By April 13, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

The Wicked Priest, The Man of Lies, and The Righteous Teacher – The Problem of Identity, William H. Brownlee, The Jewish Quarterly Review 73,1 (1982).

The Dead Sea Scrolls
How does one reconstruct a history of the Qumrân Community in relation to its enemies, when one knows them only from disparaging titles, such as “Wicked Priest,” “Man (or Prophet) of Lies”? It may be that the name of the Righteous Teacher was Judah, although that has been seldom recognized. The identity of these persons is important for the history of the Qumrân sect. The excavation of the Qumrân Community at Khirbet Qumran, near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, indicates the existence of the community by the close of the second century B.C.E., but nothing found so far proves its existence as early as the middle of that century, although one will have no serious quarrel on archaeological grounds with those who wish to push the establishment at Qumrân back that early. Palaeographic dating of the penmanship of the scrolls shows that some of the sectarian documents were probably composed no later than the last quarter of the second century B.C.E. Here are objective grounds for dismissing all theories of historical interpretation which do not at least begin the initial phases of the sect’s history in that century.

Thanks to the historical writings of Josephus and the books of I and II Maccabees, we know much of the history of the Jewish nation in the last two centuries B.C.E. It is clear from the description of the Wicked Priest in the ancient Commentary on Habakkuk (the Habakkuk Pesher) that he was one or more of the Hasmonean (Maccabean) chief priests of the Jews. He had the ability to attack foreign nations whose loot he took, whereas the pre-Hasmonean high priests were subservient militarily to the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. Moreover, he was viewed as a faithful adherent of the Truth at the beginning of his rule (1Q p Hab viii, 9=¶25, pp. 131 ff.), and that excludes the immediately preceding hellenizing chief priests who were popularly charged with compromising the Jewish faith.

Experience with the multifarious theories as to the real history involved should teach us that there is no quick and easy solution to all the problems of historical interpretation. Several simple solutions have been attempted, based upon a single approach. The first of these was that of Andre Dupont-Sommer, who sought to identify the Wicked Priest in relation to the Kittim, who were a foreign power engaged in worldwide conquest according to the Habakkuk Commentary. These were reasonably identified with the Romans at a moment of territorial expansion in the area bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea. At the coming of the Roman general Pompey to Judaea in 63 B.C.E., there were two contenders to the royal high priestly office at Jerusalem, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. What was more natural than that someone should try to interpret the allusions of the Scrolls in relation to these rulers? Dupont-Sommer applied the references to the Wicked Priest variously, now to the one and now to the other. Karl Elliger tried to improve upon this by arguing that all the historical allusions could refer to the single priest-king Aristobulus 11.

What is fatal to the theory of Dupont-Sommer is the fact that the Qumrân Community must have been established in the second century B.C.E., and that no texts bring any of the principal characters referred to in the Qumrân literature into association with the Kittim or their times. The Biblical commentaries from Qumrân always refer to the activities of the Wicked Priest and the Man of Lies as events of the past, speaking of them in the Hebrew perfect tense; whereas all references to the Kittim speak of them in the present or future tense, employing the Hebrew imperfect. Descriptions of the Kittim, although sufficient to establish their probable identity with the Romans, never describe their conquests with such specificity as to prove that they have as yet conquered Palestine. There is no mention of the capture of Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E., and the Habakkuk Commentary’s sole allusion to the Day of Atonement has nothing to do with the coming of Pompey. Many of the historical interpretations concerning the Wicked Priest and the Righteous Teacher were strained, but Dupont-Sommer and Elliger should not be blamed too much for this, for the study of the Scrolls was young and much of what we know now was then unknown.

The Wicked Priest in Popular View

Today we are in the presence of another widely trumpeted theory, which rests upon the easy assumption that there can be a quick and direct way to get at the identity of the Wicked Priest, who, it is supposed, must a priori be a single individua1. It starts with the unproved assumption that this man’s title, hak-kôhen hā-rāšā‘, does not mean “Wicked Priest” but rather “Illegitimate Priest.” In theory this might be possible, but none of the references to this man suggests his illegitimacy, and they all refer to his evil deeds. Nevertheless, it is this position which was advanced by Gert Jeremias and which has been followed by H. Stegemann and Jerome Murphy-O’Connor. This view must be considered in a much larger historical context.

In the view as developed by Murphy-O’Connor, the origin of the Qumrân Community must be sought in Babylonia, among a group of Jews living there and holding very stringent views about the Law but strongly influenced by Mesopatamian concepts, including Iranian ideas. After the successful Maccabean revolt led by Judas Maccabeus, these people were led to Palestine by a strong Zionist attraction to their ancestral homeland. There they became disillusioned with the largely Hellenized society and therefore maintained a separate existence. After the death of the pro-Greek chief priest Alcimus in 159 B.C.E., the high priestly office was officially left vacant, but in practice that was impossible; and so the pious recognized the Righteous Teacher, “almost certainly the senior member of the Zadokit family from which High Priests were traditionally drawn.” When in 152 B.C. King Alexander Epiphanes of Syria appointed Jonathan (a non-Zadokite) as chief priest, the Righteous Teacher was ousted and fled for his life to the Essenes, whom he joined, and from whom he led off a small group to establish the sectarian community of Khirbet Qumrân. Among the Essenes was another leader, who is dubbed by the sect of the Scrolls as “the Man (or Prophet) of Lies.” It was dissension between the Righteous Teacher and this other leader which led to schism within Essenes.
One difficulty with this view is that the Wicked Priest, according to the Habakkuk commentary, was looked upon with approval at the time of his accession and continued in favor until his greed for money led him to transgress the Law (1Q p Hab viii, 9-13=¶25, pp. 131 ff). Here was a wonderful opportunity for the interpreter to declare that the Wicked Priest had usurped the high priestly office and was non-Zadokite at that. Yet that is no issue at all in the passage which explains how he fell out of favor.

The most telling blow to many theories of the identity of the Wicked Priest is to be found in the multiple dooms which befall him, not all of which can be made to fit a single man in known history, nor in any history, if more than one of the dooms is fatal. Attempts to make the details fit the career of a single individual result in mistranslations and forced interpretations. The death of-the Wicked Priest through “evil diseases and vengeful acts on his body of flesh” (I Q p Hab ix, 2=¶26, pp. 145 ff.) obviously did not fit the fate of either Hyrcanus II or Aristobulus II, and so Dupont-Sommer supposed that this must refer to the martyrdom of the Righteous Teacher by “evil profaners,” or “evil piercers,” not by “evil diseases.”’ By not taking the diseases literally, Stegemann has applied this text to Jonathan, who was captured and executed by the Syrian general Trypho (I Macc. 13). Presumably he could have been tortured before his execution, although we know nothing of that. We do have examples of Hasmonean rulers who did die of disease, however. Most notable is Aristobulus I, whose one-year reign (104-03 B.C.E.) was full of constant pain from an intestinal disease. His successor Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.E.) died, according to Josephus, of quartan fever and alcoholism.

There is yet another passage (1Q p Hab xi, 8-17=¶32, pp.190 ff.) regarding the divine punishment of the Wicked Priest by disease which may point to Jannaeus, and which interprets Hab. 2-16 as follows-

Thou art more full of shame than of glory;

drink, thou too, and stagger.

The cup of the Lord’s right shall come round to thee,

and disgrace will be upon thy glory.

Its prophetic meaning concerns the priest whose shame surpassed his glory; for he did not circumcise the foreskin of his heart, but he walked in the ways of satiation in order to quench his thirst; but the cup of the wrath of [Go]d will make him reel, so as to hea[p upo]n [him the vomit of his sha]m[e] and the pain of [his sic]k[ness].

Many scholars have seen in this a probable reference to the death of Jannaeus, whose last days are described by Josephus as follows-

But after these conquests King Alexander fell ill from heavy drinking, and for three years he was afflicted with a quartan fever, but he did not give up campaigning until, being exhausted from his labors, he met death in the territory of the Gerasenes while besieging Ragaba, a fortress across the Jordan (Jewish Antiquities, XIII, xv, 5=§ 398).

On the other hand, Frank M. Cross, Jr., has interpreted this passage with reference to Simon, who was assassinated in 135 B.C., while drunk at a party given by his son-in-law Ptolemy in the fortress of Dok near Jericho (I Macc. 16-11-17). This, however, does not indicate that Simon habitually drank to excess and so “walked in the ways of satiation” or became ill from drinking.

The need for historical application of the text was dismissed by Jeremias, who argued that it is possible to interpret “the cup of the wrath of God” eschatologically, as in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 14-10; 16-19); and yet this metaphor is drawn from the Hebrew prophets who applied it to God’s historical judgments. The one argument in favor of the eschatological interpretation is the use of the Hebrew imperfect of the verb, as if referring to the future, in the threat “but the cup of the wrath of God will make him reel.” All references to the Kittim, however, are in the future (or at least in the imperfect), and they are not thereby made nonhistorical. As I argued in 1952, it is possible that there is a time line drawn through the historical allusions in the Habakkuk Commentary, all events fulfilled before the Teacher’s death being in the perfect tense, while all events thereafter are presented in the imperfect, as if the Teacher had predicted them. Quite apart from this, Jonathan was not known as a drunkard. One reads also in 4Q p Nahum iV,6 about “the wicked of Ephraim, whose cup will come after Manasseh.” In that scroll, as generally agreed, Ephraim is the party of the Pharisees (headed by Hyrcanus II) and Manasseh is the party of the Sadducees (headed by Aristobulus II). The background of this comment in the Nahum Commentary would seem to be a time when the Sadducees and their leader Aristobulus had been defeated and brought to ruin, and the text looks forward to a similar fate for the Pharisees.

There is a text where the doom of the Wicked Priest is eschatological; and yet Stegemann argues from it that the death of the Wicked Priest is described as taking place in a foreign land (1Q p Hab ix,12—x,5=¶ 28, pp. 158 ff.) He infers this from this priest’s judgment “in the midst of many peoples” (x,4). However, the punishment is twofold, once in Sheol and again after the resurrection, both of them, “in the midst of many peoples.” Of “the confines of many nations and the bonds of thine own soul” (which was midrashically read into the text of Hab. 2- 10) the commentary states-
This is the House of Damnation where, in the midst of many peoples, God will put His judgment; and from there He will raise him up for the judgment. Then in their midst He will pronounce him guilty and damn him with the fire of brimstone (x,4-5).

The priest has built himself a magnificent house with expropriated materials and probably also with forced labor; but he is to be hurled down from his earthly residence to the bet ha-mišpāt, known from the Book of Jubilees as a place of detention in Sheol. After being punished in that place, this priest is to be resurrected to undergo a punishment with fire and brimstone. Since this passage says nothing about how the Wicked Priest met his death, it might be applied to almost any Hasmonean priest, except that the text implies that this priest had built for himself an elevated and luxurious residence, from which he will be plunged into a very different kind of house of Sheol. John Hyrcanus warrants consideration here, for he built for himself a palatial residence next to the Temple, which Herod later remodelled into the Fortress of Antonia. All that we know about the death of Hyrcanus would indicate that he died a natural death. For this reason perhaps, his doom is described eschatologically, and not in terms of untoward circumstances which contributed to his demise.

To examine references to the doom of the Wicked Priest (or simply, “the priest”) is to open a Pandora’s box of evil plagues which are fatal to any theory of only a single priest, for they cannot be made to fit a single person, least of all Jonathan. At this point we may return to the Habakkuk Commentary and examine one more passage, ix,8-12 (=¶27, pp. 153 ff.), where it is said that “God gave him into the power of his enemies to afflict with blows and to waste away with the festering wounds of the soul.” There is nothing in this statement to suggest a sudden death by execution, even if, as in the case of the capture of Jonathan by Trypho, one were to think it possible that torture preceded execution. Nor is there anything in this statement to suggest that the enemies who administered these “blows” were non-Jews.

There is another passage, however, which does mention foreign foes of the Wicked Priest. This is 4Q p Pss iv, 7-10-

The wicked stalketh the righteous

and seeketh to slay him.

The Lord will not abandon him to his power,

or let him be condemned when he is tried

(Ps. 37-32-33).

Its prophetic meaning concerns the Wicked [Pries]t who st[alked] the Right[eous Teach]er [in order to sl]ay him, [and was traitorous to the Covenan]t and the law which he sent him; but God will not a[bandon him to his power], nor hold innocent the blood which he shed; but [God will ren]der to [him] his [de]sert, by giving him into the power of the most ruthless of nations, to wreak [vengeance] upon him…

It is a pity that this important historical text is so fragmentary, and that it breaks off before telling us just how “the most ruthless of nations” inflicted vengeance upon this Wicked Priest. On the face of it, this is the strongest text that can be quoted in favor of identifying the Wicked Priest with Jonathan; for it is easy to argue that “the most ruthless of nations” can refer only to the Seleucids of Syria, from whom the Jews had suffered so severely during the reign of Antiochus IV, especially during the period of the Temple’s desecration (167-64 B.C.) By interpreting this giving of the Wicked Priest “into the power of (or, the hand of)” these enemies as meaning the priest’s capture, it can be made to point precisely to Trypho’s capture of Jonathan by guile. However, as the passage from lQ p Hab ix, 8-12 shows, it is not certain that this power of the enemies “to wreak vengeance” resulted in the execution of the Wicked Priest, even though that was his intention with regard to the Righteous Teacher. Assuming, however, that this is the case would not force us to interpret all other passages in relation to Jonathan.

The expression “Wicked Priest,” as Elliger and I both recognized independently decades ago, involves a pun of hak-kôhen hā-rō’š (“the chief priest”) as hak-kôhen hā-rāšā‘ (“the wicked priest”). So understood, for purposes of historical identification, one may substitute “chief priest” for “Wicked Priest” (or “the Priest”) on every occasion and then try to infer his true identity from the description of him in each case.

It is dangerous to adopt an historical hypothesis at the outset and then adjust the translations and interpretations to fit it. One would wish to have an easy way to go about it, and have all references to the Wicked Priest refer always to the same individual. Nevertheless, in a wide ranging survey of possibilities which I gave in a lecture at the national meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research in December of 1948, I concluded that this could not be achieved. After my lecture Professor Millar Burrows spoke to me quietly on the side, cautioning me that a priori he would expect this title to refer always to the same individual; if in fact none of the chief priests of the first and second centuries B.C.E. could be made to conform to all the passages, perhaps we should consider the possibility of some unknown chief priest of the third century B.C.E. of whom we are at present ignorant. Yet when Burrows came to write his book The Dead Sea Scrolls, he reached exactly the same conclusion as I had argued for seven years earlier. A similar case of the same title applied to several persons is Dan. II, where from verse to verse one frequently encounters different identities for “the king of the north” and “the king of the south,” the historical allusions alone serving to identify each Seleucid and Ptolemaic king.

The Prophet of Lies in the Popular View

Another character calling for identification is variously called the Man of Lies and the Dripper of Lies. The latter term may also be translated Prophet of Lies or False Prophet, since the verb lying behind “dripper” is used in Scripture for the “distilling” of prophetic speech, as in Deut. 32-2. “Man of Lies” parodies the Old Testament title “man of God” for a prophet. Thus most probably both terms are synonyms for the same person. He is also called in the Damascus Covenant (i,14f.) “the man who dripped waters of falsehood to Israel.” As a misleader, he is the antithesis of the Righteous Teacher, whose name can also mean the True Guide; but since the Hebrew word môreh can mean “rain” as well as “teacher” and can even be rendered as a participle, “he who showers,” the two men may be contrasted as “he who drips lies” and “he who showers truth.” The latter is also the Righteous Teacher in antithesis to the Wicked Priest. Thus there are a multitude of nuances in the sobriquets used at Qumran, and they each have their own associations with Scripture which serve to enrich their meaning as well as to explain their origin.

Who then is this False Prophet? In 1952 I argued that he was the first in a series of Wicked Priests, namely John Hyrcanus, who ruled 134-104 B.C.E. Others joined me in his identification as the Prophet of Lies, but argued that the Wicked Priest was a single individual who appeared earlier in Judean history, probably Jonathan or his successor Simon. Although there were some who argued similarly before, Gert Jeremias made prominent the view that the Prophet of Lies was by no means a priestly ruler of the nation, but rather only a sectarian head of the Essenes, from whom the Righteous Teacher led off a special faction attached to himself. If this assessment of the place of the False Prophet is correct, it makes the task of identifying the major characters of Qumrân history easier, for there is now no need to seek out his identity among known Hasmonean rulers. He is simply a previously unknown man whose role may be defined, but not his identity.

If all we had to guide us to the identity of the False Prophet were the Damascus Covenant, the view of Jeremias and his followers (including most notably Stegemann and Murphy-O’Connor) would seem most reasonable, since that document never mentions the Wicked Priest and in general does not deal with contemporary political matters. Other documents, however, must be allowed to contribute their evidence. One important document which has been neglected in this matter, since it includes texts rather than their interpretations, is known as 4Q Testimonia. John Allegro gave this one-column (or one-page) document the name Testimonia, since it contains a collection of passages from the Pentateuch whose rationale from the standpoint of selection and arrangement can be explained on the basis that they set forth a tripartite doctrine of messianic expectation, the coming of a prophet like Moses, a priest like Aaron, and a king like David. The final paragraph, however, concerns “an accursed man, one of Belial,” who together with his sons is “a fowler’s snare to the people” and spills blood “on the breastwork of Lady Zion,” as they build and fortify Jerusalem. Not unnaturally, this accursed man has been identified with a Hasmonean ruler and his two sons, i.e., with the Wicked Priest and his oldest and youngest sons. Yet why should they be mentioned here?

In several public lectures since February 1972, I have explained the final paragraph of 4Q Testimonia as presenting us with a characterization of the False Prophet in antithesis to the True Prophet, the expected New Moses with whom the document begins. Since we all know that the False Prophet had already appeared and was the opponent of the Righteous Teacher, this antithesis implies that the expected Prophet who is like Moses has also appeared as the Righteous Teacher. Yet this equation had not been held a long time by the sect, for the Rule of the Community (or Manual of Discipline), which was copied by the same scribe as Testimonia, speaks of the prophet as yet to come (ix,11)—“until the coming of a prophet and the messiahs of Aaron and Israel.” It seems that at the time when these roughly contemporary documents were copied (between 100 and 70 B.C.E.), a new element of realized eschatology had entered the thinking of the Qumrân sect, so that now for the first time the Righteous Teacher becomes identified with the Prophet who is like Moses. The event which marked this innovation, I suggest, was the death of the Righteous Teacher and the discovery of his private meditations in the Hymn Scroll, which tended to support his identity with the new Moses. In any case, if we think of the Teacher as a prophet, his opponent, the “accursed man,” must also be viewed as a prophet. The passage seems to present us with the Prophet of Lies and his two sons in a development from Josh. 6-26, presented in a poetic passage appearing also at Qumrân at the end of a previously unknown document, the Psalms of Joshua.

If, then, the final paragraph of Testimonia is crucial for the identification of the Righteous Teacher’s enemies, it behooves us to look at is carefully-

21 At that time, when Joshua had finished giving praise

22 and thanks in his psalms, / he said-

Cursed be that man who builds this city.

23 By his firstborn / will he lay its foundation,

and by his youngest son will he set up its gates;

for behold, an accursed man,

24 Belial’s own, / will take office

to become the “fowler’s snare” to his people

and ruination to all his neighbors./

25 Then will [one] of [his sons] take office, [and another],

that both of them may be instruments of violence.

26 They will build again / this city

and establish for it a wall and towers

27 to provide a refuge for wickedness / [in the land

and great evil] in Israel

for the horrible in Ephraim

28 and / [the abominable] in Judah.

[They will cau]se pollution in the land

29 and great contempt among the sons of / [Jacob.

They will pour out bloo]d like water

on the breastwork of Lady Zion,

30 within the limits of / Jerusalem.

In the original curse, as recorded in the traditional Hebrew text, Joshua said, “Cursed before Yahweh be the man that rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his first-born shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.” The meaning of the passage is entirely removed from Jericho in the new literary development; and the eldest and youngest sons are not sacrificed but are, along with their father, instrumental in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, as both sons them¬selves become “instruments of violence” (line 25). Clearly, we have here one of the priestly rulers of Jerusalem becoming a “fowler’s snare to his people” (line 24); and this echoes a charge against faithless prophets of Israel in Hos. 9-8, which qualifies him as the False Prophet. His two sons succeeded him in office and maintained his policies.

The man upon whom Joshua’s curse fell for rebuilding Jericho was Hiel (I Kings 16-34), who undertook this work in the reign of Ahab. Jewish legend connected him with the Baalistic apostasy of Ahab’s reign. When the prophets of Baal were challenged to draw miraculous fire upon their altar through divine intervention (I Kings 18-20-35), Hiel hid inside a cavity of the altar and struck flints to kindle the fire. A painting of this scene in the ancient synagogue of Dura-Europus depicts Hiel inside the altar pit, preparing to do this. A huge serpent appears on the scene, presumably to attack Hiel in fulfillment of Amos 9-3-

Though they hide themselves on top of Carmel,

from there I will search out and take them;

and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,

there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.

The appearance of the serpent in the painting of the synagogue may portray Baal as actually coming when invoked, but he can only carry out God’s own command. If so, Baal as the serpent is also Satan; just as Beelzebul in the New Testament is the prince of the demons.

Hiel in his chicanery is certainly a Man of Lies, and being associated with the false prophets of Baal is presumably himself a false prophet. Yet Kraeling states that his clothing identifies him rather “as a member either of the court or of the priesthood.” The new Hiel of whom 4Q Testimonia speaks rebuilds Jerusalem and acts as both false prophet and Wicked Priest.

The charge of being a murderous builder of Jerusalem is made against the Prophet of Lies in 1Q p Hab x,S-13 (=¶29, pp. 167 ff.). Its interpretation of Hab. 2- 12-13 reads as follows-

The prophetic meaning of the passage concerns the Prophet of Lies, who beguiled many into building through bloodshed his city of vanity, and into erecting through falsehood a congregation for enhancing its glory. He thereby forced many into tiresome toil at his labor of vanity and sated them with [wor]ks of falsehood, so that their travail should be to no avail, with the result that they should enter the judgments of fire, since they have reviled and insulted the elect of God.

The False Prophet is charged with two types of building, the physical building of “his city of vanity” and the spiritual “erecting through falsehood a congregation.” There is no reasonable way to try to equate these two parallel building operations as one, the spiritual. The False’ Prophet is charged with the shaping and strengthening of both the external and internal aspects of the city; and the builder uses forced labor, after much bloodshed, in achieving his goals. There is really no room for doubt that “his city of vanity” is Jerusalem and not a place similar to Khirbet Qumran. In any case, 4Q Testimonia should remove all doubt, It may be that the False Prophet is being charged with turning Jerusalem into a Greek city-state, “the congregation for enhancing its glory” being the Sanhedrin which corresponds to the Greek gerousia.

The only Hasmonean ruler of whom we have a tradition that he had the gift of prophecy is John Hyrcanus, of whom Josephus wrote (JA, XIII, x, 7 =§300), “Now he was accounted by God worthy of three of the greatest privileges, the rule of the nation, the office of high-priest, and the gift of prophecy; for the Deity was with him and enabled him to foresee and foretell the future; so, for example, he foretold of his two elder sons that they would not remain masters of the state. And the story of their downfall is worth relating.” It is this man and his two sons who succeeded him in office with whom the historical allusions need to be worked out.

Reconstructing the History

Having cleared away a number of misconceptions, let us now move on to the task of reconstructing history as it can be reconstructed from numerous pieces of historical allusion. First of all, let us consider the general framework into which this history is to be fitted. The Damascus Document, in its first page, contains a poetic exhortation and admonition to those “who know righteousness” to remain loyal to the Law. Interpolated into it is a prosaic chronology based on Ezek. 4-5, with its 390 years of exile for Israel (CDC i,5)-

And in the age of wrath, three hundred and ninety years after He had given them into the hand of king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, He visited them, and He caused a plant root to spring from Israel and Aaron to inherit His Land and to prosper on the good things of His earth.

The earliest attempt to interpret the 390 years was to subtract this figure from 586 B.C., the presumed date of the final capture of Jerusalem by Babylon, in order to arrive at 196 B.C. Assuming that the Jews had a good grasp of the chronology of the post-Exilic period (which they did not), this calculation would at least point to the early second century B.C.E., even if taken simply as a round number. R. H. Charles thought that this was the date of the rise of the Hasidim (Chasideans), the pietists from whom the Maccabees sprang. In fact, II Maccabees 14-6 makes Judas their leader. A careful reading of the text, however, defines this terminus as the time when Israel and Aaron inherit the Lord’s land, after being deprived of it for 390 years. One is not concerned here with sectarian or religious history but with national history. The Jews did not become a recognized independent state before the time of Jonathan, when in 152 B.C.E. the high priest¬hood was conferred upon Jonathan by King Alexander (I Macc. 10-20f.). Even then this was only quasi-independence, for Jonathan was an appointee of Alexander. A more dramatic event is that of 143 B.C.E., when King Demetrius granted Simon virtual autonomy (I Macc. 13-36-40). The result of this is described as follows-

In the one hundred and seventieth year of the Seleucid kingdom the yoke of the Gentiles was removed from Israel, and the people began to write in their documents and contracts, “In the first year of Simon the great high priest and commander and leader of the Jews” (13-41f.).

The date 140 B.C. might also be suggested as a possible variation, since it was three years later that “the great assembly of the priests and the people and the rulers of the nation and the elders of the country” officially recognized Simon’s right to rule, acknowledging “that Simon should be their leader and high priest forever, until a trustworthy prophet should arise, and that he should be governor over them.” (I Macc. 14-25-48, especially 4 1f.). This was to be only an interim arrangement until the expected Prophet who is like Moses shall have appeared (or possibly until Elijah shall have returned) to give definitive direction to the society. It may be that one of the issues had been the non-Zadokite lineage of the Maccabees, even though their Aaronic descent would satisfy the Torah. In any case, the people accepted this establishment of the line of Simon, so that he became the progenitor of a dynasty both as ruler and as high priest.

Its prophetic meaning concerns the Wicked Priest who was considered a member of the Truth Party (and called by the Name of Truth) at the beginning of his rule; but while he bore rule over Israel, his heart became haughty and he abandoned God and became a traitor to the statutes because of wealth; and he robbed and amassed the wealth of the apostates who rebelled against God; and the wealth of the peoples he took, so as to increase the guilt of transgression upon himself; and abominable behavior he commited, with every kind of defiling impurity.

The Qumrân commentaries (or pĕšārîm) cannot be easily translated; for one cannot rightly translate the Biblical quotation until he discerns the verbal plays and forced construction that the ancient intepreter imposed upon it in arriving at his explanations. Likewise, one cannot translate the pĕšer (interpretative) material correctly, until he sees how it is rooted in, and derived from, the quotation. It sometimes takes decades of wrestling with a text before it yields up its meaning. It is not surprising, therefore, that superficial perceptions of the texts underlie most attempts to interpret the historical allusions. The efforts are premature, not so much because other texts yet to be published will shed new light on history, as because the texts already published are not yet fully understood. In the translations given above and elsewhere in this article, it is necessary to consult my commentary to justify some of their features. Yet in any translation it is the lust for wealth which has made a traitor of the Wicked Priest, and nothing is said of the usurpation of an office which did not belong to him.

These 390 years were followed by twenty years of groping, when “for twenty years they were like blind men groping for the way.” There were intense messianic expectations, and the prosperity and peace which followed many years of war are described in an encomium which lauds Simon in language loaded with messianic overtones (I Macc. 14-4-15). At this time there were probably many Jewish immigrants from the Diaspora, and it could be that a large company of Jews from Babylonia returned at this time and eventually became part of the milieu from which the Qumrân community eventually sprang. It was this period of high expectation and of frequent disappointment on the part of the pious that is described as the twenty years of groping after the way. At the end of the twenty years, “God raised up for them a Righteous Teacher to guide them in the way of His heart.” If, then, we count twenty years from anyone of the above mentioned dates (152, 143, or 140 B.C.E.), we find ourselves in the period of the rule of John Hyrcanus, 134-104 B.C.E. This is in full agreement with the archaeological remains of Khirbet Qumran, where nothing found requires a religious establishment there earlier than the last quarter of the second century B.C.E.

Against the background of these general considerations of chronology, one must set the historical allusions of the Habakkuk Commentary. A key passage is viii, 3-13 (¶25, pp. 131 ff.)-

Wealth, alas, will make a traitor

of the man in high office,

and he will not stay home in the fold;

for it hath made him feel big as Sheol;

and he, like death, cannot be sated.

All nations have been gathered to him,

and all peoples have been amassed to him.

Will they not all intone a burden concerning him?

and, its composers taunt him with riddles

as they sing-

“Alas for him who heapeth up what is not his own

(nor his to own)!

How long will he bring over himself the glory clouds

(nay, gory clods) of dirt?” (Hab. 2-5-6).

The high claim that the Wicked Priest had at first been “called by the Name of truth” (bore the name of God Himself as the insignia of his priestly crown) and belonged to the “men of truth” (and so was “a member of the Truth Party”), from which he later defected out of greed, is very high praise for him at the beginning of his rule.

What is it that made the Essenes look with such high favor upon him at that time? John Hyrcanus came to power as a result of the assassination of his father Simon, at a time when his mother and brothers were captives of his brother-in-law Ptolemy at the Fortress Dok. At the same time he was shortly under siege in Jerusalem by Antiochus Sidetes. During both military conflicts he conducted himself with piety. He sought a truce of seven days during the siege in order to observe the festival of Tabernacles, and “Antiochus, deferring to his piety toward the Deity, granted this, granted this and moreover sent a magnificent sacrifice” (JA, XIII, viii,2=§242). Hyrcanus’ efforts to free his mother and brothers from Ptolemy were constantly stymied by threats to their lives, so that Hyrcanus did not press the siege continuously, and when the Sabbatical year came round, he gave it up. Earlier Maccabees had fought during the Sabbatical year, when crops were not planted and harvested (I Macc. 6-49, 53); but John Hyrcanus adhered to the same legal stringency that the people of Qumrân maintained. According to the Military Manual of the sect, one does not fight during a Sabbatical year.

Hyrcanus’ strictness in observing the festivals was shown when he accompanied Antiochus Sidetes in his Parthian campaign. He refused to allow his men to march on the Sabbath and on the Feast of Weeks, which the Jews called in Greek Pentecost. Concerning this Josephus (JA XIII, viii, 4=§§249-252) says that

On this we have the testimony of Nicolas of Damascus. who writes as follows. “After defeating Indates, the Parthian general, and setting up a trophy at the Lycus River, Antiochus remained there two days at the request of the Jew Hyrcanus because of a festival of his nation, on which it was not customary for the Jews to march out.” Nor does he speak falsely in saying this; for the festival of Pentecost had come round, following the Sabbath, and we are not permitted to march either on the Sabbath or on a festival.

Ralph Marcus has called attention to an observation by Reinach that this passage may be significant for the question of Hyrcanus’ relations with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, “if we assume that Pentecost fell on the first day of the week (Sunday) not by accident, but by intention, as in the Sadducean system, based on a literal interpretation of Leviticus xxiii, 11 ff.” This, however, we now know, was also a feature of the calendar of Qumrân, and its adherents opposed fighting on the Sabbath or on a festival.

Thus we have a whole series of acts dealing with the piety of Hyrcanus in careful observance of the festivals, and we even have a subtle hint that he may have observed the calendar of Qumran. It is piety of this kind which would justify the high praise that the Wicked Priest was at first “a member of the Truth Party” during his early years as high priest. The “men of Truth” at this stage of history were not strictly speaking the Essenes but the Hasidim, who had not yet been fully differentiated into the later Essenes and Pharisees, even though there were different schools of thought among them. The later Pharisees claimed that Hyrcanus was a Pharisee noted for his piety, until late in his rule he turned to the Sadducees. Contrariwise, the Essenes could claim that at first he was an Essene. The truth was rather that he was one of the Hasidim, and that from time to time he may have shifted loyalties from one party of the Hasidim to another; but it is entirely possible that for a time he followed the Qumrân calendar, which pleased the faction that later emerged as the Essenes.
When Hyrcanus “abandoned God and became a traitor to the statutes because of wealth,” it would appear that he was probably relaxing the rule of never fighting on the Sabbath, on a Festival, or in a Sabbatical year. There is another tradition which illustrates Hyrcanus’ reputation for cupidity (loc. cit., §249)-

Hyrcanus also opened the tomb of David, who surpassed all other kings in wealth, and took out three thousand talents of silver, and drawing on this sum, became the first Jewish king to support foreign troops.

We may be skeptical about the tomb of David being findable and containing so much wealth; but sacrilege of this kind was not to be alleged lightly.

In his wars the Wicked Priest amassed two kinds of wealth- that of “apostates who rebelled against God” and that “of the peoples.” These apostates are most probably the Samaritans, whom Hyrcanus attacked at Shechem in 127 B.C.E., destroying their temple, and again late in his rule when he suppressed a revolt there. The record is replete with accounts of his attacks upon the Gentile populations of Palestine and nearby Transjordan. All of these wars served to fill the royal treasury. Inter-Seleucid fighting among rivals for the Syrian throne also “gave Hyrcanus leisure to exploit Judaea undisturbed, with the result that he amassed a limitless sum of money” (JA, XIII, x, 1=§273). Part of this “leisure” was used to subjugate and exploit the Gentile populations of Palestine and not only to amass tax revenues which he no longer needed to share with the Syrian overlord, as had been the case under Antiochus Sidetes.

So impressive is the ascription of 1 Q P Hab ¶25 to Hyrcanus, that even J. T. Milik accepted it, except that in his view later commentators “mixed up the characteristics of the two persecutors” (Jonathan and Hyrcanus) and so wrote “the Wicked Priest” in viii,9, when they should have written “the Prophet of Lies” (with Hyrcanus in mind). However, if “Wicked Priest” means “Chief Priest” and can refer to more than one individual, the commentary makes no mistake at all. Hyrcanus, as we would say in English, “wore two hats.” The commentators clearly distinguish the two roles by choosing in each case the more appropriate title. For this reason he is called “Wicked Priest” in viii,9, for it is in this capacity that he ruled the nation and administered the Temple cult.

Yet Hyrcanus does appear also in the capacity of False Prophet. We have already quoted one such passage, 1Q p Hab. x,9-13 (¶29, p. 167). There it is said that the Prophet of Lies “beguiled many into building through bloodshed his city of vanity.” When he first came to power, Hyrcanus was shut up inside Jerusalem by Antiochus Sidetes, and when they reached a peace agreement, it included the right of Antiochus Sidetes to tear down the walls surrounding Jerusalem (JA, XIII, viii, 3=§247). This was the occasion for Hyrcanus to “build again this city and establish for it a wall and towers,” as 4Q Testimonia states of the “accursed man, Belial’s own.” I Macc. 16-23 also concludes the account of Hyrcanus’ career with a reference to “the building of the walls which he built.” False prophets are said by Ezekiel to “have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the Lord” (13-3). This language is metaphorical. The False Prophet of Qumran’s castigation is charged with having done this physically but not spiritually. The congregation which he erects within those physical walls is one which was built up through false teaching. Perhaps in another sense he and his followers are “builders of the wall” in the Damascus Covenant (iv, 19f; viii, 12f., 18f = Zadokite Work 7-1; 9-21 26). This has reminded many of the Rabbinic dictum “Make a fence for the Torah” (Ab. 1-1); and yet, in view of the passages in Testimonia and the Habakkuk Commentary, we cannot rule out a wider connotation.

The Prophet of Lies and the Righteous Teacher appear to have been rival charismatic leaders among the Hasidim—the one holding the reins of the government, while the other functioned as a bitter critic on the outside. Those who “did not believe the words of the Teacher of Right (which came) from the mouth of God” are branded as “traitors along with the Man of Lies (JQ p Hab ii,1f.=¶7, pp. 53ff.). These followers of the False Prophet were no mere rival sect, but included “men of war who walked with the Man of Lies about forty years” (Damascus Covenant xx, 14f. = 9-39); and Hyrcanus, who was the only Hasmonean to rule for as long as thirty years, was made commander of the coastal army of his father Simon as early as 141 B.C.E. (I Macc. 13-51-53), so that by the time he died (104 B.C.E.) “the men of war” had walked with him for thirty-eight years by inclusive reckoning, in precise agreement with Deut. 2- 14.

A direct personal clash between these two men is referred to in lQ p Hab v,8-12 (¶17, pp. 91ff)-

Why, O traitors, will ye look on,

or thou keep silent?

while a wicked man overwhelmeth

one more righteous than he (Hab. 1-13b).

Its prophetic meaning concerns the house of Absalom and the men of their council, who kept quiet at the time of the reproof by the Teacher of Right and did not help him against the Man of Lies, who had rejected the Law in the midst of their whole c[ongregatio]n.

The rendering here of “Teacher of Right,” rather than “Righteous Teacher” is intended to bring out the antithesis between this title and “the Man of Lies.” In the spring of 1952 both D. Barthelemy and I, independently, called attention to the similarity of this event to one which took place near the close of the rule of Hyrcanus, and which Josephus records (JA, XIII, x,5-6 = §§288¬-298). He states that Hyrcanus was greatly beloved of the Pharisees until late in his reign, when in response to his question about the Pharisaic opinion of his character, one Pharisee imprudently called upon Hyrcanus to relinquish the high priesthood and be content with governing the people. Sadducean intrigue persuaded Hyrcanus that this demand had been made with the approval of the Pharisees. In order to test this, the pharisaically dominated Sanhedrin was called upon to try the man. The imposition of the death penalty would disprove the charge of their complicity, while a light sentence would reveal it. The Sanhedrin voted for “stripes and chains,” a sentence so light that it provoked Hyrcanus “to join the Sadducean party and desert the Pharisees, and to abrogate the regulations which he had established for the people, and to punish those who observed them.”

This same incident could be viewed differently by the partisans of this audacious critic of John Hyrcanus. The Pharisees were guilty of a conspiracy of silence when in the first place they did not join in the criticism of Hyrcanus, and later on when they did not defend the hostile critic during the trial but voted for his scourging and imprisonment. Their turning against a fellow Hasid was like the treachery of Absalom who rebelled against his father, and their silence was like Absalom’s silence before he slew his brother (II Sam. 13-22). The events described in the scroll and by Josephus are at least analogous, since the Scroll brands the Teacher’s adversaries as “the house of Absalom and the men of their council who kept quiet at the time of the reproof by the Teacher of Right.” The consequence was a repudiation of the Law. The Man of Lies “Rejected the Law in the midst of their whole c[ongregatio]n” (in a meeting of the Sanhedrin?), and Hyrcanus decided “to abrogate the regulations” (apparently the Oral Law of the Pharisees).

A variant version of this event is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (B.Kid. 66a). The man rebuked is Jannaeus, not John; and the man who rebuked him is Judah son of Jedidiah, whereas Josephus gives his name as Eleazar. There is also an Eleazar in the Talmudic account, who is a Sadducean adviser. Other evidence in the Talmud points to the breach with the Pharisees having taken place during the rule of Hyrcanus and not that of Jannaeus. B.Ber. 29a declares that John Hyrcanus “at last became a Sadducee,” and Rabba is quoted there as saying- “Jannaeus was originally a wicked person, but John was originally a righteous person.” Consequently most scholars believe that Josephus is correct in dating this breach in the time of Hyrcanus.

An objection to seeing in this story the event referred to in the Habakkuk Commentary is that one would suppose that Hyrcanus’ critic was a Pharisee, not an Essene. Josephus, however, describes him as a man “who had an evil nature and took pleasure in dissention” (JA, §291). If this was his reputation, he was already noted for his schismatic temperament, and it does not stretch one’s credulity to consider the possibility that this man was indeed a founder of the Essene movement, and that this story focuses upon the point in history when the breach between him and the Pharisees became complete. Pharisees and Essenes are probably to be viewed as both springing from the Hasidim, and sharing a number of common practices and beliefs, despite some sharp differences. Chaim Rabin has even argued that the sectaries of the Qumrân Scrolls were Pharisees. If the story of Hyrcanus’ rebuke does not refer to the same incident recorded in the Habakkuk Commentary, it is at least a striking illustration of the sort of event referred to in the scroll. In his capacity as prophet, Hyrcanus is said to have heard the divine voice while ministering in the Temple (JA, XIII,x,3, at §282), It is said in a commentary upon Ps, 37, at the end of its first preserved column, that “the Man of Lies beguiled many with words of [fa]lsehood; for they chose vanities and did not lis[ten] to the Spokesman of Knowledge.” This Spokesman is doubtless the Righteous Teacher (or Teacher of Right); and the Man of Lies appears here in his usual role as the one who misleads the people. Very suggestive is the statement that his followers “chose vanities” (qālôt); since this is said in antithesis to listening to the Spokesman of Knowledge, one may suspect here a pun on qōlôt, “voices.” They chose to listen to a man accredited by hearing “voices” from God, rather than to listen to God’s own appointed Spokesman.

Two consecutive pericopes in the second column of this pĕšer on Ps. 37 are also best interpreted in the light of the religious conflicts at the close of Hyrcanus’ rule, The first of these is a commentary upon verses 12-13, which states (ii,12-14)-

Its prophetic meaning concerns the violators of the covenant in the house of Judah, who will plot to destroy the doers of the Law who are in the Council of the Community; but God will not abandon them into their hand.

The second pericope, after quoting verses 14-15 (ii,17-19), states-

Its prophetic meaning concerns the wicked of Ephraim and Manasseh who will seek to lay hands on the Priest and the men of his council, in the time of refining which is coming upon them; but God will deliver them from their hand, and afterward they will be given into the power of the most ruthless of nations for judgment.

It is not alone their consecutiveness which suggests that these passages should be taken together, but also the similar phrasing of their promises of salvation for the people of God. In the former, this is stated negatively, “God will not abandon them into their hand”; in the latter, this is stated positively, “God will deliver them from their hand.” By this approach we may identify these “violators of the covenant in the house of Judah” with “the wicked of Ephraim and Manasseh.” It is true that “house of Judah” sometimes means the Qumrân sect, but in this case “in the house of Judah” is antithetical to “in the Council of the Community,” with the latter as a designation of the sect which appears most commonly in the Rule of the Community. The “violators of the covenant” are thereby shown to belong to the generation of the Priest who is the Righteous Teacher as is made explicit in iii,15 of this document. This differs from 1Q p Hab ii,6 where “the violators of the covenant” seem to refer to a later generation. Similarly, in 4Q p Nahum, Ephraim and Manasseh appear to be the Pharisees and the Sadducees in the period of civil and religious strife of Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II; but here these terms are applied to the earlier period of the Teacher.

What these passages therefore require is a time of agreement between the Pharisee and the Sadducees to persecute the Righteous Teacher. The historical reminiscence most agreeable to this situation is that of 1Q p Hab v, 8-12 (¶17), which is explained directly above. There “the house of Absalom” appears as a sobriquet of the Pharisees, who by their conspiratory silence become implicated with the Wicked Priest in his attempt to “overwhelm” (or “swallow up”) the Righteous Teacher. When this event is explained in relation to the rift at the close of Hyrcanus’ rule, one notes that though at first the Pharisaic members of the Sanhedrin were silent, in the end they voted that Hyrcanus’ rebuker should be punished by being chained and imprisoned. This implicated the Ephraim party with seeking to lay hands on the Righteous Teacher. The Sadducees, on the other hand, sought the execution of this rebuker. This implicated Manasseh. Thus what 4Q p Pssa declares is that both of these hostile parties will be given into the hands of foreign foes for punishment. For the fulfillment of this “prophecy” one will need to await events in the reign of Jannaeus.

One peculiarity of the pēśer on Ps. 37 is its anomalous usage of the Hebrew imperfect in describing historical events, as if in the future. This cannot be explained, as in the Habakkuk Midrash, as intended to depict events subsequent to the Teacher’s life, which he himself had prophesied; for “the Priest” predicted in ii,18 is the Teacher himself. It may, therefore, be that this document lapses into the imperfect as predictive of events from the standpoint of the Biblical author, the prophet David. Some of the imperfects are eschatological, to be sure, but not all can be so. Nor can they all be intended to indicate continuous action. This pēśer uses also the perfect tense for historical events, so it appears to be inconsistent.

Leaving Hyrcanus behind, let us move on to his son and successor, Aristobulus I, who associated with himself in his rule another son, Antigonus. Aristobulus was afflicted with an intestinal disease throughout his one-year rule (104-103 B.C.E.), and his brother, who led a military campaign in Galilee, was assassinated in fulfillment of the prophecy of one Judas the Essene. If, as suggested above, this ruler is referred to by 1Q p Hab in viii, 13-ix,2 (¶26, pp. 145 ff.), all we know about his character is that he was “the priest who rebelled [and abroga]ted the ordinances of [God].” This characterization is consistent with his perpetuation of the pro-Sadducean policy which he inherited from his father. The description of Judas the Essene as teaching how to predict the future, and of his hostility toward Antigonus, reminds us of the Qumrân pĕšārîm in their constant drawing out of predictions of recent history in Scripture. It is surprising to find him in the Temple; but perhaps Essene withdrawal from the Temple was not yet total. Moreover, this Judas is presented as an old man, whose career may well have begun some decades earlier. His name Judas (Judah in Hebrew) is also the same as the name of the man who rebuked Jannaeus in the Rabbinic account of the Hasmonean break with the Pharisees. There is nothing in these stories which would suggest their identity, and Judah was a common Jewish name. Yet, if we are looking in history for the identity of the Righteous Teacher, we have to confess that this is the only Essene teacher from the second century B.C.E., whose name is given to us in any history. There is also the further fact that in two or three scrolls we may find allusions to the Teacher’s name being Judah.

In the Habakkuk Commentary xii,4f., the original scribe wrote- “The ‘livestock’ are the simple of Judah, the doers of the Law.” There would seem to be nothing wrong with this statement, for members of the sect are sometimes called “doers of the Law.” However, a corrector has changed this to the singular, as if to say “the simple of Judah the Law Doer.” “Doer of the Law,” moreover, is one of many suggested etymologies for the name Essene. Does the passage speak of the disciples of Judas the Essene?

Similarly, we may examine a commentary on Micah 1-5 which says- ‘‘‘And what are the heights of Judah, [are they not Jerusalem?’ Its prophetic meaning con]cerns the Teacher of Right who is [an interpreter of knowledge to] his [Council] and to a[l]l who volunteer to join the elect of [God].” In the Hymn Scroll also, many whose compositions are ascribed by scholars to the Righteous Teacher, we have the habitual beginning of each hymn with the words “I thank Thee, Adonai, because…” This is most peculiar in the use of the divine name Adonai, a common Biblical surrogate for the ineffable Yahweh; for in the sectarian literature of Qumrân this name is also generally avoided, the customary divine name being El (“God”). One may explain the use of Adonai here as part of a pun on the name Judah, for when the patriarch Judah was named, his mother Leah said “This time, I thank Yahweh” (Gen. 29-35), and “therefore she called his name Judah.” Thus it is conceivable that the Teacher gives an allusory signature to this group of personal thanksgiving psalms by the way he begins each one. Not even when combined do all these texts prove that the Righteous Teacher was Judas the Essene, but they strongly suggest the probability of it.

We now come to Alexander Jannaeus who reigned 103-76 B.C. Being wicked from the start as pro-Sadducean, he soon found himself in conflict with the Pharisees and there was open war. After several years of civil war, at about 88 B.C.E., they invited Demetrius III of Syria to join them in an attack on Alexander. This event is referred to in the Commentary on Nahum, in which Demetrius is mentioned by name, Jannaeus is called “the Lion of Wrath,” and the Pharisees are called “the expounders of smooth things” in a pun of halākôt (Pharisaic legal norms) as halākôt, “smooth things.” His crucifixion of eight hundred Pharisees seems also to be mentioned, perhaps with approval. The document then passes on to the period of conflicts between Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, without even once mentioning the Wicked Priest, the False Prophet, or the Righteous Teacher. This is no accident, for there is nothing to suggest that the Righteous Teacher was still living as late as 88 B.C.E. The place where one would expect any further descriptions of conflict between the Teacher and the Wicked Priest is in the pēšer material explaining Nah. 1-7-2-11, where the early part of Jannaeus’ reign may have been treated. Unfortunately all of that material is lost, so that for Jannaeus as Wicked Priest we must rely upon the Habakkuk Commentary alone.

We have already seen a probable reference to his death by drunkenness and disease (1Q p Hab xi,8-17=¶32, pp. 190 ff.), with is reeling through “the cup of the wrath of God” spoken of as if in the future, since this is subsequent to the death of the Righteous Teacher. We have also glanced briefly at ix, 8-12 (¶27, pp. 153 ff.), where the Wicked Priest is said to have been subjected to humiliating “blows,” without any indication that they were mortal. It is in this latter passage which we wish to examine again, this time in connection with xi,17-xii,10 (¶33, pp. 196 ff.). What binds these two passages together is their interpretation of the same refrain (Hab. 2-8b = 2-17b), which is translated in the Revised Standard Version as “for the blood of men and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell therein.” The assumption of the interpreter is that the inspiring Spirit would not have repeated this half-verse if it meant exactly the same thing both times. On the other hand, he was aware of another hermeneutic principle which the ancient Rabbis called gĕzērâh shāwâh, that portions of text which are identical or similar in their phrasing should be explained in relation to each other.” Consequently, the commentator derived his meaning of the refrain by working with the subjective genitive the first time (¶27) and with the objective genitive the second time (¶33) and used them to refer to the same event.

With the subjective genitive, the refrain in Hab. 2-8b was made to mean-

Because of (the shedding of) lowly men’s blood,

there was hostility from the land,

from the city and all who dwell in it.

As a result of this interpretation, the application follows-

Its prophetic meaning concerns the [Wi]cked Priest, whom (for an offense against the Righteous Teacher and the men of his council) God gave into the power of his enemies, to afflict with blows and to waste away with the festering wounds of the soul, because he had done evil against His elect.

This does not refer to any affliction from some foreign power but to an internal uprising from within “the land” of Israel-not “from the earth,” though the same word is capable of meaning either “land” or “earth “-and “from the city,” Jerusalem. This is a probable allusion to the well known event in which the people from the land were all gathered at Jerusalem to celebrate Tabernacles (Sukkôt). When Jannaeus was standing by the altar and preparing to offer sacrifices, the people pelted him with citrons. The Commentary does not call this the Feast of Tabernacles, since in the Essene calendar the festival as truly observed would fall on another date.

With the objective genitive, the refrain in 2-17b was contorted to mean-

By (shedding) lowly men’s blood,

amid pillages of the land,

the city’s (blood) as of all its inhabitants.

The pēšer on this portion of text is-

As for that which He said,

By the city’s blood,

amid pillages of the land,

its prophetic meaning is- “The city” is Jerusalem, wherein the Wicked Priest wrought works of abomination and defiled the sanctuary of God; and the “pillages of the land” are the towns of Judah where he seized the possessions of the poor.

There are curious choices of new meanings and new constructions placed upon the refrain which certainly prevent it from meaning exactly the same as the same words in the earlier passage of Habakkuk; and yet this passage is startlingly illuminated when applied to the same event. In the earlier passage, the bloodshed takes place outside Jerusalem and provokes an attack on the Wicked Priest at the festival held in Jerusalem. In this passage we see the consequence, the shedding of “the city’s blood” by the Wicked Priest, who thereby “defiled the sanctuary of God.”

Concerning this uprising in the Temple, Josephus relates-

It was thought that he would never have quelled this conspiracy, had not his mercenaries come to his aid. These were natives of Pisidia and Cilicia, Syrians he did not admit to the force on account of their innate hatred of his nation. After slaying upwards of six thousand of the insurgents, he attacked Arabia. (Jewish Wars l,iv,3 = §89).

The same figure of six thousand slain in the Temple is given by Josephus in Jewish Antiquities (XIII, xiii, 5 = §373), where he states that Jannaeus thereafter erected a wooden barrier around the altar to protect him from the crowds. If even one-tenth this many people were killed, many of them must have been armed with missiles more damaging than citrons; and some of these missiles must have hit their mark. The “blows” suffered must have been severe, and therefore the humiliation of this uprising lingered on during his remaining years of life as “the festering wounds of the soul” (lQ p Hab ix,11).

What had all this to do with the Righteous Teacher and the Essenes? Although nothi

Post a Comment