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On Prophets, Warriors, and Kings: Former Prophets Through the Eyes of Their Interpreters
 3110375966, 9783110375961

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes
The Comeback of Comebacks: David, Bathsheba, and the Prophets in the Song of Songs
Killing the Father: Gender and the Figure of Solomon in Ben Sira’s Hymn to the Fathers
The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation: The Contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Zedekiah, Covenant, and the Scrolls from Qumran
Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives
Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool for the Study of Biblical Quotations and Allusions in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?
Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus: Luke’s Flesh and Bones (Luke 24:39) in Light of Ancient Narratives of Ascent, Resurrection, and Apotheosis
King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity
“A Running Thread of Ideals”: Joshua and the Israelite Conquest in American History
Index of Names and Subjects

Citation preview

On Prophets, Warriors, and Kings

Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft

Edited by John Barton, Ronald Hendel, Reinhard G. Kratz and Markus Witte

Volume 470

On Prophets, Warriors, and Kings

Former Prophets through the Eyes of Their Interpreters Edited by George J. Brooke and Ariel Feldman

ISBN 978-3-11-037596-1 e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-037738-5 e-ISBN (EPUB) 978-3-11-039291-3 ISSN 0934-2575 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A CIP catalog record for this book has been applied for at the Library of Congress. Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at http://dnb.dnb.de. © 2016 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston Printing and binding: CPI books GmbH, Leck ♾ Printed on acid-free paper Printed in Germany www.degruyter.com

Table of Contents Abbreviations Preface





Timothy J. Sandoval Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


Serge Frolov The Comeback of Comebacks: David, Bathsheba, and the Prophets in the Song of Songs 41 Claudia V. Camp Killing the Father: Gender and the Figure of Solomon in Ben Sira’s Hymn to the Fathers 65 Ariel Feldman The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation: The Contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls 77 George J. Brooke Zedekiah, Covenant, and the Scrolls from Qumran


George J. Brooke and Hindy Najman Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives 111 Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool for the Study of Biblical Quotations and Allusions in the Dead Sea Scrolls 129 Warren Carter Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?



Table of Contents

Shelly Matthews Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus: Luke’s Flesh and Bones (Luke 24:39) in Light of 161 Ancient Narratives of Ascent, Resurrection, and Apotheosis Matthias Henze King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


Scott M. Langston “A Running Thread of Ideals”: Joshua and the Israelite Conquest in American History 229 Index of Names and Subjects


Abbreviations AB ABD AGJU AnBib ANF ATDan BDF


The Anchor Bible Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by D.N. Freedman. 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des Urchristentums Analecta biblica The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson. 1885 – 1887. 10 vols. Repr., Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994. Acta Theologica Danica Friedrich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Beiträge zur Erforschung des Alten Testaments und des antiken Judentum Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum lovaniensium Biblical Interpretation Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies Biblischer Kommentar, Altes Testament Biblische Notizen Bible et terre sainte Biblische Zeitschrift Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Catholic Biblical Quarterly Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series Commentary on Early Jewish Literature The Context of Scripture. Edited by W.W. Hallo. 3 vols. Leiden: Brill, 1997– 2002. Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium Discoveries in the Judaean Desert Dead Sea Discoveries Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition. Leiden: Brill; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. Estudios bíblicos Fathers of the Church Series Die griechische christliche Schriftsteller der ersten [drei] Jahrhunderte




Harvard Semitic Monographs Harvard Theological Review Harvard Theological Studies Hebrew Union College Annual International Critical Commentary Israel Exploration Journal Israel Oriental Studies Journal of the American Academy of Religion Journal of Ancient Judaism Journal of Ancient Judaism Supplement Series Journal of Biblical Literature Journal of Jewish Studies Jewish Quarterly Review Journal for the Study of Judaism Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplement Series Journal for the Study of the New Testament Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series Jewish Studies Quarterly Loeb Classical Library Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies New American Commentary New Cambridge Bible Commentary Neotestamentica New International Commentary on the Old Testament Supplements to Novum Testamentum The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 2. Edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace. 1890 – 1900. 14 vols. Repr., Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994. OBT Overtures to Biblical Theology OLP Orientalia lovaniensia periodica OTL Old Testament Library OTS Old Testament Studies OtSt Oudtestamentische Studiën PG Patrologia graeca. Edited by J.-P. Migne. 162 vols. Paris, 1857– 1886. PIBA Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association PTSDSSP Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project REJ Revue des études juives RB Revue biblique



Revue de Qumrân Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses Revue de l’histoire des religions Society of Biblical Literature Early Judaism and Its Literature Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series Society of Biblical Literature Septuagint and Cognate Studies Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers Sources chrétiennes Semitica Studies in the History of Religions (supplement to Numen) Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah Subsidia biblica Septuaginta Vetus Testamentum Graecum Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigraphica Theologische Literaturzeitung Texte und Studien zum antiken Judentum Vetus Testamentum Supplements to Vetus Testamentum Word Biblical Commentary Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft


Preface The papers offered in this volume were presented at the conference on the interpretation of the Former Prophets that took place on May 13 – 14, 2014 at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas. We are grateful to all the participants for entrusting us with the fruits of their research. Our sincere thanks go to British Academy Newton International Fellowships and to Jewish Studies Program at Brite Divinity School for securing the funds that made this conference possible. We are grateful to Ms. Jillian Nelson who carefully proofread the entire manuscript. Finally, it is with deep gratitude that we acknowledge our debt to Professors Reinhard Kratz, John Barton, Ronald Hendel, and Markus Witte who kindly agreed to accept this book for publication in their distinguished series. George J. Brooke Ariel Feldman

Introduction The essays presented in this volume seek to shed light on how the Prophets, especially the Former Prophets, were read and understood throughout the ages. Much has been done in this field in recent years, yet, to paraphrase Rabbi Tarfon’s maxim, “the task is great but the reward is abundant” (m. Abot 2:15). As the following overview demonstrates, each of the papers included here takes a fresh look at a yet another “piece” of an intricate and complex “mosaic” of the ancient and not-so-ancient interpretations of the Former and Latter Prophets. The volume opens with an essay by Timothy J. Sandoval illuminating the ways in which the figure of Qohelet from Eccl 1:12– 2:26 re-figures King Solomon of 1 Kings. He suggests that the so-called “royal fiction” of Ecclesiastes develops the image of the king found in the pre- or non-deuteronomistic strata of 1 Kings. Reading Ecclesiastes against the realia of Ptolemaic rule, Sandoval argues that for the scribes responsible for the production of Ecclesiastes the Pharaoh-like figure of Solomon of 1 Kings offered a vehicle for a subtle critique of the contemporary rulers. He finds a similar critique already in 1 Kings, especially in its depiction of Solomon’s wisdom as a kind of political shrewdness, rather than as a traditional moral virtue. This representation of the king’s wisdom, as well of his wealth and building projects, are taken up in Ecclesiastes and developed in subtly ironic and even satirical ways. Qohelet’s wisdom, which is “essentially, or merely, knowledge and intellectual acuity … satirically unmasks, and so indirectly and symbolically resists the pretensions to domination, including epistemological domination, by political and economic elites—all the new Solomons— of his own day” (p. 39). Serge Frolov’s study takes a close look at the echoes of David, Bathsheba, and Solomon in the Song of Songs. He finds echoes of David in the Song’s use of the lexemes ‫דוד‬, ‫דגול‬, and ‫רבבה‬, as well as in its description of the beloved as “fair and ruddy” (Song 5:10). In addition to the reference to Solomon’s mother in Song 3:11, Frolov suggests that the Song may allude to Bathsheba when it speaks of ‫השולמית‬, deliberately recalling ‫שלמה‬, and of ‫מחלת מחנים‬, reminiscent of ‫מחנים‬, a location prominent in the Davidic narrative and, perhaps, the home town of Bathsheba (7:1). Assuming that Song 7:8 – 9 portrays a woman who gave birth, a mother, he proposes that 3:7– 8 refers to the young Solomon, whereas 8:7b alludes to David’s affair with Bathsheba. All these, he observes, support the claim that Song of Songs is a unity, rather than a collection of unrelated love songs. Overall, Frolov reads Song with an eye on other books that came to be a part of the Jewish canon. Envisioning the Hebrew Bible as a conversation, he views the books of the Prophets as a divine address to Israel. The Prophets fre-



quently represent the relationships between Israel and God as those of a husband and a wayward wife. Yet in the Prophets, suggests Frolov, only the man is speaking, whereas the woman is silent. For him, her response comes in the Writings. Capitalizing on the Song’s being predominantly a direct speech by a female protagonist whose beloved avoids commitment and willingly endangers her, Frolov reads the Song of Songs as Lady Israel’s response to the men of the Former and Latter Prophets, her apology. Claudia Camp looks for the authorial voice of Jesus Ben Sira in his portrayal of Solomon (Sir 44:12– 23). She suggests that Ben Sira’s critique of the king’s inability to control his sexuality reveals “a larger seam of anxiety” which deconstructs that book’s “pious but superficial optimism” (p. 65). Although Ben Sira optimistically presents the superiority of the scribal profession, in reality, as she observes, such an occupation depended on the gracious patronage of elites. In Ben Sira’s world God will preserve the good name of a worthy individual, yet he also knows too well that life is full of pitfalls that may endanger one’s ability to live an honorable life. While, as she notes, “shame could come from many directions, Ben Sira reserves his most vicious verbal opprobrium for the evil wives and daughters who might sully the best of men” (p. 66). Camp proposes that the newly emerging notion of a body of sacred literature, perhaps with outlined boundaries (Torah and the Former and the Latter Prophets), offered the scribe new tools of control. Identifying Wisdom with the Torah, Ben Sira obtains a control of what Camp describes as “the body of writings given a female form” (p. 67), control which can bring him honor in this life. Moreover, Ben Sira wishes to add a book of his own to this body of sacred writings. While Solomon, the wise man par excellence, might have played a role in Ben Sira’s authorial self-consciousness, Camp describes how he refuses to take the king as his example. Since wisdom in Ben Sira is for the sage both a mother-like figure and his wife, she suggests, with an eye on the Oedipus myth, that by rejecting Solomon, Ben Sira “kills the father” and becomes the one possessing the mother, Wisdom, now embodied in a book. Ariel Feldman’s essay reviews the contribution of the previously unknown Jewish texts that emerged from the caves of Qumran to the study of the early transmission and interpretation of the book of Judges. Surveying the four copies of Judges from the Judean Desert in light of other textual witnesses, especially, the Septuagint, he suggests that the cumulative weight of the evidence may hardly support the claim that the Qumran manuscripts of Judges along with the Old Greek indicate a shorter and earlier edition of this book from the MT. Feldman also takes a close look at other Scrolls dealing, in one way or another, with the book of Judges. Reading them in light of the contemporary writings that were known before the discovery of Qumran, he notes that the Scrolls seem to



confirm the overall impression that Second Temple literature rarely deals with the book of Judges as a whole, yet at the same time they supply new instances of the use of details of Judges in both familiar and new contexts. George J. Brooke explores the references to King Zedekiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls. He reviews the attempts to explain the covenant with Zedekiah in 4Q470 (Text Mentioning Zedekiah), favoring the proposal that views it as a future covenant inspired by the promises from Jer 23:5 – 6 and 31:31– 34. Brooke also notes a link between Zedekiah and covenant in 4QMMT, as well as in 4Q247 (Pesher on the Apocalypse of Weeks) setting the future and the past events within a framework of ten “weeks.” He notes similar links between periodization and covenant in Matthean and Lucan genealogies. For Brooke all these serve as “an indication of one form of ancient Jewish historiography in which periods of history are linked with covenant formation” (p. 95). In a joint paper George J. Brooke and Hindy Najman trace some of the trajectories in which Second Temple Jews and early Christians interpreted the figure of King David. They observe that while the figure of David persisted throughout Second Temple period, it “was not always with the prominence that some have assumed, nor necessarily in the ways that might strike some today as the most obvious” (p. 111). As Brooke and Najman explore the recurring representations of David as inspired poet and scribe, prophet and penitent sinner, they note that the explicit connection between David and messianism emerges only late in surviving Second Temple Jewish literature, particularly from the second half of the first century BCE onward. This development may reflect attempts to negotiate contemporary forms of kingship, be it Hasmonean, Herodian, or imperial Roman. As far as the New Testament writers are concerned, while their “interest in Jesus’s messiahship as a step in restoring the house of David could well have had contemporary political significance as much as being an adoption and adaptation of some aspects of messianic expectation in earlier forms of Judaism,” their Jesus “is enthroned in heaven, but not directly because of his supposed Davidic descent, but much more because of his messianic role for those who accepted him as divine agent in salvation” (pp. 126 – 127). All reception history depends on the suitable analysis of scriptural allusions and quotations. The paper by Ariel and Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino reports on their work on a new online tool collecting, analyzing, and recording allusions to and quotations from the Hebrew Bible in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unlike the presently available printed catalogues of scriptural quotations and allusions in the Scrolls, limited both in space and scope, the new tool allows for the creation of far more detailed records of different types of intertextuality and is capable of being searched in a variety of searches. This brief



essay utilizes examples culled from the books of the Former Prophets to illustrate what has been achieved so far. Warren Carter’s essay challenges the prevalent assumption of Matthean scholarship “that Matthew’s Jesus and biblical Joshua—person and book—have little to do with each other” (p. 142). Utilizing a “reader-centered” approach informed by literary studies of characterization, he identifies twelve aspects of the Septuagint Joshua that could have been carried forward into Matthew. Having noted the multiple affinities between the Matthean Jesus and his namesake, Carter argues against what appears to many readers to be a major discontinuity between the two, i. e., Joshua’s role as a military commander violently occupying the Promised Land. He explores the Matthean Jesus’s incorporation of motifs of land and power, demonstrating that the military aspects of Joshua are not spiritualized but are carried in a variety of ways into Matthew’s concept of Jesus as a conquering Messiah. Shelly Matthews reviews the conceptual background of the Lukan description of the resurrected Jesus as having flesh and bones (24:39). Affirming the affinities between Gospel resurrection narratives, Jewish ascents (especially of Elijah), and Roman apotheosis traditions, she sees in the Lukan “flesh and bones” one of the points where Luke’s narrative stands in tension with those traditions. Though there is much Elijah typology in the Gospel of Luke, Matthews suggests that Luke 24:39 ought to be viewed in light of LXX Ezek 37:1– 14 or a tradition/text that elaborates on Ezek 37. Hence she explores the reworking of the Vision of the Dry Bones in 4Q385 (4Qpseudo-Ezekiela), observing that this text envisions a resurrection of the righteous as recompense in an impending eschatological era. Matthews then turns to the uses and interpretations of Ezek 37 by the early Christian apologists, Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. She concludes that “while Pseudo-Ezekiel and the Gospel of Matthew employ Ezekiel’s vision to assert an imminent resurrection of the righteous—the ‘raising up and leading out,’ Luke’s insistence on resurrection in flesh and bones does not reflect a similar urgency, a similar protest against the current state of affairs. Rather, like the early Christian apologists, he adopts Ezekiel’s Vision of the Dry Bones for a church that is carving out a place for itself in the world as it is” (pp. 181– 82). Matthias Henze’s study reviews Jewish and Christian traditions pertaining to King Manasseh. Analyzing Manasseh’s portrayals in Kings and Chronicles, he highlights aspects that are taken up by later interpreters. For instance, the Deuteronomist sharply contrasts Manasseh with Hezekiah and thus leaves readers with an anticipation of an inevitable, yet unstated, clash between Manasseh and Isaiah, Hezekiah’s close associate. His Manasseh builds idols, yet this king is also the longest ruling Davidic monarch. At the same time, the Chronicler leaves Manasseh’s repentance and reforms unexplained, while the king’s prayer,



mentioned several times by the Chronicler, is missing from his account. As Henze explores the subsequent attempts to clarify these and other gaps in the scriptural portrayals of Manasseh, he takes a close look at two prayers attributed to Manasseh, a Hebrew one from Qumran (4Q381 [4QNon-Canonical Psalms B]) and a Greek one preserved in the Didascalia Apostolorum. He suggests that these penitential prayers were not written with Manasseh in mind, but were ascribed to him at a later point. For him, both prayers, particularly the one embedded in the instructions for bishops in Didascalia, served as a vehicle for a theology of repentance and forgiveness. Henze then turns to patristic sources utilizing the figure of Manasseh as a penitent sinner and elaborates on the legend accusing Manasseh of killing Isaiah, first in the writings of the Church Fathers, then in Ascension of Isaiah, and finally in the rabbinic accounts of Isaiah’s trial and death. He concludes his paper by discussing diverse traditions regarding Manasseh’s building of idols. Scott Langston’s essay is a gateway into the history of the use (and abuse) of the book of Joshua in the New World. To buttress the non-relenting presence of the book of Joshua in the current US discourse, he first traces the uses of the term “Joshua generation” from the days of the civil rights movement to the present. Yet his main interest lies with demonstrating how by reading into Joshua ideals of liberty, equality, opportunity, and hope, Euro-Americans justified the taking of the land from the Native Americans. Langston maps the attempts to read Joshua as a freedom narrative from the papal bull of 1493, giving possession of the New World to Spain, to the subsequent Doctrine of Discovery, to the English colonists, and to the Americans’ rhetoric in their struggle with Great Britain. Elaborating on the powerful notion identifying Euro-Americans with Israelites and Native Americans with Canaanites, Langston shows how persistent this view proved to be, citing William Foxwell Albright’s view of the Israelite conquests, popular movies, and the recently published American Patriot’s Bible. Langston concludes with a call to use such a “lethal text” as Joshua “with great care, caution, sensitivity, and wisdom” (p. 258). These essays give priority to the reception of scriptural traditions. They are organized in the chronological order of the receiving traditions rather than the probable dates of the scriptural sources. While these papers address only few aspects of the multi-faceted reception history of the Former Prophets, it is hoped that the new insights offered here will stimulate further inquiry into this fascinating field and lead to more comprehensive studies of the reception of the Torah and the Literary Prophets.

Timothy J. Sandoval

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes 1 Introduction It is commonplace for commentators to note that the Qohelet figure in the book of Ecclesiastes, especially in the so-called “royal fiction” of Eccl 1:12– 2:26, evokes the legendary wise king Solomon, as he is presented in 1 Kgs 1– 11.¹ The superscription of 1:1 and the initial line of the royal fiction at 1:12 make this connection between Solomon and Qohelet fairly explicit. Although the name Solomon is never mentioned in Ecclesiastes, it is of course Solomon who can most easily be identified as the “son of David” who was also “king over Israel in Jerusalem.”² What’s more, the general picture in Ecclesiastes of a fabulously wealthy figure who “made great works,” “built houses” (2:4), and was “very wise” (2:15) fits nicely, if only generally, with the picture of Solomon as developed in 1 Kings. However beyond noting the general connection between the two figures, it is not so commonplace, at least not in modern scholarly commentaries on Ecclesiastes, to explore much the manner in which Ecclesiastes re-figures Solomon of the Former Prophets for its own rhetorical ends. Rather, quite distinctly, Qohelet’s discourse is most often studied in relation to that other text with strong Solomonic connections—the book of Proverbs. This, of course, is not unwarranted. However, paying closer attention to 1 Kings when reading Ecclesiastes can reveal not only how exactly Ecclesiastes refigures Solomon as Qohelet, it can also illumine further the relationship between Ecclesiastes and traditional wisdom like Proverbs. My main claims in this paper are the following: The portrait of Qohelet drawn in the royal fiction of Eccl 1:12– 2:26 evokes or constructs an image of Solomon that parallels a largely non- or pre-deuteronomistic representation of Solomon in 1 Kings.³ That is, the character of Qohelet emerges from the image of

 Solomon, of course, appears in  and  Chronicles as well. However, the Chronicler’s account relies on the  Kings material and does not much influence the picture of Solomon-Qohelet in Ecclesiastes. I leave aside as well the brief mention of Solomon in  Sam : and :.  All translations of the biblical texts are from the NRSV, unless otherwise noted.  I say “non- or pre- deuteronomistic” (here and throughout) because I do not argue for the chronological priority of various passages in Kings that do not betray deuteronomistic concerns or rhetoric in relation to passages that do. Although I take most non-deuteronomistic passages to


Timothy J. Sandoval

Solomon in 1 Kgs 1– 11 minus the obvious deuteronomistic passages in those chapters: 3:3 – 15; 6:11– 13; 8:14– 61; 9:1– 9; and 11:1– 13, 33 – 39.⁴ The scribal author(s) of Ecclesiastes, while perhaps not regularly consulting a scroll of the “Deuteronomistic History,” nonetheless knew well the traditions about Solomon like those preserved in the MT of 1 Kings; or given Ecclesiastes’s avoidance of strong deuteronomistic tropes in its refiguring of Solomon, perhaps even a non- or pre-deuteronomistic version of events associated with Solomon’s reign. Ecclesiastes’s avoidance of obvious deuteronomistic concerns in its re-figuring of Solomon as Qohelet serves well one of the book’s rhetorical purposes: to offer (at least in the royal fiction) a literary symbolic critique of, or challenge to, the efforts of third century BCE imperial figures to dominate their subjects in and around Jerusalem, not just militarily and economically—the more obvious modes of imperial domination—but also epistemologically or via claims to knowledge and wisdom. Ecclesiastes’s Qohelet is a sufficiently precise recollection of Solomon in 1 Kings to evoke the legendary wise ruler and is also a sufficiently general picture of the monarch in his royal splendor to conjure images of the excesses of royal-imperial (or other elite) figures in Ecclesiastes’s own day. Ecclesiastes’s construction of Qohelet in the likeness of what i will call “Imperial Solomon” of 1 Kings—especially Imperial Solomon’s wisdom—is an important strategy the book deploys to offer a kind of satiric critique of Qohelet and political-economic elites of the Ptolemaic epoch for whom Qohelet is a kind of figure. Because Ecclesiastes is most concerned to unmask and challenge Ptolemaic era pretensions to domination, the scribe(s) who produced the book did not need the deuteronomistic portrait of Solomon, with his covenant obligations and religious

be pre-deuteronomistic, others have identified some non-deuteronomistic passages as “late” and “post-deuteronomistic.” Yet even potentially “late,” non-deuteronomistic passages would surely have been available to the Hellenistic writers of Ecclesiastes (see below).  I use the terms “largely” and “obvious” above because I am not concerned to discern precisely all possible levels of hypothetical deuteronomistic redactions in  Kgs  – , a sometimes tedious and uncertain task that others have ably taken up. However, the passages I note clearly, and by wide scholarly agreement, deploy deuteronomistic language and represent key deuteronomistic concerns. Cf., for example, the similar identification of deuteronomistic and non-deuteronomistic passages by Richard N. Nelson in First and Second Kings, Interpretation (Atlanta: John Knox, ), . Much material in what is now called the Deuteronomistic History surely existed in some written form prior to being taken up into an initial th century Josianic deuteronomistic work, later redacted in the exile. However the extent to which possible earlier pre-Josianic historical collections (such as the Hezekian, Jehu, and Solomonic editions of the Deuteronomistic History identified by, among others, Marvin A. Sweeney) are properly called “deuteronomistic”— reflecting the rhetoric and ideology of Deuteronomy—is not entirely clear. Cf. Marvin A. Sweeney, I & II Kings: A Commentary, OTL (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, ), .

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


apostasy, and so left this aspect of 1 Kings aside when constructing Qohelet as Solomon-like. In fact, the critique of Qohelet in Ecclesiastes, rather than simply emerging from deuteronomistic concerns, has much in common with traditional wisdom (and certain prophetic) discourses—the sorts of long duration texts (to borrow the terminology David Carr employs) with which scribes in the early Hellenistic epoch would have been intimately familiar. The scribe(s) responsible for producing both Kings and Ecclesiastes were likely trained in the literature and ethics of traditional wisdom like that of the book of Proverbs.⁵ Qohelet (and other Ptolemaic epoch elites), like Imperial Solomon in 1 Kings, does not embody traditional scribal wisdom’s vision of the just and wise ruler, despite claims by both texts that these characters do possess great “wisdom.” Of course, Solomon in 1 Kings engages not at all in that fundamental and most obvious of imperial actions: territorial expansion via military exploits. His kingdom is already established thanks to the efforts of his father David. Neither does Qohelet overtly practice war and conquer land in Ecclesiastes. But empires are built and sustained through a host of considerably more complex interplays of power than simple military conquest. In both 1 Kings and Ecclesiastes, there are certain indications of the ongoing exercise and management of empire in which Solomon and Qohelet engage (discussed below). However, the imperial acts and character of both—including their great wisdom—are somewhat naturalized or valorized, not overtly criticized, by the texts. 1 Kings’ portrait of Solomon’s wisdom, and the corresponding way Qohelet’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes is constructed, thus also points to the way “cultural life”—including the production of knowledge—could be “part of the consolidation of empire.” As Rebecca Flemming has suggested in relation to the Hellenistic empires (the context of Ecclesiastes), this sort of ideological work constitutes “the continuation of territorial expansion by other means” and functioned as “the expression of the superiority of the rulers over both their subject peoples and rival … regimes.”⁶ Yet the exercise of power ought not to be regarded as only a top down affair; claims of epistemological dominance might also be contested. Such contestation reflects the complex interplay and circulation of power in any given social context. In the case of Kings and Ecclesiastes, intellectually elite scribes recognized the efforts of imperial figures like Solomon and the Solomon-like Qohelet (and other Hellenistic political-economic elites) to dominate their subjects epistemo See David M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ).  Rebecca Flemming, “Empires of Knowledge: Medicine and Health in the Hellenistic World,” in A Companion to the Hellenistic World, ed. Andrew Erskine (Oxford: Blackwell, ):  –  (esp. ).


Timothy J. Sandoval

logically with their claims to knowledge and intelligence. Through their textual presentation of the wisdom of such elite political figures, these scribes challenged such pretensions, offering critiques of the royal figures, albeit in sometimes subtle ways, which emerge from their own scribal moral horizon. The critical pictures of Solomon’s and Qohelet’s wisdom in 1 Kings and Ecclesiastes are thus textual reflexes of the “in-between” social status of the ancient, intellectually elite scribes who produced those portraits. On the one hand, such scribes regularly were in the service of economic and political elites and so in some sense were beholden to their interests. On the other hand, as custodians of the art of writing and their people’s historical and ethical traditions, they could attempt to exercise significant social-symbolic control over such elites through the manner in which royal power and wisdom, whether Solomon’s, Qohelet’s, or that of any other imperial figure, was textually or symbolically represented and (implicitly) evaluated.

2 A New Pharaoh? Scholars regularly recognize that the account of Solomon’s rule in 1 Kings both lauds the great king and at points is quite critical of the monarch. Such a critical view of Solomon, for instance in 1 Kgs 2, is sometimes attributed to modern moral biases⁷ or an anti-Solomon source.⁸ At other points, as with 1 Kgs 11, despite the picture of the glorious king in much of their source material, later deuteronomistic editors are thought to evaluate Solomon in light of the covenantal expectations of the law of the king in Deut 17:14– 20 and paint him as a new pharaoh who causes the people to return to Egypt.⁹ Obviously then ancient writers could be critical of (sometimes) ruthless figures like the Solomon of 1 Kings, just as moderns can.¹⁰ Yet the appeal to distinct

 Cf. Nelson, First and Second Kings, ; Simon J. DeVries,  Kings, Word (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, ), .  Cf., most famously, Martin Noth’s view of the anti-Solomonic character of the so-called Throne Succession Narrative, including  Kgs  – . See his Könige, BKAT (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag des Erziehungsvereins, ),  –  (cited by DeVries,  Kings, ).  Marvin A. Sweeney, for instance, attributes the criticism of Solomon in  Kings almost exclusively to deuteronomistic framing (especially  Kgs ) of what he regards as earlier, firmly pro-Solomon material. For Sweeney, “Although many elements” of the narrative about Solomon “serve as the basis for later critique of Solomon in the Josianic DtrH,” they also appear as positive “indications of his great power and wealth.” See I & II Kings, ; cf.  – , , , and often.  For one articulation of this point, see Yvonne Sherwood, Biblical Blaspheming: Trials of the Sacred for a Secular Age (New York: Cambridge University Press, ), ch. .

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literary sources is not the only possible mode of explaining complex texts, and indeed it is less compelling for many biblical scholars today than it once was. Of course, a certain deuteronomistic critique of Solomon in 1 Kings is obvious and easily related to Deut 17. However it is also possible to suggest that there is a significant critical element in the portrait of Solomon in 1 Kgs 1– 11 that is neither purely a reflex of modern sensibilities, nor the vestiges of an anti-Solomon source, nor even merely a kind of “innuendo” that serves “as the basis for” a later deuteronomistic criticism, as Sweeney has put it.¹¹ One can leave Deut 17 and the deuteronomistic editors of 1 Kings aside and recognize how the deuteronomistic redactor(s)’s source material—surely authored and transmitted by scribes—itself paints an ambiguous portrait of Solomon as a both praise- and blame-worthy figure, although in a fashion more subtle than the deuteronomistic redactors critique of Solomon’s covenant failures. The scribes responsible for this non- or pre-deuteronomistic material—like the sages and scribes responsible for traditional wisdom—understood well the contradictions and ambiguities of royal imperial power and could not merely praise, but also (and at the same time) subtly critique such power through their representation of Solomon’s reign.¹² The oft-repeated contention that Solomon in 1 Kings is a pharaoh like figure, who like the king in Deut 17 returns the people to Egypt can therefore be modified. Solomon in 1 Kings is indeed a pharaoh-like character but this characterization is not dependent on Kings’ relation to Deut 17 or deuteronomistic redaction. What’s more, rather than causing the people to return to Egypt, it is better to say Solomon brings Egypt up to Judah and Israel. A few textual details—all of which are arguably pre- or non-deuteronomistic (or which at least do not betray strong deuteronomistic rhetoric or interests)—suggest this. For the scribal custodians of Israel’s historical and moral traditions, Solomon’s imposition of the mas (‫ )מס‬or forced labor in Israel (1 Kgs 5:27 [5:13]) would, of course, evoke the people’s memory of servitude and their “taskmasters” (‫ )שׂרי מסים‬in Egypt (Exod 1:11).¹³ Solomon’s horses and chariots installed and tended to in Judah and Israel likewise recall the Egyptian sojourn, especially Egyptian military might, which

 Sweeney, I & II Kings, , .  For traditional wisdom’s complex view of royal-political power, cf. the positive view in Prov :; :, ; :, ; :; : and a critically aware perspective in :; :; :; :; :, . Other verses such as :; :; :; :, ; : –  both affirm royal power, while implicitly and critically insisting on the just rules of kings; cf. : –  which may suggest the same, especially if ‫רשׁ‬is emended to ‫שׂר‬.   Kgs : –  (cf. :), where Solomon uses only non-Israelites for forced labor, seems to be an attempt to soften the picture of Solomon in : [:], where “all Israel” (perhaps exempting Judahites) is conscripted for such work.


Timothy J. Sandoval

pharaoh was not shy about using in efforts to coerce the ancestors to remain in their servitude. Indeed the ancient song of liberation in Exodus recalls explicitly pharaoh’s “horse and rider” (‫ רכב‬and ‫ ;סוס‬15:1)—a terminology shared with 1 Kgs 5 and 10 (5:6, 8 [4:26, 28]; 10: 25; cf. the deuteronomistic vv. 26 – 29). What’s more, Solomon also married Pharaoh’s daughter and built a residence for her in Judah (1 Kgs 3:1; 7:8),¹⁴ and during Solomon’s reign Pharaoh himself “went up” into what would become the heartland of Judah, a mere 22 miles from Jerusalem, to conquer Gezer as a gift for his daughter (1 Kgs 9:16).¹⁵ The marriage and the gift both perhaps signal that Solomon was regarded primarily as a vassal of pharaonic Egypt. Finally, even Solomon’s famous wisdom (discussed in detail below) could evoke memories of the Egyptian sojourn for it was the “new pharaoh” that did not know Joseph who said of the Israelites, “Let us deal shrewdly (‫ )נתחכמה‬with them” (Exod 1:10). These textual details in 1 Kings suggest that even a non- or pre-deuteronomistic presentation of Solomon lying behind the Deuteronomistic Historian’s work evoked a significant symbolic connection between Solomon and Pharaoh-Egypt. Although this association might in one sense serve to glorify Solomon’s royal prowess by associating him with the Egyptian monarch, it also inevitably evokes more critical memories of Israel’s servitude to Pharaoh in Egypt. The distinction in the logic and entailments of the figure—Solomon’s causing the people to return to, or go back down to Egypt and his causing Egypt to come up to Judah and Israel—is surely subtle. But it is important for imagining Ecclesiastes’s appropriation of the non-deuteronomistic pieces of Solomon’s story in 1 Kings. This “presence of Egypt” in Judah and Israel and the image of Solomon as a kind of new pharaoh, combined with the other images of Imperial Solomon and especially his wisdom (noted below), would not have been lost on Judean scribes in the Ptolemaic era. These surely knew not only traditions about Imperial Solomon like those now preserved in 1 Kings, but likely also had some first-hand understanding of the Ptolemies’ imperial efforts to dominate their subjects and to extract resources from their provinces via a sophisticated imperial administration (akin to Solomon’s in 1 Kings) that stretched well up into Judea and Coele-Syria. They perhaps too were not unaware of the Ptolemies’ claims to stand in the line of the ancient pharaohs, complete with claims to divinity (although somewhat distinct from traditional pharaonic claims, and the  These initial allusions to Pharaoh’s daughter in  Kings likely preserve a non- or pre-deuteronomistic tradition, since Solomon’s marriages to other foreign women in  Kgs : appear secondarily related to his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter.  The verse, however, makes clear that prior to Pharaoh’s actions Gezer was a Canaanite city. Cf. Josh :; Judg :.

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


later Roman imperial cult). In the time of Ecclesiastes, Egypt had in fact come up into Judah.

3 Solomon’s Imperial Wisdom 3.1 Solomon’s Imperial Character Besides deftly associating Solomon with Pharaoh-Egypt, the presentation and critique of Imperial Solomon in the non- or pre-deuteronomistic material in 1 Kgs 1– 11 emerges in a variety of ways. Although, again, Solomon does not engage in that most obvious activity of empire building—territorial expansion through military conquest—other endeavors reflect the presence and maintenance of empire, including: Solomon’s receipt of tribute from distant lands (5:1 [4:21]) and his wide trading networks (9:26 – 28; 10:14– 15, 22); his monumental building projects (1 Kgs 5 – 7) and his use of forced labor (5:27 [5:13]); 9:20 – 21); his implicit threat to violence to maintain his empire through access to an extensive military apparatus (5:6 – 8 [4:26 – 28]; 10:26); and his explicit use of violence to resist political adversaries (2:36, 42; 11:40). Again, it is of course legitimate to regard all this as a kind of glorification of royal power in general and of the great king Solomon in particular by scribes in royal service. These sorts of imperial activities are, after all, what make great ancient Near Eastern kings great. Scribal authors of Kings, given their inevitable service to political and economic elites, likely did to some extent wish to portray Solomon (or royal figures and power generally) positively through these sorts of depictions of Imperial Solomon. But the scribes’ “in-between” position also allowed them to construct a kind of double-voiced discourse, one that even while it ostensibly promotes Solomon in his imperial splendor also subtly critiques the excesses and failures of royal power. This critique, as I suggested, is distinct from the obvious criticisms offered by the strong deuteronomistic voice in Kings. Rather it is one that can be detected in the redactors’ source material and emerges in large part, from the ethics of traditional scribal wisdom. It is thus important to consider depictions of Imperial Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings more fully, a wisdom that parallels in significant ways Qohelet’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes.


Timothy J. Sandoval

3.2 Solomon’s Shrewdness Especially in early non- or pre-deuteronomistic passages in 1 Kings, Solomon’s wisdom is described well as a kind of Machiavellian political shrewdness. ¹⁶ In 1 Kgs 2:5 – 6, for instance, the first mention of Solomon’s wisdom, the aging King David instructs Solomon to act “according to your wisdom” (‫)חכמה‬: Solomon must be sure to assassinate Joab on account of the murders of Abner and Amasa. Ironically Shlomo (‫ )שׁלמה‬must “not let his [Joab’s] gray head go down to Sheol beshalom (‫)בשׁלם‬.” Similarly in regard to Shimei, who cursed David as he fled from Absalom in 2 Sam 1, David exhorts Solomon to “not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man (‫ ;)חכם‬you will know (‫ )ידע‬what you ought to do to him, and you must bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol” (2:9). Subsequently in 1 Kgs 2:28 – 34 we learn that Solomon rejects Joab’s claims to innocence, signaled by Joab’s grasping of the horns of the altar in the Tent of the Lord, and has him executed. One might imagine that despite Joab’s claim to sanctuary, Solomon makes the politically astute and pragmatic judgment that Joab’s execution is permissible based on the sorts of grounds articulated by Exod 21:12– 14. This text permits the removal and execution of one who has seized the altar, if this one willfully committed murder. Indeed Solomon reasons that Joab’s murders of Abner and Amasa were “without cause” (‫ ;חנם‬v. 31). With Shimei, Solomon in 1 Kgs 2:36 – 38 constructs conditions by which his life might be spared—namely that he not leave Jerusalem. When three years later Shimei in fact leaves Jerusalem, Solomon has him executed. However, Solomon’s words to Shimei upon his return to Jerusalem do not recollect fully the language of the original stipulations. One wonders, especially in light of David’s instruction in 2:9, if Solomon’s initial words set a subtle trap for Shimei. In 2:36 Solomon warned Shimei not to leave the city “to any place whatever” (2:36; cf. v. 42). The basic condition is thus clear enough. In v. 37, however, Solomon elaborates: “on the day you go out, and cross the Wadi Kidron, know for certain that you shall die.” Why Solomon mentions the Wadi Kidron to the east of Jerusalem is not certain. Most commentators suggest that Solomon perhaps intends to prevent Shimei, a member of the house of Saul, from finding support for a potential rebellion in his home region in Bahurim, which is to the east. When Shimei finally does depart the city, however, he heads to Gath, which is to the west of Jerusalem. Solomon perhaps designed his original condition with the expectation  Although a clear deuteronomistic voice introduces the account of Solomon’s reign in  Kgs  (vv.  – ), from v.  on deuteronomistic rhetoric is sparse, appearing perhaps only in vv. , , and . Cf. DeVries,  Kings, ; Mordechai Cogan,  Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, AB (New York: Doubleday, ), .

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


that Shimei would construe it narrowly to mean only that he must not leave Jerusalem for the east, via the Wadi Kidron.¹⁷ Although shrewdness and knowledge form part of wisdom’s way in Proverbs (cf. 1:4), for traditional sages wisdom cannot be reduced to such practical or intellectual virtue. For Proverbs “wisdom” is primarily a moral term, a guiding virtue that through long effort one internalizes and which orders the intellectual, practical, and social virtues that make up wisdom’s way (cf. 1:2– 6).¹⁸ Wisdom is what guides one down the right path in life and as such is not something that one can simply acquire, as one might acquire other tangible goods, including certain forms of knowledge.¹⁹ Traits like shrewdness might be positively reckoned if integrated into a broader understanding of wisdom and virtue. Outside of this framework such traits can be viewed negatively. Solomon’s shrewd elimination of political adversaries in 1 Kings is not portrayed as unambiguously positive, nor is it obviously integrated into a fuller vision of wisdom. It could, for instance, call to mind the wicked but arguably shrewd behavior of those robbers described in the first vignette of Proverbs after the programmatic prologue (Prov 1:10 – 19). These sinners plan to rob and kill the innocent for gain and do so “without cause” (‫ ;חנם‬v. 11), the same terminology with which Solomon, before having Joab executed, ironically describes Joab’s murder of Abner and Amasa.

3.3 Solomon’s Terrifying Wisdom in Judgment Related to Solomon’s wisdom as a kind of ruthless political shrewdness in certain non- or pre-deuteronomistic passages of 1 Kings is what might be called his terrifying wisdom in judgment. Although there is little allusion to Solomon’s

 Cf. the similar understanding of many commentators, for example, Choon-Leong Seow, “The First and Second Book of Kings,” New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, ), :; Sweeney, I & II Kings, . Although sapiential rhetoric is absent, Solomon’s shrewd political wisdom is perhaps also evident in his dealing with Adonijah, whom he assassinates ( Kgs :), and later with Jeroboam, whom he attempts to assassinate ( Kgs :), though this last effort appears at the end of a long deuteronomistic passage. Related too, perhaps, is Hiram’s praise of Solomon’s wisdom in  Kgs : –  ( – ). Although parts of the passage betray deuteronomistic influence, Solomon’s wisdom is clearly associated with his practical ability to increase his splendor by executing the plans of his building projects.  See William P. Brown, Character in Crisis (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ), ch. ; Timothy J. Sandoval, “Revisiting the Prologue of Proverbs,” JBL  ():  – .  See Timothy J. Sandoval, The Discourse of Wealth and Poverty in the Book of Proverbs (Leiden: Brill, ).


Timothy J. Sandoval

possession of the key deuteronomistic and wisdom virtue of fear of Adonai, reference to his subjects’ fear of the king is easily discernable. 1 Kgs 3:16 – 28, for instance, appears just after the dream vision of 3:3 – 15, which via a strong deuteronomistic redaction recounts Adonai’s gift of wisdom to Solomon at Gibeon. In its current literary context vv. 16 – 28 are thus likely meant to be an example of the wisdom that Adonai just granted to Solomon in 3:12. Indeed commentators regularly describe its function as such, though the tale’s non- or pre-deuteronomistic provenance and folktale like quality are also usually noted.²⁰ The passage paints a picture of a great king’s wisdom in judgment. Yet this story of two nameless prostitutes and their two nameless children, one of whom is dead, in which the king proposes to cut the remaining living child in half, might also be described otherwise. As a student of mine once observed, Solomon’s wisdom here is a brutal and terrible wisdom. Of course, one’s evaluation of the episode depends much on whether one understands Solomon’s actions as a “ruse” to evoke the truth, or as something like the rash decision of a petulant, elite, male king tired of the incessant arguing of the two nameless, socially marginalized women. Its placement after the deuteronomistic dream vision suggests it was a staged gesture, as might the concluding verse 28: All Israel heard of the judgment (‫ )משׁפט‬that the king had rendered (‫ ;)שׁפט‬and they stood in awe of the king (‫ )ויראו מפני המלך‬because they perceived the wisdom of God (‫)חכמת אלהים‬ was in him, to execute justice (‫)לעשׂות משׁפט‬.

However, this concluding verse, which most commentators take to be an editorial addition to some original, independent tale is perhaps more ambiguous than is usually thought. This is so especially if the larger account is divorced from the previous, obviously, deuteronomistic passage. The initial part of v. 28 certainly also has a deuteronomistic flavor with its note that “All Israel heard of the judgment.” However, the remainder of the verse appears only very generally related to deuteronomistic rhetoric. Solomon’s wisdom in 3:28, for example, is not associated with Adonai, as it was so clearly in the preceding deuteronomistic passage, but with Elohim. The phrase ‫ חכמת אלהים‬is also no typical deuteronomistic idiom, but in fact is a hapax in the Hebrew Bible. What’s more, verse 28b’s ‫ויראו‬ ‫“( מפני המלך‬they stood in awe of the king”) closely parallels phrases in 1:50 – 51, where Adonijah is said to be afraid of Solomon—‫—ירא מפני שלמה‬and to fear the king—‫—ירא את המלך שׁלמה‬after it becomes clear that Solomon will seize the throne. The fear the people have of Solomon on account of his wisdom in judging

 Cf. DeVries,  Kings,  – .

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


the prostitutes is thus literarily parallel to the fear Adonijah had of Solomon upon Solomon’s ascension. In both cases, Solomon holds in his hand the threat of violence and decisions over life or death. Solomon’s divinely powerful wisdom in 1 Kings is thus perhaps less God’s gift of judicial sagacity to which one might stand in reverent awe as in the deuteronomistic 3:12, and more an authoritative exercise of judgment akin to irresistible, arbitrary divine action. Later in 1 Kgs 7:7, in a context that some commentators suggest is pre-deuteronomistic,²¹ we learn as well that the site in which Solomon will regularly execute judgment (‫ )ישׁפט‬is in the very heart of the symbolic spaces of domination, the “Hall of the Throne” (‫ )אולם הכסא‬or the “Hall of Justice” (‫ )אלם המשׁפט‬within the palace complex. In 1 Kings, Solomon’s wisdom in judgment is associated closely with power, violence, and domination. As with deuteronomistic discourse, for traditional wisdom fear of the Lord is a primary virtue. It is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10; cf. 1:7; Ps 111:10), the first or most important step for those who pursue wisdom’s way. This way certainly might include an ability to render perspicacious judgments. In 1 Kgs 3 and 7, however, Solomon’s wisdom, exemplified in his judgment, is not obviously emerging from his fear of the Lord but rather provokes dread on the part of his subjects. His wisdom is not obviously integrated into a broader set of wisdom virtues as Proverbs insists. Of course Solomon’s decision does lead to a kind of justice whereby the living child is returned to its mother. As most scholars note, the passage does in one sense laud Solomon’s legendary wisdom and rule. In another sense, however, it offers a critique of the king’s wisdom in judgment that is predicated not on wisdom’s virtues but the threat of violence or on awe producing imperial trappings.

3.4 Solomon’s Vast Wisdom or Knowledge In other portions of 1 Kings that are not overtly deuteronomistic, Solomon is not only politically shrewd and frightening in judgment, he also possesses a vast amount of wisdom or knowledge. In 1 Kgs 5:9 – 14 [4:29 – 34],²² for example, Solo-

 Ibid., .  Many commentators have acknowledged the non-deuteronomistic character of these lines. DeVries, following an important argument by Robert B.Y. Scott, considers the lines to be a late, post-deuteronomistic addition, while acknowledging that others, beginning with Martin Noth and Albrecht Alt, consider them to be early and pre-deuteronomistic. See DeVries,  Kings, ,  who appears to refer to Albrecht Alt, “Die Weisheit Salomos” TLZ  (): – ; Martin Noth, “Die Bewährung von Salomos ‘Göttlicher Weisheit’,” in Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East, ed. Martin


Timothy J. Sandoval

mon’s extensive wisdom is reckoned as one of his many possessions and like his possessions, it is described in hyperbolic terms: “God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding”—‫ויתן אלהים חכמה לשׁלמה‬ ‫ותבונה הרבה מאד ורחב לב‬. As in 3:15, the deity here is Elohim, not Adonai, which perhaps is an initial signal of the passage’s non-deuteronomistic character. The piling up of terms for Solomon’s wisdom, parallels the piling up of the tribute Solomon receives. Indeed the preceding passage at 4:1– 5:8 (4:1– 28)²³ describes Solomon’s administrative structures, territorial divisions, and the provisions for his court, including for his warhorses, which flowed to him from different parts of his realm. Although Solomon’s vast wisdom in 5:9 [4:29] is hyperbolically said to be like “the sand on the seashore,” in 5:12 (4:32) the king’s wisdom is more specifically measured—3000 proverbs and 1005 songs. Just as the provisions for Solomon’s court and the wealth of his kingdom are specifically reckoned earlier in chapter five and elsewhere (e.g., 5:2– 3 [4:22– 23]; 10:14– 29), so too the king’s wisdom is quantified. Simon J. DeVries is puzzled by the passage’s relationship to its context, noting that there is “no obvious logic” to its placement here, “for what has Solomon’s wisdom to do with the delivery of barley and straw?”²⁴ But the fact that Solomon’s extensive wisdom is described in a context and fashion that parallels Solomon’s imperial activities—the delivery of barley and straw—is precisely the point. Solomon’s “wisdom” is an integral part of his imperium; it is, as Flemming suggested, empire “by other means.”²⁵ The fact that Solomon’s wisdom is so clearly quantified in 5:9 – 14 (4:29 – 34) suggests that the character of Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings is also largely a form of knowledge and not traditional virtue oriented wisdom.²⁶ Indeed virtue is not quantifiable in quite the same way as knowledge. Although one can certainly grow in virtue, or engage in isolated virtuous acts, a person is regularly thought to be wise, just, courageous—or not; it is not usually said that one possesses a little bit of wisdom or justice, now and then. By contrast, one can possess a little knowledge and knowledge and intelligence can increase even in the absence of virtue. Solomon’s concern with trees, plants, and all sorts of animals in 5:13 (4:33) also points to the way his wisdom is largely conceptualized as knowledge that can be quantified and accumulated, rather than as traditional moral wisdom.

Noth and D. Winton Thomas,VTSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; cf. Robert B.Y. Scott, “Solomon and the Beginnings of Wisdom in Israel,” ibid.,  –.  For an evaluation of this passage as largely pre-deuteronomistic, see DeVries,  Kings, – .  Ibid., .  Flemming, “Empires of Knowledge,” .  DeVries,  Kings, , for instance, calls it “encyclopedic knowledge.”

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


The king’s interest in these matters likely relates to the onomastic categorization of natural phenomena known from other ancient texts. Such intellectual work, which in part served as an aid for the “instruction about realia,” would increase the monarch’s command of knowledge.²⁷ Solomon’s intellectual dominance, which reached to the far reaches of the natural world, parallels his political and economic reach, which extended to far off lands. Indeed Solomon’s command of wisdom mirrors his imperial rule more fully. Solomon, we learn, had dominion (‫ )משׁל‬over all the countries from the Euphrates in the East until the land of the Philistines up to the border of Egypt (5:1 [4:21]), and his wisdom, which was in part characterized by his uttering of proverbs (‫משׁלים‬/‫)משׁל‬, was said to be greater than that of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt (5:1 [4:21]).²⁸ Although there is not a precise verbal parallel, just as the nations and the Israelite tribes would bring their tribute to Solomon (5:10 [4:30]) and thereby acknowledge their subordinate political position in relation to him, so too people “from all the nations” and from “all the kings of the earth” came to hear “the wisdom of Solomon” (5:14 [4:34]) and thereby symbolically subordinate their knowledge to Solomon’s. The summary statement at 1 Kgs 10:23 – 25 (just prior to the perhaps deuteronomistic summary in vv. 26 – 29) also reflects this dynamic and explicitly links Solomon’s wisdom with the rewards of empire: Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. The whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. Every one of them brought a present, objects of silver and gold, garments, weaponry, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.

Although, again, intellectual virtue plays an important role in texts like Proverbs (1:3), Solomon’s vast wisdom in the above texts is not obviously or fully related to a broader vision of traditional wisdom. Rather his wisdom is primarily a form of knowledge that could be possessed, accumulated, and quantified and which serves as a symbolic marker of his ability to dominate others. To be sure traditional sages could speak about accumulating wisdom as one might seek to ac Michael V. Fox, “Egyptian Onomastica and Biblical Wisdom,” VT  ():  – . Fox, however, warns against unduly associating Israelite wisdom with onomastic activity and inaccurately understanding onomastic activity as primarily a kind of “science of lists” rather than as an aid for teaching writing.  The context of foreign wisdom here may suggest the enigmatic figures the text next mentions— “Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol and Dard, children of Mahlol”—may also be foreigners whose wisdom is subordinated to Solomon’s, although Ethan and Heman are related to Pss  and .


Timothy J. Sandoval

quire economic gain (e. g., Prov 2:4). Such rhetorical moves, however, were a way to express the incomparable value of the life of virtue that constitutes wisdom’s way.²⁹ It was not a simple quantifying of wisdom as a kind of knowledge that could be literally acquired, as one might acquire riches. In 1 Kings, by contrast, the concern is not with the value of Solomon’s virtue, but the quantity of his knowledge. Imperial Solomon in 1 Kings is admired not so much for worth of the wisdom he possesses as in traditional wisdom, but for the extent of the knowledge he controls (and by which he controls others).

3.5 Solomon’s Wisdom as Intellectual Acuity Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings is also one that is characterized by his intellectual acuity. Especially 1 Kgs 10:1– 10, a passage that like 3:16 – 28 betrays some light deuteronomistic editing as it preserves older legendary material, suggests this.³⁰ Here we meet the only specifically identified, if unnamed, foreign ruler who seeks to hear Solomon’s wisdom and who thereby assumes a kind of subordinate position in relation to the king (1 Kgs 10:1– 13). However this figure is not strictly one of the melachim that 1 Kgs 5:14 (4:34) envisions arriving to hear Solomon’s wisdom. It is not a melech at all, but a malkah; a queen not a king—the Queen of Sheba. Here sexual difference and the symbolic orders of sex and gender domination intersect with a kind of wisdom discourse to produce a richly ambiguous text. In this story, the queen who had heard of Solomon’s “fame” (10:1) and his “accomplishments” and “wisdom” (‫ ;חכמה‬10:6) tests Solomon with “hard questions”—‫—חידות‬a word often rendered as riddles. The term also appears in the prologue of Proverbs in conjunction with ‫“( מליצה‬figure”) and ‫“( משׁל‬proverb”). The combination of these terms in Proverbs likely points to the symbolic and figurative nature of that book’s discourse since most commentators agree Proverbs

 Sandoval, Discourse.  For example, if ‫ לשׁם יהוה‬in : is not deuteronomistic, it is certainly pietistic. Verses b–  also likely reflect an editorial, though not clearly deuteronomistic, interruption of an earlier version of the tale. Verse  likely betrays some sort of deuteronomistic editing, especially in its initial clauses. However, although the rhetoric of justice in the final clause is not foreign to deuteronomistic texts, it is more at home in other discourses, as I suggest. Cf. especially n.  below. Indeed the passage as a whole is not concerned with the central deuteronomistic issues of Solomon’s apostasy or the need for him to adhere to covenantal obligations. Some scholars thus consider the entire tale as late and post-exilic, while others regard it as early and pre-deuteronomistic. Cf. DeVries,  Kings, .

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contains no true riddles.³¹ In 1 Kgs 10 the riddles are missing as well, to the extent that we are not permitted to hear the queen’s hard questions, though the text assures us Solomon is able to respond to her inquires. All this suggests that the nature of Solomon’s wisdom in the Queen of Sheba tale is a kind of intellectual dexterity. Solomon is able to apply his intellect and make use of his knowledge to solve the queen’s riddles. Solomon’s epistemological domination of the foreign queen again parallels his more obvious political and economic dominance of others in his imperium. The logic of domination in the passage reveals itself in other ways as well. From ancient times the interpretive tradition has sensed but struggled to understand the textual dynamics of sex and gender in 1 Kgs 10.³² It is not necessary to add to the tradition’s speculation about the king and queen’s relationship to discern that in this passage Solomon’s imperial domination is figured not merely through a presentation of the king’s superior intellect, but through the symbolic dynamics of a basic patriarchal view of sex and gender difference in which Woman is believed to be naturally subordinated to Man. In 1 Kgs 10:3, for instance, we learn that “Nothing was hidden from the king that he could not explain to her (the queen).” The text also notes that the queen herself links Solomon’s intellectual acuity with other symbols of his imperial domination, “the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, the attendants of his servants, their clothing, his valets and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord” (10:4– 5). In what are perhaps gender stereotypical terms, all this is said to overwhelm the queen to the point that ‫“—לא היה בה עוד רוח‬there was no more spirit left in her” (10:5). By verse ten Solomon’s intellectual and gender dominance explicitly feeds back into a more typical image of imperial dominance—the receipt of tribute— when the queen makes extravagant gifts to Solomon. These fruits of empire flow textually and symbolically to Solomon not through overt political domination as in 5:1 (4:21), but through his wisdom or control of the epistemological sphere. This, again, is empire pursued “by other means,” as Flemming put it.³³ However, the interpretive story does not end here. The passage can also be said to demonstrate how the Queen of Sheba in part resists and counters Solomon’s epistemological hegemony via a contestation of the same symbolic categories that initially figured her subordination: sex and gender on the one hand and wisdom or knowledge on the other.  Cf. Sandoval, “Prologue.”  Most famously in the speculation that : suggests an erotic relationship between the queen and Solomon that results in the kinship of the Ethiopic royal house with Solomon.  See Flemming, “Empires of Knowledge,” .


Timothy J. Sandoval

Notice first that the queen is presented in terms that suggest her splendor rivals that of the king’s. 1 Kgs 10:2, for instance, states that “She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold and precious stones.” What’s more, her own intellectual prowess and ability to dominate epistemologically, and not merely Solomon’s, is evident in the passage. Unlike the melachim, those kings who according to 1 Kgs 5:14 (1 Kgs 4:34) came merely to “hear” Solomon’s wisdom, the queen comes and tests (‫ )נסה‬Solomon with her riddles (10:1). She engages him on matters that were with her mind (‫ ;לב‬10:2) and she is the one who finally passes a verdict regarding Solomon’s superlative wisdom. What’s more, as I already suggested, the text also has her clearly discern the relationship between Solomon’s wisdom and the trappings of his empire (10:4– 5). In 1 Kgs 10:6 – 10, however, the queen is presented not merely as a near equal to the king, she also offers subtle, ironic rebuke of imperial Solomon (in a manner quite similar to Ecclesiastes’s satiric critique of Qohelet, as I will suggest). Starting in verse 6 the queen praises Solomon in exuberant terms that in one sense are appropriate to this kind of legendary tale, but at the same time can be heard as blandishments that conceal criticism. Only by seeing with her own eyes does the queen come to realize the extent of Solomon’s wisdom, only the half of which had been reported to her (v. 7)! Ironically she also declares as “happy” (‫ )אשׁרי‬Solomon’s subordinates, his wives and servants or slaves who continually attend to him, because they are able to hear his wisdom (v. 8). But recall outside of clearly deuteronomistic passages Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings has been a Machiavellian political shrewdness, a frightening rendering of judgment of two women, a mastery of a breadth of knowledge, and an intellectual dexterity, all of which in some sense parallel his more obvious forms of imperial domination. One might ask just how happy the wives and slaves of such a figure would truly be, hearing such “wisdom.” In v. 9, the initial words of which likely have been influenced by deuteronomistic diction,³⁴ the queen continues her ironic, enthusiastic response to Solomon’s wisdom by blessing Solomon’s deity, who put such a wise king on the throne. However the queen continues by claiming that Solomon has been placed on his throne not to execute judgment (‫ )לעשׂות משׁפט‬as he was said to do in the case of prostitutes, or to pronounce judgment (‫ )משׁפט‬as in the Hall of Justice (3:16 – 28; 7:7). Rather he is to practice “justice and righteousness” (‫)משׁפט וצדקה‬. As Moshe Weinfeld and others have argued, when these terms are closely associated, they often should be understood as a hendiadys that expresses ancient

 See n.  above.

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


paternalistic notions of social justice.³⁵ Such justice was intimately connected to ancient Near Eastern ideologies of kingship, which recognized the legitimacy of a monarch’s rule to the extent that the ruler ensured the care of the socially vulnerable in his realm—the poor and needy, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. Although both terms are individually well attested in deuteronomistic texts, their close association is not.³⁶ “Justice and righteousness” belongs, of course, to prophetic discourse, but this social justice is also a key virtue of traditional wisdom, as verses such as Prov 1:3; 2:9; 8:20; 16:8; 21:3, which closely associate ‫משׁפט‬and ‫צדק‬/‫צדקה‬, make clear.³⁷ In 1 Kings, however, Solomon’s actions to ensure “justice and righteousness” are conspicuously absent, overwhelmed perhaps by the “critical praise” of his magnificent imperium. In 1 Kgs 10, the foreign woman’s wisdom and royal stature are clear, yet they are subordinated to the king’s intellect and grandeur. Nonetheless, through a subordinate’s deferential praise of a superior, she impresses on Imperial Solomon her own traditional moral wisdom, with its emphasis on social virtue. The Queen of Sheba’s voice thus in a sense corresponds to the critical voice of a sagacious scribe who has internalized the virtues of traditional wisdom. Such scribal authors or redactors of the non- or pre-deuteronomistic sections of 1 Kings indirectly criticize Imperial Solomon through the figure of the queen

 Moshe Weinfeld, Social Justice in the Bible and Ancient Near East (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ).  In Deuteronomy (and in much of the Deuteronomistic History) ‫ משׁפט‬is regularly associated with ‫ חקים‬to designate divine “statutes and ordinances.” In Deut : and :, however, ‫ משׁפט‬refers to the sort of social justice noted above, though not in conjunction with a form of ‫צדק‬. In the deuteronomistic literature ‫ משׁפט‬is closely associated with the root ‫ צדק‬only at Deut :; :; : and  Sam :—all instances where a form of ‫ צדק‬suggests fair or right judging or interpretation of various ‫משׁפט‬, not a broader conception of social justice. Only in  Sam :, which is a summary evaluation of King David’s justice, are ‫ משׁפט‬and ‫ צדקה‬associated in the way the Queen of Sheba associates them in  Kgs :, although Moses’s blessing of Gad in Deut : may reflect a similar usage. Not surprisingly in Jeremiah a prophetic rhetoric of social justice is more closely related to deuteronomistic discourse (cf. Jer :; : [:]; :, , , ; :; :). The usages in Jer , , and , however, are not as tightly interwoven with deuteronomistic rhetoric as are the usages in Jer  and . The usage in the later chapters are explicitly related to evaluations of monarchs, again like the Queen of Sheba’s utterance.  Cf. Sandoval, “Prologue.” In the wisdom tradition Job likewise claimed in his own defense (Job  – ) that he was a paradigmatic righteous patriarch who “put on justice” and clothed himself in “righteousness” (Job :) as he cared for and protected the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers. Cf. Job :; :. For “justice and righteousness” in Psalms often classified as “wisdom” or associated with Solomon, see Ps : (:); :; :. Cf. further Ps : (:); :; :; :; :; :; :; :.


Timothy J. Sandoval

—and through a broader failure to preserve textually any record of Solomon’s “justice and righteousness” (while remembering well things like his ruthless political shrewdness and fearful judgment)! These scribes, who would have served in retainer roles to royal figures and other political-economic elites, would have understood clearly their own subordinate, vulnerable positions and the need to engage such figures carefully and strategically when offering criticism. Through their account of Solomon in 1 Kings, and especially the story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit, which ostensibly lauds Imperial Solomon as it subtly calls into question his wisdom, scribal authors or redactors sought to exercise a critical, symbolic control over the political vision of their ancient society and so, indirectly, over political elites like Solomon. The rules of such elites could be considered legitimate only to the extent that they fulfilled broader ideological and social expectations of scribes trained in traditional wisdom ethics.

4 Qohelet and Satiric Critique The image of Qohelet in Ecclesiastes, especially in the royal autobiography of 1:12– 2:26, resonates not simply with Solomon in 1 Kings generally, but specifically with Imperial Solomon of the non- or pre-deuteronomistic 1 Kings material. In 1 Kings, Solomon is a kind of new pharaoh who brings Egypt up to Judah and Israel. His receipt of tribute and trade, the use of forced labor in his building projects, and especially (for this paper) his particular brand of wisdom signal not only his glorious rule but negatively mark his imperial character. Precisely those sorts of characteristics and critiques of Imperial Solomon in 1 Kings can be discerned in relation to Qohelet in Ecclesiastes. An ironic, and even satiric presentation of not only Qohelet’s fabulous wealth and building projects, but also his wisdom are the textual loci of the criticism of the monarch in Ecclesiastes. Like Imperial Solomon’s wisdom, Qohelet’s wisdom is well described as a shrewd practical sort of intellectual acuity and knowledge that stands in contrast to the traditional virtue oriented wisdom of books like Proverbs. What’s more, just as the presentation of Solomon’s wisdom served as a critique of royal power in an earlier epoch, so the portrait of Qohelet’s wisdom serves as a critique of Hellenistic elites and their imperial pretensions in the Ptolemaic epic—all those “new pharaohs” that the scribal authors of Ecclesiastes knew and wished to evoke by refiguring “Imperial Solomon” as Qohelet.³⁸

 This paper obviously presumes some critical positions that can’t be argued for fully in this context. First, I understand Ecclesiastes against the background of the Ptolemaic period, rather

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


It is impossible in this essay to present a full analysis of the way hyperbole, incongruity, parody, humor, irony, and readerly inferences (e. g., about who Qohelet is and what he might be thought to seriously say) work together³⁹ in the royal fiction of Ecclesiastes to form a kind of satiric critique of Qohelet and his imperial character.⁴⁰ However, although 1:12 – 2:26 calls to mind Solomon, his never actually being named permits a reader attending to the Hellenistic context of Ecclesiastes to construct an image of Qohelet in the mold of oppressive, elite figures from Ptolemaic Judea. The typical activities and dispositions of these elite figures are ostensibly praised by the traditional scribal writer(s), but also subtly mocked. The imperial character of such elites is especially evident in 2:1– 11. For instance, in contrast to, say, the instruction of Prov 31:4 that urges kings to avoid strong drink, Qohelet drinks wine to excess, claiming that in doing so he is engaged in some significant epistemological investigation (v. 3). The king undertakes major building projects and relentlessly pursues wealth (vv. 4– 8).

than, say, the late Persian epoch. Second, with several important commentators (Fox, Longman, Sharp) I distinguish between Ecclesiastes the book and the ‘voice’ of Qohelet within that book. Ecclesiastes the book is the product of an intellectually (not necessarily politically and economically) elite Judean scribe (or scribes) of the third century BCE and Qohelet is this scribe’s literary invention. The superscription and initial verses of the book (: –  and perhaps vv.  – ), as well as : –  are not the voice of Qohelet, but of a narrator whose voice and positions (esp. in Eccl ) might be more closely related to the book’s author.  For these features and a nuanced discussion of satire, see Dustin Griffen, Satire: A Critical Reintroduction (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, ). On irony and a reader’s inferences regarding an author’s intentions in the analysis of irony (and satire, which regularly deploys irony), see Wayne C. Booth, A Rhetoric of Irony (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ). For a view of irony (and satire) that prioritizes the readerly role of “discursive communities” in making irony “happen” over the more traditional view that an author intends it, see Linda Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony (London and New York: Routledge, ).  A number of scholars have drawn attention to ironic and satiric aspects of Qohelet’s words in Ecclesiastes. See especially Rainer Braun, Kohelet Und Die Frühhellenistische Popularphilosophie, (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ), esp.  – ; Carolyn J. Sharp, Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ),  –  and “Ironic Representation, Authorial Voice, and Meaning in Qohelet,” BiblInt  ():  – ; Bernd Willmes, Menschliches Schicksal und ironisches Weisheitskritik im Koheletbuch: Kohelet’s Ironie und die Grenzen der Exegesis, BTS  (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, ); Isaac I. J. Spangenberg, “Irony in the Book of Qohelet” JSOT  ():  – . Étan Levine, “The Humor in Qohelet,” ZAW  ():  – ; Edwin Good, Irony in the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, ),  – . I have begun to sketch my own understanding of the satiric aspects of Ecclesiastes in several academic presentations and somewhat in Timothy J. Sandoval, “Comer, Beber, y Disfrutar en Eclesiastés,” Vida y Pensamiento  ():  – . A fuller articulation of these matters is in preparation.


Timothy J. Sandoval

But the exaggerated use of first person perfect verbs ending in ‫ תי‬accompanied by the preposition lamed with the first person suffix, ‫לי‬, makes clear this is all undertaken for King Qohelet himself, rather than, say, for his people, or the poor and needy. Qohelet’s claim in v. 11 to have toiled with his hands under the sun also invites an ironic-satiric evaluation, for no elite figure would have literally toiled under the real sun in carrying out such great works; more likely this toil would have fallen to the slaves Qohelet mentions he owns in v. 7. What’s more, the irony of an elite figure claiming that he has found no profit in his toil, after describing for five verses his immense holdings, is also rife.⁴¹ Besides the Ptolemaic monarchs themselves, the Tobiads whom Josephus describes, or the likes of Apollonius known from the Zenon Papyri, are the sorts of figures the author no doubt has in mind, and wishes his discourse to evoke, as he satirically presents Qohelet in Ecclesiastes.⁴²

4.1 Qohelet’s Wisdom As with Solomon in 1 Kings, the description of Qohelet’s imperial character in Ecclesiastes extends to the characterization of his wisdom—though ostensibly praised, the royal figure’s wisdom is also subtly undermined. At the outset of his discourse, for example, Qohelet claims he has sought to discover “by wisdom all that is done under heaven” (1:13). If the grandiosity of this project does not signal for the reader an initial irony, an ironic evaluation of Qohelet’s words can be triggered when the Solomon-like figure claims that his wisdom surpassed all who were before him in Israel (1:16). Sharp captures an appropriate response

 Of course claims to great wisdom and other boasting are features well known from ancient Near Eastern royal inscriptions. As Choon-Leong Seow notes “in terms of style, vocabulary and content” Qohelet’s words in the royal fiction are “typical of royal inscriptions.” See Ecclesiastes (New York: Doubleday, ), . Hence, a satiric reading of Ecclesiastes must proceed with caution. However, Eccl : – : is not itself a “royal inscription” but is part of a larger literary work that engages or “works with” that genre. Indeed, Qohelet’s words are a kind of parody of ancient Near Eastern royal inscriptions. When compared with such texts, Qohelet’s self-presentation and his repeated claims to have accomplished so much “for myself” in : –  is hyperbolic and ironic. As Y.V. Koh has written, unlike certain inscriptional material, Qohelet’s discourse focuses on “his self-centered achievements and projects” rather than what he has accomplished “on behalf of his people” or his realm. See Royal Autobiography in the Book of Qohelet (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ), esp.  – .  Josephus, Ant. . – ;  – ; Victor A. Tcherikover and Alexander Fuks, eds., Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum (Jerusalem: Magnes Press; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), : – .

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


to the irony when she claims “Ah—more than all one of them (or all two of them if one allows Saul into the lineage, constructing ‘in Jerusalem’ more loosely)?” As Sharp again explains, “‘Qohelet’s’ impeccable authority is being established quite explicitly, but his voice seems less than wholly reliable.”⁴³ Qohelet’s desire to investigate not only wisdom, but also “madness” (‫)הוללות‬ and “folly” (‫ )שׂכלות‬uttered nearly at the outset of his first person speech in 1:17, and again at 2:12 (‫)סכלות‬, likewise arrests the reader’s attention.⁴⁴ What sort of wisdom teacher investigates madness and folly, rather than, say, exhorts a hearer to avoid these in favor of a life of virtue? Regardless of the author’s intention— whether “historical Qohelet,” or a scribal author—there is an incongruity here between Qohelet’s “wisdom rhetoric” (wisdom, folly, madness) and the task he sets for himself, on the one hand, and what readers (especially readers morally and literarily trained in texts like Proverbs) might expect from a teacher in Israel’s wisdom tradition, on the other.⁴⁵ It is, of course, a commonplace among interpreters to read Qohelet’s claim to investigate madness and folly in a straight fashion and to regard subsequent verses as questioning traditional wisdom’s confidence in wisdom’s value. And it is true that in light of inevitable death and one’s inability to control who reaps the benefits of one’s toil after dying (2:12– 23), wisdom, for Qohelet, turns out to be only somewhat more useful than folly, as the value of light exceeds that of darkness (2:13). There is no denying that such a logic is at work in at least the royal fiction of 1:12– 2:26. The question is whether a reader is to regard Qohelet’s words as a serious position put forth by the character (or author). Or if as Linda Hutcheon suggests, readers who belong to the same (or related) “discursive community” as the writer(s) of Ecclesiastes should not (and would not) pause and ask, “Is this wisdom teacher really saying that?”⁴⁶ It is indeed difficult to imagine a traditional sage advocating Qohelet’s viewpoint. Hence we encounter the array of well-known scholarly solutions to make straight sense of his words. These solutions range from efforts to emend the text, to claims that Qohelet’s search for wisdom and knowledge is so determined and dedicated that he explores even folly and madness, to suggestions that Qohelet is

 Sharp, “Ironic Representations,” .  The ambiguity in and between : and : is also striking. Although ‫ סכלות‬suggests “folly,” the ‫ שׂ‬of ‫ שׂכלות‬calls to mind a root associated with wisdom Cf. Seow’s discussion in Ecclesiastes, , . Cf. :.  On the important role of “discursive communities” (such as scribes in the wisdom tradition) in the activation of irony, see Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge.  Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge,  – ; Cf. Booth, Irony,  – .


Timothy J. Sandoval

simply more critical than any other sage before him and so recognizes that the cosmos does not inevitably reward the wise via a strict “act-consequence” formula as a flat reading of, say, Proverbs might suggest.⁴⁷ In order to read Qohelet’s words as a serious utterance by a wisdom sage, scholars tend to infer that he, or the book’s author, is not so much a traditional wisdom scribe as some version of a radical, critical, aristocratic, cosmopolitan teacher. Imagining Qohelet as the great and inquisitive intellect is an important inference that facilitates taking his claims to investigate folly and madness at face value. However, it is possible to make another inference and imagine the scribal author(s) of Ecclesiastes to be doing something more, namely signaling the satiric aim he is taking at Qohelet and his “wisdom,” which for the author is itself a kind of madness. Much, however, depends on recognizing the way Qohelet’s wisdom, like Imperial Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings, is distinct from the traditional wisdom of the scribal author(s).⁴⁸ For the sages of Proverbs, recall, “wisdom” is primarily a moral term, a central, guiding virtue that through long effort one internalizes and which orders the intellectual, practical, and social virtues that make up wisdom’s way (cf. 1:2– 6). In contrast to traditional wisdom but like Imperial Solomon, Qohelet’s wisdom is a kind of practical shrewdness and intellectual acuity deployed to accumulate and control knowledge. On the one hand, the test of pleasure Qohelet devises and the vast projects (2:1– 11) he carries out not only point to Qohelet’s obvious imperial character, they also implicitly reveal his practical wisdom and intellectual acuity in planning and executing such works. On the other hand, Qohelet’s wisdom as a form of knowledge (but also his intellectual acuity) comes into view with the first mention of wisdom in 1:13. Here, recall, he claims (I suggested with no little grandiosity) to have applied his ‫“( לב‬mind”)—the seat of the intellect— “to seek and search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven” (‫לדרושׁ ולתור‬ ‫)בחכמה על כל אשׁר נעשׂה תחת השׁמים‬. Qohelet’s quest is cast primarily as the application of his mental abilities. He does not seek virtue-oriented wisdom, but looks to acquire knowledge about all that is done under heaven, by means of wisdom

 Such a flat reading of traditional wisdom like Proverbs, of course, facilitates reading Ecclesiastes in straight fashion and regarding Qohelet as the supremely critical sage who deftly tears down the straw opponent of traditional wisdom. For an alternative evaluation of Proverbs, see Sandoval, Discourse, and cf. the general view of Michael V. Fox, throughout Proverbs  – : A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, ); idem, Proverbs  – : A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, ).  Much also of course depends on recognizing a broader satiric picture of Qohelet in Ecclesiastes. For a hint of these satiric elements in the royal fiction, see above and the works mentioned in n. .

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


(‫)בחכמה‬, that is by means of his intellectual power. The “heart” or mind, of course, is the seat of the intellect in traditional wisdom as well, but as we said intellectual virtue for a text like Proverbs must be ordered under a more integrated view of wisdom than what Qohelet suggests here. In Proverbs, one orders one’s life, or “walks” (‫)הלך‬, by wisdom (‫ ;בחכמה‬Prov. 28:26). Never does one “investigate” (‫ )דרשׁ‬or “seek out” (‫ )תור‬matters ‫בחכמה‬, as does Qohelet in the royal fiction (cf. Ecc 9:15). Qohelet’s wisdom as knowledge in 1:13 is also revealed by the acquisitive character his search for knowledge (rather than his desire for virtue) takes. As intimated above, although surely one might increase one’s knowledge, the virtues that constitute one’s character are not so easily quantifiable as facts and data. Neither ‫ דרשׁ‬nor ‫ תור‬is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible of the quest for (moral) wisdom and especially ‫—תור‬to spy out—resonates with acquisitive —even imperial—activities, namely the spying out of a territory in order to conquer it.⁴⁹ The entailments of the image of “spying out” an object by one’s mind are revealing. Just as a king or army must shrewdly spy out a land before conquering, and thereby acquiring and controlling it, so Qohelet applies his intellect to gain or accumulate (and thereby control) knowledge of the objects of his inquiry. As with Imperial Solomon’s wisdom, Qohelet’s wisdom (in the royal fiction at least) is thus both intellectual power that can be deployed to acquire knowledge of something, and the knowledge itself. Both aspects of Qohelet’s wisdom, like Imperial Solomon’s before him, suggest an ability to control or dominate. Although, as noted above, in traditional wisdom one might acquire or “buy” wisdom in a figurative sense (e. g., Prov 4:5 – 7; 17:16; 23:23), the terminology of that discourse is distinct (‫קנה‬, not ‫ דרשׁ‬or ‫ )תור‬and the rhetorical force of such injunctions is more to highlight the value of following wisdom’s way, and less to demonstrate one’s intellectual power or breadth of knowledge. Qohelet’s second mention of his wisdom in the royal fiction likewise suggests it is a kind of intellectual knowledge rather than traditional moral virtue. In 1:16, a verse we already suggested betrays a significant irony, he states: “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” ‫הגדלתי והוספתי חכמה על כל־אשׁר־היה לפני על ירושלים ולבי ראה הרבה חכמה ודעת‬

 See especially the occurrences of the root ‫ תור‬clustered in Num  – . In Proverbs the root appears only at : in the hiphil. By contrast, ‫ דרשׁ‬is used of “seeking” material goods—“wool and flax”—in Prov : and of “evil” in :.


Timothy J. Sandoval

Here again, Qohelet’s wisdom as knowledge is signaled by his accumulating (‫ )יסף‬it. Certainly traditional wisdom can use the same terminology to speak of gaining wisdom’s virtues (e. g., Prov 1:5). In Proverbs, however, ‫ יסף‬takes several different objects. For instance, it is used to quantify that which one might gain as a figurative reward for attaining wisdom’s virtues (e. g., long life, cf. 3:2; 9:11; 10:27). When it is used of acquiring a kind of wisdom itself, this wisdom is a form of knowledge that is useful in attaining to a life of virtue.⁵⁰ In these cases the object of ‫ יסף‬is regularly ‫לקח‬, “learning,” as in Prov 1:5; 9:9; 16:21 and 23. It is never ‫חכמה‬. In Ecc 1:16, however, Qohelet does not so much intimate how the accumulation of knowledge contributes to his virtue, as simply boast that the knowledge he has acquired is more than anyone else’s. That the text of 1:16 envisions Qohelet’s ‫ חכמה‬as intellectual knowledge and not moral virtue is likewise hinted by the fact that his acquisition of wisdom is again mediated by his mind (‫)לב‬, which is the subject of the phrase ‫ראה הרבה‬ ‫חכמה ודעת‬. The idiom “to see wisdom” (here and in 2:12; cf. 9:13) is rare and not well understood, but most take it to mean to “observe” (Fox) or “experience” (Crenshaw) wisdom in some critical fashion.⁵¹ But the NJPS’s rendering—“and my mind has zealously absorbed”—captures better the sense of ‫ולבי ראה הרבה‬ in the context of the royal fiction, especially in light of King Qohelet’s somewhat frenzied, acquisitive undertakings. Just as Qohelet in 2:4– 8 strives to dominate his material environment (via buildings and gardens), the people around him (his slaves and singers), and the resources of his realm (his silver and gold)— as might any imperial figure—the king also seeks to acquire and control ‫חכמה‬ ‫ודעת‬, a phrase that here should be reckoned as a hendiadys pointing to Qohelet’s wisdom as a form of accumulable knowledge. Indeed in the next verse, Qohelet’s mind is directed to know ‫( לדעת‬inf. const.), that is, to gain knowledge of or intellectually control, wisdom and knowledge (‫)חכמה ודעת‬. Proverbs avoids using‫ראה‬ with wisdom as an object and although that traditional wisdom work can closely associate wisdom and knowledge (and in fact deploys the terms as near synonyms), it does so in the context of an integrated view of wisdom’s moral way.⁵² Michael V. Fox has similarly and helpfully formulated matters when he notes that “for Qohelet wisdom has two aspects: faculty and knowledge.” Wisdom is

 On terms for wisdom and knowledge in Proverbs, see Fox, Proverbs  – ,  – .  Fox, Qohelet and His Contradictions (Sheffield: Almond, ), ; James L. Crenshaw, Ecclesiastes, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster, ), , .  Prov :, however, reads: ‫“( ואחזה אנכי אשית לבי ראיתי לקחתי מוסר‬Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction”). Here, ‫מוסר‬, likely refers to a form of knowledge or teaching that one can intellectually master; hence Qohelet’s similar rhetoric. On terms for wisdom and knowledge in Proverbs, see Fox, Proverbs  – ,  – .

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


“an intellectual power similar to intelligence” and it “exists as knowledge.” What’s more, Fox says, “When Qohelet describes the failures of wisdom he is not necessarily talking about the kind of sagacity that directs one in leading a moral and prudent life….”⁵³ The limitations of wisdom that Qohelet sees (that is, the limitations of Qohelet’s own wisdom) are thus something like the limitations of objective forms of knowledge and mere intellectual power. From the perspective of traditional wisdom, what Qohelet lacks is a different kind of ‫חכמה‬, a practical moral wisdom. It is this sort of ‫ חכמה‬that we said serves as a kind of ethical compass for ordering one’s knowledge, intelligence, and other qualities or virtues. For traditional sages without this ‫חכמה‬, one’s shrewdness, intelligence, or knowledge would be of only limited use and potentially even morally dangerous.⁵⁴ For Fox, who reads Qohelet in a straight fashion, Qohelet’s use of a “wisdom” terminology must be fairly sharply distinguished from Proverbs’ use of a related and overlapping terminology. Yet, Qohelet’s rhetoric of wisdom and knowledge inevitably evokes a broader traditional wisdom discourse. In fact, as one puzzles out the text’s subtle, critical, sometimes satiric message, readers (especially those from discursive communities formed morally and literarily by texts like Proverbs) can “‘hear” in Qohelet’s claims to wisdom both traditional wisdom’s ethical impulses and Qohelet’s distinct appropriation of traditional wisdom rhetoric to trumpet his epistemological abilities and discoveries.⁵⁵ Qohelet’s understanding of wisdom as essentially, or merely, knowledge and intellectual acuity and not moral virtue in fact explains why the book of Ecclesiastes can have the character of Qohelet forcefully evaluate his own (or all) wisdom (i. e., wisdom as knowledge) as something only of moderate utility, while the sages of Proverbs view their virtue centered wisdom as of supreme value. Despite the appearance, or sound, of sagacity in Qohelet’s supposed critical interrogation of the wisdom tradition’s valuing of wisdom’s way, in the scribal author(s)’ double-voiced, ironic-satirical discourse Qohelet’s wisdom turns out to be a kind of sapiential farce, an unwarranted reduction of wisdom to knowledge and intellectual virtuosity. For the author(s) of Ecclesiastes, those like Qohelet not only do not possess genuine wisdom, but the knowledge and intelligence they do pos-

 Michael V. Fox, A Time to Tear Down and a Time to Build Up: A Rereading of Ecclesiastes (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, ),  – .  For the indispensability of a practical wisdom, or what Aristotle called phronesis, for navigating a good life in virtue based moral reflection, see Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theology (rd ed.; South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, ).  Cf. Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge,  – . A more traditional perspective on irony might say here that the text’s author signals and so more fully “counts on” a reader hearing the kind of ironizing echoes of traditional wisdom that I suggest.


Timothy J. Sandoval

sess is regarded as deeply flawed or at least seriously incomplete. Qohelet’s own conclusion that his pursuit and deployment of “wisdom” has been a kind of “absurdity” (‫ )הבל‬and a “chasing after wind” (2:11, 17) is ironically, from the author’s perspective, very close to the truth.⁵⁶ That the scribal author of Ecclesiastes in the royal fiction is undermining or satirizing the wisdom of elite figures like Qohelet is also evidenced by the fact that Qohelet’s boast of having achieved great wisdom (1:16) runs directly counter to the important virtue of humility promoted by the Israelite wisdom tradition.⁵⁷ Prov 3:7, for instance, exhorts the hearer of that book not to be “wise in your own eyes.” Similarly 26:12 contends that there is “more hope for a fool” than for one who is “wise in their own eyes.” The same sentiment is echoed closely elsewhere in Proverbs and by the prophet Isaiah who in 5:21 exclaims, “Ah you who are wise in your own eyes and shrewd in your own sight!” Importantly, the prophet’s words appear precisely in a context in which he is railing against elite figures who perpetuate injustices. Isa 5 also associates these arrogant people with eating and drinking and merry making, a rhetoric close to Qohelet’s conclusion (which he draws in light of the inadequacy of his wisdom) that there is nothing better than to eat, drink, and enjoy (2:24; etc.). Those who “join house to house” and “add field to field” (Isa 5:8) not only indulge in “strong drink” (5:11, 22), they also enjoy “feasts” that “consist of lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine” (5:11; cf. Amos 6:6). These sorts of intertextual allusions to Proverbs and Isaiah (and Amos),⁵⁸ not only might place Qohelet on folly’s path (in traditional terms), they can paint him with the colors of a perpetrator of injustice.⁵⁹ Indeed just as there is no mention of Imperial Solomon’s fulfilling the ideology of king For the rendering of ‫ הבל‬as “absurdity,” see Fox, A Time to Tear Down,  – .  On claims to great wisdom and other boasting in ancient Near Eastern royal inscriptions, see n.  above.  Examples could be easily multiplied. Cf., for example, Prov :; :; :, ; Isa : – ; Ezek :, .  Prov :; :; : – , and : all warn against excessive consumption of alcohol. For traditional wisdom’s valuing of social justice, see the texts mentioned in n.  above and cf. Prov :; :; :. The eating, drinking, and enjoying of royal figures depicted in Esth  and Dan  likewise suggest a negative evaluation of the pleasure seeking conduct of elite figures like Qohelet. Eunny P. Lee, however, relates the eating and drinking of other texts such as Esth : –  and Neh : –  to Ecclesiastes in order to present a positive view of Qohelet’s call to carpe diem. See The Vitality of Enjoyment in Qohelet’s Theological Rhetoric (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ). Yet these passages of eating and drinking in communal and religious contexts are quite distinct from the accent Ecclesiastes (and other ancient Near Eastern texts, including Isa :) places on such activity. For a brief discussion, see Sandoval, “Comer y Beber.” Later texts arguably also associate aspects of Qohelet’s discourse to those who perpetuate injustice (e. g.,  En. :; : and Wis ).

Reconfiguring Solomon in the Royal Fiction of Ecclesiastes


ship by carrying out acts of social justice in 1 Kings, so too there is no mention of Qohelet’s just deeds in Ecclesiastes. Although later in the book Qohelet witnesses injustice (3:16; 5:7 [5:8]), the great king seems impotent to address it.⁶⁰

5 Conclusions The picture of Qohelet’s valorization of his own wisdom (as knowledge and intellectual acuity) in Ecclesiastes is no doubt related to the broader context of the Hellenistic world that saw an explosion of knowledge in ancient empirical, scientific endeavors, especially in medicine.⁶¹ Yet again, as Flemming has argued, the construction and claim to a regime of knowledge is not ideologically neutral. In fact, the claim to intellectual mastery of “cultural life” could be used as a means to consolidate empire. It could in fact function as a “continuation of territorial expansion by other means,” and serve as “the expression of the superiority of the rulers” over their “subject peoples.”⁶² King Qohelet’s claims to wisdom, like Solomon’s before him, evokes this kind of elite discourse that seeks to project the superiority of the hegemonic classes’ intellects, knowledge, and construction of reality over all others. Yet just as the scribal authors of the non- or pre-deuteronomistic portions of 1 Kings could subtly fashion a critique of Imperial Solomon through a critical representation of his wisdom, so the scribal author of Ecclesiastes through an analogous representation of Qohelet’s wisdom satirically unmasks, and so indirectly and symbolically resists, the pretensions to domination, including epistemological domination, by political and economic elites—all the new Solomons—of his own day. Ecclesiastes has refigured Imperial Solomon of 1 Kings as Qohelet.

 Of course, many suggest that the “royal fiction” concludes at the end of Eccl  and that the image of the speaker after this point is not King Qohelet at all, but a wisdom scribe. It is, however, just as possible to suspend one’s disbelief and understand the primary speaking voice throughout Ecclesiastes to be Qohelet, for example as Eric S. Christianson suggests in A Time To Tell: Narrative Strategies in Ecclesiastes (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ). In this way the critical impulse and double-voiced character of the royal fiction can be said to continue. Indeed most readers of the book—though perhaps not most academic, historical critics—have in fact assumed Qohelet–Solomon’s voice continues until the epilogue.  Flemming, “Empires of Knowledge,”  – . Note, too, the Ptolemies’ patronage of the great library at Alexandria.  Flemming, “Empires of Knowledge,” .

Serge Frolov

The Comeback of Comebacks: David, Bathsheba, and the Prophets in the Song of Songs 1 Introduction No biblical book is an island. It is a part of the canon. What I mean by this is not the truism that by bringing these books together in a library of authorized texts and ultimately in a thick volume with “The Holy Bible” printed in gold on the cover the creators of the canon have invited the audience to read them in relation to each other. What I do mean is that all or almost all of these books would presuppose each other even without being in such a volume. In other words, the links between them were not forged by the canon; on the contrary, chances are that it is precisely the books’ synchronic or diachronic dependence upon each other that contributed, in a substantial if not decisive way, to their canonization. In brief, canon is secondary to meaning, not the other way round. In the vast majority of cases, this is more or less obvious. As I have repeatedly pointed out elsewhere, all the parts of the Enneateuch (Genesis-Kings)—that comprises, by volume, almost half of the Jewish canon—belong with a single integral narrative that runs from the creation of the world to Jehoiachin’s exaltation by the Babylonian king Amel-Marduk.¹ Chronicles covers more or less the same span of time in an alternative way, sometimes widely different (with all the events up to Saul’s defeat and death replaced with genealogies), sometimes identical or only slightly varied. Ezra continues from the point where Chronicles calls it a day, as made clear by the unique catchline 2 Chr 36:22 – 23 = Ezra 1:1– 3aβ1 that connects the two books. Nehemiah, self-contained as it is from the literary standpoint, is linked to Ezra by chronology and by the appearance of the title character of the latter in ch. 8. In a similar fashion, Ruth is positioned by its opening line in the period covered in Judges and the beginning of Samuel, and both Esther and Daniel are connected to the expulsion under Jehoiachin that is recounted in 2 Kgs 24—not to mention, of course, that the latter two

 E. g., Serge Frolov, Judges, FOTL b (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ),  – ; idem, “The Case of Joshua,” in Deuteronomy-Kings as Emerging Authoritative Books, ed. Diana V. Edelman (Atlanta: SBL, ),  – .


Serge Frolov

books are concerned with the destinies of the same group of people that is in the focus of the Enneateuch starting with Gen 12 (even though Esther refers to this group as ‫—יהודים‬Judahites, or Jews—rather than ‫—ישראל‬Israel). All prophetic books, except perhaps for the brief and ambiguous Joel, respond to, and comment on the events recounted in 2 Kings and Ezra. Ditto for Lamentations. As to Psalms, about two-thirds of them are associated with Enneateuchal characters—mostly David and Asaph (and in the former case, often explicitly linked to episodes of David’s biography in Samuel) but also Solomon, Moses, Ethan the Ezrahite, and the Korahite family—and many refer, broadly or narrowly, to the events covered in the Enneateuch. Wisdom literature is a somewhat different matter, in that the three sapiential compositions found in all canons do not explicitly reference other biblical books. The only exceptions are Proverbs 8 that paints personified female Wisdom into the process of creation broadly corresponding to the account of Gen 1 and 2 and the attribution of (most of) Proverbs to Solomon and of Ecclesiastes to a “son of David” who was “king over Israel in Jerusalem,” in other words, to a pre-exilic member of the Davidic dynasty. At the same time, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and especially Job all prominently feature Yhwh—the deity that is one of the main actors in the Enneateuch and other biblical narratives, the only speaker in the prophetic books, and the main addressee in Psalms. And, of course, all these books grapple, each in its own way, with the characterization of this deity and its modus operandi elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible canon. That leaves us with only one book that may be an exception to the trend traced above and is often treated as such an exception—the Song of Songs. It never explicitly refers to anything recounted elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, to the people of Israel, or to its deity. It does mention a slew of locations within the boundaries of the land that in the Enneateuch functions as the pivot of the relationship between Israel and its deity, but the context of these mentions, mostly serving as similes, does not correspond, at least not explicitly, to anything associated with the locations in question in the Enneateuch and elsewhere. Even the references to Solomon, a major character in Kings, do not securely anchor the Song of Songs in this book. Although the superscription of the Song can (but does not have to) be understood as ascribing it to Solomon, most of the book clearly is not his discourse.² First, even apart from the superscription it re Like other Hebrew prepositions, -‫ ל‬has notoriously broad semantic field that makes it possible to translate ‫ לשלמה‬as “Solomon’s,” “to Solomon,” and “regarding Solomon.” See, e. g., Marvin H. Pope, Song of Songs: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, AB C (New York: Doubleday, ),  – ; Othmar Keel, Das Hohelied, Zürcher Bibelkommentare  (Zürich: Theologische Verlag, ),  – .

The Comeback of Comebacks


fers to Solomon only in the second and third person (3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12); second, according to Athalya Brenner’s calculation, at least 53 % and perhaps as much as 66 % of the Song comes from the mouth of a woman or women.³ In this respect, the Song of Songs is the exact opposite of Ecclesiastes that is easily attributable, except perhaps for one line in the beginning and a few at the end, to Solomon or another Davidic monarch. And, apart from the superscription, Solomon is almost exclusively represented in the Song by objects belonging to him—a bed in 3:7– 8, a palanquin in 3:9 – 10, a crown in 3:11, and a vineyard in 8:11—which do not appear elsewhere in the Bible. The only exception is the address to him by an unidentifiable speaker in 8:12.⁴ In sum, Solomon in the Song of Songs is not much more than a name; and this name would seem to be the book’s only link to the rest of the biblical canon. Hebrew Bible scholarship of the last two hundred years has done very little to strengthen this link.⁵ Many studies and commentaries have ignored it altogether, regarding the Song of Songs as a collection of love poetry, perhaps inspired by extant Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek specimens, of wedding hymns, or even of funeral dirges entirely unrelated to its present canonical context.⁶ Others, just as numerous, have followed the link away from the canon, reading the Song as an account of an otherwise unknown episode from Solomon’s life—a celebration of his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter (cf. 1 Kgs 3:1; 7:8; 9:16; 11:1), an unsuccessful attempt to seduce a shepherdess, or a relationship with an Arabian princess.⁷ Even canonical critics, such as Brevard Childs, did not make a substantial difference in this particular respect. Childs has argued that since Solomon is the “father of sapiential writing” attribution of the Song of Songs to him (Song 1:1) connects it to biblical wisdom literature that occasionally uses sexual motifs and consistently personifies wisdom as a

 Athalya Brenner, The Israelite Woman: Social Role and Literary Type in Biblical Narrative, The Biblical Seminar (Sheffield: JSOT Press, ),  – . See also Appendix  below.  And even here it is not obvious that Solomon is actually meant to hear these words.  Despite overwhelmingly identifying the book as one of latest in the Hebrew Bible, which increases the probability of its dependence on other parts of the canon.  Collection of love poetry: e. g., Keel, Das Hohelied; wedding hymns: e. g., Karl Budde, “Das Hohelied,” in Karl Budde, Alfred Bertholet, and D.G. Wildeboer, Die fünf Megillot, KHAT  (Freiburg: Mohr [Siebeck], ), xvii–xxi; funeral dirges: Pope, Song of Songs,  – .  Pharaoh’s daughter: e.g., Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, “Praefatio in Canticum Canticorum,” in Oeuvres completes de Bossuet,  vols. (Paris: Librairie de Louis Vivès, ; first published ),  –; shepherdess: e.g., Christian D. Ginsburg, The Song of Songs: Translated from the Original Hebrew (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, ); Arabian princess: Michael Goulder, The Song of Fourteen Songs, JSOTSup  (Sheffield: JSOT Press, ).


Serge Frolov

woman (Prov 8 – 9).⁸ Yet, this argument also founders on the fact that it is difficult to attribute most of the discourses in the book to a male character. Further, the generic definition (‫ )שיר‬in the superscription is never used of biblical sapiential texts but is common in Psalms (cf. also Exod 15:1; Judg 5:1), and 1 Kgs 5:12 clearly distinguishes between Solomon’s 3000 proverbs and his 1005 songs (‫)שירו‬. Finally, the only two pieces of advice that the Song of Songs can offer its readers are “do not arouse love until it wants to” (2:7; 3:5; 8:4) and “if a man gives away all the wealth of his house out of love, they will surely despise him” (8:7b), and the passionate, tormented, and often confused female narrator of the Song of Songs is the polar opposite of the calm, self-confident, almost overbearing Lady Wisdom in Proverbs. Does it follow that the Song of Songs is indeed an orphan in the biblical canon? The purpose of the present paper is to demonstrate that this is emphatically not the case. On the contrary, the book can be plausibly and profitably read as presupposing and closely interacting with both the Former and Latter Prophets. I will start by tracing echoes of Davidic narratives, especially those featuring Bathsheba, in the Song of Songs and then examine the ways in which it responds, in part by strategically deploying these echoes, to a prominent trope employed by the prophets and especially to the theological concepts behind it.

2 “My Beloved Is Fair and Ruddy”: David and Bathsheba in the Song of Songs Let me begin with a lexeme that the Song of Songs, short as it is, uses more than 30 times. This lexeme is ‫דוד‬, here consistently vocalized by the Masoretes as ‫דּוֹד‬, and almost invariably translated into English as “beloved.” How do the translators know that it means “beloved”? Easy: mainly because this is what it is assumed to mean in the Song of Songs. In an interesting piece of biblical trivia, the word, while by no means a hapax legomenon, is not clearly used in this sense anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible.⁹ And the meaning of what looks

 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress, ), .  Other attested meanings of the consonantal sequences ‫ דד‬and ‫ דוד‬include “uncle/relative” (e. g., Lev :;  Sam :; Jer :; Esth :), “kettle” (e. g.,  Sam :; Jer :; Job :), and “breast/nipple” (Ezek :, , ; Prov :). In Isa :, ‫ דודי‬is often construed as “beloved” (e. g., BDB, KJV, NKJV, NAB, JPS), but Avraham Even-Shoshan, A New Concordance of the Bible (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, ), , lists this occurrence under “father’s brother”

The Comeback of Comebacks


like its plural, ‫דודים‬, both in the Songs of Songs (with one possible exception) and outside it, is somewhat different although by no means unrelated. In Ezek 16:8; 23:17; Prov 7:18; Song 1:2, 4; 4:10 (twice); 7:13 it clearly denotes the act or acts of love, not those engaged in it; only in Song 5:1 it can, but not necessarily has to, be translated as “lovers.” This semantic quirk by no means exhausts the surprises associated with the discussed lexeme. First, while in the Song of Songs not only the woman but also the man seems, at least outwardly, to be madly in love, the word is used only by the woman. There is no feminine form of ‫ דוד‬in the book—or, for that matter, anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible. The man does not refer to the woman as ‫דודתי‬ although there is no lack of other feminine terms of endearment with first-person singular possessive suffix: ‫“ רעיתי‬my (female) companion” (1:9, 15; 2:2, 10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:2; 6:4), ‫“ אחתי‬my sister” (4:9, 10, 12; 5:1, 2), ‫“ יונתי‬my (female) dove” (2:14; 5:2; 6:9). Further, the book never spells the singular ‫דוד‬, with or without pronominal suffixes, without a waw—in contrast to the plural ‫ד)ו(דים‬, which is spelled breve five times out of six in the Song of Songs (with 5:1 unsurprisingly being the only exception) and three out of three times outside it. All this brings to mind yet another Hebrew word that is overwhelmingly spelled ‫ דוד‬but never ‫ ד ֹד‬although vocalized in a substantially different way, that cannot possibly be either plural or feminine, and that, finally, is associated with the name Solomon. The word in question is, of course, the name ‫— ָדּ ִוד‬David. To be sure, an anthroponym would be unlikely to take a pronominal suffix the way the ‫ דוד‬sequence repeatedly does in the Song of Songs—although this may be precisely the case with the enigmatic ‫( דודה‬doda or dawda) sequence in line 12 of the Mesha inscription.¹⁰ I am not suggesting, accordingly, that ‫ דוד‬in the book should be read ‫ ָדּ ִוד‬and translated “David”; the text itself guards against going too far in this direction by spelling, in a relatively rare fashion,‫דויד‬ when mentioning “the tower of David” in 4:4. I am suggesting, however, that the Song of Songs deftly uses an otherwise unattested and therefore possibly artificial cognate of ‫“ דודים‬lovemaking” to conjure, graphically but not aurally, the figure of Solomon’s father—who also happens to be the Bible’s paradigmatic king—every time the female speaker mentions her beloved. Another Davidic innuendo may be lurking in 5:10 where the woman describes her beloved as ‫“ צח ואדום דגול מרבבה‬fair and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand.” Only two characters in the Hebrew Bible are described while RSV, NRSV, and NEB render ‫ שירת דודי‬here as “love-song.” Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between the “vineyard song” in Isa  and the Song of Songs: see n.  below.  Samuel R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel (Oxford: Clarendon, ), lxxxv.


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as ‫אדמוני‬, i. e. verbally painted red. Best known, indeed famous, in this respect is Esau, also known as Edom. He obviously does not fit here, not only due to lack of connections to Solomon but also because the narrator of Gen 25:25 makes it clear that red was the color of Esau’s hair (which plays a major role in subsequent events), whereas the hair of the ‫ דוד‬in Song 5 is raven-black (v. 11). That leaves us with the other ‫—אדמוני‬David as per 1 Sam 16:12; 17:42. Appropriately, the relatively rare ‫רבבות‬, usually translated “tens of thousands” and used in the second half of Song 5:10, pops up in the beginning of 1 Sam 18 in a praise addressed to none other than David: “Saul has smitten his thousands and David his tens of thousands” (v. 7). The expression is used of David three more times in 1 Samuel (18:8; 21:12; 29:5), so that it comes much closer than anything else to becoming his heraldic motto. It may also be worth noting that the four verses listed here constitute more than a quarter of occurrences of ‫ רבבה‬and half of occurrences of the plural ‫ רבבות‬outside the Song of Songs. The word ‫ דגול‬in the same phrase also deserves a closer look. It is usually translated “distinguished,” and that is at the very least a very good contextual guess, but it obscures the fact that the word is a cognate of ‫—דגל‬a lexeme that outside the Song of Songs occurs only in Num 1, 2, and 10. In these chapters, it clearly denotes a rallying point for a three-tribe battle formation; note especially “each one at his ‫דגל‬, according to their armies” in Num 1:52. If so, in conjunction with ‫רבבות‬, in most cases also a term for a major military unit, ‫ דגול‬implicitly characterizes the man whose description is ushered in by Song 5:10 as a military commander of the highest rank. That, of course, is what David becomes in 1 Sam 18 and remains until much later in his life. The reference to the man’s ‫ דגל‬in Song 2:4 goes in the same direction. The implicit presence of Solomon’s father in the Song of Songs may come as a surprise but in fact it should not because the book quite explicitly mentions Solomon’s mother: in 3:11, the “daughters of Zion” are invited to “come and see” the crown with which she crowned him. The stated occasion for the crowning is Solomon’s wedding, and the surface level of meaning may presuppose a nuptial rite similar to that still practiced today in some Christian churches (although in such rites the bride is usually crowned as well). At the same time, the verse can be read as an allusion to the events recounted in 1 Kgs 1. In this chapter, Bathsheba confronts David about his alleged promise that her son Solomon would succeed him on the throne. By jogging the king’s memory—or, perhaps, planting a false recollection in his fading mind (the promise is never mentioned by the narrator)—she ultimately causes him to order Solomon’s immediate coronation and thus determines the outcome of his rivalry with Adonijah (vv. 15 – 35). In essence, Solomon’s mother secures the crown for him.

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With the anonymous mother of Song 2:11 revealed as the character Bathsheba who plays an active, often pivotal role in Samuel and Kings, her presence can be detected beyond this verse. One might, in particular, take a close look at the unique appellation ‫ השולמית‬in Song 7:1. It has, of course, been pointed out since time immemorial that it is, basically, a feminine form of ‫—שלמה‬Solomon. Yet few, if any, exegetes have tried to figure out what kind of relationship to Solomon might be presupposed by somebody in essence bearing his name in a gender-adjusted form. A name is by definition something that identifies a person exclusively, and what connection is more exclusive than that of a parent to a child? Hardly a sexual liaison, and certainly not a sexual liaison involving Solomon in Kings, with his enormous harem and “love” for many women from different nations (11:1– 3), or the male character of the Song, who may or may not be identifiable with Solomon and who does not seem to be committed to a single partner (see below). If so, ‫ השולמית‬can be understood as a reference to Bathsheba as the mother of Solomon, along the lines of teknonymy practices that are attested in several languages including Korean, Balinese, Zuni, and, closer to home, Arabic (where the mother of a boy named Ahmed can be referred to, according to kunya custom, as Umm Ahmed). The name is also interpretable as an allusion to 2 Sam 12:24, according to which it was Bathsheba that gave Solomon his better known name: could both her choice and the prophet Nathan’s rejection of it have to do with the fact that ‫ השולמית‬was her alias? Proceeding from here, we may also note that in the second half of 7:1, the simile for the woman referred to as ‫ השולמית‬is something called ‫מחלת מחנים‬. The expression is usually translated into English along the lines of “dance of two camps,” and it is indeed quite possible that what is meant here is some kind of dance, game, or dance and game combined in which the participants divide into two camps that face each other. However, the noun ‫ מחנים‬is not just a dual form of the generic “camp”—interpretable, among other things, as a throwback to the martial imagery of 5:10—but also a proper noun, more precisely, the name of a Transjordanian city. Aetiology of this name—two aetiologies, to be precise—is provided in Gen 32:2– 3, 7– 13, but the city as such plays an important role only in the narratives associated with David. In 2 Sam 2:8 – 9, Saul’s descendant Ishbosheth is proclaimed king in Mahanaim. In 2 Sam 17:24– 26, David makes Mahanaim his base of operations after fleeing across the Jordan from the rebellion headed by his son Absalom. When the king and his forces encamp in the city, three people bring them abundant provisions and even couches, basins, and earthenware (vv. 27– 29); one of them is a certain Machir the son of Ammiel. This patronymic matches that of Bathsheba in 1 Chr 3:5. In 2 Sam 11:3, she is introduced as the daughter of Eliam, but that may be the same name with


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the constituent roots transposed. In a similar manner, Jeremiah repeatedly refers to Jehoiachin as Coniahu (22:24, 28; 37:1). Bathsheba’s connection to Mahanaim is not, however, limited to possibly being a sister of David’s supporter who greeted him there: if Lo-Debar, the hometown of Machir and therefore of Bathsheba, is the same as Lidbir of Josh 13:26, it must have been located in the vicinity of Mahanaim. Proximity of the two points is further suggested by the fact that after the assassination of Ishbosheth, whose capital, as already mentioned, was in Mahanaim, Machir hosted his nephew Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9:4– 5). If Bathsheba’s family was from the vicinity of Mahanaim, the second half of Song 7:1 can be read as an allusion to her childhood or youth. The Bathsheba connection would also make it easier to understand ‫“ בת־נדיב‬daughter of a nobleman” in the next verse. With her brother presenting tribute to David alongside Shobi from Rabbat-Ammon—apparently the brother of the Ammonite king defeated by David’s army in 2 Sam 12 and possibly the son of that defeated by Saul in 1 Sam 11—there is little doubt about Bathsheba’s aristocratic pedigree. At the same time, the appellation evokes ‫ עמי־נדיב‬at the end of 6:12 (just two words before the first mention of Hashulammite), which is interpretable, in its turn, as an allusion to the name Aminadav—David’s ancestor in Ruth 4:19 – 20 and elsewhere. With Bathsheba as a possible addressee in the first two verses of Song 7, it may be worth its while to pay closer attention to the second-person praise of a woman that dominates the chapter. The particulars of this praise are clearly very different from generically cognate pieces in chs. 4 and 6, which are not only similar to each other, but also identical in part. As noted by many commentators, ch. 7 is much more explicit than chs. 4 and 6 in its description of the woman’s body, suggesting perhaps that the audience is expected to visualize her nude or only partially covered. What has hardly been mentioned, however, is the shape of this body: the woman’s hips are round (v. 2b), her belly protrudes, if softly (as suggested by its comparison to a heap of wheat, v. 3b), and her navel is large and deep (v. 3a). Most interestingly, while reproducing 4:5, where the woman’s breasts are described as twin calves of a mountain goat, that is, as small and delicate, ch. 7 then makes them large and pendulous by using date clusters as a simile (vv. 8 – 9). In other words, the body that is described in the chapter is that of a woman who has given birth, a mother.¹¹  Athalya Brenner, “‘Come Back, Come Back the Shulammite’ (Song of Songs . – ): A Parody of the wasf Genre,” in A Feminist Companion to the Song of Songs, ed. Athalya Brenner, The Feminist Companion to the Bible  (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ),  – , sees the woman’s description in Song  as humorous. That seems to assume aesthetic and literary standards that the book’s cultural matrix did not necessarily share; besides, Fiona C. Black,

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With Bathsheba the mother implicitly present in the text, one might reasonably expect baby Solomon to show up as well—and indeed, he does. One of the most enigmatic pieces of the Song—and that’s saying something—is 3:7– 8 that invites the audience to behold Solomon’s bed with sixty highly skilled warriors standing guard around it. What this piece of furniture has anything to do with anything else in the book—or elsewhere—is anybody’s guess. What is relatively clear, however, is that it would border on the bizarre for an adult king of Israel to keep a whole platoon of skilled warriors around his bed for no other reason than ‫“ פחד בלילות‬fear at night.” One can, however, easily imagine a slightly—perhaps grossly—spoiled little boy from a royal household who is afraid of the dark or a doting royal mother who is more than ready to accommodate him because she has already lost a child and because she harbors the ultimate ambitions for her surviving son. But perhaps the strongest allusion to the narratives featuring David and Bathsheba can be found in Song 8:7b. As noted by Wilhelm Wittekindt, the expression ‫“ את־כל־הון ביתו‬all the wealth of his house” occurs elsewhere in the biblical canon only in Prov 6:31; both there and in Song 8:7bα, the phrase is governed by ‫“ יתן‬he will give,” and even the spelling—with three words, in a relatively uncommon fashion, connected by maqaf—is exactly the same.¹² The occurrence in Proverbs comes in the midst of admonition against an affair with a married woman (6:20 – 35); the only actual example of such an affair in the entire Hebrew Bible is what transpires in 2 Sam 11. The Proverbs admonition shares much of the wording of Song 8:6 – 7—note ‫ לא יבוזו‬in v. 30, ‫ אש‬and ‫ איש‬in v. 27, and ‫ קנאה‬in v. 34, but there is also substantial lexical overlap with the conversation between David and Nathan in 2 Sam 12: ‫( איש‬Prov 6:27; repeatedly in 2 Sam 12, including the famous ‫ אתה האיש‬in v. 7); ‫( חיק‬Prov 6:27; 2 Sam 12:3, 8); ‫( חמל‬Prov 6:34; 2 Sam 12:4, 6); ‫( בזה‬Prov 6:30; 2 Sam 12:9). And in conceptual terms, Prov 6:30 – 31 seems to agree with the central point of Nathan’s discourse in 2 Sam 12 that adultery is especially heinous because it is gratuitous by nature. The pervasive if invariably elusive presence of David and Bathsheba in the Song of Songs suggests, among other things, that contrary to many modern studies and commentaries it is not an amorphous collection of love poems, connected only by

“Beauty or the Beast? The Grotesque Body in the Song of Songs,” BibInt  ():  – , clearly—if perhaps inadvertently—demonstrates that all that it takes for all body descriptions in the Song of Songs to sound funny is the interpreter’s determination to read them literally.  Wilhelm Wittekindt, Das Hohelied und seine Beziehungen zum Ištarkult (Hannover: Lafaire, ), .


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common themes and imagery.¹³ Of course, what ultimately defines the book as a literary entity is the contrast between the superscription in Song 1:1, setting the Song of Songs in its entirety apart from what precedes and what follows, and the absence of any textual or even paratextual elements inviting the audience to read any of its components in isolation from others (contrast the internal superscriptions in Prov 10:1; 24:23; 25:1; 30:1; 31:1). This is not the case, for example, with the ancient Egyptian love songs, which are separated in the extant papyri by brief notations at the beginning, numerals, and even more sophisticated means, or with Mesopotamian erotic poems, circumscribed by colophons.¹⁴ In other words, the received Song of Songs presents itself as a single composition, not a collection.¹⁵ In addition, several scholars—Timothea Elliott above all—have demonstrated that in terms of imagery, tropes, and formulary the book’s ending largely mirrors its beginning.¹⁶ But the fact that the echoes of Bathsheba and David not only are present in more than one section of the book but also penetrate its entire fabric is yet another strong argument in favor of reading the Song of Songs as an integral whole rather than an assemblage of pre-existing mutually unrelated texts. Even more importantly, these echoes are indispensable as far as the book’s meaning is concerned. In particular, they suggest that the Song of Songs is not an odd man out in the biblical canon but rather its integral component. It functions much in the same way as all or almost all prophetic literature, as well as several books from the Writings section (Psalms, Lamentations, Ruth, and, more remotely, Esther, Daniel, and Ecclesiastes), using the events recounted in the

 For example, Tremper Longman, Song of Songs, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ), divides the book into  more or less self-contained poetic pieces, and Keel, Das Hohelied, into as many as . The tendency to fragment the Song of Songs is by no means a new phenomenon: the first attempts to read it as essentially a collection of love lyrics date as far back as the seventeenth century: see Pope, Song of Songs, .  On the Egyptian love songs, see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (Berkeley: University of California Press, ),  – . In Papyrus Chester Beatty I, each individual poem begins with an appropriate numeral or its homophone and ends with the same word. On the Mesopotamian erotic poems, see, e. g., COS : – .  Although Duane Garrett, “Song of Songs,” in Duane Garrett and Paul R. House, Song of Songs; Lamentations, WBC B (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, ), , and especially Longman (Song of Songs, , , ) seem to believe otherwise, this is not what the Hebrew expression ‫שיר‬ ‫ השירים‬means or could possibly mean: see Pope, Song of Songs,  – .  M. Timothea Elliott, The Literary Unity of the Canticle, European University Studies, Series : Theology  (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, ). Cf. J. Cheryl Exum, “A Literary and Structural Analysis of the Song of Songs,” ZAW  ():  – ; Roland E. Murphy, The Song of Songs, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, ),  – ; Michael V. Fox, The Song of Songs and the Egyptian Love Songs (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, ),  – ; Garrett, “Song of Songs,”  – .

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narrative corpus, primarily in the Enneateuch, and the characters featured in it to spin a new discourse. Moreover, like many of these texts, it can be read as responding to and grappling with conceptual issues that other parts of the canon leave unresolved. In order to understand this, we need to step back and look at the Song of Songs as a whole in its canonical context.

3 Look Who Is Talking: Genres and Voices in the Song of Songs In a very broad sense, the Hebrew Bible can be understood as a conversation.¹⁷ In the beginning, there is a long but more or less continuous narrative—the Enneateuch—that recounts the story of the relationship between the deity and humankind starting with creation of the world, and specifically between the deity and Israel starting with Abraham, in a voice that belongs to neither party but predictably leans towards the deity’s side. In the prophetic corpus, the deity speaks through the mouths of the prophets, offering its take on the recounted events, and especially trying to dispel the impression that its treatment of Israel, culminating in the exile, was excessively harsh. To put it in a grossly reductionist way, three main points seem to be made: first, the people brought the disaster upon themselves by failing to observe the commandments despite repeated warnings, admonitions, and second chances that they were offered; second, other nations will be punished as well; third, salvation remains available upon repentance and perhaps even without it. In the Writings section, Israel begins to talk back. Its voice can be heard, first and foremost, in Psalms, which presupposes a human speaker who is a devotee of Israel’s deity and alternates between praising this deity, pleading it for help, and crying out in anguish because help is not forthcoming. Israel’s stance can be discerned in Lamentations bewailing the disaster that befell the community and desperately grasping for clues as to why this happened. Israel’s voice can be heard in the discourses of Ecclesiastes and Job, questioning the simplistic pivotal presupposition of the Enneateuch and the prophets that those who observe the commandments are guaranteed to, quoting the Star Trek, “live long and prosper.” How about the Song of Songs? One of its unusual properties is the role played by the characters’ direct discourse, more precisely, by verbal exchanges between them: out of the book’s 117  The discussion below will follow the Masoretic canon although much of what I am going to say applies to other canons as well.


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verses, only the four-word superscription definitely does not fall under this category. Although the text is at least in part a story, in that the characters not only talk but also act and are being acted upon, there is no (supposedly) above-thefray narrator. Everything that transpires is recounted by the protagonists; moreover, in most cases their accounts are clearly addressed to other characters, not to the audience. Non-narrative speech is likewise often directed from one character to another, as suggested by its second-person mode. In this sense, the Song is a drama of sorts, or perhaps a dramatic poem. An even more idiosyncratic feature of the Song of Songs is, of course, the preponderance of female discourse. As mentioned in section 1 above, according to Athalya Brenner’s calculations, 53 percent of the text is spoken by females as opposed to 34 percent being voiced by males; in the remaining 13 percent, there is no reliable indication of gender. Two out of three identifiable speakers are female: an individual woman, who seems to be referred to at one point (7:1) as Hashulammite, and a chorus of sorts whose participants are collectively identified as “daughters of Jerusalem.” But what makes the Song of Songs truly unique is the highly uneven gender distribution of speech forms and the identity of their addressees. The discourses included in the book are widely diverse in terms of length, content, and purpose, but as far as generic patterns are concerned, more than 90 percent of its volume falls within three relatively determinate categories (see Appendix 1). First, there are accounts—third-person discourses dominated by perfect verbal forms or (much less frequently) by participles. Second, there are first-, second-, and third-person praises, somewhat similar to the Arabic waṣf and mostly couched in nominal clauses. Finally, there are second-person exhortations and admonitions, governed by imperatives and jussives. Although both individual protagonists employ all of these genres, each of them has obvious preferences. Most praises, including almost all lengthy ones, come from the male speaker, and almost all of them are directly addressed to the woman. She, by contrast, uses this genre in moderation, and her only lengthy praise of the man (5:10 – 16) is addressed not to him but to the daughters of Jerusalem. The contrast is even starker with regard to the accounts: with the sole exception of four short clauses in 5:1a (a total of sixteen words), they are articulated by the woman. What is more, although the addressees of the accounts are hardly ever specified, most of these fragments, including almost all lengthy ones, are either included in the woman’s conversations with the “daughters of Jerusalem” (as in chs. 5 – 6) or stand in apparent conjunction with second-person admonitions addressed to them (as in chs. 1– 2: “I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, etc.”). The bottom line is that all or almost all the experiences commu-

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nicated by the Song of Songs are a woman’s experiences as shared with other women. If so, it might be worthwhile to explore the character of these experiences. Quite a few discussions of the book treat them as largely positive, emphasizing the woman’s enjoyment of her reciprocated love and unencumbered sexuality. There is no argument that this sentiment is manifested in the Song of Songs, especially in ch. 1 and the beginning of ch. 2, but that is just one facet of what the book’s female protagonist has to go through. As Harold Fisch argued a quarter of a century ago, the Song of Songs is by no means idyllic—it is highly dramatic, bordering on the tragic.¹⁸ Moreover, the book’s movement from the idyllic to the dramatic and then to the tragic appears to follow a fairly consistent trajectory. This is not to say that there is determinate, reconstructable plot; it will hardly ever be possible to determine what exactly transpires in it and why.¹⁹ At the same time, the overall dynamics of the experience recounted by the book’s female character can be traced with a high degree of certainty. As already mentioned, in ch. 1 and the first seven verses of ch. 2 female discourse is an expression of pure joy. However, already towards the end of the latter chapter the mood changes perceptibly. Mutual desire is still in place, but this time there is a barrier between the lovers (“there is he, standing behind our walls,” v. 9b). Although they do communicate through a peephole, there is no indication that the barrier is ever breached, and towards the end of the scene (v. 17) the woman exhorts her beloved to turn back and run lest he is caught by daybreak—indicating that they meet surreptitiously, under the cover of darkness (compare the famous scene in Romeo and Juliet). In ch. 3, the woman has to set out at night to look for her beloved. This time she succeeds, but in ch. 5 the quest has to be resumed, with completely different results. Not only is the woman beaten, robbed, perhaps even sexually assaulted by the city’s guards (v.7)—which demonstrates, among other things, that the painless outcome of the first search was just a stroke of luck. Much more importantly, she fails to find her beloved: despite sharing his verbal portrait with the daughters of Jerusalem (vv. 10 – 16), she ends up being asked by them about the man’s whereabouts (6:1– 2). In the book’s concluding chapter, the joyous harmony of the

 Harold Fisch, Poetry with a Purpose: Biblical Poetics and Interpretation, Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ),  – .  Attempts of some modern exegetes, from Ginsburg, The Song of Songs, to Goulder, The Song of Fourteen Songs, to read the book as a drama of one sort or another have been unsuccessful mostly because they sought to account for each and every detail, which could only result in strained interpretations. Cf. Athalya Brenner, “To See Is to Assume: Whose Love Is Celebrated in the Song of Songs?” BibInt  ():  – .


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two lovers is reduced, in a stark contrast to the beginning, to two short and isolated, almost incongruous glimpses: v. 3 (“his left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me”) and v. 5 (“Who is this, ascending from the desert, leaning upon her beloved?”). Otherwise, the mood of ch. 8 is defined by the woman’s complaint that she cannot openly display affection for her beloved (vv. 1– 2) and her passionate and apparently futile plea for something the man apparently cannot or would not give her (vv. 6 – 7; see also below). Fittingly, in the concluding verse of the chapter the woman seems to be in touch with her beloved but there is no lasting reunion: she addresses him only to urge his departure (the verb she uses, ‫“ ברח‬to flee”, is much stronger and much less ambiguous than ‫“ סוב‬to turn back” in a similar exhortation in 2:17). In sum, the overall trajectory of the Song of Songs takes its female protagonist from the positive to the negative; in Aristotelian terms, her experience may consequently be described as tragic. But this is still not the whole story because the book also implicitly points out the agent of the woman’s anguish. Paradoxically, but perhaps not entirely unexpectedly, this agent is her beloved. As we have already seen, the Song’s male protagonist expresses his admiration of the partner’s body more frequently, at greater length, and more directly than does the woman. Unlike her, he even flaunts his sexual urge: “You are like a palm in your stature, and your breasts are like clusters; I say, Let me climb the palm and take hold of its branches” (7:8 – 9). Yet, his desire does not translate into anything even remotely resembling a caring attitude. This is indicated already in his first direct conversation with the woman—an exchange that disrupts the otherwise serene ambiance of ch. 1 like a false note disrupts the harmony of a musical piece. Asked where he can be found, the man advises the woman to follow the traces of the flocks and to feed her kids by the tents of the shepherds (vv. 7– 8). This response would sound endearingly coy were it not for the fact that the woman had clearly explained why she would rather avoid doing precisely that: the concern is that she would look like ‫“ עטיה‬wrapped up,” in other words, like a prostitute (compare Tamar in Gen 38:14– 15). By withholding his address, the man exposes his beloved to dishonor and even violence —which do catch up with her in 5:7, where the guards treat her the way corrupt cops might treat a streetwalker—but it does not seem to bother him. The pattern can be traced throughout the book. The man comes and goes at will, almost capriciously, as in 5:2– 6, where he knocks at the woman’s door but disappears before she has a chance to shake off her slumber and thereby sends her on a dangerous and ultimately futile quest. The woman longs for him, but the only time she manages to initiate the encounter is in ch. 3, and even there it happens by pure chance: she bumps into her beloved in the street (v. 4). Her needs and desires, even the possibility of her getting in trouble, do not set the pace of the relationship be-

The Comeback of Comebacks


cause they are of no consequence to the man. This is confirmed, among other things, by the generic configuration of chs. 6 and 7, where the man’s increasingly lavish monologues of praise sharply contrast with his failure to comfort the woman who is desperately searching for him or even to respond to her exhortation that concludes the fragment. Happy to have the woman at his disposal, he makes the point of not being at hers. In other words, passion does not prevent him from carefully steering away from a commitment. The gender distribution of one of the book’s generic patterns confirms as much. As can be seen in the summary of table 1, the Song’s female protagonist proclaims her devotion on three different occasions, 2:16; 6:3; 7:11: ‫“ אני לדודי‬I belong to my beloved.” On the first two of these occasions, she adds ‫“ ודודי לי‬and my beloved belongs to me”; however, the man fails to confirm it even once. The audience never hears him making an equivalent statement, and apparently neither does the woman: as though realizing at last that she might be engaging in wishful thinking, in ch. 7 the woman says instead ‫“ ועלי תשוקתו‬and his desire is towards me”—an almost cynical but much more appropriate characterization of the man’s attitude. Another component that points in the same direction is the verbal exchange in 8:6 – 7. Most of the passage (vv. 6 – 7a) clearly belongs to the woman, as v. 6aα is a request addressed to the man (“Place me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm”) and vv. 6aβ–7a provide a rationale for it (“Because love is strong as death, and jealousy is tough like the underworld, its sparks are sparks of fire —its tongues of flame; abundant waters would not put love out, and rivers will not quench it”). The response, most likely coming from her beloved, but also ascribable to a third party, is, “If a man gives away all the wealth of his house out of love, they will surely despise him” (v. 7b). The contrast could hardly be greater. Emotionally, the igneous torrent of passion runs into a stone-cold, cerebral syllogism. With regard to scale, the cosmic magnitude of “death” and “underworld” shrinks to the minuscule dimension of the house and its wealth. And in interpersonal terms, while the woman professes devotion unto death and fervently pleads her beloved to mark himself, conspicuously and perhaps forever, as attached to her, according to her interlocutor the chief concern of the man (‫)איש‬ is how much love might cost him and whether it might not only bankrupt him but also make him an object of ridicule.²⁰ He does not seem to take into consid It may not be accidental that the consonantal sequence ‫ בוז יבוזו לו‬can be translated not only “he will be surely despised” (deriving the verb from the root ‫ )בוז‬but also “he will be robbed clean” (‫)בזז‬. Several commentaries and translations construe ‫“ הון‬wealth” as the antecedent of ‫ לו‬and render the sentence, accordingly, along the lines of “Should a man offer all his wealth for love, it would be utterly despised,” i. e., in the words of Sir Paul McCartney, “Money can’t


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eration that his failure to reciprocate leaves the woman in an emotional and social limbo, agonizing over the nature of the relationship and its perspectives.²¹ Even so, the woman never expresses her disappointment or withdraws her affection; as indicated by the book’s last verse, she remains faithful to the end. With all this in mind, the Song of Songs presents itself in several important and meaningful respects as the polar opposite of the prophetic texts that comment on the relationship between Yhwh and Israel as presented in the Enneateuch and beyond by portraying them as husband and wife—Isa 54, 62; Jer 2– 3; Ezek 16, 23; and Hos 1– 2. The prophets blatantly silence Lady Israel, even when she is represented (in Hosea) by an actual woman—whom the deity bluntly brands a whore (1:2)—while affording Yhwh unlimited time to make the case against her in as much sordid detail as he would see fit;²² in the Song of Songs, as we have just seen, it is the female protagonist that does all the talking that matters. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea all accuse the community of serial infidelity to her divine spouse due to out-of-control lust; in the Song of Songs, the woman affirms her commitment and explains that she never cheated on her partner: if she sometimes behaves like a prostitute would, for example, wandering alone at night (Song 5:6 – 7), it is because he forces her to search for him and fails to protect her on this perilous road. Prophetic books quote the male deity as bragging about the protection he offered Lady Israel and the riches he lavished upon her (see especially Ezek 16:3 – 14); in the Song of Songs, the man is portrayed as hurting the woman by being elusive, capricious, unpredictable, and uncaring: despite profuse declarations of love (or, more precisely, of sexual attraction) he is never there when the woman needs him. Can the Song of Songs then be read as Lady Israel’s response

buy me love” (Exum, Song of Songs, , ; cf., e. g., John G. Snaith, Song of Songs, NCB Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ], ; Garrett, Song of Songs, , ; and most English Bibles: two exceptions are JPS and NAB). However, the plural formulation makes this construal less likely: only those to whom wealth is offered can despise it, and under the circumstances presupposed here the offer can, obviously, be addressed to only one person.  Recent commentators for the most part spend very little time on Song :b: Longman discusses it in three and a half lines (Song of Songs, ), Garrett in eight (Song of Songs, ), and Exum in six (Song of Songs, ).  As forcefully pointed out by Marvin A. Sweeney, Reading the Hebrew Bible after the Shoah: Engaging Holocaust Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, ),  – . Fokkelien van DijkHemmes, “The Imagination of Power and the Power of Imagination: An Intertextual Analysis of Two Biblical Love Songs: The Song of Songs and Hosea ,” JSOT  ():  – , juxtaposes the pattern of gender relations in Hosea with that in the Song of Songs, but she seems to read the former as trying to suppress the female voice in the latter.

The Comeback of Comebacks


to the prophets, in other words, as her apology? It is in answering this question that the echoes of 2 Samuel and 1 Kings in the book come back into play.

4 Back to Bathsheba Traditional exegesis, both Jewish and Christian, does often assume that the Song of Songs features the same couple as Isa 54, 62; Jer 2– 3; Ezek 16, 23; and Hos 1– 2, namely, Yhwh and Lady Israel.²³ Yet, modern scholars have for the most part—in the last half a century without exception—rejected the assumption. To a considerable extent, this rejection has to do with the fact that traditional interpreters have for the most part sought to correlate every detail of the book with either a specific event in Israel’s history as reported by the Hebrew Bible or a particular aspect of the community’s experience with its deity; predictably, the resultant interpretations have been often strained or even far-fetched. Pope explains: The flexibility and adaptability of the allegorical method, the ingenuity and the imagination with which it could be, and was, applied, the difficulty and virtual impossibility of imposing objective controls, the astounding and bewildering results of almost two millennia of application to the Canticle, have all contributed to its progressive discredit and almost complete desertion.²⁴

It should be noted, however, that there is no need to follow the above trajectory in reading the Song of Songs as the female voice ignored or suppressed by the prophets.²⁵ The latter seem to use the marriage metaphor to capture the overall pattern of the relationship between Yhwh and Israel, not to reflect its minutiae, and there is no reason why the Song of Songs cannot follow suit.²⁶ The deity’s unhappiness with Israel expressed in prophetic books can refer to anything from the golden calf through Manasseh’s idolatry—or all of the above; likewise, if the Song of Songs expresses Israel’s unhappiness with Yhwh, it can be about

 For a detailed yet accessible survey, see Pope, Song of Songs,  – .  Ibid., .  In essence, the traditional trajectory even leads away from such a reading: rather than looking at the Enneateuch and the prophetic corpus from the alternative perspective offered by the Song of Songs traditional interpreters construe the Song of Songs in accordance with the prophets’ understanding of the Enneateuch.  Although there is no firm line between metaphor and allegory (allegory is usually defined as extended metaphor), traditional interpretations of the Song of Songs clearly tend towards the latter and that offered in the present article towards the former. The two terms will be employed accordingly.


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anything from the undeserved 400-year Egyptian bondage through the deity’s refusal to pardon Judah after Josiah’s reforms—or all of the above.²⁷ Yet, avoiding the pitfalls of point-by-point allegory does not fully resolve the problem of controls pointed out by Pope. Exum rightly observes that while the prophets spell out the tenor of the marriage metaphor, as well as of other metaphors they use, that is not the case in the Song of Songs.²⁸ It is possible, of course, that the book presupposes readers or listeners who are familiar with the marriage metaphor in prophetic literature, but simply postulating that would result in circular reasoning, given that the reading of the Song of Songs as a response to prophets already assumes such an audience. The Davidic—or should we say Bathshebic?—echoes traced in section 2 of the present essay offer a way out of the circle. Three major aspects of Bathsheba’s experiences with David as per 2 Sam 11– 12 match those of the female character of the Song of Songs. First, the relationship is secret, which makes it a source of insecurity and anguish for the woman (explicitly in the latter case and implicitly in the former). Second, it is this way because the man, for the sake of his personal convenience, steers clear of a commitment, certainly an exclusive one. Third, the woman can do little, if anything, about it because by entering a sexual liaison outside of marriage—seen by the Bible as a capital crime, at least as far as the woman is concerned (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:20 – 27)—she became, to all practical purposes, the man’s hostage.²⁹ These parallels—and with them the entire intricate web of Bathsheba and David’s elusive semi-presence in the Song of Songs—become meaningful only within the framework of the book’s construal as Lady Israel’s apology. This construal may easily founder on a simple question: is it plausible that an omnipotent man would treat the woman he is attracted to—even if she is one of many—in such a way? Perhaps the marriage metaphor used by the prophets is inapplicable to the

 Exum (Song of Songs, ) maintains that the marriage metaphor is inapplicable to the Song of Songs because the latter expresses not only the woman’s perspective but also the man’s, whereas the prophets’ audience could identify itself only with the woman. Yet it is likely that the main purpose of the metaphor’s deployment by the prophets was precisely to invite the male listeners or readers to imagine how they would feel—and act—if their wives were repeatedly cheating on them and thus to shock the audience into grasping and sympathizing with the deity’s viewpoint.  Exum, Song of Songs,  – . Widespread as it is, this tendency is not universal: several metaphors are left without explanation in both the Hebrew Bible (who is the innocently suffering character of Isa ? What are the multi-colored horses of Zech :; : – ?) and the New Testament (who is the woman in Rev ?).  This makes it difficult to sustain Exum’s contention (Song of Songs, ) that the man and the woman are depicted in the Song of Songs as equals.

The Comeback of Comebacks


Song of Songs or maybe the character of the relationship between the man and the woman in it should be seen differently? By subtly pointing to Bathsheba’s treatment at the hands of her powerful lover the book preempts such doubts— and thus suggests to us, the unintended readers, that its target audience was indeed supposed to be familiar with both Former and Latter Prophets. Two additional features of the Song of Songs facilitate the application of the prophets’ marriage metaphor to it. First, neither of its protagonists has a name unambiguously attached to him or her, in a possible signal that there are no restrictions on their identification; while anonymous characters are common in the Hebrew Bible, this double anonymity is rare. Second, the text’s geographical scope, covering the entire land of Canaan, from Hermon in the extreme north (4:8) to the desert on the southern or eastern fringe (3:6; 8:5), is far too broad for a human couple but perfectly fits the relationship between the male deity and the female community of his worshippers to which he promised this land.³⁰ It should also be noted that the metaphor of worship as a secret romance, in which the man (the deity) comes and goes at will and the woman (the community of believers) faithfully waits for his rare visits despite the concomitant confusion and anguish, is attested beyond the cultural space of the Hebrew Bible. Two well-known examples are Radha and Krishna mythology in India and the Greco-Roman myth about Psyche and Eros.³¹ However, all these indications are weak or indirect. If the Song of Songs was indeed intended as a counterbalance not only to the prophets’ abuse of the “whore” label but also to their one-sided commentary on Israel’s tribulations recounted in the Bible, the commentary that tends to blame the victim, the Bathsheba connections were indispensable in this design—and that remains the case today, despite our vastly expanded cultural horizons.

 It may also be significant that Song :; : echo Isa :, which apparently refers to Yhwh. Another feature of the Song of Songs that is notable in this respect is the metaphorical description of the woman’s sexuality as ‫“ כרם‬vineyard” (Song : as well as perhaps Song :; : –): Isa : clearly states that “the vineyard (‫ )כרם‬of Yhwh of hosts are the house of Israel and men of Judah.” The metaphor of Israel as vineyard is pivotally operative in the “rebellious tenants” allegory in the New Testament (Matt : – ; Mark : – ; Luke : – ): see Serge Frolov, “Reclaiming the Vineyard: The ‘Rebellious Tenants’ Story as Political Allegory,” in The Impartial God, ed. Calvin J. Roetzel and Robert L. Foster (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, ),  – .  On the former, see David R. Kinsley, Hindu Goddess: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, ),  – ; on the latter, Edward J. Kenney, “Introduction,” in Apuleius, The Golden Ass, trans. Edward J. Kenney (London: Penguin Books, ), xxv–xxvi.


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5 Conclusion According to the reading of the Song of Songs laid down in the present paper, echoes of the Former Prophets—specifically of the narratives featuring Bathsheba and David—play a central role in the book’s thrust. This mode of reception is amply attested in the Hebrew Bible. For example, the message of Ruth pivots on the revelation—dramatically coming at the very end (4:17b) but prepared by the book’s Bethlehem setting and perhaps by Ruth’s Moabite ancestry (cf. 1 Sam 22:3 – 4)—that she is an ancestor of King David. Likewise, Jonah seems to presuppose an audience that was familiar with 2 Kgs 14:25 and thus could confidently place its protagonist in the Northern Kingdom a few decades prior to its fall.³² Notably, just like the Song of Songs as interpreted here both of these books are comebacks of sorts. Ruth almost definitely challenges the exclusion of foreigners mandated by the Torah (cf. especially Deut 23:4) and upheld by at least some of the prophets, and Jonah can be construed as casting a pall of doubt over the assertion of the prophetic corpus that Yhwh cares about Israel more than about other nations. And just like the Song of Songs, neither Ruth nor Jonah find it necessary to spell out their message. Of course, the reading of the Song of Songs that is offered here is by no means the only valid way of understanding this short but in many respects enigmatic text; indeed, it is not even necessarily the best one, at least not for any number of purposes or from any number of perspectives. It may, however, be preferable as a plausible way of thoroughly integrating the book in the sacred scriptures of the Jewish and Christian communities while accounting for many aspects and details of the text. What is more, this reading could amply explain not only why the Song of Songs became a part of the canon but also why it was created in the first place. Post-exilic Jewish community could certainly use a counterbalance to the prophetic implication that it has no one but itself to blame for all its misfortunes as it was grappling with the simple but theologically devastating empirical observation that its efforts to observe the commandments of the Torah are not met with anything that could be seen as a reward. It is this need to address the problem of theodicy—or at the very least to acknowledge its existence—that gave rise to the Bible’s “comeback” books that in the Jewish

 See Serge Frolov, “Returning the Ticket: God and His Prophet in the Book of Jonah,” JSOT  ():  – .

The Comeback of Comebacks


canon constitute most, if not all, of the Writings section.³³ By the last centuries of the common era, when the Song of Songs most likely came into being, this impulse must have become especially acute, as indicated, in particular, by the rise of apocalyptic literature and apocalyptic/messianic movements.³⁴ And, of course, in the period that immediately followed the destruction of the Second Temple, when biblical canons began to take shape, theodicy became the mother of all problems. Is this what made Rabbi Akiba insist that while the rest of the Hebrew Bible is ‫“ קדש‬holy,” ‫“ שיר השירים‬the Song of Songs” is ‫“ קדש הקדשים‬the Holy of Holies” (m. Yad. 3:5)? Or perhaps we should call it “the mother of all comebacks”?³⁵ Of course, we will never know for sure, but there is little doubt that today, in the post-Holocaust era, the truly canonical reading of the Song of Songs that links it to both Former and Latter Prophets is equally relevant, if not even more so. Appendix 1. Song of Songs: Overall Structure . .

Superscription Body of the book .. Woman’s monologue ... Addressed to unspecified audience (wish) ... Addressed to the man (praise) ... Addressed to the man (exhortation) ... Addressed to unspecified audience (account) ... Addressed to the man (exhortation) ... Addressed to the man (praise) ... Addressed to daughters of Jerusalem (henceforth: DoJ) .... Self-praise .... Exhortation

: : – : : –  :a :b– :a :bα :bβ–γ :bδ : –  : :a

 Although all canons place Jonah among the twelve “minor prophets,” in terms of the overall genre (a relatively short self-contained narrative) and content (see above) it belongs with Ruth, Esther, and the first six chapters of Daniel.  The Song of Songs cannot, obviously, be dated on the basis of its content, and its language is a mixed bag (for a concise overview of evidence, see Athalya Brenner, The Song of Songs, Old Testament Guides [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ],  – ). Under such circumstances, the decisive consideration is the presence of Persian loanwords (e. g., ‫‘ פרדס‬orchard’ in :) and even one possible Greek loanword (‫ אפריון‬in :, which the LXX translates with phonetically similar φορειον “litter, palanquin,” although Persian and even Sanskrit derivations have also been suggested). This firmly places the book in the post-exilic period while leaving open the possibility of Hellenistic provenance.  It may be worth its while to note in this regard that the Song of Songs—as interpreted in the present article—is the only book to convey the sharply critical attitude of Job, Ecclesiastes, and Jonah in Israel’s own voice.


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.. .. ..


.. ..



.... Account Dialogue ... Woman’s question ... Man’s response Man’s monologue (praise) Woman’s (?) monologue (account) Duet of mutual praise ... Woman (addressed to unspecified audience) ... Man (addressed to the woman) ... Woman (addressed to the man) ... Unspecified speaker(s) (man and woman together?) (addressed to unspecified audience) ... Woman (self-praise, addressed to unspecified audience) ... Man (addressed to unspecified audience) ... Woman (addressed to unspecified audience) Woman’s monologue (addressed to DoJ) ... Account ... Exhortation ... Account ... Exhortation ... Account³⁶ .... Account proper .... Attached discourse (man) ... Commitment Woman’s monologue (exhortation addressed to the man) Woman’s monologue (addressed to DoJ) ... Account ... Exhortation Monologue(s) by unspecified voice(s) ... Query ... Description (of Solomon’s bed) ... Description (of Solomon’s palanquin) ... Exhortation (to see Solomon’s crown) Dialogue³⁷ ... Man (addressing the woman) .... Praise .... Promise .... Praise .... Exhortation .... Praise/complaint

:b : –  : : : –  : : – :a : –  : : : : : :a :b– :b– : : : : –  : – a :b– : : : –  : –  : : –  : : –  : –  : : – : : –  : –  : : : : – 

 The experience recounted here is likely separate from that expressed in the preceding verses, but there is no formal boundary.  Although the woman does not address the man here, her discourse in : seems to echo the man’s words in : – .

The Comeback of Comebacks

... ...


.. ..





Woman (exhortation addressed to the winds) Man .... Account (addressed to unspecified audience) .... Exhortation (addressed to “friends”)

Dialogue ... Woman .... Account .... Exhortation ... DoJ (question concerning the man) ... Woman (praise of the man) ... DoJ (question concerning the man) ... Woman .... Account .... Commitment Man’s monologue (praise, addressed to the woman) Dialogue³⁸ ... Unspecified interlocutors (DoJ?) (query) ... Woman (account) ... Unspecified interlocutors (DoJ?) (exhortation) Man’s monologue ... Addressed to unspecified audience (DoJ?) (exhortation) ... Addressed to the woman (praise) Woman’s monologue ... Account (?) (addressed to unspecified audience)³⁹ ... Commitment ... Exhortation (addressed to the man) ... Complaint (addressed to the man) Dialogue ... Woman .... Account .... Exhortation ... DoJ (?) (query) Dialogue ... Woman (addressing the man) .... Account .... Exhortation ... Man (?) (addressing the woman?)⁴⁰


: : :a :b : – : : –  : –  : : : –  : : –  : : : –  : – :a : : –  :a :b– :b : – aα :aβ–: :aβ–b : : –  : –  : – a : –  : : :a :b– :b–a :b : – a :b

 I read : as a reaction to the sight of Hashulammite being carried away on a chariot as per : and, accordingly, ascribe : –  to the woman, but the fragment is so ambiguous that it can sustain a number of plausible interpretations.  Since this six-word fragment mentions ‫“ דודי‬my [male] beloved,” it probably comes from the woman (unless the man’s otherwise unattested gay lover is brought into the picture) but its meaning and connection to the preceding text are highly indeterminate.  See the discussion of this passage in section  of the present article.


Serge Frolov


.. ..

Dialogue ... Unspecified interlocutors (brothers?) (deliberation) ... Woman .... Self-praise .... Account Monologue of an unspecified speaker⁴¹ Dialogue ... Unspecified speaker (exhortation addressed to the woman) ... Woman (exhortation addressed to the man)

: –  : –  : :a :b : –  : –  : :

Summary: Man’s experience 5:1a (16 words). Woman’s experience: 1:4bα, 6b, 12; 2:3b–4, 6, 8 – 15; 3:1– 4; 5:2– 7; 6:2, 11– 12; 8:3, 5b, 10b: total of 290 words, 23 percent of the book’s volume. Man’s praise of the woman: 1:9 – 11, 15; 2:2; 4:1– 5, 7, 9 – 15; 6:4– 9; 7:2– 10aα (all addressed to her): total of 308 words, almost 25 percent of the book’s volume. Woman’s praise of the man: 1:2b–3, 4bδ; 1:16 (addressed to him); 5:10 – 16 (addressed to DoJ); 1:13 – 14; 2:3a (addressed to unspecified audience): total of 108 words. Man’s statements of commitment: none. Woman’s statements of commitment: 2:16; 6:3; 7:11.

 There may be two speakers here, with v.  responding to v. , but even in this case they cannot be identified with any degree of certainty.

Claudia V. Camp

Killing the Father: Gender and the Figure of Solomon in Ben Sira’s Hymn to the Fathers¹

My argument in this essay is that the passage on Solomon (47:12– 23a) in Ben Sira’s hymn to the fathers (44:1– 49:16) can be read as a kind of mise en abŷme, a recursive figure that refracts certain themes of the book as a whole in such a way as to destabilize the apparent tried-and-true nature of the author’s teaching. In the figure of Solomon, several contradictions that create hairline fractures in the book’s dominant discourse converge to reveal a larger seam of anxiety that deconstructs its pious but superficial optimism. Understood in this way, the Solomon passage also epitomizes the argument of my recent monograph about Ben Sira’s book. I shall begin, then, by encapsulating that larger thesis, which has to do with the intersection of gender ideology with the rise of canon-consciousness² in early Judaism or, at least, in what we can see of such matters in the book of Sirach. On the surface of Ben Sira’s work we find a writer apparently brimming with pious self-confidence. He touts the superiority of his scribal profession above all others and he urges young men to submit to his tutelage in wise living and praise of the Lord. In fact, it would appear that as long as he can dwell in a house of men— whether in the temple where the high priest is surrounded in glory by his brother priests, or in his own house of instruction where he himself is surrounded by the next generation of well-disciplined Benê Sira—our sage is secure indeed. But life in second-century Jerusalem is not so simple, and causes for anxiety abound. The life of the scribe may have brought honor and even some wealth, but it was always dependent on the good will of those with real power, even in the best of times, and the politics of the early second century were far from

 With the exception of the final part of the argument, this paper is adapted from portions of my book, Ben Sira and the Men Who Handle Books: Gender and the Rise of Canon-Consciousness, Hebrew Bible Monographs  (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, ), see especially pp.  – . I thank the publishers for their generous policy of assigning copyright to their authors.  I use the term canon-consciousness not to suggest the existence of any consolidated or recognized literary object, or even conceptuality, akin to what we call “the biblical canon” (in all its various forms!) today. Rather, I refer to an incipient cultural sense that there is a list of authoritative writings and that this list may prove finite, if not moving toward closure; that is, that there may be books that will make the list while others do not.


Claudia V. Camp

stable, as the Judean elite faced the stress of repeated wars between competing colonizers—the Seleucids and the Ptolemies—and the accompanying problems of political adaptation wrought by changing rulers.³ Ben Sira’s book also shows the author to be heavily invested in his culture’s honor-shame ideology. A man’s friends, his patrons, or those to whom he offered patronage could turn on him at any time, or compromise him with demands that violated his divinely ordained moral norms. But even worse was the threat to his honorable name posed by his own family: his sons might prove disreputable, his daughters non-virginal or non-childbearing, his wife adulterous or controlling or both. Though shame could come from many directions, Ben Sira reserves his most vicious verbal opprobrium for the evil wives and daughters who might sully the best of men. Honor-shame ideology always has a gendered component to it— most obvious in men’s fear that women’s sexuality can bring them shame— and never more so than in the book of Benê Sira. But surely the Lord will preserve the honorable name of the man who trusts in him. So has it always been, has it not, declaims Ben Sira in his hymn to the fathers: the names of the worthy will be remembered for all time (44:10 – 15; cf. 37:26), and the wise scribe revered alongside them (39:6 – 11). But Ben Sira knows all too well that neither life nor the Lord is always so kind. As often as he beats the drum of retributive justice—God’s pleasure in the good and designs against the evil (at least eventually; 2:1– 14; 5:4; 9:11; 11:28)—Ben Sira also returns to the less confident themes. God’s works—whether fire, hail, or scorpions, all created for the godly purpose of punishing the ungodly (39:28 – 31)—may raise questions for the less convinced, those who might well say “This is not as good as that” (39:34; cf. 39:17). Indeed, “good things and bad, life and death, poverty and wealth, come from the Lord” (11:14; cf. 33:14– 15; 42:24), who has also assigned “great anxiety” to human beings (40:1– 7) during their brief existence on earth, where the reversal of fortune may happen in an instant (11:21– 28; 18:25 – 26). “Death, bloodshed, strife, sword, calamities, famine, ruin, and plague” may have been “created for the wicked,” and come to sinners “seven times more,” but they come to “all creatures” in some measure nonetheless (40:8 – 10). God’s ways must be trusted (2:1– 14), but they cannot be known (16:21– 23). An honorable life should guarantee an honored name, but so many factors seem poised to deny a man his due. Ben Sira’s assertions of confidence in God ring somewhat hollow in the face of his clear awareness of life’s pitfalls; his felt lack of control over his honor seems at points palpable.

 See James K. Aitken, “Biblical Interpretation as Political Manifesto: Ben Sira in His Seleucid Setting,” JJS  ():  – .

Killing the Father


But Ben Sira’s world also presents him with a newly emerging vehicle that might provide a kind of control previously unknown, in the form of a body of sacred writings newly conceived as a body, that is, perhaps, as a corpus with limits, boundaries: the notion of writings that make a list as opposed to those that do not. The Torah was apparently such a body of writings, at least in his scribal circle. And, as Alon Goshen-Gottstein argues, Ben Sira’s hymn to the fathers suggests that the Prophets, former and latter, are being read together—at least by him—in such a way as well.⁴ This corpus was unlikely the finalized, tripartite canon that scholars used to think they found in Ben Sira’s allusion to the law of the Most High, the wisdom of all the ancients, and prophecies (38:34– 39:1) or even in the three slightly varied references by his grandson-editor to “the law and the prophets and the others that followed them/the other books of our fathers/the rest of the books” (Prologue). The grandson, however, has moved a step further in this direction than his source, with the authoritative form now designated “books” (τα βιβλια), and “the prophets” now labeled consistently alongside “the torah.” The biblical canon is still open, but it is now more readily defined by such labels and, thus, by what I call the “thinginess” of books, a sense of their boundaried materiality.⁵ Ben Sira, I suggest, engages with and promotes the rise of canon-consciousness in two ways. First, he adds a new dimension to female personified Wisdom from Proverbs by identifying her with the Torah of Moses, the book of the everlasting covenant of the Most High (24:23). The body of writings is thus given a female form, and the effect is not ideologically innocent. This book, unlike his wives and daughters, is a female body that he can fully possess and control, a female voice that he, as male ventriloquist, can channel. Moreover, if Torah

 Alon Goshen-Gottstein, “Ben Sira’s Praise of the Fathers: A Canon-Conscious Reading,” in Ben Sira’s God: Proceedings of the International Ben Sira Conference (Durham ), ed. Renate Egger-Wenzel, BZAW  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – .  Arie van der Kooij, “The Canonization of Ancient Books Kept in the Temple in Jerusalem,” in Canonization and Decanonization: Papers Presented to the International Conference of the Leiden Institute for the Study of Religion (LISOR) Held at Leiden,  –  January , ed. Arie van der Kooij, Karel van der Toorn, and Johannes A.M. Snoek, SHR  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – , cites the political crisis of the mid-second century as formative for the shift from Ben Sira’s less precise references to authoritative writings to the grandson’s more reified language. David Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, ),  – , likewise argues for the post-Maccabean emergence of a “specifically ‘Jewish’ form of enculturation-education with ‘Hebrew’ scriptures at its center.” Without denying the importance of the Maccabean revolt and subsequent Jewish independence for the development of a canonical culture, I believe, with Goshen-Gottstein, that this movement was already underway in Ben Sira’s day, though with different motivations.


Claudia V. Camp

cast as Woman Wisdom can secure his honor in this life, the concept of a holy body of writings can secure it for the future. Thus, his second move: all he has to do is make the list with a book written in his own name, but also with a claim to divine inspiration, a book others will interpret as he does Torah, adding his name to the line of fathers dating back to Adam. Ben Sira’s text is marked throughout by numerous self-references, which suggest an unusually high level of authorial self-consciousness.⁶ Benjamin Wright argues that these self-references should be viewed in light of the practice of pseudonymous authorship that had become popular in Jewish writing in his day.⁷ Wright draws on Hindy Najman’s thesis that the authorizing figures of pseudepigraphic works—Moses and Enoch, most notably—serve as exemplars, and that the deployment of exemplars has specific literary effects.⁸ The pseudonymous attribution, says Najman, both produces a self-effacement of the real author and at the same time allows for his self-identification with the exemplar. By means of this roundabout equation of author and exemplar, the real author validates his claim also to be producing revelatory literature. In Wright’s view, cosmic Woman Wisdom of ch. 24 serves Ben Sira as such an exemplar. Insofar as he identifies his teaching with the cosmic Woman Wisdom—and, further yet, that figure with a book—his writing is thereby also “authorized by a heavenly source,” with the status of prophecy.⁹ I follow Wright up to this point, but I do find one wrinkle in his argument, and that is that Ben Sira’s work is precisely not pseudonymous. Towards the end of his work the sage makes a remarkable—indeed, so far as we know, unique in his tradition up to that point—self-disclosure. He names himself:

 On Ben Sira’s self-references, see Burton Mack, Wisdom and the Hebrew Epic: Ben Sira’s Hymn in Praise of the Fathers, Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ),  – ; two articles by Jan Liesen, “First Person Passages in the Book of Sira,” PIBA  ():  – , and “Strategical Self-References in Ben Sira,” in Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Ben Sira and the Book of Wisdom: Festschrift M. Gilbert, ed. Nuria Calduch-Benages and Jacques Vermeylen, BETL  (Paris: Peeters France, ),  – ; and Benjamin G. Wright, “Ben Sira on the Sage as Exemplar,” in Praise Israel for Wisdom and Instruction: Essays on Ben Sira, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Septuagint, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – .  Benjamin G. Wright, “Ben Sira on the Sage as Exemplar.”  Hindy Najman, “How Should We Contextualize Pseudepigrapha? Imitation and Emulation in  Ezra,” in Flores Florentino: Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Early Jewish Studies in Honour of Florentino García Martínez, ed. Anthony Hilhorst, Émile Puech, and Eibert Tigchelaar, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; idem, Past Renewals: Interpretive Authority, Renewed Revelation and the Quest for Perfection in Jewish Antiquity, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ).  See especially Wright’s discussions of : – ; : – ; :.

Killing the Father


Training in wise conduct and smooth-running proverbs I inscribed in this book, by Jeshua, son of Eliezar, son of Sira who poured them out from his understanding heart (50:27).

So, what difference does a name make? Casting Ben Sira as a divinely inspired author embedded as a named character in his own divinely inspired book may well bring someone else to mind, namely, the Deuteronomic Moses. Burton Mack has argued that Ben Sira works “under the shadow” of Moses, with some sense of his own “belatedness” as an author and its accompanying anxiety of influence.¹⁰ Of this anxiety, though, there is but a touch, given the newness of the experience of self-identified authorship in this period of Jewish writing. “Moses as author and authority is only in the making here,” says Mack, a fact that leaves Ben Sira free to revel in his own signature and its rewards.¹¹ I want to argue, though, that Moses may be but the penultimate—or, dare I say, penned-ultimate—deferral of Ben Sira’s anxiety. The character of Solomon provides another, and textually more elaborated, point of leverage on Ben Sira’s authorial self-consciousness. Solomon, of course, is the quintessential Wisdom Man in the Bible. Biblical narrative lauds him for his divinely praised choice of wisdom over wealth (1 Kgs 3:5 – 15; 5:9 – 11 [4:29 – 31 Eng.]), as well as for his composition of 3000 proverbs and 500 songs. 1 Kings has it, in typical oral fashion, that Solomon “spoke” the proverbs (5:12 [4:32 Eng.]). Much of the wisdom tradition, however—Proverbs, Qohelet, the Wisdom of Solomon—as well as the Song of Songs, casts him as author of its written works, and scholars commonly assume that the pseudonymous attribution of these works to Solomon was part of their own self-authorizing rhetoric. Solomon would seem, therefore, to be part of the pattern of exemplars discussed by Najman and Wright, and we might have expected Ben Sira as well to take up the purported authority of Solomon, the author and Wisdom Man par excellence. Yet, as we have already seen, this sage prefers to write in his own name, and his portrayal of Solomon, in his poem in praise of the ancestors, is highly qualified (47:12– 23). It begins well enough. After crediting Solomon as David’s (and God’s) “wise son,” who builds God’s house (vv. 12– 13), he addresses his subject in the second person:

 Burton Mack, “Under the Shadow of Moses: Authorship and Authority in Hellenistic Judaism,” SBLSP ():  – . Mack adopts the notion of anxiety of influence from Harold Bloom’s theory about the relationship of authors to their precursors.  Mack, “Under the Shadow,” .


Claudia V. Camp

How wise you were in your youth; you overflowed like the Nile with instruction. Your breadth of understanding covered the earth which you filled with sayings of hidden meaning.¹² Your name reached to far-off islands; for your peace you were beloved With song and proverb and riddle and interpretation you astounded the nations. (47:14– 17)

But in vv. 19 – 22, the evaluative tide suddenly turns, with well-known consequences: But you gave your loins to women, and you let them rule your body. You set a stain upon your honor and defiled your couch. [You brought] wrath upon your offspring and groaning upon your bed. [Thus one people] became two tribes, and from Ephraim arose a violent kingdom.

Why does Ben Sira, a latter day representative of the wisdom tradition, who has a strong concern for the authorization of his own book, subsume Solomon’s accomplishments under his sin, and thus abandon him as authorial exemplar? Relevant here, to be sure, is Ben Sira’s larger concern to shift divinely authorized political leadership from the monarchs of old to the high priest.¹³ Such an interest is evident in the way he makes the praise of Simon the culminating moment in the poem on the glorious ancestors, effectively establishing the priesthood as a royal priesthood. But the other kings in the hymn are characterized as either all good (David, whose unnamed sins are noted as forgiven, Hezekiah, and Josiah) or all bad (Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and all the rest). The characterization of Solomon, on the other hand, is decidedly mixed, and I would say that the particulars of Ben Sira’s judgment both for and against him give voice to other interests in

 Reading this verse, broken in Hebrew, with Patrick W. Skehan and Alexander A. DiLella, The Wisdom of Ben Sira: A New Translation with Notes, AB (New York: Doubleday, ),  – .  See, e. g., Benjamin G. Wright, “Solomon in Chronicles and Ben Sira,” in Rewriting Biblical History: Essays on Chronicles and Ben Sira in Honor of Pancratius C. Beentjes, ed. Jeremy Corley and Harm van Grol, Deutero and Cognate Literature Studies  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – , and Martha Himmelfarb, “The Wisdom of the Scribe, the Wisdom of the Priest, and the Wisdom of the King according to Ben Sira,” in For a Later Generation: The Transformation of Tradition in Israel, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity, ed. Randall A. Argall, Beverly Bow, and Rod Werline (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, ),  – .

Killing the Father


addition to the elevation of the high priest’s role. Solomon’s peaceful rule and temple-building are remembered with esteem, and his wisdom praised at some length in the first part of the poem (vv. 12– 17[18?]),¹⁴ before his sexual degradation—his giving himself over to women and the rule of his loins—is scorned (vv. 19 – 20). Why this two-sided perspective on Solomon? The flow of the logic in this passage is also problematic, given Ben Sira’s larger instructional goals: wisdom is supposed to prevent a fall like Solomon’s, not be a prelude to it! The problem exists already, of course, in Ben Sira’s source material, presumably something like our book of 1 Kings, but why would a wisdom teacher like Ben Sira highlight it, without any further comment? Without denying Ben Sira’s political agenda on behalf of the priesthood, let me attempt a different sort of explanation, one that keeps the focus on his role as heir to the wisdom tradition. Let’s take a look at how Ben Sira compares to earlier books that do claim Solomon’s authority. Ben Sira borrows important motifs from both Proverbs and Qohelet, but he owes to each of his predecessors a debt of a different sort. Ben Sira has obviously borrowed his Woman Wisdom figure from Proverbs. The significance of Proverbs’ claim to Solomonic authorship, though, is complicated by the other woman who appears in its first nine chapters, the Strange Woman or Dame Folly. Assuming that the Proverbs editor knows the narrative in 1 Kings, especially its woman-induced denouement in ch. 11, does he deliberately invite that allusion by his own use of female figures both wise and strange?¹⁵ Are readers of Proverbs, in other words, supposed to remember Solomon’s folly as well as his wisdom? It is possible, but if so, much more coyly done than in Sirach, by juxtaposition alone. The foolish youth who succumbs to the Strange Woman in Prov 7:6 – 23 is a type rather than a named character like Solomon, while the king himself is connected

 Scholars debate whether the reference to amassing gold and silver in v.  is regarded in a positive light (wealth as the fruit of wisdom) or negative (along with amassing women, one of the prohibitions placed on the king in Deut :). See Wright, “Solomon,”  – , for a review of the arguments. I think that ambiguity of this verse may well be intentional, marking it as transitional between the positive depiction that precedes and the negative judgment that follows. The effect, then, would be to focus on Solomon’s relations with women as the crucial issue.  It is notably unclear how the Kings narrator judges the various women who importantly interact with Solomon: the prostitutes with the dead child, the Egyptian daughter of Pharaoh whom he marries, or the Queen of Sheba. Though Solomon’s old age practice of worshipping foreign gods is straightforwardly condemned, this judgment, too, is complicated by its narrative juxtaposition with Solomon’s excess of women, giving the impression that too much sex is as much a problem as foreign worship; so with David Jobling, “‘Forced Labor’: Solomon’s Golden Age and the Question of Literary Representation,” in Poststructuralism as Exegesis, ed. David Jobling and Stephen D. Moore, Semeia  (Atlanta: Scholars Press, ),  – .


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here only to most desirable forms of wisdom. The foolish youth and the royal sage seem, if anything, set in contrast to each other. As I’ve argued elsewhere, though, the personification of both Wisdom and Strangeness/Folly as women creates (whether intentionally or not), a double vision. Woman Wisdom and Woman Stranger represent opposing ideals on the one hand; yet, on the other, they can be seen as a single Woman who dangerously embodies both good and evil.¹⁶ Though Proverbs does not make the same verbal connections between Solomon and the fool as it does between the two women, it would not be impossible for a reader familiar with 1 Kings to extend the aura of this double vision from the female figures to the male ones. A perception of the underlying connection of apparent opposites, by virtue of their common gender, makes wise Solomon and the seduced fool two sides of the same coin. If Proverbs does see the shadow of a Strange Man in its royal Wisdom Man, it casts a blind eye to what 1 Kings reports as his most important, woman-inspired, failing, namely, the worship of foreign gods.¹⁷ Although scholars have sometimes argued that Proverbs’ Strange Woman does represent foreign women and their gods,¹⁸ I am hard-pressed to see why Proverbs would at most hint at an issue so dominant in other parts of the Bible. Ben Sira follows Proverbs’ lead: he ignores the problem of idolatry, instead condemning Solomon solely for his sexual behavior: “You gave your loins to women, and you gave them dominion over your body.” As David Jobling has pointed out (see note 15), the quantification of women in 1 Kings 11—700 princesses! 300 concubines!—may already indicate in the earlier narrative a problem of excessive sex as well as misguided worship. But Ben Sira gives sexual excess a uniquely Sirachian turn: “you stained your honor, and defiled your bed” (47:19 – 20). The problem of idolatry has been replaced by the threat to male honor. Reason enough for this sage to reject Solomon as exemplar!

 Claudia V. Camp, Wise, Strange and Holy: The Strange Woman and the Making of the Bible, JSOTSup , GCT  (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ),  – .   Chronicles mentions neither the number of foreign wives nor their idolatrous temptation. Nehemiah inveighs against the Jewish men who marry Moabite, Ammonite, and Ashdodite women by reminding them of the women who caused Solomon to sin (:, ). Yet he does not specify the sin; the current crime is more cultural than religious—the children are speaking in other languages (:)—and Nehemiah has as much problem with the marriage of Jewish daughters to foreign men as vice versa (:).  For example, Gustav Boström, Proverbiastudien: Die Weisheit und das fremde Weib in Sprüche  – , Lunds Universitets Arsskrift  (Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, ); Joseph Blenkinsopp, “The Social Context of the ‘Outsider Woman’ in Proverbs  – ,” Biblica  ():  – ; Nancy Nam Hoon Tan, The “Foreignness” of the Foreign Woman in Proverbs  – : A Study of the Origin and Development of a Biblical Motif, BZAW  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ).

Killing the Father


This rejection comes with both cost and benefit. The loss is that of the tradition’s authorizing Wisdom Man, whom Ben Sira acknowledges before effacing him. His use of the metaphor of water to depict Solomon’s wisdom, overflowing like the Nile and spreading throughout the earth (47:14– 15), strikingly connects this ultimately shame-stained king with representatives of the highest honor. For water imagery is prominent in ch. 24 as well, where it is shared by female personified Wisdom, the Torah, and Ben Sira himself. Woman Wisdom says of herself that those who drink of her will thirst for more (24:21). Wisdom is then identified with the book of the covenant given by God to Moses (24:23) which, in turn, is said to overflow like the four rivers of Paradise, plus the Jordan and the Nile (24:25 – 27). Like Wisdom herself—and, indeed, like God’s own blessings in 39:22—Solomon’s instruction is said to overflow like the Nile; and like Wisdom in 24:3, his understanding “covers the earth.” But Ben Sira associates himself with water as well. Wisdom is more abundant than the sea (24:29), he declaims, but this metaphor segues into a self-description: Ben Sira, too, is a canal that becomes a river and then also a sea (24:30 – 31). The sage, then, not only offers the youthful Solomon high praise for his wisdom, but also, by means of the shared water imagery, metaphorically identifies the king’s overflowing wisdom with his own. Solomon is, for a moment, Ben Sira. But then Ben Sira turns to the indiscretions of Solomon’s adulthood, itself a curious inversion of the typical generational pattern of expectations and values in which a foolish youth might be expected to become a wiser adult, rather than vice versa.¹⁹ I would contend, though, in light of my overall argument about Ben Sira’s gendered anxiety, that the identification the sage initially draws between himself and Solomon is telling. Ben Sira seeks to be the Wisdom Man that his sexually impaired almost-exemplar could not be, and to do this he knows he must, above all things, control his sexual domain, beginning with his own body; his own loins must not be given over to women or allowed to control his body, as Solomon’s had been and done (47:19). It is worth noting that the “them” whom Solomon allowed to rule his body is a masculine plural, referring back to his loins. The problem, that is, is not that the women brought to his bed ruled him, but that his own uncontrolled passions did. This is the heart of Ben Sira’s gender anxiety: his more frequently and virulently expressed fear of women is but a projection of his fear of loss of his own self-control, which is to say, of his own manhood. What better answer than to trade penis for pen, sons for books. Solomon is no exemplar for the writing sage.

 Though Ben Sira is aware of the other possibility (:)!


Claudia V. Camp

Turning from Proverbs to Qohelet, we find a different dynamic at work. Both Qohelet and Ben Sira hint, but only hint, when it comes to identification with Solomon. Qohelet claims to be “David’s son,” but never uses Solomon’s name. The advantage to such an erasure of the authorizing name is that the author can substitute some version of his own name or, at least, alternative identity. As Jennifer Koosed observes, though, Qohelet remains tentative, offering only the illusion of self-naming. “Qohelet” is not a name.²⁰ In a manner reminiscent of Qohelet, Ben Sira hints at identification with an exemplary Solomon, but takes a different turn when it comes to the construction of authorship. Having identified himself with Woman Wisdom and divine Torah in ch. 24, Ben Sira does not engage in the selfeffacement strategy of pseudonymity, but makes the startling move to overt selfidentification, ultimately naming himself as author. Eric Christianson argues with respect to Qohelet that the autobiographical form is one that gives coherence to the narrative through the constant narrative presence of the purported autobiographer.²¹ This function is ironic in Qohelet, Christianson believes, because it involves an attempt by the author to fix his own image in a world he knows is frustratingly transient. Ben Sira’s problem, on the other hand, is the degree to which he knows and fears this transience and yet also tries to deny it. Whereas Qohelet can see the irony, Ben Sira cannot or will not. The autobiographical elements in his book stand juxtaposed to his denial of God’s role in the injustice and randomness of life.²² In both Qohelet and Ben Sira, then, the self-disclosure of the author is related to that author’s existential awareness of the problem of meaning. The exact form of their self-disclosure may be likewise related to their relative ability, or inability, to meet this problem head-on. Following Koosed rather than Christianson on Qohelet, I would argue that the irony of this book lies not so much, as Christianson would have it, in the author’s disjunctive attempt to fix his own image in a transient world as it does in the way he finally occludes that image with a combination of a nod—both allusive and illusive—to an unnamed Solomon and a self-naming with a name not his own. Writing in the voice of one

 Jennifer L. Koosed, (Per)mutations of Qohelet: Reading the Body in the Book, LHBOTS  (New York: T&T Clark, ),  – .  Eric S. Christianson, A Time to Tell: Narrative Strategies in Ecclesiastes, JSOTSup  (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ),  – .  See my discussion in Ben Sira and the Men Who Handle Books ( – ) of the way Ben Sira’s poem of adulation of the scribe, whose “name will live throughout the generations” (:, c–:), is bookended by one poem that deals with one’s proper comportment on the day of death (: – ) and another that raises (and fails to answer) the question of God’s participation in evil (: – ).

Killing the Father


of God’s creatures, he exposes the incomprehensibility of a transient life in God’s sometimes perversely fixed creation. But the irony of authorial self-consciousness in Sirach runs in a different direction. Ben Sira cannot face the terror of what he cannot understand, and thus anxiously fixates on the immortal honor available in his name, which must now indeed be his very own, coded into writings that assert their divine origin.

Conclusion Solomon, by rights, should have been the exemplar for a sage like Ben Sira, but the character of Solomon hits too close to Ben Sira’s socio-psychic home. Solomon, remembered through written texts for the glory of his wisdom, is all Ben Sira could hope to be. But Solomon also embodies, in his very body, the weak link in Ben Sira’s aspirations, the fear of losing his honor because of women. Killing the father is a well-known trope in the construction of manhood and this, I would argue, is the effect of Ben Sira’s double-edged poem on Solomon. The purpose of the father’s death, of course, is that the son may replace him, thus attaining his mother as his lover. Ben Sira hardly addresses this theme with the intentionality of a Sophocles, but its traces are not absent in his text. Unlike Proverbs, where the relationship of Woman Wisdom to the wise man is that of wife or lover—with appeal to mother imagery strikingly absent—Ben Sira equivocates about her role, to fascinatingly Freudian effect.²³ Sir 15:2 is particularly interesting for its apparently effortless combination of the two roles: “She will come to meet him like a mother; and like a young wife she will receive him.” The next verse suggests Wisdom’s mothering: “she will feed him with the bread of insight and give him the water of understanding to drink.”²⁴ In 15:4, though, the female construction begins to shift. “He will lean on her and not totter” (v. 4a) still seems mother-like, but v. 5b (“he will trust in her and not be put to shame”) is more wifely, since wives rather than mothers are the potential sources of shame. Verses 5 – 6 move away from that (predictably negative) sexual concern but continue with imagery of Wisdom’s exaltation and crowning that Proverbs associates with the wife-lover (Prov 4:5 – 9). The mother, it appears, has become the wife. And this is precisely the sort of wife Ben Sira  I owe this insight regarding Ben Sira’s portrayal of Wisdom as mother as well as sexual partner, thus closing Freud’s Oedipal triangle, to George Brooke, who offered the observation in response to the oral presentation of my paper. By way of example, Brooke noted the version of the book’s final poem found in QPsalmsa (see below).  And see also :a: “Wisdom teaches her son …”


Claudia V. Camp

seeks. For, along with gladness and rejoicing, she offers him that which he most devoutly desires: an everlasting name (Sir 15:6b). Another suggestion of a maternal role in the midst of quite explicit sexual imagery can be found in 11QPsa’s far more erotic version of the book’s final poem where Wisdom appears as wet-nurse (v. 17) as well as lover. Ben Sira’s appropriation of mother as wife in 15:2– 6 thus arguably anticipates his suppression (if not murder!) of the father in ch. 47, which in turn allows for his final fantasy about his former suckler in ch. 51. In the classic Oedipus myth, however, the union of son and mother is successful only as long as the son does not truly know his own identity. In this Ben Sira surpasses poor Oedipus. By transforming the woman into a book—an object he can possess, speak for, and unite himself with—Ben Sira was able both to know and to reproduce himself, no loins involved. In his book, the logic of canon and the logic of patriarchy converge in the desire for possession of a defined and objectified body, the body of an Other—whether woman or book—whose voice and identity can be sublimated into those of the possessing male.

Ariel Feldman

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation: The Contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls While the last two decades saw a plethora of studies on the book of Judges, only few of them explore its reception history.¹ As a result, a student of an early Jewish interpretation of Judges must still rely on the almost century-old Louis Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews.² Among ancient texts that came to light after the completion of Ginzberg’s monumental work are the Dead Sea Scrolls. This paper assesses their contribution to the study of early Jewish exegesis of the book of Judges, a topic that seems so far to have been neglected in Qumran scholarship.³ To facilitate this task, the ensuing discussion will first examine the copies of Judges found at Qumran and then will proceed with other Dead Sea Scrolls shedding light on how this book was read and understood in late Second Temple times.

1 The Contribution of the Biblical Scrolls To evaluate the contribution of the manuscripts of Judges from the Judean Desert to the study of this book’s transmission and interpretation, these scrolls need to be considered in light of the textual evidence that was available prior to the Qumran discoveries. This evidence includes the medieval Masoretic Text (henceforth: MT) and ancient translations of Judges. While the Hebrew Vorlagen of the Targum, Vulgate, and Peshitta versions of Judges are by and large identical to the MT,⁴ the case

 Among the notable exceptions are David Gunn’s Judges, Blackwell Bible Commentaries (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, ) and the recent collection of essays edited by Erik Eynikel and Tobias Nicklas, Samson: Hero or Fool: The Many Faces of Samson, Themes in Biblical Narrative (Leiden: Brill, ).  Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, ), : – .  The short entry by Julio Trebolle Barrera, “Judges, the Book of,” in The Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Laurence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (New York: Oxford University Press, ), :, deals only with the three manuscripts of Judges found at Qumran.  See Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: Third Edition Revised and Expanded (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ), , , ; idem, “The Aramaic, Syriac, and Latin Translations of Hebrew Scripture vis-à-vis the Masoretic Text,” in Eukarpa, homage à Gilles Dorival, ed. Mireille Loubet and Didier Pralon (Paris: Cerf, ),  – .


Ariel Feldman

of the Greek Judges is more complex. The texts of Judges found in the codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus differ significantly from each other.⁵ According to the prevalent scholarly view, they represent two different revisions of an earlier Greek translation toward Hebrew text(s) akin to the MT. Codex Vaticanus contains the kaige recension (with possible traces of an earlier recension),⁶ whereas Alexandrinus preserves a text influenced by the Hexaplaric revision.⁷ Closer to the Old Greek of Judges seem to be the Antiochene or proto-Lucianic manuscripts of the Greek Judges and the Greek Vorlage of the Old Latin translation of this book, particularly when the two are in agreement.⁸ Still, scholars differ in their evaluations of the Greek version of Judges emerging from these two witnesses. Noting several instances of a shorter text, Julio Trebolle Barrera suggests that it reflects a shorter (and earlier to the MT) edition of the book of Judges.⁹ At the same time, Natalio Fernández Marcos describes it as “an expansive text full of small additions,” exhibiting “some freedom in the word order and rearrangement of the verse, along with some light stylistic corrections.”¹⁰ It is within this limited (and disputed) textual landscape that the Qumran fragments of Judges are to be placed.¹¹

 Hence, Rahlf in his edition of the LXX reproduced both texts. Similarly, the recent English translation of the LXX Judges features renderings of both codices, one alongside the other. See Philip E. Satterthwaite, “Judges,” in A New English Translation of the Septuagint, ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin. G. Wright (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ),  – .  See Walter R. Bodine, The Greek Text of Judges: Recensional Developments, HSM  (Ann Arbor: Scholars Press, ), .  Thus Bodine, idem,  – , and Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Versions of the Bible (Leiden: Brill, ),  – . Emanuel Tov (“Biblia Hebraica Quinta: Judges,” Sefarad  []: ) considers these to be two different translations of Judges into Greek.  Bodine, Greek Text of Judges, . Fernández Marcos, Septuagint in Context,  – , cautiously observes that the Old Latin of Judges seems to be based on a Greek text which was not similar to the extant Antiochene/proto-Lucianic text, but rather close to it.  Julio Trebolle Barrera, “Textual Variants in QJudga and the Textual and Editorial History of the Book of Judges,” RevQ  (): , lists Judg : (lacking ‫ )ואם טובה עשיתם‬and : (lacking ‫)כי אמרו פליטי אפרים אתם גלעד בתוך אפרים‬. He also notes that there are textual indications that : –  is a later addition. For an alternative interpretation of these, see Natalio Fernández Marcos, “The Hebrew and Greek Text of Judges,” in The Earliest Text of the Hebrew Bible: The Relationship between the Masoretic Text and the Hebrew Base of the Septuagint Reconsidered, ed. Adrian Schenker, SBLSCS  (Atlanta: SBL, ),  – .  Fernández Marcos, ibid., .  As one evaluates the impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls on reconstructing the textual history of Judges, two other aspects of the Scrolls’ contribution need to be noted. First, the notion of multiple editions of a given scriptural book referred to here is by and large a direct result of Qumran findings. Second, the identification of what the scholars dubbed as the “kaige” recension of the Old Greek was made possible due to the discovery of the Greek Minor Prophets scroll from Naḥal

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


Altogether four manuscripts of Judges were found in the Judean Desert: three at Qumran (1Q6 [1QJudg], 4Q49 [4QJudga], and 4Q50 [4QJudgb]) and one at an unknown location (XJudg [also known as 4Q50 A]).¹² The scroll 1Q6 (1QJudg), dated to 50 – 25 BCE, is preserved in forty fragments.¹³ These contain Judg 1:12– 13; 3:8; 5:15 – 16; 6:15 – 16, 20 – 22, 25 – 26, 39 – 40(?); 8:21– 23; 9:1– 6, 28 – 33, 34– 35, 38 – 44, 48 – 49; 10:7– 9; 11:19 – 22, 24– 25, 26 – 27, 36 – 37; 12:15 – 13:1; 17:3 – 4; 21:7– 8.¹⁴ While the extant text of this highly fragmentary scroll rarely disagrees with the MT, it features variations in prepositions (‫עם‬/‫[ את‬frg. 18]; ‫עליו‬/‫[ אליו‬frgs. 3+4]) and plural/singular forms (frg. 5 – 6), a slightly longer text (frgs. 5 – 6), and, perhaps, an instance of a shorter text (suggested by the size of a lacuna [Judg 6:25; frg. 18]). The scroll 4Q49 (4QJudga) is preserved in a single fragment inscribed in a late Hasmonean or an early Herodian hand.¹⁵ Its text of Judg 6:2– 13 lacks the phrase ‫( ועלו עליו‬v. 3) and, perhaps, the collocation ‫( ולגמליהם‬v. 5, reconstructed).¹⁶ Moreover, the fragment lacks vv. 7– 10, a passage frequently viewed as deuteronomistic.¹⁷ For Trebolle Barrera, these minuses lend further support to Hever (ḤevXIIgr). See Julio Trebolle Barrera, “Qumran Fragments of the Books of Kings,” in The Books of Kings: Sources, Composition, Historiography and Reception, ed. André Lemaire and Baruch Halpern, VTSup  (Leiden, Boston: Brill, ), .  See discussion in Armin Lange, Handbuch der Textfunde vom Toten Meer: Band : Die Handschriften biblischer Bücher von Qumran und den anderen Fundorten (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ),  –.  Dominique Barthélemy, “. Juges,” in Qumran Cave , ed. Dominique Barthélemy and Josef T. Milik, DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – . The dating is that of Émile Puech, “Les manuscripts QJugesc (=QA) et QJuges (=Q),” in Studies in the Hebrew Bible, Qumran, and the Septuagint Presented to Eugene Ulrich, ed. Peter W. Flint, Emanuel Tov, and James C. VanderKam, VT Sup  (Leiden: Brill, ), .  Émile Puech, “Notes sur le manuscript des Juges Qa,” RevQ  ():  – ; idem, “Les manuscripts QJugesc (=QA) et QJuges (=Q),”  – .  Trebolle Barrera, “Textual Variants in QJudga and the Textual and Editorial History of the Book of Judges,”  – ; idem, “. QJudga,” in Qumran Cave .IX: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Kings, ed. Eugene Ulrich et al., DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – . See also his discussion of the significance of QJudga for the history of the book of Judges in “The Text-Critical Value of the Old Latin and Antiochean Greek Texts in the Books of Judges and Joshua,” in Interpreting Translation: Studies on the LXX and Ezekiel in Honour of Johan Lust, ed. Florentino García Martínez and Marc Vervenne, BETL  (Leuven: Peeters, ),  – .  It is quite likely that the scroll read ‫ וגמליהם‬earlier on in this verse, as indicated by the length of the lacuna and supported by the Antiochene/proto-Lucianic text and the Old Latin.  Trebolle Barrera, “Textual Variants in QJudga and the Textual and Editorial History of the Book of Judges,” . One may note that v. a is omitted in Vaticanus (as well as in Peshitta and Vulgate). Josephus also skips the account found in vv.  –  in his Ant. . – , yet this may have to do with his tendency to downplay miracles and angelic appearances (see Richard S.


Ariel Feldman

the existence of a shorter edition of Judges,¹⁸ whereas others view the absence of vv. 7– 10, a literary unit framed by two parashot petuchot in the MT, as a result of an omission, transposition, or abbreviation.¹⁹ The third scroll of Judges from Qumran, 4QJudgb (4Q50), survives in three fragments written in an early Herodian formal hand (30 – 1 BCE).²⁰ It contains Judg 19:5 – 7 and 21:12– 25. While close to the MT, this scroll’s version of Judg 21 differs from it in several respects: the text of vv. 18 and 21 seems to be shorter, while v. 19 appears to be longer.²¹ The proto-Lucianic manuscripts and the Old Latin version of Judg 21 also furnish several minuses and pluses, yet these do not correspond to those of 4QJudgb.²²

Hess, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Higher Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: The Case of QJudga,” in The Scrolls and the Scriptures: Qumran Fifty Years After, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Craig A. Evans, JSPSup  [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ], ). Finally, vv.  –  are absent also from the highly selective rewritten version of Judges in LAB (chs.  – ).  Trebolle Barrera, “Textual Variants in QJudga and the Textual and Historical History of the Book of Judges,”  – .  Hess, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Higher Criticism of the Hebrew Bible,”  – ; Fernández Marcos, “The Hebrew and Greek Text of Judges,” ; Alex Rofé, “Studying the Biblical Text in the Light of Historico-Literary Criticism: The Reproach of the Prophet in Judg : –  and QJudga,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls in Context, ed. Armin Lange et al., SVT / (Leiden, Boston: Brill, ), : – . Several scholars call for an extra-caution here, for this scroll is preserved in a single fragment. See Eugene Ulrich, “Deuteronomistically Inspired Scribal Insertions into the Developing Biblical Text: QJudga and QJera,” in Houses Full of All Good Things: Essays in Memory of Timo Veijola, ed. Juha Pakkala and Martti Nissinen, Publications of the Finnish Exegetical Society  (Helsinki: Finnish Exegetical Society; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ),  – ; Raija Sollamo, “Panegyric on Redaction Criticism”, in idem,  – .  Julio Trebolle Barrera, “Édition préliminare de QJugesb: Contribution des manuscripts qumrâniens des Juges à l’étude textuelle et littéraire du livre,” RevQ  ():  – ; idem, “. QJudgb,” in Qumran Cave .IX: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Kings, ed. Eugene Ulrich et al., DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – . See further the recent study by George J. Brooke, “Some Remarks on the Reconstruction of QJudgesb,” in Papyri Grecae Schøyen: Essays and Texts in Honour of Martin Schøyen, ed. Diletta Minutoli and Rosario Pintaudi, Papyrologica Florentina XL (Edizioni Gonneli: Firenze, ),  – , who notes, among other things, the peculiar shape of this scroll’s final column.  As observed by Trebolle Barrera, DJD :. For a detailed argument and an attempt at reconstruction see Brooke, “Some Remarks on the Reconstruction of QJudgesb,”  – . He notes that some of his proposed omissions coincide with the results of the literary analysis of this chapter, identifying the earlier and the later strata of the text.  Philip E. Satterthwate, “Some Septuagintal Pluses in Judges  and ,” BIOSCS  ():  – .

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


The fourth manuscript of Judges found in the Judean Desert has been assigned a siglum XJudges.²³ It is extant in seven fragments; all of them are in private hands. XJudg contains Judg 1:10 – 13a; 3:22b–24a; 4:5b–9a. Its date and provenance are debated. According to Émile Puech, this manuscript is inscribed in a Herodian hand (from the first quarter of the first century CE) and comes from the fourth cave of Qumran. He suggests that it should be designated 4Q50 A.²⁴ Others note that its handwriting may as well be post-Herodian (75 CE–135 CE) and place this manuscript with the findings from the Bar Kochba revolt.²⁵ The text of the fragments is identical to the MT.²⁶ While the new data supplied by the copies of Judges from the Judean Desert are quite limited, it is not insignificant. These scrolls yield multiple variant readings, some of which are unattested elsewhere. Along with the presumed Hebrew Vorlage of the Old Greek, they testify to a degree of variation within the copies of Judges circulated in late Second Temple times, yet hardly warrant an existence of a shorter edition of Judges. Thus, the case of the book of Judges appears to be different from the rest of the Former Prophets, for the Greek translations and Qumran copies of Joshua, Samuel, and Kings indicate that these books were available in several textual editions.²⁷

2 The Contribution of the Non-Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls To assess the contribution of the non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls to the study of the early Jewish exegesis of the book of Judges, it is necessary to examine them in light of the relevant Second Temple writings that were known before the Qumran

 James H. Charlesworth, “XJudges,” in Wadi Daliyeh II: The Samaria Papyri from Wadi Daliyeh and Qumran Cave .XXVIII: Miscellanea, Part , ed. Douglas M. Gropp and Moshe J. Bernstein; DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – .  Puech, “Notes sur le manuscript des Juges Qa,”  – ; idem, “Les manuscripts QJugesc (=QA) et QJuges (=Q),”  – .  See Esther Eshel, Hanan Eshel, and Magen Broshi, “A New Fragment of XJudges,” DSD  ():  – .  This may (but does not necessarily have to) lend further support to the claim that this scroll comes from a site associated with the Bar Kochba revolt, as the biblical scrolls found at the sites related to the Second Revolt against Rome tend to be identical to the MT. See further Tov, Textual Criticism,  – .  For a succinct review of the evidence and the pertinent bibliography see Tov, ibid.,  – ,  – ,  – .


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discovery.²⁸ In order to highlight the new data yielded by the Scrolls, the texts are grouped here according to their use of Judges. Devorah Dimant’s classification of the uses of the Scripture into expositional and compositional, with the latter including literary model, allusion, quotation, reference to a figure or an event, historical summary, pseudepigraphy, and rewriting, lends itself easily to the task at hand.²⁹

2.1 Expositional Uses of Judges An expositional use of the Scripture is distinguished from a compositional one by a presence of formal markers of exegesis.³⁰ The only instance of such a use of Judges in Second Temple literature (including the Scrolls) seems to be found in Philo’s allegorical interpretation of Gen 11 in The Confusion of Tongues 128 – 132.³¹ Quoting from Judg 8:9, or, in Philo’s own words, from the Book of Judgments (ἐν τῇ τῶν κριμάτων ἀναγραφομένῃ βίβλῳ), the exegete identifies the tower of Penuel with the Tower of Babel. For Philo, Penuel refers to “turning from God,” whereas Gideon, whose name he interprets as “he who fights against wrongdoing”³² stands for the one “ready armed for the destruction of this stronghold,” i. e. God himself.

 To keep this study within manageable limits, it seemed to be prudent to exclude from it writings that came to be a part of the Masoretic Bible as well as works composed after  CE, with an exception of the New Testament writings, some of which are dated after the destruction of the Second Temple, Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities,  Baruch, and  Ezra. Some scholars argue also for a post- date for Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities, yet this issue remains unresolved. See, for instance, Frederick J. Murphy, “Biblical Antiquities (Pseudo-Philo),” in The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, ed. John J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, ), . The date of the anonymous “On Samson,” preserved in Armenian, remains unclear. Gohar Muradyan and Aram Topchyan, “Pseudo-Philo, ‘On Samson’,” in Outside the Bible, ed. Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel, and Laurence H. Schiffman (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, ), : – , note that it could have been composed at any point between second century BCE and fourth century CE.  Devorah Dimant, “Use and Interpretation of Mikra in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha,” in Mikra, ed. Martin J. Mulder (Peabody: Hendrickson, ),  – .  Ibid., .  The Greek text and the English translation are from Frederick H. Colson and George H. Whitaker, Philo, LCL (Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: William Heinemann, ), : – .  Here I follow the translation of Naomi G. Cohen, Philo’s Scriptures: Citations from the Prophets and Writings, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – , who suggests that Philo (or his source) reads ‫ גדעון‬as ‫גד)ע( עוֹן‬. He also interprets this name as a “trial” (πειρατήριον).

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


2.2 Compositional Uses of Judges 2.2.1. Literary model. One type of a compositional use of the Scripture is the employment of scriptural figures and events as literary models. The book of Judith, with its complex web of motifs linking Judith with Jael and Deborah, and Achior and Holofernes with Barak and Sisera, is one case in point.³³ Another instance of using Judges as a literary model, this time not of a particular episode or a figure, but rather of its collective representation of an Israelite judge as a savior, is 1 Macc 9:73, where Jonathan is said “to judge the people and to wipe out the wicked from Israel.”³⁴ That the author of 1 Maccabees might have modeled Jonathan and other Hasmonean rulers on the biblical judges is further suggested by 1 Macc 5:62 depicting the Hasmoneans as “that family of men to whom it had been granted to be the agents of Israel’s deliverance.”³⁵ Scrolls yield yet another instance of the use of Judges as a literary model: the list of Judah’s conquests in 4Q522 (4QProphétie de Josué [4QapocrJosuéc?]) 9 i 11– 17 seems to emulate Judg 1:1– 19 (see below).³⁶ 2.2.2. Quotation and allusion.³⁷ Second Temple writings only rarely quote from or allude to the book of Judges. Most of the catalogued instances occur in liturgy

 See, for instance, Sidnie White Crawford, “In the Steps of Jael and Deborah: Judith as Heroine,” in “No one Spoke Ill of Her”: Essays on Judith, ed. James C. VanderKam (Atlanta: Scholars Press, ),  – .  Jonathan A. Goldstein,  Maccabees, AB (Garden City: Doubleday, ),  (see also his comments on pp. , ); Uriel Rappaport, The First Book of Maccabees: Introduction, Hebrew Translation, and Commentary, Between Bible and Mishnah (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi, ),  (Hebrew).  Goldstein,  Maccabees, ; Katell Berthelot, “The Biblical Conquest of the Promised Land and the Hasmonaean Wars according to  and  Maccabees,” in The Books of the Maccabees: History, Theology, Ideology, ed. Géza Xeravits and József Zsengellér, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ), . On the other hand, Rappaport, while acknowledging  Maccabees’ intentional imitation of the Former Prophets, highlights its own view on such issues as the divine intervention in history, which it seems to minimize, leaving the scene to humans acting according to God’s plans. Thus, unlike the scriptural judges, the Hasmoneans in  Maccabees are not divinely “raised” or “appointed.” Uriel Rappaport, “A Note on the Use of the Bible in  Maccabees,” in Biblical Perspectives: Early Use and Interpretation of the Bible in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Michael E. Stone, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  –   See Ariel Feldman, The Rewritten Joshua Scrolls from Qumran: Texts, Translations, and Commentary, BZAW  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ), .  Unless a quotation is accompanied by a formula identifying it as such (as is the case with Philo’s expositional use of Judg : discussed above), the differentiation between a quotation and an allusion is difficult. Here they are treated together.


Ariel Feldman

and point to Deborah’s song (Judg 5).³⁸ Thus, the blessing found in Luke 1:42 and the prayer embedded in 2 Bar. 54:10 allude to Judg 5:24. Two more allusions to Judg 5 come from the War Scroll: the prayer before the battle in 1QM 11:17 refers to Judg 5:20, while another prayer, uttered either before or during the combat, in 1QM 12:10 – 11, borrows the language of Judg 5:12. Apart from Judg 5, the Damascus Document 3:6 (Geniza) borrows the language of Judg 17:6 and 21:25, “every man did as he pleased,” to describe Israelites’ misconduct in Egypt. 2.2.3. Reference to a figure or an event. As with quotations/allusions, references to figures and events from the book of Judges in early Jewish literature are quite scarce. In fact, apart from the catalogues of exemplary figures discussed below, the two primary examples of such use come from the Scrolls. The first one occurs in a halakhic or legal argument.³⁹ To support its view of monogamy as a divinely established norm, the Damascus Document (CD 4:20 – 5:6 [=4Q269 3 2; 6Q15 1 1– 3]) cites the deuteronomic law prohibiting a king (‫ נשיא‬in CD) from multiplying wives (Deut 17:17). Anticipating readers’ concern, it seeks to justify David’s polygamous marriages as resulting from his ignorance of this regulation. CD claims that David was not able to consult the Law as the “sealed book of the Torah” (or the “Ark” where it was kept) “was not opened in Israel from since the day of the death of Eleazar and Joshua and the elders because they (i. e., Israel)

 Armin Lange and Matthias Weigold, Biblical Quotations and Allusions in Second Temple Jewish Literature, JAJSup  (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ),  – , note other allusions to the book of Judges, yet these are doubtful. Thus, a reference to Joshua’s life span in Eupolemus, frg.  (Eusebius, Praep. ev. ..), listed there as pointing to Judg :, may equally depend on Josh : containing the same chronological datum. The mention of people’s sin and God’s forsaking Israel in Esther’s prayer in Addition to Esther C  –  is too general to be a specific allusion to Judg : – . This is also the case with the description of the Day of the Lord in Sib. Or. ., presumably, pointing to Judg : – . Similarly inconclusive is the suggestion that ALD : (Geniza) links the Gersonites ousted out of the priesthood with Jonathan son of Gershon son of Manasseh of Judg :. For the Dead Sea Scrolls, Lange and Weigold note Q  –  i  reportedly alluding to Judg :, though it is unclear what constitutes an allusion here. They also note QHa : using a construction ‫ היה איש ריב‬attested in Judg :, QM : employing an expression ‫ צדקות יהוה‬from Judg :, and a reference to a seven days’ feast in Q a–c  – (=Q a i ) allegedly pointing to Judg :, . Yet it is dubious whether any of these indeed depend on Judges.  On the use of non-Pentateuchal passages to derive or to support a halakhic ruling in the Dead Sea Scrolls, see Moshe J. Bernstein and Shelomo A. Koyfman, “The Interpretation of Biblical Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Forms and Methods,” in Biblical Interpretation at Qumran, ed. Matthias Henze, Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ),  – ; Alex P. Jassen, Scripture and Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ),  – .

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


worshiped Ashtoreth.”⁴⁰ Alexander Rofé suggests that this formulation depends on the Hebrew text underlying the Septuagintal version of Josh 24: 29

And Israel served the Lord all the days of Iesous and all the days of the elders who drew out the time with Iesous and who knew all the works of the Lord that he did for Israel. 30 And it happened after these things that Iesous son of Naue, slave of the Lord, died at one hundred ten years. … 33And it happened after these things that Eleazar son of Aaron, the high priest, died and was buried in Gabaath of Phinees his son which he gave in Mount Ephraim. 33aOn that day the sons of Israel took the ark of God and carried it around in their midst. And Phinees served as priest in the place of Eleazar his father until he died, and he was interred in Gabaath, which was his own. 33bAnd the sons of Israel departed each to their place and their own city. And the sons of Israel worshipped Astarte and Astaroth and the gods of the nations round about them. And the Lord delivered them into the hands of Eglom, the king of Moab, and he dominated them eighteen years.⁴¹

Rofé argues that the account of Israel’s worship of Astarte and Astaroth followed by a Moabite domination in v. 33b indicates a Hebrew edition of Joshua-Judges which lacked the secondary Judg 1:1– 3:11. For him, CD 4:20 – 5:6 reflects such an edition, as all the elements found in Josh 24:33 LXX are also present in CD, particularly the Ark, absent from the parallel text in Judg 2. Without contesting Rofé’s main argument, one wonders whether the Septuagint’s mention of the Ark is sufficient to substantiate the claim that CD’s formulation takes its cue from the envisioned shorter Joshua-Judges continuum. The role of the Ark in Josh 24:33b LXX is quite different from that in CD: while the former reports that the Israelites carried the Ark in their midst, the latter argues that they failed to consult the Torah placed in it. In fact, CD’s depiction of Joshua and the elders’ demise as marking the abrupt shift from consulting the Law to worshipping Ashtoreth seems to suit better Judg 2:7– 13 MT than Josh 24:29 – 33 LXX.⁴²

 The English translation is from Joseph M. Baumgarten and Daniel R. Schwartz, “Damascus Document,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations: Damascus Document, War Scroll, and Related Documents, ed. James H. Charlesworth et al., PTSDSSP (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], Louisville: Westminster John Knox, ),  –  (with alterations). The rendering of the conjunction ‫ אשר‬as “because” and the interpretation of ‫עבדו‬, “worshipped,” as referring to Israel follow James C. VanderKam, “Zadok and the Spr Htwrh Hhtwm,” RevQ  ():  – .  Leonard J. Greenspoon, “Joshua,” in A New English Translation of the Septuagint, ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), .  See Alexander Rofé, “The End of the Book of Joshua according to the Septuagint,” Henoch  ():  –  (=Shnaton  []:  –  [Hebrew]). His thesis is further developed by Birgit Lucassen, “Josua, Richter und CD,” RevQ  ():  – .


Ariel Feldman

The second example is an Aramaic work concerned with scriptural chronology, 4Q559 (4QpapChronologie biblique ar).⁴³ Badly damaged, frgs. 4– 6 name several judges and state the duration of their rule. The scroll seems to follow the chronological data found in MT Judges with a few exceptions. Unlike Judg 3:31, it appears to specify the length of Shamgar’s rule (frg. 5 1).⁴⁴ Also, the scroll seems to omit the seven years of the Midianite oppression (Judg 6:1) and the seven years of Abimelech’s rule (Judg 9). Michael Wise conjectures that these omissions constitute part of a larger chronological scheme aimed at resolving the discrepancy between 1 Kgs 6:1 stating that Solomon began the construction of the Temple “in the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites left the land of Egypt” and the chronological data provided elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, including the book of Judges, which, once added up, lead to a much higher figure.⁴⁵ One sub-group within the broader rubric of references to scriptural figures and events are the lists of examples. These lists or catalogues exhibit a more or less consistent pattern: a name of a figure is followed by a succinct reference to his/her characteristic trait or a biblical episode in which this figure was involved.⁴⁶ Some of these do not go as far as the period of judges (e. g., Sir 16:6 – 10; Wis 10; 3 Macc 2:4– 8). More importantly, most of those that do so refrain from including figures from the book of Judges (e. g., 1 Macc 2:49 – 64; 3 Macc 6:4– 8; 4 Macc 16:18 – 23; 18:11– 13; 4 Ezra 7:106 – 10). This may have to do with that fact that all the major male protagonists in this book fall short of being exemplary. Perhaps, this dearth of worthy figures may explain the (anachronistic) reference to Joshua as a judge in Mattathias’s farewell speech in 1 Macc 2:55. By referring to him as such, this catalogue incorporates the period of judges, yet avoids mentioning figures whose record is far from being unblemished. Still, there are also lists that include figures from the book of Judges. Thus, a catalogue of men and women of faith in Heb 11 names Gideon, Samson, and Jephthah.⁴⁷ A prayer, perhaps, of Jewish origin yet of unknown date, embedded

 See discussion in Michael O. Wise, “To Know the Times and the Seasons: A Study of the Aramaic Chronograph Q,” JSP  ():  – ; Émile Puech, Qumran Cave .XXVII: Textes arameens, deuxieme partie: Q – , DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – . The latter dates this scroll to  –  BCE.  The text is broken here. Wise, ibid., , and Puech, ibid., , restore “one year,” in line with Josephus’s Ant. ., stating that he died in the first year of his rule.  Wise, ibid.,  – .  See Dimant, “Use,”  – .  On this passage as an encomium on faith see Harold W. Attridge, Hebrews, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, ), . The relevant verses (: ff.) stand out in several respects. First, they differ from the preceding treatment of scriptural figures from Abel to Moses by citing six names together, instead of taking each figure separately. Second, the order of the names

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


in Apos. Con. 7.37.1– 5 lists among those whose prayers were heard by God several protagonists from the book of Judges:⁴⁸ Gideon, upon the rock, and the fleeces, before his sin; Manoah—and of his wife—in the field; Samson, in his thirst before his error; Jephthah, in the war, before his unwise promise; Barak and Deborah, in the days of Sisera; … Jael in praises.⁴⁹

Unlike Heb 11, listing Gideon, Samson, and Jephthah without any reservation, this catalogue names these three (in the same order) with a caveat: their prayers were heard before they erred. The Dead Sea Scrolls also yield a list of examples naming both the righteous and sinners. Describing the entire period from before the entrance to the Promised Land to the exile as that of a rebellion against God, CD 3:9 – 12 refers to the ‘kings” and “heroes” of Israel who “perished” walking in “the wantonness of their heart(s)” (2:17– 18; 3:5). Perhaps, the “heroes” include (some of) the judges.⁵⁰ While some consider Ben Sira’s Praise of the Fathers (Sir 44– 49) to be yet another list of exemplary figures, others argue that its distinct literary characteristics place it within a separate rubric. Alon Goshen-Gottstein aptly describes it as a canon-conscious reflection on the Scripture by means of evoking biblical figures.⁵¹ Sir 46:11– 12 places its reference to judges between the portrayals of Joshua and Caleb (46:1– 10) and Samuel (46:13 – 20).⁵² here, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel, disagrees with the biblical one, Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Samuel, and David. Third, in vv.  –  Heb  outlines what the aforementioned figures, as well as unnamed others, accomplished. Some of its vague formulations, e. g., overcoming kingdoms, establishing justice, seeing God’s promises fulfilled, and being made powerful, fit several individuals mentioned in the book of Judges.  David A. Fiensy and D.R. Darnell, “Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth (Garden City: Doubleday, ), : – . The list of God’s saving acts in a yet another prayer found in the Apos. Con. (.. –; ibid. :) refers to “the days of Judges” (v. ). See further David A. Fiensy, Prayers Alleged to Be Jewish: An Examination of the Constituones Apostolorum (Chico: Scholars Press, ); Peter van der Horst and Judith H. Newman, Early Jewish Prayers in Greek, CEJL (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ).  The order of the names does not follow the scriptural one. For the placement of the female figures at the end of the list, cf. the Old Latin of Addition C to the Book of Esther, v.  (Esther’s prayer), naming Hannah as the last one in the long list of those helped by God. See further Carey A. Moore, Daniel, Esther, and Jeremiah: The Additions, AB (New York: Doubleday, ),  – .  Baumgarten and Schwartz, “Damascus Document,” .  Alon Goshen-Gottstein, “Ben Sira’s Praise of the Fathers: A Canon-Conscious Reading,” in Ben Sira’s God, ed. Renate Egger-Wenzel (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – .


Ariel Feldman

The judges, too, each with his own name, all those whose heart was not lifted up,⁵³ and who did not abandon God: may their memory be a blessing⁵⁴ and (may) their names be for their sons instead of them.⁵⁵

The lack of details in this passage is striking, especially in comparison to the adjacent elaborate descriptions of Joshua, Caleb, and Samuel. For Goshen-Gottstein this succinct formulation lends further support to the claim that the Praise is not a list of examples, but a canon-oriented reflection on the Scripture where an attempt is made to include every piece of the canon, even if the author had very little to say about it.⁵⁶ While this might be true, Ben Sira’s having very little to say reflects the same difficulty in identifying a male judge worthy of praise.⁵⁷

 The Enlgish translation follows that of Patrick W. Skehan and Alexander A. DiLella, The Wisdom of Ben Sira, AB (New York: Doubleday, ),  (with several alterations aiming at better representing the Hebrew text of Ms. B).  Reading ‫ נשא‬of ‫( כל אשר לא נשא לבו‬Ms. B) as a Nifal form (cf. The Book of Ben Sira: Text, Concordance and an Analysis of the Vocabulary [Jerusalem: The Academy of the Hebrew Language and the Shrine of the Book, ],  [Hebrew]). The text can also be emended as ‫כל אשר לא‬ ‫נשאו לבו‬, “all whose heart did not lift him up” (cf.  Kgs : and BDB, ). The Greek reads here: “whose heart did not commit fornication.” See Benjamin G. Wright, “Sirach,” in A New English Translation of the Septuagint, ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), .  Greek adds here “may their bones sprout anew out of their plot” (Wright, ibid.), whereas Syriac reads: “and their bones will flourish like roses.” The language of revived, flourishing bones occurs also in Ben Sira’s brief reference to the twelve minor prophets in :. Menahem Kister points to Isa : (cf. also Hos :) as the source for the rose imagery and observes that the blessing of the dead evoking flourishing of their bones is the opposite of the rabbinic expression ‫שחיק טמיא‬, “may one’s bones be pulverized.” See Menahem Kister, “A Contribution to the Interpretation of Ben Sira,” Tarbiz  ():  –  (Hebrew); idem, “Some Blessing and Curse Formulae,” in Hamlet on a Hill, ed. Martin F.J. Baasten and Wido Th. van Peursen (Leuven; Peeters, ),  – .  The English “instead” renders the Hebrew ‫תחליף‬, a “replacement,” implying that one’s name lives with his/her children after that person’s demise. See Haim Dihi, “The Morphological and Lexical Innovations in the Book of Ben Sira” (PhD diss., Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, ),  – . It is unlikely that Ben Sira’s language here reflects a belief in a resurrection. See further John J. Collins, Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age, OTL (Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, ), .  Goshen-Gottstein, “Ben Sira’s Praise of the Fathers,” , considers the phrase “the judges” to be the title of the book. If he is correct, it is the earliest attestation thereof in Second Temple literature.  Teresa R. Brown, “God and Men in Israel’s History,” in Ben Sira’s God, ed. Renate Egger-Wenzel (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – , suggests that this passage needs to be read as a riddle, offering readers clues to determine for themselves who of the figures mentioned in the book of Judges is worthy of praise.

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


2.2.3. Historical summary. Some of the historical summaries found in Second Temple literature refrain from dealing explicitly with the period of the judges.⁵⁸ This is the case with the Apocalypse of Weeks (1 En. 93:3 – 17), Jdt 5:17– 18, and Acts 7:45.⁵⁹ As to the historical summaries that evoke figures and events mentioned in the book of Judges, all of them, except Paul’s exhortation calculating the rule of the judges at 450 years (Acts 13:19 – 20), occur in apocalypses.⁶⁰ The Animal Apocalypse (1 En. 85– 90) depicts the times of the judges as alternating periods of loyalty and disobedience to God (89:41a). T. Mos. 2:3, viewing Israel’s past as a sequence of “years,” counts eighteen “years” from the entrance into the Promised Land to the division of the kingdom in the days of Solomon. These are, probably, the thirteen judges of the book of Judges (Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Barak [or Deborah], Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson), Eli, Samuel, Saul, David, and Solomon.⁶¹ Another historical summary, envisioning history as comprised of twelve periods represented by intermittent torrents of bright and dark rain, names the period of judges among the dark ones (2 Bar. 60:1– 2). It is marked by the Israelites’ defilement by sin and failure to see the “many signs that were from him who had made them.”⁶² The Dead Sea Scrolls furnish more historical summaries. The fragmentary scroll 4Q247 presents history as a sequence of “weeks.” Just as brief and selective as its aforementioned Enochic counterpart, it seems to contain no explicit reference to Judges.⁶³ On the other hand, 4Qpseudo-Jubilees (4Q225 – 226),⁶⁴ placing

 Cf.  –  Chronicles which almost completely ignore the book of Judges. See Sarah Japhet, I & II Chronicles: A Commentary, OTL (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, ), .  Note also Eupolemus, who in his succinct account of succession of prophets and rulers skips over the entire period of judges. He mentions Joshua’s prophesying and next names Samuel as a prophet (frg. ).  It has been long noticed that the  years period does not coincide with the biblical data. For possible solutions see Hans Conzelmann, Acts of the Apostles, trans. James Limburg, A. Thomas Kraabel, and Donald H. Juel, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, ), .  Thus Robert H. Charles, “The Assumption of Moses,” in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. Robert H. Charles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ), :. Johannes Tromp, The Assumption of Moses: A Critical Edition with Commentary (Leiden: Brill, ),  – , views the division into “years” as schematic and argues against an attempt to link those to specific scriptural figures.  Cited from Michael E. Stone and Matthias Henze,  Ezra and  Baruch: Translations, Introductions, and Notes (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ), .  Magen Broshi and Ada Yardeni, “. QPesher on the Apocalypse of Weeks,” in Qumran Cave .XXVI: Cryptic Texts; Miscellanea, Part , ed. Stephen J. Pfann et al., DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – , suggest that this scroll comments on the Apocalypse of Weeks, a proposal that has no support in the text itself.


Ariel Feldman

events from Abraham to Joshua within a jubilean chronology, mentions “saviors” (]‫מושיעיׄם‬, 4Q226 5 1), a term applied to the judges in Neh 9:27.⁶⁵ 2.2.4. Pseudepigraphy. Abundant in works pseudepigraphically attributed to biblical protagonists, Second Temple literature seems to yield no writing ascribed to a figure from the book of Judges. One possible exception might be found in an Aramaic fragment 4Q465 (4QpapText Mentioning Samson?) juxtaposing a phrase “the co]py of the lett[er” (‫[ פר[שגן האגר]ת‬line 3]) to a partially reconstructed name of Samson (‫)ש[֗מש ֯ו ֯ן‬. It has been tentatively described as a document purporting to be a copy of Samson’s letter, perhaps, containing riddles.⁶⁶ 2.2.5. Rewriting. The most detailed ancient rewriting of the book of Judges is found in Josephus’s Ant. 5.120 – 317. It is a part of a much larger literary enterprise aspiring to “encompass our entire ancient history and constitution of the state, translated from the Hebrew writings” (Ant. 1.5).⁶⁷ Josephus’s rewritten Judges omits, re-arranges, summarizes, and expands the scriptural account.⁶⁸ Among its

 Atar Livneh, “The Composition Pseudo-Jubilees from Qumran (Q; Q; Q): A New Edition, Introduction, and Commentary” (PhD diss., University of Haifa, ),  –  (Hebrew), demonstrates that Q, frequently associated with these two scrolls, is a separate composition. She describes the work preserved in Q –  as a review of Israel’s history (ibid., ).  Livneh, ibid.,  – , leaves it unresolved whether the fragment speaks of the judges or of other past/future saviors. Line  in the same fragment reads ‫[֗ל ] [ ֯י֯מ ֗ים הה֗מ]ה‬. It is usually reconstructed as ‫כו[֗ל ]ה[ ֯י֯מ ֗ים הה֗מ]ה‬, yet, as Livneh, ibid., , observes the Hebrew Bible and the Qumran scrolls never employ such a construction, but rather ‫ כל הימים‬or ‫הימים ההם‬/‫ב‬. With this in mind, the lamed found in the beginning of the line may be construed as belonging to a preceding clause, whereas the remainder of the line could be read as ‫[֗ל ]ב[ ֯י֯מ ֗ים הה֗מ]ה‬, perhaps, pointing to Judg : or :: ‫“( בימים ההם אין מלך בישראל איש הישר בעיניו יעשה‬In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did as he pleased”).  Eric Larson (apud John Strugnell), “. Qpap Text Mentioning Samson?” in Qumran Cave .XXVI: Cryptic Texts; Miscellanea, Part , ed. Stephen J. Pfann et al., DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ), .  For a recent commentary and extensive bibliography on Josephus’s version of Judges, see Christopher T. Begg, Judean Antiquities  – , Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary  (Leiden: Brill, ). To the studies listed there one may also add Christopher T. Begg, “The Minor Judges according to Josephus in Comparison with the Bible, Pseudo-Philo and the ‘Samaritan Chronicle No. II’,” Biblische Notizen  ():  – ; Tessel M. Jonquière, “Of Valour and Strength: The Samson Cycle in Josephus’ Work: Jewish Antiquities . – ,” in Samson: Hero or Fool: The Many Faces of Samson, ed. Erik Eynikel and Tobias Nicklas, Themes in Biblical Narrative (Leiden: Brill, ),  – .  For a treatment of Josephus’s techniques, see F. Gerald Downing, “Redaction Criticism: Josephus’ Antiquities and the Synoptic Gospels,” JSNT  ():  – . On Josephus’s Vorlage(n) see, among others, Bodine, Greek Text of Judges, ; Paul Harlé, “Flavius Josèphe et la Septante

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


major omissions are the song of Deborah, Thola’s service as a judge, and Micah’s episode. One of the Antiquities’ notable departures from the scriptural order of events is its placement of the story of the Levite and the concubine and the ensuing Benjaminite war (Judg 19 – 21) in the beginning of the reworking of Judges in Ant. 5.136 ff., perhaps, in order to highlight the degeneration of Israel after Joshua’s demise.⁶⁹ An example of summarizing is Josephus’s succinct version of Jotham’s parable (5.236 – 38). Among the multiple expansions are the narrator’s own thoughts on Israel’s abandonment of the aristocratic form of government, the resulting degradation (5.132– 35, 179 – 80a), and the purpose of the Israelites’ suffering (5.200). There are also characterizations of the protagonists (Ehud [5.188], Gideon [5.609], Jephthah [5.257]) and an eulogy for Samson (5.317). Several literary and exegetical tendencies transpire from the Antiquities’ version of Judges, e.g., an attempt to make the story more captivating (e.g., an eroticization of the Levite’s love to his concubine [5.136– 37]), harmonization of conflicting biblical accounts (e.g., 5.124), and dealing away with uncomfortable details (e.g., underplaying the homosexual intent of Gibeah’s perpetrators [cf. Judg 19:22 with Ant. 5.143]). Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities (LAB) 25 – 48 is another extensive reworking of Judges.⁷⁰ Like Josephus’s Antiquities, LAB 25 – 48 is a part of a larger rewriting project, one that covers, with a varying degree of detail, events from the creation to the death of King Saul. And not unlike Josephus,⁷¹ LAB’s rewriting is characterized by countless omissions (e. g., skipping over the judges Othniel, Ehud, Thola, and Ibzan), re-arrangements (e. g., Abdon is mentioned before Elon in ch. 41), and summaries (e. g., the succinct version of Abimelech’s saga de Juges,” in Selon les Septante: Hommage a Marguerite Harl, ed. Gilles Dorival and Olivier Munnich (Paris: Le Cerf, ),  – .  For a similar chronological placement of these events, see S. ‘Olam Rab.  and a discussion in David A. Glatt, Chronological Displacement in Biblical and Related Literatures, SBLDS  (Atlanta: Scholars Press, ),  – .  For a sample of scholarly works on the LAB’s version of Judges, see Cheryl A. Brown, No Longer Be Silent: First Century Jewish Portraits of Biblical Women (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, ); Frederick J. Murphy, Pseudo-Philo: Rewriting the Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, ),  – ; Howard Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, AGJU  (Leiden: Brill, ), : – ; Bruce N. Fisk, Do You Not Remember? Scripture, Story and Exegesis in the Rewritten Bible of Pseudo-Philo, JSPSup  (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ),  – ; Christopher T. Begg, “The Retellings of the Story of Judges  by Pseudo-Philo and Josephus: A Comparison,” EstBíb  ():  – ; idem, “Minor Judges.”  For a comparison between Josephus and LAB’s treatments of Judges, see Louis H. Feldman, “Prolegomenon” to Montague R. James, The Biblical Antiquities of Philo, Library of Biblical Studies (New York: Ktav, ), and the multiple studies collected in his Josephus’s Interpretation of the Bible (Berkeley: University of California Press, ) and Studies in Josephus’ Rewritten Bible (Leiden: Brill, ).


Ariel Feldman

in ch. 37). At the same time, it abounds with non-scriptural traditions. Expanding on Judg 1:1, LAB 25 – 28 introduces the judge Kenaz.⁷² Among other additions are the deeds of Kenaz’s successor, Zebul (ch. 29), Sisera’s soliloquy, Jael’s prayer, Sisera’s mother’s punishment (ch. 31), Deborah’s farewell admonitory speech (ch. 33), the story of Aod, the priest of Midian (ch. 34), a note explaining why Gideon was not punished during this life (chs. 35 – 36), and Jair’s conducing people to idolatry (ch. 37). The rewritten Jephthah cycle furnishes further expansions. LAB explains his daughter’s appearance at the gate as God’s will. Named Seila, her image is significantly developed by references to the Aqeda and an inclusion of her lengthy lament (chs. 39 – 40). Numerous additions are found also in the reworked Samson’s cycle. For instance, an angel is sent to reveal who of the two parents is responsible for their inability to produce a child (ch. 42). The story of Micah, Delilah’s son in LAB, is embroidered with prolonged speeches by Micah, Delilah, and God (ch. 44). LAB’s version of Judg 19 situates the events in Nob, rather than in Gibeah, and presents the concubine’s rape and death as a punishment for her sin with Amalekites (ch. 45). The Benjaminites’ initial victory over the other tribes is explained as a result of the divine decision to mislead Israelites through Urim and Thummim (ch. 46). This prompts an extensive speech by Phineas, followed by an account of his demise and a promise of Phineas’s future return as the prophet Elijah (ch. 48). While the Dead Sea Scrolls yield no extensive rewriting of the book of Judges, two scrolls seem to recast parts thereof. The scroll 4Q522 (4QProphétie de Josué [4QapocrJosuéc?]), rewriting episodes from the book of Joshua with a penchant toward geographical data, features, along with a list of Joshua’s conquests, a reworked roster of the remaining Canaanite enclaves from Judg 1 (frg. 8).⁷³ . . .

Juda]h and Sime[o]n [ ] [ for]they had[ iron chariots]. And Dan also did not smite [ ]and Issachar Beth-Shean and Asher the i[nhabitants of Acco . and the inhabitants of S]idon and Ahl[ab

This reworking of Judg 1:17(?), 19, 34, 27, 31 deviates from the scriptural list of unconquered cities on three counts. First, its order of the tribes is different. Judg 1 lists Judah, Simeon, Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulon, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan, whereas the fragment has Judah, Simeon, Dan, Issachar, and Asher. Second, while Judg 1 omits Issachar and reports that Manasseh left Beth-

 Ant. . –  also names Kenaz as the first judge.  See Feldman, Rewritten Joshua Scrolls,  – .

The Book of Judges in Early Jewish Interpretation


Shean unconquered, 4Q522 states that it was Issachar who was unable to dispossess Beth-Shean. The latter reading can be explained as an attempt to harmonize Judg 1:27 with Josh 17:11– 12 reporting that Beth-Shean, along with other cities, was taken from Issachar and Asher and given to Manasseh. Third, in lines 3 – 4 the lengths of the lacunae suggest a longer catalogue of the Asherite cities left in the Canaanite hands than one found in Judg 1:31. Perhaps, as in the case of Beth-Shean, 4Q522 includes here the city of Dor, given by Asher to Manasseh (Josh 17:11– 12; Judg 1:27), as does also the LXX.⁷⁴ The second text rewriting an episode from the book of Judges is the Aramaic scroll 4Q551 (4QRécit ar) 1.⁷⁵ . ]the understanding [ . ] [ ].[ ].. an old man[ . ] son of Jonathan son of Jeshua son of Ishmael son of[ . ] And all the men of the city gathered around the house and said to him, {to Ishm[ael} “Bring out[ . he desc]ended to [them and sa]id to them, “My brothers, do no act wicked[ly] . ].[ ]you will be satisfied?[

While it is possible that this fragment is a reworking of Gen 18, it seems more likely that this is a retelling of Judg 19:22– 24.⁷⁶ The phrase “an old man” (‫גבר‬ ]‫[ שב‬line 2]), reminiscent of Judges’ description of the Levite’s host as ‫איש זקן‬ (19:16 ff.), lends support to this interpretation. If correct, line 3 may supply the name and genealogy of either the “old man” or the Levite. Both are left anonymous in the scriptural account, but are assigned names in LAB 45:2, 4.

 The reference to “Upper and Lo[we]r Gullath” in frg.  i+  may point to Judg :, whereas the depiction of “the rock of Zion” as inhabited by the Amorites in frg.  ii  –  seems to reflect an attempt to reconcile the reports regarding Jerusalem in Josh :; :; :, and Judg :, . See Feldman, ibid., , .  Émile Puech, Qumran Cave .XXVII: Textes arameens, deuxieme partie: Q – , DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ), , dates the script of Q around  BCE. Josef T. Milik, “Daniel et Susanne a Qumran?” in De la Torah au Messie, ed. Maurice Carrez, Pierre Grelot, and Joseph Doré (Paris: Desclee, ),  – , suggested that frgs.  and  should be placed along each other, but this proposal seems to be unwarranted.  As was pointed out by George W.E. Nickelsburg, “Q: A Vorlage to the Story of Susanna or a Text Related to Judges ,” JJS  ():  – . The links to Susanna’s story suggested initially by Milik, ibid., fail to convince, as has been noted by Nickelsburg, ibid., and Puech, ibid., – .


Ariel Feldman

3 Concluding Observations The overall conclusion of this overview of the early Jewish interpretation of Judges is that with an exception of the two major rewriting of Judges, Antiquities and LAB, this book is rather rarely dealt with both in Second Temple writings that were available before the discovery of Qumran and in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This seems to be the case not only in comparison to the extensive contemporary literature dealing with the Torah, but also in relation to writings treating other books traditionally placed within the Former Prophets. Several scholars note that Second Temple literature, including the Scrolls, exhibits only limited interest in the so-called historical books of the Hebrew Bible, i.e. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings.⁷⁷ Yet, the lack of interest in biblical historiography is clearly not the only factor contributing to the dearth of treatment of Judges in our sources. Another reason would be the moral and exegetical challenges that this book presented to its readers. This may partially explain the absence of the judges from the catalogues of examples, the superficial treatment of Judges in the historical summaries, and the absence of a work rewriting this book among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is not insignificant given the presence of multiple scrolls rewriting Joshua, Samuel, and Kings. Given this paucity of evidence, the new, though limited, data pertaining to the book of Judges and its use in the Dead Sea Scrolls are quite welcome. The fragmentary manuscripts of Judges from Qumran, while falling short of making a compelling case for the existence of multiple literary editions of Judges, exhibit a degree of variation leading to a more nuanced view of the textual history of Judges in the late Second Temple period. The non-biblical scrolls from Qumran attest to new contexts in which figures and events from Judges were utilized, such as a legal/halakhic argument (CD) and a chronological treatise (4Q559). Finally, if 4Q465 is indeed a pseudepigraphic work attributed to Samson, it (along with the scroll 4Q551, presumably rewriting Judg 19) calls for a more nuanced evaluation of the thematic and generic scope of the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls, which have been described as refraining from dealing with figures and events mentioned in biblical historiography.⁷⁸

 See George J. Brooke, “Types of Historiography in the Qumran Scrolls,” in idem, Reading the Dead Sea Scrolls: Essays in Method, SBLEJL  (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, ),  –  (especially, in relation to the texts found at Qumran).  See Devorah Dimant, “Themes and Genres in the Aramaic Texts from Qumran,” in idem, History, Ideology and Bible Interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Collected Studies, FAT  (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ),  – .

George J. Brooke

Zedekiah, Covenant, and the Scrolls from Qumran 1 Introduction The name Zedekiah occurs four times in the fragmentary scrolls that have survived from the eleven caves at and near Qumran. The purpose of this short study is to reconsider those occurrences to highlight three matters. First, it is important to appreciate that there is considerable ambiguity about Zedekiah in the traditions that survive. Second, Zedekiah is associated with covenant, and the character of that covenant needs to be noted. And third, the juxtaposition of Zedekiah with covenant in a particular way is an indication of one form of ancient Jewish historiography in which periods of history are linked with covenant formation, a link that has only recently begun to be considered in depth in relation to the Qumran evidence.¹

2 Zedekiah, Periodisation, and Covenant in the Scrolls from Qumran The most extensive references to Zedekiah are to be found in what has been labelled as frg. 1 of 4Q470, a manuscript in early Herodian script. There are two explicit uses of the name of Zedekiah. It seems plausible that the fragments assigned to 4Q470 do indeed belong together, though Elisha Qimron sets frg. 2 apart.² Not much can be derived from frg. 2 in any case, as the comments below will show. As Bilhah Nitzan has neatly summarized:

 See, e. g., Ari Mermelstein, Creation, Covenant, and the Beginnings of Judaism: Reconceiving Historical Time in the Second Temple Period, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ), who argues that numerous sources from the Second Temple period talk of Jewish history as starting with an act of covenant formation, but those were challenged by some later sources (Ben Sira, Jubilees, the Animal Apocalypse, and  Ezra) who claimed rather that Jewish history began at creation.  Elisha Qimron, The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Hebrew Writings, Volume Three (Jerusalem: Yad BenZvi Press, ), , notes that frg.  is not associated with the other two fragments in the  series of PAM photographs, but only in the  series, and he observes that the lines on the fragment are closer together than on the other two fragments.


George J. Brooke

The extant text deals with an eschatological message of the angel Michael to King Zedekiah upon making the eschatological covenant for performing and causing the performance of the Law (frg. 1). This will happen after Israel will call upon God for help from their troubles; then God, who delivered Israel during the Exodus, will save them and make the covenant with them (frg. 3).³

For Erik Larson, if 4Q470 did not contain a running history of Israel from at least the time of the Exodus, then “it may be that the Exodus account of frg. 3 is some sort of historical prologue or epilogue attached to the prediction of the giving of the new covenant to Zedekiah.”⁴ Frg. 1 1. ] [ 2. ] Michael[ 3. ] Zedekiah [shall en]ter, on [th]at day, into a/the co[ven]ant 4. ] to perform and to cause the performance of all the Law 5. at] that time M[ich]ael shall say to Zedekiah: 6. ]I will make with you[ a cove]na[nt]before the congregation 7. ] to [ Frg. 2 1. th[is] law[ 2 I]will send; giving (or: he who gives)[ 3. ]as[ Frg. 3 1. and]they called and[ 2. ] and [ 3. ]their [c]ry to heaven [ 4. to]heal them and to help them with His mi[ghty] spirit 5. ]and in the pillar of fire [many] times[ 6. ]and Moses wrote by His word (or: when He spoke) according to a[ll 7. ] [ t]o Kadesh Ba[rnea 8. ] upon [⁵

Larson has argued that some of the material in fragment 1 seems to be based on the Book of Jeremiah and so he has wondered whether these fragments belong to some kind of Pseudo-Jeremiah composition. He has also noted that the presence

 Bilhah Nitzan, “Q in Light of the Tradition of the Renewal of the Covenant between God and Israel,” in The Scrolls and Biblical Traditions: Proceedings of the Seventh Meeting of the IOQS in Helsinki, ed. George J. Brooke et al., STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ), .  Erik Larson, “Q and the Angelic Rehabilitation of King Zedekiah,” DSD  (): .  Text and translation are by Erik Larson, Lawrence H. Schiffman and John Strugnell, “. QText Mentioning Zedekiah,” in Qumran Cave .XIV: Parabiblical Texts, Part , DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – .

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of Michael in such a text has parallels with another Jeremianic apocryphon extant “in somewhat different recensions in Coptic, Arabic, and Karshuni (Arabic written in Syriac characters).”⁶ Nitzan’s detailed analysis of this fragmentary text on the other hand has focussed on the manner in which the text reflects the ongoing development of covenantal ideas in the Second Temple period. She understands the concerns of the text as indicating its position “between the biblical tradition and the Qumranic viewpoint concerning the making of a new covenant.”⁷ With respect to both of those approaches to 4Q470 caution needs to be exercised before declaring something as “pseudo” or “between biblical tradition and the Qumranic viewpoint;” perhaps 4Q470 is a straightforward authoritative development of traditions, particularly Jeremiah traditions in the middle to late Second Temple period.⁸ Qimron has also noted suitably that the material concerning Zedekiah in frg. 1 is in the future, while that recalling Moses in frg. 3 is in the past.⁹ The choice of Zedekiah as the one to be associated with covenant renewal seems to go against how he is evaluated in 2 Kgs 24:19 (“He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done”),¹⁰ 2 Chr 36:12 (“He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah who spoke from the mouth of the Lord”),¹¹ and the dupli-

 Larson, “Q and the Angelic Rehabilitation of King Zedekiah,” . See Larson’s footnote  for references to editions and translations of the texts. The figure of Zedekiah in those various Jeremiah apocrypha is “viewed in an entirely negative light.”  Nitzan, “Q in Light of the Tradition of the Renewal of the Covenant between God and Israel,” .  On the wider matter at issue here see the forceful remarks by Florentino García Martínez, “Light on the Joshua Books from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in After Qumran: Old and Modern Editions of the Biblical Texts—The Historical Books, ed. Hans Ausloos, Bénédicte Lemmelijn, and Julio Trebolle Barrera, BETL  (Leuven: Peeters, ), , esp. n. : “within the collection considered as a whole, where shall we put the division line between what was then considered ‘Scripture’ and what was then seen as ‘Interpretation’?”—the implication being that the distinction is anachronistic and unhelpful.  Qimron, The Hebrew Writings, Volume Three, .  For a standard analysis of the assessment of Zedekiah see Marvin A. Sweeney, I & II Kings: A Commentary, OTL (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, ), : “The addition of an explanatory statement [ Kgs :] introduced by causative kî that YHWH’s wrath was directed against Jerusalem and Judah at the time of Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon aids in explaining the negative evaluation of his reign.”  The variations in the Zedekiah traditions of Kings and Chronicles are discussed in relation to the memory of the figure of Jeremiah by Mark Leuchter, “Remembering Jeremiah in the Persian Period,” in Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods: Social


George J. Brooke

cate of 2 Kings in MT Jer 52:2 (“He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done”). He seems to have a negative evaluation elsewhere too.¹² However, the editors of the fragments in their principal edition note that there are several positive statements about Zedekiah in Jewish tradition,¹³ and Larson has recalled that MT Jer 38:9 (LXX 45:9) also seems to be an early example of the gradual softening of the assessment of Zedekiah.¹⁴ Despite the evidence of MT Jeremiah, the earliest positive opinion that the editors of the principal edition cite is that of Josephus in Ant. 10.120, where, in the context of releasing Jeremiah from prison, Zedekiah is described as motivated by goodness (χρηστότητος) and righteousness (δικαιοσύνης); such an assessment is offered despite Josephus also describing Zedekiah as contemptuous of justice and duty when he first began to reign (Ant. 10.103). Such mixed combined statements but with a positive bias are also found in the Bavli.¹⁵ For example, in b. Sanh. 103a Zedekiah is contrasted favourably with his predecessor Jehoiakim: the Holy One, blessed be He, wished to hurl the world back into chaos on account of Jehoiakim, but He gazed at [the rest of] his generation, and His mind was appeased. The Holy One, blessed be He, [also] desired to hurl the world back into chaos because of Zedekiah’s generation, but that He gazed at Zedekiah [himself] and His mind was appeased. But in the

Memory and Imagination, ed. Diana V. Edelman and Ehud Ben Zvi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ),  – .  Ezek : –  is probably a dirge against Jehoahaz and Zedekiah: see, Joseph Blenkinsopp, “Remembering Josiah,” in Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods, .  See, esp., Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, ), : –  and : –  and  – ; e. g., “Though Zedekiah besmirched his career by perjury, he was nevertheless so good and just a king that for his sake God relinquished his purpose of returning the world to chaos, as a punishment for the evil-doing of a wicked generation” (:).  Larson, “Q and the Angelic Rehabilitation of King Zedekiah,” . LXX Jer :: “You (Zedekiah) have done evil with regard to that which you have done to kill this man because of the famine”; MT Jer :: “My lord, the king, these men have done evil with regard to all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet, in that they cast him into the cistern that he might die in it because of famine.” Larson cites Emanuel Tov, The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research, Jerusalem Biblical Studies  (Jerusalem: Simor, ),  – , in which Tov sees the earlier LXX form of the Jeremiah text as critical of Zedekiah and the later MT version as moving towards his rehabilitation.  B. ‘Arak. a: “but there is the case of Zedekiah, who was virtuous, while his generation was not virtuous … the Holy One, blessed be He, planned to return the world to chaos and formlessness on account of the generation of Zedekiah. But when he took a close look at Zedekiah his anger subsided”; b. Sanh. a, cited in the main body of the text; and b. Šabb. b: Zedekiah is “that righteous man.”

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case of Zedekiah too it is written, And he did that which was evil in the sight of the God, – that denotes that he could have stemmed [the evil of others], and did not.

Thus whereas Jehoiakim is rescued by the favour shown to his generation, with Zedekiah it is the other way round, it is his generation that is evil, though he should also have done more to correct them. Like Josephus, this talmudic tradition seems to reflect two aspects of the scriptural tradition, the good and bad sides of Zedekiah, with the former overtaking the latter. Why might Zedekiah be associated with a covenant? Lawrence Schiffman has proposed that 2 Kgs 24:17 provides an appropriate setting with its reference to the king of Babylon making Mattaniah king and changing his name to Zedekiah.¹⁶ Perhaps that event “would have suggested to the author of our text (or to the author[s] of the traditions he inherited) the occasion for the covenant between Zedekiah and God.”¹⁷ But since the name change is done as a sign of superiority, sovereignty and power by the king of Babylon,¹⁸ not by God, the good side of Zedekiah and his association with covenant is perhaps more likely to be based on traditions found in Jeremiah. For Larson, the divine words delivered to Zedekiah concern the Law: “In some way or other, this covenant involves both observing the Torah and causing others to observe it.”¹⁹ Larson has examined three Jeremianic MT passages that connect Zedekiah with the establishment of a covenant.²⁰ Those are Jer 34:8 – 22; 23:5 – 8 (and the parallel in 33:14– 26); and 31:31– 34 (with a parallel in 32:40). First, Jer 34:8 – 22 outlines a covenant between Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem during the siege by the Babylonians by which all Hebrew slaves are proclaimed at liberty; the liberty was short-lived and through Jeremiah God denounces the Jerusalemites for breaking the covenant and such denunciation also seems to involve Zedekiah who will be handed over to his enemies along with his officials (Jer 34:21). Second, in Jer 23:5 – 8 (//33:14– 26) judgment is decreed against Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim and Jehoiakin, but no mention is made of Zedekiah; instead, the text declares:

 Schiffman in Larson, Schiffman, and Strugnell, “. QText mentioning Zedekiah,”  – . One supposes that Schiffman also has in mind the change of Abram’s name to Abraham as suggestive of such a covenantal setting.  Larson, Schiffman, and Strugnell, “. QText mentioning Zedekiah,” . Pesiq. R.  (b) has Zedekiah change his own name.  As noted, e. g., by Yairah Amit, In Praise of Editing in the Hebrew Bible: Collected Essays in Retrospect, Hebrew Bible Monographs  (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, ), .  Larson, “Q and the Angelic Rehabilitation of King Zedekiah,” .  Ibid.,  – .


George J. Brooke

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jer 23:5 – 6)²¹

By understanding the future king’s name as a play on Zedekiah, and by noting that the parallel text speaks of the unbreakable covenant with David, it seems as if there is an understanding in both passages of the renewed Davidic covenant whether that reverberates negatively against Zedekiah (e. g., through the reversal of the elements of his name) or positively in terms of his vindication; and, furthermore, as Larson points out,²² Jer 23:7– 8 recall the Exodus from Egypt which would fit neatly with the content of 4Q470 fragment 3. Third, in Jer 31:31– 34 there is declaration of the new covenant that will be written on the heart. According to Jer 31:1 the oracular setting is “on that day,” a phrase also used in 4Q470 1, 5; and the new covenant is also contrasted with that of the Exodus (Jer 31:32). Larson’s preference seems to be to set 4Q470 against the second pair of passages but he also suggestively notes that the author of the tradition rehearsed in 4Q470 might have combined the second and third covenantal traditions, since both are set in the future. I am inclined to think that it was indeed the case that both covenants were closely associated with one another. The text of Jeremiah implies as much not just in terms of the temporal setting of the covenant making, but also through the presence in both contexts of “the house of Israel” and “the house of Judah”²³ (Jer 31:31; 33:14), as well as the over the shoulder contrasts in both passages with the Exodus (Jer 23:7; 31:32).²⁴ Furthermore, the “abode of righteousness” (Jer 31:23) echoes “the Lord is our righteousness” (Jer 23:6) of the Davidic covenant passage.²⁵ The presence of both covenantal tra Qimron, The Hebrew Writings, Volume Three, , has noted that Jer :– seems to lie behind the references to Zedekiah in Q frg. ; he considers it to have messianic overtones as also in Q frg.  line .  Ibid., .  As noted by several modern commentators though without drawing out the implications of the observation; see, e. g., Gerald L. Keown, Pamela J. Scalise, and Thomas G. Smothers, Jeremiah  – , Word Biblical Commentary  (Dallas: Word Books, ),  (Scalise prepared the sections on Jer  – ).  The similarities between both traditions which are each represented in duplicates is a good example to my mind of what has been described as redaction as inner-biblical reception; see, Konrad Schmid, The Old Testament: A Literary History (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ; German original ), .  In an extensive comment on Jer :, William L. Holladay, for one, makes no reference to this echo: William L. Holladay, Jeremiah : A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah Chapters  – , Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ),  – .

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ditions in sectarian compositions found in the Qumran caves strongly indicates that they could be taken together.²⁶ Even if only one tradition is given priority as backdrop to 4Q470, it is clear in that composition that Zedekiah is associated with the making of covenant and ensuring the performance of its obligations. In addition to the Jeremiah traditions, as Larson has argued, the angelic interaction of Michael with Zedekiah is a likely feature of Zedekiah’s rehabilitation.²⁷ The link with Jeremiah traditions was also hinted at by John Strugnell, as Larson has indicated.²⁸ In particular, apparently he wondered about associating the fragments of 4Q470 with those of 4Q387 (the Apocryphon of Jeremiah C), because of strong similarities in their script. The parallels between the two compositions are not developed by Larson, but they have been considered in more detail by Kipp Davis.²⁹ Davis has noted three matters of possible significance. First, both 4Q470 and Apocryphon of Jeremiah C “have preserved content from narrative descriptions of the exodus and wilderness periods which feature the mention of Qadesh Barnea”³⁰ (4Q470 3 7; 4Q389 2 4). For Davis Qadesh Barnea appears “to stand in both texts as a symbolic divider between the recipients of the Sinai covenant and the more favoured generation that is featured in the delivery of the Deuteronomic covenant, and would go on to take possession of the land.”³¹ And as Davis further points out in the two re-uses of the tradition there is an implicit comparison between the recipients of the Sinai covenant and those who should be concerned with the new covenant, probably also implying a distinction between covenant insiders and outsiders. Second, Davis has argued that in the Apocryphon of Jeremiah C “the Babylonian Jewish community receives a fairly sympathetic treatment that later served to establish their legitimacy as the ideal recipients of Jeremiah’s covenant stipulations (4Q385a 18 i 9 – 11).”³² Perhaps a similar positive perspective is to be discerned behind the Zedekiah and covenant language of 4Q470. Third, as in several other compositions, mostly sectarian ones (the Damascus Document; the Hodayot; Catena A–B), the use of Jeremiah traditions enhances the authority of what is being portrayed. The juxtaposition of various compositions reveals a trajectory of Jeremianic influence.

 E. g., new covenant in CD :; :; : – ; :; Davidic renewal in Q : – .  Larson, “Q and the Angelic Rehabilitation of King Zedekiah,” DSD  ():  – .  Ibid., .  Kipp Davis, The Cave  Apocryphon of Jeremiah and the Qumran Jeremianic Traditions: Prophetic Persona and the Construction of Community Identity, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .


George J. Brooke

The interpretation of Zedekiah in 4Q470 has focussed especially on the character of the covenant with which he is associated. Larson has investigated this through the close reading of Jeremiah and Davis has developed Larson’s approach with the tracing of some elements of the tradition even into sectarian compositions; Nitzan, on the other hand, has set the whole matter in the much wider context of the literature of the Second Temple period. Nitzan has argued especially that in such a wider context, 4Q470 seems to be stressing the role of the royal leader over against any priestly interpreter in causing the performance of all the Law such that the covenant proclaimed by Jeremiah will indeed not be breached in the eschatological period as the covenant between God and Israel had been in the past.³³ Although there is indeed recognition that the covenant of 4Q470 involves some kind of contrast with the covenant at Sinai after the Exodus, commentators on 4Q470 have not sought to illuminate Zedekiah’s covenant by closer consideration of the other occurrences of Zedekiah in the scrolls found at Qumran. I think that there is more to be said that pays attention to the periodisation of history that is also implied in the other references to Zedekiah. The references to the periodisation of history occur notably in the single fragment assigned to 4Q247, the so-called Pesher on the Apocalypse of Weeks, “written in an early Herodian bookhand.”³⁴ In this fragment there is a single reference to Zedekiah. And there is a similar temporal reference to Zedekiah in 4Q398 (MMT) fragment 1, line 3. Larson dismissed those two references in interpreting 4Q470 because it seemed to him as if the sole reason for referring to Zedekiah in 4Q247 and 4Q398 was to date to his reign the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.³⁵ The text of the single fragment assigned to 4Q247 reads as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

A period en]graved [in the heavenly tablets And after it shall co]me the fif[th] week [and at its end years eighty and]four hundred Solo[mon shall build the Temple Zede]kiah king of Judah [shall go into exile ]Sons of Levi and the people of the lan[d ]ki[ng] of Kittim[ ] [³⁶

 Nitzan, “Q in Light of the Tradition of the Renewal of the Covenant between God and Israel,”  – .  Ada Yardeni, “. QPesher on the Apocalypse of Weeks,” in Qumran Cave .XXVI: Cryptic Texts and Miscellanea, Part , ed. in consultation with James C. VanderKam and Monica Brady, DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ), .  Larson, “Q and the Angelic Rehabilitation of King Zedekiah,”  – .  M. Broshi, “. QPesher on the Apocalypse of Weeks,” in Qumran Cave .XXVI: Cryptic Texts and Miscellanea, Part , .

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As can readily be seen, there are several substantial restorations here which Magen Broshi, the principal editor of the manuscript, justifies in his commentary. In relation to 4Q247 in particular it is worth outlining the ten weeks as envisaged in the tradition preserved in the Apocalypse of Weeks (1 En. 93:1– 10; 91:11– 17); they appear in their correct order in the surviving Aramaic fragments of the Apocalypse. They run (1) from creation until Enoch; (2) until Noah; (3) until Abraham; (4) until Sinai; (5) until the building of the first temple; (6) until the destruction of the first temple; (7) until the time of the author; (8 – 10) from the time of the author onwards. 4Q247 seems to mention weeks five, six and seven: “the fifth we[ek]” is preserved in line 2; Solomon is mentioned in line 3; and Zedekiah in line 4. It seems as if the periods in 4Q247 are those of the fifth and sixth weeks according to the scheme of the Apocalypse of Weeks. Broshi even wonders whether the blindness at the end of the sixth week in 1 En. 93:8, at the time when “a certain man shall ascend,” is a characterization of the period through the blinding of Zedekiah: “Has the author of 1 Enoch seen the blindness of this wretched king as symbolic?”³⁷ What emerges as significant in the light of 4Q470 is the way that the periodisation of history can be associated with covenantal ideology that runs from Noah to Abraham to Moses to David/Solomon, and finally to Zedekiah. A few comments on the significance of Solomon are required, since it was not Solomon but his father David who was in receipt of the covenant promise. Most significantly it needs to be acknowledged that explicit covenant language is absent from 2 Sam 7 although Nathan’s oracle is replete with covenantal terminology, most notably in the promise made to David about Solomon, “I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul” (2 Sam 7:15 LXX). For David only in the rehearsal of David’s final oracle is the covenant mentioned: “Is not my house like this with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure” (2 Sam 23:5). However, the promises to David are described in covenantal terms by Solomon in 2 Kgs 8 and in the Books of Chronicles, and Solomon is seen as the fulfilment of the covenant promises both in his building of the temple and in his succession. In 2 Kgs 8 Solomon prays: O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and this day fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, “There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look

 Ibid., .


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to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.” Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have promised to your servant my father David. (2 Kgs 8:23 – 26)

An intriguing point to notice is that the language of the prayer recalls Jer 33:17 rather than the oracle of Nathan in 2 Sam 7. What was promised to David is confirmed by Solomon. Perhaps we can note that for the redactors of the Deuteronomistic History Solomon is as much a marker of the Davidic covenant as David himself. It seems to me that this association of periodisation and covenant, not periodisation alone, is also present in Miqsat Ma‘aśeh Ha-Torah, which contains the fourth and final reference to Zedekiah that is extant in the scrolls found in the caves at and near Qumran. Both features, periodisation and covenant, are present in the concluding section of MMT as extant in the papyrus manuscript 4Q398 (MMTe).³⁸ The historical periodisation is mentioned explicitly in the so-called epilogue. There could be several corollaries to perceiving that the mention of the period from Solomon to Zedekiah as the period of divine curses is connected to how both figures are themselves linked with covenant promises; they do not just give us a time frame but also a covenantal inclusio. According to the principal editors the relevant text of 4Q398 fragments 11– 13 reads as follows:³⁹ 18. [the blessings have (already) befallen in …] in the days of Solomon the son of David. And the curses 19. [that] have (already) befallen from the days of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and up to when Jerusalem and Zedekiah King of Judah went into captivity 20. that He will bring them […]. And we know that some of the blessings and the curses have (already) been fulfilled 21. as it is written in the bo[ok of Mo]ses. And this is at the end of days when they will return to Isra[el]

 In her distributed descriptions of the palaeography of the various manuscript copies of MMT in the principal edition Ada Yardeni suggests “that the script of Q belongs to the period of transition from the Hasmonean to the Herodian styles” of semi-cursive script: Qumran Cave .V: Miqsat Ma‘aśe Ha-Torah, DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ), .  Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell, Qumran Cave .V: Miqsat Ma‘aśe Ha-Torah, DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – ; the line numbers derive from a reconstructed composite text over which there continues to be some dispute. For a careful assessment of Q, see Hanne von Weissenberg, QMMT: Reevaluating the Text, Function, and the Meaning of the Epilogue, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; and for an evaluation of the placement of Q frgs.  –  in the composite text see her pp.  – .

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Qimron and Strugnell comment on line 18: From the extant text in ll. 18 – 21 we learn that the writer believes that some of the blessings of Deuteronomy were fulfilled in the days of Solomon, and that some of the curses were fulfilled in the time of the kings of Judah and Israel. At the end of days, however, the blessings will return, and (if our reconstruction and interpretation of ll. 21– 22 are correct) they will last forever and will not be cancelled. The curses will fall upon the wicked and exterminate them. Note, however, that David’s days are not mentioned explicitly in the extant text.⁴⁰

That brief comment shows that the editors are fully aware that the reader might have expected a reference to David but Solomon is named instead. However, they make nothing of the explicit mention of Zedekiah known from the other scrolls cited above in this paper and so suppose that the text offers a straightforward negative reference to him as a marker of a period of curses. Hanne von Weissenberg has reconsidered the placement of fragments 11– 13 in the composite text of the epilogue and for material reasons she has proposed that the contents of the fragments belong at the opening of the epilogue providing an “admonition with historical-theological references creating the appropriate theological framework for an understanding of the epilogue. In light of this opening section, made up by fragments 4Q398 11– 13, the message of the following scriptural citations and their interpretation unfolds clearly.”⁴¹ Although for von Weissenberg 4Q398 frgs. 11– 13 are primarily concerned with historical demarcation that contrasts a period of blessing under Solomon with a period of curse and disaster thereafter, she also reads the text sensing that “one of the main themes or subjects of the epilogue is repentance and covenant faithfulness. The historical persons and events are used to highlight this particular theological emphasis of the author/redactor.”⁴² And although she acknowledges that blessings and curses function as an affirmation of covenantal obligations, she does not attempt to link Solomon or Zedekiah more explicitly with specific covenantal ideology. Much has been written on covenant in the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially in the sectarian compositions, but seldom is anything mentioned about the periodisation of history that seems to accompany this covenant ideology, not as a sectarian marker but as an indication of how an ideology current in Second Temple Judaism is taken up and made specific to sectarian purposes through the prom-

 Ibid., .  Von Weissenberg, ibid., .  Ibid., .


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ulgation and attention to the new covenant that is a community hallmark.⁴³ Thus I am proposing that all four references to Zedekiah in the three scroll fragments from the Qumran caves should be taken as indicative of a combined interest in and concern with a periodisation of history that in large measure is aligned with the various iterations of God’s covenant first with humanity and then with Israel and its royal representatives.

3 Periodisation and Covenant So far I have provided a brief review of the passages in the scrolls from the Qumran caves that mention Zedekiah. I have argued that those passages give us access to a perspective in which much of the past is put into periods that are characterized by five particular covenants involving key figures: Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon, and Zedekiah. The interrelationship of period and covenant is sufficiently intimate that it is not easy to work out whether the sequence of covenants is controlling the form of the historiography or the historiography controlling or at least encouraging the emphasis on covenant.⁴⁴

 See, e. g., in date order, Ed P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (London: SCM Press, ),  – ; Ellen J. Christiansen, The Covenant in Judaism and Paul: A Study of Ritual Boundaries as Identity Markers, AGJU  (Leiden: Brill, ); Alex R. G. Deasley, The Shape of Qumran Theology (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, ),  – ; James C. VanderKam, “Covenant,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (New York: Oxford University Press, ),  – ; Craig A. Evans, “Covenant in the Qumran Literature,” in The Concept of the Covenant in the Second Temple Period, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Jacqueline C.R. de Roo, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; Martin G. Abegg, Jr., “The Covenant of the Qumran Sectarians,” ibid.,  – ; Lawrence H. Schiffman, “The Concept of Covenant in the Qumran Scrolls and Rabbinic Literature,” in The Idea of Biblical Interpretation: Essays in Honor of James L. Kugel, ed. Hindy Najman and Judith H. Newman, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; Thomas R. Blanton IV, Constructing a New Covenant: Discursive Strategies in the Damascus Document and Second Corinthians, WUNT / (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ),  – ; Brent A. Strawn, “bryt berît,” in Theologisches Wörterbuch zu den Qumrantexten Band I, ed. Heinz-Josef Fabry and Ulrich Dahmen (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag, ),  – .  On historiography in the scrolls see: Geza Vermes, “Historiographical Elements in the Qumran Writings: A Synopsis of Textual Evidence,” JJS  ():  – ; George J. Brooke, “Types of Historiography in the Qumran Scrolls,” in Ancient and Modern Scriptural Historiography– L’Historiographie biblique, ancienne et moderne, ed. George J. Brooke and Thomas Römer, BETL  (Leuven: Peeters/University Press, ),  – ; reprinted in idem, Reading the Dead Sea Scrolls: Essays in Method, SBLEJL  (Atlanta: SBL, ),  – ; John J. Collins, “Historiography in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” DSD  ():  – .

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I think that there is some confirmation that the link between periodisation and covenant is more widespread than generally thought when comparison is made with the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. For Matthew there are three sets of fourteen generations between Abraham and Jesus. Matt 1:17 describes the scheme: “so all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.” Zedekiah is not mentioned by name in the genealogy because Jesus’s lineage is traced from Josiah through Jechoniah not Zedekiah, but the reference to the deportation to Babylon indicates an awareness of the circumstances of Zedekiah’s reign, and something covenantal might be implied as for Abraham and David. For Luke the genealogy contains many different names; there are seventyseven of them which when arranged as weeks, provide eleven weeks of generations.⁴⁵ Enoch concludes the first week; Shelah, of the time of the promulgation of the Noachide law, the second; Abraham the third; Admin of the generation of Sinai the fourth; David the fifth; Joseph, at the time of the destruction of the first temple, the sixth; Jesus, a namesake, the significant seventh; Salathiel the eighth; Mattathias the ninth; Joseph, another namesake, the tenth; and Jesus the eleventh. Five of the weeks of generations are delimited by covenantal moments. For Luke, it is Jesus who inaugurates the new covenant (Luke 22:20).

4 Some Allusions to Jeremiah, Zedekiah, and Covenant By way of closing this short study, I would like to reconsider briefly two short passages from amongst the sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls to indicate that the combination of ideas outlined in this paper might have had some wider significance, even if not all the elements were always explicitly named as such. To begin with let us take another look at the priestly blessing that is used in the Rule of the Community 2:2– 4 to close the covenant ceremony. The Aaronic benediction of Num 6:24– 26 is expanded and adapted as follows: … May he bless you with all good (Deut 26:11) and keep you from all evil (Ps 121:7). May he enlighten your heart with life-giving wisdom (cf. Prov 16:22), and grace you with eternal

 The most stimulating and astute interpretation of the Enochic character of the Lukan genealogy is by Richard J. Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, ),  – .


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knowledge (cf. Jer 31:31– 34). May he raise his merciful face towards you for everlasting peace (cf. Ps 105, 106, 136 refrain).

In my opinion the expansions in this blessing are not arbitrary introductions of further scriptural phraseology; rather they are deliberate lexical choices. Some of them resonate with cultic passages. For example, perhaps surprisingly, “with all good” occurs in only one place in the whole of the Hebrew Bible, in Deut 26:11.⁴⁶ Deut 26:1– 11 is widely understood to be reflecting on the presentation of the firstfruits at the Feast of Weeks, the very time when the celebration of the covenant is marked by the sectarians of the Rule of the Community. The second pair of poetic stichoi are expanded with phraseology adapted for its new context from Prov 16:22 and Jer 31:31– 34—in fact the two additional passages are probably put together because they share a concern for the “heart” with the latter passage talking of the Law that is to be written on the heart, as we have noted earlier in this essay. It seems to me no accident that the expansion here has echoes of the new covenant section of Jeremiah. Then the third part of the blessing is reduced to a single clause, but expanded in two places with references to the refrain of several psalms, most obviously Ps 105, 106 and 136; the language is again moved closer to covenant terminology with attention to “covenant love” (hesed) and peace. There is no mention of any of the figures that we have seen to be associated with covenant at various points in the periodised history of Israel; but there is covenant language from Sinai (hesed), from David (shalom), and from Jeremiah (heart and knowledge). The blessing confirms through its multiple adaptations of Num 6 the significance of the remembrance of the covenant and its renewal for those taking part in what was probably an annual ritual performance by the community. The whole significance of covenant in each of its iterations is to be appropriated by those who stand under the authority of this priestly blessing and who avoid the Levitical curse. And second, the Commentary on Genesis A is a first century bce composite selection of paraphrases and comments on various passages of Genesis from Gen 6 to 49. In the last two columns there is explicit pesher commentary on the blessings of Jacob, including that on Judah. 4Q252 5:1– 7 reads as follows: “The Sceptre shall not depart from the tribe of Judah (49:10).⁴⁷ Whenever Israel rules, there shall not fail to be a descendant of David upon the throne (Jer 33:17). For the ruler’s staff is the covenant of kingship, and the clans of Israel are the divisions until the messiah of right Is this the “good” that is hoped for in the salutation of MMT: “for your good and that of Israel”?  On the re-use of Gen : –  in Zech  see Joseph Blenkinsopp, David Remembered: Kingship and National Identity in Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ),  – .

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eousness comes, the Branch of David. For to him and his seed is granted the covenant of kingship over his people for everlasting generations which is to keep … the Law with the men of the community …” The recollection of Gen 49 as significant for the development of messianic thought is not new in this work. However, the commentary makes neat use of material that recalls Davidic covenant ideology as that was adapted in the tradition of Jeremiah. And for the more specific purposes of this essay, it is important to note that the designation “messiah of righteousness” is a play upon the name of Zedekiah, the covenant king who features more than once in the text of Jeremiah.

5 Conclusion There is indeed a need to appreciate that there is some considerable ambiguity in the traditions that survive about Zedekiah. In the traditions that survive he is sometimes depicted negatively, sometimes he seems to be on the road to rehabilitation. Second, Zedekiah is associated with covenant, and the character of that covenant needs to be disclosed. It is not impossible that it is to be understood as a combination of two covenants mentioned in Jeremiah, one that is explicitly Davidic, and one that is written on the heart. And third, the juxtaposition of Zedekiah with covenant in a particular way is an indication of one form of ancient Jewish historiography in which periods of history are linked with covenant formation, a link that this paper has tried to open up in an initial exploratory fashion.

George J. Brooke and Hindy Najman

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives¹ 1 Introduction: Dethroning and Enthroning It is seldom the case that historians of the ancient world can trace continuities in any straightforward way. That applies equally to how archaeological remains might be interpreted, as well as to how surviving textual evidence might indicate the history of ideas. In this essay, writing from our own areas of major interest and competence, we will offer some interpretations of the figure of David from the Second Temple period and beyond. These interpretations will represent snapshots of the figure of David in a number of different guises or disguises, different costumes. It is clear that the figure of David persisted throughout our chosen period, but not always with the prominence that some have assumed, nor necessarily in the ways that might strike some today as the most obvious. As you read, you might like to keep in mind the great statue of David by Michelangelo to be seen in the Accademia in Florence and in replica in the square outside the Palazzo della Signoria. What does that statue signify? Who is this David? Originally commissioned to be one of a sequence of prophets on the roofline on the east end of the Duomo, Florence’s Cathedral, Michelangelo determined to make a different point. His David is neither prophet nor a great king with sovereign power and covenant promise, but the young shepherd boy about to face Goliath. And yet his 17-foot height and immense muscularity reflects the sculptor at play challenging the viewers’ notions of strength and weakness. As an ideological marker for early 16th century Florence this David indicates that strengthened with divine aid (and not a little working out in the health club) the smaller city state and its concerns for civil liberties will be an overpowering match for more dominant authoritarian regimes and economies in Rome, Venice, and elsewhere—and his uncircumcised status indicates that the covenant with

 This essay was originally presented as the  Cristol Lecture at Brite Divinity School on th May  as part of the programme of the symposium “On Prophets, Warriors, and Kings: Former and Latter Prophets through the Eyes of their Interpreters.” The format of the lecture has been largely retained, so there are no thoroughgoing annotations. Both authors take responsibility for the Introduction and Conclusion, while Hindy Najman is primarily responsible for section  and George Brooke for section .


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which he is to be typologically associated is not the Abrahamic one. This David is an ideological marker of state and status. In a similar way we will attempt to draw out something of the diversity of ideas and ideologies that surrounded the figure of David in the Second Temple period as we work with the leading categories of David dethroned and Messiah enthroned.²

2 The Transformation of David into Poet and Prophet³ It is most appropriate to begin by distinguishing two sorts of questions one may ask about biblical figures such as King David. The first sort of question asks: Who was David? What do we know about his historicity? What do we know about his life and historical context in light of biblical texts, non-biblical scriptures, and extra-biblical evidence? The second sort of question asks: Who did David be-

 The literature on the reception and use of David in the Second Temple period is extensive. In addition to the study by Serge Frolov in the present collection, see, inter alia, Joseph Blenkinsopp, David Remembered: Kingship and National Identity in Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ); Diana V. Edelman, “David in Israelite Social Memory,” in Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods: Social Memory and Imagination, ed. Diana V. Edelman and Ehud Ben Zvi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ),  –  (which considers Davidic kingship and piety); Jacob L. Wright, David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory (New York: Cambridge University Press, ), esp. chs.  – .  Amongst key studies for this section, see, for example, James L. Kugel, “David the Prophet,” In Poetry and Prophecy: the Beginnings of a Literary Tradition, ed. James L. Kugel (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, ),  – , and his introduction to that volume entitled, “Poets and Prophets: an Overview” (ibid.,  – ). See also Eva Mroczek, “The Hegemony of the Biblical in the Study of Second Temple Literature,” JAJ  ():  –  (esp.  –  on Second Temple period Davidic discourse); idem, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (New York: Oxford University Press, ), chs.  and . In addition, see her two earlier essays on David and the Psalms, “Moses, David, and Scribal Revelation: Preservation and Renewal in Second Temple Jewish Textual Traditions,” in The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity, ed. George J. Brooke, Hindy Najman, and Loren Stuckenbruck, Themes in Biblical Narrative  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; idem, “A Peg To Hang on: Metaphor, Ancestral Merit, and the Midrashic Relationship of David and Solomon,” in Vixens Disturbing Vineyards: Embarrassment and Embracement of Scriptures: Festschrift in Honor of Harry Fox, ed. Tzemah Yoreh et al. (Boston: Academic Studies Press, ),  – . See also, for the hermeneutical significance of the role of David as prophet in some sections of the New Testament, Benjamin Sargent, David Being a Prophet: The Contingency of Scripture upon History in the New Testament, BZNW  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ).

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come? How has he been imagined and re-imagined in order to serve the interests of scriptural writers, readers and communities in antiquity and beyond?⁴ The focus in this essay is on questions of the second kind, with special attention to the Second Temple period, as it is represented both in the familiar texts that would eventually be included in the biblical canon, and in some less familiar texts that we have been fortunate enough to find among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Throughout this literature, we find reworkings, expansions, and augmentations of biblical narratives and figures. Those are not attempts to replace earlier texts. Nor is there anything fraudulent or nefarious about those re-imaginings. On the contrary, continued re-imagining of figures such as David shows the continued vitality of scriptural traditions throughout the Second Temple period and beyond. It demonstrates both continuing attention to earlier traditions and ongoing participation in those traditions, hence in Israel’s complex life with God. When we look back at these developing traditions, we need to prepare ourselves to be surprised. The aspects of David on which we are accustomed to place emphasis—whether because of interests taken in David within Christianity or within rabbinic Judaism—may not be features on which earlier communities focused. In particular, the close connection that both Jews and Christians are apt to draw between David and the messianic redeemer appears very explicitly only late in the Second Temple period. What aspects of David did interest communities during this time? And, we may ask, why these aspects? The following brief comments will focus on three features: David as inspired man of God, poet, and scribe; David as prophet of a Temple that he did not see; and David as penitent. Each of these features is found in familiar biblical texts, but each is also expanded and developed in Second Temple traditions recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

2.1 David as Inspired Man of God, Poet, and Scribe In familiar biblical passages, David is celebrated as a divinely inspired poet. The Lord is with him, and he can calm Saul when the evil spirit comes upon him:

 On the notion of personality in ancient Jewish texts and discourse tied to a founder see Hindy Najman, Seconding Sinai: The Development of Mosaic Discourse in Second Temple Judaism, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ) and more recently, Najman’s Losing the Temple and Recovering the Future: An Analysis of  Ezra (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), esp. ch. .


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One of the attendants spoke up, ‘I have observed a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skilled in music; he is a stalwart fellow and a warrior, sensible in speech, and handsome in appearance, and the Lord is with him.’ … Whenever the [evil] spirit came upon Saul, David would take the lyre and play it; Saul would find relief and feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him (1 Sam 16:18, 23).

David is the favourite of the songs of Israel, through whom the spirit of the Lord has spoken (2 Sam 23:1– 7): These are the last words of David: The utterance of David son of Jesse, The utterance of the man set on high, The anointed one of the God of Jacob, The favorite of the songs of Israel: The spirit of the Lord has spoken through me, His message is on my tongue; The God of Israel has spoken, The Rock of Israel has said concerning me: “He who rules men justly, He who rules in awe of God Is like the light of morning at sunrise, A morning without clouds— Through sunshine and rain [Bringing] vegetation out of the earth.” Is not my House established before God? For He has granted me an eternal pact, Drawn up in full and secured. Will he not cause all my success And [my] every desire to blossom? But the wicked shall all Be raked aside like thorns; For no one will take them in his hand. Whoever touches them Must arm himself with iron And the shaft of a spear; And they must be burned up on the spot.

Of course, 72 compositions are ascribed to him in the book of Psalms, while he is also said in 1 Chr 16:1 to have commissioned songs of praise from Asaph and his associates. This aspect of David’s life is emphasized in Ben Sira, a text preserved in Greek translation and re-discovered in Hebrew among the Qumran and Masada fragments and the Cairo Geniza (Sir 47:8 – 11):

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives


In every deed of his he gave acknowledgement to the Holy One, the Most High, with a word of glory; with his whole heart he sang hymns, and he loved him who made him. He established harp-singers before the altar also to make sweet melodies with their ringing sounds, [and every day they will praise with their songs.] He gave dignity at the feasts, and he arranged seasons until completion, when they were praising his holy name, and from early morning the holy precinct was resounding. The Lord took away his sins, and he exalted his horn forever, and he gave him a covenant of kings and a throne of glory in Israel.⁵

Other passages found in the Scrolls amplify the point (11QPsa 27:2 – 11): And David, son of Jesse, was wise, and a light like the light of the sun, /and/ learned, and discerning, and perfect in all his paths before God and men. And YHWH gave him a discerning and enlightened spirit. And he wrote psalms: three thousand six hundred; and songs to be sung before the altar over the perpetual offering of every day, for all the days of the year: three hundred and sixty-four; and for the Sabbath offerings: fifty-two songs; and for the offerings of the first days of the months, and for all the days of the festivals, and for the of Atonement: thirty songs. And all the songs which he spoke were four hundred and forty-six. And songs to perform over the possessed: four. The total was four thousand and fifty. All these he spoke through (the spirit of) prophecy which had been given to him from before the Most High.⁶

Here David becomes not only a poet, but a scribe—perhaps reflecting an increased emphasis on the writtenness of authoritative texts in the Second Temple period. And divine inspiration has become full-blown prophecy, a designation that had not been used, so far as we know, in earlier texts. Most striking of all is the number of David’s compositions—4,050 in total—which far exceeds those with which we are otherwise acquainted.

2.2 David as Prophet of a Temple that He Did Not See Here we also find the second feature which it is important to recall. In Sir 47:9 David’s songs were to be sung before the altar, while in 11QPsa, they were to be sung over the daily sacrifice and other offerings. David was closely associated with service in the Temple—which, however, was only built by his son after his death. This too has familiar roots. In 1 Chr 28:11– 19, David is said to have given Solomon the plans

 Benjamin G. Wright, “Sirach,” in A New English Translation of the Septuagint, ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), .  DSSSE :.


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for the Temple, while in 2 Chr 9:14, he is said to have established “the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites for their watches.” Note, however, that David was not permitted to build the Temple that he had imagined (1 Chr 22:7– 8): David said to Solomon, “My son, I wanted to build a House for the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and fought great battles; you shall not build a House for My name for you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight’.”

2.3 David as Penitent That association with the Temple is connected to the third feature of David: his sin and repentance. Again, it is a theme with roots in familiar passages (Ps 51:1– 6): For the leader. A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had come to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, as befits Your faithfulness; in keeping with Your abundant compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity, and purify me of my sin; for I recognize my transgressions, and am ever conscious of my sin. Against You alone have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are just in Your sentence, and right in Your judgment.

However, the Damascus Document, a text found both at Qumran and, intriguingly, in the Cairo Genizah, makes explicit the connection between David’s specific role in the killing of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, and his inability to complete his plan to build the Temple: “And David’s deeds were praised, except for Uriah’s blood, and God forgave him those …” (CD 5:5 – 6). It was the blood of Uriah, unnamed in 1 Chr 22, that rendered David ineligible to build the Temple. In other respects, however, David’s repentance was effective. In the continuation of the passage cited above from Ben Sira (Sir 47:11) we are told that “The Lord took away his sins, and he exalted his horn forever, and he gave him a covenant of kings and a throne of glory in Israel.” In another text found in a cave at Qumran, David has become a symbol of forgiveness for others: “[forgiv]en (their) sins. Remember David, who was a man of the pious ones, [and] he, too, [was] freed from the many afflictions and was forgiven” (4QMMTe [4Q398]14 ii 1– 2). In the Second Temple texts that are cited here, no mention is made of the association that we might make between David’s status as anointed king and

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives


his possible relation to the messiah. Instead, when we set aside our own predilections and try to see David through the eyes of the communities which participated in these vital traditions, we find David the prophetic poet; David the institutor of Temple order before there was an actual Temple; and David the sinner, who repents and is forgiven for all his sins, save one—the one that bars him from building the Temple. No text draws all these three features together. But, if we permit ourselves to connect them, what comes into view is a David with whom some Second Temple Jews could easily identify in their own quest for perfection in the eyes of God. For some Second Temple Jews, as we see in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Second Temple was no replacement for the First, and its inadequacy was so great that some retreated to the desert in the hope of a more perfect form of service. Like David, they were excluded from the Temple and they could ascribe this exclusion to sin. But, like David again, they could serve God through song and they could hope for forgiveness. That Second Temple period reading of the figure of David persists into later forms of Judaism as is apparent in the following citation from the Babylonian Talmud where David is awake with the angels at midnight—a passage which combines David as exemplary sage and liturgist who is also inspired (b. Ber. 3b): But did David rise at midnight? [Surely] he rose with the evening dusk? For it is written: I rose with the neshef and cried. And how do you know that this word neshef means the evening? It is written: In the neshef, in the evening of the day, in the blackness of night and the darkness!—R. Oshaia, in the name of R. Aha, replies: David said: Midnight never passed me by in my sleep. R. Zera says: Till midnight he used to slumber like a horse, from thence on he rose with the energy of a lion. R. Ashi says: Till midnight he studied the Torah, from thence on he recited songs and praises. But does neshef mean the evening? Surely neshef means the morning? For it is written: And David slew them from the “neshef” to the evening ‘ereb of the next day, and does not this mean, from the “morning dawn” to the evening?—No. [It means:] from the [one] eventide to the [next] eventide. If so, let him write: From neshef to neshef, or from ‘ereb to ‘ereb?—Rather, said Raba: There are two kinds of neshef: [the morning neshef], when the evening disappears [nashaf] and the morning arrives, [and the evening neshef], when the day disappears [nashaf] and the evening arrives. But did David know the exact time of midnight? Even our teacher Moses did not know it! For it is written: About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt. Why “about midnight”? Shall we say that the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: “About midnight”? Can there be any doubt in the mind of God? Hence we must say that God told him “at midnight,” and he came and said: “About midnight.” Hence he [Moses] was in doubt; can David then have known it?—David had a sign. For so said R. Aha b. Bizana in the name of R. Simeon the Pious: A harp was hanging above David’s bed. As soon as midnight ar-


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rived, a North wind came and blew upon it and it played of itself. He arose immediately and studied the Torah till the break of dawn.⁷

3 The Transformation of David from Biblical King into a Messianic Ideology⁸ There are three things to consider as we think about the transformation of David from the biblical king into playing some kind of role in messianic ideology. The first briefly concerns the range of messianic terminology in use in Judaism in the late Second Temple period. The second is a closer look at the sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls from the eleven caves at and near Qumran. The third requires us to open once again the New Testament. In several ways these three matters are interlocked and overlap with one another, indeed inform one another in important ways.

3.1 The Limited Use of David in the Wide Range of Messianic Ideology Two things need to be taken away from this sub-section of the essay: scope and absence. First, there is indeed some concern amongst Jews from the third century BCE onwards with putting their aspirations, not least their political aspirations, into words through the use of figures who were often projected into the future. The enormous range and scope of such figures has given rise to shelves full of learned books on the traditions lying behind them and the expectations that they represent. Usually divided between heavenly and earthly figures with just a very few who might belong in both categories, they have a variety of personal names, role designations, and ciphers of agency. Just one partially extant composition gives some indication of what was available and being used. In 4Q246, an Aramaic composition, probably from the first half of the second cen Trans. Maurice Simon, Berakoth: Translated into English with Notes, Glossary and Indices (London: Soncino Press, ), .  Amongst many studies, note might be taken of Jacob Neusner, William S. Green, and Ernest Frerichs, eds., Judaisms and their Messiahs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ); James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ); Kenneth E. Pomykala, The Davidic Tradition in Early Judaism: Its History and Significance for Messianism, SBLEJL  (Atlanta: Scholars Press, ); William Horbury, Messianism among Jews and Christians: Twelve Biblical and Historical Studies (London: T&T Clark, ).

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives


tury BCE, a Daniel-like figure is before a foreign king who seems perturbed by a vision he has had. The interpreter declares that the figure of the vision will be great over the earth […] they [will d]o, and all will serve [… gr]eat will he be called and he will be designated by his name. He will be called son of God, and they will call him son of the Most High. Like the sparks that you saw, so will their kingdom be; they will rule several year[s] over the earth and crush everything; a people will crush another people, and a province another provi[n]ce.⁹

Though some have disputed the positive identification of the figure here, it is likely that the reference is indeed to an eschatological dynast. Second, there is intriguingly a relative absence of the figure of David amongst such a breadth of eschatological expectations; there is nothing Davidic in the text just cited, just as there is no mention of David in works such as those associated with Enoch. Joseph Blenkinsopp has proposed that for the fourth and third centuries BCE the remembrance of David was not widespread.¹⁰ In two literary places the ideology of David was maintained, and only one of those had an explicitly future orientation. In the gradual growth of the book of Zechariah over several generations, it seems as if the school of thought that the visionary represented was increasingly aware of the Davidic dimension of Amos 9, Num 24, and Gen 49 as the oracles developed, perhaps with a poignant sense of Judean lack of political power in face of Persian and Hellenistic rulers. Less future-oriented were the books of Chronicles whose priestly agenda is for portraying any Davidic king very much in his limited and right place under priestly control. It seems as if it is only with the anti-Hasmonean Psalms of Solomon from the second half of the first century BCE that an explicit role for David in an eschatological context emerges: Lord you chose David to be king over Israel, and swore to him about his descendants forever, that his kingdom should not fail before you. But (because of) our sins, sinners rose up against us, they set upon us and drove us out. Those to whom you did not make the promise, they took away from us by force; and they did not glorify your honourable name. With pomp they set up a monarchy because of their arrogance;

 DSSSE : – .  Blenkinsopp, David Remembered, .


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they despoiled the throne of David with arrogant shouting. But you, O God, overthrew them, and uprooted their descendants from the earth.¹¹

Such ideological use of David is apparent in some other contemporary sources to which we now turn.

3.2 The Sectarian Scrolls¹² Opinions vary, but most scholars are happy to acknowledge that the remains of about nine hundred manuscripts have been found in the eleven manuscript-bearing caves at and near Qumran. Of those nine hundred manuscripts about two hundred represent textual forms of books of what we now recognize as the Hebrew Bible, though it is important to remember that some of the books of the Bible were of little significance at the time and other compositions were also considered authoritative by some Jews. Even the Letter of Jude in the New Testament indicates to us that the Book of the Watchers, what now survives as the first part of 1 Enoch, was deemed authoritative by the circle responsible for that letter, which some scholars have argued might well have included those who had been closest to Jesus himself. About five hundred of the manuscripts reflect general Jewish literature of the period, the kinds of things that might have been read and studied by Hillel or formed part of the bedtime reading of Jesus. And about two hundred of the manuscripts contain copies of literary works that have various indications, especially in their technical vocabularies, that indicate that they formed part of the self-expression of the community that many have identified—probably suitably—with the Essenes in some form.

 Robert B. Wright, “Psalms of Solomon,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. by James H. Charlesworth (London: Darton, Longmann & Todd, ), : – .  On the sectarian scrolls and messianism, including Davidic messianism, see especially the key studies of James C. VanderKam, “Messianism in the Scrolls,” in The Community of the Renewed Covenant: The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Eugene Ulrich and James C. VanderKam, Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity Series  (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, ),  – ; Gerbern S. Oegema, Der Gesalbte und sein Volk (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ); idem, The Anointed and His People: Messianic Expectations from the Maccabees to Bar Kochba, JSPSup  (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ); Johannes Zimmermann, Messianische Texte aus Qumran, WUNT / (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ); Géza G. Xeravits, King, Priest, Prophet: Positive Eschatological Protagonists of the Qumran Library, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ); John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: Messianism in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ).

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives


Here is but a single paragraph on the so-called biblical manuscripts. It is noteworthy that the movement who collected those manuscripts together seems to have been operating with “a canon within the canon,” to use a somewhat anachronistic perspective.¹³ They had preferred authoritative works. Chief amongst those were collections of Psalms in various forms. That fact in itself is immensely significant for the better understanding of the role of David as inspired poet. Then there is Deuteronomy; we would not expect to find much to say about David on the basis of that concern, but it is very important that in one composition which was definitely being copied out in the first century BCE, namely the Temple Scroll, there is extensive dependence on Deuteronomy and the passage that is given most extensive and expansive rewriting is the so-called Law of the King in Deut 17:14– 20. The rewriting takes seriously the anti-monarchic thrust of Deut 17 and curtails the power of the king through the influential constitutional exercise of a council of thirty-six (priests, Levites, and lay Israelites in equal numbers); there is not to be any kind of absolute monarchy. Less than a century earlier, a similar composition had publicized priestly authority over that of a young king: the famous Rosetta Stone (196 BCE) puts Ptolemy V Epiphanes (209 – 181 BCE; reigned 204– 181 BCE) firmly in his place—indeed it is not often noted that the languages are ordered first with priestly hieroglyph at the top, then with scribal demotic, and only thirdly with royal Greek. Among other popular books in the collection of scrolls from the Qumran caves are Isaiah, which indeed was read as expressing future hopes, Genesis with its ideological concerns with the Patriarchs, and the books of the Twelve. There are not many copies of the former prophets (the histories), and quite possibly none of the books of Chronicles. Of course, what survives is somewhat accidental, but given that the profile of surviving books largely matches the number of citations of authoritative works in other compositions, it seems appropriate to point out that in general the sectarian ideology was closer to the spirit-filled prophetic David, than to the histories of Davidic kings and rulers.  On the matter of biblical canon see George J. Brooke, “Between Authority and Canon: The Significance of Reworking the Bible for Understanding the Canonical Process,” in Reworking the Bible: Apocryphal and Related Texts at Qumran: Proceedings of a Joint Symposium, ed. Esther G. Chazon, Devorah Dimant, and Ruth A. Clements, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; Eugene Ulrich, “The Bible in the Making: The Scriptures at Qumran,” in idem, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, ),  – ; John J. Collins, “Before the Canon: Scriptures in Second Temple Judaism,” in Old Testament Interpretation: Past, Present and Future: Essays in Honor of Gene M. Tucker, ed. James L. Mays, David L. Petersen, and Kent H. Richards (Nashville: Abingdon, ),  – ; and Timothy H. Lim, “Authoritative Scriptures and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. John J. Collins and Timothy H. Lim (Oxford: Oxford University of Press, ),  – .


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It is worth also having a paragraph on the five hundred manuscripts from the Qumran caves that represent general Jewish literature of the period. Amongst those five hundred manuscripts there are some multiple copies or versions of the same composition, so the number of compositions is considerably less than the number of manuscripts. Nevertheless, two matters are very striking. On the one hand, there are virtually no references to David as king in those compositions, let alone eschatological references; the very fragmentary Text Mentioning Descendants of David (4Q479) might be an exception. There are, however, a handful of references to him, but these are nearly all in some kind of liturgical or apotropaic text: Words of the Luminaries (4Q504) 1– 2 iv 6; 11QPsa (11Q5) 27:2; 28:3, 13, and Apocryphal Psalms (11Q11). On the other hand, there is some interest in the use of the language of sovereignty. That is most notable in the magnificent mystical composition, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice.¹⁴ Although the sectarian status of the composition has been supported by several scholars, the work seems to belong on the edges of sectarianism: it has little or no clear sectarian terminology, and its use of certain terms other than the Tetragrammaton to describe the divine in combination with the way the work reflects a quarter of the 52-week year, reflect matters that were probably the concern of Jews both inside and outside the movement; it is quasi-sectarian. The point of importance is that sovereignty is most explicit in a mystical text in which there are no messiahs of any kind, but a rich and fulfilling experience of the divine as king. We can return to this point when considering the teaching of Jesus. And so we come to a few paragraphs on David in the sectarian scrolls. In section 2 above we have noted the role of David as poet and prophet, and the few remarks above have been concerned to show how priests circumscribe (quite literally) the powers of kings and focus on the power of God over against any human agent. Nevertheless, there are things to be said about David as royal type of things hoped for by the sectarians. In 1963 Jean Starcky published an important article in the house magazine of the École Biblique in Jerusalem, the Revue Biblique; entitled “Les quatre étapes du messianisme à Qumrân,” it was

 Judith H. Newman, “Priestly Prophets at Qumran: Summoning Sinai through the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice,” in The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity, ed. George J. Brooke, Hindy Najman, and Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Themes in Biblical Narrative  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; Esther G. Chazon, “Human and Angelic Prayer in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Liturgical Perspectives: Prayer and Poetry in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Esther G. Chazon, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; and idem, “Liturgical Communion with the Angels at Qumran,” in Sapiential, Liturgical and Poetical Texts from Qumran, ed. Daniel K. Falk, Florentino García Martínez, and Eileen M. Schuller, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – .

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives


an initial attempt at arguing that there was a series of stages in sectarian messianic thinking.¹⁵ Though scholars nowadays might not be so confident in being able to allocate particular compositions quite so precisely to clearly delineated stages of development, the overall point still remains. There was such development, at least earlier and later stages. For want of a better way of putting it, the earlier stage of sectarian messianic thinking is largely non-Davidic, whereas the later stage seems to become increasingly Davidic. So, for example, the locus classicus, of an earlier form of sectarian (or Essene) messianism is to be found in the Cave 1 version of the Rule of the Community: They should not depart from any counsel of the law in order to walk in complete stubbornness of their heart, but instead shall be ruled by the first directives which the men of the Community began to be taught until the prophet comes, and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel (1QS 9:10 – 11).¹⁶

This manuscript is widely dated to the first quarter of the first century BCE (100 – 75 BCE). In a movement that flourished from the middle of the second century BCE until the end of the First Jewish War (66 – 74 CE), this evidently belongs at a moment when the first two generations have come to express their hopes in a somewhat muted manner in terms of a dual messianism, in which a priestly Aaronide messiah takes precedence over an Israelite messiah whom we might expect to be thought of as royal. The same seems to be the case for most scholars in the reading of another composition in the same scroll, the Rule of the Congregation in which at a future eschatological meal, the priest-Messiah takes precedence over the non-priestly leader. There is nothing explicitly Davidic about this Messiah of Israel. However, by the second half of the first century BCE, a couple of generations later, this dual messianism is expressed somewhat differently in the movement’s commentary literature. So, for example in the mid-first century BCE Commentary on Isaiah A (4Q161) the oracle of Isa 11:1– 5 concerning the stump of Jesse is interpreted as referring to “the shoot] of David which will sprout in the fi[nal days, since with the breath of his lips he will execute] his [ene]my and God will support him with [the spirit of c]ourage.”¹⁷ In fact, that a commentary survives from that period on Isa 11 indicates that the Davidic ideology is taking a more explicit role in sectarian thinking.

 Jean Starcky, “Les quatre étapes du messianisme à Qumrân,” RB  ():  – .  DSSSE : – .  Ibid., :.


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Three things need to be said. First, this is not a Davidic messianism that eclipses the role of the priest. As part of an ongoing set of ideas, the priest, sometimes explicitly as an Interpreter of Torah, is ever-present to advise the Davidic figure. Second, there is some evidence that the Davidic figure is being interpreted, not just or even at all as an individual, but collectively. For example, in the principal fragment of Eschatological Commentary A (4Q174) there is an extensive commentary on the oracle of Nathan in 2 Sam 7. While some of the oracle is turned towards a future Davidic figure, a branch of David who will arise with the Interpreter of the Law, some of it is referred to the stricken movement: And as for what he said to David: “I [shall obtain] for you [rest] from all your enemies”: (it refers to this,) that he will obtain for them rest from a[ll] the sons of Belial, those who make them fall, to destroy th[em on account of] their [sins,] when they come with the plan of [B]el[i]al to make the s[ons of] lig[ht] fall, and to plot against them wicked plans so th[at] they [are] trapped by Belial because of their gui[l]ty error.¹⁸

Or again, in the same composition the interpretation of 2 Sam 7 is followed by a section in which a series of Psalms are given prophetic (pesher) interpretation. Ps 2:1 is cited with its mention of “his anointed one”; one might guess that this would give rise to an individual messianic, indeed Davidic, interpretation, but the pesher comment states clearly that “[the kings of the na]tions [are in turmoil] and ha[tch idle plots against] the elect ones of Israel in the last days.”¹⁹ What is singular in the Psalm is made plural in the interpretation: “the anointed one” becomes “the elect ones of Israel.” Third, the compositions in which an expected or longed-for David is explicitly mentioned are from the second half of the first century BCE. What is taking place at this time to give rise to this explicit Davidic hope? Throughout the first century BCE in Jewish Palestine there were disputes about kingship. To begin with, those involved the Hasmoneans who with the figure of Alexander Jannaeus (reigned 103– 87 BCE) explicitly claimed the title king alongside that of high priest. Then there was Herod who also claimed the title, certainly from 37 BCE. And in addition, after the defeat of Mark Antony in 31 BCE at the Battle of Actium, Octavian was soon proclaimed Augustus, the first Roman emperor in 27 BCE. There were thus several forms of kingship with which some Jews might disagree and against which some alternative might be expressed, either in human terms through aspirations associated with the Davidic house of old, or in divine terms by emphasis on the sovereignty of God, God as king. For the Essenes no Davidic ruler ever actually appeared, unless

 Ibid., :.  Ibid., :.

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives


some few of them at some point associated themselves with the early Christian movement in one form or another.

3.3 Some Aspects of New Testament Davidism With those few comments from some late Second Temple Jewish texts, what can be said about the role of David in the writings of the New Testament? Libraries have covered the topic and there is space only for a few observations.²⁰ First and perhaps foremost, it is noticeable that it is generally a matter of “horses for courses,” that suitable names, titles, and honorifics are used in suitable circumstances. Thus, although Paul acknowledges Jesus’s Davidic descent in Rom 1:3, he has nothing else to say about such descent or its significance; Jesus can be suitably presented without much or any reference to any claims that the churches might be making about his Davidic lineage—indeed, for Paul Jesus’s messianic status seems to be oriented in a rather different fashion. It is, however, with Paul in mind that it becomes possible to speak clearly about the messiah as enthroned. In Phil 2:9 – 11, Paul cites or rewrites or himself composes a magisterial hymn in which Jesus Christ is exalted and given the name that is above every name, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” It is not as a descendant of David that the Christ is enthroned, but as Christ the Lord he is enthroned nevertheless. Naturally for the Gospel writers and their interest in the historical Jesus a different set of priorities emerge. But we need to be equally specific as with Paul. For the Gospel of John there is explicit allusion to Jesus’s Davidic descent in 7:42 as members of the crowd question Jesus’s role and status and are divided amongst themselves. More importantly, in John 6:15 Jesus is described as thinking that those who had witnessed the feeding of the five thousand were about to come and take him by force to make him king; John does not put specific thoughts about Davidic kingship into Jesus’s mind. Or again, more elaborately, when Pilate and Jesus enter into a dialogue about kingship (John 18:33– 38), nothing Davidic is put into the conversation, even though Jesus admits to exercising sovereignty. For Mark, at the narrative’s pivotal central moment (Mark 8:29) when Jesus challenges the disciples with the question “Who do you say that I am?” Peter an Amongst the multiple studies can be named Donald Juel, Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, ); William Horbury, Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ (London: SCM Press, ); Markus Bockmuehl, “The Son of David and His Mother,” JTS  ():  – .


George J. Brooke and Hindy Najman

swers, “You are the Christ,” not “You are the Davidic Messiah,” nor “You are the anointed Son of David.” “Son of David” is indeed in Mark’s repertoire, as the cries of blind Bartimaeus attest: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47– 48). But Bartimaeus might be portrayed in that way because of his healing; perhaps in that instance Jesus is aligned with another son of David, Solomon, who was commonly invoked in healing situations. Overall in Mark Jesus seems more concerned with preaching the kingship of God, God’s sovereignty, than with he is with his own Davidic status. With Matthew and Luke things are slightly different. For Matthew Jesus’s genealogy is controlled by the figure of David. In three sets of fourteen names, including David (the numerical value of the letters of whose name is fourteen), Jesus’s genealogy indicates that the kingship that is a dominant feature of the Gospel is of Davidic descent; indeed the Gospel opens with “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1). And for Matthew Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem was as son of David. For Luke David is more often invoked as a source of authoritative texts than as progenitor of a royal line, but the royal line is explicit too: at 1:27 and in the promise of Jesus’s enthronement in 1:32, as well as in the song of Zech in 1:69. Amongst the several and various titles assigned to Jesus the Messiah, there is a place for David or Davidic descent, but it is relatively muted. Not much seems to hang on it in the divine scheme of things unless it is a matter of addressing specific Jewish audiences, such as might be the focus of Matthew’s attention in particular. As with the late first century BCE use of David in the sectarian scrolls, it can be argued that the New Testament interest in Jesus’s messiahship as a step in restoring the house of David could well have had contemporary political significance as much as being an adoption and adaptation of some aspects of messianic expectation in earlier forms of Judaism. Was Jesus the Davidic messiah a foil for Caesar or for descendants of Herod? If kingship was to be assigned to Jesus, then Davidic kingship it might as well be. Also, as in the sectarian compositions from the Qumran caves so in some parts of the New Testament there is an interest in collective messiahship, which undermines the role of David in the construction of messianism. It is clear that not all members of the early churches can claim Davidic descent, but they could claim to be anointed in some sense. “You have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know … Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Messiah … And this is what he promised us, eternal life. I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything” (1 John 2:20 – 27). Serge Ruzer, for one, has used that text from the First Letter of John to underline

Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives


that in some forms of early Christianity there was a sense of collective messianism that meant that no institutional intermediaries were needed between believers and the Holy One.²¹ Some such egalitarian outlook might indicate the sense that in the last hour (1 John 2:18) anointing is more significant for individuals as they reflect on the divine purposes for themselves in their confession of Jesus as Messiah, than it is in terms of individual kingly Davidic associations. For the New Testament writers Jesus is the one key eschatological figure. He is enthroned in heaven, but not directly because of his supposed Davidic descent, but much more because of his messianic role for those who accepted him as divine agent in salvation.

4 Conclusion Michelangelo’s naked David stands with sling in hand. In the Second Temple period some, perhaps a majority, preferred to re-clothe him as prophet, scribe, or poet, to associate him closely with that sacred space, the temple that he himself had never been allowed to build. Others, perhaps a minority, re-clothed him with his royal lineage and projected that (sometimes also including themselves incorporated collectively into the Davidic ideology) into the messianic future; for some that was an immediate future in the present now. His place was not so much the temple as the palace throne room, and for Christians the throne room for the Christ was in heaven.

 Serge Ruzer, Mapping the New Testament: Early Christian Writings as a Witness for Jewish Biblical Exegesis, Jewish and Christian Perspectives  (Leiden: Brill, ),  –  (a chapter entitled: “Who Was Unhappy with the Davidic Messiah?”).

Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino

Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool for the Study of Biblical Quotations and Allusions in the Dead Sea Scrolls Ancient references to the Hebrew Bible shed precious light on its early transmission and interpretation. Accordingly, scholars have catalogued biblical citations in Second Temple Jewish writings,¹ investigated the employment of Hebrew Bible materials in the text of the New Testament,² and collected scriptural references in rabbinic literature.³ When the Dead Sea Scrolls came to light, an immensely

 See Steve Delamarter, A Scripture Index to Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (London: Sheffield Academic, ). Biblical quotations in Philo are listed in the “Scripture Index” of J.W. Earp, “Indices to Volumes  – ,” in Philo, trans. Frederick H. Colson and George H. Whitaker, LCL (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ), : – ; see also Jean Allenbach, ed., Philon d’Alexandrie, BiPaSup (Paris: Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique, ). We have recently become aware of the Index of Biblical Quotations and Allusions in Early Christian Literature project (http://www.biblindex.mom.fr/). According to their website, the “ultimate goal of BIBLINDEX is to permit the identification of biblical quotations in all Jewish and Christian literature of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages,” and personal communication confirms that they intend eventually to include the Dead Sea materials. However, the data currently accessible is from Biblia Patristica, both published volumes and unpublished archives.  See, among others, Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, ); for a brief survey of research generally see Stanley E. Porter, “The Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament: A Brief Comment on Method and Terminology,” in Early Christian Interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel: Investigations and Proposals, ed. Craig A. Evans and James A. Sanders, Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, ),  – . For catalogues of quotations and allusions, see Appendix , “Loci citati vel allegati,” in Novum Testamentum Graece, th rev. ed.; ed. Barbara Aland et al. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, ),  – ; Dietrich-Alex Koch, Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums: Untersuchungen zur Verwendung und zum Verständnis der Schrift bei Paulus (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ); Hans Hübner, Vetus Testamentum in Novo: Corpus Paulinum (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, ); idem, Vetus Testamentum in Novo: Evangelium Johannis (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, ).  See Victor Aptowitzer, Das Schriftwort in der rabbinischen Literatur (Vienna: Alfred Holder,  – ; repr., New York: Ktav, ); Yeshayahu Maori, “The Text of the Hebrew Bible in Rabbinic Writings in the Light of the Qumran Evidence,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Evidence, ed. Devorah Dimant and Uriel Rappaport, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; idem, “Rabbinic Midrash as Evidence for Textual Variants in the Hebrew Bible: History and Practice,”


Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino

rich and previously unknown body of ancient works that reference the Hebrew Bible also became available for scrutiny of this kind. At first, the attention of scholars was absorbed with the biblical manuscripts preserved at Qumran. Soon, however, it became clear that the non-biblical scrolls, by way of quotation and allusion, also illuminate the history of the biblical text and ancient exegetical practices.⁴ Perhaps due to the inherent difficulty of defining allusive references, and also likely stymied by the slow publication of a number of relevant texts, most studies of citations and allusions in the non-biblical scrolls have focused on one or another of a small group of discrete, relatively extensively-preserved works such as the War Scroll (1QM),⁵ the Hodayot (1QHa),⁶ the Pesharim,⁷ Serekh ha-Yahad (1QS),⁸ the Damascus Document (CD),⁹ the Temple Scroll (11QTa),¹⁰ the Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen),¹¹ and 4QInstruction.¹² in Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations, ed. Shalom Carmy (Northvale: Jason Aronson, ),  – . The most comprehensive collection of biblical quotations in rabbinic sources is that of the Hebrew University Bible Project.  Compare James C. VanderKam, “The Wording of Biblical Citations in Some Rewritten Scriptural Works,” in The Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible and the Judaean Desert Discoveries, ed. Edward D. Herbert and Emanuel Tov (London: British Library, ),  – . For catalogues of the biblical texts in the Scrolls, see Uwe Glessmer, “Liste der biblischen Texte aus Qumran,” RevQ  ():  – ; Eugene Ulrich, “Index of Passages in the ‘Biblical Texts’,” in The Texts from the Judaean Desert: Indices and an Introduction to the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert Series, ed. Emanuel Tov, DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon, ),  – .  See the pioneering work of Jean Carmignac, “Les citations de l’Ancien Testament dans ‘La Guerre des Fils de Lumière contre les Fils de Ténèbres’,” RB  ():  – ,  – .  See Jean Carmignac, “Les citations de l’Ancien Testament, et spécialement des Poèmes du Serviteur, dans les Hymnes de Qumran,” RevQ  ( – ):  – ; see also Jacob Licht, The Thanksgiving Scroll: A Scroll from the Wilderness of Judaea: Text, Introduction, Commentary, and Glossary (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, ; Hebrew); Svend Holm-Nielsen, Hodayot: Psalms from Qumran, ATDan (Aarhus: Universitetsforlaget, ); Bonnie Pedrotti Kittel, The Hymns of Qumran: Translation and Commentary, SBLDS (Chico, CA: Scholars, ); Julie A. Hughes, Scriptural Allusions and Exegesis in the Hodayot, STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ).  See Maurya P. Horgan, Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books, CBQMS (Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, ), and the bibliography cited there; George J. Brooke, Exegesis at Qumran: QFlorilegium in Its Jewish Context, JSOTSup (Sheffield: JSOT Press, ); Moshe J. Bernstein, “Introductory Formulas for Citation and Re-Citation of Biblical Verses in the Qumran Pesharim,” DSD  ():  – ; Timothy H. Lim, “Biblical Quotations in the Pesharim and the Text of the Bible—Methodological Considerations,” in The Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible and the Judaean Desert Discoveries, ed. Edward D. Herbert and Emanuel Tov (London: British Library, ),  – ; Shani Tzoref, “Qumran Pesharim and the Pentateuch: Explicit Citation, Overt Typologies, and Implicit Interpretive Traditions,” DSD  ():  –.  See Jacob Licht, The Rule Scroll: A Scroll from the Wilderness of Judaea—QS, QSa, QSb: Text, Introduction, and Commentary (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, ; Hebrew); Sarianna Metso, “Biblical Quotations in the Community Rule,” in The Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible

Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool


However, there have been a few attempts to collect quotations and allusions across the Qumran corpus. Appendices in works by Joseph Fitzmyer, and by James VanderKam and Peter Flint, for example, aimed at some degree of thoroughness.¹³ The effort of David Washburn, A Catalog of Biblical Passages in the Dead Sea Scrolls, went much further, although it still fell somewhat short of its goal to be “a comprehensive listing of biblical passages contained in all the Dead Sea Scrolls” published at the time of its appearance.¹⁴ Most recently, Armin and the Judaean Desert Discoveries, ed. Edward D. Herbert and Emanuel Tov (London: British Library, ),  – .  See, among others, Moshe H. Gottstein, “Bible Quotations in the Sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls,” VT  ():  – ; Roger Le Déaut, “Une Citation de Lévitique : dans le Document de Damas ,; ,,” RevQ  ():  – ; Devorah Dimant, “The Hebrew Bible in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Torah Quotations in the Damascus Document,” in “Sha‘arei Talmon”: Studies in the Bible, Qumran, and the Ancient Near East Presented to Shemaryahu Talmon, ed. Michael Fishbane and Emanuel Tov (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, ),  –  (Hebrew); Joseph M. Baumgarten, “A ‘Scriptural’ Citation in Q Fragments of the Damascus Document,” JJS  ():  – ; Eibert Tigchelaar, “The Cave  Damascus Document Manuscripts and the Text of the Bible,” in The Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible and the Judaean Desert Discoveries, ed. Edward D. Herbert and Emanuel Tov (London: British Library, ),  – ; and Liora Goldman, “Biblical Exegesis and Pesher Interpretation in the Damascus Document” (PhD diss., University of Haifa, ; Hebrew).  See Gershon Brin, “The Bible as Reflected in the Temple Scroll,” Shnaton: An Annual for Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies  ( – ):  – ; idem, “Concerning Some of the Uses of the Bible in the Temple Scroll,” RevQ  ():  – ; Emanuel Tov, “The Temple Scroll and Old Testament Criticism,” Eretz-Israel  ():  – ; George J. Brooke, “The Temple Scroll and LXX Exodus  – ,” in Septuagint, Scrolls and Cognate Writings, ed. George J. Brooke and Barnabas Lindars, Septuagint and Cognate Studies Series (Atlanta: Scholars, ),  – ; and Molly M. Zahn, “Identifying Reuse of Scripture in the Temple Scroll: Some Methodological Reflections,” in A Teacher for All Generations: Essays in Honor of James C. VanderKam, ed. Eric F. Mason et al. (Leiden: Brill, ), : –, especially the bibliography on p. .  See James C. VanderKam, “The Textual Affinities of the Biblical Citations in the Genesis Apocryphon,” JBL  ():  – .  See Benjamin G. Wold, Women, Men and Angels: The Qumran Wisdom Document Musar leMevin and Its Allusions to Genesis Creation Traditions, WUNT / (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ).  See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Major Publications and Tools for Study, rev. ed. (Atlanta: Scholars, ),  – , which includes biblical manuscripts and “isolated quotations of the OT in various scrolls” (). James C. VanderKam and Peter Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity (San Francisco: HarperOne, ),  – , specifically treats quotations and allusions in the non-biblical materials ().  David L. Washburn, A Catalog of Biblical Passages in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Society of Biblical Literature Text-Critical Studies (Leiden: Brill, ), . Despite its aim at comprehensiveness, Washburn’s list contains relatively few citations from the parabiblical materials. It is also rather difficult to use, as the references specify the scroll number and the relevant page in its primary edition (usually DJD), but not the fragment, column, or line.


Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino

Lange and Matthias Weigold published Biblical Quotations and Allusions in Second Temple Jewish Literature.¹⁵ The most comprehensive catalogue of biblical quotations and allusions in the Scrolls to date,¹⁶ it offers room for constructive expansion. Lange and Weigold leave out “the principal base texts of the various forms of hypertextual literature” of the Second Temple Period, including the lemmata of the Pesharim and the base texts of parabiblical works.¹⁷ Also, the authors’ somewhat rigid definitions of quotation and allusion, however necessary in a work of this scope, inevitably leave some pertinent material out of consideration.¹⁸ Finally, while their presentation of the data represents an advance over previous catalogues in important ways, such as listing references in order both of the anterior (quoted)

 Armin Lange and Matthias Weigold, Biblical Quotations and Allusions in Second Temple Jewish Literature, JAJSup  (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ). In a distinct advance over previous attempts, the authors employ the search capabilities of the software package Accordance as one of their strategies in identifying quotations and allusions ( – ). Some of the work here builds on Lange’s earlier efforts; see bibliography on p. , and see also Armin Lange, “‘Which is Written in the Words of Isaiah, Son of Amoz, the Prophet’ (CD .): Quotations of and Allusions to the Book of Isaiah in Qumran Literature,” in With Wisdom as a Robe: Qumran and Other Jewish Studies in Honour of Ida Frölich, ed. Károly Dobos and Miklós Kõszeghy, Hebrew Bible Monographs (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, ),  – .  As its name suggests, this book covers a body of literature that is a good deal broader than that which survived at Qumran. Lange and Weigold, ibid.,  – , examine texts of Jewish origin composed from  BCE to  CE, excluding Philo and the New Testament. This diverse group includes late Hebrew Bible materials, such as Chronicles, Esther, and a number of minor prophets, but not redactions such as Third Isaiah; pseudepigraphic works such as Joseph and Aseneth, Pseudo-Philo’s Liber antiquitatum biblicarum, and the Testament of Abraham; and those portions of the Dead Sea materials not excluded on other grounds (Lange and Weigold omit, for instance, the biblical scrolls, and, as noted below, both lemmata in Pesharim and the base texts of parabiblical works: ).  Lange and Weigold, ibid., . “Hypertextual” draws on the language of Gérard Genette, Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, trans. Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky, Stages  (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ), . For Genette “hypertextuality” refers to “any relationship uniting a text B (… the hypertext) to an earlier text A (… the hypotext), upon which it is grafted in a manner that is not that of commentary” (ibid., ).  For instance, for Lange and Weigold, ibid.,  – , an “implicit allusion” exhibits three or more words of a hypotext that are “linguistically recognizable,” but “not morphologically identical,” in its hypertext (in the case of rare lexemes, two-word correspondences may be allowed). Yet, as they themselves recognize, such word counting is “at best a guideline” in the identification of allusions, and some intertextual references lack this kind of direct lexical tie (ibid.,  – , ). In fact, discussing various types of intertextuality, Lange and Weigold also mention “references” and “reminiscences” ( – ), but neither category is represented in their work.

Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool


text and the posterior (quoting) text, the main body of their work is an inventory of passages providing the reader with no further data.¹⁹ Exploiting the strengths of computerized databases and the internet, the instantly updateable, freely available, and easily searchable online tool presented here seeks to address these issues.

1 The Dead Sea Scrolls Quotations Databank The Dead Sea Scrolls Quotations Databank (henceforth: DSSQD), comprised of a database and an interface, is designed to record biblical allusions and quotations in the Dead Sea Scrolls in an easy and yet detailed way.²⁰ The process of recording a quotation/allusion in the DSSQD is as follows. Whenever a new “connection” between a scroll and a scriptural passage is noted, it is evaluated according to nine different types of analysis.²¹ Numerical values are employed for five of these lines of inquiry and scripted values supply four additional categories of analysis. In addition, a comment box is available to provide further information, as well as to explain any potential ambiguities. Comparing the quoted/alluded text with the presumed quotation/allusion, the researcher introducing the data quantifies the following five data points for each biblical reference in a scroll: – how many biblical words are cited by the scroll, – how many biblical words are paraphrased, – how many words the scroll uses in its paraphrase, – how many biblical words are omitted, – and how many words the scroll adds to the reference.²²

 In their introduction, Lange and Weigold (ibid.,  – ) demarcate several kinds of intertextual links between anterior and posterior texts, and discuss their reasoning for accepting or rejecting a few different proposed intertextual ties. Despite this theoretical discussion, in the list itself the reader is left to extrapolate as to why a certain passage is deemed allusive, or why another might be omitted.  https://webshare.is.tcu.edu:/DeadSea/DeadSeaProject.html. The software for this tool was created by Faina Feldman. See further her “Design and Development of a Rich Web Application and a Database for the Study of the Biblical Quotations in the Dead Sea Scrolls” (MSc thesis, Manchester Metropolitan University, ).  Additional types of analysis can be introduced with ease as the need arises.  Scholarly definitions of a quotation and an allusion differ widely. This tool allows users to set their own parameters as they search its database of biblical quotations and allusions in the Scrolls. One can search for the recorded instances where the Scrolls and the Hebrew Bible share any number


Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino

The four scripted questions, recording values of “yes,” “no,” or “ambiguous,” include the following: – does the scroll use formulaic language to introduce a biblical reference, – are there morphological differences between the consonantal Masoretic Text and the scroll’s biblical citation, – are there syntactic differences, – and does the wording of the scroll suggest a textual variant. To qualify the aforementioned data, a narrative comment box is used. These comments explain the choices that were made in the data quantification process and suggest further possibilities. Finally, a text box permits space for related bibliography. To fit with the theme of this volume, we offer some examples of the Tool from the Former Prophets. Figure 1 features the data supplied by the DSSQD for the reference in 4Q160 (Vision of Samuel) 1 3 to 1 Sam 3:15.²³

Fig. 1. The screen featuring the analysis of a quotation from 1 Sam 3:15 in 4Q160 1 3.

of words (e.g., two, three, etc.). By searching for zero shared words, one will retrieve those recorded instances where Scrolls allude to scriptural passages without utilizing their lexica.  This instance of a biblical quotation is missing from the main list in Lange and Weigold, Quotations and Allusions, , probably in line with their aforementioned policy regarding Rewritten Scripture. In fact, they list Q among the scrolls that do not quote from or allude to Scripture (ibid., ).

Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool


‫ ֗לפני עלי ויקום ויפתח את ד]לתות‬²⁴‫]ו[שמואל ש ֯ו֗כב‬4Q160 1 3

[And ]Samuel was lying down before Eli. And he arose and opened the do[ors ‫וישכב שמואל עד הבקר ויפתח את דלתות בית יהוה‬Sam 3:15 1

And Samuel lay there until morning; and then he opened the doors of the House of the Lord (NJPS) The extant text of this line and 1 Sam 3:15 MT share five words (one of which, ‫ד]לתות‬, is reconstructed). The scroll features three additional words: ‫֗לפני עלי‬, “before Eli” (cf. 1 Sam 3:1), explicating the location of Samuel’s sleep, and ‫ויקום‬, “and he arose,” providing a transition between Samuel’s lying down and his opening of the doors (cf. the LXX which has καὶ ὤρθρισεν, “and he got up”). At the same time, in comparison to the MT, it lacks two words: ‫עד הבקר‬, “until morning.” The extant text of the fragment preserves no formula introducing the quotation from 1 Sam 3:15. The scroll features a participle of ‫ שכב‬preceded by its subject, ‫]ו[שמואל‬, whereas the MT reads ‫וישכב שמואל‬. It remains ambiguous whether any of the scroll’s readings reflect a Vorlage different from the MT, or rewriting techniques common to Rewritten Scripture.²⁵ All of this information is explained in the comment box, and a bibliography is available at the bottom of the screen. The data introduced into the database for each recorded quotation/allusion allow for various types of searches, from a simple search by a biblical book (chapter and verse; see fig. 2) or a scroll (fragment/column, line; see fig. 3) to more complex queries based on any of the aforementioned numerical and scripted parameters or combinations thereof.

 This is Strugnell’s reading, improving on Allegro’s ‫שכב‬. John M. Allegro with Arnold A. Anderson, Qumran Cave .I (Q – Q), DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ),  – ; John Strugnell, “Notes en marge du Volume V des ‘Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan’,” RevQ  ( – ):  – .  Alex P. Jassen, “Literary and Historical Studies in the Samuel Apocryphon (Q),” JJS  ():  – , suggests that the divergences between the wording of this fragment and the extant textual witnesses of  Sam : –  are not a result of rewriting, but rather represent another version of this biblical pericope. Frank Polak, “Samuel,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (New York: Oxford University Press, ), : – , allows for both options, i. e., that frg.  represents a “‘rewritten Bible’ or a heavily revised biblical text.” While no certain conclusion is possible due to the fragmentary state of the scroll, the deviations from other textual witnesses of  Sam  found in frg.  are characteristic of Rewritten Scripture, a suggestion supported by the contents of other surviving fragments of Q. See further Ariel Feldman, The Dead Sea Scrolls Rewriting Samuel and Kings: Texts and Commentary, BZAW  (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – .


Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino

Fig. 2. Searching for the Qumran non-biblical scrolls’ use of 1 Sam 3. The highlighted words mark the first word shared by the biblical verse and a scroll.

Fig. 3. Searching for biblical passages quoted/alluded to in 4Q160 1 (Vision of Samuel). The highlighted words mark the first word shared by the scroll and biblical passages.

The DSSQD also allows for diverse visualized statistical queries of the recorded data. For instance, one may wish to know which of the scriptural books (or even chapters and verses) is most frequently cited or alluded to in a given scroll. Alternatively, the user may want to ascertain the frequency of use of a given biblical book (or chapter/verse) in the Qumran non-biblical scrolls as a corpus.

Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool


Fig. 4. Biblical quotations and allusions in 4Q522 (4QProphétie de Josué [4QapocrJosuéc?]).

Fig. 5. The frequency of use of the book of Joshua in the non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls (reflecting the data introduced so far).

2 Making the Data Accessible Given the size of the literary corpus known as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the amount of secondary literature on it, the process of collecting the relevant data, analyzing it, and introducing it into the online tool requires considerable time. Still, even at this point, the collected and analyzed data may be of interest to the public. Some of this material is available on the free-access website. Designed to be as easy to use as possible, this website offers users two modes of searching the data: by a biblical verse or by a passage in a scroll.²⁶ For instance, if a user wishes to query the database by biblical verse, he or

 This website is designed and maintained by Faina Feldman.


Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino

Fig. 6. The home page of http://bibledeadseascrolls.com/.

she will be prompted to the next screen in order to select the desired book, chapter, and verse.

Fig. 7. Searching for Qumran non-biblical scrolls’ allusions/quotations from 1 Sam 3:15.

Next the viewer will be offered a list of passages quoting from or alluding to the selected verse. Clicking on “show” presents the details of each of the listed connections, providing the viewer with the text of the biblical passage and that of the scroll, comments on the given quotation/allusion, and bibliography. At a future stage, the website will also include the searchable data discussed above and will allow for statistical queries.

Probing the Former Prophets with a New Online Tool


Fig. 8. List of allusions/quotations from 1 Sam 3:15 currently recorded in the DSSQD.

3 Looking into the Future While the project is still in its early stages, several trajectories for the future refining of DSSQD can be suggested. First, the DSSQD utilizes the Masoretic Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Hebrew Bible as its “base” text. This choice is dictated first and foremost by practical reasons: this is the only available complete ancient Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Hebrew Scriptures. While the DSSQD comment box will typically refer to other relevant textual evidence, e. g., Qumran biblical manuscripts, Samaritan Pentateuch, and ancient translations, there is a need for a more nuanced representation in the DSSQD of the textual plurality characteristic of late Second Temple times. Second, the DSSQD was designed to allow for the addition of other literary corpora. Among immediate possible candidates are Jewish Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament. Creation of an online searchable annotated inventory accounting for diverse types of intertextual connections between the Dead Sea Scrolls and these literary corpora could prove valuable for both scholars and the public. Third, all these tasks require creating an online community of voluntary contributors, scholars, students, and lay persons.²⁷ Fourth, and finally, cooperation with other online

 In the case of Wikipedia, an online project relying on voluntary contributions, its “open editing” policy seems to have deterred academics from contributing. No less detrimental appears to be the fact that academia has not yet developed ways to acknowledge scholars’ contributions to online projects (see Zoe Corbyn, “Wikipedia Wants More Contributions from Academics,” The Guardian, March ,  [http://www.theguardian.com/education//mar//wikipedia-


Ariel Feldman, Faina Feldman, Joseph McDonald, and Ron Serino

projects related to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Jewish literature and history opens the possibility of creating a network of interlinked internet-based repositories of data pertinent for the study of this period.

survey-academic-contributions]). With these insights in view, several steps were made to stimulate collaboration on the DSSQD project. First, an online forum allowing any interested person to contribute to the DSSQD was launched (http://bibledeadseascrolls.com/forum/). Second, concerns over “being edited” or not being properly acknowledged are resolved by the editors’ commitment to communicating the proposed editorial changes prior to their posting and by the accurate recording and displaying of the names of the contributors.

Warren Carter

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars? Matthean scholars have examined intertextualities between Matthew’s Jesus and various Hebrew Bible characters—Abraham,¹ David and Son of David/Solomon,² Moses,³ Isaac,⁴ Elijah,⁵ Isaiah,⁶ Jeremiah⁷—to name but a few. Relatively less attention has been directed to intertextualities between Matthew’s Jesus and his namesake ὁ Ἰησοῦς, known in the tradition to us as Joshua and, more specifically here, as Septuagint Joshua.⁸ This lack of attention reflects a general view evident in discussions of Matthew’s use of biblical traditions⁹ and of the history of reception of the book of Joshua¹⁰ that Matthew’s Jesus and biblical Joshua—person and book—have little to do with each other.¹¹  Warren Carter, “Matthaean Christology in Roman Imperial Key: :,” in The Gospel of Matthew in Its Roman Imperial Context, ed. John Riches and David Sim (London: T&T Clark, ),  – .  Christoph Burger, Jesus als Davidssohn: eine traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ); Dennis Duling, “Solomon, Exorcism, and the Son of David,” HTR  ():  – ; idem, “The Therapeutic Son of David: An Element in Matthew’s Christological Apologetic,” NTS  ( – ):  – .  Dale Allison, The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Minneapolis: Fortress, ).  Leroy A. Huizenga, The New Isaac: Tradition and Intertextuality in the Gospel of Matthew (Leiden: Brill, ).  Mark Goodacre, “Mark, Elijah, the Baptist and Matthew: The Success of the First Intertextual Reading of Mark,” in Biblical Interpretation in Early Christian Gospels Volume : The Gospel of Matthew, ed. Thomas R. Hatina (New York: T&T Clark, ),  – .  Warren Carter, “Evoking Isaiah: Matthean Soteriology and an Intertextual Reading of Isaiah  –  in Matthew : and : – ,” JBL  ():  – .  Michael Knowles, Jeremiah in Matthew’s Gospel: The Rejected Prophet Motif in Matthean Redaction, JSNTSS  (Sheffield: JSOT Press, ).  I can find just one article: Andries van Aarde, “Jesus as Joshua, Moses en Dawidiese Messias in Matteus,” Scriptura  ():  – .  Maarten J. Menken, Matthew’s Bible: The Old Testament Text of the Evangelist (Leuven: Leuven University Press, ), . Menken’s index includes some  entries on Deuteronomy,  entries on Jeremiah,  on Psalms, and  on Isaiah, but only  entries for the book of Joshua none of which Menken discusses as particular Matthean usage, nor as having any significance for Matthew’s presentation of Jesus. In Hatina, Biblical Interpretation, with  essays on Matthew’s use of Biblical traditions, the Index registers just two citations from the book of Joshua (, ), from the same essay, and concerned not with Jesus but with the conception of Boaz.  J. Cornelius de Vos, “Josua und Jesus im Neuen Testament,” in The Book of Joshua ed. Ed Noort, BETL  (Leuven: Peeters, ),  – ; Stefan Koch, “‘Moses sagt zu ,Jesus’” – Zur Wahrnehmung von Joshua im Neuen Testament,” ibid.,  – , esp. .


Warren Carter

There are of course some exceptions. Austin Farrer asserted in the mid-1950s an undeveloped connection between the Matthean Jesus and Septuagintal Joshua. He identified, but without any elaboration or argumentation, what he called “Matthew’s hexateuch,” including chapters 24– 25, “the ‘Book of Jesus’ (Joshua),” the condemnation of Jerusalem by “the new Jesus,” and his “gathering of Israel into the true land of promise under the leadership of Jesus.”¹² Andries van Aarde argues Jesus is a Joshua figure, Moses’s successor with the task of saving Israel from their sins (1:21).¹³ He does so as a Davidic Messiah and second Moses through healings that provide release from political stress. Van Aarde combines a number of biblical traditions, one of which involves Joshua, to make an argument for the soteriological interpretation of Matt 1:21 that centers on relationship and healing. In his study of Jesus as the New Moses, Dale Allison highlights links between Matt 28:16 – 20 and Josh 1:1– 9 that center on commissioning.¹⁴ Matthean redaction, Allison argues, creates “an implicit parallel between Jesus and Moses. Just as the lawgiver, at the close of his life, commissioned Joshua both to go into the land peopled by foreign nations and to observe all the commandments in the law, and then further promised his successor God’s abiding presence, so similarly Jesus: at the end of his earthly ministry he told his disciples to go into all the world and teach observance of all the commandments uttered by the new Moses; and then he promised his abiding presence.”

None of these analyses, however, is satisfying. Farrer’s assertions of a Hexateuchal structure and of leading the people into the “true land” remain undeveloped. Nor does Farrer address the attendant, implicit and problematic implications of triumphalism and supercessionism. Nor, contra van Aarde, is Joshua associated with healing and relationship, given a penchant for physical violence and military conquest. Allison’s claim of intertextual influence between Matt

 Richard Ounsworth, Joshua Typology in the New Testament, WUNT  (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ). The title is misleading, given the book’s focus on Hebrew. The index lists four references to Matthew and two to the Book of Joshua ( – ): Josh :; :, and Matt :; : – :; : – ; :.  Austin M. Farrer, “On Dispensing with Q,” in Studies in the Gospels: Essays in Memory of R. H. Lightfoot ed. Dennis Nineham (Oxford: Blackwell, ),  – , esp. ; Austin M. Farrer, St. Matthew and St. Mark (London: Dacre Press, ) ; Ounsworth (Joshua Typology,  – ) notes Farrer’s attention to a Joshua/Jesus link.  Van Aarde, “Jesus as Joshua,” . I rely on the “Abstract” at the beginning of the article.  Allison, New Moses,  – , ,  – . Allison notes some other links that receive much less attention than that he sees as important for : – , such as Joshua as “servant of God” (Josh :; Matt : – ; Allison, New Moses, , ) and the promise of “rest” (Josh :, ; Matt : – ; Allison, ibid., ).

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


28:16 – 20 and Josh 1:1– 9 is selective to say the least. One person is commissioned in Josh 1, while 11 (and counting) are commissioned in Matt 28. And other aspects of Josh 1—promises of land and prosperity, reassurances against fear, and threats of death for disobedience¹⁵—are missing in Matt 28. In this contribution I pursue a different approach that suggests some significant interaction between Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus. After elaborating a method of intertextuality, I sketch a portrait of Joshua from the Septuagint book of that name.¹⁶ I then address the question of what features of this portrait have been brought forward or left behind in the construction of the Matthean Jesus. This discussion will trouble the conventional claim that the NT document Matthew pays no heed to Joshua’s military occupation of this promised land, as well as challenge the resultant preference for a reading of Matthew that focuses on a spiritualized and Christologized approach centered on saving from personal, spiritual sins. In the light of the intertextuality between Joshua and Matthew, I make a quite different argument. I argue that Matthew’s Gospel brings forward Joshua’s preoccupation with and occupation of the land, not by replacing it with a spiritual kingdom, but by locating a global and eschatological conquest of land within the Gospel’s Christology. Given intertextuality with Joshua, I argue that Matthew constructs the eschatological Jesus as one who will in a final battle violently secure global land from Roman imperial control and establish God’s rule over heaven and earth/land.

 Land, Josh : – , ; prosperity, Josh :; reassurances against fear, Josh :; death for disobedience, Josh : – .  Recognizing space limitations and the Septuagint as the main version of Hebrew traditions that the Gospel employs, I restrict focus to the presentation of Joshua in the Septuagint book of that name. The LXX/OG text is some  % shorter than the MT with the major variants occurring in : – ; : – ; : – , and the end of ch. . Richard D. Nelson, Joshua: A Commentary, OTL (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, ),  – , esp. notes  –  for literature. My more “broad-stroke” approach is not significantly impacted by these variants. For the relation between the MT and LXX versions, A. Graeme Auld, Joshua Retold: Synoptic Perspectives (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, ),  – ; A. Graeme Auld, Joshua: Jesus Son of Nauē in Codex Vaticanus, Septuagint Commentary Series (Leiden: Brill; ). For discussion of the portraits of Joshua in Qumran texts, Ariel Feldman, The Rewritten Joshua Scrolls From Qumran: Texts, Translations, and Commentary, BZAW  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ). For an English translation of LXX Joshua (by Leonard J. Greenspoon), Albert Pietersma, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds., A New English Translation of the Septuagint and Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under That Title (New York: Oxford University Press, ),  – . Where appropriate I cite this English translation.


Warren Carter

1 Method I pursue this investigation by means of a form of intertextuality that Steve Moyise identifies as “reader-centred.”¹⁷ In this approach, meaning is constructed in the interaction between the text and reader in a particular socio-cultural context in relation to particular questions and interests. In adopting this approach, I set aside attempts to identify authorial intention.¹⁸ I am not arguing that the author of the Gospel explicitly made connections with Septuagint Joshua, but nor do I rule out this possibility. I simply recognize that I have no access to such knowledge and I do not consider it necessary for what I argue in this chapter. I recognize that it is possible for a writer to be influenced by a text, cultural memory, or literary paradigm without being explicitly aware of it. Accordingly, I recognize what is central for a “reader-centered” approach, namely that audiences/readers construe and construct various meanings from a text influenced by their own social circumstances and personal interests. My approach, then, is not that of Dale Allison who declares that his work “presupposes the ability to recover intentions.”¹⁹ I do not presuppose this ability. Rather, I take responsibility as reader and interpreter of these texts for framing this inquiry and suggesting connections and comparisons between Septuagint Joshua and the Matthean Jesus. Nor am I suggesting that Matthew as reader of LXX Joshua actualizes or completes its “semantic potential.”²⁰ Rather, moving away from these “traditional notions of agency and influence,” with Julia Kristeva I understand texts to exist in complex and dialogical relationships with other texts, that no text is an isolated island, meaning is not fixed but is revised and created anew in relation to and repositioned by new texts in changing contexts.²¹ Such webs or matrices of texts do not create themselves; readers create them in particular circumstances as they “remember” other texts. In this paper, then, I choose to narrow this range of intertexts from a possible much larger and complex web to foreground the interaction of just two texts, namely Septuagint Joshua and the Gospel of Matthew. I do so on the basis of the name shared between the protagonists of each biblical book.

 Steve Moyise, Evoking Scripture: Seeing the Old Testament in the New (London: T&T Clark, ),  (spelling original).  Ibid.,  – .  Allison, New Moses, .  Moyise, Evoking Scripture, , citing Wolfgang Iser.  Ibid., . For a more author/text centered approach, Ulrich Luz, “Intertexts in the Gospel of Matthew,” HTR  ():  – .

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


To undertake the task of identifying what aspects of a portrait of LXX Joshua might be brought forward or neglected in Matthew’s Gospel, I also employ an approach derived from literary studies of characterization. One theory of characterization argues that as readers move through a text, we notice traits or characteristics from a character’s actions, speech, relationships, thoughts, settings etc.²² As we read on, we build the character by combining these traits, adding new ones, revising previous ones, forming ambiguities, filling in gaps, noticing dominant traits that distinguish one character from another. Using this approach I build a character profile of LXX Joshua, on the basis of themes, actions, and stylistic features,²³ and assess within spatial limits what characteristics of this portrait are present or absent, carried forward or neglected, in the presentation of the Matthean Jesus.

2 LXX Joshua In attempting a portrait of Septuagint Joshua, I note (without claiming a full presentation) the following twelve characteristics and themes in the presentation of Joshua.²⁴ – Joshua is presented as sharing characteristics evidenced by Moses and as replicating deeds performed by Moses.²⁵ Both Moses and Joshua are commissioned by God (Exod 3:7– 22; Josh 1:1– 9), encounter God directly (Exod 3:5 “remove the sandals …”; Josh 5:15 “remove the sandals …”), know divine presence and direction (Exod 4:1– 9; Josh 3:7– 8), lead the people across or through water (Exod 14– 15, the Red Sea; Josh 3, the Jordan, a link made explicit in Josh 4:23), send spies into the land (Num 13; Josh 2), exhort the people to commit to covenant faithfulness (Exod 24:7; Josh 24:24), and deliver pre-death farewell speeches or testaments (Deut 1– 34; Josh 23– 24), among others. In reprising features of Moses’s life and character, the link attributes glory and status to Joshua and legitimates his role and authority by association. The people recognize this  For example, Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, ),  – ; Fred Burnett, “Characterization and Reader Construction of Characters in the Gospels,” Semeia  ():  – .  For an author-centered approach utilizing seven “tests,” Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, ),  – . My approach is more broad-stroke and reader-driven.  Significant informing discussions include Sarah Lebhar Hall, Conquering Character: The Characterization of Joshua in Joshua  –  (New York: T&T Clark, ); Carolyn Pressler, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, ); Nelson, Joshua; J. Alberto Soggin, Joshua: A Commentary, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, ).  For one discussion, Allison, New Moses,  – .


Warren Carter

status and authority: “Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you” (Josh 1:17, several tribes). Of course, such a characterization also benefits both Moses (his disqualification from leadership is not fatal to God’s purposes; cf. Num 20:7– 13; 27:12– 23) and God (Joshua ensures God’s promises of land and rest are faithfully enacted). Joshua is the successor of Moses, commissioned by God with leading the people across and beyond the Jordan into the divinely-apportioned land (Josh 1:1– 4, 6, 10 – 16). In the land, the people will have “rest” or security from the nations and the violence of war (1:13, 15; 11:23; 14:15; 21:44; 22:4; 23:1). Joshua is to be “strong and manly” (ἴσχυε καὶ ανδρίζου; Josh 1:6) in which manliness is presented, at least in part, in terms of being a military commander and warrior.²⁶ Joshua sends spies to spy out the land (ch. 2) and the people cross the Jordan into the land “opposite Jericho” (3:16 – 4:1). He successfully accomplishes this task of occupying the divinely-given land (11:16; 21:43 – 45; 22:1– 9; 23:4, 9 – 10; 24:11– 13). In doing so, Joshua saves his people from the punishment of exclusion from the land for their sins of rebellion and faithlessness. Joshua becomes the leader of people who had refused the divine command to enter the land; they “rebelled against the command of the Lord…and have no trust in the Lord” (Deut 1:26, 32). God punishes this sinful people by excluding all of them except Caleb and Joshua from the land: “not one of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to your ancestors” (Deut 1:35 – 38). The people subsequently acknowledge their sins and then confirm them by launching a failed attack on the Amorites contrary to the divine command (Deut 1:41– 45). Joshua saves this people from their sins and punishment by leading them into the land. Joshua is exhorted to be courageous and promised divine presence (Josh 1:5 – 6, 9, 17; 3:10; 6:27). God promises to be present with Joshua “as I was with Moses” (1:5; 3:7). As the successor of Moses and aligned with Moses, he is a prophet like Moses (Deut 18:15 – 18). As a prophet, he speaks the words God “will put… in the mouth of the prophet” (Deut 18:18). So Joshua mediates the divine will to the people, hearing God speak and then relaying instructions and teaching to the people (Josh 3:8 – 9; 4:2– 5, 15 – 17; 6:2– 10 etc.). He uses the prophetic formula, “thus says the Lord” (7:13) and Israel acts “according

 Hall (Conquering Character,  – ) notes debates about whether this commissioning positions Joshua among kings or warriors or prophets or cult-worshipper. As the following discussion will indicate, the portrait of Joshua embraces multiple categories and does not fit exclusively into only one category.

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


to this word” (κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο; Josh 8:8, 27). He predicts the water will part (3:13) and it does (3:16; 4:23; 5:1). He curses Jericho’s rebuilder (6:26) and accordingly its rebuilder, Hiel, suffers with the death of his two sons (1 Kgs 16:34). He has the prophetic responsibility of denouncing and exposing Israel’s sin (Josh 7:10 – 19), which he discharges in putting to death Achan, the disobedient man (7:24– 26). This act carries out what God orders him to do to the disobedient in 1:18. God requires of Joshua and the people obedience to Moses’s teaching and law upon threat of death (1:7– 8, 13, 16 – 18; 23:6) and promises success, prosperity, and rest from enemies in the land as long as they remain obedient (1:8b, 13, 15; 21:43 – 45; 23:1, 12– 13, 15 – 16). Joshua obeys Moses’s teaching in reading and renewing the covenant at Mt. Ebal to the people (9:2a–2 f). The pious and faithful Joshua leads the people in cultic worship of God, selecting twelve men to set up an altar at Gilgal (ch. 4), circumcising the men, and keeping Passover (5:1– 12; in accord with Exod 12:44, 48 – 49) in preparation for holy war. He prays for the people (7:6 – 9), exposes and punishes Achan’s sin (7:10 – 26), and leads the people in renewing the covenant (24:1– 28). Joshua receives an angelic epiphany with “the commander of the army of the Lord” (5:13 – 15). He regularly sets up stone monuments to mark and remember divine acts performed on behalf of the people (7:24– 26, the valley of Achor to mark Achan’s death; 8:28 – 29, Ai’s destruction; 9:2a–b, Ebal, recording the law; 10:27, Makkedah’s destruction). As Israel’s supreme and central leader, Joshua is constructed as a king. The instructions to Joshua concerning Moses’s teachings, to “not turn from them to the right or to the left” (οὐκ ἐκκλινεῖς ἀπ’ αὐτῶν εἰς δεξιὰ οὐδὲ εἰς ἀριστερά) but to “meditate” on the book of the law “day and night” (ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός; 1:7– 8) echo those given to the king in Deut 17:19 – 20 and those describing David (2 Sam 22:23), Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:6), and Josiah (2 Kgs 22:2; 23). There are other leaders subordinate to Joshua: scribes (Josh 3:2), tribal leaders (4:1– 4), the Aaronic priest Eleazar and the “rulers of the familial tribes” (14:1), Eleazar’s son, Phinehas with “rulers” of the ten familial tribes (22:13– 14), and “their elders, their scribes, and their judges” (24:1). Joshua is a mighty warrior, leading the people to military successes in conquering the land. He is actively engaged in battle, inspiring fear in the occupants of the land (2:9 – 11, 24), leading forty thousand (4:13), overseeing the taking of Jericho (ch. 6), planning the attack on Ai (ch. 8), personally killing kings and people (8:28– 29; 10:26– 28), defeating the Amorites (10:12– 14), leading attacks on seven city-states (10:28– 42), on the kings of northern Canaan (11:1– 15), and on


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the legendary giants, the Anakim (11:21– 23; cf. 23:3, 9 – 10).²⁷ He “defeated the whole land … he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded” (10:40). Commanded by God to do so (13:1– 7), Joshua obediently leads the allocation of territory to the tribes (chs. 13 – 19) including Zebulun (19:10 – 16) and Naphtali (19:32– 39), and the designation of cities of refuge (ch. 20) and levitical towns (ch. 21). Joshua is identified as God’s “servant” (“domestic,” 5:14, οικέτη̣; 24:29, δοῦλος Κυρίου). The aged Joshua is a preacher of deuteronomistic perspectives and convictions in his testament addressed to “all the children of Israel” (23:1– 2, 14). He celebrates the divine action in fighting and overcoming the nations (23:3 – 5a, 9 – 10) and divine beneficence in promising, accomplishing, and allocating the land (23:5b). He exhorts ongoing faithful observance to the law of Moses as a “fence” for guarding Israel’s identity against foreign peoples, gods and intermarriage (23:6 – 7, 12). Such faithfulness expresses the people’s love for God (23:11). But failure to obey Moses’s teaching results in divine punishment, namely the removal of the people from the divinely-given land (23:13). Joshua reminds the people of God’s faithfulness (23:14– 15a), and reasserts the certainty of divine action to exclude the people from the land as punishment if they are unfaithful to the covenant stipulations (23:15b–16). Chapter 24 repeats these themes, rehearsing God’s favor to Israel (24:2 – 13) highlighting the defeat of the nations and the gift of the land (24:8 – 13). In turn, he exhorts the people to faithful living centered on loyalty to God and renouncing other gods (24:2, 14– 18). He warns the consenting people (24:16 – 18, 21, 24) of the consequences of unfaithfulness in violating the covenant (24:19 – 20, 22– 28).

What portrait of Joshua emerges? Joshua resembles Moses in numerous ways yet he is his successor in being divinely-commissioned to lead the sinful people out of their punitive wanderings and into the divinely-given land. For this task of saving his people from their sins, he is promised divine presence. To carry out this commission, he is, variously, military warrior and commander leading the army of the people, administrator in allocating the land, prophet in announcing Moses’s teaching, cult-worship leader, king, God’s servant, and deuteronomistic

 We should note that the promise of totally successful conquest (: – ) remains unfulfilled: :; :; :; : – ; :.

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


preacher.²⁸ In her analysis of the character of Joshua in MT Josh 1– 11, Sarah Hall argues that in his characterization Joshua is neither idealized nor fatally flawed, a character who includes both weaknesses and strengths.²⁹

3 Matthew’s Jesus Turning to the characterization of Jesus in Matthew, I reiterate that my argument focuses on identifying similarities and differences in characterization between Septuagint Joshua and the Matthean Jesus, on what might be brought forward or left behind or reinterpreted, rather than on arguing for sources or exclusive influence. Several similarities—at least in general emphasis—are readily identifiable. Since they are readily established and have been identified by previous scholarship I will note them briefly before moving on to focus on several interesting aspects. So for example, like Joshua, Matthew’s Jesus resembles various features of Moses’s life (Herod/Pharaoh and Herod, ch. 2; going up the mountain, 5:1– 2). Matthew’s Jesus is divinely commissioned to a particular task as savior from sin (1:21– 23; 3:17). God is present with and through him (1:23) especially through the Spirit (3:16). He is aligned with Moses’s teaching—“I have come not to abolish (the teachings) but to fulfill them” (5:17b). He exercises, though, freedom in interpreting Moses’s teachings (5:21– 48), radicalizing the prohibitions against oaths and against cycles of revenge, for example (5:33 – 42), and arguing for merciful observance of Sabbath (12:1– 14).³⁰ Jesus exercises a prophetic role, citing the prophet Isaiah in condemning the Pharisees and scribes (15:1– 9), is hailed by the Jerusalem crowds as a “prophet” (21:11) and harshly denounces the “sins” of the scribes and Pharisees in the woes of the regrettable chapter 23. Likewise he is identified in kingly terms from birth as “king of the Jews” by the magi (2:2), in his entry to Jerusalem (21:5), in his exchange with Pilate (27:11), and in his crucifixion (27:37, 42). He leads his people in cultic worship, exhorting prayer (5:44) and providing his followers with a prayer (6:9 – 13), blessing food (14:19), praying for children (19:13 – 15), presiding over Passover with his disciples (26:17– 30), and authorizing baptism and teaching for new disciples (28:19 – 20). Jesus is identified as God’s “servant,” explicitly in relation to heal-

 Sir : –  presents Joshua as mighty warrior, savior, prophet, and devoted to God.  Hall, Conquering Character,  – . As weaknesses, for instance, she notes Joshua’s doubtfull prayer that evokes the unfaithful desert generation (: – ) and his foolish treaty with the Gibeonites (ch. ).  Allison, New Moses, provides the definitive discussion.


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ings and exorcisms (8:16 – 17 citing Isa 53:4) and in relation to the task of bringing justice to Israel and to Gentiles (12:15 – 21 citing Isa 42:1– 4).³¹ And finally, Matthew’s Jesus is a deuteronomistic preacher. He announces divine blessings in nine beatitudes (5:3 – 12). He condemns the Jerusalem leadership for “voiding the word of God” by their disobedience to its commandments (15:1– 9). In Jerusalem, in the parables of the two sons, the vineyard and the wedding feast, he again condemns them for not doing God’s will and welcoming himself as God’s agent. Their punishment comes in the form of the destruction of their temple and city, with most interpreters reading the temple table-turning scene and cursed fig-tree (21:12– 17, 18 – 22) and the addition to the Q parable about the wedding feast of the reference to the king’s anger and the burned city as explanations for the disaster of Jerusalem’s fall to the Romans in 70 CE (22:7). In Matthew’s view, God punishes the leaders’ center of power for rejecting Jesus, God’s son or agent. The catalogue of woes or curses in chapter 23 heaps more condemnation on the leaders. In these roles of being a successor to Moses, as savior from sins, the recipient of divine presence, prophet, cult-worship leader, king, God’s servant, and deuteronomistic preacher, Jesus and Joshua bear significant similarities even while they differ in how these roles are carried out in their particular contexts. One might hypothesize that Matthew’s recurring use of the name ὁ Ἱησοῦς some 130 times evokes these intertexts.

4 Discontinuities? Setting aside Jesus’s death and resurrection—which receive considerable attention and numerous interpretations in Matthew’s Gospel³²—there are two large dimensions in the characterization of Joshua that seem at first glance to provide clear points of discontinuity between Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus, namely Joshua’s roles as military commander and as occupier and distributer of land. I begin with that of military commander. As I have detailed above, the Joshua narrative highlights Joshua’s military prowess and accomplishments as a warrior. Numerous interpreters have been deeply troubled, and with good reason, by the disturbing and perplexing accounts of divinely-sanctioned violence, destruction of cities, death, ethnic cleansing, and geno Evoked also in :. David Hill, “Son and Servant: An Essay on Matthean Christology,” JSNT  ():  – .  Warren Carter, Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist (Peabody: Hendrickson, )  – , for discussion.

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


cide. What about Matthew’s Jesus, commissioned to save his people from their sins? Is he a warrior, an agent of violence, and occupier of land? While Matthean commentators often note a link between the names of “Jesus” and “Joshua” in terms of their common meaning associated with salvation, they immediately highlight big contrasts and discontinuities between the two figures and their respective roles in relation to that salvation. Douglas Hare observes: “Although the same etymology is employed in Matthew, the meaning of salvation has dramatically changed: whereas Jesus son of Nun saved Israel from their Gentile enemies, Jesus son of Joseph will save his people from their sins.”³³ David Garland remarks, “… God has taken the initiative to do more than provide Israel with a messiah who will produce military victories. With the conception of this child, God has acted to redeem humankind.”³⁴ Cornelius De Vos comments similarly, that “Jesus werde ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιων ”von den Sünden“ retten, etwas, was im Josuabuch keine Rolle spielt” (“Jesus will save from sins, something that plays no role in the book of Joshua”),³⁵ and Stefan Koch remarks that the justification for the name given in Matt 1:21 of “saving from sins hardly fits the biblical Joshua.”³⁶ Davies and Allison articulate the position: “Jesus saves his people ‘from their sins’. This underlies the religious and moral—as opposed to political—character of the messianic deliverance. Liberation removes the wall of sin between God and the human race; nothing is said about freedom from the oppression of governing powers.”³⁷ Such commentators would see any hint of connection between the warrior Joshua and the stereotypical peace-loving and spiritually-minded Jesus, beyond their shared name, to be absurd. Some might even find support in Jesus’s words at his arrest, first rebuking the follower who uses a sword to cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave and then renouncing his option to appeal for “more than twelve legions of angels” or some seventy thousand or more heavenly warriors (26:52– 53). Yet these proposed antitheses between Septuagint Joshua and Mat-

 Douglas Hare, Matthew (Interpretation; Louisville: John Knox, ), .  David Garland, Reading Matthew (New York: Crossroad, ),  – .  De Vos, “Josua und Jesus im Neuen Testament,” ; similarly Brendan Byrne, Lifting the Burden: Reading Matthew’s Gospel in the Church Today (Collegeville: Liturgical, ), , “That the Messiah would be a saving figure introduces nothing new. What he would save from—not political and economic oppression but sin and its consequences—is much more surprising.” Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, ),  –, Jesus brings “salvation from sin – an enemy far much more dangerous than Rome or Herod.”  Koch, “‘Mose Sagt zu Jesus,’” .  William D. Davies and Dale Allison, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew,  vols., ICC (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, ), :.


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thean Jesus, between political and spiritual matters, reflecting contemporary divisions, collapse for two reasons.³⁸ First, they collapse in the face of the observation made above that, like Jesus, Joshua also saves his people from their sins. Contra De Vos, for example, Joshua becomes the leader of people who have refused the divine command to enter the land; they “rebelled against the command of the Lord … and have no trust in the Lord” (Deut 1:26, 32). God punished this sinful people by excluding all of them except Caleb and Joshua from the land: “not one of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to your ancestors” (Deut 1:35– 38). The people subsequently acknowledge their sins and then confirm them by launching a failed attack on the Amorites contrary to the divine command (Deut 1:41– 45). Joshua, then, saves this people from their sins of rebellion and faithlessness that have been punished by God in their wilderness wanderings by leading the new generation into the land. His commission to do so marks the end of the people’s time of punishment for their sins. Their salvation is enacted through divine presence and power in driving out the peoples that occupy the land (Deut 1:30 – 31, 39; Josh 1:2– 3 14– 15; 6:2; 8:1, 7 etc.) and in offering them new life in the new land. Clearly Luz’s declaration that Jesus’s mission to save from sins in Matt 1:21 “is unusual as a Jewish hope” and “reflects the Christian experiences with Jesus” must be revised in the light of intertextuality with Joshua’s saving the people from their sins.³⁹ Second, these spiritualizing interpretations collapse in the face of the observation that “saving from sins” involves for Matthew’s Jesus, like Joshua, occupation of land and violent victory over those who occupy it. De Vos argues that features in the Joshua narrative concerned with “land” and “violence” (Gewalt) “do not fit in the proclamation of the New Testament.”⁴⁰ Gary Burge comments: “What is striking about the NT is its discontinuity with the OT. In its theology of the land, the NT interprets or perhaps reverses a central tenet of the OT. It offers a new theological reality in place of traditional land; it redefines holy space as being in Christ.”⁴¹

 Brueggemann, Land,  – , also rejects the interpretive claim that the NT spiritualizes land matters.  Ulrich Luz, Matthew  – : A Commentary, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, ), :.  De Vos, “Josua und Jesus,” , “‘… Land’ und ‘Gewalt’ passen schlecht in die Verkündigung des Neuen Testaments.”  Gary M. Burge. “Land” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, ), :. For discussion, J. Gordon McConville and Stephen N. Williams, Joshua, Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ),  – ; Walter Bruegge-

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


To the contrary, I make six observations concerning the embracing of both land and power/violence by Matthew’s Jesus. 1. Matthew’s narrative, written after and for the post-70 CE situation of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, positions Jesus as entering a land dominated by sins (1:21). These sins comprise at least three dimensions. First, Matthew’s Gospel identifies specific sins such as neglecting the commandment to honor parents by caring for them (15:1– 9), an example of the Jerusalem scribes and Pharisees, according to Matthew’s Jesus, “breaking the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition” (15:3); or neglecting the commands of the Decalogue (19:18– 19); or ignoring “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (23:23). Second, sins comprise rejecting God’s purposes and agent, Jesus. In 21:13 Matthew’s Jesus denounces the leaders’ power base in the Jerusalem temple as a “den for bandits” (ληστῶν), using an image that coṇ structs these leaders as destructive robbers and insurrectionists (Josephus, J.W. 2.253– 54; 4.504; Ant 20.160 – 61, 167). In the three parables of 21:28– 22:14, Jesus condemns them for not doing God’s will (21:28– 32) and for rejecting God’s messengers and, especially, God’s son (21:33– 45). Matthew’s Jesus interprets the destruction of the city in 70 CE by the Romans as God’s punishment for these sinful leaders not receiving Jesus (21:45; 22:7, 15). The irony is that God uses the imperial power Rome to punish its allies, the Jerusalem leaders, for not heeding Jesus. And third, this sinful world of Roman power is constructed as being in the hands of the devil, the power behind the throne. In 4:8 in the temptation narrative, the devil is positioned as the one who controls “all the empires (βασιλείας) of the world” and offers them to Jesus. Jesus enters a sinful land. 2. Reflecting this same context, the Gospel narrative locates Matthew’s Jesus who will save his people from their sins entering contested land, land under Roman occupation yet given by God. At 4:12 the Matthean Jesus withdraws to Galilee to dwell in “Capernaum … in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali” located in the citation from Isaiah as “across the Jordan, Galilee under the Gentiles” (4:13 – 15).⁴² There are several key echoes of Joshua in this description. The phrase “across the Jordan” (πέραν τοῦ ’Ιορδάνου) occurs in Josh 1:15; 22:4; 24:8 to signify the divinely-given land, presently in the hands of the Canaanites. In the citation from Isa 7, this land is under Assyrian rule, a grievous violation of the divine will and purpose and in challenge to divine sovereignty over the land. In Matthew’s context, the land mann, The Land: Place as Gift, Promise and Challenge in Biblical Faith, OBT (Philadelphia: Fortress, ),  – .  For support, Warren Carter, Matthew and Empire: Initial Explorations (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, ),  – .



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under Roman control is another grievous violation of the divine gift and will, and contravention of divine sovereignty (Josephus, J.W. 7.216 – 17). Matthew’s references to Zebulun and Naphtali are introduced with words ὅριον (“territory”) and γῆ (“land”), words that are prolific in the book of Joshua with the former appearing more than 70 times (Josh 1:4 etc.) and the latter appearing more than 90 times (e. g. Josh 1:2, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15 etc.). The terms refer to the land given by God and occupied under Joshua’s leadership. Within this context, Zebulun is a tribal allocation in Galilee shown to Moses (Deut 34:1– 4) and apportioned by Joshua (19:10 – 16, both B and A with some variants in identifying places). Naphtali is likewise a tribal allocation in Galilee assigned by Joshua (Josh 19:32– 39). The terms (Zebulon, Naphtali, “territory,” “land”) stipulate the promised land gifted by God and assigned by Joshua. But now in the Matthean context both areas are occupied by Rome in violation of God’s sovereignty and purpose, comprising “Galilee under the Gentiles.” This translation “under the Gentiles” more accurately reflects the context and renders the genitive of relationship clearly in terms of ruling over or control.⁴³ Galilee is ruled by and under the control of Rome post 70 CE. Jesus enters this land. The land is described in terms of darkness and the shadow of death. These terms designate not the general sins so beloved by Matthean commentators but, in the citation from Isa 9:1– 2, they designate the darkness of Assyrian imperial rule and occupation. Darkness is associated with oppressive slavery in Egypt (Exod 10:21– 22) and exile in Babylon (Isa 42:7; 47:5; 49:9) and light signifies God’s saving presence (Ps 27:1) that rescues or saves people from the oppressive “rule over” of Assyrians and Romans (Matt 4:16; cf. Isa 9:2; 42:7 Babylon). While Roman poets such as Statius (Silvae 1.1.77; 4.1.3 – 4, 23 – 27; 4.2.41– 44) and Martial (Epigrams 8.21) hail Roman rule and presence in light-giving terms, Matthew disagrees and reverses the image. Galilee “across the Jordan” and comprising land divinely assigned to Zebulun and Naphtali is in darkness under Roman rule but God’s saving light now shines. How, then, and when does Matthew’s Jesus manifest divine salvation or deliverance in this contested land? Some interpreters, perhaps influenced by Pauline interests or other factors, concentrate exclusively on the cross noting 26:28, the last supper scene in which Jesus identifies the cup as “the blood of

 BDF, .,. For parallel constructions, Matt : τὰ μέρη Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος, the territories ruled by/under the control of Tyre and Sidon; Matt: τὰ μέρη Καισαρείας τῆς Φιλίππου, the territories ruled by/under the control of Caesarea Philippi; Matt : τὰ Καίσαρος … τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, the things belonging to/under the control of Caesar … the things belonging to/under the control of God.

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


the covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” But centering on 26:28 neglects twenty-five of Matthew’s twenty-eight chapters, not to mention Jesus’s words of forgiveness in chapter 9 some seventeen chapters before the cross. But nor does the Matthean Jesus, like Joshua, mobilize an army and set about wide-ranging slaughter of occupying Romans to claim the land—well, not yet. That, though, does not mean land and violence are not an important part of Matthew’s salvific vision. Matthew’s Jesus promises, for example, in the third beatitude in 5:5 that the blessed “meek … will inherit the land,” the same word that Matt 4:15 uses to designate the land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,⁴⁴ and a word used some 90 times in LXX Joshua. The beatitude of Matt 5:5 cites Ps 37 where three times the declaration is made that the meek will inherit the land (Ps 37:11, 22, 29; also 37:3, 9, 34). The Psalm delineates a dualistic scenario in which the prosperous and powerful wicked oppress the powerless righteous who comprise the meek. The wicked “carry out evil devices” (37:7), “plot against” and “gnash their teeth against” the righteous (37:12). They treat “the poor and needy” violently and destroy them (37:14, 32). They borrow and do not pay back (37:21). They take the righteous to court (37:33) and oppress them (37:35). Yet repeatedly, the Psalmist declares that God will destroy the wicked and rescue the righteous “from the wicked, and save them” (37:40), ensuring the righteous, the meek, gain life-sustaining land. How this happens, and more importantly, when this happens the Psalm does not specify. It seems, though, given the repeated exhortations to not fret and to wait patiently for God to act, that this intervention is future but not necessarily imminent. The Psalm is long on conviction but short on strategy for the present. The future tense in Matt 5:5 to designate the “inheriting” of the land (κληονομήσουσιν) suggests here a future—eschatological—accomplishing of this “en-landing” of the oppressed righteous.⁴⁵ To this emphasis we can add the prayer in 6:10 that God’s will will “be done on the earth/land (ἐπὶ γῆς) as it is in heaven.” That is, God’s will, a synonym for God’s reign/empire, originates from heaven to be established over the land subjected to God’s sovereignty.⁴⁶

 Matthew’s use of γῆ consistently denotes land or the earth in general, not Israel specifically.  The Matthean vision of the future is not clear. In : and : heaven and earth pass away. Both verses can be read as hyperbole indicating that God’s word, constitutive of life, will never pass away, just as heaven (the abode of God) and earth never pass away. If, however, both verses are taken literally, the new age of : would suggest a cosmic renewal or new creation.  Jonathan Pennington, Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew, NovTSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – .




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Further, Jesus in Joshua-like fashion promises to deliver not only land but also “rest.” Josh 1:13, 15 explicitly link God’s gift of “a place of rest” (κατέπαυσεν) and the gift of the land (γῆν). Five more times Joshua connects language of “rest” with the gift of the land and the absence of other ruling powers and war (11:23; 14:15; 21:44; 22:4; 23:1). Addressing “all who labor and are heavy laden,” Matthew’s Jesus promises “I will give you rest” (11:28).⁴⁷ Conventionally Matthean scholars have seen the laboring and heavy burdened as burdened either by sin or by the law but neither is convincing. More consistent, though, with Matthean usage elsewhere (6:28), “labor” refers literally to the hard manual labor most folks performed in the ancient world. The Gospel does not construct the law itself (cf. 23:4) nor sin per se as “burdens.” A more contextualized understanding of “the heavy burdened” identifies them as those living in the darkness and death of “Galilee under the Gentiles,” that is, living under Roman rule. What, then, is the “rest” Jesus brings? Following the Joshua connection and the dominant use of nouns and verbs denoting “rest” in the Septuagint, and rejecting the commonly-claimed evoking of wisdom, “rest” comprises re-taking the land in accordance with God’s sovereignty, displacing those who currently exercise illegitimate sovereignty over it, and rendering it secure from these nations, from imperial powers (Rome), and from war.⁴⁸ But how and when does this salvation come about? In the present, Jesus “began to go about in all Galilee” (περιῆγεν ἐν ὅλη̣ Γαλιλαίᾳ) engaging not in warfare but in three activities, teaching, preaching, and healing (4:23). These activities manifest the “good news of the empire” (4:23) but they are not apolitical and spiritual as is commonly claimed. They assert God’s sovereignty over the minds and bodies, though not the land yet, of those who live in “Galilee under the Gentiles.” A similar activity concerns Jesus’s exorcisms that set free the minds and bodies of those so possessed by the devil’s agents (4:24). Richard Horsley has discussed the prevalence of Spirit possession in contexts of colonial power as a strategy for negotiating that power.⁴⁹ Exorcisms manifest the dominant empire of the heavens in the present while also revealing the political nature of Jesus’s activity. Recall that in the temptation scene, the devil offers Jesus control of “all the empires of the world”

 In support of the discussion that follows, Warren Carter, “Take My Yoke not Rome’s: Matthew : – ,” in Matthew and Empire,  – .  Ibid.,  – .  Richard Horsley, Jesus and the Politics of Roman Palestine (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, ),  – .

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?



(πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου; 4:8). The verse discloses the devil to be the power behind the thrones of the world’s empires, the most important of which is, in the Gospel’s purview, the Roman empire. In the Testament of Solomon a similar view informs the sixth demon’s self-identification to Solomon as “I am Power. I raise up tyrants, I depose kings” (T. Sol. 8:10). Each exorcism, then, reclaims a human life from the devil’s and Rome’s sovereignty in an assertion of God’s sovereignty.⁵⁰ The conflict between Jesus and Satan in Matt 12:22– 32 presents this conflict as a war, notably in the image of plundering the strong man’s house. The verb “plunder” commonly appears in and denotes various war scenarios including plundering houses.⁵¹ Yet, Matthew’s Jesus does not engage in that sort of war. And twice the Matthean Jesus pragmatically sanctions the payment of tax to the occupying Roman power, including the post-70 tax on subjugated Judeans (17:24– 27; 22:15 – 22), thus avoiding war, even while his instructions provide space for self-protective dissent from Roman rule.⁵² In these sorts of actions, the “gospel of the empire of God” is encountered in part in the present throughout the land but not yet embracing the land. None of Jesus’s present actions, then, involves literal military action or claiming land. Does this mean, then, as Christian theology has frequently asserted, that Matthew, like other NT writings, has metaphorized the Joshua tradition concerning his military occupation of the land with a spiritualized notion of salvation in Christ and God’s empire?⁵³ To answer this with the

 Other present experiences of divine sovereignty included forgiveness. Attempts to link salvation only to the cross via the last supper (:) fail in the light of the forgiveness offered in : – , some  chapters before the cross and without any reference to it.  The verb is ἀρπάζειν. So Deut : –  outlines the punitive defeat of a disobedient people and the plundering of livestock (:);  Macc : refers to Trypho’s invasion of Judah as “plunder” (: – ); Tob :, Tobit’s property was “forcibly taken.” In Josephus, the verb signifies in contexts of military violence plunder of grain (J.W. .), the Upper Market (.), people (.), owners or masters of houses (.), villages (.), villages and houses (. – ), people (.), possessions (.), gold and silver (Ant. .), statues seized from Agrippa’s house (.), and plunder from the city of Tiberias (Vit. ).  Warren Carter, “Paying the Tax to Rome as Subversive Praxis: Matthew : – ,” JSNT  ():  – ; idem, Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, ),  – .  McConville and Williams, Joshua,  – ; Bruce C. Birch et al., A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament (Nashville: Abingdon, ), ; “… the faith of the church is not land based…. For that reason the land claims of Joshua and Judges have been transposed and spiritualized so that it is Jesus who is the land of promise, and communion with God, sacramentally expressed, is the church’s sure, safe place.” See notes  – ,  – , and  above (for Brueggemann’s different understanding).


Warren Carter

conventional affirmative, however, fails to account for Matthean eschatology and the future and physical orientations of the Matthean presentation of salvation in which mimicry of the ways of Joshua and Caesar are evident, writ large on a cosmic canvas. We have noted one key text above, the prayer of Matt 6:10 for God’s empire to extend from heaven over the earth/land. A second key text is 24:27– 31 in Matthew’s eschatological discourse. As I have argued extensively elsewhere in a JBL article, this scene employs rich imperial symbolism to present the return of Jesus, the Son of Man, as a battle in which the warrior Jesus destroys the Roman army, symbolized by the eagles who lie with the corpses, thereby ending the Roman empire and establishing God’s empire over the heavens and the earth/land.⁵⁴ This vision of eschatological victory begins by highlighting the visibility of the return of the Son of Man. The lightning is not that of Jupiter but is theophanic in denoting God’s power and presence (Exod 19:16; Ezek 1:13) at work in this Danielic figure to whom God has given “everlasting dominion” and sovereignty over the nations (Dan 7:13 – 14). His coming (παρουσία) results in corpses (sing. πτῶμα) gathered together with eagles (ἀετοί; not vultures) that in the LXX commonly depict imperial nations (Assyria, Hos 8:1; Babylon, Isa 40:31; Ezek 17:3 – 4, 22– 24), and more particularly in numerous texts, monuments, and military insignia, the Roman army now destroyed (4 Ezra 11– 12; Josephus, J.W. 3.123; 5.48). This destruction is reflected cosmically in the defeat of the solar, lunar, and astral deities that sanction Roman rule; it is “lights out” time for Rome as God’s sovereignty is asserted (Matt 24:29). God’s victory standard is displayed claiming victory in this eschatological battle (24:30a), the tribes mourn either in repentance or in fear of judgment (24:30b), and a trumpet calls the victorious righteous (24:31). The scene is militaristic and violent; it asserts divine sovereignty over Roman power, peoples, and land. It establishes God’s victory through Jesus’s actions. It resembles a scene from Joshua writ large to assert God’s victory through Jesus over all land and people. The Gospel’s eschatological vision mimics even as it surpasses the Roman imperial strategies and worldview that the Gospel condemns.

 Warren Carter, “Are There Imperial Texts in the Class? Intertextual Eagles and Matthean Eschatology as ‘Lights Out’ Time for Imperial Rome (Matthew : – ),” JBL  ():  – . This article elaborates and supports the argument.

Septuagint Joshua and Matthew’s Jesus: Salvation and Land Wars?


5 Conclusion After sketching a twelve-feature portrait of Septuagint Joshua, I have identified significant continuities with the Matthean Jesus. I have also identified two dimensions associated with Joshua’s salvific mission that are often deemed by NT scholars to be discontinuities for the Matthean Jesus, namely possession of land and military conquest. I have suggested that the conventional claims of discontinuity concerning these matters in NT texts like Matthew are not convincing. I have made six observations: Matthew’s construction of a post-70 context comprises sin punished by Roman conquest; the narrative positions Jesus in Galilee as his entry into divinely-gifted but imperially occupied land; Jesus promises future land for the oppressed righteous; Jesus promises rest—the absence of war in the land—for the laboring and heavy laden under imperial occupation; his exorcisms present resistance to devilcontrolled Roman power; and Matthew’s eschatological vision of a cosmic battle ends Roman power and establishes God’s empire in full including sovereignty over land. These six observations indicate that aspects of the Joshua portrait often thought to be irrelevant to the Matthean presentation of Jesus, namely control of land and military victory, are, to the contrary, echoed in the Matthean presentation. Both land and violence play some role in Matthew’s vision of eschatological salvation. The Gospel does not replace them with a spiritual kingdom, but echoes Joshua’s preoccupation with the military seizing of land in envisioning Jesus’s global and eschatological conquest of land.

Shelly Matthews

Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus: Luke’s Flesh and Bones (Luke 24:39) in Light of Ancient Narratives of Ascent, Resurrection, and Apotheosis Proclamation of a future resurrection, as well as claims of resurrection accomplished, serve a multitude of purposes among Jews and Christians in the ancient Mediterranean world.¹ Instances of resurrection proclamation sometimes answer to the problem of “unfinished lives,”² in their insistence that untimely and violent deaths cannot be the last word on these persons’ fate. Such proclamations challenge the existing social order, and the ruling powers responsible for unjust killing, by positing a larger divine, cosmic order in which the suffering righteous are restored and recompensed. Tapping into this strand of resurrection thinking motivated the work of the late Jane Schaberg, who in her monograph The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene, while reflecting on something Jacques Derrida describes as “outside the evangelical, doctrinal, or dogmatic space of the resurrection, before it, more originary than it,” put forth an argument for “resurrection faith as concerned with justice for the whole person, for the body, and for the corporate Human One, Justice, and perhaps mercy.”³ As has been demonstrated in the scholarship of Elaine Pagels and John Gager, early Christian claims of fleshly resurrection in the second century and beyond come to take on a more conserving function, with assertions of continuity of flesh in this world and the next serving as justification for, rather than as challenge to, the existing social order. Pagel’s contribution, made some 40 years ago, was framed as distinguishing between Orthodox and Gnostic Christians on resurrection teaching. She demonstrated how the Orthodox authors Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus,

 For one discussion of the many social functions resurrection claims might have had for early Jewish and Christian groups, see Claudia Setzer, Resurrection of the Body in Early Judaism and Early Christianity: Doctrine, Community, and Self-Definition (Boston: Brill, ),  – .  For this phrase, which I use in my study of a particular strand of ancient resurrection thinking, I am indebted to my colleague Stephen Sprinkle, who employs it to document hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in the United States. See his Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, ), and also the continued documentation on his blog: http://unfinishedlivesblog.com/.  Jane Schaberg, The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha and the Christian Testament (New York: Continuum, ), .


Shelly Matthews

and Tertullian insisted that only the successors to the twelve apostles, who had seen the resurrected Jesus in the flesh on the earth, had legitimate authority, while Gnostics held to a less restrictive mode of legitimation, linking authority to claims of visionary contact with Jesus.⁴ For the Orthodox, this led to the privileging of Peter as the one possessing the keys to the kingdom and the power to bind and loose, along with the argument that ecclesial leadership rightly belongs to those in the apostolic succession. In Gnostic literature, Mary Magdalene’s prominence suggests a less hierarchical ecclesial structure. Following Pagels, Gager situated fleshly resurrection claims within a Durkheimian structural-functionalist framework to argue that in early Christian communities belief in future but indefinite, bodily resurrection, correlated with Christians rising in the hegemonic social order and becoming more at home in this world.⁵ More recently, John Dominic Crossan, in his 2012 presidential address to the Society of Biblical Literature, mapped out Christian resurrection theologies according to an East/West divide, suggesting that Eastern Christian articulations of resurrection meaning are more potentially liberative than Western Christian resurrection theologies have been. In Eastern iconography, such as in this image of the anastasis from the Chora church in Istanbul, Christ is depicted raising Adam and Eve, representatives of all humanity, from the grave. Crossan characterizes such populist images of resurrection as Christ “raising up and leading out,” and juxtaposes them with the turn taken in Western Christianity to articulate resurrection theology primarily in terms of a distant, future judgment, in which all people aside from an exclusive group of right-thinking Christians are condemned to hell.⁶

 Elaine Pagels, “Visions, Appearances and Apostolic Authority: Gnostic and Orthodox Traditions,” in Gnosis: Festschrift für Hans Jonas, ed. Barbara Aland (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,),  – ; eadem, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, ),  – .  Yet, in his conclusions Gager acknowledges that the symbol of bodily resurrection is not a perfectly stable one, but could always potentially be employed in the service of resistance. Resurrection, he writes, may be seen “as a permanent symbolic indicator of Christianity’s ultimate refusal to identify itself completely with the secular order … the survival of belief in resurrection has meant the persistence of a latent symbol of protest, alienation, and transformation.” John G. Gager, “Body-Symbols and Social Reality: Resurrection, Incarnation and Asceticism in Early Christianity,” Religion  ():  – . Responding specifically to Gager’s argument, and more generally to a “model borrowed from Durkheimian anthropology, mediated through feminism,” Carolyn Walker Bynum disputes the idea that materialist notions of resurrection functioned to perpetuate ecclesiastical hierarchy and gender difference in subsequent centuries. See The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity,  –  (New York: Columbia University Press, ),  – .  John D. Crossan, “A Vision of Divine Justice: The Resurrection of Jesus in Eastern Christian Iconography,” JBL  ():  – . See also his earlier contribution, “The Resurrection of Jesus in its Jewish Context,” Neot  ():  – .

Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus


This article contributes to the question of resurrection meanings in early Jewish and Christian texts by mapping out how the vision of the dry bones come to life in Ezek 37:1– 14 is employed in resurrection claims, both by those who challenge and by those who conform to the existing social order in the early centuries of the Common Era. It considers the use of the dry-bones passage from Ezekiel in the 4QPseudo-Ezekiel scroll from Qumran, as well as allusions to Ezekiel in resurrection narratives of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It focuses especially on one verse in the story of Jesus’s resurrection told in the final chapter of Luke, where Jesus invites the disciples to “touch and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). My argument is that the Lukan phrase “flesh and bones” is an allusion to Ezekiel’s Dry Bones Vision. However, while 4Q Pseudo-Ezekiel and Gospel of Matthew 27:52 employ the Ezekiel vision to proclaim the imminent vindication of the suffering righteous, Luke 24:39 serves a different purpose. In line with early Christian apologists, the Third Gospel asserts that Jesus was resurrected in flesh and bones as a means to establish continuity between life before death and life after death, signaling the postponement of restoration into the distant future. Thus the resurrection theology of the Third Gospel heralds a strand of early Christianity which, in John Gager’s terms, is losing its sectarian edge and becoming more “at home” in the world.


Shelly Matthews

The argument proceeds as follows: First it surveys recent scholarship on the influence of biblical figures, and of the Roman apotheosis tradition, on Gospel narratives of Jesus’s resurrection. After noting that none of these precedents clarify Luke’s emphasis on the resurrected Jesus’s flesh and bones it turns to early Jewish resurrection discourses as an explanatory frame. Finally it focuses on the employment of Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones in early Jewish and Christian resurrection proclamations and maps Luke’s resurrection narrative within these proclamations.

1 Moses, Elijah, and the Roman Emperors: Ascent and Translation Narratives in Gospel Scholarship Though Ezek 37 presents the most vivid account of (figurative) resurrection in the Hebrew Bible, neither this text nor other resurrection references from the Hebrew Bible (e. g., Isa 26:19 or Dan 12:1– 3) are commonly featured in discussions of the resurrection narratives in the canonical gospels. A number of studies considering biblical influences upon these canonical gospel narratives have looked not to images of resurrection per se, but rather to narratives of ascent, to commissioning stories linked to those ascents, and to narratives otherwise focusing on an exalted divine man in the heavenly sphere. Thus, traditions concerning Moses, the ascent of Elijah and other raptured figures, and the Son of Man as described in Dan 7 are more often foregrounded as biblical models. Recently Roger Aus has proposed that early Jewish and Tannaitic elaborations on the death, translation, and ascent of Moses provide evidence for a genetic relationship between this literature and the gospel resurrection narratives.⁷ William D. Davies and Dale C. Allison have argued that the commissioning of the Twelve in Matt 28:16 – 20 is influenced by the story of Joshua’s commission after the death of Moses (Josh 1:1– 9).⁸ Jane Schaberg cites the story of the transfer of authority between Elijah and Elisha (2 Kgs 2:1– 18) as an intertext that helps to account for the remarkable story of the encounter between Mary Magdalene and the resurrected Jesus in John 20:11– 18.⁹ The narrative of the ascent of

 Roger D. Aus, The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus, and the Death, Burial and Translation of Moses in Judaic Tradition, Studies in Judaism (Lanham: University Press of America, ).  William D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, “Matt. : – : Texts Behind the Text,” RHPR  ():  – .  Among the points of connection Schaberg cites the following: ) the “strangely ‘low’ Christology” of Mary’s addressing Jesus as rabbouni corresponds to references to Elijah as adoneika ( Kgs :, ).

Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus


Jesus in Luke-Acts (Luke 24:50 – 51; Acts 1:9) has invited comparison by Arie W. Zwiep with Elijah and the other eight or nine figures on “the Jewish rapture list,” who are snatched into heaven and expected to return to earth in order to participate in a final eschatological judgment.¹⁰ Reference to the worship of the resurrected Jesus (Matt 28:17) and to a heavenly triad of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has sparked comparison to the function of Son of Man in Dan 7.¹¹ Without denying influence of these Jewish precedents upon New Testament narratives altogether, scholarship attuned to the Roman imperial context of the first centuries of the common era has persuasively posited an even more direct influence on narratives of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus: the Roman apotheosis traditions.¹² While acknowledging Greek as well as Roman instances of translation and apotheosis, this scholarship takes as a point of departure the accounts of the apotheosis of Romulus, the first king of Rome according to legend. The tradition that Romulus ascended into the heavens after his death is widely cited in ancient literature, both by those who accept the story and by those who dismiss it as mere mythmaking.¹³ Plutarch falls into the latter category, yet because he preserves one of the most comprehensive narratives, it is re-

Both Elisha and Mary are pupils, fellow prophets, companions and followers of the one ascending; ) the admonition not to cling to Jesus in John : corresponds to Elijah’s threefold exhortation that Elisha should remain, rather than follow ( Kgs :, , ); ) as Elisha replaces Elijah, Mary is sent “as Jesus’ agent and voice” to proclaim the resurrection to the disciples; ) the familial language employed in both texts—father (John :;  Kgs :), brothers (John :), sons of the prophets ( Kgs :, , )—are “expressions of equal privilege in the family of God, and … part of the Merkabah tradition’s notion of the transformed mystic and angels in a ‘celestial family’.” Schaberg, Resurrection of Mary Magdalene,  – . For further consideration of the importance of the Elijah-Elisha cycle to the Gospel narratives, see Thomas L. Brodie, The Crucial Bridge: The Elijah-Elisha Narrative as an Interpretive Synthesis of Genesis-Kings and a Literary Model for the Gospels (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, ).  Arie W. Zwiep, The Ascension of the Messiah in Lukan Christology, NovTSup  (Leiden: Brill, ). See also the important earlier studies of John E. Alsup, The Post-Resurrection Appearance Stories of the Gospel Tradition (London: SPCK, ) and Gerhard Lohfink, Die Himmelfahrt Jesu: Untersuchungen zu den Himmelfahrts- und Erhöhungstexten bei Lukas (Munich: Kösel, ).  Davies and Allison, “Matt. : – .”  In addition to the studies of Wendy Cotter and Richard Miller discussed below, see also, Daniel A. Smith, Revisiting the Empty Tomb: The Early History of Easter (Minneapolis: Fortress, ),  – ,  –; and Gary Gilbert, “Roman Propaganda and Christian Identity in the Worldview of LukeActs,” in Contextualizing Acts: Lukan Narrative and Greco-Roman Discourse, ed. Todd Penner and Caroline Vander Stichele (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, ),  –.  Plutarch, Rom. ; Livy, .; Cicero, Rep. .. – ; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ant. rom. .; Ovid, Fast. .; Metam. . – ; Tertullian, Nat. ..; Minucius Felix, Oct. ..


Shelly Matthews

produced here as a point of reference. As one explanation for the fate of Romulus’s body, he notes: Others think that … [Romulus] was holding an assembly of the people outside the city … when suddenly strange and unaccountable disorders with incredible changes filled the air; the light of the sun failed, and the night came down upon them, not with peace and quiet, but with awful peals of thunder and furious blasts driving rain from every quarter, during which the multitude dispersed and fled, but the nobles gathered closely together; and when the storm had ceased … and the multitude, now gathered together again in the same place as before, anxiously sought for their king, the nobles … exhorted them all to honor and revere Romulus, since he had been caught up into the heaven, and was to be a benevolent god for them instead of a king. (Rom. 27.5 – 8; trans. Perrin, LCL)

The story continues: At this pass, then, it is said that one of the patricians, a man of noblest birth, and of the most reputable character, a trusted and intimate friend also of Romulus himself … Julius Proculus by name, went into the forum and solemnly swore by the most sacred emblems before all the people that, as he was traveling on the road, he had seen Romulus coming to meet him, fair and stately to the eye as never before, and arrayed in bright and shining armor. He himself, then, frightened at the sight, had said: “O King, what possessed you, or what purpose did you have, that you have left … the whole city sorrowing without end at the loss of its father?” Whereupon Romulus had replied: “It was the pleasure of the gods, O Proculus, from whom I came, that I should be with mankind only a short time, and that after founding a city destined to be the greatest on earth for empire and glory, I should dwell again in heaven. So farewell, and tell the Romans that if they practice self-restraint, and add to it valor, they will reach the utmost heights of human power. And I will be your propitious deity, Quirinus.” (Rom. 28.1– 2; trans. Perrin, LCL, slightly modified)

Romulus’s death and ascent become the prototype for subsequent narratives of the apotheoses of Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, and others in the imperial succession.¹⁴ The assertion that these rulers were raised to the heavens after their deaths, along with the cosmic scope of the claims for their sovereignty and legitimacy, provide obvious parallels to Gospel claims pertaining to Jesus’s divinity, his triumph over death, commission of successors and ascent into the heavens. Wendy Cotter, in an article published in 2001, helpfully underscored three themes in Plutarch’s narrative of the death of Romulus which recur frequently in the Roman apotheosis tradition, and which are relevant to the Gospel narra-

 This article focuses on textual traditions. For an important discussion of the visual depictions of imperial apotheoses, see Mary Beard and John Henderson, “The Emperor’s New Body: Ascension from Rome,” in Parchments of Gender: Deciphering the Body in Antiquity, ed. Maria Wyke (Oxford: Clarendon, ),  – .

Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus


tives of Jesus’s resurrection. First, in order for the Roman state to make formal pronouncement that an apotheosis has occurred, a credible witness must verify the ascent of the deceased to the heavenly realm. Second, Romulus returns from the dead to give counsel to his successor Proculus, and thus “the apotheosis serves the successors of the hero as legitimation of their rule.” Finally, Romulus offers assurance that in his divine form, he will remain a constant presence with the Roman people.¹⁵ In a recent study of Gospel resurrection narratives that focuses on the empty tomb story in Mark, Richard Miller provides a considerably more expansive case for situating these narratives squarely within the category of Hellenistic and Roman apotheosis narratives, or “translation fables” as Miller so dubs them. His argument concludes with a “twenty point table of common mimetic signals” shared by the translation accounts of Romulus and Jesus. These common features include missing bodies, prodigies, commissioning stories, eyewitness testimonies, ascensions, encounters with the translated hero on the road, frightened subjects, acclamations of the hero as Son of God, and inspired messages pertaining to the translation.¹⁶ In addition to providing a thick and compelling list of parallels between Roman translation fables and Gospel resurrection narratives, Miller also makes explicit what scholars looking for Jewish parallels have implied in their turn to Elijah and the Danielic Son of Man, rather than to Ezek 37 or Isa 24– 27 as explanatory background for these narratives. Miller notes that early Jewish resurrection ideas, while helpful in illuminating some forms of early Christian resurrection proclamations, contribute “little to no aid” in understanding Mark’s story of the empty tomb and subsequent expansions in the canonical gospels: Resurrection in early Jewish literature never functioned to distinguish or exalt the individual as a stand-alone event; instead, resurrection stood as a general collective eschatological moment at the end of the age, an anticipated feature of the final judgment of humankind. One finds no conventional trait of early Jewish eschatological resurrection, whether literary or conceptual, in Mark’s concluding episode. The resurrection of the mundane corpus, moreover, contrasts starkly with the somatic translation of one who had achieved immortal deification.¹⁷

 Wendy Cotter, “Greco-Roman Apotheosis Traditions and the Resurrection Appearances in Matthew,” in The Gospel of Matthew in Current Study: Studies in Memory of William G. Thompson, S.J., ed. David E. Aune (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ), .  Richard Miller, “Mark’s Empty Tomb and Other Translation Fables in Classical Antiquity,” JBL  ():  – . See now Richard Miller’s monograph, Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity (London: Routledge, ), which appeared too late to be engaged in this article.  Miller, “Mark’s Empty Tomb,” . Compare also  – , n .


Shelly Matthews

I agree with Cotter and Miller that the Roman apotheosis tradition is fundamental for clarifying the canonical narratives of the empty tomb and the resurrection as a “stand-alone event.” The narratives that focus on the divinized Jesus alone, rather than corporate, eschatological resurrection, are mimicking imperial claims to cosmic lordship. Yet, as is now well recognized, mimicry in imperial context does not produce perfectly identical copies. Luke’s particular version of the apotheosis narrative, which is the primary focus of this study, reaches into Septuagintal as well as Roman sources. It is woven of threads that do not perfectly cohere; some stand in tension with his overarching attempt to assert supreme authority for Jesus as a divinized body.¹⁸ I turn now to one aspect of the Lukan narrative which stands in tension both with this Roman tradition of apotheosis and the Jewish rapture-ascent tradition discussed above in order to elucidate its rhetorical function.

2 The Flesh and Bones of Luke 24:39 In canonical Luke 24:36 – 42, the flesh and bone of Jesus’s earthly body are said to be still present in his resurrected body. In this post-resurrection appearance, Jesus appears to his disciples and speaks, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself, touch me and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones (σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα) as you see me having.” Subsequently he eats a piece of grilled fish in the presence of his disciples, an obvious proof of that point.¹⁹ Among the canonical gospels this is the only narrative of an appearance of the resurrected Jesus which is explicit about the substances of which his body is composed. In the Gospel of Matthew the women are said to have grasped the feet of the resurrected Jesus, thus suggesting that this figure is palpable, but otherwise the narrative draws no attention to the body’s substance (Matt 28:9). Similarly, the late appendix of Mark reports that Jesus appeared “in another form”

 For discussion of the inevitable tensions and contradictions that pertain to communicating apotheosis visually, through bodies that must be represented anthropomorphically, see Beard and Henderson, “Emperor’s New Body.”  Thus, Luke seems to be making the distinction, also explicit in Tob :, that eating belongs to the realm of fleshly, rather than angelic, beings. See also Ignatius, Smyr. . – , on the assumption that Jesus’s eating proves his fleshliness: “For I know and believe that he was in the flesh even after the resurrection…. and when he came to those who were with Peter, he said to them ‘reach out, touch me and see that I am not a bodiless daimon’ (οὐκ εἰμὶ δαιμόνιον ἀσώματον) … and after his resurrection he ate and drank with them as a fleshly being (συνέφαγεν αὐτοῖς καὶ συνέπιεν ὡς σαρκικός).”

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(ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ, Mark 16:12) to those on the Emmaus road but offers up no specifics. As for the Fourth Gospel, both ancient authors and modern scholars have read Thomas’s conditional proposition, “unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and place my finger in the mark, I will not believe” (John 20:25) and the subsequent accommodation by Jesus, as an apologetic for fleshly resurrection.²⁰ Yet, the climax of the Thomas scene in John lies in the realm of identity, rather than physicality. Thomas is able to confess the resurrected Jesus as Lord because he has seen—a confession that serves as the third point of recognition in the Johannine narrative, after those of Mary in the garden (John 20:18: “I have seen the Lord!”), and the disciples in the room, who are glad when they see the Lord (John 20:20). The high point of the recognition scene is not Jesus’s affirmation that the body demonstrated to Thomas is a fleshly body, but rather a rebuke for faith that requires sight (John 20:29).²¹ That the Fourth Gospel does not have the same interest in physicality as the Third Gospel does is further evidenced when the scenes concerning grilled fish are compared. In the Johannine appendix, as with Luke 24, Jesus takes grilled fish, but in John the fish is the accompaniment to the bread, both of which Jesus is said to distribute to the disciples. The fish here are distributed by Jesus but Jesus apparently does not eat. Thus, the focus even in the appendix of John, is Jesus’s provision for the disciples, not his own fleshliness. There is no clarifying parallel for this emphasis on flesh and bone, whether in the Elijah typology of ascent, or in the apotheosis traditions associated with the Roman Emperors. Richard Miller’s extensive compilation of sources for his twenty-point table of common mimetic signals pertaining to Jesus and Romulus includes a number of citations from Luke. Details Luke 24 shares with the Romulus story include the missing body, the ascension, the meeting on the road, and the eyewitness testimony. Yet, there is no match to Luke’s emphasis on the continuity of physical substance in the Roman tradition. For parallels to the nature

 Pseudo-Justin’s On the Resurrection . –  weaves together both the invitation to touch the wounded hands (John :) and the eating of fish (Luke :) as proof that Jesus was raised in the flesh. For this text, see Pseudojustin: Über die Aufterstehung, ed. Martin Heimgartner (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – . Irenaeus also reads the demonstration of nail and side wounds as tokens of that flesh which rose from the dead at Haer. .. and ..; cf. Tertullian, Res. ; Origen, Cels. .. Gregory J. Riley, Resurrection Reconsidered: Thomas and John in Controversy (Minneapolis: Fortress, ),  – .  As is argued by both Ismo Dunderberg, “John and Thomas in Conflict?” and April DeConick, “‘Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen’(Jn .): Johannine Dramatization of an Early Christian Discourse,” in The Nag Hammadi Library after Fifty Years: Proceedings of the  Society of Biblical Literature Commemoration, ed. John D. Turner and Anne McGuire (Leiden: Brill, ),  –  (esp. ),  – .


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of the translated hero’s body in Roman sources, Miller draws not from Luke 24, but from biblical sources speaking of the resurrected body as a heavenly body explicitly opposed to a body of flesh (1 Cor 15:35 – 50; 1 Pet 3:18).²² Though Miller juxtaposes Jewish eschatological resurrection of the “mundane corpus” with the somatic translation of the deified hero in Gospel narrative tradition, Luke’s flesh and bone seem to belong to the mundane side of such a divide. While a number of ancient Greek and Roman texts speak of divinization without reference to the form taken by the divinized hero, those that do mention the hero’s form after death might be categorized according to two models. In one, the body is discarded, shed as an earthly encumbrance by a soul that ascends to the heavens to assume an astral form. In another, it is translated, such that the divinized hero is understood to be still anthropomorphically embodied and recognizable, but possessed of a higher form, one more suited for the heavens. As an example of the former, consider the deification of Julius Caesar, oft referred to as his transformation into a comet (Ovid, Metam. 15.745; Vergil, Ecl. 9.45; Horace, Carm 1.12.47; Suetonius, Jul. 88). Ovid’s Metamorphosis describes the process of wresting Ceasar’s spirit (anima) from his body (corpus), so that this transformation can take place. Jupiter exhorts Ceasar’s mother, Venus to “catch up this soul from the slain body and make him a star that ever it may be the divine Julius who looks forth upon [the] Capitol and Forum from his lofty temple” (Metam. 15.840 – 42; trans. Miller, LCL), and then describes the process that ensues: Scarce had he spoken when fostering Venus took her place within the senate-house, unseen of all, caught up the passing soul of her Caesar from his body, and not suffering it to vanish into air, she bore it towards the stars of heaven. And as she bore it she felt it glow and burn, and released it from her bosom. Higher than the moon it mounted up and, leaving behind it a fiery train, gleamed as a star. (Metam. 15.843 – 50; trans. Miller, LCL)

For the anthropomorphic version of translation, consider the deified Romulus as described by Ovid, who is swept up into the heavens in the chariots of Mars, and then takes a seat on the couches with the gods. Though imagined anthropomorphically, he sits most definitely in a heavenly body from which the earthly elements have dissolved: There as Ilia’s son was giving kindly judgment to his citizens, (Mars) caught him up from earth. His mortal body dissolved into thin air (corpus mortale per auras dilapsum tenues), as a leaden bullet hurled by a broad sling dissolves away in mid-air. And now a fair form clothes him, worthier of the high couches of the gods (pulchra subit facies et pulvinaribus

 Miller “Mark’s Empty Tomb,”  – .

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altis dignior), such form as has Quirinus, clad in his sacred robe. (Metam. 14.824– 28; trans. Miller, LCL, slightly modified)²³

It should also be noted that, though constituted of a lighter, “more worthy” substance, the forms of the dead are understood in Greek and Roman sources to carry their recognizable wounds with them into the afterworld. As Dag Østein Endsjø has noted, in ancient Greek tradition, the gods are not able to recreate body parts that had been destroyed, or to repair body parts that had been damaged in earthly life, and this thinking seems to carry into the Roman period.²⁴ Thus, for example, in Seneca’s satirical narrative of the apotheosis of the emperor Claudius, he arrives in the heavens with a gimpy foot (Apol. 5).²⁵ While scholars for many decades had framed questions of ancient views of life after death according to the binary of Greek immortality of the soul vs. Jewish resurrection of the body,²⁶ a wide consensus now exists that Jewish sources from this period map quite closely with the Greco-Roman examples noted above.²⁷

 In asserting that the mortal body of Romulus dissolves, Ovid conceptualizes ascent in a manner that is not so far from Plutarch, who argues that only when the soul is completely set free from the body can it ascend into the heavens. Yet Plutarch recounts a version of Romulus’s apotheosis that differs widely from Ovid’s, and his brand of Middle Platonism leads him to dismiss stories of apotheoses as mythologoi, passed on by writers who improperly mix human and divine features. See Rom. . – .  Dag Ø. Endsjø, “Immortal Bodies, before Christ: Bodily Continuity in Ancient Greece and I Corinthians,” JSNT  ():  – , esp. . Candida Moss has recently argued that in early Christianity, in a departure from assumptions that souls carry the wounds and/or disabilities of their earthly life into the afterworld, resurrection is analogized to other forms of healing, and thus resurrected bodies are imagined as free from scars and infirmities. See her “Heavenly Healing: Eschatological Cleansing and the Resurrection of the Dead in the Early Church,” JAAR 79 (2011): 991– 1017.  For other examples of shades bearing wounds, consider the appearance to Dido in a dream of her slain husband, bearing the visible marks of the dagger wounds inflicted by Pygmalion (Vergil, Aen. .); the grossly mutilated form of Priam’s son, Deïphobus, encountered by Aeneas in the underworld (Aen. .); and the appearance in a dream to Charite of her murdered husband Tlepolemus (Apuleius, Metam. .).  Oscar Cullmann, “Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?” in Immortality and Resurrection, ed. Krister Stendahl (New York: Macmillan, ),  – .  For entry points into the voluminous literature, see George Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism, HTS  (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ); John Collins, Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls (London: Routledge, ); idem, “The Afterlife in Apocalyptic Literature,” in Judaism in Late Antiquity, ed. Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck, and Bruce Chilton (Boston: Leiden, ), . – ; Outi Lehtipuu, “Biblical Body Language: The Spiritual and the Bodily Resurrection,” in Anthropology in the New Testament and Its Ancient Context: Papers from the EABS Meeting in Piliscaba/Budapest, ed. Michael Labahn and


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Early Jewish ascent traditions are either silent about the body, or assume a translation resulting in a rarefied substance suited for the heavenly sphere. Consider Philo’s description of the ascent of Moses, in which the mortal body is transformed together with the soul into a heavenly mind: Afterwards the time came when Moses had to make his pilgrimage from earth to heaven, and leave this mortal life for immortality, summoned there by the Father who resolved his twofold nature of soul and body into a single unity, transforming his whole being into mind, pure as sunlight (ὅς αὐτὸν δυάδα ὄντα, σῶμα καὶ ψυχήν, εἰς μονάδος ἀνεστοιχείου φύσιν ὅλον δι᾿ ὅλων μεθαρμοζόμενος εἰς νοῦν ἡλιοειδέστατον). (Philo, Mos. 2.288; trans. Colson, LCL)

Similarly, Philo places Elijah in line with Enoch and Moses as one who was translated from a sensible and visible place to an “incorporeal and intelligible form” (Philo, QG 1.86; trans. Marcus, LCL).²⁸ Aside from discussions related to particular exalted figures, sources reflecting more generally on the body in the afterlife often make clear distinctions between the earthly body to be discarded, and the new body acquired for the heavens. Consider, for example, the famous distinction between heavenly and earthly bodies made by Paul in 1 Cor 15:35 – 54; or the Pharisees of Josephus’s description, who understand the souls of the righteous as transferring into another body (μεταβαίνειν εἰς ἕτερον σῶμα τὴν [ψυχήν] τῶν ἀγαθῶν, J.W. 2.163). Some sources suggest that the righteous acquire astral features in the afterlife (e. g., 1 En. 104:2, 4; Dan 12.3; Wis 3.7). The search for early Jewish sources that are concerned to stress bodily continuity in life after death such as we find in Luke 24:39 brings us to a much smaller number of texts. I highlight four of them here.²⁹ 1) A most vivid expression of the expectation of bodily continuity is contained in 2 Maccabees, where the martyrs readily sacrifice their bodies in full confidence that they will receive them

Outi Lehtipuu (Leuven: Peeters, ),  – ; eadem, The Afterlife Imagery in the Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, SupNovT  (Leiden: Brill, ); Hans Clemens Caesarius Cavallin, Life After Death: Paul’s Argument for the Resurrection of the Dead in  Cor  (Lund: Gleerup, ).  I thank Ariel Feldman for this reference. In medieval Jewish mystic tradition, Elijah is said to retain his human shape, so that he can reappear on the earth (Zohar :a; :a; Yalk. R. , cited in “Elijah,” EncJud :). Irenaeus knows the tradition that Elijah’s body was burned in the fiery chariot and thus concedes that his example is not well suited to arguments concerning the resurrection of the flesh (Haer. ..).  Compare also the discussion of possible references to the resurrection of the flesh in Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha in Horacio E. Lona, Über die Aufterstehung des Fleisches: Studien zur Früchristlichen Eschatologie, BZNW  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – .

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again in the resurrection, complete with tongue and hands (7:10 – 11),³⁰ and even entrails (14:46). 2) 2 Bar. 50:2– 3 (written after the destruction of the second temple) argues that the bodies of the dead are given back at the time of the judgment, without anything changing in their form. The purpose of this continuity is explained as facilitating recognition of the dead.³¹ 3) Pseudo-Phocylides (c. 50 BCE–100 CE), espouses in quick succession both an idea of bodily resurrection and of an immortal spirit detaching itself at death from an earthly, dissolving body (97– 115). 4) Book four of the Sibylline Oracles (late first century CE) promises that after a general conflagration, God “will again fashion the bones and ashes of men and … and will raise up mortals again as they were before” (4.181– 82; trans. Collins, OTP). It is possible to find points of identification between each of these four sources and Luke 24:39, with respect to bodily continuity.³² Luke depicts the death of Jesus as a martyr’s death, and thus, his account might be understood as tapping into the martyrological tradition expressed in 2 Maccabees that those whose bodies are tortured receive their bodies back as recompense.³³ The concern found in 2 Baruch that bodies are necessary for the day of judgment is expressed with increased frequency in early Christian texts from the second century and beyond,  Though see discussion concerning the authenticity of v. , in Robert Doran,  Maccabees, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, ), , .  “The earth will certainly then restore the dead it now receives so as to preserve them: it will make no change in their form, but as it has received them, so it will restore them, and as I delivered them to it, so also will it raise them. For those who are still alive must be shown that the dead have come to life again, and that those who had departed have returned” (trans. Collins). See discussion in Collins, “Afterlife in Apocalyptic Literature;” Cavallin, Life After Death,  – . The identical form is necessary only for the judgment, after which the forms of the wicked are translated into a more evil substance for punishment, and the righteous into a more glorious substance as reward ( Bar. : – ).  As one additional source with which Luke may be in dialogue, consider Daniel A. Smith’s suggestion that Luke’s “flesh and bone” serves as a rebuttal of Paul’s teaching concerning resurrection in  Cor : that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (“Seeing a Pneuma[tic Body]: The Apologetic Interests of Luke : – ,” CBQ  []:  – ). It should also be noted that some scholars see assertions of continuity in bodily form, such as those in 2 Baruch or 2 Maccabees, as vastly different from the assertion of continuity of substance, such as found in early Christian claims of fleshly resurrection. See especially Johannes Tromp, “‘Can These Bones Live?’ Ezekiel 37:1– 14 and Eschatological Resurrection,” in The Book of Ezekiel and its Influence, ed. Henk Jan De Jonge and Johannes Tromp (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2007), 61– 78, esp. 65. Compare also Günter Stemberger, Der Leib der Auferstehung, AnBib 56 (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1972), 17, 20, 25, 82.  So argues Lehtipuu, “Biblical Body Language,” . See now also Outi Lehtipuu, Debates over the Resurrection of the Dead: Constructing Early Christian Identity, Oxford Early Christian Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ),  – .


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and it is possible that Luke 24, when read alongside the Acts of the Apostles, also shares that concern.³⁴ That the resurrection of a mundane body sits closely aside an immortal spirit in Pseudo-Phocylides resonates with the fact that in Luke 24 and Acts insistence on material continuity (Luke 24:39; Acts 2:31b, 13:37) stand alongside depictions of Jesus which suggests he bears a heavenly form after his ascension.³⁵ As with the Sib. Or. 4.181– 82, Luke 24:39 is concerned not just with the human form but with the resurrection of specific bodily substances. Without dismissing these strands of resurrection thinking as part of the backdrop against which Luke 24:39 can be illuminated, I suggest that Luke’s claim that the resurrected Jesus bears a body of flesh and bone has an even more direct and specific parallel in Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones come to life. Luke shares with Ezek 37:1– 14 the idea that resurrection entails the reconstitution of the bodily substances of bones and flesh—or, the reconstitution of the body in terms of both its harder parts and its softer parts.³⁶ It seems likely that he draws the image from knowledge of Ezekiel tradition, whether from the Septuagint, or from an extra-biblical elaboration. But even if it cannot be conclusively demonstrated that Luke is inspired by the Dry Bones Vision as he composes Luke 24:39, I note at the very least, that Luke employs the assertion of “flesh and bones” in a manner analogous to the way that Ezek 37:1– 14 is used by Christian apologists in the second century and beyond. In order to set the stage for the argument that Luke stands with the Christian apologists on this point, we first consider how Ezekiel’s Dry Bones Vision functions in more apocalyptically oriented texts of the period.

3 Ezekiel’s Dry Bones Vision in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Matthew The discovery among the Dead Sea Scrolls of a series of manuscripts identified as 4Q Pseudo-Ezekiel, among which 4Q385 fragments 2 and 3 preserve an adaptation of the Dry Bones Vision, has prompted attention to the question of the role of Ezekiel in apocalyptic thinking at the turn of the era. As this translation of the fragments containing the adaptation of the Dry Bones Vision reads (frg. 2):  For connections between Luke  and Acts :- with respect to fleshly resurrection and judgment, see below, -, and Shelly Matthews, “Fleshly Resurrection, Authority Claims, and the Scriptural Practices of Lukan Christianity,” (JBL, forthcoming).  See Turid Karlsen Seim, “The Resurrected Body in Luke-Acts: The Significance of Space,” in Metamorphoses: Resurrection, Body and Transformative Practices in Early Christianity, ed. Turid Karlsen Seim and Jorunn Øklund (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – .  See below, note .

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[for I am the LORD], who redeems my people, giving unto them the covenant. vacat 2. [And I said, “O LORD!], I saw many (men) from Israel who loved your Name and have walked 3. in the ways of [your heart. And th]ese things when will they come to be and how will they be recompensed for their piety?” And the Lord said 4. to me, “I will make (it) manifest [ ] to the children of Israel and they shall know that I am the Lord.” vacat 5. [And He said:] “Son of man, prophesy over the bones and speak and let them be j[oi]ned bone to its bone and joint 6. [to its joint.” And it wa]s so. And He said a second time: “Prophesy and let arteries³⁷ come upon them and let skin cover them 7. [from above.” And it was so.] And He said: “Prophesy once again over the four winds of heaven and let them blow breath 8. [into the slain.” And it was so,] and a large crowd of people came [to li]fe and blessed the Lord Sebaoth wh[o] 9. [had given them life. vacat and] I said, “O Lord! when shall these things come to be?” And the Lord said to m[e: “Until] 10. [ after da]ys a tree shall bend and shall stand erect[ ]³⁸ Dimant regards the text as one of the non-sectarian writings present at the Dead Sea, dating its original composition to the second century BCE, and the hand of this copy to 50 – 25 BCE. The text is striking in that it reads the vision of the resurrection of the dry bones not as an allegory for national restoration after exile, but rather as a vision of righteous individuals, recompensed and rejoicing in an impending eschatological era.³⁹ Furthermore, the prophet Ezekiel is depicted

 See discussion for this translation of the Hebrew gyd, Devorah Dimant, Qumran Cave .XXI: Parabiblical Texts, Part : Pseudo-Prophetic Texts, DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon, ), , who suggests that the pairs, “arteries and skin” and “bone and joint” comprise the division of the body into the “solid parts” and the “softer parts.”  Trans. Dimant. For Hebrew text and commentary, see Dimant, ibid.,  – .  Arguments for reading the text as the decoding of the allegory of Ezek , to produce the promise of a concrete and immanent act of resurrection are marshalled in Dimant, DJD : – ; see also Collins, “Resurrection and Eternal Life,” ; Émile Puech, La croyance des Esséniens en la vie future: Immortalité, resurrection, vie éternelle? Histoire d’une croyance dans le Judaïsme ancient II (Paris: Gabalda, ),  – . George J. Brooke, “Ezekiel in Some Qumran and New Testament Texts,” in The Madrid Qumran Congress: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid  –  March , ed. Julio Trebolle Barrera and Luis Vegas Montaner (Leiden: Brill, ), : – .


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here as an “agent” of the resurrection, restoring the righteous to life through the act of prophesying.⁴⁰ Among New Testament texts that use Ezek 37 in a similar way, George Brooke has included Matt 27:52: “The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (καί τὰ μνημεῖα ἀνεώχθησαν καὶ πολλὰ σώματα τῶν κεκοιμημένων ἁγίων ἠγέρθησαν; cf. Ezek 37:12 LXX: “I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves” [ἐγὼ ἀνοίγω τὰ μνήματα ὑμῶν καὶ ἀνάξω ὑμᾶς έκ τῶν μνημάτων ὑμῶν]). Brooke suggests tentatively that scholars may be correct to see in Matt 27:52, “the remains of an early Jewish Christian use of Jewish eschatological apocalyptic motifs about the resurrection to interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus,” and then notes that “this interpretation did not survive widely in the early churches.”⁴¹ Brooke’s argument linking the resurrection scene in the Gospel of Matthew with Ezek 37:1– 14 is compelling. Though Matthew is not dependent upon 4Q385, both the canonical Gospel and Pseudo-Ezekiel imagine the resurrection of dry bones as a resurrection of the righteous from their tombs in an eschatological moment, as a means to offer recompense. For Pseudo-Ezekiel, that eschatological moment is imminent, and pertains to a multitude of the righteous restored to life; for the Gospel of Matthew, the corporate resurrection pertains to the saints in Jerusalem, and most remarkably, is said to have already occurred, at the moment of Jesus’s death.⁴² In terms of the resurrection typology we have in these two texts, we are in the realm that has been captured in Eastern Christian Iconography noted above, with the messianic agent raising up and leading out.⁴³ These instances of bones being covered Against these scholars stands Tromp (“Can These Bones Live”), who argues that Ezek 37 comes to be understood as a reference to literal resurrection only in the second century of the Common Era. He reads the Qumran text as merely replicating the allegorical reading of national restoration in Ezek 37.  Benjamin Wold, “Agency and Raising the Dead in QPseudo-Ezekiel and Q ii,” ZNW  ():  – .  Brooke, “Ezekiel,” . Compare also the Christian Palestinian Aramaic version of Luke : (Codex A, variant) which notes that “the graves opened and the bodies of many saints arose.” I thank Margherita Farina for assistance with this reference. Tromp (“Can these Bones Live”) takes no account of Matt : –  in his argument that bodily resurrection emerges only as a second century Christian concept.  Note that the press of competing mythologies here requires Matthew to underscore that those so resurrected remained in the tomb for three days, entering into the city only after Jesus’s own resurrection (Matt :).  The images from the Dura-Europos synagogue, of Ezekiel as agent of the resurrection amidst the dismembered exiles, shares typological features with the eastern iconography of Jesus discussed here. See, for example, The Excavations at Dura-Europos Final Report VIII: Part I: The Synagogue, ed. Alfred R. Bellinger et. al. (New Haven: Yale University Press, ), plate LXIX.

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with flesh and saints being raised up from their tombs employ Ezekiel’s imagery to depict resurrection not as punishing for evil, but rather as leading out from evil. They focus on a resurrection not in a far-away future, but in an imminent time, and in Matthew’s case, in a time already present. They focus not on judgment and exclusion, but rather on restoring the righteous to life.

4 The Use of the Dry Bones Vision among Early Christian Apologists The early Christian authors, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian⁴⁴ also employ the Dry Bones Vision in proclamations of a future resurrection, though unlike 4Q Pseudo-Ezekiel and the Gospel of Matthew, it is not read by them in the context of concern for the fate of the suffering righteous within an apocalyptic milieu. In his First Apology, Justin names the prophet Ezekiel and includes a loose rendition of Ezek 37:7– 8 as proof that the prophets foretold the resurrection of the dead at Jesus’s parousia: For the prophets have foretold two of his arrivals (παρουσιάς). One which has already been … and the second … when he will raise the bodies of all humans who have ever existed. The righteous he will clothe with immortality, while he will send the wicked, bearing eternal sensory perception (ἐν αἰσθήσει αἰωνίᾳ) with the evil demons into the eternal fire…. For this has been spoken through the prophet Ezekiel: “Joint will be placed next to joint⁴⁵ and bone next to bone” and “flesh will grow again.” (1 Apol. 52:3 – 6, my translation)

Justin is not speaking of bodily resurrection as part of an imminent apocalypse but as part of a judgment pushed into the future. While he allows that the righteous will be rewarded at the second coming, his chief concern in these lines, along with the lines that follow (1 Apol. 52.7– 12), is to stress the perpetual suffering of the damned. For Justin, fleshly resurrection as foretold by Ezekiel, is necessary to this perpetual suffering, because only a body of flesh is equipped with αἴσθησις—perception by the senses, which makes possible the suffering of  I limit myself to these three early Christian authors; for brief discussion of the use of Ezekiel by Methodius, see Tromp, “‘Can These Bones Live,”  – .  For the addition of “joint” to the body parts of the biblical account, here and in several early Christian and Jewish accounts, including Q, see Dimant, DJD : n. . Compare also the discussion of Richard Bauckham, “A Quotation from Q Second Ezekiel in the Apocalypse of Peter,” in idem, The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, ),  – .


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pain.⁴⁶ Of those who will surely suffer damnation at this judgment, he takes special note of “the Jews,” who will have no chance for repentance on that day (1 Apol. 52.10 – 12). Irenaeus quotes the biblical version of the Dry Bones Vision nearly in its entirety in book 5 of his Against Heresies, omitting only verse 11, which marks the vision as an allegory for national restoration. It is cited as one of a myriad of proofs from Jewish Scripture that the resurrection will be in the flesh (Haer. 5.15.1). For Irenaeus, Ezekiel proves both the fleshly resurrection, and that the God of the Old Testament—the Creator or Demiurge who inspired Ezekiel—is the same God as the Father of Jesus Christ. That is, Ezek 37 is cited in the context of heresiological quarrels as proof of the substance of the resurrection, and of continuity between the Old and New Testaments. Tertullian reproduces Ezek 37:1– 14 in chapter 29 of his treatise on resurrection and then argues for the significance of this prophecy as proof of fleshly resurrection for the next three chapters. Unlike Irenaeus, he does not omit Ezek 37:11, but argues that even as an allegory for national resurrection, the text still serves as proof of a literal resurrection to come: by this very fact that the reappearance of the Jewish state is figured by the re-embodiment and reanimation of bones, there is proof that this also will take place with bones; for it would not be possible for a parable to be devised from bones unless the same thing were also going to take place with bones. (Res. 30.4– 5; trans. Evans)⁴⁷

Tertullian also welds Ezekiel’s and Isaiah’s prophecies of resurrection from the grave to a future judgment of the wicked. To his third invocation of the phrase, “they shall go forth from their sepulchers”⁴⁸ he adds the foreboding verse from

 Compare Justin’s concern expressed in his Dialogue with Trypho, “there are those who think that the soul is immortal and incorporeal, and therefore conclude that they will not be punished even if they are guilty of sin; for if the soul is incorporeal, it cannot suffer” (Dial. .); and the discussion of the link between fleshly resurrection and judgment in Judith Perkins, Roman Imperial Identities in the Early Christian Era (New York: Routledge, ),  – .  Jon D. Levenson, without citing Tertullian, has recently made the case for Tertullian’s logic: “if resurrection were thought ludicrous, or impossible even for God, then it would be a singularly inappropriate metaphor for the national renewal and restoration that Ezekiel predicts … even as a figure, the vision of resurrection must have carried considerable credibility if it was to do what the prophet intended.” Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, ), .  A phrase evoking both Ezek :,  and Isa : LXX.

Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus


the last chapter of Isaiah pertaining to the perpetual, bodily suffering of the wicked (Res. 31.9)⁴⁹ What Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian share in common in their reading of Ezek 37 is insistence on literal, fleshly, but not imminent, resurrection. For Justin especially, the privileging of flesh has less to do with the speedy restoration of the righteous than the eternal torment of the wicked. The bodily substances of flesh and bone serve as a guarantor of continuity, and make possible the infliction of pain upon the wicked. For all of them, the assertion of flesh and bone as guarantor of continuity aligns with other well-known arguments for continuity they espouse: the continuity established between the God of Ezekiel and the God of Jesus, and thus the claims of Christians on both Old and New Testaments; the continuity which also assures that the solidifying leadership structures of the church in this world are the structures that will guide the church into the age to come.

5 Luke 24, Acts, and the Early Christian Apologists Let us now consider how closely Luke 24:39, when read within the resurrection narrative of Luke 24 as a whole, and aside the continuation of the story as presented in the book of Acts, anticipates the employment of the Dry Bones Vision by Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. First, and obviously, the Lukan narrative imagines a literal resurrection of the body of Jesus, in his flesh and bones. Luke is thus the first Christian author to insist on the nature of resurrection as fleshly, a point which will come to be asserted with increasing force by a number of early Christian authors in subsequent writings, and in the case of Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian add commas a point for which the Ezekiel vision is offered as proof.⁵⁰ Second, as Justin, Ire-

 A citation of Isa :: “And they shall go forth and look upon the severed limbs of those who have done wickedly, because their worm shall not fail, nor shall their fire be quenched, and it shall be enough for all flesh to see” (trans. Evans).  For entry points into the voluminous body of literature devoted to the question of early Christian concern with fleshly resurrection, see Lehtipuu, Debates over the Resurrection,  – ; Setzer, Resurrection of the Body; Lona, Über die Aufterstehung des Fleisches; Bynum, Resurrection of the Body. Though scholarship on early Christian notions of fleshly resurrection tend to focus on extracanonical texts from the mid-to late second century and beyond, I argue that Luke : should be recognized as part of this second-century turn to the flesh. See Shelly Matthews, “Does Dating Luke-Acts into the Second Century Affect the Q Hypothesis?” in Gospel Interpreta-


Shelly Matthews

naeus, and Tertullian employ the Ezekiel vision to proclaim a future, rather than imminent, resurrection, so the resurrection of Jesus in flesh and bone in Luke 24 does not anticipate imminent resurrection. Rather, it is said to inaugurate a time of preaching of repentance and forgiveness (Luke 24:46 – 47). Further, as is well known, the subsequent, direct question raised by the disciples about whether Jesus’s resurrection inaugurates the “restoration of the kingdom of Israel” (Acts 1:6) is answered by a deferral of such events into an unspecified, but certainly not immediate, time (1:7). Furthermore, as with these apologists, Luke’s emphasis on continuity of resurrected substances correlates with an emphasis on the importance of the scriptures as authoritative witness to the resurrection. The scene of Jesus’s appearing in flesh and bones to eat grilled fish in Luke 24 is framed by assertions that this event fulfills the scriptures (24:27, 32, 45). Luke, differently from the other canonical gospel authors, but like the apologists, stresses the comprehensiveness of the Jesus event as scripture fulfillment. This is demonstrated in the reference to all the scriptures as pertaining to himself (24:27), and in the reference to the tripartite scriptures—Moses, the prophets, and the psalms—as containing everything written about Jesus that has been fulfilled.⁵¹ The insistence on the totalizing function of scripture in proving the Jesus event is not the only aspect of biblical interpretation that aligns Luke with subsequent early Christian authors. As Matthew Bates has argued, Luke 24 along with key passages concerning interpretation of scriptures in Acts, also embrace a hermeneutical principle articulated by mid- and late-second century Christian authors that the scriptures have a “nous,” a mind, or an underlying sense, that needs to be exposited by a “qualified guide” for those who seek to understand them.⁵² Finally, consider the relationship between assertions of fleshly resurrection, judgment and exclusive authority claims. Luke 24 does not link the idea of fleshly resurrection, as Justin does, directly to the importance of feeling pain at the judgment. Nor does Luke 24 foreclose the number of authoritative witnesses to

tion and the Q Hypothesis, ed. Heike Omerzu and Mogens Müller (Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming).  Paul Schubert, “The Structure and Significance of Luke ,” in Neutestamentliche Studien für Rudolf Bultmann zu seinem siebzigsten Geburtsag (Berlin: Töpelmann, ),  – ; Jacob Jervell, “The Center of Scripture in Luke,” in idem, The Unknown Paul: Essays in Luke-Acts and Early Christian History (Minneapolis: Augsburg, ),  – ,  – ; Mogens Müller, “The Reception of the Old Testament in Matthew and Luke-Acts: From Interpretation to Proof from Scriptures,” NovT  ():  – .  Matthew Bates, “Close-Minded Hermeneutics?: A Proposed Alternative Translation for Luke :,” JBL  ():  – .

Elijah, Ezekiel, and Romulus


the resurrection to the Twelve alone. Yet in one remarkable passage from Acts, in which Peter summarizes the resurrection narrative in a kerygmatic form, both exclusive authority claims and the promise of judgment are linked to affirmation of fleshly resurrection. This passage, part of Peter’s celebratory speech at the conversion of the Roman centurion, Cornelius, reads: And God raised this one on the third day and made him manifest not to all the people but to those witnesses who were foreordained by God—to us, we who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to bear witness that this is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:40 – 42, my translation)

Here the Twelve are singled out as those “who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead,” with eating functioning as a cipher for fleshly resurrection (cf. Luke 24:43, Acts 1:4). Those who ate with the resurrected Jesus are commanded to preach that Jesus will be “judge of the living and the dead (κριτής ζώντων καί νεκρῶν).” This particular phrase is not one that Acts shares with the gospels, nor with the Pauline tradition. It is, rather, the (pre‐)creedal phrase pertaining to judgment that this text shares with many other late first and early second century writings, including 1 Peter, 2 Timothy, 2 Clement, Polycarp, and Barnabas.⁵³ Furthermore, this role of Jesus as judge in Acts 10:42 is prefaced by the remarkable assertion that the resurrected, fleshly Jesus appeared only to the Witnesses (10:41), that is, only to the Twelve Apostles who are designated as Jesus’s authoritative earthly representatives. Thus, fleshly resurrection in Luke 24 and Acts is linked to the authorization of Peter and the Twelve, in ways that Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (and other early Christian authors) will also adopt.⁵⁴ To conclude, the resurrection narrative of Luke 24 conforms in many ways to the Roman apotheosis tradition. Yet, one strand of the narrative seems out of place with the concept of resurrection as bodily translation—namely the Lukan emphasis on Jesus’s resurrection in flesh and bones. Unlike the Roman emperors or those identified with the Jewish ascent tradition typified by Elijah, the body of the Lukan Jesus does not appear at resurrection to have been transformed into an ethereal substance, or to have been dissolved of its mortal trappings, at least before the ascension. This may be explained by Luke’s incorporation of a resurrection image familiar from the Ezekiel tradition, one that affirms the solid substances of the resurrected body. Yet, while Pseudo-Ezekiel and the Gospel of Matthew employ Ezekiel’s vision

 Compare  Tim :;  Pet :; Barn. :;  Clem. :; Pol. Phil. :.  See the classic work of Elaine Pagels on this particular point, as indicated in note  above.


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to assert an imminent resurrection of the righteous—the “raising up and leading out,” Luke’s insistence on resurrection in flesh and bones does not reflect a similar urgency, a similar protest against the current state of affairs. Rather, like the early Christian apologists, he adopts Ezekiel’s Vision of the Dry Bones for a church that is carving out a place for itself in the world as it is. Thus, while the assertion of “flesh and bones,” in Luke 24:39 may preserve a “latent symbol of protest, alienation, and transformation,”⁵⁵ Luke’s resurrected Lord will not trouble the imperial system in any immediate and transparent way.

 See Gager, “Body Symbols,” n. .

Matthias Henze

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity

The year is 350 C.E., the city Jerusalem. It is the season of Lent, and Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem (c. 315 – 386) delivers a series of eighteen catechetical lectures in the church of the Holy Sepulcher to the catechumens who are candidates for baptism during the Easter Vigil. Cyril opens the second of his Catecheses, titled “On Repentance and Remission of Sins, and Concerning the Adversary,” on an ominous note: “A fearful thing is sin,” Cyril begins his sermon, “and the sorest disease of the soul is transgression, secretly cutting its sinews, and becoming also the cause of eternal fire.”¹ The bishop then describes the true nature of sin, which he contrasts with the loving kindness of God. Next he admonishes the catechumens to take note of Israel’s kings who committed grave sins but turned themselves around and became model penitents. He begins with David and then moves to Jeroboam and Manasseh (Catecheses 2:14).² Again, Jeroboam was standing at the altar sacrificing to the idols. His hand became withered, because he commanded the prophet who reproved him to be seized. But having learned by experience of the power of the man before him, he [Jeroboam] says, “Entreat the favor of the Lord your God” (1 Kgs 13:6). And because he said so his hand was restored again. If the prophet healed Jeroboam, is Christ not able to heal and deliver you from your sins? ́ πρίσας), Manasseh also was utterly wicked, who sawed Isaiah asunder (ὁτὸν ‛Ησαïαν and was defiled with all kinds of idolatries, and “filled Jerusalem with innocent blood” (2 Kgs 21:16). But having been led captive to Babylon he used his experience of misfortune for a healing course of repentance. For Scripture says that Manasseh “humbled himself before the Lord, and prayed, and the Lord heard him, and brought him back to his kingdom” (2 Chron 33:12– 13). If he who sawed the prophet asunder (εἰ ὁ τὸν προφήτην πρίσας) was saved by repentance, shall not you then, having done no such great wickedness, be saved?

For Cyril, Jeroboam and Manasseh are ideal figures to illustrate the efficacy and power of repentance, they are model penitents. His choice of putting the two infamous monarchs side by side is, of course, deliberate. Both are harshly condemned by the Deuteronomist for their unparalleled wickedness. The sins of Jer-

 Johannes Quasten, Patrology (Westminster: Newman Press, ), : – ; Jacques-Paul Migne, PG , cols.  – .  Migne, PG , cols.  – ; Wihelm K. Reischel and Joseph Rupp, eds., Cyrilli Hierosolymarum archiepiscopi opera quae supersunt omnia (Munich,  – ; repr. Hildesheim: Olms, ), I–II; translation by Edwin H. Gifford, NPNF  .


Matthias Henze

oboam, particularly the golden calves which he erected in Bethel and Dan (1 Kgs 12:28 – 30), set the northern kingdom on a path to destruction (1 Kgs 14:16; 2 Kgs 17:22– 23). And in much the same way the Deuteronomist holds Manasseh accountable for the fall of Judah (2 Kgs 21:16; 23:26 – 27; cf. Jer 15:4). What matters to Cyril are not the consequences of their sins but the fact that both showed signs of remorse. Both repented, both were heard, and both were reinstalled. The gravity of their offenses only illustrates the true extent of God’s loving kindness. For Cyril the homilist, this presents a formidable opportunity to convince even the most skeptical of his catechumens of the efficacy and power of repentance. The biblical lists of the royal offenses for both Jeroboam and Manasseh are long and rich in detail, and Cyril has much to choose from to make his point. In the case of Jeroboam he singles out a terse episode in 1 Kgs 13. While standing at the altar in Bethel to offer incense, Jeroboam is interrupted by “a man of God” (‫ ;אישׁ אלהים‬1 Kgs 13:1), who condemns the altar (not Jeroboam!) and predicts its demolition.³ Visibly annoyed, Jeroboam points at the man and orders him to be arrested, when the king’s outstretched hand “withers” (‫ ;ותיבשׁ ידו‬1 Kgs 13:4). The monarch immediately realizes his mistake and asks the man of God to implore God on his behalf, which he does, and Jeroboam’s hand is restored that moment. In the case of Manasseh, Cyril is content to give a summary of the king’s wickedness, his idolatries, and how he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, all allusions to the Hebrew Bible. But the one event that stands out for him and which he mentions twice—that Manasseh sawed the prophet Isaiah in half—is not found in the Hebrew Bible. May we assume that the legend of Isaiah’s martyrdom at the hand of Manasseh had sufficiently spread by the mid-fourth century, so that Cyril could have safely assumed that his catechumens knew about it? Speculations about King Manasseh and interpretations of his reign are as old as the literary record we have of him. Already the biblical presentations of the wayward monarch differ widely from one another. Both the Deuteronomist and the Chronicler have produced accounts of Manasseh’s reign. While their stories are roughly of equal length and show some significant, even verbatim overlap, the royal figure they describe is dramatically different: a notorious villain responsible for the downfall of the southern kingdom in the case of the Deuteronomist, and a contrite penitent and reformer of the faith for the Chronicler. The fascination with the notorious king remains unabated once we move into the

 The oracle in  Kgs : (“The altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out”) was fulfilled three centuries later during the Josianic reform, when Josiah burned human bones on the altar to defile it ( Kgs : – ); Martin Noth, Könige, BKAT IX/ (Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, ),  – .

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


post-biblical, literary worlds of early Judaism and Christianity, where readings of Manasseh take on a life of their own and become even more colorful. The aim of this essay is to trace the development of some of the traditions that came to be associated with Manasseh. Three themes in particular are of interest: Manasseh the penitent sinner; Manasseh and the martyrdom of Isaiah; and Manasseh the builder of idols. Before we get to the interpretative traditions, however, we need to begin with a brief look at the biblical accounts about the infamous king that gave rise to these interpretations, paying particular attention to those markers in the Bible that caught the attention of the early interpreters.

1 Manasseh in the Hebrew Bible There are two accounts of Manasseh (c. 697– 642 B.C.E.), King of Judah, in the Hebrew Bible, in 2 Kings and in 2 Chronicles. For the Deuteronomist, our main source, Manasseh was an idolater, the most wicked of the kings of the line of David. In an effort to overcome the one-sidedness of the deuteronomistic presentation, the Chronicler rehabilitates Manasseh and transforms him into a rueful reformer. The competing accounts in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles offered the early interpreters plenty of material for further embellishment. The first account of Manasseh in the Hebrew Bible comes from the Deuteronomist (2 Kgs 21:1– 18; 24:3 – 4). As many scholars have pointed out, the presentation of Manasseh’s reign in 2 Kings is heavily colored by the Deuteronomist’s view of Israel’s past.⁴ The deuteronomistic account of Israel’s history is rigorous,  Scholarly interest in King Manasseh has increased dramatically since the s. See Ehud Ben Zvi, “The Account of the Reign of Manasseh in II Reg , –  and the Redactional History of the Book of Kings,” ZAW  ():  – ; William M. Schniedewind, “The Source Citations of Manasseh: King Manasseh in History and Homily,” VT  ():  – ; Carl D. Evans, “Manasseh, King of Judah,” ABD :  – ; Klaas A.D. Smelik, “The Portrayal of King Manasseh. A Literary Analysis of II Kings XXI and II Chronicles XXXIII,” in idem, Converting the Past: Studies in Ancient Israelite and Moabite Historiography, OTS  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; William M. Schniedewind, “History and Interpretation: The Religion of Ahab and Manasseh in the Book of Kings,” CBQ  ():  – ; Israel Finkelstein, “The Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh,” in Scripture and Other Artifacts: Essays on the Bible and Archaeology in Honor of Philip J. King, ed. Michael D. Cogan, J. Cheryl Exum, and Lawrence E. Stager (Louisville: Westminster, ),  – ; Percy S.F. van Keulen, Manasseh Through the Eyes of the Deuteronomists: The Manasseh Account ( Kings : – ) and the Final Chapters of the Deuteronomistic History, OTS  (Leiden: Brill, ); Erik Eynikel, “The Portrait of Manasseh and the Deuteronomistic History,” in Deuteronomy and Deuteronomic Literature, ed. Marc Vervenne and Johan Lust, BETL  (Leuven: Peeters, ),  – ; Baruch Halpern, “Why Manasseh is Blamed for the Babylonian Exile: The Evolution of a Biblical Tradition,” VT  ():  –


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both in its structure and in its judgment: history is divided into segments according to the reigns of the kings, their reigns in turn constitute clearly demarcated text units in the Deuteronomistic History, and each monarch is then evaluated theologically. The pericope about Manasseh is no different. His reign is framed by the accounts, both significantly longer, of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah (most interpreters, ancient and modern, take the relatively short notice about King Amon in 2 Kgs 21:19-26 as an extension to Manasseh’s reign). Jewish and Christian exegetes read the story about Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:1– 18) within its context towards the end of the Deuteronomistic History, and so for us to understand their interpretations we need to do the same. The pericope about Manasseh can be outlined as follows.


18:1– 20:21 The reign of Hezekiah The reign of Manasseh 21:1– 9 Deuteronomistic introduction: Manasseh’s reign 21:10 – 15 The prophetic oracle of judgment 21:16 Manasseh sheds much blood in Jerusalem 21:17– 18 Deuteronomistic conclusion: Manasseh’s death 21:19 – 26 The reign of Amon 22:1– 23:30 The reign of Josiah

The story of Manasseh’s reign is preceded by the account of the reign of King Hezekiah, Manasseh’s father (2 Kgs 18:1– 20:21). That pericope is divided according to the major themes of Hezekiah’s reign: a very favorable deuteronomistic introduction of King Hezekiah and his religious reform (18:1– 8); the Assyrian invasion of Judah and Sennacherib’s threat (18:9 – 19:37); Hezekiah’s illness and recovery (20:1– 11); the Babylonian envoys and the announcement of the Babylonian Exile (20:12– 19); and the typical deuteronomistic conclusion (20:20 – 21). For our understanding of Manasseh’s Nachleben in early Jewish and Christian literature, two aspects of Hezekiah’s reign are of particular importance. The first is the contrast that is drawn between Hezekiah and Manasseh. Hezekiah (like Josiah a century after him) is the “good” king, who followed his ancestor David and removed all forms of idolatry (18:3 – 5), whereas Mana-

; Philippe Abadie, “From the Impious Manasseh ( Kings ) to the Convert Manasseh ( Chronicles ): Theological Rewriting by the Chronicler,” in The Chronicler as Theologian: Essays in Honor of Ralph W. Klein, ed. M. Patrick Graham, Steven L. McKenzie, and Gary N. Knoppers, JSOTSup  (London: T&T Clark, ),  – ; Francesca Stavrakopoulou, King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions and Historical Realities, BZAW  (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ).

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


sseh is the “bad” king who actively undid the reforms of Hezekiah and rebuilt the places of idolatry his father had demolished (2 Kgs 21:3 – 4). The same, alternating pattern of good and bad reigns can already be found in ancient Near Eastern historiography.⁵ Early interpreters will build further on the contrast between Hezekiah and Manasseh and use it to magnify Manasseh’s wickedness. The second aspect of interest in the story of Hezekiah is the presence of the prophet Isaiah in the king’s life. Isaiah is Hezekiah’s theological adviser.⁶ He tells him not to be afraid of the threats of the Assyrian king (19:6 – 7), and when the king falls gravely ill Isaiah announces to him that, even though God had previously determined that the king has to die, God will add another fifteen years to his life (20:6). Isaiah then disappears from the scene and is not mentioned again in 2 Kings. Early interpreters took for granted, however, that, just as Isaiah had interacted with Hezekiah, so Manasseh would have had to deal with the prophet. And since Isaiah’s encounter with Hezekiah was entirely friendly, they assumed that Manasseh, who broke so drastically with the religious practices of his father, would not have been friendly with Isaiah either, to say the least, even though the biblical text never mentions any encounter between Manasseh and Isaiah. The first section of the account of Manasseh’s reign (21:1– 9) already makes clear that the deuteronomistic author is uncompromising in his verdict. First we are told that Manasseh was twelve years old when he assumed the throne and that he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem (2 Kgs 21:1; 2 Chr 33:1).⁷ What follows is a uniform and complete condemnation of Manasseh as an apostate whose misguided religious policies led Judah to ruin. Manasseh “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and followed “the abominable practices of the nations” (‫ויעשׂ‬

 Carl D. Evans, “Naram-Sin and Jeroboam: The Archetypical Unheilsherrscher in Mesopotamian and Biblical Historiography,” in Scripture in Context II: More Essays on the Comparative Method, ed. William W. Hallo, James C. Moyer, and Leo G. Perdue (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, ),  – . The same pattern is repeated in the Enochic Apocalypse of Weeks ( En. : – , : – ) and in Baruch’s Vision of the Great Cloud ( Bar. : – ).  In his rewritten version of the Hezekiah story, the Chronicler replaces what is “the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah” in the concluding note in  Kgs : with “the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz (‫ ”)בחזון ישעיהו בן אמוץ‬in  Chr :. The phrase is taken from from Isa :, “The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz” (‫)חזון ישעיהו בן אמוץ‬, though it is clear that the Chronicler is not thinking of the Book of Isaiah as one of his sources but of some other book. The attribution of that book to Isaiah is curious, however, and may speak to the continued significance of the encounter between Hezekiah and Isaiah for the earliest transmission history of the Hezekiah traditions.  Several scholars have posited an initial decade long co-regency between Hezekiah and Manasseh; see Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmor, II Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, AB  (Garden City: Doubleday, ), .


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‫ ;הרע בעיני יהוה כתועבת הגוים‬2 Kgs 21:2, repeated in v. 10) by reestablishing the Canaanite religious practices that his father Hezekiah had abolished. The catalogue of Manasseh’s transgressions that follows focuses on his cultic aberrations.⁸ He was a grievous idolater: he erected altars and religious images in various locations, including the temple and its courtyard (21:4– 5, 7; 23:12; cf. Jer 7:30), and he worshipped them. In the brief note that concludes the first section, the Deuteronomist states that Manasseh led the people astray, so that their sin surpassed even that of the Canaanites (21:9; cf. 1 Kgs 21:25 – 26).⁹ The second section of the deuteronomistic account (21:10 – 15) takes the form of a divine oracle in which God responds to Manasseh’s transgressions and announces the punishment for Judah. Early interpreters noted several features in this passage. First, God spoke to Manasseh “by his servants the prophets” (‫ ;ביד עבדיו הנביאים‬21:10), a reference to a group of anonymous prophets who opposed the king and confronted him with the word of God.¹⁰ Nothing more is said about these prophets, but early interpreters had no doubt that one of them was the prophet Isaiah. The second feature in the passage is the recurring claim that Manasseh caused Judah to sin “with his idols” (‫ויחטא גם את יהודה‬ ‫ ;בגלוליו‬21:11). Of all his violations of the deuteronomic laws, the one transgression that stood out for them is the fact that the king built idols. Later interpreters will take great liberties to describe the idol and its placement in the temple. And

 The biblical author is careful to list transgressions that are explicitly prohibited in Deuteronomy. See Eynikel, “The Portrait of Manasseh,”  – ; Stavrakopoulou, King Manasseh,  – .  Much has been written about the motivations for Manasseh to become an idolater. While many have simply accepted uncritically the Deuteronomist’s harsh condemnation of Manasseh as a villain and apostate, others have pointed out that the state Manasseh inherited from Hezekiah was a vassal of the Assyrian empire, so that Manasseh’s change of policy should be seen as a direct reaction to the religious imperialism of the Assyrians. More recently scholars emphasized that there is no evidence that Assyria imposed its own religious practices upon its subject nations. Still, even if Manasseh’s “apostasy” was not an imposition, it could be seen as a calculated move by a shrewd king who wanted to protect his country. Richard Nelson’s remarks capture this position well. “The first quarter of Manasseh’s reign, therefore, was a period of almost unlimited Assyrian power. The wise policy, in fact the only policy open to him, was that of the loyal vassal…. There is no reason to condemn Manasseh for doing what he had to do. Certainly Judah benefited from this period of stability.” From his “Realpolitik in Judah ( –  B.C.E.),” in Scripture in Context II: More Essays on the Comparative Method, ed. William W. Hallo, James C. Moyer, and Leo G. Perdue (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, ), .  In the parallel verse in  Chr : no prophets are mentioned (“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they gave no heed”), but in the concluding notice about the death of the king, the Chronicler refers to “the words of the seers who spoke to him [Manasseh] (‫ודברי‬ ‫ )החזים המדברים אליו‬in the name of the Lord God of Israel” ( Chr :). This is an expansion of  Kgs :, where neither seers nor prophets are mentioned.

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


the third feature is the surprising fact that God is quick to bring evil upon Jerusalem and Judah (21:12– 13), while nothing is said about a punishment for Manasseh. It is possible, even likely, that Manasseh would have been able to implement his religious practices only with the support of the people.¹¹ But this remains speculative. The Deuteronomist holds Manasseh responsible for Judah’s apostasy, as is made very clear in 2 Kgs 24:3 – 4. The same view is expressed in Jer 15:4, the one reference to Manasseh in the book of Jeremiah, a divine oracle threatening the punishment of Judah because of the king’s deeds in Jerusalem. “I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms on the earth because of what King Manasseh son of Hezekiah of Judah did in Jerusalem.” The reasoning in 2 Kgs 24:3 – 4 and Jer 15:4 is, of course, deeply troubling. Not only is Manasseh never punished for his own sins, he enjoys the longest, undisturbed reign of all the Davidic monarchs. What is more, it is an entire generation that will bear the brunt of God’s anger half a century after Manasseh’s death. Presumably the Chronicler recognized the problem and responded by turning Manasseh into a repentant, while emphasizing that it was the people’s opposition to the will of God that led them into the Babylonian Exile (2 Chr 36:14– 17).¹² The third section in the deuteronomistic account (21:16) consists of a single verse only. Form-critically it is separated from the preceding section and should not be considered part of it. The divine speech announcing the punishment inflicted upon Jerusalem ends in v. 15 with the words “even to this day” (‫ועד היום‬ ‫)הזה‬, and the new section begins with the word “Moreover” (‫)וגם‬, thus marking a clear caesura in the text.¹³ Verse 16 reads like an afterthought to the lengthy list of aberrations in vv. 2– 7. While that list deals with cultic matters only, in v. 16 the writer moves to the social realm. Manasseh is accused of having shed “very much innocent blood” (‫)דם נקי שׁפך מנשׁה‬. The phrase, possibly an allusion to political murders, may be intended to tie Manasseh’s wrongdoings back to the house of Ahab.¹⁴ Throughout its history of reading, however, the phrase was pri-

 Cogan and Tadmor, for example, noted, “It may be submitted that the idolatry of Manasseh’s age was a popular reaction to the religious policies of Hezekiah, which set in after that king’s death. Hezekiah’s cult reform did not prevent the disastrous rout of Judah at the hands of Assyria” (II Kings, ).  Marvin A. Sweeney, I & II Kings, OTL (Louisville: Westminster, ),  – . As we will see, early interpreters were less troubled by the idea that a later generation suffered for the sins of the long deceased monarch.  Van Keulen, Manasseh Through the Eyes of the Deuteronomists,  – ; Smelik, “The Portrayal of King Manasseh,”  – .  Morton Cogan, Imperialism and Religion: Assyria, Judah and Israel in the Eighth and Seventh Centuries B.C.E., SBLMS  (Missoula: Scholars Press, ),  – : “The charge of bloodshed in  Kgs . should be read as a charge of social wrongdoing, climaxing the parallel which the


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marily understood to mean that Manasseh persecuted and killed Israel’s prophets. Early interpreters also noted the unusual expression in v. 16 that Manasseh filled Jerusalem with blood “from mouth to mouth” (‫עד אשׁר מלא את ירושׁלים פה‬ ‫)לפה‬. This to them was further evidence that Isaiah was one of the prophets who met his death at the hand of Manasseh. The fourth section (21:17– 18) about the end of Manasseh’s life is largely formulaic in the deuteronomistic idiom. Manasseh died and was buried “in the garden of Uzza,” possibly a tomb in Siloam. The brief note about Amon that follows (21:19 – 26), Manasseh’s son and successor who sat on the throne for only two years before he was assassinated by his courtiers, is mainly an extension of Manasseh’s reign. Amon continued the cultic practices of his father and served the same idols (21:21). It is only with Josiah that Israel returned to the reform measures of Hezekiah. To conclude, the deuteronomistic account of Manasseh is uncompromising in its depiction of the monarch as the worst king of Judah. He reversed the religious practices of his father Hezekiah and erected several idolatrous cult centers. No consideration is given to the larger historical context and a possible Assyrian influence on Manasseh’s policies. Instead, the Deuteronomist is content to build a case against Manasseh and to charge him with being solely responsible for God’s decision to destroy Jerusalem half a century after the king’s death. We move to the Chronicler. In his seminal commentary on the book of Chronicles, Ralph Klein wrote that the “Chronicler’s presentation of the reign of Manasseh … has been one of the most controversial parts of his work.”¹⁵ What makes the passage in 2 Chr 33:1– 20 so controversial is the new material in vv. 11– 17 about Manasseh’s repentance while in exile, his return to Jerusalem, building activities, and his religious reforms, none of which is mentioned by the Deuteronomist. Scholars are sharply divided over the question whether the Chronicler simply invented the story of Manasseh’s repentance and restoration or whether this material is built around a historical kernel of truth. Defenders of the historicity hypothesis have argued that it is difficult to imagine that the Chronicler invented the entire episode and point to possible moments in time when Manasseh could have rebelled against Assyrian suzerainty and could have been exiled. Skeptics on the other hand stress that Manasseh’s exile is

Deuteronomist drew between the corrupt houses of Ahab and Manasseh (cf. especially  Kgs .; .).” Cf. Schniedewind, “History and Interpretation.” The analogies between Ahab’s and Manasseh’s reign are significant (e. g., both built an altar for Baal and made a sacred pole), in that they provide a historical precedent for Manasseh’s idolatry. The lines of continuity were not lost on the early interpreters.  Ralph W. Klein,  Chronicles: A Commentary, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, ), .

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


not mentioned in any other sources, including the texts from Assyria.¹⁶ While the historical debate regarding the plausibility of the events is important, the deuteronomistic account also poses a number of theological questions of which the Chronicler was undoubtedly aware. Why did the people have to suffer for the sins of the king? Why was Manasseh never punished? And why did the king govern undisturbed for fifty-five years, the longest reign of any Davidic monarch? To gain an appreciation for how the Chronicler addresses these problems, we follow again the structure of the pericope. The passage can be divided into five sections.¹⁷


33:1– 9 33:10 33:11– 13 33:14– 17 33:18 – 20

The reign of Manasseh Introduction: Manasseh’s reign God speaks to Manasseh and his people Manasseh’s exile, repentance, and restoration Manasseh’s building projects and religious reforms Conclusion and summary: Manasseh’s death and burial

The first section (33:1– 9), which introduces Manasseh and describes his idolatrous practices, closely follows its Vorlage in 2 Kgs 21:1– 9, with only minor changes. According to 2 Kgs 21:7, Manasseh put “the carved image of Ashera” (‫ )את פסל האשׁרה‬in the temple. In 2 Chr 33:7 the goddess Ashera has been replaced with the more general “carved image of the idol” (‫ )את פסל הסמל‬that Manasseh had made, possibly because the worship of Ashera was no longer a threat in post–exilic Judaism.¹⁸ Another minor change in 2 Chronicles is found in 2 Chr

 See ibid.,  – , for an overview of the divergent positions and for further bibliography.  Several exegetes have argued that the Chronicler’s passage about Manasseh is structured concentrically, with the account of his exile, repentance, and restoration in : –  occupying the central position. In their reading, the passage is organized like this: A (:) Introduction: Manasseh is king; B (: – ) Manasseh’s transgressions; C (:) God speaks to Manasseh; D (: – ) Manasseh’s exile, repentance, and restoration; C’ (:) Manasseh’s building projects; B’ (: – ) Manasseh’s religious reforms; and A’ (: – ) Conclusion: Manasseh’s death and burial. See, for example, Sara Japhet, I & II Chronicles: A Commentary, OTL (Louisville: Westminster, ), ; and her The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought, BEATAJ  (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, ),  – . The strength of the proposal is that it emphasizes Manasseh’s exile and repentance as the pivotal moment at the center of the narrative. But the parts of the story that precede and follow vv.  –  do not show an exact correspondence. A linear depiction of the chapter’s composition remains preferable, especially when it is compared with the deuteronomistic version.  So Judith Newman, “Three Contexts for Reading Manasseh’s Prayer in the Didascalia,” Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies  (): .


Matthias Henze

33:9, where the Chronicler specifies that Manasseh misled “Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,” as opposed to simply “them” in 2 Kgs 31:9. The second section (33:10), which consists of a single verse, is an abbreviated version of the parallel passage in 2 Kgs 21:10 – 15. The Chronicler does not mention the prophets or their words. All that matters is that neither king nor people listened to God (cf. 2 Kgs 21:9). It is in the third and fourth sections (33:11– 13, 14– 17) that the Chronicler introduces the new material. To the account of Manasseh’s fall the Chronicler adds a second part about the king’s rise. Manasseh is defeated by the Assyrians in battle, brought in chains into exile, where he humbles himself and prays to his God, who hears him and returns him to Jerusalem. Once reinstalled in Jerusalem, Manasseh engages in several building projects, reorganizes Judah’s military, and engages in a religious reform that effectively cancels his original idolatrous missteps and returns Judah to the worship of the one God of Israel. It is easy to see how the Chronicler’s story of Manasseh’s forced exile, return, and restoration would help to explain the unusual length of the king’s reign.¹⁹ Moreover, Manasseh’s exile as depicted by the Chronicler can be interpreted as a prefiguration of Israel’s exile a short while later. The king, who goes into exile and later returns to Jerusalem, becomes a type of Israel. This typological reading is supported by the fact that the Assyrian army deports Manasseh to Babylon rather than to Nineveh (possibly in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in 2 Kgs 20:18), and that he returns to Jerusalem, only to recognize that the Lord, and not his idols, is God.²⁰ Early Jewish and Christian interpreters were struck in particular by four aspects in the Chronicler’s account, to which they returned frequently. First, the text says nothing about exactly what prompted Manasseh to repent, a gap in

 The point was already made by Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Atlanta: Scholars Press,  [German ]),  – . In Wellhausen’s reading, the Chronicler not only solves the mystery of Manasseh’s fifty-five year reign but also addresses the question of Manasseh’s guilt. “In truth, Manasseh’s temporary deposition is entirely on the same plane with Nebuchadnezzar’s temporary grass-eating. The unhistorical character of the intermezzo (the motives of which are perfectly transparent) follows not only from the silence of the Book of Kings (a circumstance of no small importance indeed), but also, for example, from Jer. XV. ; for when it is there said that all Judah and Jerusalem are to be given up to destruction because of Manasseh, it is not presupposed that his guilt has been already borne and atoned for by himself.”  On the typology, see Rudolf Mosis, Untersuchungen zur Theologie des chronistischen Geschichtswerkes (Freiburg: Herder, ),  – ; Peter Ackroyd, “The Chronicler as Exegete,” JSOT  (): ; Hugh G.M. Williamson,  and  Chronicles, NCBC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ),  – . Josephus already recognized the problem that Manasseh was exiled to Babylon and simply claimed that it was the Babylonian and not the Assyrian king who exiled Manasseh (Ant. .).

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


the text that needed an explanation. Second, there is the obvious question about the power of repentance. The Chronicler’s narration slows down noticeably at the moment of Manasseh’s repentance, the pivotal moment in the story. When the king was in distress, he “entreated the favor of the Lord his God” (‫חלה את‬ ‫)פני יהוה אלהיו‬, he “humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors” (‫)ויכנע מאד מלפני אלהי אבתיו‬, and “he prayed to him” (‫ ;ויתפלל אליו‬33:12– 13). These three expressions that describe the three constitutive elements of the king’s penitential practice are mirrored rhetorically in the three-fold divine response: God “received his entreaty” (‫)ויעתר לו‬, God “heard his plea” (‫וישׁמע‬ ‫)תחנתו‬, “and [God] restored him again to Jerusalem” (‫ ;וישׁיבהו ירושׁלם‬33:13). Manasseh’s repentance was thorough and successful. Third, several times the Chronicler refers to a prayer: in v. 13 the king “prayed” (‫ )ויתפלל‬and brought his “plea” (‫ )תחנתו‬before God, and a little later in vv. 18 and 19 the storyteller refers again to Manasseh’s “prayer” (‫)תפלתו‬.²¹ But the actual words of the prayer(s) are never given, an obvious lacuna in the text waiting to be filled in. The fourth aspect, finally, is the nagging doubt many readers harbored about the true nature of Manasseh’s change of mind. Ancient and modern readers appear to be united in their skepticism about Manasseh’s repentance, even though their suspicions are nurtured by different considerations. For the modern readers, the reform measures undertaken by King Josiah seem to presuppose that Manasseh’s religious reform was moderate at best and that it was limited to the city of Jerusalem at best (cf. 2 Chr 33:17).²² Early interpreters, on the other hand, questioned Manasseh’s disposition and wondered whether his guilt was truly forgiven. With the fourth section about Manasseh’s death and burial (33:18 – 20), finally, the Chronicler reverts to the formulaic language of the Deuteronomist. The summary is an expansion of 2 Kgs 21:17– 18, with some modifications. The source reference includes “the words of the seers” (33:18), and v. 19 appears to be a gloss on the previous narrative. To conclude, while for the Deuteronomist Manasseh is a villain who is responsible for Judah’s demise, the Chronicler has turned the evil king into a remorseful penitent. The blame for the anger of God is shifted and is now placed on the people (2 Chr 36:14– 17), not on the monarch. Manasseh is instead turned

 Schniedewind, “The Source Citations,”  – , believes that the text in v. b is taken from an independent source that refers to Manasseh’s prayer and “the words of the seers” that are not mentioned in the story itself. The proposal is intriguing but speculative.  Evans, “Manasseh,” . When in  Kgs : Josiah is credited with demolishing the places dedicated to cult prostitution and to Ashera, for example, the assumption presumably is that the worship of Ashera had continued unabated since Manasseh.


Matthias Henze

into a model penitent, first of all for his grandson, King Josiah, to emulate in his Josianic reform,²³ and secondarily for all readers of Manasseh’s story.

2 Manasseh the Penitent Sinner The motif of King Manasseh, the penitent sinner, proved to be both potent and malleable. One of the first writers to pick up on the story of Manasseh’s repentance was Josephus.²⁴ In his retelling of the reign of Manasseh, Josephus omits most details about Manasseh’s idolatry and replaces them with a more general statement about the king. Manasseh broke away from his father’s religious practices and exhibited “every form of wickedness in his conduct” (Ant. 10.37). For Josephus, Manasseh’s great sin is not his idolatry but his lawlessness, a theme that runs through his work.²⁵ The statement in 2 Kgs 21:16 that Manasseh shed much innocent blood meant for Josephus that the king committed many murders. He killed “all the righteous men among the Hebrews, nor did he spare even the prophets” (Ant. 10.38). At this point Josephus follows the account of the Chronicler and gives considerable attention to Manasseh’s penance (Ant. 10.41– 42). Then at last did Manasseh realize in what a bad plight he was, and, believing himself to be the cause of it all, he prayed to God to make the enemy humane and merciful to him. And God harkened to his supplication and granted this, and so Manasseh was set free by the king of Babylonia and was safely restored to his own land. When he came to Jerusalem, he strove to cast from his mind, if that were possible, the very memory of his former sins, of which he was anxious to repent, and to show God the utmost reverence; and he sanctified the temple and purified the city, and thereafter his only care was to show his gratitude to God for having been saved, and to keep His favor throughout his whole life.

Josephus describes how, when Manasseh was in exile and came to realize that he himself was the only reason for his plight, he asked God in prayer “to make the enemy humane and merciful to him (παρέχειν αὐτῷ φιλάνθρωπον καὶ ἐλεήμονα τὸν πολέμιον).” His prayer was heard and Manasseh was returned to Jerusalem,

 Sweeney, I & II Kings, . Some have wondered whether the Chronicler invented the idea of Manasseh’s repentance or whether the idea already existed and was developed further by the Chronicler. See the discussion by Abadie, “From the Impious,”  – , and Stavrakopoulou, King Manasseh,  – . I find no evidence in favor of the hypothesis that the tradition of Manasseh’s repentance existed prior to the Chronicler.  Louis H. Feldman, “Josephus’ Portrait of Manasseh,” JSP  ():  – ; Stavrakopoulou, King Manasseh,  – .  Feldman, ibid., .

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


where he engaged in a massive religious reform. For Josephus there is little doubt that the king was entirely sincere. Manasseh even strove to forget the very memory of his sins and to show God the utmost respect, none of which is mentioned in the Bible. Josephus tells of Manasseh’s religious reforms and his building projects, and unlike the Chronicler ends on an entirely positive note. Whereas the Chronicler is clear that the people continued to bring sacrifices at the high places beyond Manasseh’s time (2 Chr 33:17), Josephus amplifies Manasseh’s piety and concludes his account by remarking that the king was a “blessed (μακαριστός) and enviable (ζηλωτός) man” for the rest of his life (Ant. 10.45).²⁶ Whereas Josephus remains general in his paraphrastic summary of Manasseh’s reign, other early interpreters singled out specific aspects of the remarkable story about the royal penitent sinner and then expanded on them. We begin our overview with two pseudepigraphic texts that provide the missing words of Manasseh’s prayer; then we move to the Christian works of the third and fourth centuries, in which Manasseh’s penance is seen as a spiritual ideal to be emulated by the faithful; and finally we turn to the Sages who drew an ambiguous picture of the king’s life. First, Manasseh’s prayer. The Chronicler repeatedly refers to a prayer—or, more likely, to multiple prayers—that were part of Manasseh’s penitential practice while in exile (2 Chr 33: 12– 13, 18 – 19), but the biblical author never gives us the actual words of the prayer(s). Two such penitential prayers, both ascribed to Manasseh in their respective superscriptions, are preserved outside the Bible. The older of the two comes from the Qumran scrolls, where it is part of 4QNonCanonical Psalms B (4Q381), a collection of diverse psalms. 4Q381 was edited by Eileen Schuller.²⁷ Based on her palaeographical examination of the script, Schuller dates the scroll “to approximately 75 BCE.”²⁸ Nothing is known about the ori-

 Feldman, ibid., , observes that Josephus omits the Chronicler’s final reference to the sacred poles, or asherim ( Chr :), possibly because he knew the rabbinic tradition that it is forbidden to ask a man who has repented to remember his former deeds (m. b. Meṣı῾a :).  Eileen M. Schuller, “QNon-Canonical Psalms B,” in Qumran Cave  VI: Poetical and Liturgical Texts, Part , ed. Esther Eshel et al., DJD  (Oxford: Clarendon, ),  – ; see the review by Florentino García Martínez, “Estudios Qumranicos  – : Panorama Critico (V),” EstBíb  (): . See also Eileen M. Schuller, Non-Canonical Psalms from Qumran: A Pseudepigraphic Collection (Atlanta: Scholars Press, ),  – ; and her “Q and Q: Non-Canonical Psalms from Qumran,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research, ed. Devorah Dimant and Uriel Rapparport, STJD  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; William A. Schniedewind, “A Qumran Fragment of the Ancient ‘Prayer of Manasseh’?,” ZAW  ():  – ; idem, “Manasseh, King,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ),  – .  Schuller, “QNon-Canonical Psalms B,” .


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gin of these compositions. Schuller observes that the psalms now collected in 4Q381 do not seem to reflect the distinctive sectarian vocabulary or theology, so that it seems unlikely that the psalms were written at Qumran. More recently, Mika Pajunen published an expanded edition of the Prayer of Manasseh.²⁹ In Schuller’s reconstruction, which has been endorsed by William Schniedewind, the prayer is considerably shorter and consists of two fragments only that make up a total of four lines (4Q381 33a, b + 35). Pajunen has added two more fragments to the prayer (4Q381 45a, b + 47), which more than double it in length. However, fragments 45 and 47 significantly differ in content from fragments 33 and 35 and introduce new material that veers further from the story line in 2 Chr 33. Therefore, it seems prudent to go with Schuller’s original edition of the prayer. In her reconstruction, 4Q381 Prayer of Manasseh reads as follows (4Q381 33 + 35).³⁰ 8. Prayer of Manasseh, King of Judah, when the King of Assyria imprisoned him. [my G]o[d] near, my salvation is before your eyes. What[ ]l[ ] 9. I wait for your saving presence, and I cringe before you because of my s[in]s. For [you] magnified [your mercy] but I multiplied guilt. And so I [will be cut off]

 Mika S. Pajunen, “The Prayer of Manasseh in Q and the Account of Manasseh in  Chronicles ,” in The Scrolls and Biblical Traditions: Proceedings of the Seventh Meeting of the IOQS in Helsinki, ed. George J. Brooke et al., STDJ  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; idem, The Land to the Elect and Justice for All: Reading Psalms in the Dead Sea Scrolls in Light of Q, JAJSup (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ),  – . The first four lines of Pajunen’s edition are next to identical to Schuller’s edition. The text on the second column that Pajunen has added reads as follows. 4Q381 Frgs 45a + b, 47 1 and I understand, and the one who does not understand I will instruct, and to him . [ ]. h. .[ ]y and I fear you, and I purify myself 2 from the abominations I was acquainted with, and I give my soul to be humbled before [you] they multiplied sin, and they plot against me 3 to lock me up. But I trust you [ ]l[ ].[ ]l[ ] 4 and do not set me in judgement with you, my God [ ] 5 those who conspire against me loosed a deceit[ful] tongue [ ] 6 to me deeds of … [ ]and I will walk in your truth l[ ] 8 [ ] to those who understand you, and I will instruct [ ] 9 [ selah] vacat Pajunen finds a close connection between frgs. 45a + b, 47 and 2 Chr 33, but the connections are vague at best. Moreover, the content is at odds with what we read about Manasseh in 2 Chronicles. For example, the psalmist speaks of his enemies who plot and conspire against him (lines 2 and 5), an element missing from the Manasseh story. Also, the psalmist vows to be an instructor to others (line 8), which again is without parallel in 2 Chr 33:13 – 17 (but see Josephus, Ant. 10.42).  Schuller, “QNon-Canonical Psalms B,”  – .

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


10. from eternal joy, and my soul will not see what is good. For [ ]y they went into exile and [ H]e exalted me on high, over a nation [ ]. 11. But I did not remember you [in the] ho[l]y [pla]ce, [I] did not serve [you]ly[ ]

In this penitential prayer, the psalmist, who speaks in the first person throughout, comes before God and longs for God’s salvation (line 8). But salvation has not yet been realized, it is still the object of desire, as the psalmist is waiting for God’s “saving presence” (‫( )לישׁע פניך‬line 9). The origin of the estrangement with God, according to the prayer, and the reason for the longing for God’s presence are the sins of the poet. While God became more merciful, the psalmist increased in sin (line 9). This realization leads to a lament over the consequences of being a sinner: the psalmist is separated from “eternal joy” (‫ )משׂמחת עוד‬and cannot partake in “what is good” (‫ ;ולא תראה בטוב נפשׁי‬line 10). The transition to the second half of line 10 is not clear, and the reconstruction of the text is conjectural. There may be a reference to exile (the ‫ ג‬of ‫ גלו‬is not clearly readable) and possibly a reference to the exaltation of the psalmist “over a nation” (line 10). Then the speaker returns to the confession of sin. The psalmist has failed to remember and has not served God (line 11). The end of the prayer is missing. Line 8 includes the only complete superscription in 4Q381.³¹ It ascribes the psalm to Manasseh, King of Judah, and specifies that Manasseh wrote the psalm while he was a prisoner of the King of Assyria. “Prayer of Manasseh, King of Judah, when the King of Assyria imprisoned him” (‫תפלה למנשׁה מלך יהודה בכלו‬ ‫)אתו מלך אשׁור‬. The principal purpose of the superscription is to establish a connection between the prayer and 2 Chr 33 and to establish Manasseh as the poet. The word for “prayer” (‫)תפלה‬, which is not used elsewhere in 4Q381 but which is common in the Hebrew Bible, is also used in 2 Chr 33:18 – 19, but the word for “imprisonment” (‫ )בכלו‬is not.³² Apart from the superscription, there is nothing in the prayer that points specifically to Manasseh. The language remains generic, and the nature of the psalmist’s sin is not specified. There are also no names or quotations from the Hebrew Bible in the psalm. What is more, the prayer lacks the deuteronomic language that is characteristic of other penitential psalms, such as Ezra 9, Neh 9, Dan 9, the Prayer of Azariah, Bar 1:15 – 3:8, and Tob 3:1– 6.

 Schuller, Non-Canonical Psalms,  – .  Pajunen, “The Prayer of Manasseh,” , argues that the author/compiler of Q used the Chronicler’s account of Manasseh as a source. The superscription makes clear that the author/ compiler of Q Prayer of Manasseh knew the biblical story of Manasseh, but it is striking how little verbal agreement there is between the Qumran text and  Chr . Schniedewind, “Manasseh, King,” , is closer to the mark when he notes that the Q Prayer of Manasseh “betrays no direct dependence on Chronicles.”


Matthias Henze

Of course we cannot rule out the possibility that the psalm was written specifically with Manasseh in mind, but there is nothing in the text proper to support this hypothesis. The situation is reminiscent of Ps 51, another penitential psalm, whose heading attributes it to David at a specific moment in his life after his adultery with Bathsheba, but the psalm itself never refers to David. It was clearly written at a later time, and it was only secondarily attributed to the king. The situation may be roughly analogous in our case. 4Q381 Prayer of Manasseh was likely a generic penitential prayer that was attributed to Manasseh at a later stage. It tells us little about King Manasseh’s Nachleben, other than that during the second or first century B.C.E. the early author/compiler of this psalm inserted a superscription and put the prayer into the mouth of the remorseful king, possibly in an effort to fill what was felt to be a lacuna in the biblical story, the missing prayer of Manasseh. The other penitential prayer that is attributed to Manasseh is the pseudepigraphic Prayer of Manasseh, a short poem of fifteen verses.³³ The text mainly survives in Syriac, Greek, and Hebrew versions. The oldest documented form of the Prayer is found in the Syriac version of the Didascalia Apostolorum, a church order from the third century C.E.³⁴ The earliest source for the Greek version is

 Michael E. Stone, “Apocryphal Notes and Readings,” IOS  ():  – ; Eva Osswald, Das Gebet Manasses, JSHRZ / (Gütersloh: Mohn, ); Howard N. Bream, “Manasseh and His Prayer,” Lutheran Theological Seminary Bulletin  ():  – ; George W.E. Nickelsburg, “Prayer of Manasseh,” in The Oxford Bible Commentary, ed. John Barton and John Muddiman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ),  – ; David A. DeSilva, “Prayer of Manasseh,” in idem, Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance (Grand Rapids: Baker, ),  – ; Judith H. Newman, “The Form and Settings of the Prayer of Manasseh,” in Seeking the Favor of God. Vol. , The Development of Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism, ed. Mark J. Boda, Daniel K. Falk, and Rodney A. Werline, EBL  (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, ),  – ; James R. Davila, “Is the Prayer of Manasseh a Jewish Work?,” in Heavenly Tablets: Interpretation, Identity and Tradition in Ancient Israel, ed. Lynn LiDonnoci and Andrea Lieber, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; Esther G. Chazon, “Prayer of Manasseh,” in Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, ed. Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel, and Lawrence H. Schiffman (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press/Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, ),  – .  Willem Baars and H. Schneider, “The Prayer of Manasseh,” in The Old Testament in Syriac According to the Peshitta Version: IV/ (Leiden: Brill, ). See now the comprehensive study by Ariel Gutman and Wido van Peursen, The Two Syriac Versions of the Prayer of Manasseh, Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies  (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, ). Two new Syriac versions of the Prayer with some significant textual variations have since been published by Sebastian P. Brock and Lucas van Rompay, Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts and Fragments in the Library of Deir al-Surian, Wadi al-Natrun (Egypt) (Leuven: Peeters, ),  (Ms ) and  –  (Ms ).

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions, for whose first six chapters the Didascalia was the main source; the Prayer is also part of the Odes, a collection of fourteen hymns and prayers appended to three Greek biblical manuscripts.³⁵ There is also a Hebrew version of the prayer from the Cairo Geniza, but it seems that this version is a medieval re-translation rather than the Hebrew Vorlage of the Syriac and Greek.³⁶ The original language of composition is still debated, though most scholars argue for Greek.³⁷ The pseudepigraphic Prayer of Manasseh is a brief penitential psalm.³⁸ The prayer is composed in the first person singular. It falls into three main sections.³⁹ Verses 1– 7 are an invocation of God. God is addressed in several ways: as the “God of our ancestors, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob” (v. 1), as God the Creator of heaven and earth (v. 2), and as the merciful Judge who is the guarantor of repentance (vv. 5 – 7). The second part in vv. 8 – 10, introduced with the word “Therefore” ( ), is an acknowledgment and confession of sin. Whereas the patriarchs were free of sin, the psalmist confesses to be a sinner, for whom God has appointed repentance. The language of confession is vivid: the poet is weighed down “with many an iron shackle,” cannot look up, and finds no relief (v. 10). The third part in vv. 11– 15, finally, marked with the words “And now” ), is a petition for relief and forgiveness. Entreating God to show kindness, ( the poet acknowledges God’s goodness and mercy and pledges to praise God continually, just as the host of heaven sings God’s praise forever (v. 15). As in the case of 4Q381 Prayer of Manasseh, Manasseh is not mentioned by name in the prayer itself, and the only explicit link between the prayer and Man) .⁴⁰ But unasseh is in the superscription, “Prayer of Manasseh” (

 Marcel Metzger, Les Constitutions Apostoliques, SC , ,  (Paris: Cerf,  – ); Alfred Rahlfs, Psalmi cum Odis, nd ed., SVTG  (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ),  – .  Peter Schäfer and Shaul Shaked, Magische Texte aus der Kairoer Geniza, TSAJ  (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ), : – ; Reimund Leicht, “A Newly Discovered Hebrew Version of the Apocryphal ‘Prayer of Manasseh’,” JSQ  ():  – .  Albert-Marie Denis, Introduction aux pseudépigraphes grecs d’Ancient Testament, SVTP  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – ; Davila, “Is the Prayer of Manasseh a Jewish Work?,”  – .  On the similarities of the Prayer of Manasseh with Ps , see Newman, “The Form and Settings,”  – .  George W.E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah, nd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress, ),  – ; Judith H. Newman, “The Prayer of Manasseh,” in Pieter W. van der Horst and Judith H. Newman, Early Jewish Prayers in Greek, CEJL (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  –  (with complete bibliography up until ).  Gutman and van Peursen, The Two Syriac Versions,  –  and , distinguish between two Syriac versions, Version A and B. Version A simply reads “Prayer of Manasseh,” but Version


Matthias Henze

like the prayer from Qumran, there are a few thematic similarities between the prayer and the Manasseh story in 2 Chronicles, even if the similarities are approximate rather than precise.⁴¹ As part of the admission of guilt in Pr. Man. 9, for example, the psalmist prays, “my sins have increased” ( ).⁴² Similarly, the Chronicler writes about Manasseh in Pesh. 2 Chr 33:6 that “he did much evil” ( ). In Pr. Man. 10 the psalmist bemoans to be “bent by a multitude of iron chains” ( ), a metaphor for the unbearable burden of sin. This is reminiscent of Manasseh whom the Assyrians “bound with fetters” ( ; 2 Chr 33:11) and led into exile. In Pr. Man. 10b the psalmist confesses to have set up idols and provoked God’s anger, “and I provoked your fury, and I set up idols” ). This maybe compared to the statement ( in Pesh. 2 Chr 33:6 that Manasseh did much evil and that he “provoked [God] ). to anger” ( While the similarities appear compelling at first, a closer look reveals that they are far from exact. Our reading is severely hampered by the fact that the prayer is not extant in its original language and that all we have are secondary and possibly tertiary translations. And yet, the language of the prayer does not suggest any dependence on 2 Chronicles. It should also be noted that there are no obvious links between the pseudepigraphic Prayer of Manasseh and the prayer from Qumran (4Q381). They appear to be two independent compositions. Moreover, according to Josephus, Manasseh prayed that God make his enemy humane and merciful to him (Ant. 10.41). It is unclear whether Josephus knew of an actual prayer of Manasseh; if he did, he does not say so. Regardless, what he writes about Manasseh’s prayer does not overlap with anything we read in the two extant prayers we have of the king. Taken together, then, we seem to be dealing with a continuous practice of attributing prayers to the remorseful monarch, inspired by the Chronicler’s account of King Manasseh who turned himself

B has a longer header: “Prayer of Manasseh, king of the Israelites, when he was conducted in captivity in Babel, and they wanted to burn him: he felt sorry when he was inside the brazen bull, he prayed and the bull was broken into pieces, so that he found himself safe and sound in Jerusalem.” The header in the Vulgate, where, since the Council of Trent, the prayer is the first of five books in an appendix after the New Testament, reads: Oratio manasse regis iuda cum captus teneretur in babylone (“Prayer of Manasseh, King of Judah, when he was held captive in Babylon”). Newman, “The Prayer of Manasseh,” . On the Latin, see Albert-Marie Denis, ed., Introduction à la littérature religieuse judéo-hellénistique (Turnhout: Brepols, ), : – ; Heinrich Schneider, “Der Vulgata-Text der Oratio Manasseh,” BZ  ():  – .  Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature,  – .  This can be compared with the confession of guilt in Q Prayer of Manasseh  , “but I multiplied guilt” (‫)ואני הרביתי אשׁמה‬.

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


around and confessed his sins.⁴³ In all likelihood the pseudepigraphic Prayer of Manasseh, like the prayer from Qumran, was not originally written as a pseudepigraphon but was ascribed to the king only at a later stage, but this has to remain conjectural. What makes the prayer relevant for the present discussion is not so much the prayer itself, which is somewhat generic, but what it tells us about the significance Manasseh had for early interpreters. The dominant themes of the prayer are the mercy of God and the power of repentance. The poet addresses God as the God who has great compassion and who is “patient, very merciful, and relenting at human evil” (Pr. Man. 7). The psalmist is weighed down and burdened by sins that are “more in number than the sand of the sea” (Pr. Man. 9). God is the guarantor of repentance who promises forgiveness. And so the psalmist can pray, “You, therefore, O Lord, according to the sweetness of your grace, promised repentance of forgiveness for those who sinned before you. In the greatness of your compassion, you have fixed repentance for the redemption of sinners” (Pr. Man. 7b).⁴⁴ In other words, according to the psalm’s theology of repentance and reconciliation God has established the institution of repentance, so that those who repent will be forgiven and can obtain salvation. Manasseh’s story exemplifies this process of repentance and forgiveness. How this is played out becomes clearer when we look beyond the prayer itself at its literary context in the Didascalia Apostolorum.⁴⁵ The Didascalia, or the “Catholic Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” is a Church order from the third century, written in northern Syria, that purports to be written by the apostles at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1– 29). Its primary purpose is to provide moral instructions and practical regulations for the life and order of the church. The first chapters include various admonitions, for husbands on how to please their wives (chs. 1– 2), for wives on how to be with their husbands (ch. 3), as well as rules for the church concerning the election and consecration of new bishops

 Newman, “The Prayer of Manasseh,” . See also Manasseh’s brief prayer in Deut. Rab. :, quoted below. Newman convincingly argues against George Nickelsburg who suggested that the pseudepigraphic Prayer of Manasseh was composed as part of the conflation of the deuteronomic and Chronicler’s accounts of Manasseh; see his “Prayer of Manasseh,” .  On the text-critical problems of Pr. Man. b, see Newman, “The Prayer of Manasseh,” .  R. Hugh Connolly, Didascalia Apostolorum: The Syriac Version Translated and Accompanied by the Verona Latin Fragments (Oxford: Clarendon Press,; repr. ); Arthur Vööbus, The Didascalia Apostolorum in Syriac, CSCO  – ,  –  (Louvain: Secrétariat du Corpus SCO, ); Alistair Stewart-Sykes, The Didascalia Apostolorum: An English Version, Studia Traditionis Theologiae  (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, ). Few scholars acknowledge the importance of the Didascalia for our understanding of the Prayer of Manasseh; for a notable exception, see Newman, “The Form and Settings,”  – .


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(ch. 4). Chapters 5 – 8 are addressed directly to the bishop: they provide instructions on proper teachings (ch. 5), on how the bishop must be firm in judgment but lenient with the contrite sinner (chs. 6 – 7), and on how he should avoid riches but care for the poor (ch. 8). A significant portion of the instructions is taken up by the question of penance. The bishop is to be kind to the penitent, as every form of sin can be forgiven, even the gravest of all sins, idolatry. Chapter 7 culminates in the tale of Manasseh, which is cited as an example for the bishops. The author introduces the story of Manasseh with a stern warning (Did. 7).⁴⁶ It is required of you, indeed, O bishop, that those things which happened of old time be set before your eyes that from them you may make comparison and learn the cure of souls, and the admonition and reproof and intercession of those who repent and have need of intercession. And when you judge men, compare circumspectly and with much investigation, and cleave to the will of God. And as He did, so must you also do in your judgments. Hear therefore, O bishops, vis-à-vis these things an example that is fitting and helpful.

The bishop is instructed that he has been installed by God to speak with divine authority. “And know your place—it is that of God Almighty, and that you have received authority to forgive sins” (Did. 7). Now he is told that he should consider what happened “of old time” and “learn the cure of souls.” In particular, the bishop is to be deliberate in judgment and follow the example set by God. To make the point, the author of the Didascalia paraphrases the Chronicler’s account and tells the story of Manasseh. It is here that the Prayer of Manasseh is inserted.⁴⁷ The pericope ends with a further warning for all readers of Manasseh’s story, though in particular for the bishop. You have heard, beloved children, how Manasseh served idols evilly and bitterly, and killed the righteous, and when he repented, God forgave him, although there is no sin worse than idolatry. So, then, there is granted a place for repentance…. On this account, O bishop, as much as you can, keep with strength those who have not sinned, that they remain without sinning. And those who repent of sins, heal and receive ). But if you do not receive him who repents, be( cause you are without mercy, you shall sin against the Lord God.⁴⁸

 Vööbus, The Didascalia Apostolorum, CSCO , .  Newman, “The Form and Settings,” , noticed “the seemingly clumsy insertion of the superscription” in the Didascalia. “And he [Manasseh] prayed before the Lord God and said: The prayer of Manasseh. O Lord God of my fathers …” She concludes that the Prayer of Manasseh is “an obvious insertion.”  Vööbus, The Didascalia Apostolorum, CSCO ,  – .

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


Manasseh committed the worst sins conceivable, idolatry and murder. By forgiving him when he repented, God set an example for the bishop to follow. It is the primary task of the bishop to keep people from sinning in the first place. Once they have committed a sin and have repented, however, the bishop is to “heal and receive” them, even if the circumstances seem dire. For the author of the Didascalia, then, what mattered most about the tale of the remorseful king is that God forgave him and what that forgiveness says about the power of repentance. In an act of imitatio Dei, the bishop, ever mindful of the authority invested in him, is to receive and forgive the penitent, lest his refusal to forgive is seen as an indication that he is without mercy, in which case his refusal will be considered a sin against God. With its poignant expression of humility, the Prayer of Manasseh gives proof that even the worst sinner is capable of penance and thereby in a position to receive forgiveness from God. A similar understanding of Manasseh’s penitence and of its continuous significance for the believer is reflected in a number of patristic writings. A couple of text examples will suffice to show how, like the author of the Didascalia Apostolorum, the Fathers of the Church referred to Manasseh, along with other exemplars from the Old Testament, to illustrate the effectiveness of repentance. With the first text we move from the third to the fourth century. The excerpt is taken from Epistle 77 by Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 330 – 390), a letter the bishop of Constantinople sent to his friend Theodore, bishop of Tyana, in the late 370s or 380s.⁴⁹ Some time prior, both clergymen had attended a church service when they were interrupted and assaulted by a group of Arians. When Theodore decided to prosecute the assailants, Gregory sent him this letter, hoping to dissuade Theodore from taking action. Rather than obtaining penalties, Gregory writes, it is better to practice forgiveness, to “conquer by mercy.” To build his case, Gregory refers to a string of episodes from the Old Testament (Gregory of Nazianzus, Ep. 77).⁵⁰ Moses also was praised because he slew the Egyptian that oppressed the Israelite; but he was more admirable because he healed by his prayer his sister Miriam when she was made leprous for her murmuring. Look also at what follows. The people of Nineveh are threatened with an overthrow, but by their tears they redeem their sin. Manasseh was the most lawless of kings but is the most conspicuous among those who have attained salvation through mourning (Μανασσῆς ἐν βασιλεῦσι παρανομώτατος ἀλλ ̓ εν τοῖς σωθεῖσι διὰ θρῆνον περιφανέστατος).

 Quasten, Patrology, : – ; Vasiliki Limberis, “Bishops Behaving Badly: Helladius Challenges Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa,” in Re-Reading Gregory of Nazianzus, ed. Christopher A. Beeley (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, ),  – .  Migne, PG , cols.  –; translation following that by Edwin H.Gifford, NPNF :– .


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The characters whom Gregory selects to make his point could not be more different: Moses, the leader of the Israelites who killed an Egyptian (Exod 2:12– 15), the people of Nineveh who were about to be overthrown (Jonah 3:6 – 9), and Manasseh the lawless king (2 Kgs 21). What they have in common, in Gregory’s reading, is that all committed an offence, and all successfully turned themselves around. Moses was praised when he killed the Egyptian (the Bible says nothing about this), but then he interceded on behalf of Miriam (Num 12:13).⁵¹ The people of Nineveh appear routinely in similar clusters held up by the Fathers of the Church as exemplars of penitence, for the obvious reason that they averted a disaster that would have befallen an entire city. And Manasseh, finally, was the most lawless (παρανομώτατος) of all kings but in the end achieved salvation through lamenting (θρῆνος). Gregory does not do much with Manasseh’s story here but is content with a brief reference to the king. And yet, there is a notable crescendo in Gregory’s line-up of characters and their rewards: Moses “was more admirable” (ἀλλ ̓ ἐθαυμάσθη πλέον), the Ninevites were able to “redeem their sin,” but Manasseh “attained salvation.” Our second text also comes from Gregory. On the Festival of the Epiphany in 381, Gregory gave his Oration on the Holy Lights (Oratio 39). Since in the Eastern Church the commemoration of Christ’s baptism fell on Epiphany, Gregory preached on the sacrament of baptism. In his sermon, Gregory distinguished five different kinds of baptism: (1) the figurative baptism of Israel by Moses in the cloud and in the sea and with the manna, the bread of life; (2) John the Baptizer’s baptism “unto repentance;” (3) Jesus’s “perfect baptism” in the Spirit; and (4) baptism by martyrdom and blood. Then Gregory comes to the fifth and last kind of baptism (Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration on the Holy Lights 39:17).⁵² Yes, and I know of a fifth also, which is that of tears, and is much more laborious, received by him who washes his bed every night and his couch with tears (Ps 6:6); whose bruises stink through his wickedness (Ps 38:5 – 7); and who goes mourning and of a sad countenance (ὃς πενθῶν καὶ σκυθρωπάζων πορεύεται); who imitates the repentance of Manasseh (καὶ ὃς μιμεῖσται τὴν ἐπιστροφὴν Μανασσῆ) and the humiliation of the Ninevites upon which God had mercy (Jonah 3:5– 10); who utters the words of the publican in the temple, and is justified rather than the stiff-necked Pharisee (Luke 18:13); who like the Canaanite woman bends down and asks for mercy and crumbs, the food of a dog that is very hungry (Matt 15:27).

 It is noticeable that Gregory chose the episode in Num  to demonstrate how Moses interceded on behalf of others. In the golden calf incidence Moses interceded on behalf of all of Israel (Exod : – ; : – ), which would have made for a much more compelling case.  Migne, PG , cols.  – ; translation by Gifford, NPNF :. Quasten, Patrology, :.

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Once again Manasseh’s repentance is held up as an example, albeit here in the unexpected context of baptism. Gregory weaves a tapestry of biblical passages to illustrate what he labels the fifth kind of baptism, a baptism by sorrow, mourning, and sadness. For Gregory, the tears and bruises of which the psalmist writes are tears of repentance. To be baptized in this way means nothing less than to imitate (μιμέομαι) the repentance of Manasseh.⁵³ Unlike the Church Fathers for whom Manasseh is a model penitent, the Sages paint a rather ambivalent picture of the notorious king.⁵⁴ According to tractate Sanhedrin in the Mishnah, all Israelites have a share in the world to come (m. Sanh. 10:1), with the exception of three kings, who were so wicked that they forfeited theirs (m. Sanh. 10:2).⁵⁵ Three kings and four commoners have no share in the world to come. The three kings are Jeroboam and Ahab and Manasseh. R. Judah says: Manasseh has a share in the world to come, for it is written: “And he prayed unto him, and he was intreated of him and heard his supplication and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom” (2 Chr 33:13). They said to him: He brought him again to his kingdom, but he did not bring him to the life of the world to come.

While there is no discussion with regard to Jeroboam and Ahab, R. Judah tries to make the case for Manasseh based on the fact that the king repented and returned to Jerusalem. But the majority opinion is against him, and, as it turns out, for a host of reasons that are stated elsewhere. The rabbis taught (b. Sanh. 99b), for example, that Manasseh once examined the biblical narratives, only to declare them worthless. The king came to embody the scholar “who acts imprudently against the Torah,” and he publicly ridiculed the Torah (b. Sanh. 99b).⁵⁶ He went so far as to expunge the name of God from the Torah, and he committed incest by violating his sister (b. Sanh. 103b). His other offences, to which we will turn below, included

 Other patristic references to Manasseh include John Chrysostom, An Exhortation to Theodore After His Fall .; Homily on Matthew . and .; Jerome, Letter ; To Oceanus  (with a long description of the public penitence of Fabiola); and Against Jovinianus. Book ..  Feldman, “Josephus’ Portrait of Manasseh;” Aharon Shemesh, “King Manasseh and the Halakhah of the Sadducees,” JJS  ():  – .  The story is also related in Num. Rab. : and in Abot R. Nat. , where the Sages explain further: “Had Scripture read, ‘And brought him back to Jerusalem’ and no more, we might have held with your view. But Scripture reads, ‘into his kingdom’: to his kingdom he was brought back, but into the world to come he was not brought.” Judah Goldin, The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, Yale Judaica Series  (New Haven: Yale,), . According to t. Sanh. :, four kings have no share in the world to come: Jeroboam, Ahab, Ahaz, and Manasseh.  Shemesh, “King Manasseh and the Halakhah of the Sadducees,”  – .


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that he condemned the prophet Isaiah, his own grandfather (b. Ber. 10a), to death, and that he erected an idol in the temple. At the same time the Sages maintained that Manasseh had a profound knowledge of the Torah. He was a brilliant interpreter of the book of Leviticus, which he was able to interpret in fifty-five different ways, corresponding to the years of his reign (b. Sanh. 103b). In a particularly telling anecdote, Manasseh appears in a dream to R. Ashi, who had lectured that day in his academy about three kings who were also scholars. In the dream, Manasseh put R. Ashi to the test by asking him a halakhic question, which R. Ashi was unable to answer. Greatly impressed by Manasseh’s knowledge, R. Ashi asked him why a man of his wisdom was an idol worshipper. Manasseh explained that he was influenced by the corrupt behavior of his time. “If you were there,” Manasseh responded, “you would have caught hold of the hem of my garment and sped after me!” (b. Sanh. 102b). Like the Church Fathers, the Sages made much of Manasseh’s repentance. For R. Judah the fact that Manasseh returned to Jerusalem was evidence enough that he, too, has a share in the world to come (m. Sanh. 10:2). Similarly, an unnamed tanna recited before R. Johanan that Manasseh was penitent for thirtythree years. In response, R. Johanan remarked, “He who asserts that Manasseh has no portion in the world to come weakens the hands of penitent sinners” (‫ ;האומר מנשׁה אין לו חלק לעוה’’ב מרפה ידיהן של בעלי תשׁובה‬b. Sanh. 103a). The same sentiment is further developed in the following story from the Jerusalem Talmud (y. Sanh. 10.2).⁵⁷ It is written, “The Eternal spoke to Manasse and to his people but they did not listen. He brought them the generals of the king [ ]; they caught Manasse in ḥōḥîm” (2 Chr 33:11). What are ḥōḥîm? Handcuffs. Rebbi Levi said, they made a bronze mule for him, put him inside, and started heating it from below. When he realized that he was in real trouble, he did not forget any strange worship but appealed to it. Since this did not help him any, he said, I remember that my father let me read the following verse in the synagogue: “When you are in straights, and all these things will find you in the future, then return to the Eternal, your God, and listen to His voice. For the Eternal, your God, is a merciful power. He will not let you slacken. He will not destroy you, nor will He forget the covenant of your forefathers which He concluded with them” (Deut 4:30 – 31). I shall call him. If He hears me, it is good; otherwise all faces are the same. The angels on duty closed all windows that Manasse’s prayer should not ascend before the Holy One, praise to Him. The angels on duty said to the Holy One, praise to Him: “Master of the Universe, would You receive in repentance a man who worshipped other powers and put up an idol in the Temple Hall?” He told them, “If I would not receive

 Translation Heinrich W. Guggenheimer, The Jerusalem Talmud. Fourth Order: Nezikin. Tractate Sanhedrin (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – .

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his repentance, I would close the door in front of all repenting sinners.” What did the Holy One, praise to Him, do for him? He dug a tunnel under His Seat of Glory and accepted his supplication. That is what is written, “He prayed to Him, He had mercy on him, He accepted his supplication, and He returned him” (2 Chr 33:13)…. At that moment Manasse said, there is judgment and there is a judge.

The elaborate tale of Manasseh’s repentance survives with some variations in multiple versions.⁵⁸ Its two main parts, the first regarding the circumstances of Manasseh’s penitence and the other about the ascension of Manasseh’s prayer into heaven, address two questions that are left unanswered by the Chronicler: what prompted Manasseh to reverse his course of action and to return to the God of Israel, and did God receive his prayer? The first episode in the story relates how the Assyrian captors put Manasseh in a bronze mule and lit a fire under it. When praying to his idols proved ineffective, Manasseh remembered the words of his father Hezekiah and prayed to the God of Israel.⁵⁹ Even though the situation is horrendous, the scene is not without irony. The evil king who had “made his son pass through fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom” (2 Kgs 21:6; 2 Chr 33:6) is now tortured by fire himself. Manasseh does not appear to panic but takes his time to weigh his options and to test which deity will respond favorably. The reader is reminded of the story in the book of Daniel about the three lads in the fiery furnace who also escape unharmed because they are delivered by their God in a compatible competition of deities (Dan 3:19 – 33).⁶⁰ The origins of the motif of the “bronze mule” (‫ )מולא שׁלנחושׁת‬are not

 Targum of Second Chronicles : – ; Pesiq. Rab Kah. :; Deut. Rab. :; Ruth Rab. :; cf.  Bar. : – :.  Deut. Rab. : inserts a prayer into the narrative that is missing from the version in the Jerusalem Talmud. While inside the mule, Manasseh prayed: “‘Master of the Universe, behold, I have called upon all the idols of the world and I have learned that there is no reality in them. You, Master of the Universe, are a God above all gods, and if you will not answer me I will declare, God forfend, that all beings are alike.’ Thereupon God answered him: ‘Ah, wicked man, by right, I should not answer you, because you have provoked me to anger. But in order not to close the door before the penitent, that they should not say, “Lo, Manasseh sought to repent but he was not received,” I will answer you.’” See also b. Sanh. b, “Manasseh first called upon many deities, and [only] eventually called upon the God of his fathers.”  The conditional phrase in MT Dan : –  (“If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace …”) has been intensely debated; John E. Goldingay, Daniel, WBC  (Dallas: Word Books, ), ; John J. Collins, Daniel, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, ),  – ; John Barton, “Theological Ethics in Daniel,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, ed. John J. Collins and Peter W. Flint,VTSup  (Leiden: Brill, ), :. The hesitant attitude the statement communicates is rather similar to that of Manasseh while inside the mule.


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clear, but it may have been inspired by stories about Phalaris of Acragas from the sixth century B.C.E.⁶¹ The cruel tyrant, notorious for his excessive use of violence, is said to have built a brazen bull and to have roasted his enemies alive inside the bull. The motif of the bronze mule explains why Manasseh repented. An alternate tradition is preserved in Sifre Deuteronomy 32. While gravely ill, R. Eliezer summons four of his students, who seek to comfort their teacher. The first three praise R. Eliezer’s unparalleled accomplishments, whereas R. Akiba, the last to speak, merely says, “Master, precious are chastisements” (‫)חביבים יסורים‬. When asked by his teacher to elaborate, R. Akiba refers to Manasseh, who learned nothing from his father Hezekiah but repented only while being chastised in exile. “Could one imagine that Hezekiah taught Torah to all Israel but not to Manasseh, his son? Rather, all his instruction and all his toil was of no avail to him. Only chastisement availed him, as it is said … (2 Chr 33:10 – 13).” For R. Akiba, Manasseh’s exile was a form of divine chastisement, and it was this chastisement that moved him to repent.⁶² But we need to return to the story in the Jerusalem Talmud. With the second part the plot ascends into heaven, where the angels do whatever they can to stop the prayer of Manasseh from reaching God. We saw in Mishnah Sanhedrin that the majority of Rabbis were suspicious about Manasseh’s conversion. The angels articulate much of the same doubt: will God receive the prayer of an idol worshipper, who installed one of his idols in the temple? Indeed, they act to prevent God from receiving Manasseh’s prayer, apparently because the very idea that God might be favorably inclined is objectionable. And yet, the divine answer is in the affirmative. When R. Johanan said to the anonymous tanna, “He who asserts that Manasseh has no portion in the world to come weakens the hands of penitent sinners” (b. Sanh. 103a), he moves the discussion away from Manasseh. For R. Johanan the issue at hand is not the personal fate of Manasseh but the significance of repentance in general. Any criticism of Manasseh’s repentance calls into question the efGutman and van Peursen, The Two Syriac Versions, 26, point out that Jonah, too, prayed while inside an animal, but the circumstances are, of course, rather different.  Wilhelm Bacher, “Le Taureau de Phalaris dans l’Agada,” REJ  ():  – ; Eberhard Nestle, “Zum ehernen Maultier des Manasse,” ZAW  –  (): ; Pierre Maurice Bogaert, L’Apocalypse syriaque de Baruch: Introduction, traduction du syriaque et commentaire, SC  –  (Paris: Cerf, ), : – , who argues that Phalaris inspired the related account in  Bar.  –  (see below); Gutman and van Peursen, The Two Syriac Versions,  – . For the relevant classical texts about Phalaris, see Andrzej Dudzinski, “The Bull of Phalaris and the Historical Method of Diodorus Siculus,” Histos  ():  – .  Louis Finkelstein, ed., Siphre ad Deuteronomium (New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, ), . Also b. Sanh. a–b.

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ficacy of repentance of all sinners. In our story, God strongly rebukes the angels: “If I would not receive his repentance, I would close the door in front of all repenting sinners.” The focus has again shifted from Manasseh to God, and the tale of Manasseh’s repentance is no longer about Manasseh, it is about the benevolence of God. God “accepted his supplication” (‫)ושׁמע תחינתו‬. The tunnel which God has dug under the Seat of Glory is a potent motif of God’s continuous availability for the penitential prayers of all sinners.

3 Manasseh and the Martyrdom of Isaiah In his homily to the catechumens, Cyril of Jerusalem refers to a legend according to which the prophet Isaiah met his death by being sawn into half. Widely known in the early Church, the legend of the martyrdom of Isaiah is attested in various mutations. Its origins are unclear, but one of its contributive traditions can be traced back to a fleeting reference in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Chapter eleven of the epistle is an extended celebration of the faith of the biblical ancestors. The author parades before his readers a long list of biblical figures, a sacred history of the faithful. The final segment of the chapter is devoted to a particularly difficult topic: the faith of the prophets who suffered persecution (11:32– 40). Through faith the prophets were able to endure even the gravest forms of torture (v. 32). The passage gains much of its poignancy through its economy of expression, particularly through the use of vivid images clustered together to describe the means by which the prophets were persecuted (Heb 11:35b–37). Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword (ἐλιθάσθησαν, ἐπρίσθησαν, ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρης ἀπέθανον); they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented.

The list is as terse as it is somber. No names of any prophets are given, though it is possible, even likely, that the specific forms of execution that are listed were inspired by legends about the deaths of the prophets.⁶³ Of particular interest to us is the expression “they were sawn in two” (ἐπρίσθησαν) in verse 37. Several

 See Harold Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress, ), , for a list of prophets and their fateful deaths.


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early interpreters associated this form of torture with the prophet Isaiah.⁶⁴ In his commentary on Matthew, for example, composed after the year 244,⁶⁵ Origen of Alexandria (c. 185 – 254) makes the connection between Heb 11:37 and the death of Isaiah. The base text in the commentary is Matt 13:57, Jesus’s statement that prophets receive no honor in their own house. Origen goes through several examples in which the people of Israel mistreated the prophets, until he comes to Isaiah (Commentary on Matthew 10:18). ́ δὲ πεπρίσθαι And Isaiah is reported to have been sawn asunder by the people (Καὶ ‛Ησαïας ὑπὸ τοῦ λαοῦ ἱστόρηται). And if any one does not accept the statement because it is found in the Apocryphon of Isaiah (διὰ τὸ ἐν τῷ ἀποκρύφω ‛Ησαΐᾳ αὐτὴν φέρεσθαι), let him believe what is written thus in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted” (ἐλιθάσθησαν, ἐπρίσθησαν, ἐπειράσθησαν; Heb 11:37). For the expression “They were sawn asunder” refers to Isaiah (τὸ γὰρ ἐπρίσθησαν ἐπὶ τὸν ‛Ησαΐαν ἀναφέρεται), just as the words, “They were slain with the sword” refer to Zacharias, who was slain between the sanctuary and the altar, as the Savior taught, bearing testimony, as I think, to Scripture, though not extant in the common and widely circulated books, but perhaps in the apocryphal books (ὅτι ἐν ἀποκρύφοις φερομένη).⁶⁶

Origen maintains that it was the people who sawed Isaiah in half, though he is quick to concede that some may not want to believe the legend because it comes from a text he calls the Apocryphon of Isaiah, apparently a source of questionable authority. It is not clear whether the Apocryphon is the same text as the Ascension of Isaiah, a text to which we will turn momentarily and which does contain a longer account of Isaiah’s death, nor does Origen say anything else about the content of the Apocryphon. In any case, Origen defends the legend about Isaiah’s death on the basis that the Apocryphon merely makes explicit what is already implicit in Heb 11:37, namely that Isaiah was sawn in half, even if Isaiah is not mentioned by name in the epistle.⁶⁷ The same holds true for the other prophets of whose deaths we know but whose stories are not preserved in Scrip-

 The most complete list of references to the martyrdom of Isaiah in patristic works has been compiled by Phillipe Bobichon, Justin Martyr: Dialogue avec Tryphon. Édition critique (Fribourg: Academic Press Fribourg, ), : –  note .  Quasten, Patrology, :.  Migne, PG , col. ; see Erich Klostermann, ed., Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, GCS  (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrich, ).  In Origen’s quote the text of Heb : differs slightly from the biblical text, in that the third form of persecution is temptation, not death by the sword. But then Origen goes on to state that the phrase “being slain by the sword” refers to Zechariah, a figure mentioned briefly in Matt :. Origen does not seem to be concerned that the phrase he interprets does not appear in his own quote from Hebrews.

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ture. Origen cites the killing of Zechariah as an example, who was murdered “between the sanctuary and the altar” (Matt 23:35).⁶⁸ Matthew says nothing about the exact circumstances of his death, but Origen makes the connection between the terse references in Matt 23:35 and Heb 11:37, presumably because of the similar method of execution. And then he adds, albeit somewhat tentatively, that Zechariah’s story, and, it may be inferred, the stories of the other prophets who lost their lives, are found as well “in the apocryphal books” (ἐν ἀποκρύφοις). For Origen, it is good exegetical praxis to use the apocryphal literature to elucidate the meaning of the biblical text. He makes a similar statement in his Letter to Africanus, again with reference to the death of Isaiah. Commenting on the story of Susanna and the elders, one of the so-called Additions to the book of Daniel in the Greek versions of the Bible, Origen claims that the Jewish authorities tried to conceal from the public any writings that cast a negative light on the elders. Then he moves on to Isaiah (Letter to Africanus 9).⁶⁹ As an example, take the story told about Isaiah and guaranteed by the Epistle to the Hebrews (καὶ ὑπὸ τῆς πρὸς Ἐβραίους Ἐπιστολῆς μαρτυρούμενα), which is found in none of their public books. For the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in speaking of the prophets and what they suffered, says, “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword” (Hebrews 11:37). To whom, I ask, does the “sawn asunder” refer (Πευσόμεθα γὰρ ἐπὶ τίνα ἀναφέρηται τὸ ἐπρίσθησαν), for by an old idiom, not peculiar to Hebrew, but found also in Greek, this is said in the plural, although it refers to only one person? Now we know very well that tradition says that Isaiah the prophet was sawn asunder (Σαφὲς δ’ ὅτι αί παραδόσεις λέγουσι πεπρίσθαι ‛Ησαΐαν τὸν προφήτην); and this is found in some apocryphal work, with which the Jews have probably purposely tampered (καὶ ἒν τινι ἀποκρύφῳ τοῦτο φέρεται ὅπερ τάχα ἐπίτηδες ὑπὸ Ἰουδαίων ῥερᾳδιούργηται), introducing some phrases manifestly incorrect, that discredit might be thrown on the whole.

Like in his Commentary, Origen refers again to “some apocryphal work” (ἒν τινι ἀποκρύφῳ). This may be the same Apocryphon of Isaiah he mentioned previously, though he does not give its title. He merely says that it contains the legend of Isaiah’s martyrdom. Once again Origen acknowledges that some may be reluctant to accept these writings as authoritative, but the reason he gives at this point is different. Whereas in the previous quote the reason for doubt was the fact that these writings are apocryphal, that is, they are not canonical, now he accuses the Jewish authorities of willfully tampering with the texts, with the result that the texts have been discredited. According to Origen, the Epistle to the

 Cf. Ezek : and Joel :; William D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Matthew: A Shorter Commentary (London: T&T Clark, ), .  Migne, PG , col. ; translation following that by A. Cleveland Coxe, ANF :.


Matthias Henze

Hebrews “guarantees,” or perhaps better, “bears witness” (μαρτυρέω) to the accuracy of the apocryphal book. The allegation that the Jews have willfully distorted the books, for which Origen offers no proof, is strangely reminiscent of a similar comment in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (c. 135).⁷⁰ In this passage Justin explains how he selects passages from the Old Testament for his Christological interpretations of Scripture. He maintains that he only uses such texts from the Hebrew Bible that are acceptable to both Jews and Christians. In chapter 120 of his Dialogue Justin explains his messianic reading of the blessing of Judah in Gen 49:10, a verse with a long history of messianic interpretations.⁷¹ Justin comments (Dialogue with Trypho 120:5).⁷² I will not dispute with you the exact wording of the passage, just as I refrained from basing my arguments about Christ upon the Scriptures which you do not admit as genuine (namely, upon the words [attributed to] Jeremias, Esdras, and David, which I indeed quoted), but only upon those passages recognized by you until now as authentic. For, if your teachers had understood them, they would most assuredly have expunged them from the text, as they did the words describing the death of Isaias, whom you sawed in half with a wooden saw (ἅ εἰ ἐνενοήκεισαν οἱ διδάσκαλοι ὑμῶν εὖ ἴστε ὅτι αφανῆ ἐπεποιήκεισαν ὡς καὶ τὰ περὶ τὸν θάνατον ‛Ησαΐου ὅν πρίονι ξυλίνῳ ἐπρίσατε).

Justin stresses that he chooses to be restrictive in his choice of scriptural proof texts about Christ in the Old Testament. His observations are based only on the canonical writings shared by Jews and Christians and not on passages that, in Justin’s words, “you do not admit as genuine,” likely a reference to some apocryphal texts attributed to Jeremiah, Esdras, and David. It is unfortunate that he does not write more about these texts and what they contain. Presumably Justin limits himself to the canonical writings in an attempt to appear more persuasive in the eyes of his Jewish opponents.⁷³ Following his initial,

 Quasten, Patrology, : – .  See, e. g., John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: Messianism in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ), , , , and .  Text from Bobichon, Justin Martyr, :; translation by Thomas B. Falls, Writings of Saint Justin Martyr (New York: Christian Heritage, ), . Justin goes on to interpret Isaiah’s martyrdom typologically. “This incident, too, was a symbol of Christ (μυστήριον καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ), who is going to cut your nation in two, and to admit the worthy half into His eternal kingdom with the holy Patriarchs and Prophets. But the rest, He has said, He will condemn to the undying flames of Hell, together with all those of all nations who are likewise disobedient and unrepentant” ().  Justin’s explicit listing of the apocryphal writings attributed to Jeremiah, Esdras, and David in order to make the point that he does not want to use these texts against Trypho is an example

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


seemingly conciliatory move, Justin continues with a double imputation. First, he alleges that, had the Jewish authorities understood the biblical passages correctly (by which he most likely means, had they agreed with his Christological reading), then they would have censored the Bible and deleted those passages from Scripture. And second, he alleges that the teachers did just that with the passage about the death of Isaiah, they deleted it.⁷⁴ Justin adds about Isaiah the phrase, “whom you sawed in half with a wooden saw,” implying that Isaiah was tortured by the people with a wooden saw (πρίων ξυλίνος). Once again we are left wondering which text Justin has in mind from which the Jews allegedly deleted the description of Isaiah’s death—alas, he does not say. The most detailed account of the martyrdom of Isaiah comes from a text known as the Ascension of Isaiah, a Christian work from the second century.⁷⁵ The text is important to us not only because it tells the tale of Isaiah’s end in greater detail but also because it links Isaiah’s martyrdom to King Manasseh. The opening scene of the Ascension describes a meeting between King Hezekiah, his son Manasseh, the prophet Isaiah, and Isaiah’s son Josab. Hezekiah has summoned his son in order to pass on to him the written record of a prophecy about the eschatological future (1:1– 6). As soon as Hezekiah finishes, Isaiah turns to the king and makes clear to him that this prophecy will have no effect on Manasseh. To the contrary, Manasseh will go astray and become a follower of Beliar, the leader of the forces of evil. Most poignantly, Isaiah predicts his own death at the hand of Manasseh (Ascen. Isa. 1:7– 9).⁷⁶ of a praeteritio, a rhetorical strategy of announcing to leave out certain supporting evidence and then using that announcement to provide a list of the evidence.  The anti-Jewish polemic is unmistakable. See Enrico Norelli, “Il martirio di Isaia come testimonium antigiudaico?” Henoch  ():  – ; David Rokéah, Justin Martyr and the Jews, Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series  (Leiden: Brill, ), ,  n. .  The difficulties of dating the Ascension of Isaiah are exacerbated by the composite nature of the text. The work falls into three main parts, the so-called Martyrdom of Isaiah in chapters  – , in which the Vision of Isaiah is embedded in : – :, and the Ascension of Isaiah in chapters  –  (the title of the work, the Ascension of Isaiah, stems from the Ethiopic, the only version in which the work survives in its entirety). It was generally believed that the three parts originally constituted three separate writings concerning the prophet Isaiah with distinct literary histories and that they were combined only at a later stage to form the work as we have received it. See Robert H. Charles, The Ascension of Isaiah (London: A.&C. Black, ), xliv–xlv; Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (New York: Harper and Row,  [German ]),  – ; and Michael A. Knibb, “The Ascension of Isaiah,” OTP : – . More recently scholars have begun to defend the unity of the work; see, e. g., Jonathan Knight, The Ascension of Isaiah (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ),  – .  Translation by C. Detlef G. Müller, “The Ascension of Isaiah,” in New Testament Apocrypha, ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher (Cambridge: James Clark, ), :. The text has been edited by


Matthias Henze

Isaiah said to king Hezekiah, but not in the presence of Manasseh, alone did he say to him, “As truly as the Lord liveth, whose name has not been sent into this world, and as truly as the Beloved of my Lord liveth, and the spirit which speaketh in me liveth, all these commands and these words will have no value for thy son Manasseh, and by the outrage of his hands I shall depart amid the torture of my body. And Sammael Malkira will serve Manasseh and execute all his desires, and he will be a follower of Beliar rather than of me. And many in Jerusalem and in Judah will he cause to depart from the true faith, and Beliar will dwell in Manasseh, and by his hand shall I be sawn asunder.”

Following a brief note about the death of Hezekiah at the beginning of chapter 2, Isaiah’s prophecy is quickly coming true. As Isaiah predicted, Manasseh does not heed the words of his father Hezekiah but serves the demons. The scene is predicated on the assumed etymology of Manasseh’s name. According to this reading, the name “Manasseh” derives from the Hebrew verb ‫נשׁה‬, which means “to forget.”⁷⁷ Manasseh forgot his God and the advice of his father. Greatly alarmed by what he observes, Isaiah withdraws from Jerusalem, first to Bethlehem and then to the mountains, where, together with a small group of prophets, he forms a community of hermits (2:7– 11). Their simple life is reminiscent of the depiction of the prophets in Heb 11:37b. Living in perfect seclusion they have nothing with them, put on sackcloth, and live off the wild herbs of the mountains. After a couple of years the Isaianic community is found out, and a false prophet named Belchira, who at some point had visited the community, denounces Isaiah before Manasseh. Belchira brings three different charges against Isaiah: he alleges that Isaiah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem; that Isaiah claims to have seen God, whereas Moses had said that nobody can see God and live; and that Isaiah has called Jerusalem Sodom and the people of Jerusalem Gomorrah (3:6 – 12). Manasseh is outraged, has Isaiah arrested and brought before him. Chapter 5 of the Ascension contains a long and somewhat convoluted account of the martyrdom of Isaiah. With Belchira and a band of false prophets present, Manasseh has Isaiah sawn into half with a wooden saw (5:1, 11). As Isaiah is being tortured, Belchira derides the prophet and tries to convince him to denounce God. “And Belchira said to Isaiah: ‘Say, “In all that I have spoken, I have lied: the ways of Manasseh are good and right, also the ways of Belchira and his companions are right”’” (5:4– 5). A few verses later Belchira offers Isaiah his life one more time and adds that Manasseh, the princes of Judah, and Enrico Norelli, Ascensio Isaiae, CCSA  (Turnhout: Brepols, ); idem, L’Ascensione di Isaia: Studi su un apocrifo al crocevia dei cristianesimi (Bologna: EDB, ).  Similarly in b. Sanh. b, “Manasseh [denotes] that he forgot God (‫)מנשׁה שׁנשׁה יה‬. Another explanation: Manasseh [denotes] that he caused Israel to forget their Father in Heaven (‫מנשׁה‬ ‫)שׁהנשׁי את ישׂראל לאביהם שׁבשׁמים‬.”

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all of the people would worship Isaiah if only the prophet renounced God. But Isaiah remains steadfast up to the moment of his death and never despairs (Ascen. Isa. 5:11, 14). So they seized and sawed asunder Isaiah the son of Amoz, with a saw…. But while he [i. e., Isaiah] was being sawn asunder Isaiah neither cried out nor wept, but his mouth conversed with the Holy Spirit until he had been sawn apart.

Unlike other Christian texts from which we learn little about the circumstances of Isaiah’s martyrdom, the Ascension of Isaiah provides a fair amount of narrative context.⁷⁸ The encounter between Hezekiah and his son Manasseh in chapter 1 bears all the characteristics of an oral testament, in which the father wishes to bequeath his wisdom and knowledge to his son, only that in our case the son proves unworthy. The scene amplifies the sharp contrast between Hezekiah, who is the good king, and Manasseh, who is wicked, a contrast that is already drawn in 2 Kings.⁷⁹ The prophet Isaiah has had a long friendship with Hezekiah (2 Kgs 19 – 20)—a prevalent motif in rabbinic literature as well⁸⁰—and so it comes as no surprise that when Manasseh turns against his father, he also turns against Isaiah and ultimately has him killed.⁸¹

 It is commonly asserted that the Martyrdom of Isaiah is the oldest part of the Ascension. Some have tried to link it to the Qumran community. David Flusser, “The Apocryphal Book of Ascensio Isaiae and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” IEJ  ():  – ; Marc Philonenko, “Le Martyre d’Esaïe et l’histoire de la secte de Qoumrân,” in Pseudépigraphes de l’Ancient Testament et manuscrits de la Mer morte, ed. Marc Philonenko et al. (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, ),  – ; Albert Caquot, “Bref commentaire du Martyre d’Isaïe,” Sem  ():  – ; and Mathias Delcor, “L’‘Ascension d’Isaïe’ à travers la predication d’un évêque cathare en Catalogne au quatorzième siècle,” RHR  ():  – . Such attempts to determine the precise origin of the legend remain speculative. Flusser’s attempt in particular to detect behind the Ascension a veiled history of the Qumran community has found few followers, not least because there is nothing in the Martyrdom of Isaiah that is distinctive of the worldview as we know it from the Qumran fragments.  Knibb, “Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah,” ; Evans, “Naram-Sin and Jeroboam,”  – .  Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, ), : – , : – .  While early Christian authors such as Origen and Justin Martyr claimed that Isaiah was killed by the people, others held that Isaiah was assassinated by King Manasseh. See, e. g., the cryptic reference in the Apocalypse of Paul , which speaks of the martyrdom of three prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. “While he [the interpreting angel] was still speaking twelve [some MSS read: three] others came, and when they saw me [i. e., Paul who is in Paradise] they said: ‘Are you Paul, who are extolled in heaven and on earth?’ And I answered and said: ‘Who are you?’ The first answered and said: ‘I am Isaiah whose head Manasseh cut off with a wood-saw.’ And


Matthias Henze

Two elements in the story are of special interest. The first is the literary genre of the martyrdom itself. The death of Isaiah as it is related in the Ascension of Isaiah is part of a growing collection of early Jewish and Christian martyrdom accounts. Apart from the stories in Dan 3 and 6, mentioned above, the closest early Jewish parallels to our text are the stories about Eleazar and the mother and her seven sons in 2 Macc 6:18 – 7:42. The influence of these two stories on later Jewish and Christian martyrdom accounts has been well documented, and their influence on the Ascension of Isaiah, too, is palpable.⁸² The other element of interest is the pervasive presence of demons in the book. The Ascension of Isaiah shows a highly developed interest in demonology. The leader of the forces of evil is called by various names, Sammael, Beliar, and Satan.⁸³ King Manasseh is said to be possessed by Beliar (1:9; 3:11; and see especially 5:1, “Beliar grew angry with Isaiah and he dwelt in the heart of Manasseh, and Isaiah was sawn asunder with a tree-saw”), as well as by Sammael (2:1). Isaiah himself prophesied to Hezekiah in chapter 1 that Manasseh would become a follower of Beliar, which is precisely what happened. The monarch turned evil because he was possessed by Beliar. It would probably go too far to claim that the author of the Ascension seeks to exonerate Manasseh by claiming that it was not the king himself but the chief demon who lived in him who wreacked havoc. But the presence of the demons in the Ascension of Isaiah is striking, an element inserted into the biblical Manasseh story in an effort to explain the king’s ruthless behavior.

the second likewise said: ‘I am Jeremiah who was stoned by the children of Israel and killed.’ And the third said: ‘I am Ezekiel whom the children of Israel dragged by the feet over the rocks on the mountain until they dashed out my brains. And we bore all these trials because we wished to save the children of Israel’.” Translation by Hugo Duensing and Aurelio de Santos Otero, “Apocalypse of Paul,” in New Testament Apocrypha, ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher (Cambridge: James Clark, ), :. It is not clear whether Josephus knew of the legend of Isaiah’s martyrdom. He writes about Manasseh (Ant. 10.38), “For, setting out with a contempt of God, he killed all the righteous men among the Hebrews, nor did he spare even the prophets (ἀλλ ̓ οὐδε τῶν προφητῶν ἔσχε φειδὼ), some of whom he slaughtered daily, so that Jerusalem ran with blood.” But he does not mention Isaiah in this context.  The secondary literature is considerable. Judith Lieu, Image and Realty: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, ); Jan Willem van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours of the Jewish People: A Study of  and  Maccabees, JSPSup  (Leiden: Brill, ); Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, ); and now Daniel Schwartz,  Maccabees, CEJL (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ),  – , with further bibliography.  Sammael in Ascen. Isa. :, ; :; : – ; Beliar in : – ; :; :; :, ; and Satan in :, ; :.

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


When Belchira denounces Isaiah, he accuses the prophet of three offenses: that the prophet prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, contradicted Moses, and called Jerusalem Sodom. Isaiah’s trial before Manasseh that leads to his execution is also the subject of a story in tractate Yebamot in the Babylonian Talmud. Here it is Manasseh himself rather than Belchira who levels three charges against the prophet.⁸⁴ Note how in speaking to Isaiah the king refers to Moses as “your teacher Moses” (‫ )משׁה רבך‬instead of using the common phrase “Moses our teacher” (‫)משׁה רבינו‬. Manasseh disassociates himself from the Mosaic tradition and instead focuses exclusively on the relationship between Moses and Isaiah (b. Yebam. 49b).⁸⁵ Raba said: “He [Manasseh] brought him [Isaiah] to trial and he slew him.” He [Manasseh] said to him: Your teacher Moses said, “For men shall not see me and live” (Exod 33:20), and you said, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up” (Isa 6:1). Your teacher Moses said, “For what [other great nation has a god so near to it] as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him” (Deut 4:7), and you said, “Seek you the Lord while he may be found” (Isa 55:6). Your teacher Moses said, “The number of your days I will fulfill” (Exod 23:26), but you said, “And I will add unto your days fifteen years” (2 Kgs 20:6). “I know,” thought Isaiah, “that whatever I may tell him he will not accept; and should I reply at all, I would only cause him to be a willful [homicide].” He therefore pronounced [the Divine] Name and was swallowed up by a cedar. The cedar, however, was brought and sawn asunder. When the saw reached his mouth he died. [And this was his penalty] for having said, “And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isa 6:5).

As in the case of the Ascension of Isaiah, three accusations are brought against Isaiah, only that this time all three accuse the prophet of contradicting Moses. The first accusation is familiar from the Ascension. Whereas Moses had declared that no one can see God and live, Isaiah claims to have seen God sitting on a throne when he had his vision in the Jerusalem temple (Isa 6:1).⁸⁶ Second, Moses wrote that the gods of the nations are removed, whereas the God of Israel is perpetually near. And yet, Isaiah’s command, “Seek the Lord while he may be

 The scene gains poignancy by the fact that the rabbis taught (b. Ber. a) that Manasseh’s mother was the daughter of Isaiah, who married King Hezekiah after he had recovered from his illness. That means that Manasseh condemns his own grandfather, the prophet Isaiah, to death.  Translation by Israel W. Slotki, Yebamoth (London: Soncino Press, ).  In the gemara that follows, the Sages resolve the apparent contradiction by claiming that the prophets merely had visions, i. e., they thought they saw but did not actually see God, whereas Moses saw God directly with his own eyes. “‘I saw the Lord’ (Isa :) [is to be understood] in accordance with what was taught: All the prophets looked into a dim glass (‫כל הנביאים נסתכלו‬ ‫)באספקלריא שׁאינה מאירה‬, but Moses looked through a clear glass (‫משה רבינו נסתכל באספקלריא‬ ‫( ”)מאירה‬b. Yebam. b).


Matthias Henze

found (‫)בהמצאו‬, call upon him while he is near (‫( ”)בהיותו קרוב‬Isa 55:6) may be interpreted to mean that God is available only intermittently.⁸⁷ And third, whereas the divine promise in Exod 23, “the number of your days I will fulfill,” may imply that God has fixed the lifespan of humans, Isaiah promised Hezekiah an extra fifteen years of life (2 Kgs 20:6), even after God had announced that the king should die (2 Kgs 20:1). Realizing that no argument with Manasseh will save him, Isaiah invokes the Name of God, presumably a profession of his innocence, a common element in martyrdom accounts, and a cry for help, and he is promptly swallowed by a cedar tree. The story of Isaiah who enters into a tree is attested in several rabbinic texts.⁸⁸ It explains the unusual method of execution by means of a wooden saw (or, in some cases, a tree saw). Exactly how Manasseh knows of Isaiah’s hiding place we are not told. However, we do learn from a related version of the story in the Jerusalem Talmud that Isaiah’s hideout was revealed by one of the tassels of his coat that was not entirely covered by the tree (y. Sanh. 10.2).⁸⁹ When Manasseh became king, he was wild after Isaiah (‫ ;)הוה פרי חורי ישׁעיה‬he wanted to kill him, but he fled before him. He fled to a cedar tree, the cedar swallowed him, except to a ṣiṣit of his coat. They came and reported it before him. He said, ‘Go and cut down the cedar.’ They cut down the cedar and blood was seen flowing… . And is there not written, “also innocent blood did Manasseh spill, a great deal, until he filled Jerusalem from mouth to mouth” (2 Kgs 21:16)? How is it possible for flesh and blood to fill Jerusalem with innocent blood from mouth to mouth? But he slew Isaiah who was equal to Moses, about whom it is written, “Mouth to mouth I would speak to him” (Num 12:8).

We are not told what caused Manasseh to be wild about Isaiah, only that he was intent on killing the prophet. There are two new elements in this variation of the martyrdom story. One are the tassels of Isaiah’s garment that led to his doom. And the other is the emphasis on Isaiah’s mouth and the connection that this made between the awkward phrase in 2 Kgs 21 that Manasseh shed much innocent blood that “filled Jerusalem from mouth to mouth” (‫)מלא את ירושׁלים פה לפה‬ and the similar expression in Num 12 about Moses, with whom God spoke “mouth to mouth” (‫)פה אל פה‬. Whereas in our previous examples Moses and Isaiah were pitched against each other, with Isaiah being accused of contradicting the teachings of Moses, here the exact opposite claim is made, that Isaiah

 The gemara solves the problem by claiming that the Mosaic statement in Deut : about the proximity of God applies to the community, whereas Isaiah was speaking of an individual (‫( )הא ביחיד הא בצבור‬b. Yebam. b).  Ginzberg, Legends, :, : – .  Translation by Guggenheimer, The Jerusalem Talmud, ; see also b. Sanh. b.

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


was in fact equal to Moses (‫)שׁהיה שׁקול כמשׁה‬. What connects them is not the content of their message, however, but the significance of their mouths. We find the same motif in yet another variation of the fateful encounter between Manasseh and Isaiah. The following excerpt comes from the Pesiqta Rabbati, a midrash of the ninth century. Isaiah is again swallowed up by a tree (Pesiq. Rab. 4.3).⁹⁰ “And Elijah took twelve stones” (1 Kgs 18:32). These words are to be considered in the light of the verse, “The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.” And at once Manasseh was angered at Isaiah and said [to his followers], “Seize him.” They ran after him to seize him. As he fled from them, the carob-tree opened up and took him in. Thereupon Manasseh brought carpenters—so said R. Hanina the son of R. Isaac— and had the carob-tree sawn into, and the blood flowed forth. Of this it is said, “Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from mouth to mouth” (2 Kgs 21:16). Is such a thing possible? What is meant, however, is that he slew Isaiah with whom God had spoken mouth to mouth, as he did to Moses, of whom it is written, “With him do I speak mouth to mouth” (Num 12:8).

What prompts the conflict between Manasseh and Isaiah in this text from the Pesiqta are not allegations of false prophecy but the fact that Manasseh erected an idol in the temple in Jerusalem. Isaiah responds promptly by predicting the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, which sends Manasseh into another fit of rage. Once again Isaiah flees, and once again a tree (this time a carob tree, not a cedar) swallows Isaiah to safeguard and hide him. Manasseh has his carpenters saw the tree into pieces, and Isaiah has to die. The mouth of Isaiah appears to be the only vulnerable part of the prophet’s body, his Achilles’s heel, so to speak. Isaiah dies and his blood flows freely once the saw reaches his mouth. Such attention given to the mouth of the martyr is known from other martyrdom accounts as well.⁹¹ The Suffering Servant in Isa 53:7 does not open his mouth, an expression of the willing submission of the confident sufferer who exercises great self-mastery and restraint. The third of the seven martyred brothers in 2 Maccabees puts out his tongue in an act of open defiance (2 Macc 7:10). Also, in his treatise Concerning Patience, Tertullian (c. 160 – 225) praises Isaiah for his endurance even while he was tortured. In Ter-

 William G. Braude, Pesikta Rabbati: Discourses for Fests, Fasts, and Special Sabbaths (New Haven: Yale University Press, ), : – .  See Shelly Matthews, Perfect Martyr: The Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ),  – , for several related texts; note also Matthews’s discussion of the significance of the martyr’s blood, a motif that remains noticeably undeveloped in the accounts of Isaiah’s martyrdom.


Matthias Henze

tullian’s brief reference to the martyrdom of Isaiah, the prophet continues to speak and profess his faith, even up to the moment of his death. “With this strength of patience, Isaiah is cut asunder, and ceases not to speak concerning the Lord. Stephen is stoned, and prays for pardon to his foes. Oh happy also he who met all the violence of the devil by the exertion of every species of patience!”⁹² See the similar comment in Ascen. Isa. 5:14, “But while he was being sawn asunder Isaiah neither cried out nor wept, but his mouth conversed with the Holy Spirit until he had been sawn apart.” The Pesiqta also pays attention to the mouth of Isaiah, but for a different reason. The motif of the prophet’s mouth allows the anonymous interpreter to tie the death of Isaiah to Manasseh. The link is the statement in 2 Kgs 21:16 that Manasseh filled Jerusalem with blood “from mouth to mouth.” The awkward phrase is nothing else but a reference to the martyrdom of Isaiah. It is time to draw some conclusions. In spite of Justin Martyr’s claim (Dialogue with Trypho 120:5) that the Jewish authorities expunged the words describing the death of Isaiah from their literature, martyrdom accounts of the prophet survive in many texts, Christian and Jewish.⁹³ Scriptural base texts for the legend include Heb 11:37 for Christian and 2 Kgs 21:16 for Jewish interpreters, even though neither text explicitly mentions the prophet Isaiah by name. According to several readers, Isaiah was killed by the people, whereas others count the death of Isaiah among the evil acts of King Manasseh. The animosity between Isaiah and Manasseh, reaching back to the contrasting portrayals of King Hezekiah and his son in the Bible, gave rise to many stories, the most detailed of them in the Ascension of Isaiah. Reading through these stories the reader is left with the impression that there is something mysterious about the tale of Isaiah’s mar-

 Tertullian, De patientia :. Cf. Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah :. A rather different account of the last words of Isaiah comes from the Lives of the Prophets, a book that begins with an account of the death of Isaiah. According to this version of Isaiah’s martyrdom, Isaiah asked for water at the moment of his death, which God sent him. The story serves as an etiology of the name Siloam, here interpreted to mean, “[God] sent [Isaiah water].” “Isaiah, of Jerusalem, died after he was sawn in two by Manasseh and was buried beneath the oak of Rogel, near the conduit of the waters which Hezekiah destroyed by blocking them. And God made a sign of the Siloam (Shiloah) for the prophet since, when he was faint before his death, he prayed for water to drink and straightaway it was sent to him from there; thus it was called Siloam (Shiloah), which means sent.” David Satran, Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine: Reassessing the Lives of the Prophets, SVTP (Leiden: Brill, ), .  Betsy Halpern Amaru, “The Killing of the Prophets: Unraveling a Midrash,” HUCA  ():  – , with frequent reference to Manasseh.

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


tyrdom. Its origin is shrouded in mystery, and some have claimed that it is found in an Apocryphon of Isaiah or some other lost scroll.⁹⁴

4 Manasseh, the Builder of Idols In his account of Manasseh’s idolatrous malefactions, the Deuteronomist records that the king erected an idol of the goddess Ashera in the temple in Jerusalem (2 Kgs 21:7). Even though the Chronicler adopted the first part of the Deuteronomist’s account of Manasseh without much revision, he did change the identity of the idol in his rewritten version of the same verse (2 Chr 33:7). Ashera has been replaced by a more generic description of the cult object, and the god or goddess who is worshiped is no longer identified by name.⁹⁵ The exact nature of Manasseh’s idol in the Chronicler’s account varies in the different versions of the same verse.

2 Chronicles 33:7a MT

“The carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God …” ‫וישׂם את פסל הסמל אשר עשׂה בבית האלהים‬ LXX “And he installed what was carved and what was smelted, an image that he had made, in the house of God …” καὶ ἔθηκεν τὸ γλυπτὸν καὶ τὸ χωνευτόν, εἰκόνα ἥν ἐποίησεν, ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ Peshitta “And he placed an image with four faces which he had made in the house of the Lord …” Targum “He placed the image of the figure which he had made in his likeness in the sanctuary house of the Lord …”⁹⁶

 Compare Origen’s claim that the martyrdom of Isaiah is contained in the apocryphal Apocryphon of Isaiah with b. Yeb. b. “[A tanna] recited: Simeon b. ‘Azzai said, ‘I found a roll of genealogical records in Jerusalem and therein was written, “So-and-so is a bastard [having been born] from a forbidden union with a married woman,” and therein was also written, “The teaching of R. Eliezer b. Jacob is small in quantity but thoroughly sifted.” And it was also written, “Manasseh slew Isaiah” (‫’)וכתוב בה מנשׁה הרג את ישׁעיה‬.” Translation by Slotki, Yebamoth.  Note, however, the feminine plural form in  Chr :, often translated “and he made sacred poles” (‫)ויעשׂ אשׁרות‬, and the unusual masculine plural form in  Chr :, “he built high places and set up sacred poles” (‫)אשׁר בנה בהם במות והעמיד האשׁרים‬. It would seem that Ashera has not completely vanished from the Chronicler’s version of the Manasseh story. On Ashera, see Japhet, I & II Chronicles,  – ; Nicholas Wyatt, “Ashera,” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, nd ed. (Leiden: Brill, ),  – .  J. Stanley McIvor, The Targum of Chronicles, The Aramaic Bible  (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, ), .


Matthias Henze

In MT 2 Chr 33:7, “the carved image of Ashera” (‫ ;את פסל האשׁרה‬2 Kgs 21:7) has become an “image of the idol” (‫)פסל הסמל‬. The word for “idol” (‫ )סמל‬is attested in only three passages in the Hebrew Bible. In addition to our text (2 Chr 33:7, 15), it also appears in the prohibition in Deut 4:14 to make any form of idol, as well as in Ezek 8:3, 5, the vision of Ezekiel in which the prophet sees “the image of jealousy which provokes to jealousy” (‫)סמל הקנאה המקנה‬.⁹⁷ The phrase in the Septuagint, “he installed what was carved and what was smelted,” is sufficiently vague. The Greek terms used in the Septuagint, γλυπτός and χωνευτός, translate a variety of Hebrew terms and provide little information of how the translator thought of the idol, though both terms carry clearly negative connotations.⁹⁸ The Peshitta adds an intriguing detail about the idol: it has four faces ), possibly a detail borrowed from Ezek 1:6. The Targum, fi( nally, claims that Manasseh had an image made “in his likeness,” presumably as an expression of his hubris. Many of these variations are reflected in the postbiblical interpretations of Manasseh’s idol. Our first text comes from the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch, or 2 Baruch, a Jewish apocalypse.⁹⁹ Even though the book was actually written in the late first century C.E., it is set fictitiously in the sixth century B.C.E., during and shortly after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem. The book’s protagonist, Baruch, who in the Hebrew Bible is the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah but in 2 Baruch has turned into a prophet of his own, has a vision of an enormous cloud that rises from the sea. The cloud rains twelve times, alternating bright and black waters, which, as Baruch learns from the interpreting angel Remiel, represent twelve periods in the history of Israel, alternating good and bad. The ninth gush of black water stands for Manasseh and his reign (2 Bar. 64– 65).¹⁰⁰

 Klein,  Chronicles, , thinks that the Chronicler may have borrowed the Hebrew term ‫סמל‬ from Ezekiel.  For γλυπτος́, see Exod :; Lev :; Deut :; :; Dan (LXX) :; etc. For χωνευτός, see Exod :; :; Lev :; Dan (LXX) :; Dan (Theo.) :; etc.  Bogaert, “La Légende de Manassé,” in L’Apocalypse syriaque de Baruch, : – ; Matthias Henze, Jewish Apocalypticism in Late First Century Israel: Reading Second Baruch in Context, TSAJ  (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ),  – . On the secondary literature from  to , see Liv Ingeborg Lied, “Recent Scholarship on  Baruch:  – ,” Currents in Biblical Research  ():  – ; on the literature since then, Matthias Henze, “ Ezra and  Baruch: The Status Quaestionis,” in Fourth Ezra and Second Baruch: Reconstruction after the Fall, ed. Matthias Henze and Gabrielle Boccaccini, JSJSup  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – .  Translation by Matthias Henze, “ Baruch,” in Michael E. Stone and Matthias Henze,  Ezra and  Baruch: Translations, Introductions, and Notes (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ), .

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


The ninth, black waters that you saw: this is all the wickedness that was in the days of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah. Because he acted very wickedly, and he killed the righteous, bent justice, shed innocent blood, polluted married women with force, demolished altars, abolished their offerings, and drove out the priests so that they would not minister in the sanctuary. And he made an idol with five faces: four of them were looking to the four winds, and the fifth was on top of the idol, as an adversary of the zeal of the Mighty One. Then the wrath went out from before the Mighty One in order that Zion be rooted out, as it also happened in your days. But also against the two and a half tribes the decree went out that they, too, should be led away captive, as you have now seen. The wickedness of Manasseh increased so much that the glory of the Most High departed from the sanctuary. Because of this, Manasseh was at that time named “The Wicked,” and in the end his dwelling was in the fire. For although his petition was heard with the Most High, in the end he fell into the brazen horse and the brazen horse was melted. It became a sign for him regarding the hour – for he had not lived perfectly, for he was also not worthy – so that from now on he should know by whom he would be tormented in the end. For he who is able to benefit is also able to torment. Thus, then, Manasseh acted wickedly, thinking in his time that the Mighty One would not inquire into these [things]. These are the black, ninth waters that you saw.

This paraphrastic rendering of the Manasseh story is rather free. It follows the familiar plot only in general terms and disregards many of the details in the biblical accounts. The idolatrous details are missing, for example, and there is no mention of Manasseh’s exile. A principle objective of 2 Baruch is to account for the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. Not surprisingly, then, the author emphasizes the connection between Manasseh’s sin and the recent experience of devastation (“… as it also happened in your days”). There is not much room here for any sympathy for the king. Even though his petition was heard—a remark possibly intended as a concession to those fellow interpreters who have argued that to deny that God heard Manasseh’s petition amounts to denying the benevolence of God—the king was doomed to die a miserable death nonetheless. The tale of Manasseh in 2 Baruch conflates and expands some familiar motifs. Only a few are taken from the Bible, for example that Manasseh shed innocent blood (2 Kgs 21:16) or that God became angry with Zion (2 Kgs 21:12). Other motifs that are not found in the Bible are known to us from other post-biblical renderings of the Manasseh story, such as the claim that Manasseh killed the righteous (Ant. 10.38), or that he polluted married women (Ascen. Isa. 2:5; b. Sanh. 103b). It seems likely that the author of 2 Baruch knew of other interpretations of Manasseh’s reign, but used them only sparingly, as is true elsewhere in the book.¹⁰¹ It is also telling which motifs are not mentioned at all, the penitence of Manasseh, for example, or the martyrdom of Isaiah. While ignoring these—deliberately perhaps, or else out of ignorance, we cannot know—the author reshapes  Henze, Jewish Apocalypticism, , .


Matthias Henze

some of the received traditions and introduces a fair amount of original material into the Manasseh legend. First, instead of repeating Manasseh’s idolatrous practices, 2 Baruch emphasizes that Manasseh “drove out the priests” and “abolished their offerings,” none of which is mentioned in the Bible. The abrupt cessation of the sacrificial cult in Jerusalem due to the Roman aggression was a source of considerable agony for the author (2 Bar. 35:2– 5). This may well explain why the disruption of the sacrifices and the ensuing loss of connection with God was more important than the introduction of other gods. Second, and for our present purposes most importantly, Manasseh fabricated an idol with five faces ( ), four facing in the four directions of the compass and one looking straight up. Other texts, reaching back to the Peshitta of 2 Chr 33:7, only know of an idol with four faces.¹⁰² The fifth face on top of the idol, intended to provoke God, is likely added to underscore Manasseh’s wickedness. Third, because of Manasseh’s sin, the glory of God departed from the sanctuary, another statement not found elsewhere in the Manasseh tradition. The motif is taken from Ezek 10:18 – 19. It explains that, by the time the enemy destroyed the temple, God had already abandoned the sanctuary (2 Bar. 8:1– 2). ). Such a byname is Fourth, Manasseh had the nickname “The Wicked” ( not mentioned elsewhere. Fifth, 2 Baruch is the only text that reports how Man), and the horse asseh died. The king fell into a “brazen horse” ( was melted. A number of rabbinic texts relate the story of how Manasseh was put inside a brazen bull, and a fire was lit under him.¹⁰³ 2 Baruch’s account of the king’s death is likely a variation of the same motif, inspired by accounts of Phalaris of Agrigentum.¹⁰⁴ And sixth, the focal point of the story is not the death of Manasseh. The brazen horse episode is not the end, it is merely “a sign” for Manasseh of how he “would be tormented in the end.” Since 2 Baruch is an apocalypse, the focal point of the story is the end time, or “the hour,” as the author puts it. The story ends with a maxim about God, “For he who is able to benefit is also able to torment.” There is a morale to the Manasseh story in 2 Baruch, not that of the remorseful penitent, as we have seen elsewhere, but that the wicked will pay at the final hour. Manasseh’s hubris serves as a warning to others to be mindful of the Day of Reckoning.¹⁰⁵

 See Bogaert, L’Apocalypse syriaque de Baruch, : – , for a list and discussion of the relevant texts.  See our discussion above; the texts are Targum of Second Chronicles : – ; Pesiq. Rab Kah. :; Deut. Rab. :; Ruth Rab. :; and y. Sanh. ..  Bogaert, L’Apocalypse syriaque de Baruch, : – .  Similarly, the story about Manasseh in exile in y. Sanh. . ended when Manasseh realized that God is judging him: “At that moment Manasseh said, there is judgment and there is a

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


The idol that Manasseh erected in the temple is also the subject of the next two texts. The first midrash, taken from Deuteronomy Rabbah, is based on the verse in Prov 10:16, “The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin” (Deut. Rab. 2:20). Another explanation: “The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin” (Prov 10:16). Whatever David and Solomon his son did was to give life to Israel. What is the meaning of “the gain of the wicked to sin” (‫ ?)תבואת רשׁע לחטאת‬The one entry (‫ )בביאה‬that Manasseh made into the Temple was the cause of sin unto Israel, for he made a four-faced idol (‫ )צלם שׁל ארבע פנים‬and brought it into the Holy of Holies. Whence this? For it is said: “And there, north of the altar gate, in the entrance (‫)בבאה‬, was this image of jealousy” (Ezek 8:5). R. Aḥa said, Oh, this great wrong (‫ )ביא רבה‬in the world, that the stranger dislodges the owner! And why did he make a four-faced idol? To correspond to the four animals that bear God’s throne. Another explanation: Why did he make a four-faced idol? To correspond to the four cardinal points. He [Manasseh] said: Let everyone who comes from the four cardinal points bow to this idol. And what did God do unto him? He delivered him into the hand of his enemies.

The two parts of the verse in Proverbs, an antithetical form of poetic biblical parallelism,¹⁰⁶ contrast the consequences of the deeds of the righteous with those of the wicked: the actions of the former lead to life, whereas those of the latter to sin. Solomon built the temple and hence led Israel to life, whereas Manasseh desecrated the temple with his idol and thus caused Israel to sin. The two kings of the line of David embody the two halves of the verse. What exactly did Manasseh do? In the words of R. Aḥa, “the stranger dislodges the owner.” When Manasseh brought the idol into the temple, the God of Israel was expelled from his own home and the owner of the sanctuary was dislodged.¹⁰⁷ judge.” But there the judgment was the exile in Babylon, whereas in  Baruch the true judgment is yet to come in the eschaton, and Manasseh’s plight here is merely a “sign” of what is to come.  Eissfeldt, The Old Testament,  – ; James L. Kugel, The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and Its History (New Haven: Yale University Press, ),  – .  A related tradition, preserved in Pesiqta Rabbati ., holds that Isaiah immediately protested when Manasseh fashioned the idol and responded in the words of Isa :. “When did he utter it in prophecy? In the days of Manasseh. As soon as Manasseh brought the idol into the temple, Isaiah began prophesying to Israel, saying to them: Wherefore do you exalt yourselves? Is it because of the house which you built for me? The upper and the lower worlds cannot obtain my glory. Do I require this house that you built for me? ‘Where is the house that you may build for me?’ (Isa :). Behold, Nebuchadnezzar will come and destroy it, and will exile you.” Braude, Pesikta Rabbati, : – . Targum to Isaiah 66:1 also makes the connection between Isa 66:1 and Manasseh’s idolatry. “The prophecy of Isaiah, which he prophesied at the end of his prophecy, in the days of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, king of the tribe of the house of Judah, on the seventeenth of Tammuz, at


Matthias Henze

The midrash weaves a connection between three texts, the base text in Prov 10, the Manasseh story in 2 Chr 33, and Ezekiel’s vision in chapter 8 about the abominations in the temple that led God’s glory to leave the sanctuary (Ezek 10:15– 17). Several interpreters have found a connection between Manasseh’s idol and Ezek 8– 11. In Ezek 8 an angelic guide (similar to the one in 1:26– 28) guides the prophet through Jerusalem and shows him Israel’s idolatrous practices. The closest verbal connection between Ezek 8 and 2 Chr 33 is the use of the word for “idol” (‫;סמל‬ 2 Chr 33:7, 15), which in Ezek 8:3, 5 is used for one of the cult objects Ezekiel sees in the temple. The midrash does not make this verbal link explicit, but it is implied, and the idea is that it was Manasseh who put the idol there. In our midrash the verbal connection between the three texts, which is based on the verse from Proverbs, revolves around the root ‫בוא‬/‫ביא‬, which is given various meanings (“gain,” “entry,” “entrance,” and “wrong”). Most poignantly, the fact that Manasseh “introduced” the idol to the temple was his “gain” to sin. The midrash further explains that the idol was placed in the Holy of Holies and that it had four faces. Two explanations are given for the four faces. One suggests that the four faces contest the four animals that bear God’s throne, an allusion to Ezek 1:5. And the other claims that the faces looked out to the four cardinal points. Both of these aspects, the idol’s placement and its appearance, are further discussed in the next text (b. Sanh. 103b).¹⁰⁸ Moreover, “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kgs 21:16). Here [in Babylon] it is interpreted as meaning that he slew Isaiah; in the West [Palestine] they said: [It means] that he made an image as heavy as a thousand men, and every day it slew all of them. With whom does this dictum of Rabbah b. Bar Ḥana agree, viz., The soul of one righteous man is equal to the whole world? With whom does it agree? With the author of the view that he killed Isaiah. [Scripture writes, “And he set] the graven image” (2 Chr 33:7); but it is also stated, “[And the groves and the] graven images [which he had set up]” (2 Chr 33:19). R. Joḥanan said: At first he made it with one face, but subsequently he made it with four faces, that the Shechina might see it, and be wroth. Ahaz set it in an upper chamber, as it is written, “And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz” (2 Kgs 23:12). Manasseh placed it in the Temple, as it is written, “And he set up a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel will I put my name forever” (2 Kgs 21:7). Amon introduced it

the time Manasseh erected the image in the Temple …” Bruce D. Chilton, The Isaiah Targum, The Aramaic Bible 11 (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1987), 126.  Translation following H. Freedman, Sanhedrin (London: Soncino Press, ).

King Manasseh of Judah in Early Judaism and Christianity


into the Holy of Holies, as it is said, “For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it” (Isa 28:20) …

The confluence of midrashim in this short text from b. Sanhedrin aptly summarizes much of what we have seen in our investigation. The point of departure is the statement in 2 Kgs 21:16 that Manasseh shed much innocent blood. The anonymous voice introduces a regional difference in the interpretation of the verse. In Babylon the verse was read in connection with the martyrdom of Isaiah, and the “innocent blood” is understood to be that of Isaiah. The saying by Rabbah b. Bar Ḥana further identifies the prophet Isaiah as the “righteous man” who is equal to the entire world. By contrast, the interpreters in the Land of Israel read the verse differently. They took it to mean that Manasseh’s idol was responsible for the daily death of a thousand men, “… every day it slew all of them” (‫ובכול יום ויום‬ ‫)הורג את כולם‬. The subject of the participle ‫ הורג‬in the midrash is ambiguous and open to interpretation. If the idol is the subject, the statement can be interpreted to mean that every day a thousand men were crushed by the idol, presumably when they tried to lift it up and carry it away. Alternatively, if Manasseh is the subject of the phrase, then the verse may well suggest that Manasseh himself had one thousand men killed at the end of each day because of the idol. Next the midrash observes that whereas 2 Chr 33:7 speaks of only one idol (‫)פסל‬, the concluding verse 19 of the pericope uses the same word in the plural (‫)פסילים‬. How many idols, then, did Manasseh erect? Rabbi Joḥanan suggests that Manasseh changed his original idol mentioned in v. 7 which had only one face and added three more faces to it, hence the plural in verse 19, in an effort to provoke God’s presence in the temple. Lastly, the midrash inquires about the exact location of the idol. The proposed explanation, that under King Ahaz the idol was kept in the palace, King Manasseh brought it into the temple, and Manasseh’s son and successor Amon put it in the Holy of Holies presupposes that the idol was not made by Manasseh but had been around for a while. It also underscores what we have suggested above, that the religious practices of Amon were merely an extension of Manasseh’s idolatry.

5 Conclusion King Manasseh of Judah has been a mesmerizing figure for as long as historians and interpreters have written about him. He has also been a divisive figure. For some he was the most evil of all Davidic kings, a misguided idolater who alone bears the responsibility for the destruction of Jerusalem and who has no share in the world to come, while to others he is a model penitent to be emulated, whose


Matthias Henze

story exemplifies the efficacy and power of repentance, precisely because initially he was so wicked. The aim of this paper has been to trace some of the traditions that came to be associated with King Manasseh. Because Manasseh was such a colorful ruler, his story has been told and embellished by several interpretive communities: by biblical authors, by the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of the so-called Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, by the Fathers of the Church, and by the Sages. Theirs are not groups of texts we typically read together. And yet, by casting our net wide, wider perhaps than is usually done, we have found obvious points of similarities between the diverse text traditions and their understandings of Manasseh that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. The pseudepigraphic Prayer of Manasseh is only one example. Taken out of context, as is commonly the case when modern scholars read it, it is a short penitential prayer. But when read within its present context in the Didascalia Apostolorum we learn of the reason why it attracted such attention: for the author of the Didascalia, the fact that God forgave Manasseh serves as a warning to the bishops that they, too, in an act of imitatio Dei should forgive the penitents, provided their penitence is as sincere as Manasseh’s as expressed in his prayer. Broadening our scope further we have found that the Didascalia’s understanding of Manasseh was shared in early Christian circles. Other patristic authors also referred to the king as a model penitent. Similarly on the Jewish side, the Sages found significance in the story of Manasseh’s repentance, not because of what it tells us about Manasseh but because it demonstrates the effectiveness of repentance. The story of Manasseh is a story about the benevolence of God. Manasseh traveled across many borders, like, for example, in the story of Isaiah’s martyrdom, the prophet who died at the hand of the wicked king, a story which is attested in Jewish, as well as in Christian texts. The confessional lines between the texts are constantly blurred: Origen refers to a mysterious Apocryphon of Isaiah, presumably a Jewish text, though we know almost nothing about it; the pseudepigraphic Prayer of Manasseh survives exclusively in Christian circles; and in some cases, like the Ascension of Isaiah, it remains altogether unclear whether we are dealing with a Jewish or with a Christian work. Manasseh continues to defy religious boundaries, even in his literary afterlife.

Scott M. Langston

“A Running Thread of Ideals”: Joshua and the Israelite Conquest in American History 1 Introduction Throughout the centuries, the book of Joshua has typically been read in conjunction with the book of Exodus. As such, it constitutes the culmination of ancient Israel’s journey that began when they were freed from Egyptian slavery and ended forty years later as they entered the Promised Land of Canaan. In the context of the biblical canon, Joshua and the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan represent the fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be given this land (Gen 12:7). Connecting Joshua with Abraham and the exodus, therefore, has created an interesting interplay between the ideas of promise, fulfillment, freedom, and conquest, and given subsequent readers opportunities to re-apply these ideas to their own situations. Modern biblical scholars have understood Joshua in light of its literary and historical character, giving attention especially to its date, authorship, compositional development, purpose, themes, and historical nature. While critical scholars vigorously debate the book’s particular aspects, for the most part they agree on some broad conclusions. Most view Joshua as a conglomeration of various literary traditions and genres that gradually came together until reaching its final form sometime during the late pre-exilic through the early post-exilic periods, well after the book’s events had purportedly occurred. As such, scholars typically understand the book’s purpose in light of the events and issues associated with these later periods and as part of the larger Deuteronomistic History (although a few view Joshua as part of a Hexateuch).¹ Many, for instance, see Joshua as the beginning chapter in a theological explanation of Israel’s path to the Babylonian destruction and exile. Joshua’s account of how Israel came to possess Canaan reflects an important theme emphasizing fulfillment of divine

 Mladen Popović gives a brief, but helpful overview of recent debates regarding the pre- and postdeuteronomistic elements in Joshua as they relate to chapters  and  and the notions of the Deuteronomistic History and Hexateuch. See his “Conquest of the Land, Loss of the Land: Where Does Joshua  Belong?” in The Land of Israel in Bible, History, and Theology: Studies in Honor of Ed Noort, ed. Jacques van Ruiten and J. Cornelis de Vos, SVT  (Leiden: Brill, ),  –.


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promises. Thus, Yahweh’s faithfulness to the covenant is contrasted with Israel’s consistent disobedience. At the same time, Joshua shapes and affirms Israel’s identity as the people of Yahweh, demonstrating the responsibilities and challenges Israel bears as Yahweh’s people, especially as expressed through obedience to covenant and Torah. Richard D. Nelson’s description aptly characterizes this approach: “For exilic and post-exilic readers, the land represented both fulfilled promise and defaulted legacy, simultaneously a sign of Yahweh’s fidelity and Israel’s infidelity. The land was the center of ethnic identity and the object of both hope and regret.”² Given that the book likely was written or compiled for exilic or post-exilic readers to help explain the Babylonian destruction and exile, it clearly originated long after the events it describes. Modern scholars, therefore, have also been intensely interested in assessing the veracity of Joshua’s descriptions and have generally concluded that its accounts are, for the most part, not historically accurate, although more conservative scholars continue to uphold their historicity. Archaeological research has contributed greatly to this assessment.³ Thus, Joshua does not reflect a detailed, historical reconstruction of early Israel (in the modern sense), but instead combines traditions about Israel’s entrance into Canaan in order to give a theological explanation and response to an extreme crisis. Written during a time of national weakness characterized by loss of land and independence, its selective presentation of Israel’s possession of the land perhaps both chided and gave hope to those living in exile.

 Richard D. Nelson, Joshua, OTL (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, ), . See also Robert G. Boling and G. Ernest Wright, Joshua, AB (Garden City: Doubleday, ), ; J. Alberto Soggin, Joshua, trans. R.A. Wilson, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, ),  – ,  – ; Trent Butler, Joshua, WBC (Waco: Word Books, ), xxiv–xxvii. Conservative scholarship typically resists the views of critical scholars, understanding the book as essentially a unified composition written near the time of the events it describes. Thus, the book preserves important past events that inform Israel’s future life as a people in covenant with Yahweh. See Marten H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ),  – , and David M. Howard, Jr., Joshua, NAC (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, ),  – . On the other end of the spectrum, John Strange views Joshua as part of a “Hasmonaean manifesto” that links together the Tetrateuch and the Deuteronomistic History. See his “The Book of Joshua—Origin and Dating,” SJOT  ():  – .  The literature on Joshua’s historical reliability and the nature of early Israel is extensive, but see, for instance, William G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us About the Reality of Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ); idem, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ); and Israel Finkelstein, Amihai Mazar, and Brian B. Schmidt, The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel (Atlanta: SBL, ).

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Like many biblical books, Joshua has a complex and diverse reception history.⁴ Typically it has been read in situations and for purposes that differ significantly from those of its original recipients. As people have read and used the book over the centuries, they have understood it in light of their particular circumstances and cultural backgrounds, thereby producing readings that support a variety of causes and, at times, even contradict each other. The book’s meaning and significance, therefore, are not found exclusively in its original authors’ intentions and settings, but they develop and change in response to numerous factors, including particular cultural and societal ideals. American uses of Joshua— and especially its depiction of the Promised Land taken by conquest—illustrate this dynamic. From the colonial period to the present, Americans advocating assorted causes have read it in the context of certain core American ideals. The following survey of American uses will demonstrate how this mixture of the biblical and the American has re-shaped the narrative and helped bring freedom to some, but devastation to others. Its use in the modern civil rights movement and in Euro-American relations with Native Americans reveals the book’s ambiguous and pliable nature, especially as Americans trod, and often trampled, the fine line between freedom and conquest. Americans, of course, are not unique in applying Joshua to their specific circumstances and interpreting it through their ideals. People throughout the centuries have invoked Joshua’s conquest to justify their various goals. As early as the Hellenistic period, an “apologetic tradition” had developed that justified Jewish claims to Canaan. Regardless of the various explanations for the Israelite conquest—the sinfulness of the Canaanites (Wis 12:3– 11), Canaan was actually uninhabited at the time (Hecateus in Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica 40.2– 3), Joshua offered the Canaanites the choice of leaving the land, making peace with the Israelites,

 No comprehensive treatment of Joshua’s reception history exists. For brief and limited surveys, see “Joshua, book of,” in A Concise Dictionary of the Bible and Its Reception, ed. John F.A. Sawyer (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, ), ; A. Graeme Auld, “Joshua, book of,” in Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, A-J, ed. John H. Hayes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, ),  – ; Scott M. Langston, “Joshua (Book and Person) Literature,” in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter), forthcoming. Ed Noort raises interesting points regarding the relationship between reception history and exegesis by using examples from Joshua. See his “Joshua: The History of Reception and Hermeneutics,” in Past, Present, Future: The Deuteronomistic History and the Prophets, ed. Johannes C. De Moor and Harry F. Van Rooy, OtSt  (Leiden: Brill, ),  – . A forthcoming book promises a more detailed examination of Joshua’s reception history from the biblical period and into the medieval era. See Zev Farber, Images of Joshua in the Bible and its Reception, BZAW  (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter). I am currently working on the volume on Joshua for the Wiley Blackwell Bible Commentaries, a series devoted to the reception history of biblical books.


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or going to war (Lev. Rab. 17:6)—writers embraced the Joshua account as legitimating Jewish connections to this land.⁵ Christians living in diverse circumstances and times, such as early medieval Bulgarians, Christian crusaders, and Afrikaners in South Africa, also applied the book in ways consistent with their cultures, situations, and aspirations.⁶ So, when Americans read Joshua more in line with their values, goals, and circumstances rather than those of Joshua’s original authors and editors, they are following a well-established practice.

2 America’s Joshua Generation On March 4, 2007, Barack Obama delivered the keynote address at the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, a gathering commemorating the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. At the time, Obama was a Democratic Senator from Illinois and was in the early days of his first campaign for president.⁷ His main rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, spoke just down the street at the First Baptist Church, while Obama addressed the crowd gathered at the Brown Chapel AME Church. The stakes were high as both candidates not only sought to pay tribute, but also hoped to gain support. The Selma march itself played an important role in encouraging passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act and became famous when marchers attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but were beaten back by

 Robert L. Wilken, The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History & Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, ),  – .  See, for instance, Mark Vessey et al., eds., The Calling of the Nations: Exegesis, Ethnography, and Empire in a Biblical-Historic Present (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, ); Anthony D. Smith, Chosen Peoples: Sacred Sources of National Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ); Ivan Biliarsky, “Old Testament Models and the State in Early Medieval Bulgaria,” in The Old Testament in Byzantium, ed. Paul Magdalino and Robert Nelson; United States: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, ),  – ; J. Alton Templin, “The Ideology of a Chosen People: Afrikaner Nationalism and the Ossewa Trek, ,” Nations and Nationalism  ():  – ; Anthony D. Smith, “Ethnic Election and National Destiny: Some Religious Origins of Nationalist Ideals,” Nations and Nationalism  ():  – ; David S. Bachrach, “Conforming with the Rhetorical Tradition of Plausibility: Clerical Representation of Battlefield Orations against Muslims,  – ,” The International History Review  ():  – ; Ann Derbes, “A Crusading Fresco Cycle at the Cathedral of Le Puy,” The Art Bulletin  ():  – ; August C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ),  – .  Obama announced his candidacy for president on February , .

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police. The incident, known as “Bloody Sunday,” is one of the landmark events of the modern American civil rights movement.⁸ Obama invoked numerous metaphors throughout his speech, but he often used themes from the book of Joshua. He faced a difficult situation—he was the keynote speaker commemorating one of the iconic moments in the civil rights movement and addressing an audience filled with those who had taken part in the movement, yet he himself had not participated, being too young. To make the connection between himself and the original participants, he leaned heavily on the book of Joshua, characterizing himself and his contemporaries as part of the Joshua Generation. People within the civil rights movement had been using the term, Joshua Generation, for a few years by the time Obama invoked it. Playing off the biblical connection between Moses, who delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and led the Israelites to the border of the Promised Land, and Joshua, who took over from Moses and brought the Israelites into the Land, those in the movement had since at least the late-1990s characterized Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contemporaries as the Moses generation, while dubbing his younger successors as the Joshua Generation. So, for instance, in 1999 Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nephew, the Reverend Vernon King, referred to those currently working for civil rights as the Joshua Generation and exhorted them to demonstrate unity as they worked for change.⁹ In 2001, a local North Carolina educator, Montrio Belton, speaking at a NAACP commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation, called for a new generation of black leaders. Calling them the Joshua Generation, he urged them to develop new techniques for achieving civil rights rather than depending on those used in the 1960s.¹⁰ By 2010, the NAACP had launched its Youth & College 100 Remix campaign, designed to inspire a new generation of civil rights leaders. It encouraged young people to “Join the Joshua Generation: Sign the 100 Remix Pledge.” Young people could sign an online pledge to “honor the work of our forefathers and mothers,” while committing to continue their work. Accompanying the pledge was a picture of President Obama and a statement from his 2007 Selma speech: “I’m here because somebody marched. I’m here because you all sacrificed for me. I stand on the should-

 “Clinton, Obama Link Selma March to Present,” Washington Post, March , ; “Dem Powerhouses Mark Selma’s Bloody Sunday,” Weekend Edition Sunday (NPR), March , .  “Honoring Dr. King; Slain Leader’s Nephew Preaches Unity,” Star-News (Wilmington, NC), January , .  “Belton: Fighting Symbolism not Enough,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, January , . See also similar uses in “Ralliers Shout for Justice,” Erie (PA) Times-News, January , , and “Speaker Encourages All to ‘Capture the Dream’,” Texarkana (TX) Gazette, January , .


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ers of giants. I thank the Moses generation, but we’ve got to remember, now, that Joshua still had a job to do.”¹¹ While civil rights activists used the image of the Joshua Generation to reinvigorate the movement and recruit younger members, the term itself originated outside the movement, apparently within Pentecostal circles. In 1988, Jose V. Pascua, a native of the Philippines who had been working for the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International since 1974, heard the Pentecostal minister, Jack Hayford, reference an arising Joshua Generation. This inspired Pascua to start a ministry aimed at reaching those under thirty with the gospel of Christ and later that year he formed the Joshua Generation International Network. This organization describes itself as a network of Christian organizations encompassing media and communications, education and technology, health and medical services, energy and infrastructure, finance and banking, and trade and international relations.¹² Since this time, the term has been picked up by a variety of organizations including churches and youth choirs, counselling services (such as The Joshua Generation Care and Consultant Services, LLC located in Atlanta, GA), and performance arts ministries (such as The Joshua Generation, located in Franklin, Tennessee, which aims to “raise up a generation of performing artists that live & deliver messages of hope, encouragement, truth, & love”).¹³ Obama, therefore, drew upon a hope-filled metaphor that looked to the opportunities and challenges of the future, while acknowledging the accomplishments of the past. After paying homage to the Moses Generation and then briefly recounting the biblical story, Obama posed the question, “What’s called of us in this Joshua generation? What do we do in order to fulfill that legacy; to fulfill the obligations and the debt that we owe to those who allowed us to be here today?” Interweaving the Joshua story with the struggle for civil rights, he encouraged his audience to continue pushing for civil rights and even to extend it to economic rights. As he outlined what essentially were campaign issues, he ended his speech with a closer application of the biblical story. Paraphrasing Josh 1:1– 9—and taking

 See “Join the Joshua Generation: Sign the  Remix Pledge,” http://action.naacp.org/page/ s/JoshuaGeneration; accessed April , . The pledge reads, “I honor the work of our forefathers and mothers, and I know that the future of the civil rights movement rests on the shoulders of young people like me, and I will answer the call by joining the NAACP Youth & College  Remix campaign. I pledge to ‘REP THE PAST & REMIX THE FUTURE’.”  Phone conversation with Jose V. Pascua, April , ; see also http://www.thejoshua generation.org/.  For The Joshua Generation Care and Consultant Services, LLC, see http://joshua-generation.net/; for The Joshua Generation of Franklin, TN see http://thenewjoshuageneration.weebly.com/ about-us.html. All accessed May , .

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some narrative liberties with the text—Obama explained that “Joshua said, you know, I’m scared. I’m not sure I’m up to the challenge.” Characterizing God’s command to “be strong and have courage” as “a prayer for a journey,” Obama repeated the phrase multiple times as he encouraged his audience to continue the journey to civil rights. He exhorted his listeners to remember “a running thread of ideals that have guided our travels and pushed us forward,” namely, “liberty in the face of tyranny, equality against bitter injustice, opportunity where there was none and hope over the most crushing despair.” These ideals continue to drive them forward even “when we have our doubts and our fears, just like Joshua did.” He closed by saying, “Be strong and have courage in the face of injustice. Be strong and have courage in the face of prejudice and hatred, in the face of joblessness and helplessness and hopelessness … Be strong and have courage and let us cross over that Promised Land together.”¹⁴

3 Joshua and American Ideals: The Developing Tradition Since the days of slavery, the African-American community frequently invoked images and metaphors from Exodus and Joshua in their attempts to gain freedom and equality.¹⁵ While their use in the modern civil rights movement reflects a long tradition and ranks perhaps among the best and most effective, not all applications rise to that level. Among the worst is Joshua’s role as a key text to justify Euro-Americans taking land from and attempting to destroy the societies and cultures of Native Americans, often through violent and deceitful means. Therefore, it has a mixed heritage, helping bring about freedom and equality for African Americans, but dispossession, denigration, and slaughter of Native Americans. Consequently, understanding Joshua’s destructive heritage is essen-

 The full text of Obama’s speech can be found at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/ //le..html; accessed May , . For further analysis of the speech, see David Remnick, “The Joshua Generation: Race and the Campaign of Barack Obama,” The New Yorker (November , ):  – , and John M. Murphy, “Barack Obama, the Exodus Tradition, and the Joshua Generation,” Quarterly Journal of Speech  ():  – .  For works that reflect these uses see, for instance, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr, Exodus! Religion, Race, and Nation in Early Nineteenth Century Black America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ); Rhondda R. Thomas, Claiming Exodus: A Cultural History of Afro-Atlantic Identity,  –  (Waco: Baylor University Press, ); Kenneth Chelst, Exodus and Emancipation: Biblical and African-American Slavery (New York: Urim Publications, ); Scott M. Langston, Exodus Through the Centuries, Wiley Blackwell Bible Commentaries (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, ).


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tial for understanding both the book and its reception in America. In that regard, Osage scholar Robert Allen Warrior urged that “we need to be aware of the way ideas such as those in the conquest narratives have made their way into Americans’ consciousness and ideology.” To do so, helps us “understand how America’s self-image as a ‘chosen people’ has provided a rhetoric to mystify domination.”¹⁶ By reading into Joshua ideals such as those cited by Obama—liberty, equality, opportunity, and hope—Americans have not merely re-shaped the book, but they made it easier to destroy Native American lives, communities, and cultures. These types of readings are not atypical or done only by extremists, but reflect common and consistent understandings. Characterizing Joshua in these terms by Americans is not surprising. They form what the Swedish scholar, Gunnar Myrdal, called in his book, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944), the American Creed. According to him, “These ideals of the essential dignity of the individual human being, of the fundamental equality of all men, and of certain inalienable rights to freedom, justice, and a fair opportunity represent to the American people the essential meaning of the nation’s early struggle for independence.”¹⁷ These, of course, are not uniquely American ideals, but they are at the center of American identity. Applying these values to Joshua has, however, allowed proponents of various causes, ranging from the noble to the evil, to re-fashion the biblical account and claim moral credibility. And if Myrdal is correct that “America is continuously struggling for its soul,”¹⁸ then the various readings of Joshua in light of these ideals reflect this struggle. Just as there are multiple American readings of Joshua, so are there diverse understandings of American ideals. So, to talk of a single American view or use oversimplifies a complex history and relationship that develops and changes over time. As historian Eric Foner has demonstrated, while there is nothing more fundamental to American identity than freedom or liberty, freedom does not constitute “a single idea, but a complex of values.” Americans have defined and re-defined it and applied it to varying causes. Their debates over its meaning

 Robert A. Warrior, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians: Deliverance, Conquest, and Liberation Theology Today,” in Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada, ed. James Treat (New York: Routledge, ), . See also Edward D. Said, “‘Exodus and Revolution’: A Canaanite Reading,” Arab Studies Quarterly  ():  – . Said critiques Michael Walzer’s notion of Exodus politics and calls attention to the perspective of the Canaanites.  Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper Brothers, ),  – .  Ibid., .

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have emphasized particular dimensions in particular circumstances, including political freedom (the right to participate in public affairs), civil liberties (individual rights), morality (especially in Christian terms), personal freedom (individual choices made apart from outside coercion), and economic freedom.¹⁹ Reading Joshua, therefore, in light of American ideals such as freedom and its associated values must take into account these debated and changing notions. Additionally, concepts of civilization and progress, especially when applied to Native Americans, have affected American readings of Joshua. In general, ideas taken from an eighteenth-century school of philosophy known as Scottish common sense realism greatly influenced American opinions regarding Native Americans. This scheme understood societies as progressing from the lowest state of savagery to barbarism and then to the highest stage of civilization. Among other things, hunting, warfare, and little sense of property, wealth, government, and civil institutions were considered marks of savage societies, while civilized societies were essentially the opposite. Monotheism, especially as reflected in Christianity, stood at the pinnacle of civilization, while the nature worship of savages sat at the bottom of social and cultural development. Americans understood society and culture in terms of “civilized progress,” moving from past to present, east to west, and lower to higher. This idea of progress bred notions of superiority. Americans related to Native Americans within this conceptual framework, leading Roy Harvey Pearce to conclude, “In America, from the very beginning the history of the savage is the history of the civilized.”²⁰ Such thinking, in turn, shaped their readings of Joshua. Reading the book of Joshua in light of liberty, equality, opportunity, hope, progress, and other related ideas has transformed this book from a conquest account into a story of liberation. Yet, while freedom can plausibly be found in the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, it is not present in the biblical book of Joshua. Instead, Joshua, having arisen in a time when the Israelites were dispossessed of their land, emphasizes Yahweh’s giving of the land to the Israelites just as he had promised Abraham.²¹ In fact, the book intentionally seems to subvert

 Eric Foner, The Story of American Freedom (New York: W.W. Norton, ), xiii–xviii.  Roy Harvey Pearce, Savagism and Civilization: A Study of the Indian and the American Mind, rev. ed. (Berkely: University of California Press, ),  – , ,  – ; Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, ),  – .  Boling and Wright, Joshua,  – . J. Alberto Soggin (Joshua, ) focuses on Joshua as the fulfillment of ancient promises. Richard D. Nelson (Joshua, ) argues that “Yahweh’s gift of the land is the core plot action of Joshua,” built around an “arc of promise and fulfillment.” Ofri Ilany has also pointed out the dichotomy between Exodus and Joshua, stating, “While the Exo-


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the idea that the Israelites took the land, even when recounting their military exploits. At all times, it is Yahweh who works wonders to hand the land over to the Israelites, often in unorthodox ways. The Israelites are not inactive observers of Yahweh’s actions, but their possession of the land is a divine gift, contingent more on their faithfulness than their military might. Furthermore, there is no one in Canaan who needs liberating—perhaps exterminating, but not liberating. For their part, the Israelites in Joshua were already a liberated people. The transformation of Joshua into a freedom narrative began well before the United States existed. While Puritan uses of Exodus and Joshua are perhaps the most widely known, the conditions for reading these books as American freedom narratives were established much earlier.²² These can in part be traced back to the papal bull, Inter Caetera, issued by Alexander VI in 1493.²³ The bull essentially gave Spain possession of the New World, while charging the Spanish monarchy with the obligation to convert the native inhabitants to Christianity. It helped lay the foundation for what has become known as the Doctrine of Discovery which asserted, in short, that Europeans automatically acquired property rights in Native lands that they discovered, as well as gained governmental, religious, and commercial rights over the indigenous inhabitants. As heathens—that is, not Christian and not European—Native Americans had little or no rights. The Americas were largely colonized with these principles,²⁴ which reflected belief in the dus narrative is an epic of enslavement and liberation, the story of the conquest of Canaan is a chronicle of occupation and extermination.” See Ofri Ilany, “From Divine Commandment to Political Act: The Eighteenth-Century Polemic on the Extermination of the Canaanites,” Journal of the History of Ideas  (): .  For an excellent discussion on the providential theory of Empire as it developed in the English colonies, see Alfred A. Cave, “Canaanites in a Promised Land: The American Indian and the Providential Theory of Empire,” American Indian Quarterly  (),  – .  There are many conditions ultimately contributing to the American re-shaping of Joshua, some of which are centuries old. For example, the anthropologist, Alice Beck Kehoe, argues that the Roman emperor Constantine during the fourth century C.E. infused Christianity with Indo-European values that understood conflict as inherent to the world which made competition and war “normal and inevitable” and fighting, “the greatest occupation.” According to Kehoe, “With Constantine, the Christian church shifted from proselytizing individuals and forming congregations, to winning the favor of rulers and instant conversion of thousands of their subjects.” She traces Christian militancy, especially among the religious right in America, back to Constantine and Indo-European values. This militancy and exaltation of conquest certainly influences American readings of Joshua. See Kehoe, Militant Christianity: An Anthropological History (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, ),  – , .  Robert J. Miller, “Christianity, American Indians, and the Doctrine of Discovery,” in Remembering Jamestown: Hard Questions about Christian Mission, ed. Amos Young and Barbara B. Zikmund (Eugene: Pickwick, ),  – , . In , the U.S. Supreme Court in the case, John-

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superiority of Euro-Christian civilization. Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr, succinctly explains the role played by these attitudes: “Using the twin criteria of Christianity and ‘civilization,’ Spaniards found the Indian wanting in a long list of attributes: letters, laws, government, clothing, arts, trade, agriculture, marriage, morals, metal goods, and above all religion.” He also aptly identifies the common threads knitting together European justifications for settling in Native lands: “the spread of Christianity through the conversion of the heathen, the augmentation of private and public wealth through trade, and the enhancement of national and personal prestige and glory through colonization.”²⁵ This mindset, along with the allure of the “New” World’s abundant resources, helped EuroAmerican Christians read Joshua as a freedom narrative that went beyond purely religious terms. It was applied fully to political, economic, and cultural goals.²⁶ While a single example cannot represent the complexity of Spanish thought and debate,²⁷ a Spanish official’s arguments to King Phillip II in 1557 seeking to justify plans for colonizing Florida illustrate how these ideas combined to make conquest into freedom: It is lawful that your Majesty, like a good shepherd, appointed by the hand of the Eternal Father, should tend and lead out your sheep, since the Holy Spirit has shown spreading pastures whereon are feeding lost sheep which have been snatched away by the dragon, the Demon. These pastures are the New World, wherein is comprised Florida, now in possession of the Demon, and here he makes himself adored and revered. This is the Land of Promise, possessed by idolaters, the Amorite, Amalekite, Moabite, Canaanite. This is the land promised by the Eternal Father to the faithful, since we are commanded by God in the Holy Scriptures to take it from them, being idolaters, and, by reason of their idolatry and sin, to put them all to the knife, leaving no living thing save maidens and children, their cities robbed and sacked, their walls and houses levelled to the earth.²⁸

son v. M’Intosh, held that the Doctrine of Discovery was an established legal principle of English colonial law and American law. For an excellent treatment of the Doctrine of Discovery’s development and constituent elements, see Robert J. Miller, Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Manifest Destiny (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ). See also Berkhofer, The White Man’s Indian,  – .  Berkhofer, ibid., , .  This, of course, was not the first time that political, economic, and cultural goals affected the reading of Joshua, but I am confining myself to considerations of the American context.  For an excellent discussion of the Spanish debate regarding treatment of Native Americans see Lewis Hanke, The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America (Boston: Little Brown and Company, ); idem, All Mankind is One: A Study of the Disputation Between Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda on the Religious and Intellectual Capacity of the American Indians (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, ).  Francis Parkman, Pioneers of France in the New World. France and England in North America (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, ), :. See also Burke A. Hinsdale, “The Right of


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In this reading, God commissions the Spanish to free the land from the Devil’s control by purging it of idolaters. Thus, the Spanish were essentially obligated to kill Native Americans in order to make the land suitable for Christians. It shares with the biblical story the driving out of the indigenous peoples, but the reason differs slightly. In the Bible, the Canaanites must be destroyed in order to remove from the Israelites any temptation to worship other gods, which if succumbed to would provoke Yahweh to destroy Israel (Deut 7:1– 5). Other biblical texts (Gen 15:16; Lev 18:24– 30; Deut 9:1– 5; 20:15 – 18) add that Yahweh destroys the Canaanites because of their immoral actions (and not because of Israel’s righteousness). In New Spain, however, Native Americans, by virtue of their “idolatry,” are essentially squatters, possessing the land which is rightfully that of Spain by virtue of its Christianity. The land, therefore, must be freed from idolaters, who are hindering the spread of Christianity, and given over to Spanish Christians. The adult male idolaters must be killed (actually a relaxation of the biblical command to kill everyone), valuables taken, and cities destroyed in order to punish them for their idolatry. Native Americans are not killed because the Spanish might be tempted to worship other gods (as the Israelites might have been), but they are killed because they are not Christians. It is a subtle distinction, but the threatened punishment of Israel for potential idolatry given in Deut 7:1– 5 has been transferred to Native Americans. Thus, the Spanish liberate the land and give it to its rightful owners (themselves), while acting as instruments of divine judgment. Virtually from the outset, therefore, European Christians claimed the Americas as their Promised Land that had no room for idolatrous native peoples. Thus, one of the key components of reading Joshua in the American context had been established early in its history—freedom required the complete annihilation of Native American cultures, and if necessary, Native Americans themselves. At best, Native Americans could exist only as Euro-Christians. Or, in terms of savagery and civilization, “America had to be planted so that sub-humans could be made human.”²⁹ English colonists regularly appealed to “the authority of the master narrative of Israel in Canaan,” so much so that most early modern English texts addressing colonization contained some reference or allusion.³⁰ By the time the American nation

Discovery,” Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly . (December ): . The original Spanish text of the letter written from Dr. Pedro de Santander to King Philip II on July , , can be found in Coleccion de documentos ineditos para la historia de Espana (Madrid: ), : – . The section translated in Parkman’s work appears on page .  Pearce, Savagism and Civilization, .  Paul Stevens, “‘Leviticus Thinking’ and the Rhetoric of Early Modern Colonialism,” Criticism  (): .

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had formed, reading Joshua as a freedom narrative was entrenched. Sacvan Bercovitch has demonstrated how the Puritans used the Israelite exodus and journey to the Promised Land to frame their coming to North America and how their eighteenth-century descendants characterized their ancestors’ “noble errand” as one compelled by liberty that culminated with God giving them “the Land of the Heathen.”³¹ The Puritans’ liberty necessitated the conquest of Native Americans. In other words, “God had meant the savage Indians’ land for the civilized English and, moreover, had meant the savage state itself as a sign of Satan’s power and savage warfare as a sign of earthly struggle and sin.”³² Subsequently, Americans easily applied Joshua to their struggle against Great Britain, seeking to free not only themselves, but ultimately all of humanity, from the evils of monarchy. Timothy Dwight, a Congregationalist minister, president of Yale University (1795 – 1817), and grandson of Jonathan Edwards, did just this when he penned, The Conquest of Canäan; A Poem, in Eleven Books, during the years 1771 to 1773 (although it was not published until 1785).³³ Dwight dedicated his epic poem to George Washington, calling him “the Saviour of his Country, the Supporter of Freedom, and the Benefactor of Mankind.” Even though he denied allegorizing America and its struggle with Great Britain, he interspersed references to America throughout his re-telling and admitted that General Washington resembled Joshua. For instance, Dwight composes a scene in which the Israelites debate whether they should attempt a conquest of Canaan. Joshua argues that a successful conquest would allow their descendants eventually to “stretch their sway and claim an empire, spread from sea to sea,” a claim more fitting of America than ancient Israel. This empire, characterized by justice and prosperity, reflected a heavenly plan dedicated to saving the rights of man (Book 1, lines 757– 62). These themes also appear in a scene set just after Israel’s second battle at Ai (Book 3, lines 607– 48). Several Israelites want to return to Egypt and in the ensuing debate, Caleb argues against the return, asserting that if Israel must fight in order to take Canaan, then:

 Sacvan Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” American Quarterly  ():  – ; idem, The American Jeremiad (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, ),  – ; Berkhofer, The White Man’s Indian,  – . For a discussion of the broader eighteenth century context, see Ilany, “From Divine Commandment to Political Act,”  – .  Pearce, Savagism and Civilization, .  Timothy Dwight, The Conquest of Canäan; A Poem, in Eleven Books (Westport: Greenwood Press, ; repr. ). See also Scott M. Langston, “Holy War,” in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (Walter de Gruyter), forthcoming.


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With war, let freedom, wealth, and glory come; Let peace, let realms, let empire crown the toil

Caleb then describes the certain outcome of the conquest as: In this fair land, shall each poor warrior reign Lord of himself, and monarch of the plain. His house, his herd, his harvest all his own, And changeless law transmit them to his son.

Dwight has inserted freedom, wealth, empire, and individualism into the conquest of the Promised Land, but they do not appear in the biblical text. One might argue that wealth appears in the biblical Promised Land under its characterization as flowing with milk and honey. This, however, does not reflect the American notion of private, individual wealth. Of course, Dwight is writing from a modern perspective, but he illustrates how modern values re-shape the biblical account. In an American context, freedom meant wealth produced by taking Native American resources, empire based on destroying Native American tribal structures, and individualism achieved by replacing tribal (communal) cultures. The term “freedom,” therefore, functioned essentially as a synonym for American (Western) values. Dwight’s Joshua later envisions the future, recounting many Old and New Testament events, including Jesus’s coming as the Messiah, the Church’s establishment, and Christianity’s spread. America also appears as “the last retreat for poor, oppress’d mankind” (Book 10, line 482) and “Empire’s last, and brightest throne” from which peace, right, and freedom will arise (Book 10, lines 555 – 56). The vision then culminates with the Millennium and the end of the world. This vision illustrates how Dwight has again revised and enlarged the book of Joshua in light of America’s experience, specifically linking its Promised Land with Christianity, republicanism, and individuality. While his modern Israel (America) would deliver “oppress’d mankind” from monarchy and aristocracy, the Bible’s ancient Israelites had no such aspirations in establishing their Promised Land. Dwight did not directly address Native Americans, but he did confront the Canaanites’ annihilation when two of the characters, Selima and Irad, debate the issue. When Selima argues that Israel’s actions bring “deep dishonor” on it (Book 3, lines 161– 66), Irad responds with an ancient explanation that the Canaanites are being punished for their sins and “a righteous sword demands these flocks, these cities, and these promis’d lands” (lines 172– 80). Selima rejoins that not all Canaanites are worthy of death, although she agrees that Canaan’s race is “Stain’d with black guilt” (lines 181– 234). Irad explains that should

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Canaanite infants become adults, they would commit “unheard crimes” and Hell would surround Canaan. Killing the babies, therefore, would keep their names from being blotted “from life’s celestial roll” (lines 235 – 98). Selima reluctantly agrees, but questions whether Israel will be victorious since it often rebels against God (lines 299 – 308). Irad re-assures her that the covenant is still in place, “thy countless sons shall rule Canäan’s land,” and Israel will ultimately “reign from sea to sea” (lines 309 – 30). Dwight thus writes into the Joshua account a justification for exterminating the Canaanites, one that subsequent Americans would adopt as they increasingly confronted Native Americans. Drawing on biblical traditions that explained the Canaanites’ destruction as God’s punishment for their sins, Dwight makes their extermination a just and necessary prerequisite for establishing Israel’s (that is, America’s) empire. Even though Native Americans did not appear in Dwight’s Joshua, many Americans did not hesitate to identify them as Canaanites, the very antithesis to American ideals. Ezra Stiles, for instance, while president of Yale University, extolled the United States as “God’s American Israel” in an address to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1783 (the year the American Revolution formally ended). Stiles did not mince words: “I rather consider the American Indians as Canaanites of the expulsion of Joshua” (italics are in the original text). Stiles meant this literally, arguing that some of the original Canaanites had left Canaan, sailed in Phoenician ships along the coast of North Africa, and plausibly could have crossed the Atlantic, landing in the tropics and settling in Mexico and Peru. He based this conclusion largely on the sixth-century historian Procopius’s reference to a Phoenician inscription located in Tangier purporting to have been authored by Canaanites who were expelled by Joshua.³⁴ Stiles also suggested that another branch of the “canaanitish expulsions” may have travelled to Asia and eventually to America. He concluded that “all the american (sic) Indians are one kind of people” and that “they are the same as the people in the north-east of Asia.” This identification is important to his argument because he interprets it in light of Noah’s words in Gen. 9:27: “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (KJV).

 For background on Procopius’ inscription, see Wilhelm Bacher, “The Supposed Inscription Upon ‘Joshua the Robber’,” JQR  ():  – . Bacher details early Jewish sources that reflect this tradition of Canaanite exiles from Joshua’s expulsion, noting that “both the inscription spoken of by Procopius and the opinion of the Jewish sages … rest upon the apparently same hypothesis, that the settlement of the Phoenicians in North Africa is connected with the conquest of Palestine by Joshua.” See also Martin L. Rouse, “Procopius’s African Monument of Joshua’s Conquest of Canaan; Narrative of a Visit to the Site,” Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain  ():  – .


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Japhet, according to Stiles, settled Europe, and Europe, in turn, settled America. The increasing Euro-American population and the decreasing Native American population demonstrated that Noah’s prophecy was being fulfilled. As Stiles put it, “We are the object which the holy ghost (sic) had in view four thousand years ago.” Furthermore, this prophecy was being fulfilled “in a country where Canaan shall be his servant, at least unto tribute.” At best, Native Americans only had a place in America as servants.³⁵ The implications of his identification of Native Americans with Canaanites come into full view when placed within his broader arguments related to land. For Stiles, “the foundation of a happy State,” lay in the ability of its people to possess “real freehold fee-simple estate” (i.e., absolute ownership), as well as their ability to defend “our property, liberty, country.” While he acknowledged that “dominion is founded in property,” he denounced “the feudal tenure of estate,” in which property resided in the hands of a few, in favor of “a free tenure of lands,” in which property was held by many. Additionally, in order to give value to land, there must be “numerous population, as well as industry … The public weal requires the encouragement of both.” In keeping with American Revolutionary ideology, Stiles argued that freedom depended on widespread, individual ownership of land, but the owners must then develop and improve the land in order to make it valuable. Native Americans had simply been unable to do this. He explained that the “sparse thin settlement of the American aboriginals” had produced little land value, but Europeans, on the other hand, had dramatically increased its value. Stiles predicted that civil and religious liberty, along with the concept of individual property, would help propel America to be a great nation and that God would set “his american (sic) Israel, high above all nations.”³⁶ This view differed dramatically from that of Native Americans. While individual tribes certainly believed that its lands were given to it to use, they also believed that no human could own the land. Vine Deloria, Jr. explains, “Like a mother, it (i. e., the land) shapes and teaches our species and, according to

 Ezra Stiles, The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor. A Sermon, Preached before His Excellency Jonathan Trumbull, Esq L.L.D., Governor and Commander in Chief, and the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut (New Haven: Thomas & Samuel Green, ; repr. Gale ECCO Print Editions),  – . Stiles’s sermon is partially reproduced in God’s New Israel: Religious Interpretations of American Destiny, ed. Conrad Cherry, rev. and updated (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ),  – .  Ibid.,  – ,  – . Note also Berkhofer’s (The White Man’s Indian, ) point: “The emphasis on individualism and liberal institutions, moreover, placed Indian tribalism in direct opposition to Americanism even more under democracy than under republicanism. Indians must join American society as individuals in the liberal state and economy rather than as tribes.”

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the peculiarity of the area, produces certain basic forms of personality and social identity which could not be produced in any other way.”³⁷ Humans do not own and make the land valuable, but instead respect and live in relationship with the land (and all other beings living in a particular area). Furthermore, native cultures did not emphasize the accumulation of individual wealth. American culture, on the other hand, considered private ownership of land as a foundation to personal wealth and freedom. Stiles’s use of Joshua not only reflects American notions of liberty, individualism, and progress, but also allows him to clearly mark Native Americans as essentially having no place in the American Promised Land. Native Americans were obstacles that needed removing. By reading into the Joshua account various American ideals, he uses the biblical story to “free” the land from Native Americans who had proven themselves unworthy and incompetent “owners.”³⁸ A few decades later Connecticut’s governor, John Treadwell, praised God “for his protecting care over his American Israel” and “for giving them a goodly land, which was lately a howling wilderness, but is now like the garden of the Lord.”³⁹ Clearly shaped by the Joshua narrative, the governor’s sentiments reflect an American ideal seen in Ezra Stiles’s sermon—the transformation of the Promised Land from a raw, unproductive land (at least from an American perspective) into a bountiful one. This, however, deviates from the biblical portrayal in its understanding of the Israelites’ relationship to both the Canaanites and the land. The ancient Israelites were indeed given a land flowing with milk and honey (Josh 5:6), but they were also given towns that they did not build and enjoyed vineyards and olive groves that they did not plant (Josh 24:13; Deut 6:10 – 11). The book of Joshua clearly indicates that the Israelites benefitted from the Canaanites’ labor. Additionally, the land was already good and did not need development. Americans (and their European ancestors), however, apparently ignored this detail and emphasized the opposite. They failed to recognize Native Ameri-

 Vine Deloria, Jr., “Religion and the Modern American Indian,” and “Native American Spirituality,” in For This Land: Writings on Religion in America (New York: Routledge, ), , . See also chapter , “Land: We Sing the Land into Existence,” in A Native American Theology, ed. Clara S. Kidwell, Homer Noley, and George E. “Tink” Tinker (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, ),  – ; N. Scott Momaday, “An American Land Ethic,” in idem, The Man Made of Words: Essays, Stories, Passages (New York: St. Martin’s, ),  – .  Note Berkhofer’s (The White Man’s Indian, ) analysis of the developing ideology of Americanism that Stiles’ sermon represented: “To preserve the American political and social system, certain ways of using the land were preferred to others, and the idea of the Indian and his way opposed these modes. According to the imagery, Indians were hunters and Americans were farmers or at least industrious in others ways in transforming nature into property.”  “A Connecticut State Paper,” The Columbian (New York), November , .


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can sophistication, skill, and respect in relating to the land, as well as their own indebtedness to the indigenous peoples. Instead they could only see the land in terms of Euro-American concepts, valuing it as a raw commodity that needed development and pointing to their construction of European-style cities and farms, as well as their overall population growth, as evidence of their worthiness to possess the land. American ideals had again modified the biblical story. Not all Americans, of course, read and used Joshua in the manners previously described. Some, like Thomas Paine, found the Israelite conquest reprehensible. Paine had played an exceedingly important role in the American Revolution when early in 1776 he wrote Common Sense, a treatise that convinced many Americans that they should declare independence from Great Britain. Almost two decades later he wrote The Age of Reason (1794), in which he critiqued the Bible according to the Enlightenment emphasis on reason and logic. Joshua did not fare well. Seeking to rebut the notion that the Bible was God’s word, he pointed to various biblical actions, supposedly performed in obedience to God’s command, “that are as shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice” as the atrocities carried out in the French Revolution, in the East Indies by the British government, or by any other modern assassin. Regarding instances in the Torah and Joshua where Israel “came by stealth” against nations who “had given them no offense” and then killed them all, including infants, Paine asks, “Are we sure these things are facts? Are we sure that the Creator of man commissioned these things to be done? And are we sure that the books that tell us so were written by His authority?” He contends that Israel’s actions, “in their own nature and by every rule of moral justice, are crimes.” He then concludes, “To believe, therefore, the Bible to be true, we must unbelieve all our belief in the moral justice of God; for wherein could crying or smiling infants offend?”⁴⁰ For Paine, the Israelite conquest was not to be emulated, but rejected as an immoral, human action. This was hardly the divinely guided example that most Americans were trying to re-enact. Even though Paine believed Israel’s conquest violated God’s moral justice, he certainly did not believe Native Americans to be the equal of Euro-Americans. Writing in response to a notice published in the August 16, 1804 New York Gazette indicating that members of a missionary society had given a Bible to some Osage chiefs, Paine hoped that “some humane person” would “undeceive” the Osages regarding the Bible. He asked, “Can those Missionaries suppose that the assassination of men, women, and children, and sucking infants, related in the books as-

 Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, in The Life and Major Writings of Thomas Paine, ed. Philip S. Foner (New York: Carol Publishing Group, ),  – .

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cribed to Moses, Joshua, etc., and blasphemously said to be done by the command of the Lord, the Great Spirit, can be edifying to our Indian neighbors, or advantageous to us?” Equating “Bible warfare” with that practiced by Indians, and describing it as “that of indiscriminate destruction, and against which humanity shudders,” he wondered, “Can the horrid examples and vulgar obscenity with which the Bible abounds improve the morals or civilize the manners of the Indians? … Will not the shocking accounts of the destruction of the Canaanites, when the Israelites invaded their country, suggest the idea that we may serve them in the same manner, or the accounts stir them up to do the like to our people on the frontiers, and justify the assassination by the Bible the Missionaries have given them?”⁴¹ Clearly, Paine rejected the use of Joshua to justify wholesale killing of Native Americans. Whereas most Americans used Joshua’s status as part of the biblical canon to justify contemporary re-enactments of the conquest, Paine rejected it as contrary to the principles of civilization. Nonetheless, he essentially used Joshua to emphasize the uncivilized character of Native Americans that some Americans were in danger of imitating. Native Americans exemplified the uncivilized behavior reflected in Joshua, that is, indiscriminate warfare. Ironically, the last example given in the Declaration of Independence of George III’s “repeated injuries and usurpations” pointed to the nature of Native American warfare: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Apparently for many Americans indiscriminate slaughter of Canaanites and Native Americans was justified, whereas “undistinguished destruction” of Americans was not. L. Daniel Hawk identifies this as “a classic case of projection,” arguing that Europeans introduced “the practice of ‘cruel massacres’” during the early days of colonization.⁴² While Paine did not make this distinction, he saw through Americans’ hypocrisy, but in doing so, he advocated not only transforming Native Americans into civilized Americans, but also rejecting the book of Joshua; both were savage and uncivilized. Another challenge to Americans’ use of Joshua to dispossess and denigrate Native Americans appeared in response to an article printed in 1787 in various American newspapers. The original article tried to explain America’s recent civil and political disorder on the basis of the principle that “God deals with na Thomas Paine, “To the Members of the Society, Styling Itself the Missionary Society,” The Prospect; or View of the Moral World () in The Writings of Thomas Paine, ed. Moncure D. Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, ), : – .  L. Daniel Hawk, Joshua in -D: A Commentary on Biblical Conquest and Manifest Destiny (Eugene: Cascade Books, ),  – .


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tions according to their moral character.” Pointing to the seven nations of Canaan, as well as others, as examples of nations that were destroyed for their “visible impieties,” the author exclaimed, “God has driven out the Canaanites before us; he has planted us and made us to become a nation … Nothing shall be withholden (sic) from us conducive to our happiness.” Yet despite these divine blessings, the author argued, America still had sinned greatly.⁴³ A few weeks later an unnamed writer responded, challenging the original author’s description of the country’s “national character.” He wondered how the description of American national character was consistent with the assertion that God had driven out the Canaanites before the Americans. Specifically, “Have we, after all, a better character than the natives, who were dispossessed to make room for us?” After pointing out that the biblical Israelites acted under God’s instructions, he then asked, “What voice from Heaven have we heard, saying that America is so (i. e., Israel driving out the Canaanites)? … Or what voice had our fathers, commanding to destroy the Indians utterly, as the Israelites had with respect to their enemies?” Pressing the issue further, the author wondered what evidence allowed Americans to designate any nation as Canaanite or Israelite.⁴⁴ Whereas Paine had shunned the Book of Joshua due to its immoral character, this author accepted the biblical conquest, but only as a unique event experienced by the ancient Israelites. Americans could not invoke it under the assumption that they possessed a superior character or without clear evidence of their own divine command to destroy Native Americans. Most Americans did not accept these challenges to the use of Joshua. They instead continued to infuse the book with their ideals and soon found these readings went hand-in-hand with Manifest Destiny, the notion that God had destined Americans to expand across the entire continent, spreading democracy, Christianity, and other aspects of American culture. In the words of one respected historian, “… the leaders who founded and led the United States throughout the nineteenth century imagined the nation as a sort of New Israel destined to fill a rich Promised Land and

 “Dissertations, &c. No. II,” United States Chronicle (Providence, RI), July , . See a similar explanation of a plague in Thomas Morton’s, New English Canaan (). Morton reasons that a plague that killed large numbers of Native Americans and drastically reduced their population demonstrates “the wondrous wisdom and love of God … to sweep away by heaps the Salvages (sic).” This made the place “so much the more fit for the English Nation to inhabit in, and erect in it Temples to the glory of God.” Thomas Morton, New English Canaan: Text, Notes, Biography & Criticism, ed. Jack Dempsey (Scituate: Digital Scanning, ), , .  “Mr. Wheeler,” United States Chronicle (Providence, RI), August , .

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enjoy the blessings of liberty …”⁴⁵ Most scholars consider the term Manifest Destiny to have been coined by John L. O’Sullivan, a prominent Democratic editor in New York, when he argued in 1845 in favor of the annexation of Texas, citing as support the obvious “manifest design of Providence in regard to the occupation of this continent” by the United States.⁴⁶ He, however, did not create the concept, it being virtually as old as the country itself. In fact, the idea of Manifest Destiny grew naturally out of the principles and legal elements of the Doctrine of Discovery.⁴⁷ O’Sullivan reflected some of the ideas associated with Manifest Destiny years before he used the term. In an 1839 article, he wrote: We are entering on its (i. e., the future’s) untrodden space, with the truths of God in our minds, beneficent objects in our hearts, and with a clear conscience unsullied by the past. We are the nation of human progress, and who will, what can, set limits to our onward march? Providence is with us, and no earthly power can … We must onward to the fulfillment of our mission—to the entire development of the principle of our organization—freedom of conscience, freedom of person, freedom of trade and business pursuits, universality of freedom and equality. This is our high destiny, and in nature’s eternal, inevitable decree of cause and effect we must accomplish it. All this will be our future history, to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man—the immutable truth and beneficence of God. For this blessed mission to the nations of the world, which are shut out from the life-giving light of truth, has America been chosen …⁴⁸

As Joshua’s portrayal of the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land easily fit into and supported Manifest Destiny, so were American notions of freedom, progress, equality, and mission easily transferred to Joshua. The year following O’Sullivan’s 1845 essay, William Gilmore Simms, one of the South’s great literary figures, penned twelve sonnets under the title “Progress in America: Or, a Speech in Sonnets, on Great Britain and the United States; not delivered either in Parliament or Congress.” The fifth sonnet, “Progress Inevitable,” reflects the subtle fusion of Manifest Destiny and the Israelite conquest. Beginning with the proclamation, “And thus we cover Texas!,” Simms positions the

 Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World since  (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ), . Daniel Walker Howe indicates that “‘Manifest Destiny’ served as both a label and a justification for policies that might otherwise have simply been called American expansionism or imperialism.” See his What God Hath Wrought: The Transformation of America,  –  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), .  John L. O’Sullivan, “Annexation,” The United States Magazine and Democratic Review  (July-August ): .  Miller, Native America, .  John L. O’Sullivan, “The Great Nation of Futurity,” The United States Democratic Review . (November ): , .


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Americans, “a selected stock of old,” as taking over from the Spanish and French, who had failed to conquer the continent. The Americans, though, would accomplish what others could not: Set for a mighty work, the way to pave For the wrong’d nations, and, in one great fold, Unite them, from old tyrannies to save! We do but follow out our destiny, As did the ancient Israelite—and strive, Unconscious that we work at his decree, By Whom alone we triumph as we live!⁴⁹

The biblical reference is slight, being overwhelmed by Americans’ sense of destiny, chosenness, and mission to overcome tyranny, but the reference to the “ancient Israelite” in the context of America moving across the continent conjures up Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. Of course, all this helped justify dispossessing Native Americans of their lands and cultures.

4 Joshua and American Ideals in Contemporary Context Even though the U.S. census bureau in 1890 declared the American frontier closed, thereby symbolically marking a culmination to the settling of the continent, Americans continued to understand and use the biblical conquest in light of American ideals, extending it to endeavors beyond their borders. For example, in 1903 the United States attempted to negotiate a treaty allowing it to build a canal across the Central American isthmus. Proposed routes took the canal through either Nicaragua or the Colombian province of Panama. After Colombia rejected a treaty with the United States for construction of a canal, President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to seize Panama, as well as encouraged Panama to secede from Colombia. The United States ultimately supported Panama’s secession in exchange for a treaty to build the canal. When Joseph W. Bailey, U.S. senator from Texas, opposed the Panama Canal treaty (known as the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty), an editor of a small-town Texas newspaper protested. The editor argued,

 William G. Simms, “Progress in America: Or, a Speech in Sonnets, on Great Britain and the United States; Not Delivered Either in Parliament or Congress,” The United States Democratic Review (February ): .

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Did not the hosts of Israel, under direct command and leadership of the Almighty, put the Canaanites to the sword and usurp that fair land? Has not civilization, from its dawn, cut its way into the wilds and shadows of the two continents, carrying progress and enlightenment to the savage and barbarian? Is it not the history of the world that the aborigines have been supplanted by the aggressive and superior races that came against them? Would Senator Bailey build a wall around the United States and say to the world, ‘This and only this is ours. Go where you will, do what you will, it is none of our concern?’ … Carried to its logical conclusion, the argument of Senator Bailey is, that because our forefathers robbed the Indians of this great continent, we ought to abdicate and take to the ocean or the sky.⁵⁰

This newspaper editor carried on what was by then an old American practice— remaking the Israelite conquest into a campaign for civilization, progress, and enlightenment in opposition to savagery and barbarianism. American policies toward Native Americans had since the colonial period reflected these sentiments and now their foreign policy was following in the same manner. Infusing Joshua with American ideals also appears among American biblical scholars. Laura Donaldson, for instance, has demonstrated the eugenic underpinnings of William Foxwell Albright’s explanation of the Israelite conquest,⁵¹ but American notions of progress, civilization, savagery, and the superiority of Christianity are also apparent. A towering figure in twentieth-century archaeological and biblical studies, Albright explained in his book, From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process, the command to kill all of Canaan’s inhabitants as being “apparently universal among the early Semites.” Lest moderns look down upon the Semites, he indicated that the conquest was “no worse, from the humanitarian point of view,” than various modern massacres, including those perpetrated by Americans against Native Americans. Albright pointed out that “we have, intentionally or otherwise, exterminated scores of thousands of Indians in every corner of our great nation and have crowded the rest into great concentration camps.” That it was “probably inevitable” did not make it any more palatable. Returning to the Israelite conquest of Canaan, Albright explained, “From the impartial standpoint of a philosopher of history, it often seems necessary that a people of markedly inferior type should vanish before a people of superior potentialities, since there is a point beyond which racial

 “Scores President. Senator Bailey Declares That He Has Violated Laws of Congress,” Dallas Morning News, January , ; “Scores Senator Bailey, C.W. Goff of Greenville Writes on Panama Question,” Dallas Morning News, January , .  Laura E. Donaldson, “Joshua in America: On Cowboys, Canaanites, and Indians,” in The Calling of the Nations: Exegesis, Ethnography, and Empire in a Biblical-Historic Present, ed. Mark Vessey et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, ),  – .


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mixture cannot go without disaster.” He also concluded that destroying the Canaanites prevented “the complete fusion” with the Israelites “which would almost inevitably have depressed Yahwistic standards to a point where recovery was impossible. Thus the Canaanites, with their orgiastic nature worship, their cult of fertility in the form of serpent symbols and sensuous nudity, and their gross mythology, were replaced by Israel, with its nomadic simplicity and purity of life, its lofty monotheism, and its severe code of ethics.”⁵² Given that Albright had just cited American destruction of Native Americans as a modern example of the biblical conquest, his description and evaluation of Canaanites and Israelites transfer easily to Native Americans and Americans. In their efforts to erase tribal cultures and force conversion to Christianity, Americans often described Native American dances and other ceremonies in terms similar to Albright’s portrayal of the Canaanites’ unbridled sexuality. For example, in the 1920s controversy over Pueblo dances, governmental officials and missionaries denounced them with typical American mischaracterizations as involving “immoral relations between the sexes,” “the most depraved and immoral practices,” and “the very worst that vileness can suggest.”⁵³ Furthermore, Native American spiritual traditions had since the onset of European colonization been misjudged as nature worship and, as such, dramatically inferior to Christianity. Thus, Albright’s depictions hearken back to an understanding rooted in the country’s earliest days—the inferiority of savage Native Americans, the superiority of Euro-Christian civilization, and the necessary replacing of the former with the latter. Despite Albright’s regret over the treatment of Native Americans, his association of Native Americans with Canaanites and portrayal of the biblical conquest as the triumph of superior peoples

 William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, ),  – . William G. Dever quotes this passage from Albright to illustrate that Albright did not seem to be “bothered all that much about genocide.” See Dever, Who Were the Early Israelites,  – . Note also Keith W. Whitelam’s assessment of Albright’s statement (given as part of a broader critique of Albright’s reconstruction of the supposed Israelite conquest of Canaan): “Albright’s characterization of the sensuous, immoral Canaanite stands in a long line of Orientalist representations of the Other as the opposite of the Western, rational intellectual. It is a characterization which dehumanizes, allowing the extermination of native populations, as in the case of Native Americans where it was regrettable but ‘probably inevitable’; the claim is couched in terms of the progress that colonial or imperial rule will bring.” See Keith W. Whitelam, The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History (New York: Routledge, ), .  Tisa Wenger, We Have a Religion: The s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ),  – ; Francis P. Prucha, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians (abridged ed.; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ),  – .

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over inferiors lent validity to their treatment. Albright, however, does not represent a fringe radical element.⁵⁴ He, instead, was a well-educated, highly respected intellectual and his analysis of the Israelite and American conquests reflected mainstream American thinking. To conclude, though, that the genocidal actions of the Israelites and Americans, while regrettable, were “probably inevitable” and “necessary” demonstrates how American ideals helped transform the conquest account into a freedom narrative. Joshua’s re-shaping was not limited to governmental policies or academic explanations, but also merged with popular depictions of the American West. Reflecting an old theme in American literature and art—“the battle between savagery and civilization”—the 1962 movie, How the West was Won, illustrates an American re-enactment of Joshua.⁵⁵ While explicit references to Joshua do not appear, the movie is framed by the notion of the West as the Promised Land that Americans transform into a strong, productive haven. This is especially apparent as the movie concludes and the credits scroll by to a rendition of the Christian hymn, “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” which declared, “I am bound for the Promised Land.” Following the hymn came the movie’s rousing theme song. Reflecting the belief that Americans had to conquer and free the West in order to transform it into a Promised Land, the song proclaimed: Promised land the land of plenty rich with gold Here came dreamers with Bible fist and gun Bound for land across the plains their wagons rolled Hell bent for leather that’s how the West was won Dream by dream they built a nation from this land Forged in freedom for every mother’s son Here it is the beautiful the promised land We won’t forget them and how the West was won⁵⁶

 While the critiques of Albright’s views given by Donaldson, Dever, Whitelam, and others—and especially their broader impact—are valid, J. Edward Wright’s evaluation of Albright is well-taken: “He had traditional Christian practices but was philosophically liberal for his era” and “in the company of real fundamentalists,” he was “the true moderate.” Nonetheless, Albright’s association of Native Americans with inferior Canaanites reflected the kind of Euro-American thinking that led to the dispossession, denigration, and murder of Native Americans. See J. Edward Wright, “W.F. Albright’s Vision of Israelite Religion,” Near Eastern Archaeology  (): .  The phrase, “the battle between savagery and civilization” is Berkhofer’s (The White Man’s Indian, ). See his section on “The Indian and the Rise of an American Art and Literature” ( – ) for a fuller description, as well as Harvey, Savagism and Civilization,  – .  “How the West Was Won” (), music by Alfred Newman, lyrics by Ken Darby.


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The song, just like the movie, made heroes out of Americans moving west, while it only implied Native Americans’ existence as figures from whom the west was won. These views remain common among Americans in the twenty-first century. The Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson, has recently produced The American Patriot’s Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America, a reproduction of the New King James Version of the Bible surrounded with “stories of American heroes, quotations from many of America’s greatest thinkers, and beautiful illustrations that present the rich heritage and tremendous future of our nation.” The presentation of Joshua clearly integrates ancient Israel’s conquest of Canaan with America’s story. Interspersed throughout the text of Joshua are patriotic stories of military exploits that emphasize God’s protection and American acts of courage, along with quotes by American leaders related to moral strength and the loss of virtue, civil duty and voting, and service to country. An essay on Christianity in colonial America also appears, asserting that the colonists routinely pursued “the goal of government based on Scripture.” Joshua serves as a platform to herald American military feats, while also portraying America as God’s Christian Israel in the modern world. Unlike the biblical account where the Canaanites are part of the story, Native Americans are not even mentioned.⁵⁷ Similarly, Generation Joshua, a homeschool organization seeking “to assist parents to raise up the next generation of Christian leaders and citizens” and “to cultivate leaders and to equip them to use their beliefs to influence the political process,” wants to restore America to its founding principles, which according to them, includes a Fundamentalist version of Christianity. Furthermore, it aims “to challenge teens to stand up for what is right, to grow in their own beliefs, and to learn about how they can make a difference in their communities and nation.” Reflecting Puritan ideals, “Generation Joshua wants America to be a perpetual city on a hill, a beacon of biblical hope to the world around us.” To this end, teenagers are taught a thoroughly conservative Christian version of American history, as well as “what it takes to win a successful campaign” (i. e., election).⁵⁸ One of Generation Joshua’s founders, Michael Farris, a constitutional lawyer who serves as Chancellor of Patrick Henry College (Purcellville, VA) and Chairman and General Counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association,

 Richard G. Lee, ed., The American Patriot’s Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, ), “Introduction” and  – .  See Generation Joshua’s website, http://www.generationjoshua.org/dnn/Home/tabid//De fault.aspx. The phrase, “what it takes to win a successful campaign,” comes from the course description for the online course, “Campaign School: Successful Campaigning.” See also, Michael Farris, The Joshua Generation: Restoring the Heritage of Christian Leadership (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, ).

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has played a prominent role in advancing these goals through Christian homeschooling. To him, those homeschoolers who rejected the idea that education was primarily a government responsibility and withdrew their children from public education constitute the Moses generation. Educating children in the home, however, is insufficient. Farris argues, “In short, the homeschooling movement will succeed when our children, the Joshua Generation, engage wholeheartedly in the battle to take the land,” which he defines as currently characterized by “MTV, Internet porn, abortion, homosexuality, greed, and accomplished selfishness,” as well as forgotten constitutional principles, socialism, and rule according to “judicial tyranny and unconstitutional expansion of the power of bureaucracies and agencies that the founding fathers never intended.” He especially targets “elite colleges and universities” through which “the enemies of freedom and truth” dominate the nation. To achieve this end, he advocates knowing “our philosophical enemies” (i. e., elite colleges and universities), noting that, “Even Joshua, who never wavered in his courage, sent a second set of spies to assess the battles they would face.” Advocating the teaching of absolute truth based on a Fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity and American history, Farris concludes, “The Joshua Generation can turn America back to the spirit of the founding fathers and be remembered as a truly pivotal generation in our nation’s history.”⁵⁹ Acting under the assumption that his view of Christianity and American history is the only correct one, Farris uses Joshua to validate and inspire a movement to enshrine it. Many of these goals and ideas also appear in movements known as dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism, both based on the belief that God has given Christians the right to rule America according to Christian principles (as they interpret them). This, of course, leaves little room for Native Americans (and anyone else), other than as objects of conversion, and, in fact, one of the founders of Christian Reconstructionism, R.J. Rushdoony, was a Presbyterian missionary to the Shoshone and Paiute Indians at the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada beginning in the late 1940s.⁶⁰ Rushdoony’s son-in-law, Gary

 Farris, ibid.,  – ,  – , .  Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism (New York: W.W. Norton, ), ; Rousas J. Rushdoony, The American Indian: A Standing Indictment Against Christianity and Statism in America (Ross House Books, ). See also a report on the  History of America Mega-Conference sponsored by Vision Forum Ministries, a Christian homeschooling organization based in San Antonio, TX, and held from July  –  at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in Camp Hill, PA. “Rewriting History—History of America Mega-Conference: Part , Christian Vikings, Godly Explorers, and Strange Bacon,” http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/ ///rewriting-history-history-of-america-mega-conference-part--christian-vikings-


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North, has carried on and furthered these teachings. Rebutting the notion put forth by respected historians (called “liberal academics” by North), Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, and George M. Marsden, that the Puritans stole the land of Native Americans, North writes, That a million savages had a legitimate legal claim on the whole of North America north of Mexico is the unstated assumption of such critics (i. e., liberal academics). They never ask the question: From whom did the Indians of early colonial America get the land? They also never ask the even more pertinent question: Was the advent of the European in North America a righteous historical judgment of God against the Indians? On the contrary, our three authors ridicule the Puritans for having suggested that the Indians were the moral and covenantal equivalent of the Canaanites. In fact, if ever a continent of covenant-breakers deserved this attribution, the “native Americans” did.⁶¹

North also asserts, “The Canaanites did not inherit the land of Israel; the Roman Empire did, and then the Christians, and then the Arabs. God will not ‘give America back to the Indians,’ either.”⁶² While one might dismiss Farris, Rushdoony, and North as extremists, they share with other Americans the belief that EuroAmerican Christians are the true owners of the land. They also share an appeal to Joshua, with its vision of taking the Promised Land from indigenous peoples and all other non-Christians, as inspiration and validation for accomplishing their goals. In line with these views and uses of Joshua are the sentiments expressed by Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association⁶³ (AFA) and host of the daily program, “Focal Point,” on American Family Radio. In 2011 he posted a column on the AFA’s website, titled, “Native Americans morally disqualified themselves from the land.” Agreeing with standard arguments used to validate European and American ownership of Native lands, Fischer godly-explorers-and-strange-bacon/; accessed May , . Vision Forum Ministries closed in  after its president, Doug Phillips, was found to be engaged in an extra-marital affair.  Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler: Institute for Christian Economics, ), . North ( – ) also denounced the use of the term, “Native American”: “Liberals have adopted the phrase ‘native Americans’ in recent years. They never, ever say “American natives,” since this is only one step away from ‘American savages,’ which is precisely what most of those demon-worshipping, Negro slave-holding, frequently land-polluting people were … “  Ibid., .  The American Family Association was founded in  by Donald E. Wildmon. According to its website, since that time, the “AFA has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war. The original name of the ministry was National Federation for Decency but was changed to American Family Association (AFA) in .” It touts itself as “one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with hundreds of thousands of online supporters.” See http://action.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=; accessed May , .

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adds one other: “the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of native (sic) Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil.” Explaining that even though God had given Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan, their occupation of it was postponed because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Gen 15:16). Despite the Amorites’ moral corruption, God waited patiently for them to repent. After four hundred years, however, “the day came when the sin had reached its full measure.” Fischer explained, The slop bucket was full, and it was time to empty it out. Israel under Joshua was God’s custodian to empty the bucket and start over. The native (sic) American tribes at the time of the European settlement and founding of the United States were, virtually without exception, steeped in the basest forms of superstition, had been guilty of savagery in warfare for hundreds of years, and practiced the most debased forms of sexuality.

Invoking George Washington, Lewis and Clark, and Thomas Jefferson as support for his conclusions, Fischer next asserts, “The native (sic) American tribes ultimately resisted the appeal of Christian Europeans to leave behind their superstition and occult practices for the light of Christianity and civilization.” After explaining the Canaanites’ extermination in light of Lev 18:25—the land had become unclean and vomited out its inhabitants—Fischer asks: Is this to say the same holds true for native (sic) American tribes today? In many respects, the answer is of course no. But in some senses, the answer is yes. Many of the tribal reservations today remain mired in poverty and alcoholism because many native (sic) Americans continue to cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition instead of coming into the light of Christianity and assimilating into Christian culture.

He cites “the continued presence of native (sic) American superstition,” pointing to the blessing said by Carlos Gonzales, a Pascua Yaqui Indian and associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona, at the 2011 memorial service held after the shooting that wounded U.S. Representative Gabi Giffords. Fischer also notes that America today is “as guilty of ‘abominations’ as the native (sic) American tribes we replaced.”⁶⁴

 For the text of Fischer’s column, see Newspaper Rock, February , , http://news paperrock.bluecorncomics.com///text-of-fischers-racist-screed.html; accessed March , . Fischer’s column was originally posted on February ,  to the American Family Association’s website. See the response by Steven Newcomb, “Radio Evangelist Preaches an Ugly Message,” Indian Country Today, February , , http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork. com////radio-evangelist-preaches-ugly-message; accessed March , .


Scott M. Langston

Fischer’s column created an uproar and the AFA quickly removed it from their website. This, however, was not the first time that Fischer invoked Joshua to denounce a non-Fundamentalist Christian group, having used it in a column that proclaimed Islam as “an evil, wicked religion.” In that case he compared the depravity of the Canaanites—and Muslims—to “a container of cottage cheese that gets left in a refrigerator which suffers a six week power outage in the middle of a hot summer … there is nothing that can be done other than to toss the whole thing out. There is nothing to redeem, nothing to save, nothing that can be saved.” He then concluded, “Practitioners of Islam must not be given access to the United States of America.”⁶⁵ Putting aside Fischer’s complete lack of knowledge and understanding of Native American cultures and spirituality, as well as his selective interpretation of the Bible and American history, his use of Joshua falls into line with a centuriesold American tradition that combines the biblical story with American ideals in order to dispossess, denigrate, and murder Native Americans. As reprehensible as his views are, his interpretation is within the historical American mainstream in that it assumes a divine right and obligation on the part of Christian Americans to own and control Native American lands, accepting the extermination of Native Americans either physically or culturally. It also illustrates that the campaign to erase Native American cultures still continues in America; it is not something of the past. In this reading of Joshua, Native Americans have a place in America only as individual Christians living in a democratic and capitalistic society.

5 Joshua through Indigenous Voices Admittedly, this essay only skims across the surface of exceedingly complex issues. The preceding examples are representative of Joshua’s reception history in America, but they are not comprehensive. More work needs to be done in order to understand not only the religious and theological dimensions of Joshua in America, but also its political, social, cultural, and economic aspects. In anticipation of this work, I offer the following suggestions: 1. Joshua is a lethal text. It is a book filled with power. Therefore, it must be handled with great care, caution, sensitivity, and wisdom. Rather than reading the book from the perspective of its original recipients—a devastated and exiled Judah—Americans have consistently read it from the viewpoint of the dominant

 Bryan Fischer, “Islam is an Evil, Wicked Religion,” American Family Association, January , , http://action.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=; accessed March , .

Joshua and the Israelite Conquest in American History


and powerful. Despite the book’s aim to affirm divine faithfulness during a time of national weakness and devastation brought on by Israel’s unfaithfulness to covenant and Torah, Americans have commonly understood Joshua’s conquest as affirming their own conquests, even when dispossessing others, often under the guise of civilization and freedom. Despite the abundant evidence casting doubt on Joshua’s historical veracity, the story itself remains a potent inspiration for modern re-enactments. Robert Allen Warrior pointed this out in 1989 in his influential article, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians: Deliverance, Conquest, and Liberation Theology Today.” In his words, “The danger is that these communities will read the narratives, not the history behind them … Whatever dangers we identify in the text and the god represented there will remain as long as the text remains.”⁶⁶ Not only have Americans typically read the Joshua narrative uncritically, but they also have often re-fashioned and applied it in light of EuroAmerican notions of civilization and progress. Many have put forth various explanations in order to mitigate the text’s violence. L. Daniel Hawk, for example, argues that “Joshua can play a key role in reconciling colonized and colonizing people” because it can expose similar heinous attitudes and actions present in contemporary national narratives. This can lead the colonizer to acknowledge what has happened to the colonized.” Throughout his commentary on Joshua he connects American actions toward Native Americans with similar actions from Joshua. He also argues that Joshua contains evidence of some uneasiness on the part of its compilers with its genocidal actions. For instance, even though the Israelites destroy Jericho and kill its inhabitants, Rahab is saved and incorporated, without assimilating, into Israel (Joshua 5 – 6). To him, this constitutes “evidence that Israel recognized the genocidal residue that shaped its corporate life and was pondering how to correct it.”⁶⁷ As important as it is for attitudes and actions of colonizing countries like the United States to be exposed and confronted, the approach taken by Hawk requires close reading and nuancing of the biblical text. Most individuals and communities do not read texts this closely, but instead often uncritically merge Joshua with their ideals and values and use it to advance their goals. Recognizing the

 Warrior, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians,” .  Hawk, Joshua in -D, xii, . See also idem, “The Truth About Conquest: Joshua as History, Narrative, and Scripture,” Interpretation  ():  – . Hawk’s assertions in the latter article (p. ) that allusions to Joshua are rare in American literature and public discourse, that “there are virtually no references to indigenous Americans as ‘Canaanites,’ particularly during the nineteenth century,” and that Americans saw themselves as “Exodus People,” but not as “Conquest People,” overlook and downplay American uses of the conquest narrative and its lethal consequences.


Scott M. Langston

role readers play in using biblical texts in positive or harmful ways is essential, but the problem does not lie solely with the reader. The power of Joshua’s story to inspire and fuel destructive readings and uses cannot be ignored. The reception history of Joshua in America reflects that the dominant reading of the book has taken the Israelites’ actions toward the land and the Canaanites and used them to encourage and support the dispossession, denigration, and murder of Native Americans and their cultures. Americans of great intellect and character, as well as narrow-minded bigots, have both read and used Joshua in ways that essentially fit within this tradition. To be sure, there have been Americans and Christians who have opposed such actions, but they represent a small minority. Read in light of American ideals, the book has been used to support and advance national goals, help individuals accumulate wealth and property, and assist Christians in advancing their religion, all at the expense of Native Americans and in the name of freedom, progress, and civilization. Although the book of Joshua has also inspired and supported positive endeavors such as the modern civil rights movement, its devastating impact cannot be ignored or minimized. Barack Obama’s Joshua Generation is not that of Michael Farris. 2. American ideals such as freedom, democracy, progress, equality, opportunity, hope, individualism, capitalism, individual accumulation of wealth, and Christianity are not present in the book of Joshua. Joshua is not a freedom narrative. While it emphasizes divine faithfulness, it is nonetheless a story of conquest. Regardless of American efforts to transform conquest into freedom, it often fails and many Native Americans, as well as others, suffer from it. Oren Lyons, a Haudenosaunee chief, makes the point with regard to European colonization, “So where was the land of the free? Well, everybody here (i. e., Native peoples) was free. Freedom was rampant here in the whole of North America (i. e., before European colonization).”⁶⁸ Despite American assertions that they brought freedom to Native Americans, they did not. Instead, reading Joshua in light of these American ideals has facilitated the conquest of native peoples. 3. In order to better understand Joshua, indigenous peoples—both Christian and non-Christian—should be given a voice. In the case of the United States, this would be Native Americans. They not only can offer insight into the text’s impact, but also into the text itself. In many ways, their tribally-based and community and land-centered cultures are closer to that of ancient Israel than are those of modern Euro-Americans that are characterized by individualism and relating to the land only as a commodity.

 Oren Lyons, “It is in Our Hands,” in Surviving in Two Worlds: Contemporary Native American Voices (Austin: University of Texas Press, ), .

Joshua and the Israelite Conquest in American History


Native American scholars such as Robert Allen Warrior, George E. Tinker, and Steven T. Newcomb have alerted us to the voices and perspectives of the Canaanites, that is, those peoples whose homelands have been taken from them by others claiming a Promised Land. Warrior challenges the adequacy of Exodus and Joshua as a paradigm for liberation because it is a narrative that begins with deliverance, but ends in conquest. Furthermore, since indigenous peoples, such as Native Americans, have been the Canaanites in modern re-enactments, it is not appropriate for them as they too seek justice and deliverance. On the other hand, those who have used Joshua rarely consider the rights of indigenous peoples because Joshua makes it easy to ignore justice for those who might be represented as modern Canaanites.⁶⁹ Most American readings have done just that, but under the guise of liberation and progress. Tinker, another Osage scholar, echoes Warrior’s critique, pointing out that “affirming israelite (sic) history means ultimately affirming precisely the historical narrative that has been used consistently by our euro-western colonizers to validate their theft of our property and murder of our ancestors.” Since Native Americans are always the Canaanites in the Joshua story, to accept it results in “self-disavowal and even subtle forms of self-hatred on the part of American Indian peoples who are converted.”⁷⁰ Joshua, therefore, has not only created tremendous injustices, but also psychological trauma. Non-Indian Americans must embrace this as part of the book’s heritage, accept responsibility for it, and take meaningful actions to right the wrongs that American uses of Joshua have helped perpetrate. Infusing the book with the foreign rhetoric of freedom, equality, opportunity, hope, individualism, private wealth, capitalism, democracy, and Christianity obscures the dispossession, denigration, murder, and trauma heaped on Native Americans. Listening to Native Americans and taking seriously their perspectives is a must for Americans who read Joshua. Americans who use Joshua in their enthusiastic pursuit of their Promised Land would do well to reflect on the words of a Kiowa living in Oklahoma: “When the Kiowas refer to their history, they refer to places. Much as the Jews have Israel, their promised land, the Kiowas have their homeland.”⁷¹ Newcomb, a Shawnee/Lenape, has worked for years to challenge and overturn the Doctrine of Discovery. In his book, Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, he seeks “to focus on and decode the hidden biblical, or, more specifically, Old Testament background” of federal Indian  Warrior, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians,”  – .  George E. Tinker, American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty (Maryknoll: Orbis, ),  – . See also his Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, ),  – .  Steven M. Schnell, “The Kiowa Homeland in Oklahoma,” Geographical Review  (): .


Scott M. Langston

law and policy. As the book’s title reflects, Joshua has played a significant role. Using cognitive theory, Newcomb critiques American policies and concludes “that when dominating forms of reasoning (categorization) found in the Old Testament narrative are unconsciously used to reason about American Indians, Indian lands methaphorically become—from the viewpoint of the United States— the promised land of the chosen people of the United States.” He then demonstrates how pervasive this thinking has become in federal Indian law. Importantly, though, he calls attention to the covert nature of this thinking, arguing that as long as the law’s Old Testament background “continues to remain hidden from view, it will continue to be taken for granted and successfully used as a covert weapon against indigenous nations and peoples.”⁷² Non-Indian Americans who use Joshua often do not realize its pervasive and hideous nature. This is, so to speak, a blind spot in American thinking and practice that is made all the more invisible when freedom, equality, opportunity, hope, individualism, private wealth, capitalism, democracy, and Christianity are read into the Joshua account. Listening to Native Americans can help remove the scales from our eyes. Native Americans not only can provide insight into the impact of Joshua, but they can also bring fresh perspectives that have been obscured by reading Joshua in light of American ideals. The Sioux scholar, Vine Deloria, Jr. in his groundbreaking book, God is Red, gives one example. Challenging non-Indians “to entertain different ideas about the nature of religion,” he explains the centrality of sacred lands to Native Americans. Deloria compares the Israelites setting up of twelve stones to commemorate their miraculous crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 4) to one way in which Native Americans have understood sacred lands: [Locations] where we have perceived that something specifically other than ourselves is present, something mysteriously religious in the proper meaning of those words has happened or been made manifest. In the crossing of the River Jordan, the sacred or higher powers have appeared in the lives of human beings. Indians would say something holy has appeared in an otherwise secular situation. No matter how we might attempt to explain this event in later historical, political, or economic terms, the essence of the event is that the sacred has become a part of our experience.

He points out that every geographical region has sacred places that are unique to it. In a specific region, these places are considered sacred by those who live there, but those who live elsewhere may see them in secular terms. “The difference would be in the manner of revelation and what the people experienced.

 Steven T. Newcomb, Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Golden: Fulcrum, ), xv–xxiv.

Joshua and the Israelite Conquest in American History


There is immense particularity in the sacred and it is not a blanket category to be applied indiscriminately.”⁷³ Deloria’s ideas invite understanding the land not as an inanimate object or as a commodity, but rather as specific, unique places where the sacred is present and manifest. Instead of universalizing the crossing of the Jordan and seeing it constantly re-enacted by contemporary Israels throughout the world, it is a unique interaction with the sacred at that particular location. Instead of seeing the conquest as a paradigm for Promised Lands all over the world and throughout history, perhaps we should see it as a singular event. Of course, there are significant differences between the ways Jews and Christians understand and experience the sacred at specific places and the way Native Americans do, but Deloria’s comments raise the question of how the relationship between the sacred, humans, and the land is to be understood. The Euro-American experience has made the land into an interchangeable prop, but how would Joshua be read if we understood the land of Canaan, as well as other lands, not in historical, political, or economical terms, but as unique places where the sacred is experienced? Instead of looking for the encounter with the sacred in events—history—and, therefore, duplicating the Israelite conquest again and again (as well as transforming it into a divinely sanctioned land grab), perhaps Joshua suggests that we should look for the sacred in places. This would not solve the problems associated with Joshua’s conquest, but it might curb the efforts to constantly re-live it. The bigger point, though, is Native Americans can teach others much about living in relationship with the land and this would enhance the understanding of Joshua. Joshua’s history in America demonstrates that the use and impact of a biblical text cannot be separated from its meaning and that its meaning cannot be separated from the specific cultural and social values surrounding the situation in which a text is used. The field of reception history, therefore, must not only understand texts in terms of their meanings and functions in religious and theological contexts, but must also fully engage how biblical texts have been used politically, economically, socially, culturally, and in other ways. While Joshua may have arisen as a theological explanation for the loss of Israel’s land based on historically dubious traditions of conquest, it has through the centuries come to support taking land and resources from indigenous peoples and destroying their cultures and societies. Exploring the total impacts of these conquest traditions cannot be ignored or given secondary consideration, nor can the insights of indigenous peoples like Native Americans, if Joshua’s meaning is to be more fully understood.

 Vine Deloria, Jr., God is Red: A Native View of Religion, th Anniversary Edition (Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, ),  – .

Index of Names and Subjects Aaron 85, 123 – Abel 86 Abner 20 – 1 Abraham 51, 90, 99, 103, 106 – 7, 126, 132, 141, 199, 229, 237, 257 Absalom 20 Acco 92 Achior 83 Achor (valley of) 147 Adam 68, 162 Adonijah 21 – 3, 46 Afterlife 172 – see also Resurrection Ahaz 205, 226 – 7 Ai (city of) 147, 241 Alexander Jannaeus 124 Allegory 57 – 9, 82, 175 – 6, 178, 241 Allusion(s) – to Former Prophets in Second Temple Jewish literature 83 – 4, 129 – 40 Amalekite(s) 92 Amasa 20 – 1 Ammonite(s) 48, 72 Amon 186, 190, 226, 227 Angel(s) 92, 96, 117, 122, 131, 151, 165, 206, 208 – 9, 215, 222 Antiochean (proto-Lucianic) manuscripts – of the book of Judges 78 – 9 Apocalypse(s), apocalyptic 9, 61, 89, 87, 95, 102, 103, 171 – 7, 187, 215, 216, 222 Apotheosis 10, 161, 164 – 9, 171, 181 Aqeda 92 Asaph 42, 114 Asher (tribe of) 92 – 3 Ashera 191, 193, 195, 221 – 2 Astarte 85 Baal 190 Barak 83, 87, 89 Bathsheba 7, 41, 44, 46 – 50, 57 – 9, 116, 198 Belchira 214, 217 Belial 124 Beliar 213, 214, 216

Benjamin (tribe of) 68, 70, 78, 85, 88, 92, 112, 115, 131, 143, 176 Ben Sira – authorial self-consciousness 68 – 9 – canon-consciousness 67 – 8 – depiction of Solomon 69 – 75 – honor-shame ideology 66 – Praise of the Fathers 87 – 8 – view of scribal profession 65 – wisdom as mother and wife 75 – 6 Bethel 184 Bethlehem 60, 214 Caesar 126, 154, 158, 166, 170 Caesarea 154 Canaan (land of) 59, 147, 229, 231, 238, 240 – 1, 243 – 5, 247 – 8, 250 – 2, 254, 257, 263 – conquest of 15, 19, 83, 92, 142 – 3, 148, 159, 229, 231, 233, 235 – 9, 241 – 3, 245 – 55, 257, 259, 260 – 1, 263 Canaanite(s) 11, 18, 92 – 3, 153, 188, 204, 231, 236, 238 – 40, 242 – 5, 247 – 8, 251 – 3, 256 – 61 – Native Americans identified with 229 – 64 Canon 7, 41 – 4, 49, 50 – 1, 60 – 1, 65, 67, 76, 87 – 8, 113, 121, 180, 229, 247 Canonization 41, 67 Chronology 41, 86, 90 Civil Rights Movement 233 – 5 Colonization 239, 247, 252, 260 Commandment(s) 51, 142, 150, 153, 238, 241 Constantine (emperor) 238 Conversion 208, 238 – 9, 252, 255 Cornelius 141, 181 Covenant 9, 14, 17, 67, 73, 95 – 7, 99, 100 – 9, 111, 115 – 6, 120, 147 – 8, 155, 206, 230, 243, 256, 259 David 7, 9, 13, 20, 41 – 2, 44 – 50, 58 – 60, 67, 70 – 2, 77, 84, 87, 89, 91, 100, 103 – 9, 111 – 27, 131, 141, 147, 150 – 1,


Index of Names and Subjects

167, 183, 185 – 6, 198, 212 – 3, 215, 220, 225 – 6, 230, 232, 235 – Davidic Messiah 7, 9 – 10, 42 – 5, 58, 100, 101, 104, 109, 112, 118 – 21, 123 – 7, 142, 191, 227 – echoes of in Song of Songs 45 – 50 – penitent 116 – 8 – poet 112 – 5 – prophet 112 – 6 – scribe 113 – 5 Deification 167, 170 Demiurge 178 Demon(s) 177, 214, 216, 221, 239, 256, 262 Deuteronomist 183 – 5, 189 – 90, 193, 221 Deuteronomistic History 14, 29, 104, 168, 229 – 30 Doctrine of Discovery 11, 238 – 9, 249, 261 Ebal (mount of) 147 Ecclesiastes, book of – „royal fiction“ (Eccl 1:12 – 2: 26) – critique of Ptolemaic rule 32 – satire 30 – 9 – use of the figure of Solomon as depicted in 1 Kings 13 – 39 Ehud 89, 91, 98, 112, 185 Eleazar 84 – 5, 147, 216 Elijah 10, 92, 141, 161, 163 – 5, 167, 169, 171 – 3, 175, 177, 179, 181, 219 Elisha 95, 104, 164, 165 Elon 89, 91 Empire 15, 19, 24 – 5, 27 – 8, 39, 153, 155 – 9, 166, 188, 232, 238, 241 – 3, 251, 256 Enthronement 111, 113, 115, 126 – 7 Ephraim 70, 85, 92 Erotic, eroticization 27, 50, 76, 91 Eschatology, eschatological 10, 96, 102, 119, 120, 122 – 4, 127, 143, 155, 158 – 9, 165, 167 – 8, 170 – 1, 173, 175 – 6, 213 Essenes 120, 124 Exorcism 150, 156, 159 Forgiveness 11, 116 – 7, 155, 157, 180, 199, 201, 203

Gentile(s) 150 – 1, 153 – 4, 156 Gershon 84, 131 Gersonites 84 Gezer 18 Gibeonites 149 Gideon 82, 86 – 7, 89, 91 Gigal 147 Gomorrah 214 Halakhah 84, 94, 205 – 6 Hannah 87 Harmonization 91 Hasmoneans 9, 83, 119, 124 – Jonathan 83 – see also Alexander Jannaeus Herod 124, 126, 149, 151 Historical summary 89 – 90 Historiography – in the Dead Sea Scrolls 9, 94 – 5, 106, 109 Hezekiah 10, 70, 147, 186 – 90, 207 – 8, 213 – 8, 220, 223, 225 Holocaust 56, 61 Holofernes 83 Intertextuality 132, 141, 143 – 4, 152 Isaac 31, 141, 199, 219 Isaiah 10, 11, 38, 121, 123, 132, 141, 149, 153, 179, 183 – 5, 187 – 8, 190, 206, 209 – 11, 213 – 21, 223, 225 – 8 – sawed asunder 209 – 21 Ishbosheth 47 – 8 Ishmael 93 Issachar 92 – 3 Jacob 108, 114, 199 Jael 83, 87 Jechoniah 107 Jehoahaz 98 Jehoiachin 41, 48 Jehoiakim 97 – 9 Jephthah 86 – 9, 91 – 2 Jeremiah 29, 48, 56, 87, 96 – 102, 107 – 9, 141, 189, 212, 215 – 6, 222 Jericho 146, 259 Jeroboam 21, 70, 104, 183 – 4, 187, 205, 215

Index of Names and Subjects

Jerusalem 13, 14, 18, 20, 32 – 3, 35, 42, 44, 52, 61, 65, 67, 83, 88, 93, 95, 97 – 9, 102, 104, 122, 126, 130, 142, 149, 150, 153, 176, 183 – 4, 186 – 7, 189 – 90, 192 – 4, 200 – 1, 205 – 6, 208 – 9, 214, 216 – 24, 226 – 7 Jesse 114 – 5, 123 Jesus – Matthean Jesus and Joshua 149 – 59 Joab 20, 21 Jonathan (son of Gerson) 84 Jordan 47, 73, 135, 145 – 6, 153 – 4, 262 – 3 Josephus 32, 79, 90 – 1, 98 – 9, 153 – 4, 157 – 8, 192, 194 – 96, 200, 205, 216 Joshua son of Nun 10 – 1, 41, 79, 80 – 1, 83 – 8, 90, 92, 94, 97, 137, 141 – 59, 229 – 63 – in the Septuagint 145 – 9 – continuities and discontinuities in the Gospel of Matthew 149 – 59 Joshua, book of – in the Septuagint 145 – 49 – US reception history 229 – 63 Josiah 70, 98, 107, 147, 184, 186, 190, 193 – 4 Judges, book of – in Second Temple Jewish literature 77 – 94 Julius Caesar 166, 170 Jupiter 158, 170 Kadesh 96 Kaige recension Kenaz 92 Kidron (wadi of)

78 20 – 1

List of examples 86 – 8 Literary model 83 Machir 47 – 8 Mahanaim 47 – 8 Malkira 214 Manasseh 10 – 1, 84, 92 – 3, 183 – 209, 211, 213 – 28 – as a builder of idols 221 – 7 – as a penitent sinner 185 – 209 – as responsible for Isaiah’s death 209 – 21 – in the Hebrew Bible 185 – 94


Martyr, martyrdom 177, 184 – 5, 204, 209 – 28 Masoretes 44 Mattaniah 99 Mattathias 107 Mephibosheth 48 Messiah 9 – 10, 107 – 9, 111 – 3, 115, 117 – 19, 121 – 3, 125 – 7, 142, 151, 165, 242 – see also David Moabite(s) 60, 72, 85, 185, 239 Moses 42, 67, 68 – 9, 73, 86, 89, 96 – 7, 103, 106, 112, 117, 141 – 42, 144 – 46, 148 – 50, 154, 164, 172, 180, 203 – 4, 214, 217 – 9, 233 – 4, 247, 255 Naphtali 92, 148, 153 – 5 Nebuchadnezzar 219, 225 Noah 103, 106 Obama, Barack 232 – 6 Octavian 124 Omissions 80, 86, 91 Penuel 82 Periodization 9, 95, 102, 104, 106 – 7 Pesharim 130, 132 Pesher 9, 102, 108, 124, 131 Phalaris of Acragas 208 Pharisees 149, 153, 172 Phinehas 147 Phoenicians 243 Pontius Pilate 125, 149 Prayer(s) 10 – 1, 84, 86 – 7, 104, 122, 149, 155, 158, 191, 193 – 203, 206 – 9, 228, 235 Prophecy 67 – 8, 112, 115, 178, 192, 213 – 4, 219, 225, 244 Prophet(s) 5, 7, 8 – 11, 13, 38, 41, 44, 47, 51, 56 – 61, 67, 78, 80 – 1, 83, 88 – 9, 92, 94, 97 – 8, 100, 111 – 3, 115 – 6, 120, 122 – 3, 127, 129, 131 – 7, 139, 141, 146, 148 – 50, 165, 175, 177 – 8, 180, 183 – 4, 187 – 8, 190, 192, 194, 206, 209, 210 – 18, 220, 222, 226 – 8, 231 Pseudepigraphy 82, 90


Index of Names and Subjects

Qadesh 101 Qohelet (character) 7, 13 – 5, 28, 30 – 9, 69, 71, 74 Quotations – from the Former Prophets in Second Temple Jewish literature 83 – 4, 129 – 40 Queen of Sheba 26 – 30 Rahab 259 Rearrangement 78 Rebecca 15 Reference – to figures and events mentioned in the Former Prophets 84 – 8 Resurrection 10, 88, 150, 161 – 82, 209 Rewriting 70, 82, 90 – 4, 121, 135, 186, 255 Romulus 161, 163, 165 – 7, 169 – 71, 173, 175, 177, 179, 181 Sabbath 115, 122, 149, 219 Sacrifice 115, 122, 172, 186, 195, 224 Salathiel 107 Salem 20, 53, 189 Samaria 81 Sammael 214, 216 Samson 77, 82, 86 – 7, 89 – 91, 94 Samuel (figure) 41 – 2, 45 – 7, 57, 81, 94, 134 – 6, 244 Satan 157, 216 Saul 20, 33, 46, 48, 89, 91, 103, 113 – 4 Septuagint 1, 3, 8, 10, 68, 78 – 9, 85, 88, 98, 115, 131, 141, 143 – 5, 147, 149 – 51, 153, 150 – 7, 159, 174, 222 – LXX Joshua, see Joshua Shimei 20 – 1 Simeon (tribe of) 92

Simon (High Priest) 70 Sodom 214, 217 Solomon 7, 8, 13 – 35, 37, 39, 42, 43, 45 – 7, 49, 65, 69 – 75, 86, 89, 103 – 6, 112, 115, 116, 119, 120, 126, 141, 157, 225, 226 – depiction of in the Praise of the Fathers, see Ben Sira – Pharaoh-like figure 16 – 9 Song of Songs, book of – allusions to Bathsheba 44 – 51 – as a response to the Prophets 51 – 7 – Davidic echoes 44 – 51 – structure 61 – 4 Tamar 54 Temple 9, 61, 65, 67, 71, 77, 81 – 4, 86, 88 – 90, 94 – 5, 97, 102 – 3, 105 – 7, 111 – 3, 115 – 8, 121, 125, 127, 129 – 32, 139 – 40, 150, 153, 170, 188, 191, 194, 198, 204, 206, 208, 217, 219, 221, 224 – 7 Tetragrammaton 122 Theodicy 60 – 1 Tobiads 32 Torah 8, 11, 60, 67, 68, 73 – 4, 84 – 5, 93 – 4, 99, 104, 117 – 8, 124, 130 – 1, 205 – 6, 208, 230, 246, 259 Urim and Thummim Wasf



Zebulun 148, 153 – 5 Zedekiah – in the Dead Sea Scrolls Zenon Papyri 32

95 – 109