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The Comments of the Pesher to Habakkuk

Even if you are a novice but have interest in these manuscripts read the suggestions that are given here and search out the words that are located for you. It will make you much more able to make some sense out of the value of the scrolls in general.

Sectarian Nature of the Comments
The Romans

The Commentary or Pesher on the first two chapters of Habakkuk were made from a sectarian viewpoint, much like some evangelicals treat the O T scriptures today. They saw their own current events as the prophetic aim of Habakkuk. This can be seen in the comments that apply what Habakkuk said to the Romans who occupied Palestine when the Pesher was written sometime in the Herodian period just before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The Pesher applies the prophecy to the Romans even though Habakkuk makes it plain that he is predicting the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans whom he calls by name in 1:6 "ha-kasd'im" (which can be seen in the right hand fragment of Page IIa, 5th line from the bottom, 1st word). The spelling of Chaldeans in the Isaiah scroll (1Qa) has the usual method of adding a double yod or "kasdiyym" for nationality. Here in the Pesher an aleph is added before the yod mem ending to denote nationality. In the Pesher aleph is also added to the word for Romans but between a double yod in the word for Romans who are here called The Kittiym In the Pesher the Hebrew form for the word "Romans" is "Ha-kittiym" or . Seven examples of the Pesher use of the word "The Romans" or "ha-kitt'iym" can be seen on Page IIa, 4th line from bottom 2nd word; and 2nd line from bottom 1st word, and on Page III line 4, 3rd word and line 9, next to last word; and Page IV, line 5, 4th word and line 10, last word; and on Page VI line 1, 1st word; and on Page IX, line 7, 2nd word.

The "moreh tsedek" and the "koheyn ha-rasha"

Application of the terrible things that are done in Judah, Jerusalem, and the temple are also ascribed to the actions of the "wicked priest" and good things to the "teacher of righteousness"

Thus the commentary on Habbakuk has only small value in helping to explain the meaning of the text which was in the mind of the Prophet. The major comments often contrast how the "righteous teacher" (moreh ha-tsedek) acts in contrast to "the wicked priest" (ha koheyn ha-rasha') The words "righteous teacher" (or teacher of righteousness) can be seen on the 1st fragmentary page, 3rd line from bottom just under the 4th line which ends in "ha-tsadiyk" (the righteousness) where the 3 words remaining are "hu' moreh ha-tsedek" (He is the teacher of Righteousness.) You can see references to the "moreh ha-tsedek" as noted above on the first fragmented page in 3rd from last line; and on Page V, last 2 words in line 10; and on Page VII, 3rd and 4th words on line 4; and on Page VIII, line 3, 1st 2 words, and on line 8, 4th and 5th words; and on Page IX, line 9, last and line 10, 1st word; and on Page XI, line 5, 3rd and 4th words;

While references to the "wicked priest" may be seen in the peshers on Page VII, line 8, 4th and 5th words and referred to in 3rd from last word on the page; and on Page IX, line 9, 3rd and 4th words and find "priests of Jerusalem" on line 3 last two words; and on Page XI, line 4, 3rd and 4th words and is referred to in line 12, 3rd word; and on Page XII, line 2, 4th and 5th words, and line 8 "the priest" is the 4th word and "the evil" is between the lines above;

The End Time
A Most Important Topic

On page IIb at the end of the 5th line there is an interesting comment which may be describing text itself as the words "le-'acharith aleph" may be translated "the last (or final) aleph." The next word on the next line (ha-yamiym) however indicates the Pesher is about the "end time."

References to the "end time" are noted several time in the Pesher. On the page just mentioned in the paragraph above the words are "le-'acharith ha-yamiym" (to the last days). Mention of "the last (or final) priests of Jerusalem" can be found on Page IX, last 2 words in line 4 and the first in 5. And "the final end" (ha-qets ha-'acharon) is found on Page VII line 12 4th and 5th words. Other references to the "end time" can be seen Page V: line 7; and on page VII; Lines 2, and 7 and 12, and on page IX; line 5 and on Page XI: on line 6. "End time," therefore is one of the most important religious topics for the Pesher scribe.

Other Themes

Other words that may be parts of themes in the Pesher are "Torah" (Law) "beth mishpat," (House of Judgement) "mishpat" (Judgement) and "men of truth." See a reference to "all those practicing the Torah in the house of Judah." on Page VIII, line 1. A pesher mentioning the " 'anshey ha-'emeth" (men of truth) can be seen on Page VII, line 10, last 2 words.

I suppose that the reference to the "house of Absalom" refers to a sectarian group by that name. See this in a Pesher on Page V, line 9,last 2 words

The Peshers

There are two forms that introduce a comment. They are pesher and peshru . Pesher means "to explain" and peshru is a 3mpl verb and means "they explain." Thus the scribe is offering his comments in a pesher and is noting what others also say after peshru.

As said already the end of a pesher is sometimes not noticed at all. An example of this can be seen in Page IV, line 9 where the 1st word ends a pesher and the 2nd word is the beginning of Hab. 1:11.

The words "ve-'asher 'omer" Introduce Text of Habakkuk

However, often the words " 'asher 'omer" or ("where he is saying") introduce a return to the text of Habakkuk immediately following. See this where these words are followed immediately by further text from Habakkuk:
Page III, line 2, 3rd and 4th words; and again on this same Page III at the bottom of the page in the last line, 1st word and the word preceding it as the last word in the line above. This would be introducing a further comment on a phrase in Habakkuk beginning with a mem;
and on Page VI, line 2, 2nd and 3rd words;
and on Page VII, line 3 1st 2 words;
and on Page IX, line 2, last word and 1st word on line 3;
and on Page X, line 1, last word and 1st word on line 2;

Value Received

If you perform the searches on this page you will have gained ability to search through the unfamiliar manuscript script and you will have seen the way the commentary is arranged and now be ready to follow on to the descriptions of the scripture text in the pages of the Pesher. Try now to go through the pages one by one. Return to the directory and begin with page 1.

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