“Taken from Dust, Formed from Clay”: Compound Allusions and Scriptural Exegesis in 1QHodayota 11:20–37; 20:27–39 and Ben Sira 33:7–15

In: Dead Sea Discoveries

This article argues that, in 1QHa 11:20–27; 20:27–39 and Sir 33:7–15, the use of allusions to humanity’s creation from dust in Genesis 2–3 and to its formation from clay in Isa 29:16; 45:9; Jer 18:4, 6 represents a conscious exegetical process in which the Genesis and prophetic traditions were read and used in light of one another. Although originating within different social environments—one sectarian and the other as part of a more mainstream scribal context—both make use of the same two scriptural allusions and evince a similar pattern of interpretive reflection. The goal of the study is to demonstrate that the allusions function together, in a compounded manner, to present (1) a composite portrait of God as creator and determiner of all human outcomes, and (2) a corresponding composite portrait of humanity in its universal mortality and complete subjection to the deterministic will of God.

  • 8

    Tooman, “Between Imitation and Interpretation,” 58–59.

  • 9

    Tooman, “Between Imitation and Interpretation,” 58.

  • 11

    Tooman, “Between Imitation and Interpretation,” 59.

  • 13

    Tooman, “Between Imitation and Interpretation,” 71. See pp. 71–72 for the fuller context of his statement.

  • 26

    Beentjes, The Book of Ben Sira in Hebrew, 5–6.

  • 37

    See Hughes, Scriptural Allusions, 220–26.

  • 42

    See Hughes, Scriptural Allusions, 215.

  • 48

    On angelic worship at Qumran, see Chazon, “Lowly to Lofty,” 11–15; Chazon, “Liturgical Function of the Cave 1 Hodayot Collection,” in Qumran Cave 1 Revisited: Proceedings of the Sixth IOQS, Ljubljana 2007, stdj 91, ed. D.K. Falk, S. Metso, and E. Tigchelaar (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 137–48 (esp. 137–39, which deals with 1QHa 11:20–37). Fletcher-Louis’s, All the Glory of Adam is almost entirely devoted to the subject of humanity’s engagement with, and even metamorphosis into, the angelic divine in Second Temple Judaism and the dss. See pp. 104–12, 199–216 for his treatment of the Hodayot (pp. 199–216 are his treatment of the so-called “Self-Glorification Hymn”). See also J. Angel, Otherworldly and Eschatological Priesthood in the Dead Sea Scrolls, stdj 86 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 132–45; P. Alexander, The Mystical Texts: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and Related Manuscripts (London: T&T Clark, 2006), 85–90, 101–10.

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  • 50

    Meyer, “Adam’s Dust and Adam’s Glory,” 41.

  • 51

    Meyer, “Adam’s Dust and Adam’s Glory,” 41.

  • 57

    Meyer, “Adam’s Dust and Adam’s Glory,” 40.

  • 61

    Meyer, “Adam’s Dust and Adam’s Glory,” 41.

  • 71

    Beentjes, “Theodicy in Wisdom of Ben Sira,” 271. Cf. 1QHa 5:17 (reconstructed); 10:16; 14:7 (reconstructed).

  • 77

    Hogan, “Mortal Body,” 35.

  • 80

    Brand, Evil Within and Without, 108–9.

  • 81

    E.g., Maier, Mensch und freier Wille, 158–59; J.J. Collins, Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age (Louisville, ky: Westminster John Knox, 1997), 80–83; Brand, Evil Within and Without, 108–13, although she also sees election as an important element in Sir 33:7–13. Sir 33:14–15 reads: “Good is the opposite of evil, and life the opposite of death; so the sinner is the opposite of the godly. Look at all the works of the Most High; they come in pairs, one the opposite of the other.” One of the major problems for the study of predestinarian thought in Ben Sira has been how to relate Sir 15:11–20—which is an extended poem on humanity’s ability to choose according to its free will—with Sir 33:7–15. See J. Klawans, “Josephus on Fate, Free Will, and Ancient Jewish Types of Compatibilism,” Numen 56 (2009): 44–90 (57–59). Collins, Jewish Wisdom, 83 and Brand, Evil Within and Without, 110 are more inclined to say that there is an apparent and unresolved tension in Ben Sira between human free will and divine predestination. Also of note here is the common assertion that Ben Sira’s alleged use of dualism is on par with the Stoics (see, e.g., Beentjes, “Theodicy in Wisdom of Ben Sira,” 272–73; Collins, Jewish Wisdom, 85). However, this idea has been argued against in, e.g., Sanders, Ben Sira, 55 n. 127; S.L. Matilla, “Ben Sira and the Stoics: A Reexamination of the Evidence,” jbl 119 (2000): 473–501; and Brand, Evil Within and Without, 111–12.

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  • 82

    See Goering, Wisdom’s Root, 50–55, 59–60; Klawans, “Josephus,” 60–61, although he does not deny there is a “deterministic element to the idea of divine election” (p. 60). See also Di Lella and Skehan, Ben Sira, 400; and Hogan, “Mortal Body,” 34–35, who agrees with Goering’s analysis. U. Wicke-Reuter, Göttliche Providenz und menschliche Verantwortung bei Ben Sira und in der Frühen Stoa, bzaw 298 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000), 224 argues that, in Ben Sira’s thought, God’s providence and human responsibility are not mutually exclusive: “Gott hat es in seinem ‘Plan’ für die Schöpfung von vornherein so vorgesehen, daß der Mensch in der Lage ist, sich für das Gute und gegen das Böse zu entscheiden [. . .].”

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  • 83

    Brand, Evil Within and Without, 108–9.

  • 84

    Wicke-Reuter, Göttliche Providenz, 225; A. Lange, Weisheit und Prädestination, 38–39.

  • 85

    See Brand, Evil Within and Without, 107. This point would also seem to strengthen Goering’s argument regarding the poem’s focus on the election of Israel, since he does not include reference to the potter/clay allusion in Sir 33:13. Further, what makes Brand’s refusal to see the election of Israel in Sir 33:7–13 stranger is that she draws upon Isa 45:7 as the source of Ben Sira’s dualism in 33:14–15, in which God says “I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the LORD do all these things.” Just two verses later is the potter/clay metaphor, which, I have argued, has Israel’s election in view as well.

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  • 86

    S. Ruzer, “Exegetical Patterns Common to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament, and Their Implications,” in Text, Thought, and Practice in Qumran and Early Christianity, stdj 84, ed. R.A. Clements and D.R. Schwartz (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 231–51, has made a similar argument in his comparison of exegetical practices in the double love command in Matt 22:34–40 (par. Mark 12:28–31; Luke 10:25–28) and 1QS 1:1–12; and the exegesis of Amos 9:11–12 in Acts 15:13–21 and 4QFlorilegium 1:10–13.

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  • 87

    Newsom, The Self as Symbolic Space, 196–204. There is, of course, debate over whether poems such as 1QHa 11:20–37 is a composition pertaining only to the leader of the community and thus does not have a bearing on the formation of the self of community members at large. Newsom asserts that such an approach is unhelpful (p. 197).

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  • 90

    Hogan, “Mortal Body,” 34.

  • 92

    Brand, Evil Within and Without, 72, 126. Important here is the manner in which both the Hodayot and Ben Sira locate the concept of human sinfulness within their approach to human free will vs. divine determinism. I wonder if the two texts actually share a common approach to this issue, since both seem to show evidence of two co-operating systems that are held in tension (e.g., Sir 15:11–20/33:7–15; 1QHa 7:23–27, in which the speaker says “And I love you [God] freely,” but then “And I know that in your hand is the inclination of every spirit [and all] its [activi]ty you determined before you created it”).

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