Tag Archives: Qumran

Syntax Confusion in the Dead Sea Scrolls

How would you break down the syntax of this sentence from 4Q397 ii 1:

אנחנו אומרים שהם שאין בהם טהרה

It seems to me we’re either missing a relative clause or we have an extra relative pronoun. Qumran syntax can get pretty hairy.


Authoritative Scriptures in Ancient Judaism

Just finished reading a rather boring review of what looks like a fascinating book: Authoritative Scriptures in Ancient Judaism. The book comprises the proceedings of a conference held at the Qumran Institute at the University of Groningen that also marked Florencia García Martínez’s retirement. Here is the publisher’s blurb:

Many scholars of the Second Temple period have replaced the concept of canonization by that of canonical process. Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been crucial for this new direction. Based on this new evidence taxonomic terms like biblical, nonbiblical or parabiblical seem anachronistic for the period before 70 C.E. The notion of authoritative Scriptures plays an important part in the new paradigm of canonical process, but it has not yet been sufficiently reflected upon and is in need of clarification. Why were some texts more authoritative than others? For whom and in what contexts were texts authoritative? And what are our criteria to determine to what extent a text was authoritative? In short, what do we mean by “authoritative”? This volume focuses on specific texts or corpora of texts, and approaches the notion of authoritative Scriptures from sociological, cultural and literary perspectives.

Infinitive Constructs in Qumran “Rule” Texts

I was talking with Martin Abegg today and I brought up a phenomenon I’ve noticed while syntactically tagging Cairo Damascus. I was having trouble finding verbs for a number of clauses that seemed only to be governed by an infinitive absolute with a lamed prefix. CD 1:14–18 provide some good examples. Here’s the Hebrew (according to the sentence divisions in Accordance):

בעמוד איש הלצון אשר הטיף לישראל
‭מימי כזב ויתעם בתוהו לא דרך להשח גבהות עולם ולסור
‭‬מנתיבות צדק ולסיע גבול אשר גבלו ראשנים בנחלתם למען
‭הדבק בהם את אלות בריתו להסגירם לחרב נקמת נקם

Wise, Abegg, and Cook provide the following translation (I’ve italicized the finite verbs):

When the Man of Mockery appeared, who sprayed on Israel lying waters, he led them to wander in the trackless wasteland. He brought down the lofty heights of old, turned aside from paths of righteousness, and shifted the boundary marks that the forefathers had set up to mark their inheritance, so that the curses of His covenant took hold on them. Because of this they were handed over to the sword that avenges the breach of His covenant.

All the other verbs, except for “avenges” at the end are infinitive constructs (“avenges” is a participle), and all but two have lamed prefixes. That’s quite a few infinitive constructs acting as finite verbs. Martin said he found the same phenomenon in 1QS and in one other text, and if we add CD to the list, it only appears consistently in the “rule” or “manual” documents, and nowhere else. Here are a few lines from 1QS:

ל[‏  ]שים לחיו‏ [ספר סר]כ היחד לדרושל[‏  ]שים לחיו‏ [ספר סר]כ היחד לדרוש
‭‬אל ב[כול לב ובכול נפש‏ ]לעשות הטוב והישר לפניו כאשר
‭‬צוה ביד מושה וביד כול עבדיו הנביאים ולאהוב כול
‭‬אשר בחר ולשנוא את כול אשר מאס לרחוק מכול רע
‬ולדבוק בכול מעשי טוב ולעשות אמת וצדקה ומשפט
‭   צראב

Here is the Wise, Abegg, and Cook translation, with finite verbs italicized:

A text belonging to [the Instructor, who is to teach the Ho]ly Ones how to live according to the book of the Yahad’s Rule. He is to teach them to seek God with all their heart and with all their soul, to do that which is good and upright before Him, just as He commanded through Moses and all His servants the prophets. He is to teach them to love everything He chose and to hate everything He rejected, to distance themselves from all evil and to hold fast to all good deeds; to practice truth, justice, and righteousness in the land.

Everything else is an infinitive construct with a lamed prefix. Is this indicative of some developing use of the infinitive construct within legal material?

Online Access to Emanuel Tov Publications

I was walking to a seminar today with Emanuel Tov and he told me about a website he maintains where PDFs of many of his recent publication can be freely accessed. The website is emanueltov.info, and where you see the PDF symbol you can access the article. All the articles from his Greek and Hebrew Bible from 1999 and his revised Hebrew Bible, Greek Bible, and Qumran from 2008 are available.