4QMysteries(b), A Preliminary Edition, Lawrence H. Schiffman, Revue de Qumran 16, p. 203-223.


The texts entitled “Mysteries” consist of four manuscripts. Three of these, 1Q27, 4Q299 (4QMysta), and 4Q300 (4QMystb) can definitely be shown to be one and the same text. The fourth, 4Q301 (4QMystc), was classified as part of this same composition by J. T Milik, although no definite overlap in text exists. The close parallels between this last text and hekhalot literature, parallels not found in the other three manuscripts, have me to take a more cautious view of this matter, and accordingly, I prefer to reserve judgment on the relevance of 4Q301 at this time.

It is certain that this work is of similar genre and content to the so-called Sapiential Texts, especially 4Q416-419, designated 4QSapiential Work Ic.(1) Terms such התבונן, הבט, רז נהיה and numerous others tie these texts together. At the same time, the lack of any textual overlap, considering the extent of the preserved material in both texts, makes it extremely unlikely that these constitute parts of the same texts.

The title, “Mysteries,” is derived from the occurrence in these texts of the term רזים. Numerous studies of the use of this term in Qumran literature have been undertaken. (2) Without entering into the wider issues raised by its use, we should like to emphasize that in this text it refers to the mysteries of creation, that is, the natural order of things which depends on God’s wisdom, and to the mysteries of the divine role in the processes of history. Indeed, wisdom is another motif which occurs in these documents and its importance lies in its being the source from which the divine mysteries emerge. All the natural phenomena and events of history are seen here as part of the divine wisdom.

The first exemplar of this material to be discussed was published by De Vaux in a very preliminary manner with little analysis.(3) Even before the formal publication by Milik in 1955, (4) an important study by I. Rabinowitz had set forth the basic interpretation of the document and its poetic structure.(5) The document which is represented in 1Q27, 4Q299 and 4Q300, with which we are dealing, is definitely poetic, and is part of a type of reflective (i.e. non-liturgical) poetry to which many Qumran compositions belong. Parts of 1Q27 were republished by I. Licht in his edition and commentary on the Hodayot Scroll (6) and much of 4Q299-301 appears in the preliminary edition of B. Z. Bacholder and M. G. Abegg, (7) which presents an improved version of Milik’s transcriptions prepared for the Preliminary Concordance. Our edition of 4Q300 includes an additional fragment, found on PAM 43:338, the latest photograph to be taken of this manuscript, but this fragment  provides only two uncertain letters.

In this paper, we endeavor to provide an edition of 4Q300 (4QMystb), aided in its reconstruction by parallels in 1Q27 and 4Q299. (8) In the case of one extensive passage, we provide a poetic reconstruction, Where appropriate, fragments are provided with introductory remarks, textual notes and commentary, although for some of the fragments only the text and translation are given.(9) Some improvement in the readings and restorations has been possible although these have not been of great significance.  The   present   edition   preserves   the   numeration   of Milik followed in the Preliminary Concordance and, therefore, in Wacholder-Abegg, although we intend to renumber the fragments in our final edition. It is, however, impossible to determine as of now the order in which the material stood in the original composition.

The manuscript is brown for the most   part, but greyish in some places. It is a darker brown where stained. The skin is thinnish and wrinkled and cracked. The width of the intercolumnar margin (available in two fragments) is 1.4 cm.     The preserved top margin   which   is  most   probably   complete  is   1.3 cm.       The preserved bottom margin of 1.1 cm is most probably incomplete. It is possible that it   is complete, however,  as in 2QRutha, 4QDanb, 4QQoh, e.g., the bottom margin is smaller than the top.      Average line height is 4 mm but many lines tend toward 3 or 5 mm. (See especially frag. 8 which approaches 3 mm.) Letters are 1 mm high.

Vertical dry lines are visible and were followed by the scribe. Horizontal dry lines are also visible but were not always followed.

The lines are ruled at a distance of 6 mm. The desire of the scribe to get more onto his manuscript than was provided for by the original ruling probably led him to ignore the lines; hence the variation in line width noted above. The script has been identified by F. M. Cross as a Late Herodian formal book hand. The text as preserved does not display the features of Qumran “orthography” (except in the case of חוכמה). However, certain lexical usages are familiar from the sectarian corpus.


Frag. 1, col. I (Plate I)

Frag. 1 preserves the left part of one column (col. I), i.e. the ends of the lines, and the right part, the beginning of the lines, of another column (col. 11). The intercolumnar margin is therefore well preserved.



                                Top margin

  • ]ראות/
  • [vacat][
  • ]ם מעשי ארץ/
  • מע]שה אף ועבודת/



  • ] see (?)
  • ] vacat
  • ] the deeds of the land
  • Ac]tions (provoking) anger and the service of



  1. 3. Cf. Lev. 18,3 which shows that מעשי should not be taken as “creatures”. Perhaps restore כנען at the beginning of line 4. In any case, line 4 as preserved is an appropriate continuation to a reference to the sinful actions of the Canaanites.



This fragment deals with the sins of the people of Israel. It probably alludes to transgressions of the type committed by the inhabitants of Canaan which led them to be dispossessed from the land.


Frag. 1, col. II (Plate I)

Milik understood this column to be joined to a group of subfragments which he saw as the left side of frag. 1, col. II. Although there is no point of physical contact between these fragments (a “ material join”), the ends of lines of the proposed left side of the column seem to flow smoothly into the beginning of the lines of the right side. There is one point at which the proposed join produces a phrase, חכמת נכחדת, “hidden wisdom,” known from elsewhere in this same text (frag. 5, line 5). On the other hand, joining these fragments together produces line lengths of 95 and 97 character spaces for lines 1 and 2. Yet in frag. 3, lines 3-5 where full lines can be reconstructed with the help of 1Q27, the line lengths are 70, 66 and 77, averaging 67.66. Assuming, as is usual, that the width of frag. 3 is representative of that of most of the columns of the manuscript, Milik’s join may be problematical. Nevertheless, some manuscripts are known to have irregular column widths and this can be the case here. Accordingly, we number this second fragment as IA and present two translations, one with frag. 1, col. II and frag. 1A separate, and another with them combined as Milik suggests. The underlines indicate possible overlap with 4Q299 2 i 14. In the combined translation, frag. 1, col. II appears in italics. Note that frag. 1, col. II preserves six lines whereas frag. IA preserves only 5.


Separate Transcription


Frag. 1 ii (4Q300 1 ii 4 = 4Q299 2 i 14?)



Top margin

  • [ ] ת  [
  • /ותעודות השמ[ים
  • /א[ז ]תאמרו ל[
  • /תמת[ם מכם
  • /נכחדת[
  • /[ח]זון [



  1. […]
  2. and the signs of the heav[ens
  3. The[n ]you will say [
  4. it will be clo[sed to (lit. from) you
  5. hidden[
  6. the [vis]ion [


Frag. 1A (Plate 1)



Top margin

1 החר]טמים מלמדי פשע אמרו המשל והגידו החידה בטרם נדבר ואז תדעו אם הבטתם/

2 ]כסלכמה כי חתום מכם[    ח]תם החזון וברזי עד לא הבטתם ובבינה לא השכלתם/

3                                           ]כי לא הבטתם בשורש חוכמה ואם תפתחו החזון/

4       ]כל חוכמת[כ]ם כי להם המ [       ] שמו כי [מ]ה היא חכמה/

5            עו]ד לא תהיה[                                ]



  1. the mag]icians  (?) who  are skilled   in   transgression, say  the parable and relate the riddle before it is discussed, and then you will know if you have considered
  2. ]your foolishness, for the [s]eal of the vision is sealed up from you, and you have not considered the eternal mysteries, and you have not come to understand wisdom.
  3. ]… for you have not considered the root of wisdom, and if you open the vision
  4. ] all [yo]ur wisdom, for yours is the […] name, for [wh]at is wisdom (which is)
  5. sti]ll there will not be […]



  1. 1 החר]טמים. Following Wacholder-Abegg, Milik restored מש]טמים but the feminine forms משטמה and plural משטמות are the usual forms. The “magicians” of Dan. 1,20 and 2,2 are more like soothsayers who foretell the future, a meaning appropriate to our text’s castigation of the purveyors of false wisdom.
  2. 1 מלמדי פשע. Cf. Song 3,8 and 1 Chron. 25,7 for the pu‘al form followed by a noun meaning “trained in” or “skilled in” something.
  3. 1 אמרו משל. Cf. Num. 23,7.18; 24,
  4. 1 והיגידו החידה. Cf. Jud. 14,14. For the occurrence together of משל and חידה cf. Ezek. 17,2.
  5. 1 נדבר. Nif‘al. It can also be the more usual pi‘el in the first person plural, “we will speak.”
  6. 1 הבטתם. From the root נבט, “look,” here meaning to “look carefully, consider.” The root is a regular feature of the sapiential and mysteries texts from Qumran
  7. 2 חתום מכם[ ח]תם החזון. Based on Dan 9,24 ולחתם חזון, “to seal the vision.” This passage, the seventy weeks prophecy, is formative for the language and conception of 4QMystb. For חזון, cf. 4Q410 1 9, 1QH 4:18.
  8. 2 ובבינה לא השכלתם. Based on Dan 9,22 where בינה refers to the hidden prophetic vision of the dawn of the messianic era (cf. verse 25). Cf. also 1 Chron. 22,12; 2 Chron. 2,11.
  9. 3 שורש חוכמה. For שורשי בינה, see 4Q301 2,1.
  10. 3 תפתחו. If you attempt to discover and reveal the hidden meaning of the vision; opposite to חתם, to seal or hide the vision.
  11. 4 מה היא Beginning a rhetorical wisdom question which is the predominant literary device in this work. Such a usage of מה is also found in 4QMystc (4Q301).



Combined transcription (4Q300 1 ii 4 = 4Q299 2 i 14?)

Top margin

1 [    ]ת [    החר]טמים מלמדי פשע אמרו המשל והגידו החידה בטרם נדבר ואז תדעו אם הבטתם/

2 /ותעודות השמ[ים    ]כסלכמה כי חתום מכם[    ח]תם החזון וברזי עד לא הבטתם ובבינה לא השכלתם/

3 /א[ז   ]תאמרו ל[             ] ה והמי[                  ]כי לא הבטתם בשורש חוכמה ואם תפתחו החזון/

4 /תסת[ם מכם                                          ]כל חוכמת[כ]ם כי לכם המ [                 ]שמו כי [     מ]ה היא חכמה/

5 /נכחדת[                                                                      עו]ד לא תהיה[

6 /[ח]זון   [



Combined translation

  1. the mag[icians (?) who are skilled in transgression, say the parable and relate the riddle before it is discussed, and then you will know  if  you  have considered.
  2. and the signs of the heav[ens ]your foolishness, for the [s]eal of the   vision   is   sealed   up from you,  and you have not considered the eternal mysteries, and you have not come to understand wisdom.
  3. The[n ] you will say […]… for you have not considered the root of wisdom, and if you open the vision
  4. it will be clo[sed to (lit from) you[…] all [yo]ur wisdom, for yours is the[…] his name, for [wh]at is wisdom (which is)
  5. hidden[…sti]ll there will not be […]
  6. the [vis]ion [



The magicians are challenged to explain the hidden meaning of the parable or riddle to see if they have properly understood the signs. But the text makes clear that they cannot, since the true vision, perhaps that of prophecy, is hidden from them and they do not understand the mysteries of God. They are apparently expected by the text to admit their lack of understanding. Further, even if they were to uncover the vision, they would not understand it. Their wisdom is for nought. So they are summoned to listen to a description of what the true hidden wisdom is.


Frag. 2. col. I (Plate I)

Frag. 2 preserves the left part of one column (col. I), i.e. the ends of the lines, and the right part, the beginnings of the lines of another column (col., II). The intercolumnar margin is therefore well preserved.



  • ]
  • ]
  • ]ילתו
  • ]לעמה/



  1. 1. ]
  2. ]
  3. ]
  4. ]his…
  5. ]poison



  1. 4 Some feminine noun stood here, perhaps תפי]לתו or תהי[לתו.
  2. 5 Although לענה is actually the name of a specific plant, wormwood, it serves in this text as a word for “poison.” See frag. 6, line 5; frag. 7. line 2 and 1QH 4:14.


Frag. 2, col. II (Plate I)


  • [ ]ימים [
  • /שקר מה פח[ד
  • /יעזוב קנאת מדנים[
  • /מעלו אשר מעל[
  • /רע זולתו אהוב[



  1. [ ]days
  2. falsehood. What Fear (?)[
  3. he shall abandon the jealous strife[
  4. his transgression which he committed[
  5. evil, except for him, the beloved[



  1. 3 קנאת מדנים. Cf. מ]שלח מדנים in 4Q412 2,4.
  2. 4. Ezek. 18,24, 1 Chron. 10,13, both in the singular. Cf. Lev. 26,40, Ezek. 39,26, Dan. 9,7.



Col. 1 mentions the poison, no doubt arguing that some behavior is worse than poison for man. Col. II. which is more substantial, refers to the transgressions of mankind, particularly jealousy which leads to strife and some form of trespass. Judging from the scriptural use of the root מעל, the passage may refer to a cultic offense.


Frag. 3 (Plate II)

Frag. 3 paralleled in 1Q27 and part of the continuation of the text is preserved in both 1Q27 and 4Q299. Accordingly, we present our translation of the text of this fragment as restored from 1Q27 frag. 1 and then a poetic rendering combining elements of all three fragments to indicate the full extent of the text. In the line by line translation, the text paralleled in 1Q27 is underlined. After the end of line 6, frag. 3 can be assumed to continue with approximately the same text as is preserved in the other two manuscripts.


Transcription (4Q300 3:1-6 = 1Q27 1i1-7)

1 [      ]  [                                                                                     כול

2 /בעבור ידעו בין ט[וב לרע ובין שקר לאמת ויבינו                         רזי פשע

3 /כל חוכמתם ולא ידע[ו רז נהיה ובקדמוניות לוא התבוננו ולוא ידעו מה אשר יבוא]

4  /עליהם ונפשם לא מלטו מרז נ[היה וזה לכם האות כי יהיה בהסגר מולדי עולה]

5 /וגלה הרשע מפני הצדק כגלו[ת חושך מפני אור וכתום עשן ואיננו עוד כן יתם]

6 /[הר]שע לעד והצדק יגל[ה] כש[מש תכון תבל וכל תומכי רזי פלא אינמה עוד ודעה]


  1. [ everything]
  2. [in order that they would know (the difference) between g[ood and evil, falsehood and truth. […] and understand the mysteries of transgression…]
  3. all their wisdom. But [they] did not know [the mystery of that which was coming into being, and the former things they did not consider. And they did not know what is to come]
  4. upon them. And they did not save their lives from the mystery that was com[ing into being. And this shall be the sign to you that is taking place.    When the begotten of unrighteousness are delivered up.]
  5. and wickendness is removed from before righteousness, as [darkness] is remove[d] from before light. (Then,) just as smoke wholly ceases and is no more, so shall [wicked]ness [cease].
  6. forever, and righteousness shall be reveal[ed] as the s[un (throughout) the full measure of the world. And all the adherents of the mysteries of {Belial} are to be no more. But knowledge



L.2 ידעו בין טוב לרע.  Cf. Gen. 3.5, Deut. 1,39, 1QSa 1,9-11. (10) See also 4Q416 1. 15; 4Q417 2 i 8; 4Q418 2, 7; 4Q418 43, 5-6.

  1. 3 רז נהיה. This refers to the secret of that which is in the process of coming into being. This usage of the nif‘al is common in Qumran Hebrew. Cf. also Ben Sira 42,19 and 48,25 where נהיות  is parallel to נסתרות, “secrets.”
  2. 3 ובקדמוניות לוא התבוננו. This refers to the investigation of the past which would provide the key to understanding the events of the future. Cf. בינה לקדמוניות in 4Q418 148 ii 6.
  3. 4 ונפשם לא מלטו. Cf. 1 Kings 1, 12, Jer. 48.6; 51,6. Ezek. 33,5, Amos 2,14-15. Ps. 89,49: 116,4.
  4. 4 מולדי The participial form is not found in the Hebrew Bible. It is, however, found in manuscripts and medieval witnesses to B. Ketubot 72b. (11)
  5. 5 כגלו[ת חושך מפני אור. Cf. Job. 17,12 and the first evening benediction as quoted in B. Berakhot 11b, גולל אור מפני חושך וחושך מפני אור “He (God) rolls away the light before the darkness and the darkness before the light.”

L1. 5-6 יתם הר]שע. Cf. Ps. 104,35.

  1. 6 רזי פלא . Emending to רזי בליעל in 1Q27 as absolutely required by the context.
  2. 6 אינמה עוד. Cf. again Ps. 104,35 which influenced lines 5-6.


Poetic Rendering

In the poetic rendering that follows, that which is preserved only in 4Q300 appears in italics. The underlined section is preserved in both 4Q299 and 1Q27.

[in order that they would know (the difference)

between good and evil,

{falsehood and} truth,]

[That they would understand the mysteries of transgression,

(with) all their wisdom.

But they did not know the mystery of that which was coming into [being,

and the former things] [they did not consider.

Nor did they know what is to come upon them.

And they did not save their lives from the mystery that was [coming into being.

And this shall be the sign to you that it is taking place:

When the begotten of unrighteousness are delivered up,

and wickedness is removed] [from before righteousness,

as {da}rkness is removed from before light.

(Then,) just as smoke wholly ceases and is {no more},

so shall wickedness cease] [forever,

and righteousness shall be revealed as the sun

(throughout the full measure of the world.

And all the adherents of the mysteries of {Belial} will be no ] [more.

But knowledge shall fill the world,

nor shall folly ever {more} be there.

The thing is certain to come,

and true is the oracle.]

[And from this you will know that it will not be reversed:

Do not all the people]s hate iniquity?

[But it goes on at the hands of all of them.

But does not the] truthfull [report (issue) from the mouth of all the nations?]

Is there a language or a tongue [which upholds it?

What nation desires that a stronger one should oppress it?]

(Yet) what nation (is there) which has not stolen [property (of another)]

… time of birth

… men of (evil) devices for all

… it has been test, the words

… according to [that which re]sults from them

… and for …



Here we summarize the entire poem as preserved in three manuscripts: Man was given wisdom in order that he should discern the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood. Despite this wisdom which should have been sufficient, humanity failed to realize that which would happen in the future, since they did not properly grasp the significance of the events of the past. Yet there is a sign from God that the end of days is about to dawn. For at that time all the wicked and evil itself will be eliminated and will cease forever. Then knowledge of God will fill the earth. How can one be certain that the end of days is really at hand? It will occur when the hypocrisy of all the nations is evident. All nations claim to revile evil but commit it themselves against their neighbors. We should note that this passage is reminiscent of tannaitic teachings that on the eve of the messianic era חפצא יסגי, “impudence will be abundant” (M. Sotah 9:15).




Frag. 4 (Plate I)


  • ] ש  [
  • ]ת ישלם[
  • ] ב והוא [
  • ]לשום לט[וב



  1. ]…[
  2. ] he will pay [
  3. ]… and he …[
  4. ] to place, for g[ood



Frag. 5 (Plate II)

This fragment overlaps most probably with 4Q299 2 ii 1-5. The words which would overlap   if the correspondence is correct are underlined here. Note that the overlap in extant, as opposed to restored, passages is only in four words which are themselves part of stereotyped formulae that could be repeated throughout the text. The restoration from 4Q299 is, therefore, extremely tentative.


Transcription (4Q300 5:3-9 = 4Q299 2 ii 1-5)

  • ]מחשבת בי[נה]/
  • מ]שפט בגלל הון/
  • ]אביון מה נקרא/
  • הו ומעש? וכול מעשה צדיק הטמא]אה ומה נקרא לאדם
  • חכם וצדיק כי לוא לאיש                            ?ה ולוא                                  ]ז חכמה נכחדת[       כי] אם/

Bottom margin



  1. ]thought of understanding
  2. ju]dgment because of property
  3. ]poor man. What shall we call
  4. his… and deed (?) and every action of a righteous man has become imp[ure. And what we shall call a person
  5. a wise man and a righteous man for it is not for man … and not …] wisdom which is hidden. [ex]cept

bottom margin



L1. 3-4 מה נקרא… ומה נקרא. A series of rhetorical sapiential questions.

  1. 4 מעשה צדיק. Cf. Eccl. 8,14.
  2. 5 חכם וצדיק. Cf. Eccl. 9,1.



This fragment alludes to thoughts of understanding and probably to injustice relating to property. It presents a series of rhetorical questions dealing with the futility of man’s attempt to be righteous and wise.


Frag. 6 (Plate II)

This fragment may overlap with 4Q299 7,4-5. The words which appear in both fragments are underlined.


Transcription (4Q300 6:4-5 = 4Q299 7:4-5)

  • י]דעו ההב[ל
  • ]ת גבר ומה מע[שה
  • ]עם יודע[י
  • ]והוא רחו[ק
  • אי]ן לענה לנגדו[
  • ]מה עמוק לא[יש
  • ]ל[



  1. they [will]pasture, the vani[ty
  2. ]of a man and what is the de[ed of
  3. ]with [those] who know[
  4. ]and it is distant[
  5. there is n]othing more poisonous before him[
  6. ]how deep for a m[an
  7. ]…[



  1. 2 Immediately before the break, restore a feminine noun.
  2. 2 ומה מע[שה. Cf. Gen. 44, 15, Jud. 13,12. This begins another rhetorical question.
  3. 3 Perhaps translate, “the people who know” with Ps. 89,16.
  4. לענה. See above to frag. 2 i 5.


Frag. 7 (Plate II)


  • ]רשע ומה רם לגבר מצד[י]ק[
  • ]ואין לענה לנגדו מנוקם לנטור בלוא[
  • ]ש משפט נפשו כש[ם ]צדיק בכל[  דרכיו
  • מה   ]רשע משנוא[



  1. ]evil, and what is more exalted for a man than a righteous[ person
  2. ]and there is nothing more poisonous before him than one who takes vengeance by bearing a grudge without[
  3. ] His judgment, like the na[me] of One Who is righteous in all[   His ways
  4. what ]is more evil than hating[



  1. 1 רם…צדק. Cf. Ps. 89,17.
  2. 2 לענה. See above to frag 2 ii 5.
  3. 2 מנוקם לנטור. Cf. Lev. 19,18; Nah. 1,2, CD 9:2-8; 7:2-3; 1QS 7:8-9. (12)
  4. 3 משפט נפשו. Cf. Ps. 109,31.
  5. 3 ]צדיק בכל[ דרכיו. Restored with Ps. 145, 17.



This fragment is also part of a series of rhetorical questions. Evil is the worst thing for a person, and justice is the best. The worst poison for one’s moral state is to bear a grudge. God is righteous and always seeks only justice. Nothing is worse than to hate one’s fellow.



Frag. 8 (Plate II)


  • מ]חזה ימינו[
  • ]מה קדם ומה אח[ור
  • ]ים נפתח נ[

a4 ]ונודיעה[

  • ] עו להולכי פתי במ[
  • ]לה אתכם תומכי רזים א[
  • ת]דעו היש אחכם בינה ואם[
  •   ]ה ולא היה מה רז צ [
  •         ] לאיש וה[



  1. the vi]sion of our days
  2. ]what is before and what is af[ter
  3. ] is open [

4a.  ]and let us make known[

  1. ]… to those who walk with simplicity in all[
  2. ]… you who hold fast to the mysteries [
  3. you ]will know if you have understand and if[
  4. ] and it was not.    What mystery…[
  5. ] to a man and h[e



  1. 2 Cf. Is. 9,11; Ps. 139,5; Job. 23,8, and especially M. Hagigah 2:1, מה לפנים ומה לאחור in regard to mystical speculation. Se also M. Avot 3:1.
  2. 4a Written in the space between lines 3 and 4.
  3. 4 Cf. 4Q301 1,3.



This fragment probably alludes to knowledge of what is before and what is after the world as we know it. Part of the hidden knowledge, as in the Rabbinic esoteric tradition, concerned that which occurred before creation and that which would happen in the end of days. This   text, and the related Sapiential Texts, encourage investigation of these secrets. The text goes on to describe those who observe God’s law and understand his mysteries.


Frag. 9 (Plate II)


1      ]סודות לא השיגוהו   [

2      ]כיא בו יום הריב    [

3            ]מעולם הוא וע[ד עולם



  1. ]the secrets, they did not grasp it [
  2. ]for on it is the day of the dispute [
  3. ]it is from eternity and unto [eternity



  1. 1 Cf. ]פן ישיגו בדברי[ in 4Q418 188,7.


Frag. 10 (Plate II)


1      ]  לאיש   [

2   מ]שפט מה רע לאיש          {{    }} וא [

3         ]  לא יקח[

4                      ]      [




  1. ] for a man… [
  2. ju]dgment. What is worse for a man than not…[
  3.           ] he will not take[
  4. ]…[



Frag. 11 (Plate II)


1                  ]צדק        [

2          ]ובידו משפט כלם וצד[ק

3                              ]ל[      ]    ת [



  1. ]righteousness…[
  2. ]and in His hand is the judgement of all of them, and righteous[ness
  3. ]…[



In God’s hands is the fate of everyone. This fragment represents the familiar notion of predestination known from the Qumran sectarian corpus.


Frag. 12 (Plate II)


1      מ]תוק מה [



  1. sw]eet, what [


Frag. 13 (Plate II)


1      [היום [



  1. ] the day [



Frag. 14 (Plate II)


[ ו  [


  1. ]…[



The mysteries texts, like the sapiential literature in general, open before us a new genre of wisdom literature. Hidden secrets spell out the future based on the proper understanding of the past. But these secrets are available only to a select group of people who are endowed with an ability to interpret the signs. What we have here is a wedding of wisdom and prophecy, not only a new literary genre, but further testimony to the religious creativity of Second Temple Judaism.


Lawrence H. Schiffman



(*) I wish to thank Erik Larson of New York University for supplying the technical information on which the physical description of the manuscript below is based. Professor Elisha Qimron of Ben Gurion University was kind enough to review my transcription and made valuable suggestions and corrections. His help is greatly appreciated. This study was begun during my tenure as a Fellow of the Anneberg Research Institute in 1992-93.

(1) On this genre, see T. Elgvin, “Admonition Texts from Qumran Cave 4,” to appear in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, in the proceedings of the Dec., 1992 conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

(2) See, e.g., R.E. Brown, The Semitic Background of the Term “Mystery” in the New Testament  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968), esp. 22-30; B. Rigaux, “Révélation des mysteres et perfection à Qumran et dans le Nouveau Testament,” New Testament Studies 4 (1957-58), 237-62.

(3) R. De Vaux, “La grotte des manuscripts Hébreux,” Revue Biblique 61 (1949), 605-9, pl. XVII; cf. J. T. Milik, “Elenchus textuum ex Caverna Maris Mortui,” Verbum Domini 39 (1952), 42-3.

(4) D. Barthélemy, J. T. Milik, et. al., Qumran Cave I. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert I (Oxfor: Clarendon Press, 1955), 102-7, pls. XXI-XXII. English translation of col. I is available in G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English  (London: Penguin Books, 1987), 239.  Complete Spanish translation in F. Garcia Martinez, Textos de Qumrán (Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 1922), 411-13.

(5) “The Authorship, Audience and Date of the de Vaux Fragment of an Unknown Work,” Journal of Biblical Literature 71 (1952), 19-32.

(6) J. Licht מגילת ההודיות (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1957), 242.

(7)  A Preliminary Edition of the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls, The Hebrew and Aramaic Texts from Cave Four, Fascicle Two (Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1992), 1-37.

(8) Our preliminary edition and analysis of 4Q299 (4QMysta) will appear in the J. C. Greenfield volume.

(9) We felt free to include only those components appropriate for the particular fragments, so that some may have textual notes and no commentary, others the reverse. It is expected that the notes and commentary will expand greatly as discussion of these texts ensues. A revised edition will appear in DJD.

(10) See L. H. Schiffman, Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Courts, Testimony, and the Penal Code, Brown Judaic Studies 33 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983), 62-65.  The same passage is discussed from another perspective in L. H. Schiffman, The Eschatological Community of the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Study of the Rule of the Congregation, SBL Monograph Series 38 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989), 16-20.

(11) M. Herschler, (ed.), מסכת כתובות, vol. II (Jerusalem: Institute for the Complete Israeli Talmud, 1977), p. 178, variants to line 13 and n. 24.

(12) See Schiffman, Sectarian Law, 89-97.




What do you want to know?

Ask our AI widget and get answers from this website