text22; and yet we only find scattered examples of explicit interpretations of verses of the Law, and these are not presented in the form of hermeneutical compositions (as is the case with the pesharim). It will be useful, then, to distinguish between exegetical activity on the one hand and and the literary genre of commentary (i.e., exegetical notes presenting a verse-by-verse interpretation of a text) on the other hand. Commentaries on (portions of) the Pentateuch did not, perhaps, take shape as a literary genre, although exegesis was surely inherent in the study of the Bible.23 Given the centrality of exegetic debate on halakhic questions, the absence of (continuous) halakhic commentaries24 at Qumran (and the scarcity of citation of biblical texts accompanied by explicit commentaries) may be interpreted as suggesting that halakhic commentary did not become a central literary genre before the division into sects. Instead of the expected sectarian halakhic commentaries on the Pentateuch, we find in Qumran the very ancient technique of paraphrasing and modifying authoritative texts as a mode of representing implicit exegesis (see above, #1). A halakhic verse commentary would indicate that the writer had already abandoned the developmental flow of biblical literature, and found himself consciously outside it. It takes time for new literary genres, more suitable to post-biblical periods, to evolve and to replace the ancient ones. The use of the genre of commentary in order to interpret texts is far less obvious than it would seem to us. The gradual disengagement from the biblical world (see above, #1) is manifested in Qumran by the emergence of the pesher literature.25

The two ways of handling a biblical text, interpreting the literal meaning by paraphrasing it or revealing its inner eschatological sense through pesher-exegesis, may be illustrated by a comparison of the pesher on Nah 3:8-10 with a newly-published fragment paraphrasing these verses in a rather free manner.26

It is not surprising if indeed (as it seems to me) the first texts to which commentaries (as a literary genre) were composed at Qumran were the texts of prophecies.27 The intent of the pesharim is not to explicate the text itself,28 but rather to reveal the "secrets" of the fulfillment of the prophecy, which were hidden from the prophet himself and were disclosed to the Teacher of Righteousness (1QpHab 7:1-5).29 It should be noted, however, that the origin of this technique is pre-Qumranic, as mentioned above (#3). The distinction drawn above between the exegetical techniques and exegetical genres should also be borne in mind: Although the pesharim seem to be the oldest extant compositions of biblical "commentaries", pesher-exegesis is probably not the oldest or most dominant form of exegesis (rather, paraphrases are).


Pesher-Exegesis from Prophetic Texts to Prose and Allegoristic Interpretations in Palestine

It is clear from the very definition of pesher-exegesis that it originally applied to prophecies, the words of God concerning the future.30 The implementation of the pesher-exegesis technique on texts other than purely prophetic texts, i.e., poetic texts, first and foremost the Book of Psalms, was not difficult: Prophecies are poetic texts, and thus poetic texts could be treated as prophecies. Moreover, and perhaps even more important, David was considered a prophet at Qumran and his compositions prophecies.31 A further step was the implementation of this technique on narrative and legal prose.

Only a few bold allegorical interpretations of legal or narrative texts are found in Qumran, and they also demonstrate the expansion of the pesharim literature to biblical genres other than prophecy:

(1) The allegorical interpretation of the digging of the well in Num 21:18 as referring to seeking the meaning of the Torah (CD 6:3-10 and 3:16) is an interpretation of the poetic (and enigmatic) "song of the well" (Num 21:18). The same interpretation is also found in Philo (see especially On Dreams 2:271),32 assumed by Paul (1 Corinthians 10:4: "And all drank the same supernatural drink, for they drank from the supernatural rock which followed them") and hinted at in b. Eruvin 54a. A similar allegorical rendering of Num 21:18 is found in the Palestinian targumim.33 This allegorical interpretation of the poetic passage could potentially have led, however, to an allegorical exegesis of the preceding narrative verse (Num 21:16: "And from there they continued to Be'er, that is the well of which the Lord said to Moses: Gather the people together, and I will give them water"), but the far-reaching exegetical potential of this allegorical midrash was most probably not realized by the Qumran sect or by the rabbis. However, an allegorical interpretation of the narrative (a consistent result of the exegetical method) is found in Paul: Num 21:16 is taken as referring to Num 20:8-9 and both passages are assumed to have an allegorical meaning.

(2) The midrash on Deut. 19:14
Mynw#)r wlbn r#) K(r lwbg gyst )l ("You shall not remove your neighbour's landmarks, which those of old established"). The interpretation of the "landmarks" as referring to the commandments is shared by CD (1:16), Philo (Special Laws IV:149-150) and a (late) midrash (Midrash Mishlei 22). The specific interpretations of the verse are contradictory (Philo and the midrash refer the "landmarks which those of old established" to ancestral commandments, providing a basis for Pharisaic halakha, whereas CD refers them to the commandments of the Torah violated by Pharisaic halakha),34 but all these sources share the same allegorical attitude to the interpretation of this verse.

(3) 11QMelkizedek interprets Lev 25:9-13 and Deut 15:2 as referring to the redemption of the righteous and forgiveness for their sins, alluding to Isa 61:1-2.35 An allegorical interpretation (11QMalkizedek) of a legal text (Lev 25) is thus made possible by connecting of Isa 61:1-2 with Lev 25:10 (possibly alluded to in Isaiah [rwrd, Nwcr tn#]). This association enabled the author of 11QMalkizedek to use the technique of pesher-exegesis, originally applied to prophetic writings, to interpret a legal text. A similar interpretation is found in Tanhuma Behar, 1 (ed. Buber, 4).36

It is interesting to observe that in these exegetical allegories a common interpretative technique is applied to the same verses by different authorities (Qumran, Philo and rabbinic literature). These allegorical interpretations (especially nos. 1 and 2) can be designated "spiritual allegory", of which Hellenistic Jewish writers such as Philo are so fond. Allegorical interpretations of this sort were preserved in Qumran only because they became a part of the sectarian "historical-eschatological allegory" of the pesher-exegesis.37


* I acknowledge the assistance of the Howard Menzin Memorial Foundation in the preparation of this article. [Back to text]

1 Cf. E. Tov, "The Textual Status of 4Q364-367 (4QPP)", The Madrid Qumran Congress (eds. J. Trebolle-Barrera and L. Vegas Montaner, Leiden-Madrid: Brill and Universidad Complutensa, 1992) I, 49-52. [Back to text]

2 See S. Talmon, "Between the Bible and the Mishnah" in: The World of Qumran from Within (Jerusalem-Leiden: Magnes & Brill, 1989) 11-52. [Back to text]

3 The emergence of a vast literature of pseudepigrapha in this era may have been stimulated by the feeling of post-classical writers that their works would be accepted if they were attributed to the classical era of the Bible. Thus, what seems to be evidence of the continuation of the biblical literary creativity may in fact be a sign of discontinuity (contrast: Talmon, "Between", 31). [Back to text]

4 The quotation and interpretation of the Levi Document in CD 4:14-17 is an almost unique exception. There are references to other books in Qumran literature: CD explicitly refers to the Book of Jubilees, which in its turn implicitly refers to books of the Enochic literature, but I am not aware of exegesis of explicit quotations of such texts. The importance attributed to these books by the sect only emphasizes the different treatment they have received. The reference to the "Book of Enoch" referred to in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs seems to serve as a substitute to the authority of the Torah before its revelation. [Back to text]

5 I do not think that the "knowledge" of the Teacher of Righteousness was considered a prophetic (or quasi-prophetic) revelation. Cf. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 92: "If therefore one were not, with God's great grace helping him, to undertand the words and actions of the prophets, it would be no benefit to him to seem to relate their sayings or their actions". God's grace is a necessary condition for the correct interpretation of the prophets. I would interpret the statement in Pesher Habbakuk in a similar way. [Back to text]

6 D. Flusser, "Apocalyptic Elements in the War Scroll", Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period: A. Schalit Memorial Volume (eds. A. Oppenheim, U. Rappaport, M. Stern; Jerusalem: Yad Yizhak Ben Zvi, 1980, 434-452 (in Hebrew). [Back to text]

7 Dan 12:10 is cited ()ybnh l)ynd rpsb bwtk r[#)k]) in 4QFlorilegium (J.M. Allegro, DJD V [1968], 54), and the same verse is alluded to in MMT C:22 (Qimron-Strugnell, DJD X [1994], 60-61. Another quotation might be found in 11QMalkizedek 1:18 (see: P.J. Kobelski, Melchizedek and Melchiresha', Washington DC 1981, 21). [Back to text]

8 I owe the reference to Josephus in this context to Dr. W. Horbury. [Back to text]

9 Rabbinic midrashim are of course far less engaged in eschatology than the pesharim; but this may not necessarily be a result of an essential difference between the two methods of interpretation (cf. B. Nitzan, Pesher Habakkuk, Jerusalem 1986, 78 [in Hebrew]); it may in part reflect the time gap between these two bodies of literature. Rabbinic midrashim were edited after the disasters of 70 and 135 C.E., which made rabbinic Judaism as a whole more conscious of the dangers of "calculators of ends" (Nycq yb#xm) and active messianism. Most of the Christian eschatological interpretations of prophecies focus on Jesus; this Christian equivalent to pesher-exegesis, which could be considered "actualizing" in the infancy of Christianity, naturally became less so as Jesus' life on earth became a matter of a more distant past. Cf. also nn. 5, 29. [Back to text]

10 M. Goshen-Gottstein, "Hebrew Syntax and the History of the Bible Text", Textus 8 (1973), 100-106. See also Isa 19:15. It should be noted, however, that it is far from clear that this gloss, so similar in its pattern to a pesher, is indeed an "actualizing" midrash. [Back to text]

11 See M. Kister, "Biblical Phrases and Hidden Biblical Interpretations and Pesharim", The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research (Jerusalem-Leiden: Magnes & Brill, 1992) 27-39. [Back to text]

12 See J. Kugel, "The Story of Dinah in the Testament of Levi", HTR 85 (1992), 23-25. [Back to text]

13 l)r#y t) )ynqhl hbn rh l( hmb Mhl My#(w
[...] My[...] Mylbnw. Cf. E. Schuller, "4Q372 1: A Text about Joseph", RQ 14 (1990), 352; 371-372. [Back to text]

14 Cf. also Midrash Ha-Gadol Deuteronomy, p. 733 (on Deut 32:41), where the prooftext from Ezra 4:1 fits better. However, the core of this interpretation is very ancient, as demonstrated by Ben Sira and 4Q372. Hoffmann suggested that these passages are from the so-called "Mekhilta" to Deuteronomy (otherwise lost), and included them in his restoration of this tannaitic composition (D.Z. Hoffmann, Midrasch Tannaim zum Deuteronomium, Berlin 1909, 196, 203). [Back to text]

15 A similar phenomenon may be observed in Gal 3:13, where Deut 21:23 ("a hanged man is accursed by God") is interpreted in a positive way (Christ is accursed for our sake). For a Jewish argument that Jesus could not be the Christ because he was crucified, and therefore accursed, see Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 89:2. (This is a very common argument in the Adversus Judaeos literature.) For reversing a hostile anti-Christian interpretation in later periods, one may note the use of Isa 14:19
(b(tn rcnk Krbqm tkl#h ht)w): W. Horbury has pointed out that this verse is alluded to in the late anti-Christian work "Toledoth Yeshu" and is cited (freely) as referring to Jesus in the Apostolic Constitutions (5:19. See: W. Horbury, "Critical Examination of the Toledoth Yeshu", Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge University, 1971, p. 278, n. 1; cf. also p. 457). It should be added that Isa 14:19 is similarly cited as a Christological prooftext (against the Jews) in the Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila, ed. F.C. Coneybeare, Oxford 1898, p. 72 (fol. 87v). There can be little doubt that this verse was first cited in a hostile context in Jewish anti-Christian polemic (since Jesus "claimed to be a God" [see Isa 14:14], was called rcn [cf. the Christian interpretation of Isa 11:1] and was, according to the Jewish argument removed from his tomb). This verse was then interpreted by Christians in a positive way.

It should be noted that Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans only a short period of time after the emergence of Gentile Christianity. Therefore, if our suggestion is correct, the anti-Christian midrash on Deut 32:21 may be dated rather accurately. [Back to text]

16 Z. Ben-Hayyim, Tibat Marqe (Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1988) 294-297, 288. [Back to text]

17 It may well be that the development and refinement of midrashic methods in the rabbinic halachic midrashim owes much to the impact of the exegetical polemic of the Pharisees with the sects. [Back to text]

18 This exegesis in Qumran is made evident by the many phylacteries found in this site. See also J.H. Tigay, Encyclopaedia Biblica, 8 (1982), 883-895, s.v. Nylypt (in Hebrew). [Back to text]

19 CD 10:21; 11:5-6 (and see Rabin's notes ad loc.). Cf. Mekhilta to Ex 21:13 (ed. Horovitz-Rabin, 262-263); Sifre Zuta to Num 15:32 (ed. Horovitz, 287), and other parallels. [Back to text]

20 It seems that CD understood Num 35:2-5 as distinguishing between two kinds of #rgm: Myylww...#rgm [verses 2, 4] and hmhbl...#rgm [verses 3, 5], thereby resolving the apparent contradiction between verses 4 and 5. See also: M. Greenberg, "Idealism and Practicality in Num 35:45 and Ezekiel 48", Essays in Memory of E.A. Speiser, (New Haven: American Oriental Society 1968), 59-63. [Back to text]

21 Note that some of these cases, shared by the Sect and the rabbis, seem to be interpreted differently by the Samaritans (tefillin; tb# Mwxt). [Back to text]

22 See especially J. Kugel, In Potiphar's House (New York: Harper Collins, 1990), passim. [Back to text]

23 This point was acutely made by Kugel (In Potiphar's House, 266-268). [Back to text]

24 Or even aggadic commentaries employing techniques other than the pesharim. I do not think 4Q252 is a "'simple-sense' type commentary" to the Bible, as argued by M.J. Bernstein ("4Q252: From Re-Written Bible to Biblical Commentary", JJS 45 [1994] 1-27). It seems to me rather a compilation of several sources of different genres, possibly selected thematically (see M. Kister, "Notes on Some New Texts from Qumran", JJS 44 [1993] 287-289, and cf. Bernstein, "4Q252", 27 ["Final Note"]). [Back to text]

25 The analysis in this paragraph is admittedly based on an argumentum e silentio. It seems rather valid because of the large number of manuscripts of various genres found at Qumran. [Back to text]

26 D. Dimant, "A Quotation from Nahum 3:8-10 in 4Q385 6", The Bible in the Light of its Interpreters: Sarah Kamin Memorial Volume, (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1994) 31-37 (in Hebrew). The text as published by Dimant reads:

M] yr)yb hnk[#]h Nwm) Kqlx Nkyh .4
Kt]mx Mymw My [Kly]x Kl bybs Mym .5
Ky]xyrbl Cq Ny) [hmc( My]rcm #wk .6
yb]#b klt hlwgb )yhw Kd(sb bwl .7
]l(w Myr[rh #])rb [w#+r]y hyll([w] .8
My]qzb hy[lwdg] lkw lrwg [wdy hydbkn] .9

Several notes on this text are in order: L. 4. Kqlx Nkyh - Dimant has rightly noted that Nkyh is a corrupt text of Nkwh ("to prepare"), LXX e9toi&masai (ynykh), and suggests that b+h was understood in this sense because it has a similar meaning in Mishnaic Hebrew. However, this sense is rare in Mishnaic Hebrew and the root does not mean simply "to prepare", whereas this is the exactly meaning of the Syriac word by+ [pa'el]. It seems, therefore, that the word (written yby+th rather than as in MT and pNah) was explained in the light of the Aramaic usage. Kqlx ("your portion") is not just a clarifying addition, as suggested by Dimant; it interprets ynm (MT )nm!) as "portion" (like hnm), exactly as it is interpreted in the LXX. Another translation in the LXX (a#rmosai xordh&n) interprets ynm as "string" (Mynm, ynm, Ps 150:4, Ps. 45:9; Syriac )tnm). 4QpNah too probably reads Nwm) wnm (rather than Nwm) )n) and clearly refers to Nwm) (rather than Nwm) )n). This misinterpretation, therefore, was old and widespread. L. 2. Kl bybs Mym - As noted by the editor, the third person is changed into the second person. The reason is v. 9: Mybwlw +wp Ktrz(b wyh, i.e., in the second person. The original meaning of the verse was a question: "Were Put and the Libyans your helpers?" (I.e., although Put and the Libyans supported Thebes, it was defeated; you, who do not have such supporters, will surely be defeated). However, since the verse was read as a simple indicative sentence, a problem occurred, and our fragment tries to solve it. The same problem caused LXX to replace the second person at the end of v. 9 with the third person. L. 5 Kly]x = LXX, instead of MT lyx r#). Ibid. Mymw - So also LXX; MT Mym. L. 6. -[Kmcw( Myr]cm #wk - I suggest this reconstruction. The text is interpreted similarly in the LXX. The text might be corrupt (read Myrcm #wk?).

[Ky]xyrbl Cq Ny) - This is the editor's reconstruction. One may add, however, that a very similar text is reflected in LXX (th~j fugh~j sou~); it would be more appropriate, therefore, to reconstruct [Kt]xyrbl. (V. 13 is translated quite differently.) This word is not an addition, but rather replaces MT +wp for a reason unknown to me. [Back to text]

27 As for Psalms, see below. [Back to text]

28 Cf. Bernstein, "4Q252", 3-4 and n. 3. Bernstein argues (pp. 17-18) that in 4Q252 iv l. 5 the term wr#p introduces a text "merely clarifying the allusion in Genesis 49:3 to an event earlier in this book". Therefore, he contends, "our preconceptions about Qumran exegetical terminology need revision". The text reads:

ht) yrwkb Nbw)r
l) Mymk htzxp zw( rtyw t)# rty ynw) ty#yrw
wy(wcy htllx z) hkyb) ybk#m htyl( rtwt
M( bk# r#) wxykwh r#) wr#p
.]( ty#)r )wh Nbw)r rm[)]w w#glp hhlb

(G.J. Brooke, "The Thematic Content of 4Q252", JQR 85 [1994] 35). wr#p can be taken as referring to the text (most of which has unfortunately not survived) following the word rm)w ("and he [Jacob] said"), which could be a normal pesher (focussed on the future-tense words rtwt l)?); Jacob's rebuke is a mere exposition of this pesher. Such an interpretation has the merit that it is in line with the usage of wr#p elsewhere in Qumran. [Back to text]

29 The essential idea to which the pesharim owe their existence is that the biblical prophecies are more than historical oracles delivered for the benefit of previous generations; they are part of the sacred scriptures because they are the living word of God, actual for the "last generation" no less than for previous generations. (Presumably, such a notion could only have developed at a period in which prophetic visions no longer occur.)

For the theological statement in Pesher Habbakuk 7:1-5, cf. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 76: "For if Christ was covertly preached by the prophets as about to be liable to suffering, and afterwards to be the lord of all, yet he could not be so understood by any, until He Himself persuaded the apostles that these things were plainly proclaimed in the scriptures". [Back to text]

30 In this context one may note that Pesher Habbakuk does not contain ch. 3. The reason for this could be its title (Hab 3:1), which defines it as a "prayer" rather than a prophecy. An essential assumption for using pesher-exegesis is that the text interpreted is the word of God. The Psalms of David, however, were considered "prophetic" and worthy of pesher-exegesis. See also the next note. [Back to text]

31 Cf. 11QPs-a 27:11: "All these he uttered through prophecy which was given him from before the Most High". Cf. also: J. Kugel, "David the Prophet", Poetry and Prophecy (ed. J. Kugel, Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1990), 45-55. However, it seems to me that the main motive for the emergence of this concept is a new perception of the collection of the Hebrew Bible: The authorship of David did not seem any more a sufficient reason for inclusion in the holy scriptures; what could make the books "holy" is only divine inspiration. The process began with David, perhaps due to the special religious importance of his poetry, and ended with the works of Solomon (tYadayim 2:14) and Lamentations (cf. the Targum to the first verse).

32 "By the 'well' I mean knowledge, which for long has been hidden, but in time is sought for and finally found, knowledge whose nature is so deep, knowledge which ever serves to water the fields of reason in the souls of those who desire to see". In Philo, as in CD, the Law and the knowledge "have been hidden for long", deep under the ground (and cf. also 1QHodayot 8:16-18), and are found after being sought for (whw#rd, a)nazhthqei/shj). However, CD is strikingly similar, but its meaning is quite different: CD refers to the rediscovery of the real commandments of the Torah, whereas Philo refers to the discovery of philosophical truth. [Back to text]

33 See also the late midrash Otiyyot de-R. Akiva, Version A, Batei Midrashot 2 (ed. A. Wertheimer, Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kuk, 1956), 385, which should be compared with the targumim. For an analysis of the interpretation in CD see recently: J. Fraenkel, Darkhei ha-Aggada ve-ha-Midrash (Giv'atayim: Massada & Yad la-Talmud: 1991), 478-480 (in Hebrew). For rabbinic parallels see L. Ginzberg, An Unknown Jewish Sect (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1976), 201 n. 204. [Back to text]

34 Cf. M. Kister, "Some Aspects of Qumranic Halakha", The Madrid Qumran Congress, II, 571-588. [Back to text]

35 Kobelski, Melchizedek, 5. [Back to text]

36 D. Flusser ("A Pre-Gnostic Idea in the DSS", Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 9 [=S. Pines Memorial Volume, II], 165-175 [in Hebrew]) has argued that 1QS 4:19-20 reflects an allegorical spiritual midrash of Hab 1:4
()cy )lw hrwt gwpt Nk l( qydch t) rytkm (#r yk +p#m xcnl) known in Qumran alongside the historical pesher to this verse (1QpHab 1:10-15). It should be added that similar allegorical interpretations of qydc and (#r (referring to bw+ rcy and (r rcy) are found in rabbinic literature: See bKiddushin 30a (on Ps 37:32). It should also be noted that xcn in this verse means purity, truth (as suggested by Hitzig (F. Hitzig, Die zwölf kleine Propheten, Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch zum Alten Testament [Leipzig 1863] 253) on the basis of the Arabic nasaha;
cf. +p#m )ycwy tm)l; [Jes 42:4]) or shining light (Syriac xcn;
cf. rw)l Nty w+p#m -[Zeph 3:5]); these meanings fit the context in 1QS admirably. This is significant for the interpretation of both 1QS and of the biblical verse. [Back to text]

37 Philo states that the Essenes interpreted the Bible allegorically ("Every Good Man is Free", 82). D. Flusser ("The Religious Ideas of the Judean Desert Sect", Zion 19 [1954] 91, n. 10 [in Hebrew]) made the plausible suggestion that Philo was referring here to the pesharim. We have seen that some ancient Palestinian exegetical techniques (including that of pesher-exegesis) could indeed lead to allegorical interpretations, which may be considered Palestinian antecedents to Philo's hellenistic allegories. [Back to text]

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