Saturday, March 12, 2011

1QH and 4QMMT

On page 18 of his book, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, James VanderKam gives dates for when 1QH was written or copied;  the paleographic date is given as 50 BC - AD 70; and  the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) date is given as 21 BC - AD 61.  THESE DATES ARE MISLEADING BECAUSE 1QH AND 4QMMT ARE COPIES OF AN EARLIER ORIGINAL ACCORDING TO GOLB.    The date suggested by Lawrence Schiffman is just before the time of the Maccabean revolt. (See

The quotations below are from The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Vermes.

1QH Hymn 12, p263 -
"Teacher of lies have smoothed Thy people with words,
and false prophets have led them astray;
they perish without understanding
for their works are in folly.
For I am despised by them
and they have no esteem for me
that Thou mayest manifest Thy might through me.
They have banished me from my land like a bird from its nest;
all my friends and brethren are driven far from me
and hold me for a broken vessel.
And they, teachers of lies and seers of lies and seers of falsehood,
have schemed against me a devilish scheme,
to exhchange the Law engraved on my heart by thee
for the smooth things (which they speak) to Thy people.
And they withhold from the thirsty the drink of Knowledge,
and assuage their thirst with vinegar,
that they may gaze upon their straying,
on their folly concering the feast days,
on their fall into their snares."

1QH has :'Banishment from the land'.  In 4QMMT: "And you know that we have separated from the people."  1QH also has the 'they' group of 4QMMT.  'They' oppose the 'we' group.  

1QH Hymn 5, p250 -
"I know through the understanding which comes from Thee
that righteousness is not in a hand of flesh,
that man is not master of his way
and that it is not in mortals to direct their step.
I know that the inclination of every spirit
is in Thy hand;
Thou didst establish all its ways before ever creating it,
and how can any man change Thy words?
Thou alone didst create the just
and establish him from the womb
for the time of goodwill,
that he might hearken to Thy Covenant
and walk in all Thy ways,
and that Thou mightest show Thyself great to him
in the multitude of Thy mercies,
and enlarge his straightened soul to eternal salvation
to perpetual and unfailing peace.
Thou wilt raise up his glory
from among flesh.

But the wicked Thou didst create
for the time of Thy wrath,
Thou didst vow them from the womb
for the Day of Massacre,
for they walk in the way which is not good.
They have despised Thy Covenant
and their souls have loathed Thy truth;
They have taken no delight in all thy commandments
and have chosen that which Thou hatest.
For according to the mysteries of Thy wisdom,
Thou hast ordained them for great chastisements
before the eyes of all Thy creatures,
that for all eternity
they may serve as a sign and a wonder
and that all men may know Thy glory
and Thy tremendous power."

Would you have felt comfortable with a group who believed that their spirits had been created good before birth?  The writer believed that God created his spirit and the spirits of his followers good.  They were created 'just', from the womb, to obey the Covenant, in effect the Law as understood by the writer.  He claimed that this knowledge was from God who would be revealed as 'great' to them.  Their spirits would all be raised to eternal glory, and that they would live at peace forever.  This has a modern ring of Calvinistic or Muslim beliefs, and we know where they can take you.

But he believed that the spirits of the wicked were also created from birth so that God could reveal his 'wrath', on 'the day of massacre'.  These were they who did not obey the Law, who despised the Covenant, loathed God's truth, did not delight in God's commandments, but chose what God hated.  These were they who were ordained for eternal punishment before all men. 

1QH Hymn 6, p255 -
"Thou dost set words to measure
and the flow of breath from the lips to metre."

1QH Hymn 4, p248 - 
"And thus do I bring into community all the men of my Council."

1QH Hymn 23, p291 -
"I, the Master, know Thee O my God"