Description and Background
According to Ehud Netzer, a member of Professor Yigael Yadin's excavation team at Masada, a small fragment now labeled Mas1j was found on a Roman garbage pile near Masada's Western Palace. Because this fragment contains very little continuous text, it has been and still is very difficult to identify as part of a larger text. Yadin's initial identification of the fragment placed it as part of the book of Jubilees, an apocryphal account of revelations received by Moses while he was on Mount Sinai for forty days. It is most likely that Yadin connected this fragment with Jubilees because one of the legible phrases of the fragment, Prince of Hatred, is found in that book.
However, Professor Shemaryahu Talmon has recently indicated that no portion of Jubilees corresponds to the text preserved on this fragment. Rather, the fragment "possibly stems from a Pseudo-Jubilees composition."1 Talmon further points out that the title Prince of Hatred also occurs in another Pseudo-Jubilees document found at Qumran.2
Written on parchment in the square script similar to the script found in other biblical manuscripts, this text is much smaller and harder to identify. Nevertheless, for two reasons several scholars, including Talmon, have tentatively identified this fragment as part of a text from Qumran. First, the orthography (spelling patterns) found in the fragment is very similar to the orthography found in texts composed at Qumran. Second, the use of the word hatred is characteristic of the sectarian documents found at Qumran.
This identification, in light of the fact that other Masada scrolls likely originated in Qumran, particularly the fragment known as the Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice, gives credence to the idea that members of the Qumran community joined the Zealots in their revolt against the Romans.
The following translation of this fragment is very tentative. Because of the fragmentary nature of the text, there are many gaps in the translation. The translation is divided into columns 1 and 2 because the fragment shows the end of one line and the beginning of the next with a very definite column division between the two. The transcription that serves as the base for this translation has been published by Talmon in a recent article.3 He has also suggested the possible English renderings for some phrases. Where possible, we have followed his suggestions. The numbers on the left are line numbers. The dashes represent unreadable letters, the words within the brackets are restorations by Talmon, and the letters in italics are Hebrew letters for which no English translation can be made. A single open bracket indicates that missing or illegible text follows the bracket, and a single close bracket indicates the same for text preceding the bracket. Because of the lack of context, the meaning of many words can be debated. We offer this translation only to give the reader a general idea of what the fragment says. The words that are fairly certain appear in boldface.
|Column 1||Column 2|
|1. ]lwd s||1.|
|2. ]-wh people||2.|
|3. ]ym and they took||3. ygs-[|
|4. ] and he took and no||4. contention y-[|
|5. ] and the prince of hatred||5. to you in tumul[t|
|6. sev]enty years||6. they establish [a covenant]|
|7. ]-wlkh||7. and your people|
This is a tantalizing find. The lack of
surrounding text is frustrating, and we can only speculate about which larger
work this fragment came from. As has been noted above, the spelling of certain
words is very similar to Qumran spelling practices. That, in addition to the
occurrence of the title Prince of Hatred in a so-called Pseudo-Jubilees
fragment found at Qumran, makes the connection between this fragment and Qumran
quite reasonable. Likewise, the placement of this fragment within some sort of
Jubilees-type document is very reasonable.
1. Shemaryahu Talmon, "Hebrew Written Fragments from Masada," Dead Sea Discoveries 3/2 (1996): 172.
2. See ibid.
3. See ibid., 171.