In the Genesis Apocryphon, Lamech worries that his son is illegitimate and accordingly confronts his wife about her fidelity. Bitenosh answers these accusations with a surprising response: she asks her husband to recall the sexual pleasure that she experienced during their intercourse. Scholars have clarified this rhetorical strategy by connecting the episode to Greco-Roman theories of embryogenesis, in which a woman’s pleasure during intercourse was taken to indicate conception. While this provides a convincing explanation for Bitenosh’s argumentation, in this essay I argue that rather than deriving these ideas from the Greco-Roman world, the conception theory which informed the Genesis Apocryphon is in fact consistent with notions that can already be found in the Hebrew Bible and the wider ancient Near East. By exploring the concept of conception in biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts, I uncover a belief in the necessity for female pleasure during intercourse as well as the existence of female “seed.” These ancient authors were able to develop and promote significant reflections upon medical issues such as conception, and this is recalled in Bitenosh’s speech. This essay therefore has significant implications for understanding concepts of sex and conception in the Genesis Apocryphon, as well as in the Hebrew Bible and the wider ancient Near East more generally.
Although the Visions of Levi (so-called Aramaic Levi Document) is a Jewish priestly composition written in the second or third century BCE, the largest part of its text comes from the trove of Jewish medieval manuscripts found in the Genizah of the Ezra synagogue in Old Cairo. Among the Genizah scrolls housed at the University of Manchester Library, Gideon Bohak found a new fragment (P 1185) of the pseudepigraphic document dedicated to Levi and his life. The present study contains a new edition of P 1185, including its paleographic description, notes on the readings, comments and photographs of the manuscript.
Since the 1960s, most scholars have distinguished between two types of compositions in the Hodayot, those that represent the persona of the Teacher of Righteousness and those that represent the spiritual experience of the Community in general. This theory, however, was developed before scholars had access to a reliable reconstruction of 1QHa or to the fragmentary manuscripts of the Hodayot from Cave 4. While that evidence largely confirms the distinctiveness of the group of compositions associated with the Teacher, which are clustered in cols. 10–17, the evidence undermines the cogency of a category of “Community” hodayot. The presence of lmśkyl headings in several compositions, claims to leadership by the speaker, the appearance of an expression that implicitly compares the speaker to Moses, and other factors make it more likely that the non-Teacher hodayot should be associated with the Maśkîl rather than with ordinary sectarians.
In the course of the last eighteen years more than 75 new “Dead Sea Scrolls” fragments have surfaced on the antiquities market. These are commonly referred to as post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments. A growing number of scholars regard a substantial part of them as forgeries. In this article, we will discuss four more dubious fragments, but this time from the 20th Century—or at least from pre-2002. Two of the fragments have been known since the late nineties and are published in the DJD series. One was published in Revue de Qumran (2003), and one in Gleanings from the Caves (2016). All four are today accepted as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls dataset even though they are unprovenanced and have made-up—or at least very adaptable—lists of previous owners. In this article, we will critically review their provenance and discuss the lack of proper interest in provenance on the part of the collector who owns them and the scholars who published them.