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Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Son of God" & other terms

In looking through "a translation of The Dead Sea Scrolls" by Michael Wise & friends, I found a few interesting things.

One is how the Qumran jewish community understood the term "son of God". The idea that the term "son of God" doesn't have anything to do with a claim of "Divinity" in jewish thought is not true. I knew for some time that 2nd temple Judaism was not a monolith, when it came to "Biblical interpretation". I knew this from reading the book of Enoch. Infact, alot of christian interpretation of the Old Testament text can be seen in the book of Jubilees and the book of Enoch. And these were written and compiled by Jews before the first advent of Christ.

Now this book didn't translate most of the biblical scrolls. Instead it translated most of the Qumran commentaries of Biblical scrolls. It also translated alot of their other religious writtings. In order to see the actual Biblical scrolls you will have to get the dead sea bible

What I have is The dead sea scrolls: a new translation. I will have the otherone shortly.

Now, on how to read a dead sea scroll. I will use scroll # 4Q246 as an example.

Eventually each scroll was givin a "Q" number. This indicates what cave the scroll came from. In our example scroll 4Q246 came from cave # 4 of Qumran.

The numbers "246" means the 246th manuscript found at that cave.

1.) Italics found in a translation of a scroll are Explanatory notes or headings.

2.) Brackets [ ] or ( ) found in a translation of a dead sea scroll usually means that it is surrounding lost information due to damage of the scroll.

3.) Frag with a number usually indicates the number or group of the fragment.

4.) Col. usually indicates the column number of the fragment or group of fragments.

Now, on to what the book had to say about scroll 4Q246,

first the commentary:

"50. A Vision of the Son of God.

This small text
ignited a controversy when aportion of it was published in 1974. It speaks of a
powerful figure who shall appear in a time of tribulation and be called the "son
of God" and "son of the most High" and whom all nations obey. The expressions
irresistibly recall the language that the Gospels use of Jesus, especially in
the episode describing the angel's message to MAry that she would bear a son: "
He will be great, and will be no end" (Luke 1:32-33).

At the time, some
scholars argued that the published portion proved an important idea: that an
earthly king destined to come and bring peace (i.e., the messiah) would also be
called by Second Temple Jews the "Son of God". Certain biblical texts could be
taken to support this idea. (e.g., 2 Sam 7:14), and if true, it would shed
substantial light on the New Testament's portrayal of Jesus. Other scholars,
however, understood the text's "Son of God" as a villain, one who usurps the
place of God but is subsequently overthrown by the "people of God," who have God
on their side.
Now that the entire work has finally become available, a
careful reading confirms this second, "Antichrist," option. The historical
background of this text may well be the persecution of the Jews under the Syrian
tyrant Antiochus IV in the period 170-164 B.C.E. This ruler's chosen second
name, "Epiphanes" (greek for "appearance"), encapsulated the notion of a human
king as God manifest. Such human pretensions to deity have never been welcome in
Judaism and were condemned out of hand in the prophecies of Isaiah (14:12-21)
and Ezekiel (28:1-10). Jesus's claims to more -than - human status were likewise
rejected by his contemporaries: "We would stone you for blasphemy, because you,
though you are a man, are making yourself God" (John 10:33). A similar distaste
for claims to divinity seems to animate this fragmentary prophecy.

And now the actual scroll:

The seer receives the power to interpret the King's

"Col.1 1[...a spirit feom God] rested upon him, he fell before
the throne.

The beginning of the interpretation. War and slaughter
are imminent. This tribulation will culminate in the accesion to power of a
cruel tyrant.

2[...O ki]ng, wrath is coming to the world, and your years
3[shall be shortened...such] is your vision, and all of it is about to come unto
the world. 4[...Amid] great [signs], tribulation is coming upon the land.
5[...After much killing] and slaughter, a prince of nations 6[will arise....]
the king of Assyria and Egypt 7[...]he will be ruler over the land 8[...] will
be subject to him and all will obey 9[him]

The tyrant's son will
succeed him and begin to accrue to himself honor due only to God. Yet the reign
of father and son will be brief.

[Also his son] will be called the
Great, and be designated by his name.
COl.2 1He will be called the Son of
God, they will call him the son of the Most High. But like the meteors 2that you
saw in your vision, so will be their kingdom. They will reign only a few years
over 3the land, while people tramples people and nation tramples nation.

Deliverance from distress finally comes when the people of God
arise, bringing peace and prosperity. God is working through them and in them
and his rule shall finally prevail.

4Until the people of God arise; then
all will have rest from warfare. Their Kingdom will be an eternal Kingdom, and
all their paths will be righteous. They will judge 6the land justly, and all
nations will make peace. Warfare will cease from the land, 7and all the nations
shall do obeisance to them. The great God will be their help, 8He Himself will
fight for them, putting peoples into power, 9overthrowing them all before them,
God's rule will be an eternal rule and all the depths of 10[the earth are His].
-E.M.C. [1]

The one above was in regards to an anti-christ. Scroll 11q13 is in regards to the Messiah in whom they thought was Melchizedek. From the looks of it, they pretty much saw him as "Divine". Well at least the names they gave him were Divine.

I'll type the commentary first,

154. The coming of Melchizedek

"The biblical Jubilee year was the fiftieth year, the year following
the succession of seven sabbatical years. Whereas a sabbatical year was one in
which the land had to lie fallow and rest (analogous to the sabbath at the end
of the week)
, in th ejubilee year all land that had been alienated from its
original owners was supposed to return to them. All Hebrew slaves were to be set
free. The jubilee year began on the Day of Atonement and was signaled by the
blowing of trumpets throughout the land and the proclamation of universal

The author of the present intriguing melange of
biblical citations has selected many of the Bible's verses that relate to the
jubilee year and created a work in which those portions receive their "true"
interpretation-one by no means obvious to casual readers of the Bible. He
understands the jubilee-year remission of debts as referring not merely to
prosaic matters of money, but to the forgiveness of sin. The author declared
that th agent of this salvation is to be none other than Melchizedek, a
mysterious figure referenced only twice in the Bible, in
Genesis 14 and Pslam
For our author, Melchizedek is an enormously
exalted divine being to whom are apllied names generally reserved for God alone:
the Hebrew names al and elohim. In the author's citation of Isaiah 61:2, which
speaks of "the year of the Lod's favor," Melchizedek is substututed even for
this most holy name of Israel's God. Yet more remarkably, Melchizedek is said to
atone for the sins of the righteous and to execute judgement upon the wicked-
actions usually associated with God himself. By the power of Melchizedek,
dominion on earth shall pass from Satan (here called Belial) to the righteous
Sons of Light

This latter group Constitutes those who are predestined to
belong to the party of Melchizedek, "the congreation of the sons of
righteousness." These people heed the message of a second figure described in
this writing as "the messenger." The messenger, also designed "Anointed of the
Spirit" (Hebrew messiah), is conceived of as coming with a message from God, a
message explicating the course of history (that is, adeclaration of when the End
shall come)
and teaching about God's truths. This figure dies, an event that may
correspond somehow with the text's references to "jubilee periods."

In many of the scrolls, jubilee periods are not
only times of liberation as described in the Bible, but also ways of keeping
track of time. The present text apparently envisions a scheme in which the
coming of the Last Days is calculated by means of these jubilee periods. Much
about this remarkable text remains mysterious, and considerable further research
will be needed to achieve a truer understanding of its ideas. The figure of
Melchizedek as portrayed here is strikingly reminiscent of the New Testament
reference to a heavenly figure of that name, a high priest desribed as

"without father, without mother, without
genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the
Son of God, he remains a priest forever" (Heb. 7:3). Clearly Melchizedek was a
focus of power salvific imagery among various Jewish groups in the period of the

And now, on to the actual scroll itself.

The figure of Melchizedek, the heavenly savior of those
predestined to belong to him.


2[. . .]And concerning what
Scripture says, "In [this] year of Jubilee [you shall return, every one of you,
to your property" (Lev. 25:13) and what is also written, "And this] 3is the
[ma]nner of [the remission:] every creditor shall remit the claim that is held
[against a neighbor, not exacting it of a neighbor who is a member of the
community, because God's] remission [has been proclaimed" (Deut. 15:2):] 4[the
interpretation] is that it applies [to the L]ast Days and concerns the captives,
just as [Isaiah said: "To proclaim the Jubilee to the captives" (Isa. 61;1) . .
. .] and whose teachers have been hidden and kept secr[et], even from the
inheritance of Melchizedek, f[or . . .] and they are the inherit[ance of
Melchize]dek, who 6will return them to what is rightfully theirs. He will
proclaim to them the Jubilee, thereby releasing th[em from the debt of a]ll
their sins.
This word [will thus co]me 7in the first week of the jubilee
period that follows ni[ne j]ubilee periods. Then the "D[ay of Atone]ment" shall
follow at the e[nd of] the tenth [ju]bilee period, 8when he shall atone for all
the Sons of [Light] and the peopl[e who are pre]destined to Mel[chi]zedek. [. .
.] upo[n the]m [. . .] For 9this is the time decreed for "the year of
Melchiz[edek]'s favor" (Isa. 61:2, modified) and for [his] ho[ts, together] with
the holy ones of God, for a kingdom of judgment, just as it is written 10
concerning him in the Songs of David, "A godlike being has taken his place in
the council[cil of God;] in the midst of the divine beings he holds judgment"
(Ps. 82:1). Scripture also s[ays] about him, "Over [it] 11take your seat in the
highest heaven; A divine being will judge the peoples" (Ps. 7:7-8).

Concerning what scripture s[ays, "How long will y]ou judge unjustly,
and sh[ow] partiality to the wick[ed]? [S]el[ah" (Ps. 82:2),] 12the
interpretation applies to Belial and the spirits predestined to him, becau[se
all of them have rebe]lled, turn[ing] from God's precepts [and so becoming
utterly wicked.] 13Therefore Melchizedek will thoroughly prosecute the vengeance
required by Go[d's] statutes. [In that day he will de]liv[er them from the
power] of Belial, and from the power of all the sp[irits predestined to him.]
14Allied with him will be all the ["righteous] divine beings" (Isa. 61:3).

[Th]is is that wh[ich . . .al]l the divine beings.

figure of the messenger, an Anointed One who comes with a message from God but
is "cut off."

This vi[sitation] 15is the Day of [Salvation] that He
has decreed [. . . through Isai]ah the prophet [concerning all the captives,]
inasmuch as Scripture sa[ys, "How] beautiful 16upon the mountains are the fee[t
of] the messeng[er] who [an]nounces peace, who brings [good] news, [who
announces salvations, who [sa]ys to Zion, 'Your [di]vine being [reigns' " (Isa.

17This scripture's interpretation: "the mountains" [are] the
prophet[s,] they w[ho were sent to procaim God's truth and to] prop[esy] to all
I[srael.] 18And "the messenger" is the Anointed of the the Spir[it,] of whom
Dan[iel] spoke, ["After the sixty-two weeks, an Anointed One shall be cut off"
(Dan. 9:26). The "messenger who brings] 19good news, who announces[ces
salvation"] is the one of whom it is wri[tt]en,

["to proclaim the year
of the Lord's favor, the day of vengeance of our God;] 20to comfort

comfo[rt all who mourn" (Isa. 61:2) This scripture's interpretation:] he is to
inst[r]uct them about all the periods of history for eter[nity. . . and in the
statutes of] 21[the] truth. [. . .] 22[. . . . dominion] that passes from Belial
and ret[urns to the Sons of Light. . . ] 23[. . .] by the judgment of God, just
as t is written concerning him, ["who says to Zi]on "Your divine being reigns"
(Isa. 52;7) ["Zi]on" is 24[the congregation of all the sons of righteousness,
who] uphold the covenant and turn from walking [in the way] of the people. "Your
divine being" is 25[Melchizedek, who will del]iv[er them from the po]wer of
Belial. Concerning what scripture says, "Then you shall have the trumpet
[sounded loud; in] all the land of . . . " (Lev. 25:9, modified)]
- M.O.W.

At least we know that some Jews (before the first advent of Christ) believed that the coming Messhiah was going to be "Divine". I'm over looking their predestinarian views for now. To be honest it's hard to tell how they viewed predestination vs free will. At this point in time, we just don't have enough information to say either way.

But this post isn't about the doctrine of free will. These two scrolls alone shows us that the term "son of God" was also seen by some Jews as a claim of "Divinity". In this case they saw an anti-christ figure as makng that claim.

This agrees with the gospel account of Jesus being stoned by some Jews for making that claim. Thus one can't say that this was just a christian claim. It has it's roots in Judaism itself. Judaism was not a had various interpretations.

We don't know what party the jews were at Qumran. What we do know is that they hated the party of the Pharisees. Some of their writings attack the Pharisees and they praise those high priests and kings that had Pharisees killed. They seem like a warrior blood thirsty theonomic Jewish sect.


The next time someone tells you that the term "son of God" didn't have anything to do with "a claim of Divinity in Jewish thought", just show them the account found in the Gospel of John as well as these two scrolls by a jewish sect who lived before the first advent of Christ. This is more than enough evidence to prove that "some" jews did interprete that term to mean "a claim of Divinity".

So it's not a christian invention. It is not a "reading into the text by christian interpreters". It was a common interpretation of some jews in that era.


[1] 346-347 ,and [2] page 590-593, Tranlsated by Michael Wise,Martin Abegg Jr, and Edward Cook. In the book "A new Translation, The dead Sea Scrolls" copyrighted 1996 & 2005, published by HarperSanFrancisco


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