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The New Jerusalem, 4Q554

(4Q554-5, 5Q15, 1Q32, 2Q24, 4Q232, 11Q18)

Fragments belonging to an Aramaic writing describing the Jerusalem of the eschatological age have been identified in Caves 1 (1Q32), 2 (2Q24), 4 (4Q554—5), 5 (5Q15) and 11 (11Q18). There are also Hebrew fragments listed under 4Q232. They are all inspired by Ezekiel xl-xlviii (cf. also Revelation xxi). On palaeographical considerations, the manuscripts are thought to date to around the turn of the era.

The visionary responsible for this work accompanies an angelic ‘surveyor’ who measures everything in the New Jerusalem, from the size of the blocks of houses, the avenues and the streets, to the detailed dimensions of rooms, stairs and windows. The dimensions are given in ‘reeds’, each of which consists of seven ‘cubits’. But there seem to have been two cubits in use as ancient Jewish measurements, one approximately 20 inches (52 1 mm), the other 18 inches (446 mm) long.

4Q554, fr. 1

I … [And they call this gate Gate of] Simeon … … [And they call this gate] Gate of Joseph … … [And they call this gate] Gate of Reuben …

II… … [And they] c[al]l [the name of] this (one) [Gate] of Naphtali. And fromthis gate he measured to the [eastern] gate 25 [s]tadia. And they call this gate Gate of Asher. And he measu[red from] this [ga]te to the eastern corner 25 stadia. vacat And he led me into the city, and he measured each block of houses for its length and width, fifty-one reeds by fifty-one, in a square a[ll]


I [round] = 357 cubits to each side. A passage surrounds the block of houses, a street gallery, three reeds = 21 cubits, (wide).

[He] then [showed me the di]mensions of [all] the blo[cks of houses. Between each block there is a street], six reeds = 42 cubits, wide. And the width of the avenues running from east to west: two of them are ten reeds = 70 cubits, wide. And the third, that to the [lef]t (i.e. north) of the Temple, measures eighteen reeds =126 cubits in width. And the wid[th of the streets] running from south [to north: t]wo of [them] have nine reeds and four cubits = 67 cubits, each street.

[A nd the] mid[dle street passing through the mid]dle of the city, its [width measures] thirt[een] ree[ds] and one cubit = 92 cubits. And all [the streets of the city] are paved with white stone … marble and jasper.

[A nd he showed me the dimensions of the ei]ghty [side-doors]. The wid[th of the] side-doors is two reeds, [= 14 cubits, … Each door has tw]o wings of stone. The width of the w[ing] is [one] reed [= 7 cubits.] And he showed me [the dimensions] of the twelve [entranc]es. The width of their doors are three reeds [= 21] cubits. [Each door has tw]o [wings]. The width of the wing is one reed and a half = 10 cubits …

[A nd beside each door there are two tow]ers, one to [the r]ight and one to the 1[ef]t. Its width [is of the same dimension as] its length, [five reeds by five = 35 cubits. The stairs beside] the inside door, on the [righ]t side of the towers, [rise] to the top of the to[wers. Their width is five cubits. The towers and the stairs are five reeds by five and] five cubits = 40 [cubits], on each side of the door.

[A nd he showed me the dimensions of the doors of the blocks of houses. Their width] is two reeds = 14 cub[its. And the wi]d[th] … [Andhe measured] the wid[th of each th]reshold: two reeds = 14 cubits, [and the lintel: one cubit. And he measured above each] threshold i[ts win]gs. And he measured beyond the threshold. Its length is [thirteen] cubits [and its width ten cubits.]

[A nd he] le[d m]e [be]yond the threshold. [And behold] another threshold, and a door next to the inner wall [on the right side, of the same dimensions as the outer door. Its width] is four [cu]bits, [its] height seven [cubits], and it has two wings. And in front of this door there is [an entrance threshold. Its width is one reed] = 7 II [cubits]. And the l[eng]th of the entrance is two reeds = 14 cubits, and its height is two reeds = 14 cubits. [And the door] fa[cing the other do]or opening into the block of houses has the same dimensions as the outer door. On the left of this entrance, he showed [me] a round [staircase]. Its length is of the same dimension as its width: two reeds by two =14 cubits. The do[ors (of the staircase) facing] the other doors are of the same dimensions. And a pillar is inside the staircase around which the stairs ri[se]; its width and d[epth are six cubits by six], a square. And the stairs which rise beside it, their width is four cubits, and they rise in a spiral [to] a height of [two] r[eeds] to [the roof].

And he led me [into] the block of houses, and he showed me the houses there. From one door to the oth[er, there are fifteen: eigh]t on one side as far as the corner, and seven from the corner to the other door. The length of the house[s is three reed]s = 2[1 cubits, and their width], two [reed]s = 14 cubits. Likewise, for all the chambers; [and their height is t]wo [reeds] = 1[4] cu[bit]s, [and their doors are in the middle.] (Their) width is t[w]o reeds = 1[4] cubits. [And he measured the width (of the rooms) in the middle] of the house, and inside the upper floor: four [cubits]. Length and height: one reed = 7 cubits.

[A nd he showed] me the dimensions of the dining-[halls]. Each has [a length] of ninete[en] cubits [and a width] of twelve [cubits]. Each contains twenty-two couche[s and ele]ven windows of lattice-work (?) above [the couches]. And next to the hall is an outer conduit. [And he measured] the … of the window: its height, two cubits; [its width: … cubits;] and its depth is that of the width of the wall. [The height of the inner (aspect of the window) is … cubits, and that of the outer (aspect), … cubits.]

[A nd he measured the l]im[it]s of the … [Their length] is nineteen [cubits] and [their] width, [twelve cubits] …

11Q18, fr. 20

[On ever]y seventh day a memor[ial offering of] bread. And they shall take the bread outside the Temple to the right of its west side and it shall be divided. And I looked until it was divided among the eighty-four priests from all the seven divisions of the tables … the oldest among them and fourteen pri[ests] … priest. Two (loaves) of bread with incense [on] them. I looked until one of the two (loaves of) bread was given to the High Priest … with him. And the other was given to his deputy who stood near (?) …


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