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


One of the Samuel manuscripts from Qumran, the Samuel B Scroll, has been identified, along with the Jeremiah A Scroll, discussed later, as one of the earliest biblical manuscripts in the collection. The Samuel A Scroll has been dated to about the last quarter of the third century B.C.E., previous to the founding of the Qumran community. This scroll, therefore, must have been brought to Qumran. This text is basically of the proto-Masoretic type.

Varying considerably from the Masoretic text is the Samuel C Scroll. This manuscript preserves only parts of the first two chapters of I Samuel. The script has been dated to the first century B.C.E.

Clearly, the most interesting of these texts is Samuel A. In many of its variations from the Masoretic text, this manuscript seems to accord with the Septuagint and provides clues about the type of Hebrew text that would have stood behind it. However, the text shows evidence of being mixed, for it also reflects elements that are clearly proto-Masoretic. Although the manuscript clearly demonstrates that a Hebrew original of this text lies behind many of the variations found in the Septuagint, it also appears that the Book of Samuel has been interpreted to bring elements of the historical account it presents into harmony with the legal requirements of the Torah.

This scroll has become legend because of the claim that it includes material missing in the Masoretic Hebrew text that supposedly was part of the original Book of Samuel. Further, scholars have argued that this manuscript preserves the original text, whereas the Masoretic version represents a shortened text. In particular, the Samuel A Scroll adds a prologue at the beginning of chapter 11-

[And Na]hash, king of the children of Ammon, sorely oppressed the children of Gad and the children of Reuben; and he gouged out a[ll] their right eyes and struck ter[ror and dread] in Israel. There was no one left among the children of Israel bey[ond the Jordan who]se right eye was no[t go]uged out by Naha[sh king] of the children of Ammon; except (for) seven thousand men (who had) [fled from] the children of Ammon and entered [J]abesh Gilead. About a month later . . .

What follows is the text of I Samuel 11-1. In verse 2, Nahash proposes the gouging out of the right eyes as a condition for entering into a treaty, since the men of Jabesh Gilead had previously escaped this fate. Such a condition would make no sense without the context provided by the addition of Samuel A at the start of the chapter. Since this passage is so specific to these historical events and is clearly not derivative of other biblical materials, it appears to be original. And because this addition was known to Josephus, we have to say at the minimum that it was part of the Samuel text of some Jews in Second Temple times and may actually have been part of the original book.

Although this example is quite convincing, it stands alone in the entire Qumran biblical corpus as a piece of original composition, rather than an explanatory addition. In other cases in which Qumran texts have additions, they usually cannot have been part of the original text but are rather to be explained as the result of biblical interpretation.

Pages 174-175

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