This chapter outlines a mythological array of motifs and ideas, which was shared by Jewish apocalyptic authors and some contemporary non-Jewish authors in the Hellenistic-Roman period in the Levant. This mythology focused on pre-diluvian times but was also deeply concerned with the less-distant past of the great empires Assyria and Babylonia. The themes of this mythology were the creation of human civilization by various culture heroes and the dichotomy between civilization and the wild, the latter being depicted as sinning angles. Jewish texts cast these themes within the mythology of the flood and the story of the angels, thus strengthening the Jewish national identity within the Hellenistic cultural amalgam. The main innovation in this chapter is that the Jewish mythology concerning Watchers (i.e., fallen, rebellious angels) gained inspiration from the royal reliefs carved by Nebu-chadnezzar in Lebanon, especially in the site of Brisa. It thus had a strong regional anchoring in the mountain ranges of the Lebanon and anti-Lebanon. These reliefs, showing the king worshipping astral deities, cutting a tree in Lebanon and fighting a lion, acquired a second layer of meaning, in addition to their “original” meaning based on the royal Mesopotamian iconography. In this new layer, the king functions as a fallen angel and operates the above-mentioned mythological themes as an angelic agent. The link between the Jewish texts and the rock reliefs is demonstrated by a series of examples from the Book of Jubilees (Chapter 8), The Book of Daniel (Chapter 4), the Book of Watchers in 1 Enoch, and the Book of Giants (the Aramaic fragments and the Jewish Medieval transmission). The present study firmly anchors the early Jewish texts in their context in the Hellenistic Levant.
The paper seeks a new way to understand the early activity within versions of the Torah. It builds on two recent developments. First, a refined understanding of the so-called “harmonizations” in the pre-Samaritan Pentateuch and the circulation of this version in early Hellenistic Palestine. Second, new insights with regard to the extent of Homeric scholarship in contemporary Alexandria, and of the type of contact between this activity and Jewish literati. The result is a new view of the pre-Samaritan text as an academic – rather than popular – text, which corresponds with academic textual practices elsewhere. It seeks to smooth out narratological problems in the text, basing itself on the image of Moses as a faultless author. This view explains the continuum between the various attestations of the pre-SP in Qumran and elsewhere. We show that previous explanations of the pre-Samaritan text duplications as a sequel to phenomenon in cuneiform literature are unwarranted. Finally, it is suggested to project from the explicit discussions about the legitimacy of academic Torah texts in Jewish-Hellenistic writings on their less explicit contemporaries in Judea. This reasoning paves the way for a renewed evaluation of the early stages of the conservative version, known as proto-MT, being part of the same dynamics.