Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

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Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:30 pm

These post[s] will detail how certain verses of the Torah were interpreted in the first century.

Deu 22:11 You shall not wear a garment of different kinds, of wool and linen together.

Lev 19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy animal join with a diverse kind for mixtures; thou shalt not sow thy field with mixture, neither shalt thou wear garments of a mixture of different things.

Josephus in describing why the two kinds of wool and linen were not to be worn gives us an insight;

Antiquities of the Jews 4:208 208 ``Let not anyone of you wear a garment made of woollen and linen, for that is appointed to be for the priests alone.''

The combination of wool and linen were reserved for Holy purposes.

The mishnah also states the only mixture the verses are speaking of is wool and linen.

No [clothing material] is forbidden on account of Kilayim except [a mixture of] wool and linen. No [clothing material] is subject to uncleanness by leprosy except [such as is made of] wool or linen. Priests don for service in the Sanctuary, none but [garments of] wool and linen. If one has hackled together camel`s wool with sheep`s wool, if the greater part be Camel`s wool, it is permitted [to mix linen therewith]; if the greater part be sheep`s wool, it is forbidden; if it is half and half, it is forbidden. The same applies to hemp and linen hackled together. m.Kilayim 9.1

Lev 16:17 And no man shall be in the tabernacle of the testimony when he enters in to make reconciliation in the sanctuary until he comes out and has made reconciliation for himself and for his household and for all the congregation of Israel.

Philo in the first century gives a common interpretation of Leviticus 16:17;

Somn. 2:231 231 And there is something which closely resembles this in the passage of scripture concerning the high priest; "For when," says the scripture, "he goes into the holy of holies, he will not be a man till he has gone out again." [Leviticus xvi. 17.] But if at that time he is not a man, it is clear that he is not God either, but a minister of God, belonging as to his mortal nature to creation, but as to his immortal nature to the uncreate God.

This interpretation is later used in midrash rabbah Leviticus written after the destruction of the Temple.

Deu 3:25 Please let me pass over and see the good land which is beyond the Jordan, this good hill country, and Lebanon.

Lebanon was understood to be the Temple and not the physical location of lebanon, as the two targums show below;

Let me, I pray, pass over and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain on which is builded the city of Jerusalem, and Mount Lebanon, where the Shekinah will dwell. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan

AND I prayed before the Lord at that time, saying: O Lord God, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness and Thy mighty hand; for Thou art God, whose Shekinah is in the heavens above, and Thou rulest in the earth, and none can do according to Thy greatness or Thy might. Let me, I pray, go over and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and the place of the sanctuary. THE TARGUM OF ONKELOS

The writers of the dead sea scrolls also connect lebanon to the Temple. The dead sea scroll community understood the 'council of the community' as the Temple, and so when they interpreted lebanon in Habakkuk they applied lebanon to themselves, thus making a link between lebanon and the Temple.

[For the violence done to Lebanon shall overwhelm you, and the destruction of the beasts] XII shall terrify you, because of the blood of men and the violence done to the land, the city, and all its inhabitants (ii, 17).
Interpreted, this saying concerns the Wicked Priest, inasmuch as he shall be paid the reward which he himself tendered to the Poor. For Lebanon is the Council of the Community; and the beasts are the simple of Judah who keep the Law. Commentary on Habakkuk (IQpHab)

Ben Zakkai, who lived in the first century also makes this connection between the Temple and lebanon;

[C] Said [to the Temple] Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai [T1], ``O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. [D] ``For it has been said, `Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars!```(Zech.11.1). y.Yom.6.3 I:5 y.Yom.6.3, 33a-33b

Lev 24:19 And when a man causes a blemish in his neighbor, as he has done, so it shall be done to him;
Lev 24:20 break for break, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has given a blemish to be in a man, so it shall be done to him.

The judgement of measure for measure was understood in terms of monetary compensation;

Antiquities of the Jews 4:280 280 ``He that maims anyone, let him undergo the like himself, and be deprived of the same member of which he has deprived the other, unless he that is maimed will accept money instead of it; for the law makes the sufferer the judge of the value of what he has suffered, and permits him to estimate it, unless he will be more severe.''

And if a man destroy the life of any one of the children of Israel, he shall verily be put to death by the sword. And he who destroyeth the life of an animal shall make it good, a living animal for a living one. And a man who inflicteth a blemish on his neighbour, whatsoever he hath done it shall be done unto him: the value of a fracture for a fracture; the value of an eye for an eye; the value of a tooth for a tooth; whatsoever blemish he inflicteth upon the man, the same shall be rendered unto him. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan

Deu 24:1 When a man has taken a wife and married her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found a thing of uncleanness in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house;

In the first century a man was permitted to divorce his wife for 'any cause', it was a new cause that had arisen prior to the first century.

Spec. 3:30 30 But if, proceeds the lawgiver, a woman having been divorced from her husband under any pretense whatever, and having married another, has again become a widow, whether her second husband is alive or dead, still she must not return to her former husband, but may be united to any man in the world rather than to him, having violated her former ties which she forgot, and having chosen new allurements in the place of the old ones.

Antiquities of the Jews 4:253 253 He that desires to be divorced from his wife for any cause whatever, (and many such causes happen among men,) let him in writing give assurance that he will never use her as his wife any more; for by this means she may be at liberty to marry another husband, although before this bill of divorce be given, she is not to be permitted so to do: but if she be misused by him also, or if, when he is dead, her first husband would marry her again, it shall not be lawful for her to return to him.
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:09 am

..some more interpretations..

Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

When Yeshua interprets this verse he includes the word 'two' which is not in the hebrew text, this was a common interpretation in the first century.

Mat 19:5 And He said, "For this reason a man shall leave father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

Philo also gives this interpretation;

Leg. 2:49 49 XIV. "On this account a man will leave his father and his mother and will cleave to his wife; and they two shall become one flesh." On account of the external sensation, the mind, when it has become enslaved to it, shall leave both its father, the God of the universe, and the mother of all things, namely, the virtue and wisdom of God, and cleaves to and becomes united to the external sensations, and is dissolved into external sensation, so that the two become one flesh and one passion.

The dead sea scroll writers also take a position that it was intended to be understood as 'two';

The ‘builders of the wall’ (Ezek. xiii, 10) who have followed after ‘Precept’ - ‘Precept’ was a spouter of whom it is written, They shall surely spout (Mic. ii, 6) - shall be caught in fornication twice by taking a second wife while the first is alive, whereas the principle of creation is, Male and female created He them (Gen. I, 27)’ V Also, those who entered the Ark went in two by two.. The Damascus Document

The targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel also interprets it relation as two;

Therefore a man shall leave, and be separate from the house of the bed of his father and of his mother, and shall consociate with his wife, and both of them shall be one flesh.

The LXX also sometimes reveal interpretive approaches and it also uses the number two when translating from the hebrew;

Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Mat 7:12 Therefore, all things, whatever you desire that men should do to you, so also you should do to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.

When Yeshua makes this summary of the Torah he is not disregarding the observance of the rest of the Commandments, rather, this was a common way to encapsulate the Torah and reveal its core intent.

There are parallels to this principle either expressed in the negative or positive;

Tobit 4:15 15 Do that to no man which thou hatest: drink not wine to make thee drunken: neither let drunkenness go with thee in thy journey.

As you wish that no evil should befall you, but to be a partaker of all good things, so you should act on the same principle towards your subjects and offenders (Ep. Arist. 207)

You shall love your neighbor, so that what is hateful to you, you shall not do (Tg. Ps.-J. Lev 19:18)

Another time a non-Jew came before Shammai and said, "I will convert if you can teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot." Shammai pushed the non-Jews aside with the ruler that was in his hand. The non-Jew came before Hillel and Hillel converted him saying, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor, that is the entire Torah, the rest is just commentary, now go and study." Shabbat 31a

Did Didache 1:2 2 The way of life, then, is this: First, thou shalt love God who made thee; second, thy neighbor as thyself; and all things whatsoever thou wouldst should not occur to thee, thou also to another do not do.
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:10 pm

...continuing on..

A moabite was not permitted to enter into the assembly;

Deu 23:3 An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of Jehovah; even to the tenth generation shall none of them enter into the assembly of Jehovah, perpetually;

Ruth was a moabitess;

Rth_1:22 And Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the fields of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Yet she was permitted to marry Boaz;

Rth 4:10 And also Ruth of Moab, the wife of Mahlon, I have bought for myself for a wife, to raise up the name of him who died over his inheritance. And the name of him who died shall not be cut off from among his brothers, and from the gate of his place. You are witnesses today.

The reason for this was that the Torah was interpreted to mean that when it spoke of a moabite the hebrew was in the masculine, and so only referred to male moabites and not females.

Neither an Ammonite nor a Moabite man is fit to take a wife from the congregation of the Lord's people, nor unto the tenth generation shall they take a wife from the congregation of the people of the Lord, because they met you not with bread and water in the way when you came from Mizraim, but hired against you Bileam bar Beor from Petho Chelmaya, which is built in the land of Aram upon the Phrat, to curse you; but the Lord your God would not hearken unto Bileam, but turned in his mouth curses into blessings, because the Lord your God loveth you. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan

This understanding is also reflected in the Mishnah;

mishna Ammonite and Moabite converts are prohibited from entering into the congregation and marrying a woman who was born Jewish, and their prohibition is eternal, for all generations. However, their female counterparts, even the convert herself, are permitted immediately. Yevamot 76b

GEMARA: Reish Lakish said: A mamzeret, a female mamzer, is permitted after ten generations. Why? He derived this halakha by way of a verbal analogy between the word “tenth” stated in relation to an Ammonite and a Moabite in the verse “An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to the tenth generation shall none of them enter into the congregation of the Lord forever” (Deuteronomy 23:4), and the word “tenth” stated in relation to a mamzer in the verse “A mamzer shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to the tenth generation shall none of his enter into the congregation of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:3) He explained the analogy as follows: Just as below, with regard to an Ammonite and a Moabite, females are permitted, so too here, with regard to a mamzer, females are permitted. Yevamot 78b

Deu 22:9 You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seeds, that the fruit of your seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard not be defiled.

Wheat and darnel were two kinds of seeds;

Mat 13:25 But while the men were sleeping, one hostile to him came and sowed darnel in the midst of the wheat, and went away.

In the first century because the produce of these seeds looked alike during their growth it was not considered a breach of the Torah [i.e. kilayim] if both were sown together [although no one would want to sow such seeds together in reality because darnel should not be eaten].

Wheat and darnel do not constitute Kilayim one with the other. [Likewise] barley and oats, or spelt and rye, or beans and chick-peas, or bitter peas and tofah, or white beans and kidney beans, do not constitute Kilayim one with the other. m.Kilayim 1.1

Deu_17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

In the first century the sanhedrin lost their right to carry out capital punishment. Two sources below can help demonstrate this;

Joh 18:31 Then Pilate said to them, You take Him and judge Him according to your own Law. Then the Jews said to him, It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,

[A] It is taught: Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the right to judge capital cases was taken away from Israelite courts. y.San.7.2
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:48 pm

.......Deu 21:22 And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,

All who are stoned are [afterwards] hanged: this is R. Eliezer`s [T2 or T5] view, the Sages say: only the blasphemer and the idolater are hanged. m.Sanhedrin 6.4

When a person was hanged, they were first stoned and their body was then hung to fulfill Deuteronomy 21:22.

Mat 26:65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. Mat 26:66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

On the basis of being called a blasphemer Yeshua was sentenced to death, which as it was blasphemy would have included his body being hung up. However the ability to exact the death penalty had been taken away at the time of Yeshua.

So he was not stoned but given over to the romans who then hanged him on a tree.

Acts 5:30 30 The God of our fathers raised up Yeshua, whereas you men killed him by having him hanged on a stake.

Lev 25:10 and you shall make the fiftieth year holy, one year. And you shall proclaim liberty in the land to those living in it; it shall be a jubilee to you. And you shall return every man to his possession; yea, you shall turn back each to his family.

In the first century the Yovel year was not being practised. So when Yeshua cites from Isaiah 61:1 in Luke 4 it would take on additional significance, as Isaiah 61:1 uses the same hebrew word for 'freedom' as Leviticus 25:10 thus connecting the two together which could only then be proclaimed by someone in authority...

And the other? He [Ezra] had prayed for mercy because of the passion for idolatry and he removed it, and his merit then shielded them even as the booth. That is why Scripture reproved Joshua, for in all other passages it is spelt: Jehoshua, but here, Joshua. It was quite right that Moses did not pray for mercy, because the virtue [power] of the Holy Land was absent [to support his plea], but why did Joshua, who had the power of the Holy Land [to assist him], fail to pray for mercy? But it is written: `which thy fathers possessed and thou shalt possess it`? This is what is meant: Since they fathers possessed it, you also possess it. But did they count the years of release and Jubilees [after the return from Babylon]? If even after the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh went into exile, the Jubilees were abolished, should Ezra in connection with whom it is said: The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and three score, have counted them? For it was taught: When the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh went into exile, the Jubilees were abolished as it is said: And ye shall proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof, i.e., [only] at the time when all the inhabitants thereof dwell upon it, but not at the time when some of them are exiled. One might have assumed that if they were there, but intermingled, the tribe of Benjamin with that of Judah and the tribe of Judah with that of Benjamin, that even the [laws of the] Jubilee should apply, therefore it is said: `unto all the inhabitants thereof`, which means, only at the time when its inhabitants are there as [where] they ought to be, but not when they are intermingled! b.Arakhin ch.9.6
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Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Sun May 13, 2018 6:47 am

....Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy;...

In the first century the shabbat was being observed sunset to sunset, as Josephus informs us;

The Jewish War 4:582 582 and the last was erected above the top of the Pastophoria, where one of the priests stood of course, and gave a signal beforehand with a trumpet, at the beginning of every seventh day, in the evening twilight, as also at the evening when that day was finished, as giving notice to the people when they were to stop work, and when they were to go to work again.

Deu 19:15 One witness shall not be valid against a man for any iniquity or for any sin, in any sin which he should commit. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

In the first century a womans testimony was not sought after, as again Josephus informs us;

Antiquities of the Jews 4:219 219 ``Let not a single witness be credited, but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex; nor let servants be admitted to give testimony, on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment. But if anyone be believed to have borne false witness, let him, when he is convicted, suffer all the very same punishments which the man, against whom he bore witness, was to have suffered.''

This has implications for the Gospels, as women were the first ones to come to the tomb of Yeshua, and this adds to the honesty of the Gospels, as it would be an embarrassment in the first century for the resurrection of Yeshua to be witnessed by women and this makes the claims of the Gospels more likely to have a basis of Truth.
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:35 am


Gen 5:21 And Enoch lived sixty-five years and begat Methuselah;
Gen 5:22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years and begat sons and daughters;
Gen 5:23 and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty-five years.
Gen 5:24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

In the second Temple period Enoch was associated with repentance. The reason he was associated with repentance was through the implication of how Enoch “walked with 'Elohim”, that he “walked with 'Elohim” meant [as was supposed in the second Temple period] that Enoch was not walking with 'Elohim at some point, and he needed to repent, and after his repentance he began walking with 'Elohim.

Ben Sirach which was written before the first century associates Enoch with repentance;

Sir 44:16 Enoch pleased the Lord, and was translated, being an example of repentance to all generations.

Later on in the early part of the first century Philo also relates the association;

QG 1:82 82 What is the meaning of the verse, Enoch pleased God after he begat Methuselah, two hundred years? [Genesis 5:22]. 82. God appointed by the law the fountains of all good things to be under the principles of generation itself. And what I mean is something of this sort. A little while before he appointed mercy and pardon to exist, now again he decrees that penitence shall exist, not in any degree mocking or reproaching these men, who are believed to have offended, and at the same time giving the soul an opportunity to mount up from wickedness to virtue, like the conversion of those who are proceeding towards a snare. For behold, the man being made a husband and a father together with his birth, makes a beginning of honesty. And he is said to please God, for although he does not persevere in piety from the moment that he is born, nevertheless, all that remaining period is counted to him as having been spent in a praiseworthy mode of life, because he pleased God for so many years. And these things are said, not because it perhaps was, but it might perhaps have seemed different; but he approves of the order of things, for indulgence having been exemplified, in this case of Cain, after no long interval of time, he introduces this statement, that Enoch practiced repentance, warning us by it that repentance alone can procure indulgence.

Enoch was then a figure would bring to mind repentance.
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:22 pm


Lev 23:40 And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.

In the first century the above verse was understood in terms of a lulav, Josephus gives us a description of the practice;

Antiquities of the Jews 3:245 245 as also that when we should arrive at our own country, and come to that city which we should have then for our metropolis, because of the temple therein to be built, and keep a festival for eight days, and offer burnt offerings, and sacrifice thank offerings, that we should then carry in our hands a branch of myrtle, and willow, and a bough of the palm tree, with the addition of the pome citron.

The mishnah further illustrates how it was interpreted;

And where is [the Lulab] waved? At the commencement and the conclusion of the Psalm, O give thanks unto The Lord and at save now, we beseech thee, O Lord. These are the words of Beth Hillel [CE1]. Beth Shammai [CE1] say, also at O Lord we beseech thee, send now prosperity. R. Akiba [T3] stated, I watched R. Gamaliel [T1, T2 or T6] and R. Joshua [T2], and while all the people were waving their lulabs [at other verses], they waved them only at save now, we beseech thee, O Lord.
If a man was on a journey and had no Lulab wherewith to perform the prescribed commandment, when he comes home he should take it [even if he is] at table. If he did not take the Lulab in the morning, he should take it at any time before dusk, since the whole day is valid for [taking] the Lulab. m.Sukkah 3.9
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:13 pm


Exo 30:11 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,
Exo 30:12 When thou takest the number of the sons of Israel after the sum of them, each one shall give a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou dost number them, that there be no mortality in them because of numbering them.
Exo 30:13 This shall be given by every one that passes among those that are numbered: half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs); a half shekel shall be the offering to the LORD.
Exo 30:14 Anyone that passes among those that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give the offering unto the LORD.
Exo 30:15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give the offering unto the LORD to make reconciliation for your souls.
Exo 30:16 And thou shalt take the reconciliation money of the sons of Israel and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the testimony, and it shall be a memorial unto the sons of Israel before the LORD to reconcile your souls.

Josephus recounting the offering of the half shekel informs us that the shekel equated to four drachmas;

Antiquities of the Jews 3:193-195 193 Now Moses commanded them to make use of all the utensils, which were more than were necessary for the structure of the tabernacle, for covering the tabernacle itself, the lampstand, and altar of incense, and the other vessels, that they might not be at all harmed when they journeyed, either by the rain, or by the rising of the dust. 194 And when he had gathered the multitude together again, he ordained that they should offer half a shekel for every man, as an oblation to God; 195 which shekel is a piece among the Hebrews, and is equal to four Athenian drachmas.

If a shekel equated to four athenian drachmas, then half a shekel equates to two drachmas, these two drachmas were used to pay the half shekel requirement, as Josephus also informs us;

The Jewish War 7:218 218 He also laid a tribute upon the Jews wherever they were, and enjoined everyone of them to bring two drachmas every year into the Capitol, as they used to pay the same to the temple at Jerusalem. And this was the state of the Jewish affairs at this time.

These two drachmas are the subject of the question to the disciples of Yeshua;

Mat 17:24 And when they were come to Capernaum, those that received the two drachmas came to Peter and said, Does not your master pay the two drachmas?

As Josephus informs us the two drachmas were given every year, however, some in the second Temple period did not interpret the giving of the half shekel to be a yearly event but rather a one time event in ones lifetime, below is a translation of some fragments from the dead sea scrolls;

2. .].. his com[mand]ments and to make atonement for all th[eir] sins[...
3. ...] one make of it a threshing floor or a wine press; he who comes to the threshing flo[or...
4. who in I[sra]el, who has nothing shall eat it, and gather for himself and for [his] house[hold...
5. the field shall eat in his mouth but shall not bring to his house to deposit it[...
6. ...] money of [va]luations; that they gave every man a ransom for his soul: half [a shekel for an offering to the Lord]
7. only one [time] shall he give it all his days; the shekel is twenty gerahs after the [shekel of the sanctuary...
8. for the six hundred thousand one hundred talents, for the third...
9. and for the fifty half a mi[n]a, [twenty-] five shekels the ..[.
10. the mina[.. ....].. for ten minas [...
11.]ve (shekels of) [silv]er a tenth of a [mina...
12. ...shek]el of the sanctuary hal[f...
13. ...] the ephah and the bath of o[ne] measure [...
14.]ree tenths [...
16. ...]the people and concerning [...
17. ... I]srael burnt Mos[es...

The community at the dead sea scrolls had a different interpretation about the requirement of the half shekel, this demonstrates the debate in the second Temple period about the requirement of the half shekel.
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:41 pm


In the Masoretic text Deuteronomy 32:8 is rendered as;

Deu 32:8 when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance; when He separated the sons of Adam, He set up the bounds of the peoples, according to the number of the sons of Israel.

However, the LXX renders the same verse as;

Deu 32:8 When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.

The dead sea scrolls renders the same verse as;

Deuteronomy 32 from Scroll 4Q37 Deuteronomyj

7 Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations, Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you. 8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the children of men, he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of God.

The dead sea scrolls and the LXX are in substantial agreement that Deuteronomy 32:8 was interpreted to mean that the Most High divided the nations [in Genesis] according to the number of angels of 'Elohim.

This type of division and placing under angelic rule is also seen in Philo;

Post. 1:89 89 XXV. But it is not our creation that has established these boundaries, but reasons, which are older than we, or than any thing upon the earth; and which, moreover, are divine. In accordance with which the law also has declared the same thing, charging every one of us not to adulterate the coinage of virtue, in these words, "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark which thy fathers established." [Deuteronomy 19:14.] And in another passage he says, "Ask thy father, and he will tell thee; ask thy elders, and they will make it known to thee, how the Most High, when he divided the nations, dispersed the sons of Adam, and fixed the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. And the portion of the Lord was his people Jacob, the limitation of the inheritance of Israel." [Deuteronomy 32:7.]

Post. 1:91 91 XXVI. Perhaps, therefore, it is the right reason of our souls that he calls their father, and its companions and friends that he calls elders. These are they who first established the boundaries of virtue, to whom it is worth while to become pupils for the sake of learning and instruction in necessary things. And what is necessary is as follows. When God was dividing and drawing a wall between the nations of the soul, separating those who spoke different languages; and when establishing the sons of the earth in their abodes, he dispersed them and removed to a distance from himself those whom he called the sons of Adam; then he fixed the boundaries of the offspring of virtue, making them equal in number to the angels; for as many angels of God as there are, so many nations and species of virtue are there.

The targum pseudo-Jonathan on Deuteronomy 32:8 seems to combine both textual traditions, but in combining both, it reveals that the Masoretic text as we have it, was not the only textual tradition that was known;

When the Most High made allotment of the world unto the nations which proceeded from the sons of Noach, in the separation of the writings and languages of the children of men at the time of the division, He cast the lot among the seventy angels, the princes of the nations with whom is the revelation to oversee the city, even at that time He established the limits of the nations according to the sum of the number of the seventy souls of Israel who went down into Mizraim. (Deu. 32:8, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, translated by J.W. Etheridge)

This combination of interpretation incorporated the most widely accepted interpretation of Deuteronomy 32:8 in the second Temple period.
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Re: Interpretation of the Torah in the first century

Post by nazarene » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:36 pm


Gen 6:1 And it came about that men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them.
Gen 6:2 The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were good, and they took wives for themselves from all those whom they chose.

In the second Temple period the most commonly accepted interpretation of “sons of 'Elohim” in Genesis 6:2 was angels, only later in the mid second century did an alternate interpretation take precedent;

The book of Jubilees has the angelic interpretation;

[Jubilees Chapter 5]1 And it came to pass when the children of men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the angels of God saw them on a certain year of this jubilee, that they were beautiful to look upon; and they took themselves wives of all whom they 2 chose, and they bare unto them sons and they were giants. And lawlessness increased on the earth and all flesh corrupted its way, alike men and cattle and beasts and birds and everything that walks on the earth -all of them corrupted their ways and their orders, and they began to devour each other, and lawlessness increased on the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all men 3 (was) thus evil continually. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, and all flesh had corrupted its orders, and all that were upon the earth had wrought all manner of evil 4 before His eyes. And He said that He would destroy man and all flesh upon the face of the earth 5,6 which He had created. But Noah found grace before the eyes of the Lord. And against the angels whom He had sent upon the earth, He was exceedingly wroth, and He gave commandment to root them out of all their dominion, and He bade us to bind them in the depths of the earth, and 7 behold they are bound in the midst of them, and are (kept) separate.

1Enoch has the angelic interpretation;

[Chapter 6]1 And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto 2 them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ’Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men 3 and beget us children.’ And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: ’I fear ye will not 4 indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’

Philo has the angelic interpretation;

Gig. 1:5-6 5 On account of which fact these men are said to have become the fathers of daughters, and that no one of them is said to have begotten a son; for since the just Noah had male children, as being a man who followed reason, perfect, and upright, and masculine, so by this very fact the injustice of the multitude is proved to be altogether the parent of female children. For it is impossible that the same things should be born of opposite parents; but they must necessarily have an opposite offspring. 6 II. "And when the angels of God saw the daughters of men that they were beautiful, they took unto themselves wives of all of them whom they chose." [Genesis 6:2.] Those beings, whom other philosophers call demons, Moses usually calls angels; and they are souls hovering in the air.

The dead sea scroll community had the books of Enoch and Jubilees with additional texts which agreed with the angelic interpretation, for instance, 1 Enoch;

4Q201 (En ara)
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority (11)

Ena I ii

12. ...But you have changed your works,
13. [and have not done according to his command,
and tran]sgressed against him; (and have spoken)
haughty and harsh words, with your impure mouths,
14. [against his majesty, for your heart is hard].
You will have no peace.

Ena I iii

13. [They (the leaders) and all ... of them took
for themselves]
14. wives from all that they chose and
[they began to cohabit with them and to defile
themselves with them];
15. and to teach them sorcery and [spells and
the cutting of roots; and to acquaint them
with herbs.]
16. And they become pregnant by them and
bo[re (great) giants three thousand cubits high ...]

And the book of the giants;

4Q532 Col. 2 Frags. 1 - 6 2[ . . . ] flesh [ . . . ] 3al[l . . . ] monsters [ . . . ] will be [ . . . ] 4[ . . . ] they would arise [ . . . ] lacking in true knowledge [ . . . ] because [ . . . ] 5[ . . . ] the earth [grew corrupt . . . ] mighty [ . . . ] 6[ . . . ] they were considering [ . . . ] 7[ . . . ] from the angels upon [ . . . ] 8[ . . . ] in the end it will perish and die [ . . . ] 9[ . . . ] they caused great corruption in the [earth . . . ] [ . . . this did not] suffice to [ . . . ] "they will be [ . . . ]

Finally, Josephus writing late in the first century also has the angelic interpretation;

Antiquities of the Jews 1:72-73 72 Now this posterity of Seth continued to esteem God as the Lord of the universe, and to have an entire regard to virtue, for seven generations; but in process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers, and did neither pay those honours to God which were appointed them, nor had they any concern to do justice toward men. But for what degree of zeal they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions a double degree of wickedness; whereby they made God to be their enemy; 73 for many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Greeks call giants.
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