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The Last Days: A Commentary on Selected Verses 4Q174


Many people today are agitated about the dawning of a new millennium. Thoughts are turning with new urgency to what that change may portend. Similarly, the author of this text thought that events on earth were moving toward a climax, and he wanted to know what was going to happen. He was concerned not just for himself, but also for the group that he belonged to (apparently the Yahad mentioned in various texts above), which he called the “House of Judah.” To find out what the future would bring, he turned to various passages in the Scriptures. For the most part, he considered portions of the Prophets, for among Second-Temple Jewry it was everywhere and by everyone ~agreed that prophecy meant predicting the future. Where better to find the answers, then?

Yet some of his selections might seem surprising. Why consult Psalms, and why certain parts of the book of Genesis? The answer is that our author thought the men he believed wrote those parts of the Bible were prophets. David, to whom he doubtless attributed Psalms, was acknowledged to have been among the prophets (cf. text 127). Moses. also. author of Genesis had been a phrophet – indeed, the preeminent prophet in the history of Israel. Therefore, when David or Moses wrote in the future tense, it was not some indefinite expression of hope or vague musing; it was prophecy, and fair game for the interpretive methods that could crack open a verse and reveal its hidden meaning.

One verse led our author to another, mostly on the basis of analogy. Finding a given word used in one biblical portion, he would then turn to another verse where the; same word was used. (How well he knew the Bible!) Comparing the verses, he could then extract more information than just one verse would give him, for he would assume that because of their similar usage the verses were describing the same future person, institution, or situation. This approach is essentially the classical technique of Protestant Christianity, “Scripture interprets scripture.” The: type of rabbinic biblical interpretation known as midrash operated by ;~ similar methods. The rabbis employed one principle they called gezerah shawah, literally “similar category.” This type of inference by analogy meant that when words of similar or identical meaning occurred in any two given parts of the Law, then bothÑno matter how different they might seemÑwould be of identical application.

Applying this sort of analysis, our author grouped verses that he believed spoke of the Last Days. He extracted predictions about his community's enem~es. He also discovered that two future heroes should arise from his group's ranks: an inspired interpreter of the Bible he called “the Interp~reter of the Law,” and a messianic deliverer, scion of Israel's greatest king, “the Shoot of Dav~d.” He further teased out information about a future temple, the “Temple of Adam:' The name derived from a pattern commonly seen in Israel's Prophets: the end shall be like the beginning. (Cf. Isaiah, for example: “The lion will lie down with the lamb.”) Some scholars have seen in this temple a reference to the notton of community as temple.

This is the idea that the author's group would somehow come to form, as it were, a temple; the apostle Paul speaks of Christians ~n JUSt such terms in the book of Ephesians. But that notion does not seem to be intended here, though it is found in the scrolls (text 5). ~ The present text is clearly sectarian in language and concept and aligns with a number of the other biblical commentaries found among the scrolls. Note especially texts 4, 19, and 22 (peshers on Habakkuk, Isaiah, and Psalms). Its method is different, of course. Rather than commenting on a single biblical book from beginning to end, this text comments on the Bible thematically. For another sectarian work taking the same tack, compare text 130, The Coming of Melchizedek.


Col. 1 9[“Of Levi he said: Give to Levi Your Thummim, and Your Urim to Your loyal one, whom You tested at Mass]ah, with whom You con[tesited at the waters of Meribah; who s[aid] '¡[of his father and mother, “I regard them not”; he ignored his kin, and :did not] acknow[ledge his children]. For [they observed Your wo]rd, [an] kept your] covenant. [They teach Jacob Your ordLinances, and Israel Your lawi they place incense! before You, and whole burnt offerings on Your altar. Bless his substance, O LORD, and accept the work of his hands; crush the loins of his adversaries, of those that hate him, so that they never] rise again”' (Deut. 33:8-11). [ . . . The] Urim and the Thummim belong to the man who [ . . . ] For he sai[d] '5[ . . . the] land, because [ . . . ] [ . . . And of Benjamin he sa]id: “The beloved of the LO[RD] [rests ~n safetyÑthe High God surrounds him all day long the beloved rests between his shoulders” . . . ] (Deut. 33:12).

Col. 2 'And the g;lory [ . . . i]t refers to the righte[ous] sacrif~ce [ . . . ] 2the goodness of the la[nd . . . ] And of Gad he sa[id: 'Blessed be the enlargement of Gad! Gad lives like a lion; he tears at arm and scalp. He chose the best for himself, for there the al1otmen] 4Of a commander [was reserved; he came at the head of the ]people he executed the justice of the LORD, and His ordinances for Israel' . . . ] (Deut. 33:20-21). concerning the captives, [ . . . ] the hidden [ . . . ] 6to rescue [ . . . ] everything that He commanded us. They carried out the entire [ . . . ]

[ . . . ] who swallow up the offspring of 13[ . . . en]raged against them in his zeal i4[ . . . ] This is the time when Belial shall open his mouth '5[ . . . to bringl trials [a]gainst the House ofJudah, cultivating animosity against them 16[ . . . ] and he shall seek with all his might to disperse them ”[ . . . th]at he brought them to be.

[ . . . the House of Ju]dah, but the God of I[sra]el sh[all] '9[be with them as He said through the prophet: “And I will appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place,tandl be disturbe\d no more; and] Col. 3 [no] enemy [shall overtake them ag]ain, [nor] evildoer [afflict] them any [mo]re, as formerly, from the time that 2[I appointed judges] over My people Israel” (2 Sam. 7:10-1 la). This “place” is the house that [they shall build for Him] in the Last Days, as it is written in the book of 3[Moses: “A temple of the LORD are you to prepare with your hands the LORD will reign forever and ever” (Exod. 15:17-18). This passage descrlbes the temple that no [man with a] permanent [fleshly defect] shall enter 4nor Ammonite, Moabite, bastard, foreigner, or alien, forevermore. Surely His holiness Sshall be rev[eal]ed there; eternal glory shall ever be apparent; there. Strangers shall not again defile it, as they formerly defiled 6the Templle of I]srael through their sins. To that end He has commanded that they build Him a Temple of Adam (or Temple of Humankind), and that in it th~ey sacrifice to Him 7proper sacrifices.

As for what He said to David,“I [will give] you [res] from all your enemies” (2 Sam. 7:1 lb), this passage means that He will give them rest ~from [al]1 8the children of Belial, who cause~them to stumble, seeking to destroy the[m by means-o] their [wickedness]. They became party to the plan of Belial in order to cause the S[ons] of 9Li[gh] to stumble. They plotted wickecl schemes aga~nst them, [so that they might fall pr]ey to Belial through guilty error. Moreover the LORD decl[ares] to you that He will make you a house,“ and that “I will raise up your offspring after you, and establish the thi one of his kingdom [fore]ver. I will be a father to him, and he will be My son”

(2 Sam. 7:1 lc, 12b, 13b-14a). This passage refers to the Shoot of David, who is to arise with 12the Interpreter of the Law, and who will [arise] in Zi[on in the La]st Days, as it is written, “And I shall raise up the booth of David that is fallen” (Amos 9:11). This passage describes the fallen Branch of David, [w]hom He shall raise up to deliver Israel.

The interpretation of “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked” (Ps. l:la): The meaning is, [th]ey are those who turn aside from: the path of [the wicked], as it is written in the book of Isaiah the prophet in reference to the Last Days,”And it came to pass, while His hand was strong upon me, [that He warned me not to walk in the way o] '6this people“ (Isa. 8:11). These are they about whorn it is written in the book~ofEzehel the ~ prophet, namely, “They shall ne[ver again defile themselves with] ~7the* idols” (Ezek. 37:23). They are the Sons of Zadok, and the m[e]n of the[i]r council who pu[rsue righ]teousness and follow them to join the Yahad. [“Why] do the nations [con]spire, and the peoples plo[t in vain? The kings of the earth s]et themselves, [and the ru]lers take counsel together against the LORD and His '9[anointed” (Ps. 2:1).

The m]eaning [is that the ~ na]tions~ [shall set ~themselves] and con[spire vainly against] the chosen of Israel in the Last Days. Col. 4 That will be the time of persecution that is to co[me upon the House of J]udah, to the end of sealing~up [the wicked in consuming fire and destroying all the children og 2Belial. Then shall be left behind a remnant of [chosen on]es, the pre[des]tined. They shall perform the whole of the Law, [as God commanded through] 3Moses. This is the [time of whic]h it is written in the book of Daniel the prophet, [“The wicked] will act ever more wicked[ly and shall not understand.] 4aBut the righteous will [be purlfied, dea]nsed, and refined” (Dan. 12:10).

So, the people who know God shall be steadfast. These are [the men o 1 4truth, [who shall instruct many] following the persecution that is to desc[end] upon them [in that time . . . ] s . . . in its descent :[: . . . ] ~~6[ev]il, just as [ . . . ] to the wicked [ . . . ] 7[I]srael and Aaron [ . . . ] Col. 5 2”Listen to the soun[d of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I lift m~y prayer. O LoRD, in the morning

You hear my voice“ (Ps. 5:2-3a). The] 3meaning concerns the Last D[ays . . . ] Col. 6 ,[written in the book of Isa]iah the prop[het,”They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not pIant and another eat;] 2[for like the days of a tree] shall the days ~of Nly people be, [and] My ch[osen shall long enjoy~ the work of their hands. They shall] no[t labor in vain,] 3[or bear children for calam]ity; for [they shall be] offspring [blessed by the LORD“ (Isa. 65:2~23). For] they are [ . . . ] ~~

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