Pesher Nahum, Lawrence H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia 1994.


Bust of Demetrius

Bust of Demetrius. By Yair Haklai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Pesher Nahum survives only partly in a manuscript from the late Hasmonaean or early Herodian (Roman) period. The surviving text appears to be incomplete. Because certain of the passages deal with each of the three chapters of the biblical book, the original text must have covered the entirety of Nahum. From one allusion, it appears that the text must be dated after the Roman conquest in 63 B.C.E. The text mentions two specific historical personages—an Antiochus and a Demetrius—and events from the early first century B.C.E. We shall return later to interpretation of these events.

Demetrius is described as allied with the “seekers of smooth things,” a term better translated “those who interpret (Scripture) falsely,” a sobriquet used to denote the Pharisees. The Lion of Wrath is also allied with Demetrius. Because the text speaks of different sects within Judaism, termed here Ephraim, Menasseh, and Israel or Judah, the document is very important for an understanding of the history of the Jewish movements of the Hasmonaean period.

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