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DSS 4Q285, Frg. 7
So-Called "Pierced Messiah" Scroll

(See also the "Burning Issues" link in the "Mashiakh" section of our History Museum)

DSS 4Q285, Fragment 7 RAM 41.282
DSS 4Q285, Fragment 7 RAM 41.708
DSS 4Q285, Fragment 7 RAM 41.282
DSS 4Q285, Fragment 7 RAM 42.370
DSS 4Q285, Fragment 7 RAM 43.325

Dead Sea Scroll 4Q285
A "Pierced" Mâ•shiakh?

© 1997, 2006, Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu Bën-Dâ•wid, Pâ•qid 16

Bogus "Historian" Jack Kilmon's Faked Scroll

In the first edition of WAN, we relied on a 1991 Israeli Hebrew newspaper account, citing previously unpublished Qum•rân Scrolls, which recounted what can now be seen as scholarly careless and over-sensationalized claims by Robert Eisenman, Michael Wise, and James Tabor that DSS 4Q285 describes the Mâ•shiakh being put to death by the goy•im confirming, according to them, the Christian provision of "salvation."

The discovery of the Qum•rân scrolls filled in many blanks in Judaism, alluded to in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, from the time of the conclusion of the Ta•na"kh (viz., Ëzᵊr•â, ca. B.C.E. 4th century) until the first copy of the Διαθηκη Καινη (NT)—in the 4th century C.E. (surprise Christians! Huh?!?) and the first copy of Ta•lᵊmud in the 5th century C.E. (surprise Jews! Huh?!?).

A prominent Anglican bishop claimed: "The Scrolls signified a breakthrough in the history-of-religions approach to [the Gospel of 'St. John'] thought and language." Much of what some [Διαθηκη Καινη (NT)] scholars had attributed to non-Jewish Hellenism or at least diaspora Judaism suddenly acquired substantial parallels in contemporary texts from a predominantly priestly group which did not reside far from [Yᵊru•shâ•layim].

This very connection between Nᵊtzâr•im (or at least their doctrines) and other Tor•âh-strict Judaic sects of the period in Yᵊru•shâ•layim also binds the Mâ•shiakh to Tor•âh-strictness – an unpleasant shock contradicting Christianity and vindicating the Nᵊtzâr•im. Continuing finds and research increasingly corroborate the Nᵊtzâr•im.

At the time, we had no access to the text in order to check their work.

Now we do. This over-sensationalized fragment of 4Q285 was analyzed by Prof. Martin G. Abegg, Jr. In his paper he addressed the arguments that had been raised by Prof. Robert H. Eisenman, Prof. Michael O. Wise, and Prof. James D. Tabor.

Moreover, the photo we found online and used turned out to be an unlabled fake "scribed" by Jack Kilmon (still not labeled with any warning that it is his stylized reproduction when accessed at historian.net, 2012.05.22)! We have removed his faked photo and now use photos I've scanned from my personal copies of the (initially famously illegal) Dead Sea Scrolls. Unsurprisingly, these actual-size photos (one of the photos must be clicked to enlarge) are more difficult to read. On the other hand, they don't embed nor falsely mislead to confirm Kilmon's interpretation, intrinsic in his fake.

Dead Sea Scroll 4Q285: Messiah Putting To Death or Being Put To Death? –This is the scroll touted by Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise as reading "And the Prince of the Congregation, the Branch of David, was killed … and pierced." After considerable criticism of this reading, Dr. Tabor wrote a response. More recently, Prof. Abegg published his response to Tabor.

Retaining the disputed, unvowelized, Hebrew term in these fragments for clarity, the mss. read

(section missing)
Papyrus Fragment
(section missing)
‏        [][] []

The second line clearly recalls Yᵊsha•yâhu 11.1, and the preceding verse (10.34):

The rest is "fill-in-the-blanks" speculation directed by patterns found in (Hebrew) Scripture.

Line 4:

Controversy has swirled around the Hebrew term , from the verb . Prof. Abegg and other scholars argue it should be or (cf. similar usage of hiph•il in Shᵊm•ot 21.29). This term is found in line 4, above (). However, it's my opinion that the word is more likely , following the grammatical pattern as instantiated in Yᵊsha•yâhu 65.15, in which the object is indicated in the suffix of the verb, which is then followed by the subject.

Correspondingly, this is a better fit of construct (both hiph•il, though the structure differs by an ), as a , to in the preceding line.

Tzëmakh is universally accepted as referring to the Mâ•shiakh. The meaning of depends upon how it's vowelized—and that's the crux of the dispute, pun unapologetically intended! There were no vowels back then, only the Oral Tradition – of which non-Jews are usually blissfully ignorant or aggressively defy.

I find only one identically spelled instantiation of this verb in Ta•na"kh (Shᵊmu•eil Âlëph 22.17) – the hiph•il, active causal, construct ("to put to death, kill or execute"); not the only passive form of this verb that has developed: the huph•al ("to be put to death, be killed" or "be executed"). This huph•al form is precluded by the middle , rather than a , in the lexeme – though the difference between these two similar letters is practically indiscernible in the handwriting of the scribe in the fragment and, therefore, easily misread.

The scientist must resist the impulse to reach for the illogical and anachronous (these scrolls almost certainly date before 30 C.E.) to build a bridge to a desired conclusion (namely, corroborating the execution of Ribi Yᵊho•shua as the Mâ•shiakh), as some scholars have posited. However, the scientist must no less question whether the popular transcription of these two letters, falsely presented as unquestionable, has been driven by the opposite impulse rather than objective science. (An OCR computer program would answer that question – probably revealing some surprises; and certainly introduce objectivity.) In all of the instances in Ta•na"kh in which the passive "he was put to death" is found, the huph•al would be (viz., ). However, this transposition of letters to rather than (if the in should be read as ) is clearly not what is found in 4Q285. Ergo, the construct in 4Q285 is hiph•il – causal active, not passive.

Other constructs of this verb haven't developed either in Ta•na"kh nor in the constructs and conjugations given in 201 Hebrew Verbs.

All instantiations with gramatically compatible construct and tense that I find in Ta•na"kh are in the hiph•il:

  1. hiph•il imperative m.p. [the Nâ•si ha-Eid•âh] – Shᵊmu•eil Âlëph 22.17 (includes conj. prefix).

  2. hiph•il past lexeme Shᵊm•ōt 4.24 (…to put to death); Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu 26.21 (…to put to death); Mi•shᵊl•ei Shᵊlōmōh 19.18 (…to put to death…).

    With the requisite prefix and suffix, this would become in the DSS fragment

  3. hiph•il past 3rd pers. m. p. Shmu•eil Âlëph 30.2 (they did {not} put […] to death); Shmu•eil Beit 13.32 ({not think that} they put […] to death); Mᵊlâkh•im Beit 11.20 & Div•rei-ha-Yâm•im Beit 23.20 (they put […] to death)

    With the requisite prefix and suffix, this would become in the DSS fragment

Alternately, the same construct as , but with the 1st person suffix, is found in Shᵊmu•eil Beit 14.32: "…and if I there is an â•won in me, – then may [Dâ•wid ha-Mëlëkh] put me to death." The object of the verb is its suffix.

Line 5:

In the subsequent line (5) most scholars have derived from . Prof. Abegg posits an alternative derivation from . However, this would produce . In Prof. Abegg's schema, some villain-king (symbolized by Kit•im in frg. 5) commands: , which would translate to "you put him to death!" It's then assumed that the next words are the object of the verb, he put to death the Tzëmakh. This is then followed by celebrations with timbrels and female-dancers. Finally, a ko•hein presumably commands to purify from the blood of those who had been killed – about the only command (!) given by a ko•hein in Ta•na"kh.

The far greater likelihood is that the term is (i.e., may he [the Tzëmakh, Nâ•si ha-Eid•âh] put him [probably the king of the Kit•im] to death), following the grammatical construct instantiated in Yᵊsha•yâhu (Deutero, ca. B.C.E. 540) 65.15:

‫" ‑‑…"

This stich was almost certainly written concerning the Babylonian Exile that began nearly 50 years before Yᵊsha•yahu ha-Nâ•vi penned this pâ•suq.

In light of this grammatical pattern in which the verb contains the object in its suffix, followed by the subject, it is not unlikely that, as the agent of ‑‑, the Ōs•in would have expected the Tzëmakh (Mâ•shiakh Bën-Dâ•wid) to put to death the Hellenist pseudo-Tzᵊdoq•im who had deposed and expelled the Ōs•in authors of this DSS fragment from the Hellenized "Temple"; and whom the Ōs•in authors of this DSS fragment viewed as servants – as contrasted with themselves (the Ōs•in), the faithful servants of this chapter.

In my view, profanings–specifically, Hellenism–best fits the context. In this schema, the Mâ•shiakh, puts to death the arch-villain Chief Hellenist of the "Kit•im" (Hellenist pseudo-Tzᵊdoq•im), whose subjects (the Hellenist pseudo-Tzᵊdoq•im) would then go down in the pit in shamings and profanings. All of this would be concluded with the command of the true (Ōs•in) ko•hein to purify from the blood of the Kit•im.

While the author of the scroll seems to describe a fellow Ōs•in as ko•hein and Tzëmakh (Mâ•shiakh) figure, Scripture requires that the Mâ•shiakh be from shëvët Yᵊhudâh, not shëvët Lei•wi (a ko•hein). It was the Ōs•in who, authoring these scrolls, were mostly ko•han•im and seem to have been prophesying a Mâ•shiakh from among their own community or would, at least, recognize the Ōs•in community as the faithful servants and sons of light vis-à-vis the apostate Hellenist pseudo-Tzᵊdoq•im.

Prof. Abegg's Arguments

Of five factors Prof. Abegg offers, although the fifth was not strictly followed by ancient scribes, the first four are compelling – "argu[ing] strongly for the [hiph•il] interpretation" – which seems to be the only possible interpretation.

  1. "First, Yᵊsha•yâhu 11:4, which follows the verses quoted [Yᵊsha•yâhu 10.34 – 11.1] in our fragment (lines 1-3) reveals that the ; with the breath from his lips. …

  2. "Second, the two messianic titles [in the fragment] that I [Prof. Abegg] have examined, [ (Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu 23.5-8; 33.14-18) and (Yᵊkhë•zᵊq•eil 34.23f; 37.24-28)] clearly refer, both in the [Ta•na"kh] and in the Qum•rân texts, to a reigning, not suffering, ruler.

  3. Third, frg. 4 line [6, ] suggests that the [] is in a position of authority and that someone is brought before him…

  4. Fourth, nowhere in extant Qum•rân literature do we read of the death of a messianic figure." Here, Prof. Abegg demonstrates that Tabor's citation of 11QMelch ii 18 is tenuous, at best.

  5. "Finally, the syntax of the construction compels me [Prof. Abegg] to choose " based on the lack of the accusative particle [which readers of our pages have likely come to expect] before if it were indeed the direct object." Readers interested in more details should obtain a copy of Prof. Abegg's article.

Aside from Prof. Abegg's arguments, the obvious language for "pierced" Mâ•shiakh should be expected to follow the same ta•vᵊn•it as in Zᵊkhar•yâh 12.10: "Then I will pour on Beit-Dâ•wid and on the Inhabitant of Yᵊru•shâ•layim the ruakh and supplications, and they shall gaze upon me whom . However, this is not the term found in the 4Q285.

Further, I notice that lines 3-4 of frg. 5 (the putatively frg.), because of context (Messianic figure of the Messianic Era), language (putatively ) and space suggest a paraphrasing of Yo•eil 4.2-3 in the third person, referring to the messianic figure "he" rather than the first person, as found in Ta•na"kh (Yo•eil 4.2-3):

"Then I will collect all of the goy•im and bring them down to Eimëq Yᵊhō•shâ•phât; there concerning My kindred and My legacy, Yi•sᵊr•â•eil, whom they dispersed among the goy•im…"

is similar in meaning to except that the latter is a form of the accusative particle while the former does not imply the object of the verb. This suggests that in 4Q285, as in Yo•eil, (then they will adjudicate-mi•shᵊpât) implies entering into adjudicative deliberations of mi•shᵊpât with…; i.e., a court trial culminating in a judgment. In 4Q285, the putative is found in the sentence preceding the putative , clearly describing the Messianic Era; ergo, demonstrating that the scroll intends Tzëmakh to refer not primarily to the Mâ•shiakh Bën-Yo•seiph of Yᵊsha•yâhu 53, but to the Mâ•shiakh Bën-Dâ•wid of Yom ha-Din.

In my view, we can say with great confidence that 4Q285 is speaking of the Messianic Era and a Mâ•shiakh who is causing the death(s) in this scroll, not "being put to death." Unfortunately, the Ōs•in authors of the scroll seem afraid to openly specify exactly whom the Mâ•shiakh will put to death – except that they are Kit•im.

Compiling the Fragments of 4Q285

Compiling this information suggests that the author of 4Q285 was demonstrating a relationship between Yᵊsha•yâhu 10.34–11.1 with Yo•eil 4.2, the latter in a 3rd-person interpretive paraphrase, illuminated by wa-Yi•qᵊr•â 13.54; 14.4-5, 36 & 40. Conflating the several fragments of 4Q285, almost entirely as set forth by Prof. Abegg (p. 87), produces the following, which is strikingly similar to the cited passages:

Whitened sections emphasize dependence upon missing, speculative, text

‏[                           ] ][]
‏[      ]
‏[         ( ] );
‏[ . ] ( []
‏[)                     ]
‏[                                                            ][] [][ ]

  1. As it is written in the scroll of Yᵊsha•yahu ha-Nâ•vi, Then shall he beat-down

  2. [thickets of the forest by iron; and the Lebanon by a Grandeurous-One shall] fall. Then shall go forth a Khōtër from the trunk of Yish•ai;

  3. [and a Neitzër from his roots shall sprout (the Nâ•si of the Eid•âh,] Tzëmakh of Dâ•wid); and they shall engage in adjudicating-mi•shᵊpât[, all]

  4. [of the soldiery of Bᵊli•ya•al. Then shall stand the mëlëkh of the Kit•im for adjudication of mi•shᵊpât] and1 he,2 shall9 put10 to12 death13 (Nâ•si3 of4 the5 Eid•âh,6 Tzëm[akh7]

  5. [Dâ•wid8) [him.11     Then the women shall go forth with timbrel]s and with dancing. Then1 shall2 command5 the3 Ko•hein4

  6. [              ??     the Kit•im [and a]ll

Note the ease of paraphrasing Yo•eil 4.2 in parallel with 4Q285:

4.2 Yo•eil --, , - ; , -

In 4Q285, the Ōs•in author of the scroll inserts Kit•im (by which he cryptically means the rival Hellenist pseudo-Tzᵊdoq•im) for goy•im, as penned by Yo•eil ha-Nâ•vi.

Speaking of the Tzëmakh as a 3rd person, rather than in the 1st person as Yo•eil had, the thought would look a lot more like 4Q285:

-- () -;

(Then shall Tzëmakh Dâ•wid collect and adjudicate-mi•shᵊpât upon all of the goy•im (Kit•im) concerning His am, and His legacy, Yi•sᵊr•â•eil.)

Both the Aleppo Ta•na"kh and the Qum•rân Yᵊsha•yâhu scroll, 1QIsa, corroborate that the reading at the end of the first line should be , which can be spelled without vowels; not .

Christian and Muslim contortions of 4Q285 aren't necessary to demonstrate that the Mâ•shiakh, Ribi Yᵊho•shua, brought to fruition and clarity the provision of ‑‑ (not another, displacement theology, provision) as the Tzëmakh Dâ•wid and Nâ•si for ki•pur in the non-dimensional, i.e. spiritual and timeless, realm. A moment's thought should show that this would be the priority, before concern for the temporal, physical, earthly, realm.

This contra-{Hellenism / Christian} messianic provision of ‑‑ is the true ki•pur in the spiritual, heavenly, realm, for which the animal sacrifice system in the defunct Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdâsh served as the mere learning ta•vᵊn•it. For those who believe that Ribi Yᵊho•shua is the prophesied Mâ•shiakh of ‑‑ there is a strong desire to follow the authentic Ha•lâkh•âh of Mosh•ëh at Har Sin•ai as Ribi Yᵊho•shua refined, clarified and restored it. A fortiori, when, as described in Yᵊkhë•zᵊq•eil 45-46, the Tzëmakh Dâ•wid serves as Nâ•si in the eternal realm, it's critical to be in his flock, not among those who denied and defied him.

The bᵊrit•ōt that ‑‑ has made with Yi•sᵊr•â•eil exhibit a common characteristic: each successive bᵊrit incurs a more refined subset of individuals from within the broader, previous, bᵊrit. As must be of an Immutable and Perfect Creator Who cannot contradict Himself (else either before or after the contradiction was error and wrong), none of these increasingly refined contracts as Yi•sᵊr•â•eil progresses ever contradicts, annuls or displaces any previous bᵊrit with a contradictory or incompatible definition. The Bᵊrit Kha•dâsh•âh set forth by Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu ha-Nâ•vi 31.30-31—antithesis of the Christian Διαθηκη Καινη (NT)–follows the identical paradigm. This Bᵊrit Kha•dâsh•âh defines a refinement Nᵊtzâr•im subset within (not a Hellenist, Displacement Theology a•vod•âh zâr•âh contradiction of His Perfect previous bᵊrit•ōt, by goy•im, apart from) the global Jewish community.

The provision in the eternal realm, by ‑‑, provides ki•pur for practicers of Tor•âh (who are practically all moderate Orthodox Jews) and geir•im.

Goy•im, which includes everyone who neglects to do their utmost to live according to the principles of Tor•âh irrespective of their genetics, are excluded from His refining subset of His Bᵊrit Kha•dâsh•âh as defined in Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu 31.30-31. Ta•na"kh is explicit and crystal clear that goy•im are not recipients of His ki•pur. Nor have goy•im any other concomitant reservation in the world to come.

Like all of His previous bᵊrit•ōt with ‑‑, the Bᵊrit Kha•dâsh•âh concerning Ribi Yᵊho•shua as the Tzëmakh, Mâ•shiakh Bën-Dâ•wid and Nâ•si of Yᵊkhë•zᵊq•eil 45-46, embraces only a subset of those who were party to the previous bᵊrit•ōtYi•sᵊr•â•eil (and geir•im).

Lᵊ‑ha•vᵊdil – "salvation" through an anti-Tor•âh ("antinomian") Christian "grace" of Jesus is a bᵊrit not with lᵊ‑ha•vᵊdil ‑‑, but with the idolatrous, Hellenist Roman Ζεύς that the Hellenist Roman occupiers syncretized, via the Apostate Paul, into the 4th century C.E. Jesus, a poser and idolatrous counterfeit god-on-a-stick.

Another "Pierced Messiah" Fragment?
Click to enlargeDSS 4Q252 (4QCommGenA) frg4 pl409 (670)

Fragment 41.708 is found in the same plate, BAS 409 (670), with another messianic Ōs•in fragment (frg. 4 of 4Q252 / 4QCommGenA; click fragment 41.708 to view) that reads (as best I can translate it):

Rainbow Rule
  1. Abegg, Martin G., Jr. "Messianic Hope and 4Q285: A Reassessment." Journal of Biblical Literature 113.1, 1994: 81-91.Return to text

  2. Ben-David, Yirmeyahu. Atonement In the Biblical 'New Covenant'. Live-Link Technology edition, ISBN 965-7328-02-0. Ra'anana, Israel: The Netzarim, 1992.Return to text

  3. Halkin, Abraham S. 201 Hebrew Verbs. Woodbury: Barron's Educational Series, 1970.Return to text

  4. – " ", " ", "() ". , "- '' – ", , 1991.11.10, , 10.Return to text

  5. Riesner, Rainer in Charlesworth, James H. (ed.). Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. ABRL. Doubleday, 1992, p. 216.Return to text

  6. Roberts, Matis (translation and commentary). The Artscroll Tanach Series, Trei Asar / The Twelve Prophets Vol. 1. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications Ltd. 1995, Joel 4.2, p. 176. Artscroll editors et al. routinely translate this verb as "indict' or the like, denying the passive ("'be judged") but sidestepping explanation. Yo•eil 4.2 demonstrates that the niph•al of this verb meaning adjudicate-mi•shᵊpât, while often used of the courtroom defendant "being judged", applies no less to being engaged in prosecuting a case in a court trial.Return to text

  7. Robinson, John A. T. The Priority of John. Edited by J. F. Coakley. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011, pp. 36-45.Return to text

  8. Tabor, James D., Dr. "A Pierced or Piercing Messiah? – The Verdict is Still Out." Biblical Archaeology Review 18:6 1992: 58-59.Return to text

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