Habakkuk Pesher I-IX: The Coming of the Final Age (Martinez)


Lawrence H. Schiffman, Texts and Traditions, Ktav, Hoboken 1998, p.354-356.

This scroll, typical of the pesher texts, interprets the parables of the biblical book of Habakkuk to refer to events in the writer’s own times. The scroll mentions the Teacher of Righteousness, the leader of the sect, and the traitors who opposed him. The Chaldeans of Habakkuk’s time are transposed into the Romans who are presented as the mighty army that God uses to exact revenge on His enemies.

I 1 [Hab. 1-1-2, “Oracle received by the prophet Habakkuk in a vision. For how long, Lord] will I ask for help without 2 [your hearing me; shout- Violence! to you without your saving me?” The interpretation of this concerns the beg]inning of the [final] generation…; II 1 Hab. 1 -5, “You reported it.” [The interpretation of the word concerns] the traitors with the Man of 2 Lies, since they do not (believe in the words of the] Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of 3 God; (and it concerns) the traito[rs of the] new [covenant] since they did not 4 believe in the covenant of God [and dishonored] his holy name. 5 Likewise- The interpretation of the word [concerns the trai]tors in the 6 last days. They shall be violators of [the coven]ant who will not believe 7 when they hear all that is going [to happen to] the final generation, from the mouth of the 8 Priest whom God has placed wi[thin the Community,] to foretell the fulfillment of all 9 the words of his servants, the prophets, [by] means of whom God has declared 10 all that is going to happen to his people [Israel]. Hab. 1-6, “For see, I will mobilize 11 the Chaldaeans, a cru[el and determined] people.” 12 Its interpretation concerns the Kittim, 44 who are swift and powerful 13 in battle, to slay many [with the edge of the sword] in the kingdom of 14 the Kittim; they will vanquish [many countries] and will not believe 15 in the precepts of [God…]

III 1 and they will advance over the plain, to destroy and pillage the cities of the country. 2 For this is what he has said- Hab. 1-6, “To vanquish foreign habitations.” Hab. 1-7, “It is terrible 3 and terrible; from his very self his justice and his preeminence arise.” 4 The interpretation of this concerns the Kittim. Due to the fear and dread they provoke in all 5 the peoples; their intrigues are planned ahead, and with cunning and treachery 6 they behave towards all the peoples. Hab. 1-8, “Their horsemen are swifter than panthers; they are more savage 7 than wolves at night. Their riders leap and hurl themselves from afar. 8 They will fly like the eagle stooping to gorge itself” Hab. 1-9, “All of them resort to force; the breath of 9 their faces is like the East wind.” [Its inter]pretation concerns the Kittim, who 10 trample the land with their horses and their animals 11 and come from far off, from the islands of the sea, to devour all the peoples, like an eagle, 12 insatiable. With fury [they will assemble, and with bu]rning wrath 13 and livid faces they will speak to all [the peoples.] For this is what 14 he has said- [Hab. 1-9, “The breath of their faces is
like the East wind. And they amass] captives [like sa]nd….”

V 8 …Hab. 1-13, “Why are you staring, traitors, and you maintain your silence when 9 a wicked person consumes someone more upright than himself?” Its interpretation concerns the House of Absalom10 and the members of his council, who kept silent at the time of the reproach of the Teacher of Righteousness, 11 and did not help him against the Man of Lies, who rejected 12 the Law in the midst of their whole Comm[unity.]… VI 2 And what it says- Hab. 1-16, “For this he sacrifices to his net 3 and burns incense to his seine.” Its interpretation- they 4 offer sacrifices to their standards, and their weapons are 5 the object of their worship….”

VIII 3 Hab. 2-5-6, “Surely wealth will corrupt the boaster 4 and one who distends his jaws like the abyss and is as greedy as death will not be restrained. 5 All the nations ally against him, all the peoples collaborate against him. 6 Are they not all, perhaps, going to chant verses against him, explaining riddles at his expense? 7 They shall say- ‘Ah, one who amasses the wealth of others! How long will he load himself 8 with debts?’” Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest, who 9 was called by the name of loyalty at the start of his office. However, when he ruled 10 over Israel his heart became conceited, he deserted God and betrayed the laws for the sake of 11 riches. And he stole and hoarded wealth from the brutal men who had rebelled against God. 12 And he seized public money, incurring additional serious sin. 13 And he performed repulsive acts of every type of filthy licentiousness. (Hab. 2-7-8)- 14 “Will your creditors not suddenly get up, and those who shake you wake up? You will be their prey. 15 Since you pillaged many countries, the rest of the peoples will pillage you.” 16 The interpretation of the word concerns the Priest who rebelled 17 […] the precepts of [God….]

IX 1 being distressed by the punishments of sin; the horrors of 2 terrifying maladies acted upon him, as well as vengeful acts on his fleshly body. And what 3 it says- Hab. 2-8, “Since you pillaged many countries, 4 the rest of the peoples will pillage you.” Its interpretation concerns the last priests of Jerusalem, 5 who will accumulate riches and loot from plundering the peoples. 6 However, in the last days their riches and their loot will fall into the hands 7 of the army of the Kittim…. XI 1 Afterwards knowledge will be revealed to them, as plentiful as the water 2 in the sea. Hab. 2-15, “Woe to anyone making his companion drunk, spilling out 3 his anger! He even makes him drunk to look
at their festivals!” 4 Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest who 5 pursued the Teacher of Righteousness to consume him with the ferocity 6 of his anger in the place of his banishment, in festival time, during the rest 7 of the Day of Atonement. He paraded in front of them, to consume them 8 and make them fall on the day of fasting, the Sabbath of their rest.

43. Garcia Martinez, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated- The Qumran Texts in English, W.G.E. Watson, translator (Leiden- E. J. Brill, 1994), pp. 197-202, with minor revisions by L. H. Schiffman.

44. Kittim, probably designating Cyprus, was a code word in the scrolls used to refer to the Romans who were gradually closing in on the Near East when this text was written. The sectarians expected the great messianic war to be fought against them.

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