Genesis Apocryphon in the Light of the Targumim and Midrashim, Manfred Lehmann, Revue de Qumran 1, p.249-264.


The publication of parts of the Dead Sea Genesis Apocryphon from 1 Qumran (1) brings to us an example of Biblical text treatment much closer to traditional Jewish literature than was hitherto known from Qumran. The Biblical commentaries of the Pesher-type do not represent Jewish tradition which survived elsewhere, probably in the main because their comments pointed to events of local and momentary character, instead of interpreting the Biblical text in terms of universal and eternal values (2). Philologically, the term Pesher survived in Palestine within the Jerusalem Talmud where פתר is used instead of Babylonian דרש (3), but this does not indicate in any way that the narrow scope of Qumran exegesis was perpetuated.

There is no evidence that the 1 Q Gen. Ap. is related to the particular nature of the Qumran community. There is no special reference to its locale, nor do we find therein special stress upon dwelling in the Desert as is found elsewhere in the Dead Sea literature (4). In the geographic description of Palestine in column XXI the Dead Sea area is bypassed. The treatment of Genesis 14, 7 would have offered an ideal opportunity to give this area some prominence. In fact, no attempt is made to translate or identify חצצון תמר which Targum Onkelos renders עין דגי, and which may be alluded to in Ben Sira 24, 14 כתמר התרוממתי בעין גדי. Nothing compels us to associate the composition of all manuscripts found near Qumran with that community. Jewish tradition knows of innumerable works, some of which were hidden at one time or another, which subsequently fell into oblivion. It may be helpful to review such references briefly at this point.

The Book of Adam (ספר של אדם הראשון) was still known to Rabbi Jehuda ha-Nassi (cf. Babli Baba Mesia 85b, Babli Abodah Zara 5a, and Ecclesiastes Rabbah I, 11) and is described as a chronology of all generations until the days of Rabbi Akiba.

The Scroll of Genealogy (מגילת יוחסין)—which seems to have been discovered accidentally in Jerusalem during Talmudic times—may have been a similar work; it traces certain families back to the time of the Conquest of Canaan (Yerushalmi Taanith IV, 2).

The temple description mentioned in I Chronicles 28 is said to have been in the form of a Scroll handed down to David by Samuel, and before him by Moses. Yer. Megillah I, 1 attributes to it the textual sanctity of a Biblical work. Yer. Sanhedrin X, 2, however, attributes its authorship to Ahitophel.

The Book of Wisdom (ספר החכמה) was hidden after Rabbi Eliezer’s death (first century of Christian Era), but its nature is not specified (Yer. Sotah IX, 16).

The Books of Medicines (ספרי רפואות) or Tablet of Medicines (טבלא של רפואות) existed until king Hezekiah’ hid them (Yer. Nedarim VI, 8, Yer. Sanhedrin I, 2).

Most significant for the identification of the Qumran community is, in the writer’s opinion, the Talmudic references to the Scrolls owned by the צנועים, probably correctly identified with the Essenes. The following incident is related with some variations in Yer. Yomah III, 9; Yer. Sheqalim V, 1 and Canticum Rabbah III, 7: “Rabbi Yohanan son of Nuri said: I was once travelling, and met an old man of the Abetinas family who held a Scroll of Incenses (מגילת סמנים, סממנים) in his hands. I asked him what he held in his hands and he answered: ‘When my forefathers were צנועים they handed Scrolls from one generation to another, but now that they are no longer trustworthy, take this one from me, but watch it as it is a Scroll of Incenses.’” This somewhat cryptic passage points to the existence of a body of scrolls secretly circulating among the צנועים. The צנועים, famous for their hyper-pious customs, are singled out as a distinct group in the Talmud, and above reference proves that they considered themselves a closely knit order or “sect”. It is however significant that this fact did not make them “sectarian” in the modern sense. Their legal opinions are quoted profusely in the Talmud (5) and are at times accepted. The צנועים undoubtedly were inclined towards the Shammaites (cf. Yer. Demai VI, 5 צנועי בית הלל היו נוהגים כדברי בית שמאי ) but were nevertheless part and parcel of the rabbinic world.

The main offense of the Sadducees was undoubtedly according to the Pharisees that they possessed Scrolls of Ordinances—complete, recorded Codes without mention of Biblical sources. This collection of Scrolls reached its height of prominence during the reign of Alexander Janneus, and only his famous Pharisaic brother-in-law, Rabbi Shimon ben Shetah, was after a long struggle able to abolish them. Megillath Taanith relates that a special holiday was instituted to commemorate the day of the final destruction of these Scrolls.

That some Biblical Books narrowly escaped the same fate is well known. These Books were Ezekiel (Babli Hagigah 13b), Ecclesiastes (Babli Shabbath 30b; Leviticus Rabbah 28; Ecclesiastes Rabbah I, 4), Proverbia (Babli Shabbath 30b) and Canticum (Canticum Rabbah I, 11).

Books and Scrolls were not only “hidden” when heresy was suspected in them, but also when they were not properly committed to writing, or not written by acceptable scribes. Rabbi Meir “hid” a Scroll of Esther which had been recorded by heart (Yer. Megillah IV, 1). The Scrolls of the Scriptures owned by a community condemned for sinful practices had to be “hidden” (Yer. Sanhedrin X, 8). The same applied to Scrolls containing faulty orthography (Yer. Shabbath XVI, 1) and unauthorized writings (e. g. The Scroll contains the Targum on Job, Yer. Shabbath XVI, 1). In the case of Megillath Taanith, its validity was suspended (Yer. Nedarim VIII, 1), probably because most of the events recorded therein were of limited historical importance. A Scroll written for the Ordeal of the Unfaithful Wife, but for some reason not put to use, also had to be committed to Genizah (Mishnah Sola III, 3).

Any finds of Scrolls must be evaluated in the light of these quotations from Jewish tradition. It is also against this background that we must view 1 Q Gen. Ap. This paper will attempt to demonstrate that this Scroll fits squarely into the main stream of Targumim and Midrashim, and probably represents the oldest prototype of both available to us.

It may be said that the various Targumim are mainly characterized by the ratio existing between interpretative-narrative portions and strictly translative portions. We only have to compare, e.g., the Targum Sheni on Esther—which deviates into midrashic material throughout its text—and Targum Onkelos which on the whole adheres as literally as possible to the Massoretic text except for occasional use of the interpretative method. Somewhere in between these two extremes, we find Targum Jonathan, leaning mainly to the task of translating the text, yet also taking vast midrashic liberties. Targum Yerushalmi belongs even further in the «midrashic» column.

1 Q Gen. Ap., too, oscillates between midrashic deviations from the Massoretic text and literal translations. However, the former outweigh the latter. We can thus place 1 Q Gen. Ap. in the midrashic column of the Targumim.

The fact that many Targumim texts and traditions existed in Mishnaic times is illustrated by Tosephta Megillah III, 21 ר’ יהודה אומר המתרגם פסוק כצורתו הרי זה בדאי, והמוסיף עליו הדי זה מחרף ומגדף “Rabbi Jehuda said: whosoever says the Targum according to the literal meaning of the text, is a liar; whosoever adds to the text, blasphemes and reviles.” A later Talmudic commentary on this passage (Babli Qiddushin 49a) defines Targum as follows: ! אלא מאי תרגום? תרגום דידן“If so, which is the proper Targum? Our Targum!”  Obviously, a point had been reached where the rabbis wanted to check the further diversification of Targumim, and re-establish a single, authoritative text. 1 Q Gen. Ap. adds another illustration of the Targumic liberties which may have contributed to this attitude of the rabbis. The value of 1 Q Gen. Ap. is further heightened if we consider that until now the current opinion of scholars was that the Targumim known to us are no older than the fifth century of the Christian Era! (6) 1 Q Gen. Ap., belonging to the oldest documents found in the Qumran area, reveals to us material of the second century before the Christian Era. Considering that the Targumim are held to have been handed down orally (7) a comparative study will also shed light on the strength of such oral tradition.

It may be conjectured that the Targumim circulating in ancient times were more heavily concerned with the Book of Genesis, as is the case with 1 Q Gen. Ap. Targum Oukelos on Genesis contains, in the extant text, innumerable variants, while these are practically absent in Targum Oukelos on the other Pentateuchal Books. This may perhaps serve as evidence for a wider diversification of Targumic literature on Genesis.


Of the 1 Q Gen. Ap. material published till now, columns XXI, 23–XXII, 26 are easily recognized for keeping fairly closely to the Massoretic text, while the rest makes no visible effort to limit itself to translating the Hebrew narrative. Yet, even there, we find shorter or longer passages of literal translations of the Biblical text interwoven in the midrashic portions.    Examples:

XIX, 10 והוא כפנא בארעא                                                          XXI, 19 ואזלת ויתבת באלוני

XIX, 19 למקטלני ולכי למשבק                                                           ממרה די בחברון

XIX, 20 ותפלט נפשי בדיליכי                XXI, 20 ובנית תמן מדבח

XX, 26 מא עבדתה לי                           XXI, 27 אתחזיז אלהא לאברם

XX, 27  בחזיא                                                                הא אנתתך

In other instances, elements of the Biblical text are used, but have been given changed sequence:

XX, 33–34 ואזלת אנה אברם בנכסין שגיאין לחדא ואף בכסף ודהב וסקלת מן [מצרי]ן [ולוט] בר אחי עמי ואף לוט קנה לה נכסין שגיאין

Massoretic text ויעל אברם ממצרים . . . ולוט עמו . . . ואברם כבד מאד במקנה בכסף ובזהב . . . וגם ללוט ההלך את אברם היה צאן ובקר ואהלים

XXI, 9 למדנחא ולמערבא ולדרומא ולצפונא

Massoretic Text צפונה ונגבה וקדמה וימה

The targumic and midrashic elements part ways at a given cue. Such a cue is illustrated by the 1 Q Gen. Ap. treatment of Genesis 12, 15 “And the ministers of Pharao saw her, and praised her before Pharao.” Who were the ministers? How did they praise Sarah’s beauty to Pharao? While the Biblical text keeps quiet on these points, the 1 Q Gen. Ap. author takes this as a point of departure for an elaboration on the text, which fills columns XIX, 24–XX, 8 (8). This passage shares the characteristics of Targumim in general in their tendency to fill gaps in the Biblical narrative, even though this tendency, as we have seen, varies in the case of each Targum.

Certain narrative “fill in” material seems to have been shared by the different current Targumim. 1 Q Gen. Ap. XIX, 11–13 describes how Abraham and Sara crossed certain rivers before reaching Egypt. Likewise, Targum Jonathan makes geographic references in the account of their journey to Egypt and mentions the crossing of a river as responsible for the revelation of Sara’s beauty to Abraham: Targ. Jon. on Genesis 12, 11 והוה כמא דקריב למיעל לתחום מצרים ומטו לנהרא וגילאו בשריהון.

On the other hand, we also have evidence of opposing traditions within the family of Targumim. The early, fragmentary section of 1 Q Gen. Ap. describes Noah’s vineyard planted after the Flood (9). This vineyard yielded wine only after 4 years, so that Noah could drink its wine only on the first day of the fifth year:

XII, 13 ונצבת כרם . . . בלובר טורא ולשנין ארבע עבד לי חמר

XII, 15 ושרית למשתיה ביום חד לשתא חמישיתא

In Targ. Jon. we find, however, that the wine was ripe on the very first day of planting the vineyard:

Targ. Jon. on Genesis 9, 20 ונצביה לכרמא וביה ביומא אנצית ובשילת ענבין ועצרינון ושתי מן חמריה

 Genesis 14, 4 offers an important illustration of different interpretations of the same Massoretic text, שתים עשרה שנה עבדו את כדרלעמר ושלש עשרה מרדו. Did the rebellion start in the 13th year of their submission, or did it last for 13 years? Both interpretations are found in controversies reoccurring among the Targumim, the Midrashim and even medieval commentators:

Targ. Onk.: ותלת עשרי שנין מרדו

Targ. Jon.: ובתלסרי שנין מרדו

Genesis Rabbah 42:  רבן גמליאל אומר כלהון י”ג היו;ר’ יוסי י”ב וי”ג הרי כ”ה

Rashi: “ובארבע עשרה שנה” למרדן

Ibn Ezra: וטעם “ושלש עשרה” בשלש עשרה

Avigad-Yadin (opus citatum, p. 35) believe that 1 Q Gen. Ap., together with the Samaritan text stands in opposition to the Massoretic text, by rendering ובשנת תלת עשרה מרדו. Above list of similar versions, far into the Middle Ages, amply proves that no other “Vorlage” has to be assumed in order to translate “in the 13th year” (10). We are here not dealing with different translations but with different interpretations of the same text. We shall make the same observation below on 1 Q Gen. Ap. XXII, 8.

The study of the problem of interrelationship of the different Targumim must devote itself to comparative studies of the vocabularies used. We find instances of complete agreement between 1 Q Genesis Apocryphon, Targum Onkelos, and Targum Jonathan, ex. gr.:

XIX,    10 והוא כפנא בארעא

            Targ. Onk., Targ. Jon. והוה כפנא בארעא

Here follow instances showing only one Targum agreeing with 1 Q Gen. Ap.:

XX,      27 הא אנתתך

            Targ. Jon. הא אנתתך Targ. Onk. הא אתתך

XXI,    29 בטורי גבל

            Targ. Jon. בטוורא רמא דגבלא Targ. Onk. בטורא דשעיר

XXII, 27 בחזיא

            Targ. Jon. בחיזוונא Targ. Onk. בנבואה

XXI,    13 קום הלך

            Targ. Onk. קום הליך    Targ. Jon. קום טייל

XXII, 21 עד ערקא דמסאן

Targ Onk. ועד ערקת מסנא Targ. Jon. ועד סנדלת רצועה

Targ. Yer. ועד רצועה דסנדלא

XXI, 14 ארי לך ולזרעך אתננה

Targ. Onk. ארי לך אתנינה  Targ. Jon. ארום לך אתנינה

In the following instances neither of the Targumim agrees with 1 Q Genesis Apocryphon or with one another:

XII, 10 בתר מבולא

            Targ. Onk. בתר טופנא Targ. Jon. בתר טובענא

XIX, 20 ונפלט נפשי בדליכי

Targ. Onk. ותתקים נפשי בפתגמיכי  Targ. Jon. ותתקים נפשי אמטולתיך

XXI,    19 האלוני ממרה

Targ. Onk. במישרי ממרא          Targ. Jon. בחיזו ממרא

XXII, 15 כהן לאל עליון

Targ. Yer.  כהין עילאה  Targ. Onk. משמש קדם אל עלאה

Targ. Jon. משמש קדם אלהא עלאה

In the following instances, Targum Onkelos and Targum Jonathan agree, but differ from 1 Q Gen. Ap.:

XIX,    19 למקטלני ולכי למשבק

Targ. Onk. ויקטלון יתי ויתיך יקימון  Targ. Jon. Id.

XX, 26 מא עבדתה לי

Targ. Onk. מה דא עבדת לי Targ. Jon. Id.

In the following instance, 1 Q Genesis Apocryphon and Targum Jonathan use common terms, missing entirely in Targum Onkelos:

XXI,    1 [ב]כל אתר משריאתי

            Targ. Jon. (Genesis 13, 4) לאתר מדבחא דעבד בשירויה

            Targum Onk. and Targ. Jon. can evidently also be called upon to fill in gaps in the 1 Q Gen. Ap. fragment. One tempting opportunity for this method is in Genesis 14, 14: offering a variety of possible solutions:

XXII,   34 אלעזר בר . . .

            Targ. Jon. (Genesis 14, 14) אלעזר בר נמרוד (Genesis 15, 2) אלעזר בר פרנסתי ביתי    

   Targ. Yer. (Genesis 15, 2) אלעזר בר ביתי

A close examination of the original Qumran manuscript may yield clues towards the selection of one of the three possibilities for completing the 1 Q Gen. Ap. passage.


We shall now continue with an investigation of 1 Q Gen. Ap. in the light of the Midrashim. While the Targumim contain narrative portions, their basic task remains that of supplying a running translation of the Biblical text. It is within the Midrashim that the narratives have free reign, even though they are meant, secondarily, as a running commentary designed to help understand the text. For convenience’s sake our observation will follow the 1 Q Gen. Ap. text in the sequence of the portions published:

II, 1, 5 and 16 refer to עירין, קדישין, נפילין, בני שמין. These terms bring us of course into the vast territory of Angelology about which we will not elaborate here. ספר חנך לרבי ישמעאל כהן גדול or 3 Enoch, is a metaphysical Midrash devoted almost entirely to Angelology, and describes the position of the Irin and Qaddishin in the Council of the Almighty (ch. 28). They are here described as law enforcing executives immediately surrounding the Supreme Judge (28, 8 והן עירין קדישין עומדין לפניו כשוטרין לפני השופט). One commentary on this Midrash says: “Their activity is, however, not limited to that of giving counsel to the Most High, but they also exercise definite power over the inhabitants of the world and the empires and kingdoms on earth” (11). However, 1 Enoch is of more direct importance to 1 Q Gen. Ap. Here, the “Fall” of the Irin and Qaddishin is given utmost attention, which explains the preoccupation of Lemekh in 1 Q Gen. Ap. For it was the Irin and Qaddishin who descended to earth to take women unto themselves to produce the Nephilim. We find references to “The children of the Watchers from amongst men” (X, 9), “The children of the Watchers, because they have wronged mankind” (X, 15), “The Watchers of the heaven who have left the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and defiled themselves with women, and have done as the children of earth do, and have taken unto themselves wives” (XII, 4), “Watchers, the children of heaven” (undoubtedly בני שמין of 1 Q Gen. Ap. II, 5 and 16), “Say to the Watchers of heaven . . . wherefore have ye left the high, holy and eternal heaven, and lain with women, and defiled yourselves with the daughters of men and taken to yourselves wives, and done like children of earth and begotten giants (as your) sons” (XIV, 2–4). Other parallels to 1 Enoch have been pointed out by Avigad-Yadin (opus citatum, p. 16, 17).

XIX, 8, 9 The brief Biblical reference to Abraham’s journey to the South of Palestine (Genesis 12, 9) is here explained as an effort to reach the Holy Mountain, undoubtedly the Temple site in Jerusalem: עד כען לא דבקתה לטורא קדישא. It may be assumed that Abraham did not reach Jerusalem even though the Holy Mount was the object of his journey. Similarly, Midrash Rabbah (Genesis Rabbah 39) מחקה והולך ומכוין כנגד בית המקדש . A variant of this Midrash is quoted by R. David Qimhi (12): “All his journeys were directed to the South of Eres Israel, as he prophesied that the portion of Judah would be in the South of Eres Israel, wherein lay Mount Moriah where he would bring up his son as a sacrifice.

XIX, 10 .והוא כפנא בארעא דא כולא ושמעת די ט[בו]תא . . . במצרין This explains what news Abraham had received which prompted him to travel to Egypt together with Sara. Likewise, Midrash Tanhuma: אמר לשרה הרי רעב בארץ . . . אמר לה מצרים זו ישיבתה יפה נלך לשם מפני שיש בה סיפוק הרבה לחם ובשר, בואתה שעה הלכו שניהם.

“He said unto Sarah, behold there is a drought in this land . . . he said a sojourn in Egypt would be proper, let us go there since there is a large supply of bread and meat there. Promptly, they both journeyed.”

XIX, 11–13 The arrival of the couple in Egypt with the ensuing drama circling around Sara’s beauty, is here introduced by an account of their crossing some seven rivers bordering to Egypt. Targum Jonathan on Genesis 12, 11 has been quoted above as a parallel. Several Midrashim elaborate on the same theme; Tanhuma (13): כיוו שהגיעו לפולו של מצרים ועמדו על היאור ראה אברהם אבינו בבואה של שרה באותו נהר כחמה זורחת.

“As they reached the gate of Egypt, and stood upon the Nile river, Abraham, our Father, saw Sara’s image in the river like a shining sun.”

XIX, 15 . . . ובעון למקץ ולמעקר ל[א]רזא ולשבוק תמרתא בלחודוהה

Yadin-Avigad (14) have called attention to the coupling of the palm tree and cedar in connection with Abraham and Sara in Midrashim commenting on this Biblical passage. There are, however, more pertinent midrashic parallels to be quoted, especially Zohar on Genesis 12: מפני מה אקיש צדיק לתמר? מה תמר כיון דגזרין ליה לא סליק עד זמן סגיא, אוף הכי הצדיק וכו’ מה תמר לא סליק אלא דכר ונוקבה אוף הכי צדיק לא סליק אלא דכר ונוקבה, דכר צדיק; ונוקבה צדקת, כגוונא דאברהים ושרה וכו’ מה ארז בלבנון עלאה על כלא וכלא יתבי תחותוי אוף הכי צדיק הוא עלאה אל כלא וכלא יתבי תחותוי וכו’

“Why is a righteous man compared with a palm tree? Just as a palm tree, once it is cut down, does not grow up so soon again, likewise, the righteous man, once he has passed from this earth, his place is only taken again after a long time . . . Just as a palm tree grows as male and female, likewise the righteous grow as males and females, as in the case of Abraham and Sara. Just as the cedar of the Lebanon is higher than all other (trees), and all dwell under it, likewise the righteous is higher than all other (men), and all dwell under him . . .”

Genesis Rabbah 41, likewise, comments on Genesis 12, by quoting Psalm 42, 3: מה תמרה זו וארז זה כל מי שהוא עולה לראשן ואינו משמר את עצמו הוא נופל ומת, כך כל מי שהוא בא להזדרז לישראל סוף שהוא נוטל את שלו מתחת ידיהם, תדע לך שכן הוא שהרי שרה על ידי שמשכה פרעה לילה אחת לקה הוא וביתו בנגעים.

“Just as in the case of the palm tree and the cedar, where anyone who climbs to their tops without caution, may fall and die, likewise any wicked person who wishes to attach himself to Israel, will ultimately have to withdraw again. The proof for this is the case of Sara, for because of one night that Pharao wished to draw her near to himself, he and his household were smitten with plagues.”

Tanhuma on Genesis 12: ועל אברהם נאמר “צדיק כתמר יפרח” . . . את מוצא כל האילנות אין אדם יכול לראות מרחוק, למה? לפי שהן קצרים, אבל התמר והארז על ידי שהן גבוהים מכל האילנות ונראין למרחוק וכו’ אתה מוצא שאר אילנות כל זמן שמזקינים נקצצין ונוטעין מנצר שלהן ומיד הן גדילין, והארז והתמר משנקצצין מי יוכל לעלות במקומן אלא אם כן ביגיעה גדולה לשנים הרבה’ כך אם אבד צדיק מן העולם מי יוכל לעמוד במקומו מיד אלא לשנים הרבה, לפיכך צדיק כתמר יפרח.

“(Psalm, 42, 3) “The righteous is like a palm tree etc.” refers to Abraham! Why are the righteous likened unto a palm tree and a cedar? Other trees are hard to see from a distance because they are short, but the palm tree and the cedar can be seen from everywhere because they are higher than all other trees, and all can stand under them and raise their eyes to their tops . . . You will find other trees, being cut down when they get old, and new trees planted from their off-shoot will grow immediately, but the palm tree and the cedar, once they are cut down—which tree can take their place, except after much toil? Likewise, the righteous, etc.”

Another midrashic reference to the cutting down of cedar trees in connection with Abraham, is found in Tanhuma on Numbers chapter 10 (15): מנין שנעשה אברהם מלך? . . . כתיב “אל עמק שוה הוא עמק המלך” מהו עמק שוה? שהושוו הכל ונטלו עצה, וקצצו ארזים ועשו כסא והושיבו אותו עליהן מלך.

“It is written ‘to the Valley of Shave, that is the King’s Valley’ (Genesis 14, 17) What is the Valley of Shave? All men had become united, took counsel with one another, cut down cedar trees, made a throne (from them), and made Abraham their king.”

All midrashic sources quoted are introduced by Psalm 42, 3, which is the significant link with the dream theme in 1 Q Gen. Ap. The Zohar text comes closest to the contents of 1 Q Gen. Ap. This and other parallels between Zohar and 1 Q Gen. Ap. may point the way to further research which may have bearing on the age of Zohar.

XX, 10–16 These passages are concerned with events during the night of Sara’s rapture, and describe Abraham’s emotional reaction and behavior. Abraham wept (10, 11), prayed to the Almighty (10, 12–16), and again wept and grieved (10, 16). The Midrash, too, is concerned with Abraham’s emotional reaction to Sara’s rapture, but is also interested in Sara’s own feelings, as well as in the Almighty’s own considerations. Tanhuma 5: כיון שראה אברהם כך, התחיל בוכה ומתפלל לפני הקב”ה ואומר רבונו של עולם! זו הוא בטחוני שבטחתי בך? ועכשיו עשה למען רחמיך וחסדיך ואל תביישני מסברי, ואף שרה צורחת ואומרת רבונו של עולם! אני לא הייתי יודעת כלום, אלא כיון שאמרת לך לך האמנתי לדבריך, ועכשיו נשארתי יחידה מאבי ומאמי ומבעלי , יבא רשע זה ויתעלל בי? עשה למען שמך הגדול ולמען בטחוני בדבריך! אמר לה לקב”ה: חייך אין דבר רע נוגע ביך ובבעליך!

“When Abraham saw this, he began to weep and pray before the Holy, blessed be He, and said ‘Oh, Lord of the Universe, is this the trust I had in Thee? Oh, act in accordance with Thy mercy and lovingkindness, and do not put to shame my hope.’ Sara, too, weeps and says ‘Oh, Lord of the Universe, . . . I had faith in Thy words . . . Oh, act because of Thy great name, and because of my faith in Thine words’. The Holy one, blessed be He, answered I swear that no evil will befall you or your husband.”

Genesis Rabbah: וכל אותו הלילה היתה שרה שטוחה על פניה ואמרת רבון העולמים! וכו’

“All through that night, Sara prostrated herself and prayed ‘Oh, Lord of the Universe etc.’”

The Zohar describes the events of that night as follows: כל ההוא לילה דשרה הות לגבוה דפרעה אתו מלאכי עלאי לזמרא ליה לקב”ה בשירין ותושבחן א”ל קב”ה כולכו זילו ועבידו מכתשין רברבין במצרים.

“Throughout the night when Sara was with Pharao, there came exalted angels to present songs and praise before the Holy one, blessed be He, but He said unto them ‘Cease and turn, go and produce several diseases in Egypt’.”

Another Midrash parallels 1 Q Gen. Ap. even more dramatically (16): “Could a wife be raptured, without the husband weeping and rending his cloths?” According to Zohar, angels were used to bring the plagues upon Egypt, while 1 Q Gen. Ap. and other Midrashim quoted below, attribute them to the Almighty’s own intervention.

XX, 31, 32: : : ויהב לה מלכ[א       ] . . . ואף להגר

Yadin-Avigad have correctly pointed out that, as in the Midrashim, Hagar is here reported to have been acquired by Abraham during his sojourn in Egypt. However, there were actually two opportunities for Abraham to receive Hagar from Pharao, one, at the time when Pharao took Sara unto himself (Genesis 12, 16), and the other, when Pharao dispatched Abraham from his land (Genesis 12, 20). There are midrashic traditions supporting either view. Midrash Ha-Gadol (17) “ושפחת” כתיב, שלא היה לו שפחה אחת, ואיזה? זה הגר!

“‘ushephakhoth’ (without vav) is the ketibh, meaning that (Abraham) received only one maid servant, namely Hagar”.

Against this version of Hagar as an early gift, we find Mekhilta of Rabbi Simon ben Yohai: מעולם לא יצא עבד או שפחה בן חורין ממצרים אלא הגר בלבד, שנאמר “ויצו עליו פרעה אנשים וישלחו אותו ואת אשתו ואת כל אשר לו.”

“No male or female slave left Egypt as freemen except for Hagar, as is written ‘and Pharao commanded men unto him, and escorted him and his wife (meaning Hagar) and all that was his’.”

Mekhilta parallels 1 Q Gen. Ap. where Hagar clearly is a farewell gift of Pharao.

XX, 1–8 has received ample publicity in connection with the publication of 1 Q Genesis Apocryphon. The speech of Pharao’s 3 Grandees praising Sara’s beauty is indeed in line with the midrashic interpretation of Sara’s second name, Yiskah (Genesis 11, 29) “יסכה” שהכל סכים ביופיה “because all speak of her beauty” (Babli Sanhedrin 69b). The fame of Sara’s beauty is also reflected in Tanhuma on Genesis 12, 11 Hebrew ‘The sages taught: all women compared with Sara are as monkeys compared with men.’ Genesis Rabbah comments on Genesis 23, 1 ‘She was as beautiful at the age of twenty, as at the age of seven’. Furthermore, Deuteronomium Rabbah I, 22 explains: ‘“and the fugitive came” (Genesis 14, 13)—he only came for Sara’s beauty sake’. “ויבא הפליט” . . . ולא בא אלא לשם נויה של שרה, אמר בלבו . . . ונוטל אני את שרה אשתו.

XX, 16 בליליא דן שלח לה אל עליון רוח מכדש למכתשה ולכול אנש ביתה רוח באישא והואת כתשא

The stress is here on the Almighty’s own intervention during the night. It was He Himself who sent the pestilential wind upon Pharao. The same emphasis is made in Agadath Bereshith (18): הקב”ה עושה עצמו שליח לרשעים . . . וכן אתה מוצא בפרעה הראשון כשנטל שרה לא שלח הקב”ה עליו לא מלאך ולא שרף אלא הוא כביכול הלך.

‘In the case of the first Pharao, after the latter had raptured Sara, the Holy blessed be He did not send an Angel, nor a Saraf but He Himself went forth’.

XXI, 23, 24     אריוך מלך כפתוך תדעל מלך גוים די הוא בין נהרין

“Arioch king of Cappedocia, Tidal king of nations who is (sic) between the Rivers.” A significant comparison can be found in Genesis Rabbah 42, 4 ואריוך מלך אלאסר זה אנטיוכס. The reference is undoubtedly to the city of Antioch, as an explanation of Elassar, rather than to Antiochus as an explanation of Arioch. As Antioch or Antiochia Epidaphnes was in the vicinity of Mount Taurus which formed the Southern border of Cappedocia, the Midrash may be referring to the same locality as 1 Q Gen. Ap.

XXII, 1, 2 ואתה חד מן רעה ענה די יהב אברם ללוט די פלט מן שביא

The question as to the identity of the refugee referred to in Genesis 14, 13 has evidently occupied the author of 1 Q Gen. Ap. just as it has provoked different midrashic solutions. 1 Q Gen. Ap. identifies him with one of the shepherds given to Lot as a gift by Abraham. According to Babli Niddah 61b, Genesis Rabbah and Tanhuma he was king Og. Another identification is Archangel Michael (Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 27).

XXII, 8 ורמה עליהון בליליא מן ארבע רוחיהון והווא קטל בהון בליליא

This passage offers another example of differing text exegesis without need to presuppose different types of “Vorlage”.

Genesis 14, 15 ויחלק עליהם ׀ לילה הוא ועבדיו ויכם

Targum Jonathan ואתפליג להום ליליא

Zohar וליליא קטיל לון

A literal interpretation of Massoretic text would yield ‘The night divided itself because of them’. Targ. Jon., Genesis Rabbah 43 and other midrashim follow this line and explain that while half of this night benefited the kings, the other half was “saved” to smite, at a later date, the first-born in Egypt before the Exodus. However, 1 Q Gen. Ap. as well as Targum Onkelos see a need to add ב before לילא (19), making Abraham the noun to which the verb ויחלק refers, לילה being merely a time adverb, yielding ‘he fell upon them by night’. 1 Q Gen. Ap. explains this as a strategic maneuver, being directed “from all their four quarters”. Significantly, Rashi quotes both versions as alternative explanations. The change from לילה to בלילה in Targ. Onk. and 1 Q Gen. Ap., similar to the treatment of Genesis 14, 4 discussed above, is thus merely an attempt to interpret a difficult text, but not a literal rendition of a different Hebrew text.

XXII, 10 The difficulty of identifying חובה (rendered חלבון in 1 Q Gen. Ap.) recalls the midrashic pronouncement in Tanhuma: חזרנו על כל המקומות ולא מצינו שום מקום ששמו חובה, ללמדך שדן נקרא חובה מראש.

“We have surveyed all the localities and have not found a place called Hobah; this teaches you that Dan was originally called Hobhah.”

XXII, 10–12 Genesis 14, 16 limits the description of the booty taken by Abraham to the words וישב את כל הרכש וגם את לוט אחיו ורכשו השיב. 1 Q Gen. Ap., however, is more detailed in its specification of the booty: .לקט אברהם את כל רכוש המלכים ואת כל רכוש סדום ובנותיה ואת כל רכוש לוט Midrash ha-Gadol (20) gives likewise a threefold listing of the booty:לקט אברהם את כל רכוש המלכים ואת כל רכוש סדום ובנותיה ואת כל רכוש לוט. Introductory ואצל in 1 Q Gen. Ap. XXII, 10 just as אצלתה in XXII, 19 is translated by Yadin as “rescued”. It may be suggested that “taken away” comes closer to the intended meaning (Cf. Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri by E. G. Kraeling (1953), II, 13). לא אכל אנצל לפלטי “I will not be able to take away Palti” (21). This connotation may also be underlying Exodus 12, 36 וינצלו את מצרים

“They took away (the treasures of) Egypt”; furthermore Genesis 31, 9ויצל אלקים את מקנה אביכם ויתן לי “The Lord took away the cattle of your father and gave it to me”. “Rescue” is probably merely a secondary derivation from “take away”, which makes more sense in the quoted passages.

XXII, 17 ויהב לה מעשר מן כול כסיא די מלך עילם וחברוהי Genesis 14, 20, underlying this passage, ויתן לו מעשר מכל has given rise to two interpretations: 1) Abraham gave Malkisedeq a tithe, or 2) Malkisedeq gave Abraham a tithe (22). By specifying that the tithe was given from the actual war loot, 1 Q Gen. Ap. makes it evident that only Abraham could make this presentation as he had all the loot in his custody. The same interpretation also contained Jubilees XIII, 25–27. Likewise the Midrash Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 27: אברהם התחיל ראשון לעשר בעולם, לקח את כל מעשר סדום ועמורה וכל מעשר לוט בן אחיו ונתן לשם בן נח, שנאמר “ויתן לו מעשר מכל.”

Abraham introduced tithing into the world; he took the whole tithe of Sodom and Gemorrah, as well as the whole tithe of his nephew Lot and gave it to Sem the son of Noah (=Malkisedeq), as is written “and he gave a tithe from everything”.


In conclusion, it can be safely said that 1 Q Genesis Apocryphon offers important evidence on the existence of early targumic versions of Genesis, certainly much before the time modern scholars would have us believe till now. The Talmudic dictum that the Targum was initiated at the beginning of the Second Commonwealth is now strongly supported (Babli Megillah 3a): “Onqelos the proselyte rendered the Targum on the Pentateuch according to the tradition of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua. The Targum on the Prophets was rendered by Jonathan ben Uziel according to the tradition of Haggai, Zecharia and Malachi . . . But did not Rabh Iqa ben Abhin say in the name of Rabh Hananel, who quoted Rabh (on Nehemia 8, 8): ‘Thus they read in the book of the law of the Lord’—this refers to the written text, ‘clearly’—this refers to the Targum . . .? They had forgotten it (= the Targum on the Pentateuch), but they (= Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua) renewed its composition.” This passage reflects the realization of the rabbis that the Targum had its origin in the 5th century before the Christian Era, but eventually lost its original form, possibly through the composition of multiple versions, while it was revived and “canonized” in the first century Christian Era.

The speedy and expertly publication by Israeli scholars of 1 Q Genesis Apocryphon makes it even more evident that thorough knowledge of the Talmudic literature is an indispensable requirement of scholars doing primary work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is, therefore, lamentable that, because of the present political conditions, Jewish scholars are given no participation in the “international, interconfessional team” (23) of eight scholars appointed to prepare the publication of the Scrolls.


Manfred R. Lehmann


(1) A Genesis Apocryphon, N. Avigad and Y. Yadin, Jerusalem, 1956.

(2) Cf. Cant. Rabbah IV, 22: «Any prophesy intended for its own time as well as for future generations was published, but any prophesy intended for its own time only, but not for future generations, was not published. However, in the future to come the Holy, blessed be He, will publish them.»

(3) Examples: Yerushalmi Shebi’ith VI, 1: ר’ אלעזר פתר לה לעתיד לבא.—Yer. Sotah IX, 6: רבנין דהכא פתרין קרייא בהורג וכו’.—Cant. Rabbah I, 41: ר’ יצחק פתר קרייה במלחמת מדין.

(4) Examples: Damascus Fragments VIII, 13–14; IX, 19–20; 1 Q Milhamah I, 2–3; 4 Q Pesher Psalm (37), II, 1.

(5) Examples: Mishnah Niddah II, 1; Maaser Sheni V, 1; Kelaim III, 9; Tractate Sopherim XVI, 3. Similar observations can be made about groups alternately called זקנים הראשונים (e. g. Yer. Gittin IX, 11), חסידים הראשונים (e. g. Yer. Baba Qamma III, 3), הותיקים (Yer. Berakhoth I, 2).

(6) The Cairo Genizah, Paul E. Kahle, London, 1947, p. 120 f.

(7) The Old Testament Text and Versions, B. J. Roberts, Cardiff, 1951, p. 198.

(8) For midrashic parallels, see below.

(9) This passage represents a close parallel to recently published Aramaic fragments from 4 Qumran, see Revue Biblique, July 1956, p. 412. J. Milik describes pesher Danielb as an account of the Tower of Babel. However 1 Q Gen. Ap. XII, 10, 13 and 16 makes it unquestionable that the account refers to Noah’s vineyard after the Flood.

(10) Cf. also Chaim Heller, The Samaritan Pentateuch, Berlin, 1923.

(11) 3 Enoch, Hugo Odeberg, Cambridge, 1928, p. 152.

(12)  See Thorah Shelemah.

(13) A variant to this Midrash is found in M. Kasher, Thorah Shelemah, in Talmudic-Midrashic Encyclopedia on the Pentateuch, vol. 3, p. 564, New York, 1939: «When they neared Egypt, there was a river, and both he and she entered into it, she fell and he lifted her up; when they reached shore to dry her clothes, he saw her thighs. » וראה את שוקה) cf. 1 Q Gen. Ap. xx, 6 וכמה שלמא להן לה שקיהא

(14) Opus citatum, p. 23, 24.

(15) This Midrash only now becomes clear, since 1 Q Gen. Ap. adds the information that Abraham actually lived in the Valley of Shave. Cf. XXII, 13 .ואברם שרא בעמק שוא והוא עמק מלכא

(16) Ed. Kasher.

(17) Kasher, opus citatum, p. 570.

(18) Cf. Kasher, opus citatum, p. 571.

(19) Edition Kasher.

(20) Edition Kasher, p. 611.

(21) In dating the Aramaic of 1 Q Gen. Ap. we may occasionally draw on Elephantine Aramaic which was used by Jews before the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Examples: 1 Q Gen. Ap. has a tendency to translate Hebrew רכוש as נכסיא, where Targum Jonathan and Targum Onkelos render קנינא (e. g. XXII, 11, 19, likewise XXII, 17, 22. 24. 31. 32). Elephantine Aramaic shows the same preference for this term, e. g. Cowley 13, 4; 14, 6. 8; 30, 16; Kraeling 2, 6; 7, 23. 41. Hebrew is a loanword from Babylonian nikâsu. – – – – סגיא  «greatly, exceedingly» is a common 1 Q  Gen. Ap. term (II, 11; XX, 7. 8. 31 etc.). It occurs also often in Elephantine texts, e. g. Cowley, 27, 19; 30, 2; 41, 2; Kraeling 13, 1.  – – -The somewhat obscure Elephantine term מן חם עד חוט (Cowley 15, 25. 28; Kraeling 2, 8. 10) has been rendered ‘from broom to thread’ (Driver), ‘both shread and thread’ (Cowley), ‘from straw to thread’ (Kraeling). It is, however, tempting to see an idiomatic derivation from Genesis 14, 23; cf. 1 Q Gen. Ap. מן חוט עד ערקא דמסאן.

(22) Cf. Kasher, p. 619, note 133.

(23) Frank M. Cross Junior, The Ancient Library of Qumran, New York, 1958, p. 28.


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