Translation:

4:1 For the heavens and the earth will listen to his messiah,

4:2 and all that is in them will not depart from the commandments of the holy ones.

4:3 Strengthen yourselves you seeking the Lord in his service

4:4 Will you not find the Lord in this, all those waiting in their hearts?

4:5 Because the Lord will attend to the covenant faithful and the righteous he will call by name.

4:6 And on the humble his spirit will rest and the faithful he will renew in his strength.

4:7 Because he will glorify the covenant faithful upon a throne of kingship forever,

4:8 freeing the imprisoned, opening [the eyes] of the blind, raising the bowed.

4:9 And forever I will cling with those [who] wait and in his covenant faithfulness.

4:10 and the fruit of good deeds to no man will be delayed.

4:11 And the glorious things which do not exist the Lord will do just as he said.

4:12 Because he will heal the slain, and the dead will be alive, and to the humble he will bring glad tidings

4:13 and the oppressed he will cause to be satisfied, and the exiled he will guide, and the hungry he will enrich.

Exegesis:

4Q521 fii 4.1-13 interest me for four reasons: (1) it mentions the messiah; (2) it depicts the spirit of YHWH as coming upon his people; (3) it may allude to a resurrection; (4) it presents the reader with an eschatological hope for the people of God.

In line 1 the “heavens and earth”( השמים והארץ) represents all of the created order, ala Genesis 1. The author writes that creation will “listen to his messiah.” The word for “listen” is  שמע which goes beyond hearing something to hearing something attentively. This seems to present creation as listening to obey the messiah. The messiah (למשיחו) is “his”, the third person masculine singular suffix connects messiah to YHWH.

Line 2 continues this sentence establishing that all that is in creation “depart” (יסוג) from “the commandments of the holy ones” (ממצות קדושים), a statement that seems to implied a shared rule with messiah for those who are the people of God.

Line 3 begins with an imperative in the hithpael instructing the reader—likely the “holy ones”—to engage in the act of self-strengthening (התאמצו). These holy ones are “seeking the Lord in his service”

Line 4 rhetorically asks if the reader will find the Lord in this and describes the holy ones as “hoping in their hearts” or “waiting in their hearts” (המיחלים בלבם).

Line 5 is future oriented. The Lord will attend (יבקר, imperfect) to his “pious”[2] (חסידים) or as I translated it “covenant faithful” because חסד seems to have the implication of faithfulness is a covenant setting. The holy ones are faithful and the “righteous” (וצדיקים). The Lord will “call them by name” (בשם יקרא, imperfect).

Line 6 is intriguing because it mentions the spirit resting on the humble. The “humble” (ענוים) is another way of speaking of the aforementioned holy ones, covenant faithful, and righteous. The spirit (רוחו) is “his” (another third person, singular, masculine suffix as with “messiah” above) meaning the Lord’s. The word used to the spirit’s resting upon the humble is the same word used of the spirit in Genesis 1.2 (תרחף in line 6 and מרחפת in Gen 1.2). I assume the author intends to evoke an echo of the creation narrative with the spirit doing a similar work of reorganizing the chaos.

The other action of the Lord in this line is renewing of the strength of the faithful (ואמונים). This is different from my “covenant faithful” gloss above. The covenant doesn’t seem to be in view as much here as when the author wrote חסידים though the action of fidelity is similar.

In my next post I will share my notes on the rest of the fragment. Your feedback is most welcome! 


[1] Martin G. Abegg, Jr., Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003).

[2] Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, Revised Edition (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2005), 531.

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