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4Q252 Genesis Commentary


The Commentaries on Genesis share characteristics of the sectarian commetaries on Habakkuk, Hosea, and Psalms (texts 4, 20, and 22, respectively), on the one hand, and with An Annotated Law of Moses (text 71) and similar writings, on the other; yet they have a character distinctly their own.

The commentaries on Genesis have in common with the other commentaries certain techniques of interpreting the Bible, notably the use of peskier method (for an explanation of this method see the introduction to the Commentary on HabakFuk). But unlike the other commentaries, the purpose here is not to discover current furfillments of biblical prophecies, but to give selected passages a particular “spin,” to show how they support the authors' ideas. Indeed, unlike the other commentaries. here the authors recognize that only some of the chosen passages are prophetic. Like the Annotated Law, the present works excerpt and amplify Scripture, but they do not do so verse by verse. Rather, these writing skip from passage to passage, having no discernable overarching purpose or thematic link.

Whether the Commentaries on Genesis are all one work or several is unclear. Of the four manuscripts, 4Q252 is the best preserved; its six columns cover Genesis 5:32-49:21. The tiny fragments of 4Q253 are here taken as the remains of a commentary on Genesis, but the matter is tenuous. (The word “ark” found in frag. l is only suggestive.) 4Q254a appears to be an intentional alteration of 4Q252 frag. 1, cols. 1-2.


Col. 1. and the first lines of col. 2 is a retelling of the Flood story (Gen. 6:3-8:18J that becomes a clear polemic for the 364-day sectarian calendar. After charting the major events of the year-long flood by month and day of the week, the writer concludes that Noah went out of the ark at the end of . . . three hundred and sixty four days.“ 4Q252 Frag. 1 Col. 1

[In the] four hundred and eighheth year of Noah's life, he came to the end of them, and God said, “My spirit shall not dwell with man forever, their days shal1 be determined to be one hundred and twenty 3 years until the waters of the flood come.” And the waters of the flood came upon the earth, in the six hundredth year of 4 Noah's life; in the second month, on Sunday, the seventeenth. On that day 5 all the fountains of the great deep broke open and the windows of the heavens were opened. And the rain fell upon 6 the earth forty days and forty nights until the twenty-sixth day of the third month, 70n Thursday. The waters prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days 8until the fourteenth day of the seventh month, on Tuesday.

And at the end of one hundred~and fifty 9 days, the waters decreased for two days Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday, the ark came to rest upon Mount Ararat. T[his was] the seventeenth day of the seventh month. And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month. On the first; of the month, on Wednesday, the tops of the mountains appeared. At the end of forty days, at the appearance of the tops of the mountain[s], Noah [op]ened the window of the ark. It was Monday, the tenth of the ele[venth] month. He sent out the dove to see if the waters had subsided, but ~5it found no roosting place and came beck to him to the ark. He waited a[nother] seven days and again sent it out, and it came to him and in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf. [This was the twenty] fourth [day] of the eleventh month, on Sunday. [So Noah knew that the waters had subsided] l5from the earth. At the end of anoth[er] seven days he sent out] the [dove and it did not1 19 return to him again. This was the ftirst day [of the twelfth] month, [on Sunday]. 20 And at the end of thirt[y one days from the sending of the dov]e which had not returned again, the wat[ers] were dried up [from the earth, and] Noah removed the covering of the ark 22 and looked, and saw they had dried up. [It was Wednesday,] the first day of the first month.

Col. 2 In the hundred and first year ot Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month, 2the earth was dry, on Sunday. On that day Noah went out from the ark, at the end of an exact year, 3three hundred and sixty four days, on a Sunday. On the seventh, 4one and six (a scribal error has confused the text here), Noah went out from the ark, to the day, 5after a complete year.

The curse on Canuan, the grandson of Noah (Gen. 9:2~27).

And Noah awoke from his wine and knew what 6his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan, the lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers. “And he did not curse Ham, but rather his son, because God had already blessed the sons of Noah. “And let him live in the tents of Shem.”:

The chronology of Genesis 11:31-12:4. The age of Terah agrees with the Masoretic Text (205 years) rather than the Samaritan Pentateuch (145 years).

He gave the land to Abraham His beloved.~Terah was~one hundred~and forty years old when he left 9Ur of the Chaldees and went to Haran and Ab[ram was s]eventy. And he dwet five years in Haran. Then [Terah died] six[ty years after Abram] went out [to] the land of Ganaan. “The heifer, the ram, and the go[at . . . ] Abram~to God [ . . . ] the fire when he crossed [ . . . ] he took for himself [ . . . ] '3for Ab[ram] to go out [to the land ~of Canaan to [ . . . ]

Sodom (Gen. 18:1~33).

Col. 3 just as it is written [ . . . ] twelve 2men [ . . . Gomor]rah, and also 3this city [ . . . ] righteous 4I [will] not [destroy . . . ] these only shall be put to death sand if [ten (?)] are not found there [ . . . and everything] which is found in it, its spoil, 6its children, and the rest of [ . . . ] forever.

The binding of Isaac (Gen. 22:10-12).

And Abraham reached out 7his hand [and took the knife to kill his son But the angel of the LORD called to him from heav]en 8and said to him, “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheldyour son, 9your only son, fr[om me.” . . . ]

This portion may parallel the biblical blessing on Joseph (Gen. 49:25-26).

El Shaddai will b[less you with the blessings of heaven above . . . ] the blessing of your father [is stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains . . .- ] 4[ . . . ] shall be [ . . . ]

An account of the descendants of Esau, which ends with the curse on Amalek (Gen. 36:12; Exod. 17:14; Deut. 25:19).

Col. 4 Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son; she bore: Amalek to him, he whom Sau1 defteated]. 2 Just as he said to Moses, “In the Last Days, the remembrance of Amalek shall be blotted out from 3 under heaven.”

Israel's prophecy concerning Reuben (Gen. 49:2-4).

The Blessings of Jacob: Reubep, you are my firstborn, and the first fruits of my vigor, 4excelling in rank and excelling in ~power. You are unstable as ~ water, so you shall no longer excel. You went up Sonto your father's bed; then you defiled ithe went up onto his couch! Its interpretation is: He rebuked him because he 61ay with Bilhah, his concubine, so he [s]aid, “Reuben, you are my firstborn,” [ . . . ] Reuben was 7the first of his order . . . [ . . . ]

The prophecy concerning Judah is interpreted as fullfilled in the messiah of David (Gen. 49:10).

Col. 5 A ruler shall [no]t depart from the tribe ofJudah when Israel has dominion. 2[And] the one who sits on the throne of David [shall never] be cut off, because the “rulers staff” is the covenant of the kingdom, 3[and the thous]ands of Israel are “the feet,” until the Righteous Messiah, the Branch of David, has come. 4For to him and to his seed the covenant of the kingdom of His people has been given for the eternal generations, because She has kept [ . . . ] the Law with the men of the Yahad. For 6[ . . . the “obedience of the people]s” is the assembly of the men of [ . . . ] he gave

The prophecies concerning Asher and Naphtali (Gen. 49:2~21).

Col. 6 [Asher's food shall be rich] he shall provide [royal] delicacies< [ . . . Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears] lovely [fawns . . . ] 3the [ . . . ]~

The curse on Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Gen. 9:2~25).

4Q254 Frag. 1 who said [ . . . ] 2upon the doorways and the [ . . . When Noah awoke from his wine] 3and knew wha[t his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan;] 4lowest of slaves [shall he be to his brothers”]

Joseph with his father, Jacob (Gen. 48:11?).

Frag. 2 3and for his bread and for [his . . . Israel said to Joseph, “I did] not [expect to see] 4your face; [and here God has let me see your children (?) . . . ] 5[ . . . ] 6who took [ . . . ] 7[and] he separated [ . . . ] 8[ . . . ]

This portion is a commentary on the two anointed ones of Zecharlah 4:14; it may be part of the blessing on Judah (Gen. 49:8-12).

Frag. 4 1[ . . . ] to them [ . . . ] 2[ . . . “These are] the tvo anointed sons who [stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” . . . ] 3[ . . . ] those who keep the commandments of God [ . . . ] 4[ . . . ] for the men of the Yahad [ :. . . ]

Israel's prophecy concerning Issachar and Dan (Gen. 49:15-17).

Frag. 5 So he bowed [his shoulder to the: burden and became a] slave [at forced labor.] [ . . . ] 2which [ . . . ] the great ones [ . . . ] 3servant [ . . . Dan shall judge] his [peo]ple as on[e] of the t[ribes of-Israel.] 4And Dan shall be as a sna[ke by the roadside, a vi]per along the w[ay . . . that bitesl 5the horse's heel[s . . . ] 6[ . . . ]

Israel's prophecy concerning Joseph (Gen. 49:24-25).

Frag. 6 [ . . Yet his] bow [remai]ned taut, [and his arms were made~agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,] 2[by the name of the Shepher]d, the Rock of Israe1 [by the God of your father, who will help you by the Almighty who will bless you] 3[with blessings of heaven] ab[o]ve [ . . . ] As in 4Q252 cols. 1-2, the Flood is reckoned at exactly one year (l. 2). Ths fragment of 4Q252a begins with the sending of the birds (Gen. 8: 7-8), then records the dimensions ofthe ark (Gen. 6:1~5).

4Q254a 1[ . . . In the SiX hundredth year of Noah's life, on the] seventeenth day of the [second] month 2[ . . . ] Noah went out from the ark exactly one year later. 3[ . . . ] 4[And he sent out ~the ra]ven; and it went to and fro and returned in order to make known to the l[ast] generations 5[ . . . ] before him, for the ra[ven] went to and fro and re[turned.] 6[Then he sent out] the dove [ . . . ] 7And this is the account of the construction of the [ark: three hundred cubits shall be the leng]th of the ark, and fifLty cubits3 8the width, and thirty [cubits its height . . . ] 9and the measurement of the ark [ . . . ]


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