The “Sons of Seth”

A New Interpretation of 4Q417 1 i 14–16

In: Dead Sea Discoveries

Abstract

This article is focussed on the question how to interpret the phrase בני שית in 4Q417 1 i 15. The analysis is based on a novel reconstruction of the preceding word, which is only poorly preserved. The common reconstructions (namely ‪עולות‬, עו(ו)נות or עלילות) have a negative meaning. Hence, the בני שית are understood as a group that will be punished by God due to their sins. However, it is also possible to reconstruct עבודת in 4Q417 1 i 15. In contrast to the other suggestions this word not only fits the gap properly, but is also attested several times throughout 4QInstruction. Following this reconstruction, 4Q417 1 i 15f. indicates that the reward for the “ser[vic]e of the sons of Seth” has already been determined. Consequently, 4QInstruction uses the term בני שית in a positive way to denote the elect and builds on a tradition that praises Seth as well as his offspring.

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