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Maskil, Community, and Religious Experience in the Songs of the Sage (4Q510–511) 1

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Abstract The present study seeks to illuminate how the recitation of the prophylactic magical hymns known as 4QSongs of the Sage engendered religious experience for worshipers. Previous research on this composition has focused on locating it within the broader streams of early Jewish magical and apocalyptic tradition, but little attention has been paid to the apotropaic function of the Songs within the larger religious experiential framework implied by the text. This study argues that despite the lack of concrete information pertaining to ritual praxis, the language of the Songs reveals that participation in the ritual was designed to bring worshipers to understand themselves as realizing essential Qumranite ideals such as perfect purity and supernal knowledge, and to experience communion with the angels in the image of “the eternal sanctuary.” It is suggested that the protection from the demons offered by the Songs is not so much the result of “magic” as it is a natural outcome of the perceived attainment of these ideals.

1. FN11 I wish to thank Dr. Shalom Holtz and Dr. Ari Mermelstein for their valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this paper, as well as the anonymous DSD readers for offering several very helpful suggestions.
2. FN22 See M. Baillet, Qumran grotte 4.III (4Q482–4Q520) (DJD 7; Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), 215, 219.
3. FN33 On the Maskil at Qumran, see H. Kosmala, “Maskil,” JANESCU 5 (1973): 235–41; C. Newsom, “The Sage in the Literature of Qumran: The Functions of the Maskil,” in The Sage in Israel and the Ancient Near East (ed. J. G. Gammie and L. G. Perdue; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 373–82; A. Lange, Weisheit und Prädestination: weisheitliche Urordnung und Prädestination in den Textfunden von Qumran (STDJ 18; Leiden: Brill, 1995), 144–64; C. Hempel, “The Qumran Sapiential Texts and the Rule Books,” in The Wisdom Texts from Qumran and the Development of Sapiential Thought (ed. C. Hempel, A. Lange, and H. Lichtenberger; Leuven: Peeters, 2002), 277–95 at 286–94; C. Newsom, The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing Identity and Community at Qumran (STDJ 52; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 169–74, 189–90. The phrase “spiritual mentor” is utilized by P. S. Alexander, “Rules,” Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2:800.
4. FN44 See further the remarks of C. Newsom, “Sectually Explicit Literature from Qumran,” in The Hebrew Bible and Its Interpreters (ed. D. N. Freedman; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 183–84. For an alternative view, see J. Maier, “Songs of the Sage,” Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2:889–90. He rejects the notion of sectarian authorship and suggests that the composition represents “a source for the liturgy at the Temple in Jerusalem” (890).
5. FN55 Cf. A. Lieber, “Voice and Vision: Song as a Vehicle for Ecstatic Experience in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice,” in Of Scribes and Sages: Early Jewish Interpretation and Transmission of Scripture (ed. C. Evans; 2 vols.; London: T&T Clark, 2004), 2:51–58.
6. FN66 See 1 En. 75:1–2; 82:4–6. B. Nitzan, Qumran Prayer and Religious Poetry (trans. J. Chipman; STDJ 12; Leiden: Brill, 1994), 238.
7. FN77 E. Eshel, “Apotropaic Prayers in the Second Temple Period,” in Liturgical Perspectives: Prayer and Poetry in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 19–23 January 2000 (ed. E. Chazon; STDJ 48; Leiden: Brill 2003), 69–88 at 83–84.
8. FN88 After Baillet’s edition, the most extensive work on the text has been done by Nitzan, Qumran Prayer, 227–72; eadem,“Hymns from Qumran: 4Q510–511,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research (ed. D. Dimant and U. Rappaport; STDJ 10; Leiden: Brill, 1992), 53–63; eadem, “שירי שבח מקומראן 'לפחד ולבהל' רוחות רשע,” Tarbiz 55 (1986): 19–46. See also the responses of J. M. Baumgarten and I. Ta-Shema to the last article cited in the same volume of Tarbiz (pp. 440–45), as well as Nitzan’s reply (mainly to Ta-Shema’s criticism) on pp. 603–5 [all in Hebrew].
9. FN99 The terminology belongs to A. Lange, “The Essene Position on Divination and Magic,” in Legal Texts and Legal Issues: Proceedings of the Second Meeting of the International Organization for Qumran Studies, Cambridge, 1995 Published in Honour of Joseph M. Baumgarten (ed. M. Bernstein, F. García Martínez, and J. Kampen; STDJ 23; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 377–435 at 431.
10. FN1010 See, e.g., Nitzan, Qumran Prayer, 227–72, esp. 244–52; eadem “Hymns from Qumran: 4Q510–511,” 53–63. Cf. Eshel, “Apotropaic Prayers,” 87. This is apparently one of the reasons why Eshel classifies 4QSongs of the Sage as an “apotropaic prayer” rather than an incantation.
11. FN1111 See, e.g., the interpretation of Lange, “The Essene Position,” 431–33.
12. FN1212 My translation here follows that of M. Wise, M. Abegg, and E. Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 415.
13. FN1313 See also 4Q511 10 1; 35 7; as well as 4Q511 2 ii 3, which mentions “the congregation of bastards.”
14. FN1414 For further discussion of the identification of the demons mentioned in the Songs in relation to other Second Temple period texts, see Nitzan, “שירי שבח מקומראן,” 22–29. See also G. Ibba, “The Evil Spirits in Jubilees and the Spirit of the Bastards in 4Q510 with Some Remarks on Other Qumran Manuscripts,” Henoch 31 (2009): 111–16; P. S. Alexander, “ ‘Wrestling against Wickedness in High Places’: Magic in the Worldview of the Qumran Community,” in The Scrolls and the Scriptures: Qumran Fifty Years After (ed. S. E. Porter and C. A. Evans; JSPSup 26; Roehampton Institute London Papers 3; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 318–37, esp. 319–24.
15. FN1515 R. Rappaport, Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (Cambridge Studies in Cultural Anthropology 110; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 104.
16. FN1616 For a recent illustration of the benefits of the application of ritual studies (and, specifically, the idea of ritual as engendering common knowledge that fosters coordinated action) to Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship, see R. Kugler, “Of Calendars, Community Rules, and Common Knowledge: Understanding 4QSe-4QOtot, with Help from Ritual Studies,” in Rediscovering the Dead Sea Scrolls: An Assessment of Old and New Approaches and Methods (ed. M. Grossman; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 215–28.
17. FN1717 See P. Wernberg-Møller, The Manual of Discipline: Translated and Annotated with an Introduction (STDJ 1; Leiden: Brill, 1957), 74.
18. FN1818 See D. Flusser “Qumran and Jewish ‘Apotropaic’ Prayers,” IEJ 16 (1966): 194–205. He notes instances of concern with knowledge (among other shared interests) in Levi’s Prayer in ALD, the Plea for Deliverance (11QPsa 19), Psalm 155 (11QPsa 24), the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9–14; Luke 11:2–4), as well as rabbinic prayer.
19. FN1919 Verse numbering and translation follow J. Greenfield, M. Stone, and E. Eshel, The Aramaic Levi Document: Edition, Translation, Commentary (SVTP 19; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 60–63.
20. FN2020 Trans. J. VanderKam, The Book of Jubilees (CSCO 511; Scriptores Aethiopici 88; Louvain: Peeters, 1989), 72.
21. FN2121 Following the reasonable reconstructions of Baillet, DJD 7:235.
22. FN2222 Following the suggestion of Nitzan, Qumran Prayer, 270. See also F. García Martínez and E. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition [2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1997–1998], 2:1035.
23. FN2323 Cf. Nitzan, Qumran Prayer, 265–72. In her words, “the religious authority of the spirit exorciser is . . . expressed . . . in songs of thanksgiving for the grace of his election to praise God” (272).
24. FN2424 See, e.g., 4Q511 1 7–8; 18 ii 7–8.
25. FN2525 A close parallelism between these texts was briefly noted by Newsom, “Sectually Explicit,” 183. While it is quite possible that the Treatise is a pre-sectarian composition (see, e.g., Lange, Weisheit und Prädestination, 126–28; H. Stegemann, Die Essener, Qumran, Johannes der Täufer und Jesus: ein Sachbuch [Freiburg: Herder, 1993], 154), from its present literary context in the Rule of the Community, there is no question that it was adopted and cherished by the Qumran community. See further J. J. Collins, “Sectarian Consciousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Heavenly Tablets: Interpretation, Identity, and Tradition in Ancient Judaism (ed. L. LiDonnici and A. Lieber; JSJSup 119; Leiden: Brill, 2007), 177–92 at 186, who characterizes the Treatise as “remarkably congenial with sectarian ideology.” On the complex issues related to the process of the incorporation of the Treatise into the Rule of the Community, see C. Hempel, “The Treatise on the Two Spirits and the Literary History of the Rule of the Community,” in Dualism in Qumran (ed. G. Xeravits; Library of Second Temple Studies 76; London: T&T Clark, 2010), 102–20.
26. FN2626 For בני אור, see 1QS 3:24 and 4Q510 1 7. For ישרים, see 1QS 4:22 and 4Q511 10 7. For תמימי דרך, see 1QS 4:22 and 4Q510 1 9.
27. FN2727 Even if the Treatise originated elsewhere, Qumran community members would have understood the phrase “the sons of truth” as a reference to themselves. Cf. note 25 above.
28. FN2828 It is worth noting Newsom’s characterization of the way participation in divine knowledge allowed community members to transcend the limitations of historical time (The Self as Symbolic Space, 83): “Although the human knower is located in the temporal realm, the ultimate object of knowledge, the plan of God, is not. From the perspective that the knowledge of that plan allows, past, present, and future are simultaneously available.” Cf. E. Wolfson’s comments on the function of knowledge in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, “Seven Mysteries of Knowledge: Qumran E/sotericism Recovered,” in The Idea of Biblical Interpretation: Essays in Honor of James L. Kugel (ed. H. Najman and J. Newman; JSJSup 83; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 177–213, at 206–7.
29. FN2929 והמשכלים יזהרו כזהר הרקיע ומצדיקי הרבים ככוכבים לעולם ועד. It is interesting to note that this verse from Daniel is often cited by scholars as a scriptural inspiration for the application of the terms משכיל and הרבים to the Qumran leader and community respectively in sectarian literature. On the appropriation of the language of the book of Daniel at Qumran, see M. Henze, The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar: The Ancient Near Eastern Origins and Early History of Interpretation of Daniel 4 (JSJSup 61; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 217–43. See also C. Hempel, “Maskil(im) and Rabbim: From Daniel to Qumran,” in Biblical Traditions in Transmission: Essays in Honour of Michael A. Knibb (ed. C. Hempel and J. Lieu; JSJSup 111; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 133–56.
30. FN3030 See C. Morray-Jones, “The Temple Within: The Embodied Divine Image and Its Worship in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Early Jewish and Christian Sources,” SBLSP 37 (1998): 400–31, esp. 421. Reprinted in Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism (ed. A. D. DeConick; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006), 145–78.
31. FN3131 See J. Duhaime, “Dualism,” Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2:216; S. Metso, The Serekh Texts (Library of Second Temple Studies 62; Companion to the Qumran Scrolls 9; London: T&T Clark, 2007), 8–9, 26–28.
32. FN3232 For כלכל as an auxiliary verb in Qumran Hebrew with the meaning “to be able,” see M. Bernstein, “ ‘כלכל’ שמשמעותו ‘יכל’,” Leš 67 (2004): 45–48. The translation “is able” follows Bernstein’s suggestion over against more commonly seen translations such as Baillet’s (DJD 7:220), “ne pourra résister.”
33. FN3333 Interestingly, while the Songs contain numerous references to shining light, perhaps by chance, there is only one occurrence of the word חושך (4Q511 28–29 4), and there it refers not to the demons but to the Maskil’s own humble human origins.
34. FN3434 ותרומת שפתים למשפט כניחוח צדק.
35. FN3535 DJD 7:248: “adoration en esprit et en vérité, opposée à celle qui se pratique au Temple.”
36. FN3636 Basically following Nitzan, Qumran Prayer, 270, n. 147. I accept her suggestion that the fragment depends on Ps 91 and Isa 49:2, which serves as a crucial basis for her reconstruction and translation.
37. FN3737 The Self as Symbolic Space, 189.
38. FN3838 It may be noted that according to the reconstruction of 1QHa 9:37 suggested in H. Stegemann, E. Schuller, and C. Newsom, 1QHodayota with Incorporation of 1QHodayotb and 4QHodayota–f (DJD 40; Oxford: Clarendon, 2009), 119, 128, the phrase [כול ישרי ד] רך appears in close proximity to the designation תמימי דרך (1QHa 9:38).
39. FN3939 Cf. the application of the term תמימי דרך to the angels in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (4Q403 1 i 22 and parallels).
40. FN4040 Cf. 1QS 2:2–3, where the “perfect” community members (ההולכים תמים בכול דרכיו) are associated with the blessing of enlightenment of the heart (ויאר לבכה), “insight for living” (שכל חיים), and “eternal knowledge” (דעת עולמים).
41. FN4141 This direction of influence is suggested by the fact that the Treatise was incorporated into its current Yahadic literary context at the latest by the date of 1QS, which is usually placed between 100–75 B.C.E. (see J. H. Charlesworth, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations: Rule of the Community and Related Documents [PTSDSSP 1; Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1994], 2). As noted above, the Songs make reference to the “Yahad,” and both manuscripts appear to date to the end of the first century B.C.E.
42. FN4242 Translation follows Charlesworth, ed., The Dead Sea Scrolls (PTSDSSP 1), 39.
43. FN4343 Cf. 1QS 3:9; 8:9–10. Several other passages in the Rule of the Community emphasize that in order to share in the pure food and other privileges in the holy community, initiates must “walk perfectly.” See 1QS 8:18; 9:9; cf. 2:2.
44. FN4444 For a more detailed consideration of this passage, see below.
45. FN4545 In this light it is interesting to note the characterization of their praises in 4Q511 1 5 as salvific: יגילו . . . ברנ [ות ] ישועות (cf. 4Q511 10 8–9: בכנור ישועות [יפת] חו פה).
46. FN4646 Here I am indebted to Newsom, The Self as Symbolic Space, 191–286.
47. FN4747 C. Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 95.
48. FN4848 For a recent critique of the reluctance of scholars to recognize mysticism in the Qumran documents and an argument to incorporate this evidence into the history of western mystical tradition, see P. S. Alexander, “Qumran and the Genealogy of Western Mysticism,” in New Perspectives on Old Texts: Proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 9–11 January, 2005 (ed. E. Chazon and B. Halpern-Amaru in collaboration with R. Clements; STDJ 88; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 215–35. See also Alexander’s more detailed arguments in his The Mystical Texts (LSTS 61; London: T&T Clark, 2006).
49. FN4949 Here I depend on Henry Corbin, Temple and Contemplation (trans. P. Sherrard; London: KPI in association with Islamic Publications, 1986), 263–390, as well as the distillation of Corbin’s thought on the imago templi and the imaginal realm in the work of Elliot Wolfson. See Wolfson, “Seven Mysteries of Knowledge;” idem, “Sacred Space and Mental Iconography: Imago Templi and Contemplation in Rhineland Jewish Pietism,” in Ki Baruch Hu: Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Judaic Studies in Honor of Baruch A. Levine (ed. R. Chazan, W. Hallo, and L. Schiffman; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1999), 593–634.
50. FN5050 The מלאכי כבודו of 4Q511 35 are the single exception. But this phrase may be read as an elliptical version of מלאכי מאורות כבודו.
51. FN5151 See M. Davidson, Angels at Qumran: A Comparative Study of 1 Enoch 1–36, 72–108 and Sectarian Writings from Qumran (JSPSup 11; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992), 283. The relationship of this fragment with Gen 1 (particularly vv. 14 and 16) is also noted by Baillet, DJD 7:222.
52. FN5252 C. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ 42; Leiden: Brill, 2002), 174–75.
53. FN5353 Cf. 4Q511 8; 35 2.
54. FN5454 Cf. the discussion of J. Davila, Liturgical Works (Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls 6; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001],) 102; and C. Fletcher-Louis, “Heavenly Ascent or Incarnational Presence? A Revisionist Reading of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice,” SBLSP 37 (1998): 367–99 at 373–74.
55. FN5555 Cf. Baillet’s observation about the language of lines 9–10: “les perpectives terrestre et céleste sont peut-être voluntairement confondues” (DJD 7:222).
56. FN5656 Baillet, DJD 7:222.
57. FN5757 Wolfson, “Sacred Space and Mental Iconography,” 596.
58. FN5858 The verb תכן appears one other time in the composition, in the question preserved by 4Q511 30 6 (יוכל איש לתכן את ריח (רוח) [אלוהים]), and may be restored with relative certainty in line 4 of the same fragment, which reworks Isa 40:12, ושמים בזרת תכן. Here the verb תכן is associated with God’s acts of creation as cosmic architect.
59. FN5959 Indeed, according to the seventh of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, it is the liturgy itself that somehow contains the experience of the divine glory: “In the splendor of the praises is the glory of His kingship” (בהדר תשבחות כבוד מלכותו; 4Q403 1 i 32). Cf. Wolfson, “Seven Mysteries,” 197–98.
60. FN6060 Cf. 4Q511 63–64 ii 2–3: ובמועדי תעודותי אספרה נפלאותיכה.
61. FN6161 Temple and Contemplation, 320–28. In Corbin’s words, “ ‘Liturgical time,’ continuously recurrent and reversible [is] the time of the ‘angelic presence’ . . . the rupture or ‘end’ of linear chronological time . . . There is synchronicity—interpenetration—between the liturgy celebrated in the celestial Temple and that celebrated in the earthly Temple [i.e., the Qumran community]” (323). His point about the Qumranite experience of liturgical time is born out by other Qumran liturgical compositions that link the narration of hymns of praise before God to participation with the angels. See esp. 1QHa 11:22–24; 19:4–6, 10–14 (line and column numbers follow DJD 40).
62. FN6262 Against the translations of Nitzan (Qumran Prayer, 242), Vermes (The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English [5th ed.; New York: Allen Lane, 1997], 422), and B. Frennesson, (“In a Common Rejoicing”: Liturgical Communion with Angels in Qumran [SSU 14; Uppsala: University of Uppsala Press, 1999], 74), the hiphʿil form of the root קדש takes a direct object in the accusative (see GKC §119). Therefore the bet should be understood in the sense “among.” For this reading, see D. Parry and E. Tov, The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader, Vol. 6: Additional Genres and Unclassified Texts (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 185; J. Davila, “Heavenly Ascents in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment (ed. J. VanderKam and P. Flint; 2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1998–1999) 2:479, n. 48.
63. FN6363 It is also possible to interpret the Hebrew such that the מזוקקי שבעתים are the recipients of God’s wrath mentioned in lines 1–2, while the sanctification is reserved for the קדושים alone. So Baillet, DJD 7:237, “et pur la ra[ge de] la colère de Dieu contre les sept fois purifiés. Et parmi (les) saints, Dieu (en) consacre[ra] pour Lui.” See also García Martínez and Tigchelaar, Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition 2:1033; Parry and Tov, The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader, 6:185. However, considering the likelihood that מזוקקי שבעתים refers to elect humanity, I prefer to read them as an object of God’s sanctification.
64. FN6464 Cf. the discussion of the phrase קדושי עמו in 4Q511 2 i 6 above.
65. FN6565 So also Nitzan, Qumran Prayer, 276, n. 12. The phrase derives from Ps 12:7, מזקק שבעתים.
66. FN6666 For a lengthy discussion of the possibilities, see J. L. Angel, Otherworldly and Eschatological Priesthood in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ 86; Leiden, Brill, 2010), 128–32.
67. FN6767 See, e.g., 4Q400 1; 2 6.
68. FN6868 Cf. G. Brooke, “Miqdash Adam, Eden, and the Qumran Community,” in Gemeinde ohne Tempel: zur Substituierung und Transformation des Jerusalemer Tempels und seines Kults im Alten Testament, antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum (ed. B. Ego, A. Lange, and P. Pilhofer; Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1999), 285–301. For the relationship between temple, cosmos, body, and community in Qumranic and early Jewish and Christian sources see Morray-Jones, “The Temple Within.”
69. FN6969 Cf. Nitzan’s formulation (Qumran Prayer, 271): “The member of the sect has a fixed religious feeling of election, mission and mystical closeness to God, such as that expressed in the songs of the Thanksgiving Scroll. This same feeling accompanies him during his struggle with demonic or destructive forces. He therefore feels no need for any particular praxis, and recites regular sectarian poetry for magical purposes.”

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