Qumran and The Book of Noah*

Cana Werman

Ben Gurion University

A Book of Noah has been mentioned in various sources in antiquity but its identity is still in question. Although I am aware that claims of non-existence are the most difficult to prove -- for, after all, discovery of a single copy alone is enough to put such claims to rest -- I would like to present evidence that casts doubt on the existence of the book.

The Noah book is mentioned both in Qumran literature and in the Pseudepigrapha, apparently strong evidence for its existence. However, these sources do not agree about the contents of the book.1

What, according to these ancient sources, does The Book of Noah embody?

a] In the Genesis Apocryphon the following appears at the bottom of column 5, "A copy of The Book of the Words of Noah." We learn from the recently published columns brought to light by Morgenstern, Qimron, Sivan and the late Professor Greenfield2 that the life story of Noah is given in the Apocryphon. Noah tells how he follows the righteous path (Column 6), he reports a vision he had about the sin of the Watchers (Columns 6-7), he relates the events of the Flood and the exit from the Ark (Column 8-10), he describes his tour of the Land (Column 11), he lists the sacrifices he made and gives details of the covenant that God made with him (Column 11-12). Furthermore, Noah tells of the vineyard he planted (Column 12); he relates a vision of the fate of Mankind (Columns 13-15); and he tells how the world was divided among his sons (Columns 16-17).

b] According to the Introduction to the Book of Asaph (a medieval composition based on an ancient source), The Book of Noah deals with remedies and healing.

c] According to The Book of Jubilees (Chapter 10), The Book of Noah consists primarily of phrases meant to lead evil spirits astray. Chapter 21 relates that Abraham discovers "in the book of my ancestors, the words of Enoch and the words of Noah," the laws concerning rtwn (portions of sacrifices left over beyond the legal time and bound to be burned).

d] The Aramaic Levi Document states that The Book of Noah deals with laws pertaining to the slaughter of animals and the handling of blood.3

Even the most superficial examination of these sources shows that the material attributed to The Book of Noah by them is different in each case.

The Genesis Apocryphon includes the biography of Noah from youth to old age. Yet, despite its richness of detail, the scroll never refers to healing, as one would expect from the Introduction to the Book of Asaph; nor is there any mention of prayers to banish evil spirits, as mentioned in Jubilees; finally, laws related to blood, found in Aramaic Levi are totally absent except for the prohibition of eating blood.

In addition, the author of Jubilees was acquainted with the Genesis Apocryphon and even made use of it. Nonetheless, he attributes material to The Book of Noah that is completely different from the Noah material cited in the Genesis Apocryphon. Instead, the author of Jubilees used material from Aramaic Levi and from the Introduction to the Book of Asaph, but with changes. Jubilees does include laws concerning the slaughter of animals and the handling of blood that are found in Aramaic Levi , but unlike Aramaic Levi it does not cite The Book of Noah as the source for these laws, although some of these strictures are recited by Noah himself to his sons in Jubilees. Jubilees emphasizes that The Book of Noah includes words and prayers needed to banish evil spirits, while the Introduction to the Book of Asaph holds that The Book of Noah listed remedies for the diseases caused by the evil spirits.

Did the author of Jubilees really know these documents?

Himmelfarb has suggested that Jubilees used the precursor of the Introduction to Asaph.4

I will demonstrate that Jubilees also made use of the Apocryphon and Aramaic Levi.

There are three major points of agreement between Jubilees and the Apocryphon on subject matter not found in the Bible. Both tell about
y(br (+n (Jub. 7:1-4; 34-37; Gen. Apoc. xii), the fourth year's fruits of a young tree; both detail the sacrifices that Noah makes on leaving the Ark (Jub. 6; Gen. Apoc. x), and both report the division of the World among Noah's sons (Jub. 11-12; Gen. Apoc. xvi-xvii). It is hard to believe that this congruence is coincidental. The question is only "Which document is earlier?"

Genesis Apocryphon

and I began with - all my sons - to work the land and I planted a large vineyard at Mt. Lubar

and by the fourth year it produced wine for me;

And when the first festival came, on the first day of the first festival of the [seventh?] month ... I opened

this vessel and I began to drink from it on the first day of the fifth year.

On this day I called my sons and grandsons and all our wives and their daughters and we gathered together and we went [to the place of the altar?]

... and I blessed the Lord of Heaven, the Most High God, the Great Holy One who delivered us from destruction

... they drank and ...

I poured on ... and the wine

Jubilees 7

Noah planted a vine at the mountain (whose name was Lubar, one of the mountains of Ararat) on which the ark had come to rest

It produced fruit in the fourth year. He guarded its fruit and picked it that year during the seventh month. He made wine from it, put it in a container, and kept it until the fifth year - until the first day at the beginning of the first month.

He joyfully celebrated the day of this festival. He made a burnt offering for the Lord - one young bull, one ram, seven sheep each a year old, and one kid - to make atonement through it for himself and for his sons. First he prepared the kid. He put some of its blood on the meat (that was on) the altar which he had made. He offered all the fat on the altar where he made the burnt offering along with the bull, the ram, and the sheep.... Afterwards he sprinkled wine in the fire that had been on the altar be fore hand ... and offered a pleasant fragrance that was pleasing before the Lord his God.

He was very happy,

and he and his sons happily drank some of this wine.

Table 1

In column xii of the Apocryphon we find the story of Noah planting of the vineyard. In the fourth year after the planting, the vineyard produces wine which Noah stores until the fifth year. Then he and his family drink the wine and pour it on the altar as a libation. Jubilees relates this story at the beginning of Chapter 7.

In Jubilees the story varies at several points. There the wine is first poured on the alter; only then does Noah drink. Also, his sons alone drink with him, not the other members of the family. According to the Apocryphon, however, Noah first drinks the wine, then he calls his family who come to the altar and drink the wine, and then wine is poured on the altar. Why these differences? As already shown by Prof. Kister and others, Chapter 7 in Jubilees (35-37) not only gives this story but also offers a halakha about fourth year fruits that contradicts the story.5 According to this halakha, fourth year fruit is brought to the Temple, the Bikkurim are brought to the Altar, while the rest of the fruit is given to the Priests. In the Apocryphon the fruit of the fourth year is stored until the fifth year and then the owners are permitted to eat it. It appears likely that the author of Jubilees altered the narrative in such a way as to blur the contradiction between the story and the halakha that he is interested in promulgating. Jubilees sees Noah and his sons as Priests (like the other main characters in Jubilees: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Levi). Thus, they are allowed the fruit, after the wine of the Bikkurim is poured on the altar. The year's storage found in the Apocryphon is a problem for Jubilees, but the author makes use of it to proclaim the celebration of the first day of the month of Nissan, a holiday of the Priestly group not found in rabbinical halakha.6

Since the story itself does not serve the halakhic interests of the author of Jubilees, it is unlikely that he invented it; more likely, he knew it from another source. And where else if not from the Apocryphon? If the story was of no interest to him, why use it? Apparently the story as given in the Apocryphon was widely known at the time and could not be ignored.

Examination of the description of Noah's deeds on leaving the Ark in these two sources reinforces the conclusion that the author of Jubilees knew the Genesis Apocryphon [see Table 2]. The Genesis Apocryphon emphasizes atonement in describing this scene ("and I atoned for the whole Earth" col. X, l.13), and particularly atonement through the use of blood.7 Two groups of burnt offerings are recorded, each characterized by a different use of blood. In the first group of burnt offerings, that of the ritually pure animals, the blood is poured on the base of the altar.8 The turtledove is included in the second group rather than in the first, because it is not a major source of blood (see Lev. 1:5; 16). Jubilees, on the other hand, offers a single category of burnt offerings in a detailed listing of the sacrifices Noah offered, with both beasts and birds listed together and with no mention of blood at all.9

Genesis Apocryphon

... and I atoned for the whole world
... [he-goat] first

... and after it came ... I burned the fat on the fire;
secondly ... I poured out their blood on the base of the altar;
then I burned all their flesh on the altar

and thirdly, the turtledoves ... upon the altar as an offering ...
I put on it fine flour mixed in oil together with frankincense as a meal-offering
I put salt on all of them.
Jubilees 6

He appeared on the earth,
took a kid, and atoned [with its blood] for all the sins of the earth because everything that was on it had been obliterated except those who were in the ark with Noah.
He placed the fat on the altar.

Then he took a bull, a ram, a sheep, goats, salt, a turtledove, and a dove and offered (them as) a burnt offering on the altar.

He poured on them an offering mixed with oil, sprinkled wine, and put frankincense on everything.

Table 2

Moreover, in the Apocryphon, this section begins with the declaration by Noah that his sacrifices are an atonement for the whole Earth. Jubilees uses a different introductory phrase (see Table 2), "He appeared on the Earth." The author immediately makes the point that atonement is only meant for the inhabitants of the Ark.

Why this change in emphasis? According to Jubilees, the sin of the generation of the Flood is the sin of the consumption and the shedding of blood.10 Thus, the Giants, mankind, as well as animals, all sinned (see Table 3).

Jubilees 5

Injustice increased on the earth

all animate beings corrupted their way, from peole to cattle, animals, birds and everything that moves about on the ground
All of them corrupted their way and their prescribed course
He said that He would obliterate people and all animate beings that were on the face of the earth that he had created.
Jubilees 7

When everyone sold himself to commit injustice and to shed innocent blood. The earth was filled with injustice (23)
After them all the animals, birds, and whatever moves about and whatever walks on the earth

Much blood was shed on the earth (24)
Then the Lord obliterated all from the face of the Earth because of their actions and because of the blood that they had shed into the earth.

Table 3

In Jubilees (chap. 5), the punishment for the misuse of blood is death, blood for blood, as in Numbers 35:33, "So you shall not pollute the land wherein you are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it." In Chapter 5, Jubilees specifies the punishment for all that generation: the Giants killed one another by the sword (5:6-9), the Watchers were bound and wait in Sheol for their death at the End of Days (5:10-11), men and animals, other than those in the Ark, are wiped out in the Flood (5:20). The Earth, defiled by blood, is cleansed by the blood of the Giants, of mankind and of animals. In Jubilees there is no longer any need for atonement for the Earth after the flood.

Jubilees' use of the difficult word "appeared," describing Noah's exit from the Ark, ". . . he appeared on the Earth," can be understood as a replacement for the atonement idea given by the Apocryphon: ". . . I atoned for the World (Earth)." The change in verb reflects the author of Jubilees' need to de-emphasize the notion, introduced by the Apocryphon, that the Earth is still defiled after the Flood.

The author of Jubilees was apparently also familiar with the Aramaic Levi Document.

Aramaic Levi Document

Warning to lave the body before sacrificing.
Warning to wash hands and feet.
Washing hands and feet.
Kinds of wood needed for the altar.
Sprinkling of blood.
Washing hands and feet after sprinkling blood.
Burning parts of the burnt offering.

Meal offering, libation, and frankincense.
Measures of wood, salt, flour, oil, wine and incense for each sacrifice.

Warning to wash hands and feet after sacrifice.
Warning about blood during sacrifices.
Warning about blood during profane slaughter.
Jubilees 21

Prohibition against eating blood.
Burnt offering and peace offering:

Sprinkling of blood.

Burning parts of the burnt offering.
Burning the fat of the peace offering.
Meal offering and libation.
Prohibition against eating rtwn.

Kinds of wood needed for the altar.
Warning to lave the body before sacrificing.
Warning to wash hands and feet.
Warning to wash hands and feet after sacrifice.
Warning about blood during sacrifices
(Warning about blood during profane slaughter [found in ch. 7]).
Prohibition against eating blood.

Table 4

In Aramaic Levi, we find Isaac instructing Levi on sacrifice and slaughtering. In Jubilees Chapter 21, it is Abraham who instructs Isaac, with similar rules (see Table 4).

It is clear that the two lists are similar. The similarity is even greater if we note that Jubilees deals not only with peace offerings, as generally assumed until now, but burnt offerings as well. Including the law of burnt offerings in the list of subjects in Chapter 21 is justified. In line 3 of Fragment 4Q220 of Jubilees,11 we find the difficult phrase hl( Myml# xbz, referring not only to peace offerings but to burnt offerings as well. Lines 4 and 5 of the fragment clearly speak about burnt offerings that are completely burnt on the altar. At the end of line 5 we find an allusion to peace offerings where the fat is the item that is burnt on the altar.

Which list came first? It is likely that the Aramaic Levi is earlier. This is most obvious in the polemic nature of Jubilees' attitude towards matters of blood, not found at all in Aramaic Levi. In Jubilees the instructions for covering blood and the warning against the appearance of drops of blood on the limbs of the slaughterer as well as on his clothing are part of the prohibition against eating blood.12 Thus, the demand to cover the blood and the warning against the appearance of blood are part of the conditional covenant between God and Noah; the covenant is valid only to the extent that these prohibitions are honored.13 In Aramaic Levi there is no connection between the instructions for washing and the care needed in dealing with blood and the prohibition against eating blood. In fact, this prohibition is not found at all in Aramaic Levi.

If the Aramaic Levi Document depended on Jubilees, some remnant of the repeated and central polemical position against eating blood and its relationship to the other laws would be expected. None is present.

Verse 10 in Chapter 7 of Jubilees offers further evidence that Jubilees depends on Aramaic Levi: " . . . because this is the way I found it written in the book of my ancestors, in the words of Enoch and in the words of Noah." Here we see that Jubilees mentions two figures who are related to Aramaic Levi. Halakhot dealing with incense are, according to Jubilees, Chapter 4, derived from Enoch. In Aramaic Levi there are halakhot related to incense; because of this reference to incense, Jubilees, almost mechanically adds Enoch in Chapter 21.14

Aramaic Levi ascribes halakhot dealing with blood to The Book of Noah. It is no surprise therefore that the stanza dealing with blood in Chapter 21 of Jubilees also contains a reference to The Book of Noah. Jubilees, however, does not attribute the halakhot related to the handling of blood to The Book of Noah; the author insists that such halakhot were transmitted orally. Because of the need of the author of Jubilees to retain the oral nature of Noah's laws concerning blood, only the halakha relating to the prohibition against the eating of rtwn, a relatively minor point, is acknowledged to be part of The Book of Noah.

In summary, the Genesis Apocryphon includes the story of the life of Noah. The author of The Book of Jubilees knew this scroll and used it; despite this, he did not hesitate to attribute to The Book of Noah material totally different from that found in the scroll. Instead, he preferred testimonies of other works, the Aramaic Levi Document and the antecedent of the Introduction to the Book of Asaph available to him. Even with these materials we feel the deft use of the editor's pen.

For these reasons, it is not likely that an actual Book of Noah was available to the author of Jubilees. When we examine Jubilees' attitude to the Book of Enoch, we see that the author of Jubilees faithfully reports its contents.15 However, inventive author that he is, he adds halakhic material related to incense and to fourth year fruits to his recounting of the Enoch material. If the author of Jubilees had a manuscript of The Book of Noah before him, we might expect him to do the same, that is to give the contents faithfully and then add his own material. His failure to do this argues against his having such a book to refer to and casts doubt on the existence of such a book. Jubilees knows of a Book of Noah only by hearsay, from three secondary sources that contradict one another as to the nature of this putative book.


* This work was supported in part by The Memorial Foundation for Jewish Studies. [Back to text]

1 The last scholar who dealt with this problem was F. García Martínez, Qumran and the Apocalyptic. Studies on the Aramaic Text from Qumran (STDJ 11; Leiden: Brill, 1992) 1-44. [Back to text]

2 M. Morgenstern, E. Qimron and D. Sivan, "The Hitherto Unpublished Columns of the Genesis Apocryphon," Abr-Nahrain 33 (1995) 30-54; J. C. Greenfield and E. Qimron, "The Genesis Apocryphon Col. XII," Abr-Nahrain suppl. 3 (1992) 70-77. [Back to text]

3 The Athos Manuscript e, *57. I use the translation published by J. C. Greenfield and M. E. Stone, "The Aramaic and Greek Fragments of a Levi Document," in The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. A Commentary (ed. H. W. Hollander and M. de Jonge; SVTP 5; Leiden: Brill, 1985) 457-69. [Back to text]

4 M. Himmelfarb, "Some Echoes of Jubilees in Medieval Hebrew Literature," in Tracing the Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha (ed. J. C. Reeves; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994) 127-36. In the Introduction to Asaph, the evil spirits produce diseases in the children of Noah, while in Jubilees the emphasis is on the evil spirits leading the children of Noah astray. Again, in the Introduction, a list of remedies is revealed to Noah, while in Jubilees, Noah is granted, in addition to the remedies, the secret of leading the evil spirits themselves astray. (p.130) According to Himmelfarb, Jubilees does not deal with remedies in order to downplay elements that could suggest magic practices on the part of the heroes. Note that in the Introduction the evil spirits attack the children of Noah and bring disease to them. This is the beginning of a logically developed section that continues with Noah praying for his children. The evil spirits are then, for the most part, imprisoned but a minority remain free to threaten the children of Noah and can continue to produce disease. Noah then receives insight into the remedies needed to combat the illnesses.

In Jubilees the development is more obscure; there we find an emphasis on the moral aspects of the interactions, and the diseases are hardly mentioned at all. In fact there is no need for remedies as such; what is required is the means to deal with the evil spirits. Noah conquers -- not the diseases -- but the evil spirits themselves: "And the evil spirits were precluded from pursuing Noah's children." (10:13) Nonetheless, the remedies are mentioned: "We told Noah all the medicines for their diseases with their deceptions. (10:12) The retention of the remedies as a minor theme is apparently a consequence of the author's familiarity with and use of the source of the Introduction. [Back to text]

5 M. Kister, "Some Aspects of Qumran Halacha," in The Madrid Qumran Congress (ed. J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Montaner; STDJ 11; Leiden: Brill 1992) 571-88. [Back to text]

6 Y. Yadin, The Temple Scroll (Israel Exploration Society, Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shrine of the Book: Jerusalem , 1983) 2.89-91. [Back to text]

7 The idea of atonement for the earth by use of the sacrificial blood from sin-offerings is unique to the Genesis Apocryphon and is not to be found in the Bible or elsewhere in Qumran literature. In the Bible, the role of sin offerings is as a purification of the Temple from the impurity produced by the sins of man and his ritual impurities. See J. Milgrom, "The Function of the Hattat Sacrifice," Tarbiz 40 (1970) 1-8 (Hebrew). In fact, in the Bible, there are two things that defile the earth, murder and fornication. In the case of the former, only the blood of the killer can atone, purifying the Earth (Num. 35:33; if, however, the murderer is not identified, the blood of a calf can be used (Deut. 21:1-9). In the case of fornication, God exiles the sinners (Lev. 19); no sacrifice or blood can atone. [Back to text]

8 According to the Bible (Lev. 1:5) the blood of a burnt-offering is to be sprinkled on the Altar itself, and not to be poured on its base. It is likely that the deviation from the Bible in the Apocryphon is the result of the propinquity of the burnt-offering to the sin-offering in this passage. The blood of the sin-offering, according to the Bible (Lev. 4:25), should be poured on the base of the altar; afterwards it is placed on the altar's horns. [Back to text]

9 In his single list, the author of Jubilees preserves the Apocryphon's original two lists of sacrifices, separated by the interjection of salt, a sacrifice but also a non-animal stitch. See Table 2. Notice that the words, "with its blood" are not found in ms. 20 and 25 (VanderKam considers ms. 25 the most authoritative); this would indicate that blood is not mentioned by Jubilees in this context, rather surprising in view of the book's great concern with blood throughout. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the author made deliberate efforts not to mention blood here. [Back to text]

10 C. Werman, "The Story of the Flood in The Book of Jubilees," Tarbiz 65 (1995) 183-202 (Hebrew). [Back to text]

11 Qumran Cave 4.VIII (DJD XIII; ed. H. W. Attridge, TL. Elgvin, J. T. Milik, S. Olyan, J. Strugnell, E. Tov, J. C. VanderKam and S. White; Oxford: Clarendon, 1994):

3 [If you sa]crifice a burnt-offering (and) a peace-offer[ing] you are to [sa]crifice it in a pleasing way, and you are to sprinkle their blood on the alt[ar.] 4 [All] the meat of the burnt-offering you are to off[e]r on the al[tar] with the flour of its offering mixed with [o]i[l,] 5 [with its libation. You] are to offer the whole on the altar as a fire-offering, a pleasing fragrance before God. [The fat] 6 [of the pe]a[ce sacrifice] you are to offer on the fire which is on the altar, and the fat [which is on . . .]
[Back to text]

12 Note that the section of Jub. 21 which deals with the burnt-offering and the peace-offering both begins and ends with the prohibition against consuming blood. See Werman, "The Events of the Generation." [Back to text]

13 Notice the order of events in the Bible as compared to the order in Jubilees. In Genesis 8-9:

- God smells the sweet savor of the sacrifice.
- God decides in his heart not to visit another flood on the earth.
- God blesses Noah and his sons and commands them to be fruitful and multiply, places their dread over all creatures, permits them to eat meat, prohibits their consumption of blood and stipulates the prohibition against spilling the blood of man

- God makes a covenant with the inhabitants of the earth that he will not visit another flood on the earth.
- The rainbow is given as a token.
In Jubilees 6, however,
- God smells the sweet savor of the sacrifice.
- God makes a covenant with Noah.
- God details the conditions of the covenant, to be fruitful and multiply, grants rule over all other creatures, gives permission to eat meat, prohibits the eating of blood, prohibits the spilling of the blood of man
- Noah and his sons accept the conditions of the covenant
- A rainbow is given as a token of the covenant.

Jubilees also differs from the Bible in choosing the object of the covenant. Thus, in the Bible God promises to desist from cursing the earth and from obliterating all living beings on it (Gen. 8:21) and, in another version, not to bring the waters of a flood to destroy the earth and obliterate all flesh (Gen. 9:11). In ch. 6 of Jubilees on the other hand, God restricts his promise to forgo destruction to the earth alone. God will not bring another flood to destroy the earth but He does not commit Himself to desist from killing off all living beings (6:4,16). See Werman, "The Story of the Flood." [Back to text]

14 I still am not sure of the source of the requirement for adding frankincense to the meal offering that accompanied the burnt-offerings found in Aramaic Levi, Genesis Apocryphon as well as Jubilees (6:3; 7:3; 32:4-6, and see: C. Albeck, "Das Buch Jubilaen und die Halacha," Jahresbericht Hochschule für die Wissenchaft des Judentums (1930) 22. In the Bible, frankincense is only given with an independent meal offering and its memorial (a handful of its flour and the added oil and all the frankincense) is burnt on the altar while the remainder is eaten by the Priests. (Lev. 2:1-3). It is probable that the halakhic outlook reflected here derives from the requirement to join frankincense to the flour and the oil that are burnt in the meal offering. By extension, the requirement for frankincense was broadened to include the meal offering that was given with the burnt-offering, both burned on the Altar. It is likely that this requirement is connected to that of pouring all the wine on the fire (as in the Temple Scroll and Jubilees), (Albeck, "Das Buch Jubiläen," 22; Yadin, The Temple Scroll, 118-19) and not on the edges of the Altar, as found in the halakha of the Sages, and to use special woods (as in Aramaic Levi and Jubilees). Wine on the fire together with the frankincense produce the sweet aroma, a requirement of every sacrifice. [Back to text]

15 Jub. 4:17 summarizes the Astronomical Book of I Enoch: Jub. 4:18 summarizes the Apocalypse of the Weeks found in the Epistle of Enoch. Jub. 4:19 summarizes the Book of the Dreams. Jub. 4:21 summarizes the second part of the Book of the Watchers. Jub. 4:23 summarizes chs. 106-107 at the end of the Epistle. See J. C. VanderKam, "Enoch Traditions in Jubilees and other Second-Century Sources," SBLSP (1978) 233-35; idem, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (CBQMS 16; Washington DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1984) 179-88; P. Garlo, "Henoch et ses écritures," RB 82 (1975) 481-88; J. T. Milik, The Book of Enoch, Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976) 25, 45, 61-62; F. García Martínez, Qumran and the Apocalyptic, 76. [Back to text]

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