Anda di halaman 1dari 27

Exegetical Notes on 4Q225 "Pseudo-Jubilees"

Author(s): James Kugel

Source: Dead Sea Discoveries, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2006), pp. 73-98
Published by: BRILL
Stable URL: .
Accessed: 07/01/2015 15:00
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

BRILL is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Dead Sea Discoveries.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Bar Ilan University

The texts 4Q225-227 "Pseudo-Jubilees"were published by James

VanderKamand J. T. Milik.' These texts were classified as "PseudoJubilees"because, while not part of the book of Jubilees itself, they
share certain characteristicswith that book, notably the reference to
Satan as Mastemah,that is, "the angel2of loathing"(i!rz:?sl ms or


and the dating of events with reference to the number of

jubilees. One partof 4Q225 deals with the famous story of Abraham's
offeringup of his son Isaac as a sacrifice(Genesis 22), and this section has already been the subject of several studies.4 Despite this

H. Attridge et al., Qumran Cave 4. VIII Parabiblical Texts Part I (DJD XIII;

Oxford:Clarendon,1994) 141-75.
2 Some translators
have rendered7 here as "prince,"but clearly the word means
"angel,"as in, for example, Dan. 10:13, 20-21, 12:1. This usage is generally understood as a developmentof late biblical Hebrew,but it may have earlierroots:Ps. 82:7
seems to refer to shooting stars (understoodto be falling angels) as 01-10.
3 As the editorsand othershave observed,4Q225 offers an etymology of the name
n -lo Kin
"Mastemah"(which Jubilees itself does not): ntc Do'II 0;il'
pnr: tYlOrn.This sentence is reminiscentof numerousrabbinictexts that associate
the name "Satan" with the verb pl"::, for example, the early post-biblical liturgical
poem nlrm unmnm
with its line, ir'bsI=
"Seal up Satan'smouthand
m minrr,
let him not incite against us" (cf. Zech. 3:2). The verbs DM and I= are rathersimilar in biblical Hebrew, though the former is rarerand is not found in late biblical
Hebrew.Does Jubilees' use of the name "Mastemah"representa suggestionthat the
name 7W is derived from it? Such a possibility is to be weighed in the light of the
well knownphenomenonof the interchangebetweenfinal memand nun in Hebrewand
Aramaicsources from the Second Temple period-including the QumranScrolls. See
E. Qimron,The Hebrewof the Dead Sea Scrolls HSS 29 (Atlanta:Scholars, 1986) 27.
on Aspects of Exegesis, Tradition,and
4 See, inter alia, M. Kister, "Observations
Theology in Midrash, Pseudepigrapha,and Other Jewish Writings," Tracing the
Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha (ed. J. Reeves; Atlanta:

ScholarsPress, 1994); G. Vermes,"New Light on the Sacrificeof Isaac from 4Q225,"

JJS 47 (1996) 140-46; J. VanderKam,"The Aqedah,Jubilees, and PseudoJubilees,"
The Quest for Context and Meaning: Studies in Biblical Intertextuality in Honor

of James A. Sanders (eds C. Evans and S. Talmon; Leiden: Brill, 1997) 241-61;
J. Fitzmyer,"The Sacrificeof Isaac in QumranLiterature,"
Biblica 83 (2002) 211-29;
? KoninklijkeBrill NV, Leiden, 2006
Also availableonline -

Dead Sea Discoveries 13, 1

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



attention,there remain a numberof issues that may deserve further

comment.In the following I would like to addressa cluster of issues
relatedto 4Q225 and the biblical exegesis underlyingit.
The section dealing with the offering of Isaac begins in fragment
2, column i and continuesin fragment2, column ii. I will reproduce
the text along with the proposedreadingsof the two editorsand their
column i
nr4vj6-i -ic ttivi

10t] nvi

ino nit itnpn ctri:Kt4




[hss riz'Mt pron

otn,1nJ &llTi rr 5





j .10
np h:Ktkt .11
dzrim: nMr] .12

[n"ninm] b. ni-itAn In [INnl Ol]p'lnnt [-imiR-ia

r* [On-1]tt


column ii




W ysx , i-n


[ ?l.
fNl VA[,',r


o rri=x
[mnwiK Ol*x in p 'o:'
p'0 rlKmm 1'::k Kn mmI-i
[r~ ~~ 'r
vacat 'rtn
55 C'Z: 0D'101D
V`p ':X
x;t In
1 i'4 nit
[nnnnovo -tionUno ;t t5iz]b inxK'1k1Duc,~i'tl t:,rnn





7rn:R=ntO ottiorb tA=' .8
[ipnp m'n*utA
1:) Tn7b Mnlv-IO1":N
O;nnC:R .9
[MM'751'I I'M 'n bM pnIV nKt MITl 5R I-IZ'1 M,ltK il'il Rt .10
rln zip.V' m1p.V .1
n]18 *1 nA
vacat oft

column i
9. [to Abraha]m, and he named him Isaac. Then the Prince of the Ma[s]temah
10. [to G]od and he accused Abraham regarding Isaac. And [G]od said
11. [to Abralham: Take your son, Isaac, [your] on[ly one whom
12. you [lovel and offer him to me as a whole burnt-offering on one of the
[high] mountains
13. [which I will designate] for you. And he got [up and w]en[t] from the wells
up to M[t. Moriah]
I And Ab[raham] lifted
14. [

J. Kugel, Traditionsof the Bible (Cambridge:Harvard,1998) 301-06 and 320-25;

M. Bernstein, "Angels at the Aqedah,"DSD 7 (2000) 263-291; R.A. Kugler and
J. VanderKam,"A Note on 4Q225 (4QPseudo-Jubilees),"Revue de Qumran20/1
"The Sacrificeof Isaac in 4Q225," The Sacrifice
(2001) 109-16; F. Garcia-Martinez,
of Isaac: The Aqedah (Genesis 22) and its Interpretations (eds E. Noort and
E. Tigchelaar;Themesin Biblical Narrative4; Leiden:Brill, 2002) 44-57; and Robert
Kugler,"Hearing4Q225: A Case Study in Reconstructingthe Religious Imagination
of the QumranCommunity,"DSD 10 (2003) 81-103.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



column ii

1. [his ey]es [and therewas a] fire, and he se[t the wood on his son Isaac, and
they went together.]
2. Isaac said to Abraham [his father, "Here are the fire and the wood, but
where is the lamb]
3. for the whole burnt-offering?"
Abrahamsaid to [his son Isaac, "God will
providethe lamb]
4. for himself."Isaac said to his father,"T[ie me well
5. The angels of holiness were standingweeping above [the altar
6. his sons from the earth.The angels of the Ma[stemah
7. being happy and saying "Now he will perish."[And in all this the Princeof
the Mastemahwas testing whether]
8. he would be foundweak, and whetherA[braham]should not be found faithful [to God. He called,]
9. "Abraham,Abraham!"He said, "HereI am." He said, "N[ow I know that
10. he will not be loving."God the Lord blessed Is[aac all the days of his life.
He became the fatherof]
11. Jacob, and Jacob became the fatherof Levi, a [third]genera[tion.Vacat

Weeping Angels

This retelling of the biblical story is relativelyfaithful to the original

in mostdetails.As mightbe expectedof a text thatsharescertainaffinities
with Jubilees,4Q225 adds to the biblical account-as Jubileesdoesthat the binding of Isaac came about as a result of a challenge issued
to God by Mastemah. The evident purpose of this addition is to
explain why an all-knowingGod shouldhave tested Abrahamat alldid God not know in advance how the test would turn out? If, however, Mastemahhad called Abraham's devotion into question, then
even an all-knowingGod might have arrangeda public test to demonstrateAbraham'svirtue beyond dispute. Indeed, as the editors noted,
this same addition is found in later, including rabbinic,retellings of
the biblical story.
There is, however, one major element in 4Q225 that has no counterpartin either the biblical account or in Jubilees. Here, in addition
to Abraham,Isaac, and the angel who calls out from heaven, two
groups of angelic observers are mentioned. Column 2 line 5 thus
UErni M''rp
refersto a groupof weeping angels,fMl2MTZf]
whereas the next line mentions an apparently opposite group,
m=10-if 'Kztkr, who are rejoicing (line 7). As the editors noted, the
weepingangelsarenotentirelyuniqueto thistext.Later,rabbinicretellings
also mentionthe presenceof angelsweeping over the bindingof Isaac.5
The motif of these additionalangels at the bindingof Isaac has been thoroughly

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



Indeed,this motif appearsno fewer thanthreetimes in one rabbinic

collection,GenesisRabba,eachtimefora differentpurpose.Thus,according to one versionof thismotif,theweepingangelsarementionedbecause
it was their tears that were responsiblefor the exact wording of the
commandgiven to Abrahamin Gen. 22:12, "Do not send forth your
hand. . ." Why should the biblical text have said "hand"when it was
really the knife that was threateningIsaac?
He [the angel] said, "Do not send forthyour handto the boy.. ." But wherewas
the knife? The tears of the ministeringangels had fallen upon it and it had been
destroyed.6[Thereupon]he said to him, "ShouldI stranglehim [with my bare
hands]?"[That is why] he said to him, "Do not send forth your hand to the

(Genesis Rabba 56:7)

n-10 'MOMz MIMI *0;

b 17, rT*tm ~ttnot

IZ't JZO 'V: IMM7:
-i ?I:PDnA*J -irz ,iC:

-II- btk 17' nFtn 'tK

Another passage seeks to connect this motif of the weeping angels

with a certainverse from the book of Isaiah:
When our fatherAbrahamsent forth his hand to take the knife to kill his son,
the ministeringangels wept, as it says, "Erelimcry out [the angels of peace bitterly weep]" [Isa. 33:7] (Genesis Rabba56:5)

-nD in


n5zKtk;n nt Mp,5 I-T, nit :C,--1t 1=1R nftc

C::nt u
Or] vnn 1P CfR lIn

(t m5nvv') [p'DD


Yet anotherpassage suggests that the tears of the angels were what
caused Isaac to become blind at the end of his life:

investigated by Moshe Bernstein in the above-mentioned article, "Angels at the

Aqedah."So detailedis his treatment
of thismotifthatit mightappearaltogethersuperfluous
for me to take up the themeonce againhere. However,I find myself somewhatat odds
with Bernstein'sconclusionsabout the origin of this motif. He seems to believe that
the presenceof multipleangels at the altar was a naturaloutgrowthof the motif of
Satan's (Mastemah's)challenge to God in heaven. Presumably,once ancient interpretershad come up with the idea that one bad angel (Satan)had challengedGod, it
was naturalfor them to assume that other bad angels should have accompaniedhim
to watch Isaac being sacrificed.I do not believe this is correct.Mastemahcertainly
neededto be presentat the altarin orderto see how his challengecame out, but there
was no need for an exegete to assumethat he was accompaniedby any of his henchmen, especially since neitherthe biblical text nor Jubileesoffers anythingto suggest
this. Indeed,Jubileesis quite explicit that Mastemahis therealone. Nor, for that matter, is there any need for a group of good angels to be in attendance.Both the good
and bad angels make their first appearancein 4Q225, a text which is presumably
awareof the Jubileesaccountand yet which disagreeson this one point.The question
I wish to answerhere is: why?
6 The manuscripttraditionvaries here; see J. Theodor and H. Albeck, Bereschit
Rabba (Jerusalem:Wahrmann,1965) 603; Bernstein,"Angelsof the Aqedah,"281.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



When our fatherAbrahamwas bindingIsaac, the ministeringangels wept, as it

says, "Erelimcry out [the angels of peace bitterlyweep]" [Isa. 33:71, and the
tears from their eyes fell into his [Isaac's] eyes and they left their mark inside
his eyes, so that when he grew old his eyes became weak, as it says, "When
Isaac was old and his eyes were too weak to see.. ." (Gen. 65:10).
'r:n _11xn IP.Ux &wlkk J.- 'w MOCDR5:
x:,nD 1nins r1IIO- I,-,II
'P'Mt 11":'Z'


*lOn n

pm ;7.Ut
(r t*D

In'Prix'1Pt : -'I'l'0

The occurrenceof an exegetical motif in rabbinic writings and, far

earlier, in a text from Qumranis hardlyunique;7still, it is cause for
reflection.How did this idea of the weeping angels find its way into
these diverse texts-and what caused it to be created in the first
place? As nroted,the biblical narrativementions only one angel, the
one who cries out from heaven, "Do not send forth your hand. . ."
It seems most unlikely that 4Q225 (or some still earlier retelling)
shouldhave createdthese additionalangels for any of the reasonssuggested by the above passages from Genesis Rabba.Thus, the idea that
the angels' tears were necessitatedby the wording of "Do not send
forthyour hand. . ." seems improbableon two grounds.First, this sort
of precious questioningof a phrasewhose meaning is fundamentally
clear, while altogethertypical of rabbinicmidrash,is rarely found in
pre-rabbinicexegesis. What is more, 4Q225 makes no mention of a
destroyedknife or of the words "Do not send forth your hand. . ."; if
these were the reason for which this motif was created, surely the
knife and these words should have been mentioned! As for the
asserted connection to Isa. 33:7, neither that verse itself nor its surrounding context has anything to do with the binding of Isaac. It
seems hardly likely that an exegete would have created a group of
weeping angels out of thin air and then say, "See, that is why weeping angels are also mentionedin Isa. 33:7." Much more likely is that
the weeping angels at the bindingof Isaac had been in existence long
before the time of Genesis Rabba (as 4Q225 itself demonstrates);
then, at some point after their creation, an anonymous midrashist
thoughtof connectingthis motif with a verse in Isaiah that also mentioned weeping angels-so he put the two together.8Moreover,once
7Thus, the motif of the Ten Tests of Abrahamappearsin Jub. 19:8 and M. Abot
5:3; for this and other examples, see J. Kugel, Traditionsof the Bible (Cambridge:
Harvard,1998) 297-99, 308.
8 As Bernsteincorrectlyobserves,"becauseit was not enoughfor the rabbisto have
a traditionalmotif of 'watchingand weeping angels' in their Aqedah narrative,they
sought for somethingwhich could make it textuallybased"("Angels of the Aqedah,"

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



again, thereis no mentionof Isa. 33:7 in the earliestattestationof the

weeping angels motif, namely, 4Q225. As for the thirdjustificationof
this motif, that the angels' tearswere createdto explain Isaac's blindness-again, therewas hardlyany exegetical need for such a creation,
since Gen. 27:1 clearly states that his blindnesswas a resultof Isaac's
old age. (Indeed, saying that his blindnesscame about as a result of
the angels' tears actuallycontradictsthis verse!) Furthermore,
it seems
fairly likely that this thirdremarkis actually a productof the previous two. That is, it cites Isa. 33:7, just as the precedingpassage had;
but then it goes on to suggest that the falling tears had, like the tears
in the firstpassage,caused some harmto the object on which they fell
(here, Isaac's eyes).
In short, none of the connections suggested by Genesis Rabba
appearsto point to the originalreason for the creationof these weeping angels. On the contrary, the very multiplicity of explanations
might suggest that this was a long-standing motif whose original
exegetical purpose was, by the time of Genesis Rabba, no longer
rememberedor understood-hence the necessity to inventnew reasons
for its existence.
"NowI Have Made Known..
It is not difficult,in the broaderperspectiveof ancient biblical interpretation,to discoverwhat that originalpurposemight have been. The
story of the binding of Isaac containedone element that was terribly
troublingto ancient interpreters-whatthe narrativeseemed to imply
aboutGod's foreknowledgeof the events, or lack thereof.For, even if
one assumedthat God had initiatedthis public test of Abrahamas a
result of Mastemah'schallenge,that still hardlyexplaineda later element in the story:
Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven: "Abraham!Abraham!"
And he answered, "Here I am." And he said, "Do not send forth your hand
againstthe boy or do anythingto him. For now I knowthat you fear God, since
you have not withheldyour son, your only one, from Me" (Gen. 22:11-12).

Here the angel, speakingfor God, says "Now I know"-clearly implying that before this test, God did not know. (There can be little doubt

that these words are meant to be understoodas God's own, since the
sentence continues by referringto Abraham'snot withholding"your
son, your only one, from Me"-surely the word "me"here refers to
God, not the angel. As if to clinch the matter,verse 16 has God repeat

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



virtually the same words, this time explicitly in his own name: "By
Myself I swear, the Lord declares:Because you have done this and
not withheldyour son, your only one, I will bestow my blessing upon

To this apparentbiblical contradictionof the idea of divine omniscience ancient interpreterscame up with an ingenious solution. The
words "Now I know,"'nU' rmn,could be pronouncedin such a way
as to turnthe qal (G) form of the verb into a pi'el (D); that is, yada'ti
("I know") could be read as yidda'tl("I have made known"). This
solution is found explicitly in various rabbinictexts:9
He said to him, "Now I know," [that is] now I have made known to everyone,
"that you are one who loves Me and you have not withheld your son..."

n21J:n nIfn K'r

1 nsc tD'

rwDT M 'Z... * -IO.


Indeed, the same solution is found within the book of Jubilees itself.
There God says to Abraham:
All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because of
the fact that you have obeyed my command. I have made known to everyone that
you are faithful to me in everything that I have told you. Go in peace" (Jub.

This was a good solution, but it was accompaniedby one technical

difficulty: how could an exegete indicate in writing that the consonantal text `MDy' was to be read yidda'tl and not ydda'ti? Obviously,
transcribingthe word into Latin characters(as I have just done) was
not an option! Nor, during the period in question,did any system of
vowel-points exist. One might, as Genesis Rabba and other rabbinic
texts did, write the letteryodh twice, 'nfD1".But such a solution alone
might not be easily understood, especially early on; moreover, it
would simply draw attentionto the fact that this was not the spelling
used in the biblical text. In any case, another,far easier option was
available, and it was used in both passages cited above: If God were
quoted as saying, "Now I have made known to everyone,"TD71 7nD
tDt, then there could be no doubt that the word 'Ins had to be read
yiddatP:one cannot "know"to everyone,but only "makeknown."

MidrashLeqahTov 22:11; also GenesisRabba,56:12; the text traditionhere reads

but this is apparentlyan error. See Theodor-Albeck,Bereschit Rabba,
notes ad loc.

t'2D nmfl-,

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



The problemof "Now I know"was thus solved. On reflection,however, it raised another(albeit minor)new question:to whom could the
word "everyone"refer? In Jubilees, those presentat the incidentare
God (who, being omniscient, certainly already knew that Abraham
feared God), Abraham(who presumablyalso knew this about himself), Isaac (who may or may not have known this about his father),
and Mastemahand the Angel of the Presence(who did not know). "I
have made known to everyone"is hardlyan appropriatething for God
to say when referringto two, or at the most three, people!
Apparently,the authorof Jubileesdid not troublehimself with this
question.It seems likely that he was simply repeatingan alreadytraditionalidea-that God had "madeit knownto everyone"-which was
not of his own making; after all, the same tradition is present in
rabbinicwritings(whichcertainlydidnotreceiveit directlyfromJubilees),
and in precisely the same wording,

t T71"


This was, appar-

ently, simply how the "madeknown"traditionhad originallybeen formulated and subsequentlypassed along. What is more, as we shall
see, the authorof Jubilees presentshis own, quite separate,explanation of the problematic phrase "Now I know . . ."; he may thus have

felt no need to account for the "everyone"precisely because it was

well known and not, in any case, his own creation. Finally, if the
word everyonehad to be explained,could it not be said to be a referenceto the"everyone"who wouldeventuallyhearof Abraham'svirtue,
indeed, to futuregenerationswho might read of it in holy Scripture?'0
Nevertheless,it was apparentlythis "everyone"that was the problem that botheredthe authorof 4Q225 Pseudo-Jubilees(or its source).
That is why he provideda multitudeof angels observingfrom heaven.
Quite simply, these other angels would be the then-present"everyone"
to whom God was referring.It is to be noted, however,that they were
not simply a group of pluralonlookers;what they were doing had, in
itself, an exegetical purpose.
Accordingto 4Q225, therewere two groupsof angels presentat the
Aqedah,one weeping and one rejoicing;later, rabbinicsources speak
only of one group, the weeping angels. Now, two opposinggroupsof
angels, one good and one bad, is altogetherin keepingwith the dualism characteristicof so much of the Qumranwritings." It seems to

'? On the specific mention in Pseudo-Philo'sLAB of future generationswho will

hear of the Aqedah,see Kugel, Traditionsof the Bible, 323.
11My thanksto Prof. MenahemKisterfor this point.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



me likely, however, that the originalform of this motif may have had
only one group of angels-the weepers-and that their weeping
played a furtherrole in this exegetical motif. Their tears were a dramatic way of demonstratingthe fact that they had suddenlyrealized
that Abrahamwas indeed willing to sacrifice his beloved son. (The
same, of course, was true of the expressionsof mirth on the part of
the wicked angels in 4Q225.) Before that, the matterwas presumably
in doubt; would Abraham really go through with it? But seeing
Abrahamtie up his son and place him on the altar, the angels now
realized that he was indeed prepared to go all the way and kill
Isaac-so they burst into tears. Their weeping thus providedgraphic
proof that "everyone"had finally understoodthe extent of Abraham's
devotion;at this point-but not earlier-God could truly say, "Now I
have made known to everyone..."
Overkillin Jubilees
As a side note, it should be pointedout that Jubileesactuallycontains
another,quite separatemotif aimed at solving this same problem of
God's apparentlack of omniscienceas expressedin the words "Now
I know." In recountingthe crucial momentin which the sacrificewas
interrupted,Jubileeshas the Angel of the Presence,who is the narrator of the book, relate:
Then I stood in front of him [Abraham]and in front of the angel of Mastemah.
The Lord said: "Tell him not to let his hand go down on the child and not to do
anythingto him because I know that he is one who fears the Lord."So I called
to him from heaven and said to him: "Abraham!Abraham!"He was startledand
said, "Yes?"I said to him, "Do not lay your hands on the child and do not do
anythingto him, because now I know that you are one who fears the Lord. You
have not refused me your first-bornson" (Jub. 18:9-11).

Here the author of Jubilees has added something to the biblical

story-he has given us God's exact instructionswhen He tells the
Angel of the Presenceto stop the sacrifice.Accordingto Jubilees,God
did not say (as the angel subsequently does) "Now I know ..." He

said, simply, "I know." Now, this is precisely the sort of subtle hint
that the author of Jubilees likes to give readers."2In his version of

12 This solution has sometimes been obscuredby modem

translationsof Jubilees
that seek either to bring its wording here in line with that of the Genesis narrative
or to accord with the "I have made known"found at the end of the passage. See,
thus, Charles,APOT 2:40 ("For now I have shown..."), C. Rabin in H.D. Sparks,

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



things, the angel here is no mere stand-infor God (as would appear
from the biblical text),'3and what he says does not, therefore,necessarily representGod's own words. The angel truly did not know how
the test was going to turn out; that explains why, in the biblical narrative, the angel says to Abraham "Now I know..." But God presumably knew all along; hence, in its retelling of the story, Jubilees
pointedlyhas God omit the word "now"-this omission was meant to
remindthe readerthat, while angels are not omniscient,God certainly
is!'4 Indeed, that is presumablywhy God stopped the test when He
did: "I know,"He says in Jubilees-that is, I alreadyknow-"that he
is one who fears the Lord,"so what is the point in going any further?
Why did Jubilees include two differentsolutionsto the same problem, the one based on reading yidda'ti, the other based on distinguishing the angel's words from God's? It is an altogethercommon
feature of exegetical texts to include two separate,sometimes mutually exclusive, versions of how a thing happened, or when it happened, or why. This is the featurecalled exegetical "overkill,"and it
is found in a broad variety of Second Temple retellings of biblical
materialas well as in later, rabbinictexts.'5
The two groupsof angels in 4Q225 are, as noted, an obvious addition to the story in Genesis, and, as we have seen, they served an
exegetical purpose.But if so, it may be well to scrutinizeother additions to, or deviationsfrom, the Genesis story in 4Q225 to determine
if they too might be intendedto explain somethingin the biblicaltext.
"YourFirstbornFrom Sarah"
In theirrestorationof column 1, lines 11-12, the editorshave proposed:

*:pnn n pnt

Vf'[nI1 ]'n7





in'Um Un[K

t ] .11
] .12

Apocryphal Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984) 62 ("for now I know . . ."). The

properrendering,cited above, is from J. VanderKam,The Book of Jubilees (CSCO

ScriptoresAethiopici88; Louvain:Peeters, 1989) 106.
13 See on this J. Kugel, The God of Old (New York:Free Press, 2003) 5-36.
14 This same contrast of divine knowledge with angelic ignorance is present in
anotherQumrantext, the "Hymnto the Creator"includedin a Psalms scroll (11Q5
xxvi 9-15). There God creates light on the first day of the creationand the angels
rejoice, "becauseHe showed them what they did not know."
l5 J. Kugel, In Potiphar's House, 38, 134, 146, 256-57; idem, Traditionsof the
Bible, 27.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



11. [to Abralham:Take your son, Isaac, [your] on[ly one whom
12. you [love] and offer him to me as a whole burnt-offeringon one of the
[high] mountains

The words Wi[=-T fll] [noRnl:Vn' MRnnM rN : rrsp represent

a definite switch in the word order of Gen. 22:2, nt pn ns A: np
Pr nalk mi-I t Ilnnr. Moving "Isaac"from its climactic position
in the biblical sentencecertainlyseems to be an intentionalchange on
the part of 4Q225. Perhapsthe purposewas to make clear from the
startthat it was Isaac, and not Abraham'sother son Ishmael,that was
intended by God. This rewriting might thus be contrastedwith the
imaginarydialogue between God and Abrahamin various midrashic
retellings, which focuses precisely on the ambiguityin God's words
until the name "Isaac"is mentioned:
(God said to Abraham]:"Takeyour son.""ButI have two sons!""Youronly one
(1-Trn).""But this one is an only son to his motherand that one is an only son
to his mother.""[The one] whom you love." "But both of them are beloved to
me!" "Isaac."''6

In moving Isaac towardthe front of the sentence,4Q225 removes the

ambiguity:almost from the start it is clear that Isaac is the one to
whom God refers as Abraham'sbeloved, "only"son. The editors' suggestion that the text be restoredto nn-MAfnltlh, while not impossible, seems unlikely to me; why add a pronounthat is unnecessary
as well as absent in the biblical text? Especially given the difficulty
posed by referringto Isaac as Abraham'sonly son when the Bible
clearly says he has two, perhaps a restorationlike -IO r-e5 r'nrr
In nat, "your only son from Sarah," is to be preferred.'7If so, then
here would be anotherlittle bit of exegesis-although, admittedly,its
existence is altogetherconjectural.
It should also be observedthat 4Q225 does not include the particle
R2in God's words to Abrahamin the MT, pn MR p:np (Gen. 22:2).
While K: had a variety of meanings in biblical Hebrew,'8including
"now,"in later times these meaningsfell into disuse; thereafterits use
in biblical texts came to be understoodas "please,"an understanding
frequentlyreflectedin the Aramaictargums,the Vulgate, and rabbinic
writings.As such, the appearanceof s: in Gen. 22:2 seemed altogether

See b. Sanhedrin89b, Genesis Rabba 55:7 and parallels.

As the editors noted, 1lrl here representsa divergence from Jubilees, whose
underlyingtext seems to have read r-'-'.
18 See S.E. Fassberg,Studies in Biblical Syntax(Jerusalem:Magnes, 1994) 36-51.


This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



incongruousin God's mouth:Please take your son and kill him! Note
that the Septuagintversion, here as elsewherein the Pentateuch,does
not translatethe word in its version.'94Q225 likewise omits it.
"Fromthe Wells"
The next deviation from the Genesis story is altogetherstraightforward. In the first column of 4Q225 fragment2, we read:
mb u ni-ittarIn [11>[n
l ijpnlntt [-it 'lma].13
13. [whichI will designate]for you. And he got [up and w]en[t] from the wells
up to M[t. Moriahl

This line suggests somethingthat is not presentin the biblical narrative: Abrahamwas apparentlyliving at "the wells" when God summoned him to go to the land of Moriah and sacrifice Isaac. But to
which wells does the text refer?The editorsobserve that "Gen. 21:33
mentions that Abrahamwas then residing in Unv nf aroundwhich
were wells, as the name implies (Gen. 2[1]:30-31, 26:33)."20F. Garcia
Martinezsimilarlysuggests that "the place where Abrahamand Isaac
are dwelling is called 'the wells' and is apparentlyan allusionto Beer
Sheva."2'Joseph Fitzmyeropines: "The authorof this text seems to
have interpretedthe name [Beer Sheba] to mean 'seven wells,' as it
was sometime interpretedlater on."22Robert Kugler suggests that
"4Q225 2 i lOb-13 probablyreflects a typical interpretationof Gen.
22:1-2; it interpretsBeer Sheba, Abraham'sdwelling place when God
commandedhim to sacrifice his son (Gen. 21:31, 33), as a place of

I am afraid that all of these miss the exegetical point of 4Q225

here. It is actually seeking to clarify a remarklater on in the Genesis
narrative: "And the Philistines stopped up all the wells that his

19 Fassberg,

Biblical Syntax, 56-57.

It should be noted that, as a matterof fact, the last place where Abrahamwas
said to be residing before the Aqedah was not Beer Sheba but "the land of the
Philistines"(Gen. 21:34). The biblical text may be implying that this area included
Beer Sheba, but that is not necessarily how ancient readers,such as the authorof
4Q225, would have understoodit. See below.
21 "Sacrificeof Isaac in 4Q225," 49.
22 "Sacrificeof Isaac in QumranLiterature,"
216 n. 10.
23 "Hearing4Q225," 94 n. 36.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



[Isaac's] father's servantshad dug in the days of his fatherAbraham

and filled them with dirt" (Gen. 26:15). A careful readerof Genesis
would have been puzzled by this verse: accordingto the biblical text,
there was only one well that Abrahamis said to have dug, the well
at Beer Sheba (Gen. 21:30). When could Abraham(or his servants)
have dug these other wells? Disturbedby this question,the authorof
4Q225 (or perhapssome earlierexegete) did the only thing one might
do under the circumstances:he inserted in his retelling a reference
to the missing wells. They were dug, 4Q225 says, just before the
Aqedah, at the time when "Abrahamdwelt in the land of the Philistines for many days" (Gen. 21:34; this sentence just precedes the
beginning of the Aqedah narrative).That 4Q225 inserts its reference
to the additionalwells precisely at this point was certainly no accident, since the "land of the Philistines" is where Gen. 26:15-22
locates these same wells-as a matterof fact not in Beer Sheba, but
in the area of Gerar.
Apart from the significance of the word mrtcn,

a minor difficulty

accompanies the editors' attempt to reconstructthe missing text of

4Q225 at this point:
nt5 [-nnlsimal.13
1r: 5[n v ninattnIr [1]'4li=1]p5n
] .14
flrTn1rs st'i 15[

The reading [;rn1, ] - is troubling on three counts. If, in line

13, Abrahamhas already reached Mount Moriah itself, why should
line 14 say that, presumablyat some later point, Abraham"liftedup"
his eyes-apparently a reference to Gen. 22:4, "On the third day,
Abrahamlifted up his eyes and saw the placefrom afar." How could
he see the place from afar if he was already there in the previous
verse? Moreover, if I am right about the exegetical purpose of the
mention of the "wells," one would expect some fuller allusion to the
verse to which these wells are supposedto refer, Gen. 26:15. Finally,
the mountain is not called nmnn

imFbut rrnmm2 -ri,

with the definite

article(2 Chr. 3:1, cf. Gen. 22:2). Therefore-although any restoration

here is, once again, somewhatspeculative-I would expect the missing portionsof the text to have looked somethinglike this:
in) i 5-uml-iRnIn [I1Nnmn]pn
rnit [-nitt-ic^ .13
nA[Dinnit At,i[ ;1-mr5r-it 5RINn r-tnu -inna]
[which I will designate]for you. And he go[t up and de]pa[rted]from the wells
near Gerarthat
[his servantshad dug and he we]n[t to the land of Moriah]and Ab[raham]lifted

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



The phrase I"T8DrIzr 'IO would more clearly signal to the reader
that these are the same wells that are mentionedin Gen. 26:15, where
these same words are used.
"Tie Me Up..."
The next item is the one that has stirredthe most interestin this text.
In the biblical account,while Abrahamand Isaac are on theirway to
the place of the sacrifice, Isaac asks his father where the sacrificial
animal is: "Hereis the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for
the offering?"Abrahamreassureshim: "Godwill providethe lamb for
the offeringHimself, my son," he says-although he knows full well
that it is Isaac who is to be the victim. To this, accordingto the biblical account, Isaac answers nothing: "the two of them proceeded
Among the many items that botheredancient readers,Abraham's
apparentevasiveness in this exchange, along with Isaac's pathetic
ignoranceand trustin his father,were certainlyforemost.And so, they
sought to pull the text in a new direction.Throughcareful and creative exegesis, they turnedIsaac into an active participant:somehow,
the son must have understoodfrom his father's vague answerthat he
himself was to be sacrificed, and if, nonetheless, "the two of them
proceededtogether,"surely this was a sign that Isaac had consented
to be offered up to God. There is no hint of this exegetical tradition
in Jubileesitself, but it does appearelsewherein Jewish sourcesfrom
the same generalperiod.The motif of "Isaacthe Willing Victim"may
thus be adumbratedas early as Jth. 8:26-27 and 4 Macc. 7:12-14,
13:12;in any case, it appearsfully somewhatlater in Philo, Abraham,
172; Pseudo-Philo'sLAB 32:2-3, JosephusJA 1:232, as well as in an
early Christiantext, 1 Clement 31:24.24 In all of these sometimes
at great length-Isaac's willingness to surrenderhis soul is firmly
But there was one problemwith this line of argument.In the biblical narrative,it is related that Abraham"tied up his son Isaac and
put him on the altar on top of the wood." Why would Abrahamhave
had to tie him up if Isaac had previouslyvolunteeredfor slaughter?
Perhaps because this was not a particularlytroublingproblem-or,

24 Kugel, Traditionsof the Bible, 304-306, 322.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



perhaps, precisely because it was-none of the above-mentioned

sourcesmakes any mentionof Isaac having been bound:as far as they
are concerned,the story that came to be known as the Aqedah, that
is, the binding of Isaac, did not involve any actual binding. (Indeed,
even later on, in representationsof the scene in Christianart, Isaac is
sometimes shown on the altarwith his hands visibly not bound.)25
Eventually,however, Jewish exegetes did come up with an explanation for even this troubling detail: Isaac must have asked to be
boundup lest he wriggle at the crucialmomentand so cause the knife
to slip, invalidatingthe slaughter.This answeris first attestedin three
targums (Targum Neophyti, Pseudo-Jonathan, and the Fragment
Targum; cf. Genesis Rabba 56:7) whose composition or common
ancestor may go back as early,as the late first or early second century. Thus:
And Abrahamstretchedout his handand took the knife to sacrificehis son Isaac.
Isaac called out to his fatherAbraham:"Father,tie me well lest I kick you and
your sacrificebe rendereduseless and I be pusheddown into the pit of destruction in the world to come" (TargumNeophytiGen. 22:10).26

Up until the discoveryof 4Q225, it was reasonablyconcludedthat this

motif, "IsaacAsked to be Tied Up," was a creationof the late first or
early second century CE at the very earliest. However, the editors
found a hint of it as well in this Qumrantext, thus moving its appearance back by a hundredyears or more. After all, in contrastto the
biblical account,4Q225 does have Isaac say somethingin responseto
his father's reassurance,"God will provide the lamb for the offering
Himself, son." What he says is unfortunatelymissing, but the phrase
"K pno' -ion) is certainlythere, so he
"Isaac said to his father"(TMtA
must have been offeringsome reply to Abraham'swords. What could
Isaac have been saying? As noted, the biblical account has Isaac say
nothing. Since the motif "Isaac Asked to Be Tied Up" does indeed
contain some furtherwords from Isaac to his father, and since those

25 Kugel, Traditions of the Bible 295; cf. J. Guttmann"The

Sacrifice of Isaac:
Variations on a Theme in Early Jewish and ChristianArt," Thiasos ton Mouson:
Studien zu Antike und Christentum:FS Josef Fink (ed. D. Ahrens;Cologne/Vienna:
Boehlau, 1984) 115-22; R.M. Jensen,"The Offeringof Isaac in Jewish and Christian
Tradition:Image and Text"Biblical Interpretation2 (1994) 85-110.
26 For notes on the text and the similar marginal version, see A. Diez Macho,
TargumNeofiti1: targumpalestinenseMs. de la BibliotecaVaticana:TomoI: Genesis
(Madrid1968) 127, 551.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



furtherwords begin with the letter kaph, the same letter that the editors discernedin the continuationof line 4, it seemed reasonableto
the editors to conclude that "Bind me tight.. ." or somethingsimilar
was the missing part of 4Q225. The editors therefore proposed to
restorethe text:


elb I"nttb9 pnsso7s

it .4

4. for Himself."Isaac said to his father,"T[ie me well

This restorationhas met with approvalfrom otherscholars.G. Vermes

disagreed slightly with the wording, proposing instead 'rn rtMrie:
("bindmy hands"),butacceptingtheoverallrestoration.27
somewhat hesitantly agreed, observing that "the restorationmust be
right, even if nrZ is a rare Hebrew word, not appearingin Biblical
Hebrew or otherwise,it seems, in QumranHebrewtexts; it occurs in
F. GarciaMartinezsimlater Talmudictexts and rabbinicwritings."28
ilarly asserts "the reconstructionnM]?proposed in DJD [is] quite
a reasonable one."29Robert Kugler, in a recent article, similarly
endorses the editors' reading.30Even the present author, it must be
confessed, at one time consideredthe proposalat least possible.3'
On furtherconsideration,however, it seems to me that this restoration is most unlikely. To begin with, it comes in the wrong place. In
the targumictradition,Isaac's words to Abrahamare not part of the
same conversationin which Abrahamreassureshim, "God will provide the lamb for the offering Himself, my son." They come much
later. In the meantime,Abrahamand Isaac continuetheirjourneyuntil
they come to "the place that God had designated";then Abraham
builds the altar and arrangesthe wood, and only at that point does
Isaac say, "Tie me well. . ." This matterof timing is not insignificant.
Why should it occur to Isaac to ask to be tied up before the altarhas
been built and the time for the sacrifice has arrived- indeed, before
the two of them have even reached the appointedplace? And there
is a further problem. If, according to the editors, Isaac's "Tie me
well.. ." follows straighton the heels of Abraham'sreassurancethat
"God will provide the lamb for the offering Himself, my son," then

G. Vernes, "New Light on the Sacrifice of Isaac from 4Q225," 142 n. 12.
"The Sacrifice of Isaac in Qumran literature," 219 n. 16.
29 "The Sacrifice of Isaac in 4Q225," 53.
30 "Hearing 4Q225," 94.
31 Traditions of the Bible, 322.


This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



his response is somewhatillogical. Abrahamhas just said, in effect,

"Don't worry, an animal will be provided,"and Isaac acts as if what
he had said was, "Actually,I'm planningon sacrificingyou." Now, as
we have seen, interpretersdid seek to explain Abraham's vague
response as if it were in fact hinting at the truth.The targumsand
later exegetes even suggested that Abraham'swords were to be redivided: "God will provide. The lamb for the offering [is] my son."32
But if that idea were presenthere too, then Abraham'swords to Isaac
in line 3 would have to be restoreddifferently,so that Isaac's request
to be bound would follow on some statement,however worded, to
the effect that he was indeed the one to be sacrificed-something like:
'z 7Wt 01-M*AM A -ri'1 ("AndAbrahamsaid:
-iR Fl nmn
God said that you are to be the lamb that is His").33Such a restoration would fit on line 3. Nevertheless,it still seems to me unlikelythat
Isaac's first response to the informationthat he was to be sacrificed
should be, "Tie me up,"especially since he and his fatherhad not yet
even reachedthe site where the altarwas to be built.
Finally, there is the matterof chronology.True, when one considers things from a distance of two millennia or more, a century can
seem relatively insignificant.Nevertheless,midrashicmotifs, like pottery or any other culturalartifact,exhibit definitepatternsof development. The motif "IsaacWas a Willing Victim"is indeed old, probably
going back at least to the first centuryBCE. But "Isaac Asked to Be
Tied Up" is a quite separatemotif, dependenton it but hardly identical to it. If it is attested,at the very earliest, only in the late first or
early second century CE, to find it in a Qumrantext of the late first
century BCE on the strength of a single letter kaph (and that letter
itself far from clear in the manuscript) seems unwarranted. The
improbabilityof this restorationis compoundedwhen one considers
the various retellings of the Aqedah mentionedabove that were presumably written after 4Q225 (Philo, Abraham, 172; Pseudo-Philo's
LAB 32:2-3, JosephusJA 1:232, 1 Clement31:2-4); even thoughthey
contain the motif "Isaac Was a Willing Victim," they seem to know
nothing of Isaac's request to be bound. One would have to assume


See Tg. Neof. etc. 22:8, Genesis Rabba56:4.

Thereare certainly
~ otherways in which the same idea mighthave been expressed:

* rbuf -tzn*mv,b
-im u-n*t%m:;
("And Abraham said: God told me to
T rlznDfll'
over you as an offering to Him"); * IM ;1:
-m cDiltR Ci'lmtk IMAtI("And

Abrahamsaid: God said to offeryou as the lamb that is His");etc.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



that, while this requestwas known at Qumranin the late first century
BCE (and even earlier, if 4Q225 was not simultaneouswith its creation), it then went undergroundfor a centuryor two or was deliberately passed over-and passed over by writers who nevertheless
subscribedto the idea that Isaac was a willing victim and who thereforewouldhavebeenhardpressedto explainin anyotherway Abraham's
act of tying up a voluntarymartyr-until it resurfacedin targumsand
midrashiccommentariesconnectedwith an entirelydifferentstreamof
Judaism,namely, the rabbinicone. And, on top of all these difficulties, there is still the one mentionedby JosephFitzmyer,that the root
nen is otherwise unattestedin biblical or QumranHebrew.The last
shred of plausibilityfor this restorationthus disappears.
If therestoration"Bindme well . . ."is wrong,thenwhatshouldappear
in its place? Here I think there is every reason to be guided by that
other motif, "IsaacWas a Willing Victim."Since it is attestedin the
first century CE in 4 Maccabees and the writings of Philo of Alexandria,Pseudo-Philo,and Josephus(and perhapsadumbrated,as mentioned, in Judith),one would not be unreasonablein thinkingthat it
might underlie4Q225 as well. Accordingto the versions of PseudoPhilo and Josephus,when AbrahaminformsIsaac that he is to be the
sacrificialvictim, Isaac answers immediately("withdelight"according
to Josephus), telling his father of his willingness to carry out the
divine decree. If, therefore, 4Q225 has Isaac answering something
after his fatherhas just respondedto his questionabout the sacrificial
animal,it would seem likely that Isaac's answerhere ought to be similar to that of Isaac in the Josephus or Pseudo-Philoversion of the
story. A betterrestorationmight thus be somethinglike this:
omv;i rsim rz ttj cri:it btt pno, t6Wi .2
[nac rur rrrn nrmz -ioat =rinlj5t =i-izg -inwi -T* .3
-nDtK ima bi]5 r:tt bt pro, -s it .4


2. Isaac said to Abraham[his father,"Hereare the fire and the wood, but where
is the lamb
3. for the sacrifice?"Abrahamsaid to [his son Isaac, "God told me to offeryou
up as the lamb that is]
4. His." Isaac said to his father,"A[Il that the Lord has told you, so shall you

3 Again, there are certainlyother possibilities:this line might have read n*tMn
rr)Di nirn mrlan ("Overcomeyour pity and offer me as a sacrifice")or some such,
if the readingD is correct.Abraham'sovercominghis paternallove was certainlya
themethatwas knownat the time of 4Q225; cf. the descriptionof Abrahamin Wisdom
of Solomon 10:5, "It was she [Wisdom] who ... recognized the righteous man

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



In the next line, line 5, we move to the angels' reaction in heaven:

now seeing that Abrahamand Isaac have agreed and are determined
to carry out God's command, the good angels weep and the bad
angels rejoice, whereuponGod can say, "Now I have made it known
to all..."
It may well be that my restorationis wrong-for example, 4Q225
might have stuck even closer to the biblical text, having Abrahamsay
somethinglike: * 10tAi-lt-T1:~ism'1m*A
("Godwill provideus with
the lamb that is His") to which Isaac still could have answered,5In
n0n pI J'mt 1IOR nm ("All that the Lord has told you, so shall
you do"). In all likelihood we shall never know. But for all the reasons mentioned,to supposethat 4Q225 had Isaac asking to-be tied up
seems a much less likely possibility than any of these other proposals. Whateverthe precise wording, the fact that Isaac answerssomething to Abraham'swords about the sacrificialanimal (in contrastto
his answering nothing in the biblical text) suggests that the motif
"IsaacWas a Willing Victim"may indeedhave figuredin 4Q225. But
the other motif that derived from it, "Isaac Asked to Be Tied Up,"
most probablyhad no place in this text.
Angels ThoughtIsrael Was Done For
In seeking to supply the missing parts of 4Q225, the editors stopped
short of filling out the whole of lines 5-6 of column 2:

nm-n] b5ua4zi::rz-niuv-tp -,DRtm.s

'ZK501rlKi 70 ii]: nx .6

5. The angels of holiness were standingweeping above [the altar

6. his sons from the earth.The angels of the Ma[stemah

As the editors explain in their notes, the suggestion that the angels
were weeping on the altar,FT=m , is based on some of the rabbinic
parallels alreadydiscussed. This is certainlypossible. We have seen,
however, that the element of their being located directly above the
altar so that they weep downwards upon it appears to have been

[Abrahamiand kept him blameless before God, and steeled him against pity for his
child."(Of course,it was preciselyAbraham'sfailureto offer any argumentwhen God
commandedhim to sacrifice Isaac, and the absence of any mentionof pity or regret
on his part at the prospect of killing his own son, that constituted a problem for
ancient-and modern-interpreters,which is why Wisdomof Solomon says what it

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



introducedby rabbinicexegetes in order to explain the purposeof a

motif that was no longer understood(that is, the angels' tears were
now construedto have destroyedAbraham'sknife or to be responsible for Isaac's eventualblindness).Since these ideas were apparently
not part of the original "weeping angels" motif, the precise wording
found in these rabbinic texts hardly imposes itself here. Perhaps
instead of weeping downwardsonto the altar, the angels in 4Q225
simply wept
, "over [that is, concerning]him" (i.e., Isaac, mentioned in the previousline) or nir' "over them."35
Whateverthe case, the missing end of this line and its connection
to the next line remainto be explained.It seems to me that the missing words must have related somethingthat the angels said-that is,
they were "weepingand saying"-and that what they said must have
in some way been connectedto the fact of their weeping. The initial
words of line 6 make this likely: they seem to be saying that, as
a result of what is going on beneath the angels, "his children"will
apparentlybe removed "from the land." Are the angels not weeping
because they now see (and say) that the descendants of Abraham
and/orIsaac are about to be finishedoff by this one act of slaughter?
By this logic, the element his in "his children"(rm) ought to refer
either to Abrahamor Isaac-and either would certainlybe possible.
On reflection,however, it seems to me more likely that the reference
is to God. After all, the people of Israel are called God's children
in Deut. 14:1, and this phrase, "God's children,"came to be used
at Qumran and elsewhere as a shorthand reference to Israel.36I
would thereforeproposeto restorethe missingwords as: I*zIn 0-nimi
rnKUIn vr rmn0,7m*R("And they said: Will God cause his children
to disappearfrom the earth?")That is: how can God allow Abraham
to kill Isaac, since this will mean not only the death of one person,
but the end of the futurepeople of Israel?Such a questionwould be
particularlyappropriatefor the "angels of holiness" to ask, since,
according to Jubilees, God had paired this highest class of angels,
along with the "angels of the presence,"with Israel from the time of

1s Rachel weeps rT":'D over (that is, concerning)her childrenin Jer. 31:15; the
same idea is otherwiseexpressedby the verb 7103followed by the directobjector the
prepositions itRor 7. The combination gDMZZis never used in a locative sense in biblical Hebrew.
36See J. Kugel,"4Q369'Prayerof Enosh' and AncientBiblicalInterpretation,"
5 (1998), esp. 128-31.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



the creationof the world. He had establishedthat Israelwould be circumcised as these angels were (Jub. 15:27), and that Israel would
keep the Sabbath on earth the way these angels keep Sabbath in
heaven (2:18-20). And now it looked as if these angels' earthly
cousins were about to be destroyed!Of course they wept.
It is to be noted that the editors have left the end of line 6 blank.
This line could certainly be filled out in one way or another-for
example, DT2Yln
D"ntroD'rmw (". . . were standing in the heavens across

from them")-although there is nothing in particularthat seems requiredhere.

"NowHe Is Finished!"
We come finally to the interrelatedproblemsfound in the four lines
that conclude this retelling:
Zunnol rt =blh -13R,10D. nnIlgl onnir
: 0K ott trYd '
[tt-p'l ='U1ttbcU:-m1AI= ttsm
L I TD1I-nl nngn
m>1r mnwnorinttaornnit
ln: n,
pnrr1nit mm"kRI-In :nm rm t 'b



7. being happy and saying "Now he will perish."And in all this the Princeof
the Mastemahwas testing whether]
8. he would be foundweak, and whetherA[braham]shouldnot be found faithful (to God. He called,]
9. "Abraham,Abraham!"He said, "HereI am." He said, "N(ow I know that
10. he will not be loving."God the Lord blessed Is[aac all the days of his life.
He became the fatherof

The editors' proposed restoration of the first line of this passage,

ONnn:C: -t-i i-ron"Mt
strikes me as rather unlikely on two
grounds. First, Dt . .. . ln

("was testing whether. . .") is not a con-

structionfound elsewhere in biblical Hebrew. More significantly, it

was not the angel Mastemahwho was testing Abraham,but God-it
says so specifically in Gen. 22:1 and this idea is repeatedthroughout
the entire exegetical tradition.Beyond these two points, to have these
' n, "Now he will perish,"without another
wicked angels say -MWn
word, seems somewhatcryptic.Who are they talkingabout?The word
can indeed mean "perish,"in which case they might be taLking
about Isaac; but the very next line seems to suggest that they feel
Isaac's demise to be far from certain, that is, it is not yet clear to
these angels whether(to quote the editors' translation)"he [Abraham]
would be found weak, and whether A[braham]should not be found
faithful [to God]."These two lines thus do not fit well togetherif rnka4

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



is taken to refer to Isaac's imminentdeath. Moreover,it should be

noted that -1ltAcan sometimes refer to something other than actual
physicaldeath-"vanish" (Mic. 7:2), "diy up" (of a stream,Job 6:18),
and so forth. For that reason, I would preferto understandrrnA'
as a
slightly metaphoricalreferenceto the fix in which Abrahamfindshimself at this moment: "Now he is finished!", "Now he is lost!", or
somethingsimilar.To have Abrahambe the subjectof this verb seems
more probableon anothergroundas well: afterall, it is Abrahamwho
is being tested, and the whole focus in this and the following line is
on him and his dilemma,not on Isaac.
AbrahamWill Not Be False
The editors' restorationof the missing part of this line or nrt'z=
(just discussed)was doubtlesspromptedby the difficult
0t rimo n
syntax of the next line:
[A-ip'l D'U1rr*tor-nl:klot



;bmb t4x


8. he would be found weak, and whetherA[braham]should not be found faithful [to God. He called,]

A minorpoint about this translation:while it is true that the root Crr

(translatedby the editors as "be weak") has a fairly broad lexical
range in biblical Hebrew ("be disappointing, deceive, fail, grow
lean"-BDB), the word seems in later times to have narrowedto
mean, specifically,"lie, deceive."This is clearly reflectedin Qumran
Hebrewat, for example,4Q159 Ordinancesa, frag. 2-4, line 9; 4Q169
Nahum Pesher, frag. 3-4 col. 2, line 2; lQCommunityRule, col. 10
line 22. The same sense is reflectedin the survivingHebrewfragments
of Ben Sira, which include two occurrencesof the noun form sn: (at
7:13 and 41:17); in both cases this word was renderedas "falsehood,
lie" (WF,ez&o;)
by the ancientGreektranslator.Thus, to translateOnMas
"liar"in our passage would seem more accuratethan "weak."In the
present context, however, even "liar" might fall a bit short of the
mark, since QrIzis apparentlybeing used here as the opposite of
1=9: "faithful."It might thus be preferableto translatethe word as
"unfaithful" or, if one wished to capturemore of the flavor of On:,
perhaps"false,"since, by a happycoincidence,"false"in English,too,
can mean both "untruthful"and "unfaithful"(a "false friend"),just
as, in English as well as in Hebrew, truthand faithfulnessare connected-both are called nrrt in biblical Hebrew,cf. English "my true
friend,""my true love," "to ply one's troth."

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



Of course, the use of IMMand its opposite in the context of the

bindingof Isaac is hardlycoincidental.The word JN] had become, on
the basis of Neh. 9:7-8, the adjectivefor Abraham,a referenceto his
willingness to offer his son to God (Jubileesuses this word no fewer
than five times in describingAbraham).37
What the fragmentaryline 8
thus seems to be doing is presentingtwo equally unpleasantoutcomes
to this test: either "Abrahamwill be found to be false, or if not, he
will be found to be faithful."In the first instance,he fails the test; in
the second, he passes, but at the cost of his own son's life. No wonder the wicked angels proclaimAbrahama goner! If this understanding is correct,thenthemissingpartof line 7 musthavereferredspecifically
to what Abrahamhad to do in order to fail the test. Since the biblical narrativementions (twice!) what Abrahamdid not do, namely,
withhold(lCr) his son, it seems likely that the missing portionof line
7 might have used precisely this word in setting out the test-failing
The two lines might thus be restored:
vr .7
[iimnitmmzttI=, mrb-nw^inv: 'm,tmiw
[JMtnnwiP'l ln: rimb=]Al>: ttxn tO cR1trb Yttz'.8
7. rejoicingand saying, "Now he is finished.For if Abrahamwithholdshis son
8. he will be found to be false; and if not, he will be found faithful,b[ut his son
will die." And the angel called

The final two lines presenta seemingly impossibleproblem:

ncxn 'nrr nm ,-nn rnn .9
I 'z 'rwr Mnnv
nmmr,K7 .10
Ins-i~n i,n
lb m, z prilb,mmi;n,'
t 1-n' : n

The words Dils -MMRt seem to refer to Abraham,but surely the point
of the angel's words cannot be that Abraham"will not be one who
loves," since he has just demonstratedthe extent of his love for God.
Indeed,Abrahamis referredto as "one who loves God" in two biblical verses, Isa. 41:8 and 2 Chron.20:7. Thereis anotherproblem:Dins
should have some sort of object, since "one who loves" alone seems
an odd and incomplete reference. For both these reasons I would
3' Traditionsof the Bible, 308-9. J. Levensonhas observedthat, while Neh. 9:7-8
uses the word 10m, it is probablynot at all a referenceto Abraham'swillingness to
sacrificehis son-there is no specific evocationof that incidentin the whole passage;
see his Death and Resurrectionof the Beloved Son: The Transformationof Child
Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity(New Haven: Yale, 1993) 175. Little matter,
however; certainly from the time of Jubilees and Ben Sira on, Ins: in Neh. 9:8
was construedas a referenceto the Aqedah and became the hallmarkof Abraham's
38 My thanksto ProfessorMenahemKister for this suggestion.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



suggest that the scribe must have misread':fltN ("the one who loves
Me") as :lMN,omittingby haplographythe yodh adjacentto the nearlyidenticalwaw of the next word, 1nDS1If so, then the two lines might
be restoredas follows:
n nn];7-ntvi
m'rn nnti -nnnnt cnn:zt .9
m tt .10
'T 'n ' 1:prr] nr n1nm
"lkI '->:ntI>
[nr -r'ln In
9. "Abraham,Abraham!"He said, "HereI am." He said, "N[ow I have made
known to everyonethat
10. the one who loves Me cannotbe false." God the Lordblessed Is[aac all the
days of his life. He became the fatherof

In keeping with what was said earlier,Inrn nflI must be understood

as "Now I have made known," and to that end the word 'Iz: ("to
everyone")would have been added in, as in Jubilees.The word nz.,
used a second time here, would made explicit the test's outcomeAbrahamcould never be false, the "one who loves Me" has been
shown to be Ir:-and the use of this word might also hark back
to the word flwrtwo lines earlier, that is,"withhold"in Gen. 22:12
and 16.39

Below, then, is a restoration of 4Q225 incorporatingthe above

4Q225 Pseudo-Jubilees
column i
I=r-16[1--IC w2n: pno. Inc nm tk-10,1D[t1nntk] .9
C-IR ntt c,wn Oini| m
0"T: A m:ro,
' .11
l nz np
[,r-Mn nzl n K prwnnfl2Z
I n'wrT'7
vinvni nrjKrit otK].12
cj[mzrI] &rnn-irTi
m .13
[nam-rnf %'unrnnmz im[(i"h :nilpnnt
fl' h -it V*]
n-n1] .14
Ito4i'r n-lin r-l 'tk I[1'I-l
column ii

nsJ if['1 v [-.rt ]45[?'v] .1

[inn' i:z n I= prwo 5D c,n
l .2
[nonnl'1wasD1I VanTnin 1'r:K:nZt% " priv
nnti : r:io J-ni1't% f-ttn-imitn
[-rn nDZ D'ri
-iol 115
kkprio,' CRit
[no.un Cbln*ttr -iott m
0'1-70D'U1 0`p 'ZKOn
[C'U19*D'^ 1:1-MRI1']5VMII
naoolan :Dtftl r-it In i':: nK
[[:n:m noosnow
-intt iozu ='tnlKl C'n
[in M* nn-mt lion, OK]1i



39 On the confusion of the sibilants : and V specifically with orT, see Qimron,
Hebrewof the Dead Sea Scrolls, 29.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

[RLKnn wipn in no bZJA
lom x=r' tO cRi tn K2=r
wi mriinn omR: :nn7m
[ornz z: 5iD nu-r -nWk-nio
n ~n prl' nrt nnm~t i1n: <>
fnr -rn i,' oT
-1fr '* rit#
vacat 'Ot
nK 171:MpIr7-11pD


9. [to Abrahalm,and he namedhim Isaac. Then the Princeof the Ma[s]temah

10. (to Gold and accused AbrahamregardingIsaac. And [G]od said
11. [to Abra]ham:Take your son, Isaac, [your] on[ly one from Sarah,whom]
12. you [love] and offer him to me as a whole burnt-offeringon one of the
[high] mountains
13. [which I will designate]for you. And he got [up and wlen[t] from the wells
near Gerarwhich
14. [his servantshad dug and he we]n[t to the land of Moriah.]And Ab[raham]
column ii

1. [his eyles [and therewas a] fire, and he se[t the wood on his son Isaac, and
they went together.]
2. Isaac said to Abraham [his father, "Here are the fire and the wood, but
where is the lamb
3. for the sacrifice?"Abrahamsaid to [his son Isaac, "God has said that you
are to be the lamb that is]
4. His." Isaac said to his father,"A[ll that the Lord has told you, so shall you
5. The angels of holiness were standingweeping above [him, saying, "Shall
God annihilate]
6. his sons from the earth?The angels of the Ma[stemahstood across from
them in the heavens,]
7. rejoicingand saying, "Now he is lost. [For if Abrahamwithholdshis son, he
will be found to be]
8. false; and if not, he will be found faithful,b[ut his son will die." And the
angel called]
9. "Abraham,Abraham!"He said, "HereI am." He said, "N[ow I have made
known to everyone that]
10. the one who loves Me cannotbe false." God the Lordblessed ls[aac all the
days of his life. He became the fatherof]
11. Jacob, and Jacob became the fatherof Levi, a [third]generation.Vacat

4Q225 and Jubilees

It remainsonly to considerthese variousobservationsin an attemptto
arrive at a clearer understanding of the nature of our text and,
specifically,its relationshipto the book of Jubilees.
Certainly4Q225 sometimes agrees with, and sometimes disagrees
with, the account in the book of Jubilees. It agrees with Jubilees in
identifyingthe angel Mastemahas the instigatorof the challenge (no
such challenge is mentioned in the biblical account and, of course,
there is no Mastemahmentionedin Genesis). It may also agree with

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



Jubilees in explaining"Now I know" as "Now I have made known,"

thoughthese words can only be conjectured,since that partof the text
is missing. On the other hand, 4Q225 disagrees with Jubilees in its
readingr7Tnin Gen. 22:3 as opposed to Jubilees'r'9V. 4Q225 also
changes the position of the name "Isaac"as it appearsin both Gen.
22:2 and Jub. 18:2; the Qumrantext may also contain(if my restoration is correct)the exegetical addition 7-100 in col. 1 line 11. It furthercontainsthe exegetical additionof fl ItlA in col. 1 line 13 as well
as the exegetical motif of the weeping and rejoicingangels. None of
these is present in Jubilees. Since 4Q225 clearly has Isaac answer
somethingafter Abraham'sresponse to his question about the sacrificial lamb, it seems altogetherlikely that 4Q225 containedsome version of the motif "Isaac the Willing Victim" (even if this motif was
presented without the later modification of Isaac's request to be
bound).This motif, as well, is absent from the book of Jubilees.
All this seems to indicate that the authorof 4Q225 was familiar
with exegetical and othertraditionsquite separatefrom those found in
the book of Jubilees.At the same time, this text's identificationof the
proximatecause of the Aqedah as a challenge from an angel named
Mastemahbears the unique stamp of Jubilees.In all likelihood,then,
4Q225 is the work of an authorwho was familiarwith Jubilees and
consideredit an authoritativetext, but who also felt free to incorporate in his retelling exegetical traditions from elsewhere. The use
of such unbiblical language as ltDZ ("now") further suggests that
texts was not-as may be supposed
the purposeof "pseudo-Jubilees"
in the case of Jubilees-to create a reasonable imitation of sacred
Scripture,but simply to explain and elaborateon texts that were considered Scripturein this author's own day. In this respect, 4Q225
might be compared to the Genesis Apocryphonand other Qumran
texts that seek, throughthe retellingof biblical narrative,to comment
on and clarify problematicelements.40

40 Comparethese last remarkswith those of VanderKamin "TheAqedah,Jubilees,

259-61. I fully endorsehis conclusions,albeit on slightly differand PseudoJubilees,"
ent grounds.

This content downloaded from on Wed, 7 Jan 2015 15:00:14 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions