Hanan Eshel, Exploring the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeology and Literature of the Qumran Caves, edited by Barnea Selavan and Shani Tzoref. Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements, 18. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.
In addition to a comprehensive preface written by Barnea Selavan and Shani Tzoref, this collection of thirteen essays authored by Hanan Eshel and another five essays Eshel co-authored with other scholars. The preface promises “an album or portfolio of the author’s multi-faceted contribution to the field of Qumran studies” (9), serving as a lens through which the expanding history of Qumran scholarship can be viewed. Selected and organized by Eshel himself, these essays provide not only the opportunity to contextualize various Qumran texts within the archaeological setting in which they were discovered, but also within the silhouette of the contemporary scholarship in which they have been published and presented to the world. Although all of the essays included in this volume have been previously published, a number of the works were originally written and delivered in Hebrew and appear here for the first time in English.
Unlike most prefaces to edited volumes, the preface to these essays does not seek to tie together each of the presented works. Instead, it allows the eclectic nature of Eshel’s research to speak for itself, exhibiting the wide range of relationships Eshel shared with the academy. While there are a number of editorial notes that occupy the first few paragraphs of the preface, Selavan and Tzoref’s primary purpose is to present a glimpse into the contents of the volume, highlighting key contributions that are of worth to any person interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Structured into six sections, Eshel chose to organize his essays in a format that mirrored the finding of the Qumran scrolls, progressing through a chronology of discovery. The volume begins with a section that contains essays related to the Damascus Document and then progresses through sections related to manuscripts found in Cave 1, Cave 3, Cave 4, and Cave 11. The volume concludes with a final section that exhibits works concerned with broader matters that relate to, but are beyond the Qumran manuscripts.
The first group of essays, related to the Damascus Document, presents three works by Eshel which approach the document as a sectarian composition of the Qumran Community. In the first essay entitled “The Damascus Document’s ‘Three Nets of Belial:’ A Reference to the Aramaic Levi Document?”, originally published in Heavenly Tablets: Interpretation, Identity and Tradition in Ancient Judaism, Eshel explores the possibility of the Aramaic Levi Document’s use of פחז as a reference to false prophets. For Eshel, this identifies a possible reason that influenced the Qumran community’s move into the wilderness away from the Jerusalem priesthood. The second essay focused on the Damascus Document presents an article originally written in Hebrew titled “The Seventy-Weeks Prophecy in Two Compositions from Qumran,” which was included in the volume Teshura Le-‘Amos. This essay proposes a possible way in which the community at Qumran would have literally read and understood the prophecies of Jeremiah and Daniel relating to time. The final essay in this section is an essay titled, “CD 12:15–17 and the Stone Vessels Found at Qumran,” that was originally published in The Damascus Document: A Centennial of Discovery. This essay attempts to bring together archaeology, textual exegesis, halakha, and the texts of the manuscripts found at Qumran to discuss the extent to which stone vessels can become defiled. Eshel concludes that these stone vessels are not immune to defilement as suggested by later rabbinic halakha.
In the next section of the volume, Eshel presents three essays that highlight research on manuscripts from Cave 1. The first essay, co-authored with Esther Eshel, is titled “Recensions of the War Scroll” and was originally published in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years after Their Discovery. This article supports the argument that 1QM was a late form of the War Scroll tradition by tracing the textual development of a triumphal hymn on Jerusalem and arguing that column 19 of 1QM was originally part of a different manuscript. Continuing to focus on 1QM, Eshel presents a second essay focused on Cave 1 material in “Two Notes on Colum 2 of the War Scroll (1QM)” that was originally published in Hebrew in Israel’s Land: Papers Presented to Israel Shatzman on his Jubilee. This essay discusses the discrepancy between the organization of watches associated with the priests at the temple in 1QM with the structure and organization presented in Josephus. On this point Eshel concludes that the 1QM calendar of temple watches excludes sabbatical years to present a neat six-year priestly watch cycle. Additionally, this article discusses the duration of the eschatological battle referenced within the text and suggests that the eschatological battle of the War Scroll will last 49 years. In the final essay included in the section on Cave 1 manuscripts, “The Two Historical Layers of Pesher Habakkuk,” originally published in Northern Lights on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eshel concludes that there are two historic compositional layers to 1QpHab that date to the second century BCE and the mid-first century BCE respectively.
Continuing through the caves at Qumran to Cave 3, two essays dealing with the famous Copper Scroll are presented. The first co-authored with Ze’ev Safrai and titled, “What Treasures Are Listed in the Copper Scroll,” originally appeared in the journal Cathedra 103 (2002). In this article, the authors conclude that the Copper Scroll does not record the Second Temple treasures, but the biblical temple treasures, revealing the final place of their concealment and validating the community’s authority through secret knowledge of the artifacts of the temple. The second essay titled, “Aqueducts in the Copper Scroll,” was originally published in Copper Scroll Studies. This essay concludes that the author of the Copper Scroll was familiar with the aqueducts of the Second Temple Period and used them as primary points of orientation in presenting the locations of the temple treasures.
To mirror the most abundant of the caves from Qumran, Eshel’s largest section of the work presents four essays related to the manuscripts of Cave 4. Originally published in Hebrew, the first essay titled, “The ‘Prayer of Joseph’ from Qumran, A Papyrus from Masada, and the Samaritan Temple on Mt. Gerizim,” explores the connection between 4Q372 and a Masada papyrus scrap that may reveal opposition to and commemoration of the destruction of the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim. In the second essay of this section, “Dibre Hame’orot and the Apocalypse of Weeks,” originally published in Things Revealed; Studies in Early Jewish and Christian Literature, Eshel concludes that the sequence of events preserved in 4Q504, 4Q505, and 4Q506 follows the events described in the “Apocalypse of Weeks,” found in 1 Enoch, suggesting dependence on traditions related to Enochic material in the composition of these Qumran manuscripts. Next, the essay “When were the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice Recited?” which was originally published in the Hebrew journal Meghillot 4 (2006), is analyzed to clarify the utilization of the various hymns included in the text. Each of the hymns included in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, Eshel concluded, were recited four times over the course of each year. The final essay in this section is a rarity from Eshel, as it is written for a popular audience. “Abraham’s Fulfillment of the Commandment ‘Honor your Father’ in Early Jewish Exegesis and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” was first published in Hebrew in the journal Megadim 46 (2007). In this essay, Eshel points to two adjustments in the Qumran texts relating to Abraham’s departure to Canaan after the death of Terah and Nahor’s obligation to care for his father in his old age to conclude that Abraham, in Second Temple literature, was not guilty of breaking the commandment to honor father and mother.
Three additional essays are presented in the section of the volume dealing with manuscripts discovered in Cave 11. The first essay, titled, “The Fortieth Anniversary of the Discovery of the Temple Scroll,” was originally published in Hebrew in Moed 18 (2008) and is a survey of the history related to the discovery, acquisition, publication, and scholarly discussion related to the Temple Scroll. Next, Eshel includes an essay co-authored with John Strugnell titled, “Alphabetical Acrostics in Pre-Tannaitic Hebrew,” originally published in CBQ 62 (2000). This article, which is filled with helpful tables and reproductions of Hebrew acrostic texts, is focused on analyzing the acrostic characteristics of the texts of 4QPsf, the Apostrophe of Zion, and Psalms 9 and 10. The final essay in this section continues the study of acrostics by analyzing Psalm 155 in a work titled, “Psalm 155: An Acrostic Poem on Repentance from the Second Temple Period,” which was co-authored with Shlomit Kendi-Harel and first appeared in Revue Biblique 84 (2015). This detailed analysis of Psalm 155 concludes that this psalm, although not included in the Psalter of the Masoretic Text, is in no way literarily inferior to its counterparts in the Hebrew Bible but contains some features with related to the relationship between humans and deity that are in stark contrast to the biblical psalms.
Finally, Eshel preserves three essays that are related to ideas that have a broader reach than simply Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first essay, “Dating the Samaritan Pentateuch’s Compilation in Light of the Qumran Biblical Scrolls,” was co-authored with Esther Eshel and was originally published in Emanuel; Studies in the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honor of Emanuel Tov. This lengthy article was revolutionary in the field of textual criticism when published in 2003 and provides elaborate insights into comparisons between the Samaritan Pentateuch, Hebrew Bible, and Samaritan-like texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The article concludes that the development of the Samaritan elements within the Hebrew Bible text occurred in the second century BCE. The Penultimate essay in the volume titled, “Magillat Ta’anit in Light of Holidays Found in Jubilees and in the Temple Scroll” was originally published in Hebrew in Meghillot 3 (2005). This very short article, which discusses one of the earliest documents preserved in the Rabbinic corpus, concludes that the author of Magillat Ta’anit was following a lunar, rather than a solar calendar, making it incongruous with communities like those described in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The final essay in the work, “Some Notes Concerning High Priests in the First Century CE,” was originally published in Hebrew in Tarbiz 64 (1999). The essay attempts to reconcile a number of archaeological finds that name high priests in the first century CE with the list of high priests found in Josephus’ Antiquities. Eshel, after outlining the history of the text in Josephus and the archaeological finds mentioning high priests, concludes that there are a number of ways to correlate the two lists and exhibits such methods by analyzing the Seal of Eliani.
The volume itself is a testament to the legacy of Hanan Eshel in the field of Qumran studies and the history of the Qumran caves. Additionally, this volume serves as a gift from his closest friends and partners in scholarship to the world as a lens through which to view the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Ancient Jew Review and Trinity Western University Dead Sea Scrolls Institute forums and reviews commemorating the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the Qumran scrolls were edited by Dr. Andrew Perrin (Trinity Western University), Dr. Andrew Krause (University of Münster), Dr. Jessica Keady (University of Chester), and Spencer Jones (Trinity Western University).
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