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A Star from Jacob, a Sceptre from Israel
Balaam's Oracle as Rewritten Scripture in the Dead Sea Scrolls
The fourth Balaam oracle (Numbers 24.17-19) appears in four separate Dead Sea Scrolls. But how it is used and understood remains puzzling and challenging.
All four scrolls agree that the biblical text is a living artifact and endorse its authority. But they disagree on what it may mean to the audience of their own day. They adjust, rephrase and rework the biblical text according to their own needs and for the benefit of their audience.
Following the twists and turns in this process of interpretation and rewriting has two benefits: first, we become more sensitized to the complexity of the processes by which the scriptural text came into being and to the fact that this process did not have a clear-cut end in mind. Rather, it is thanks to a constant reworking of the scriptural text that it remains alive for its readers.
Second, in following closely the process of reinterpretation of this particular text we gain a better understanding of the world of Qumran, of the communication strategy of the Scrolls, and of some of their key theological concepts. In particular, Qumran beliefs about a messiah become more vividly tangible.
1. Origins of the Balaam Tradition
2. Development of the Balaam Tradition
3. Focus of this Study
THE FOURTH BALAAM ORACLE IN THE CONTEXT
OF THE BALAAM EPISODE IN NUMBERS 22–24
1. The Balaam Story in Numbers 22–24
2. Structure and Setting of the Fourth Oracle in Numbers 24.17-19
3. Text and Translation of Numbers 24.17-19
4. Analysis of the Oracle in Numbers 24.17-19
REWRITTEN SCRIPTURE AND ITS IMPACT ON THE INTERPRETATION
OF THE BALAAM ORACLE IN THE QUMRAN CORPUS
1. Concept of Rewritten Scripture
2. Categories of the Use of Scriptural Texts
BIBLICAL DEAD SEA SCROLLS
1. Preserved Evidence
2. Texts and Analysis of the Variants
2. The Prayer ‘And he has Taught us’ in War Scroll 10–11.12
3. Analysis of War Scroll 11.1-12
4. The Balaam Oracle in War Scroll 11.1-12
2. Text of Damascus Document 7.9b–8.1a
4. The Balaam Oracle in Damascus Document 7
RULE OF THE BLESSINGS
3. The Balaam Oracle in the Rule of the Blessings 5
1. Exegetical Questions
2. Questions of Hermeneutics, Sociology, and Theology