Prof. Jan Willem Van-Henten: University of Amsterdam
Moses as Heavenly Messenger in As. Mos and Qumran Documents

The first section of the eschatological events in As.Mos. 10:1-10 concerns God_s manifestation, the disappearance of the devil and the vindication of the faithful (10:1-2). The interpretation of the messenger figure in 10:2 is notoriously difficult. Some scholars have argued that this messenger is an angel: either the archangel Michael who avenges Taxo and his sons (ch. 9), or an angelic mediator who conveys Taxo_s cry for vengeance to God (G. W. E. Nickelsburg; D. C. Carlson). Yet, the Assumption mentions neither such an angelic task elsewhere nor a cry for vengeance. Moreover, the phrase nuntius probably refers to a human messenger and not to an angel (angelus). The messenger_s "filling of his hands" is a technical phrase for the consecration of priests, an understanding which led Johannes Tromp to the hypothesis that Taxo himself was the messenger, consecrated as priest in heaven (JSJ 21[1990] 200-9). This makes Taxo the Levite into a suffering person who is vindicated posthumously in heaven. Yet, this reading also has its disadvantages, since it implies that Taxo fulfilled the vindication he asked for himself on earth. Therefore, a third interpretation may be taken into consideration. In another passage the Assumption explicitly mentions Moses as messenger (11:17) and hints at his role as intercessor for Israel (12:6). Like Taxo, Moses is of priestly descent. Thus, As.Mos. may refer in 10:2 to Moses as a messenger as well and presume his ascent to heaven before his acting as priestly intercessor on behalf of Israel at the eschaton. The second part of this paper will argue that descriptions of Moses in Qumran_passages like 4Q377ii support this interpretation.