(BEING CONTINUED FROM 23/12/13)
The exegetical activity of the Community emerges in one way or another in all
the writings preserved. Exegesis forms the foundation of the halakhic texts.
Interpretation of particular biblical texts peppers the development of the Rules,
both in the legislative sections and in the more theological sections. As a matter
of course, the biblical text permeates all the ritual texts, and the language of the
verse compositions is so steeped in the idiom of the bible that they resemble a
patchwork quilt in which biblical sap and personal expression are woven together
This chapter comprises a set of compositions of very different types, all of
them, though, illustrations of the exegetical efforts of the Community. The
Targum of Job and the tiny fragments of the Targum of Leviticus show us how
biblical interpretation permeates the Aramaic translation of biblical texts. The
Temple Scroll is put forward as a new Deuteronomy, as a sixth book of the Torah.
In it, sections from various biblical books are blended with others hitherto
unknown and the whole is put forward as the actual word (in the first person)
Perhaps the most typical texts of Qumran exegesis are the pesharim, a term
used to denote compositions in which the word pesher (1interpretation5) occurs
very often. In essence, this exegesis involves revealing the true meaning of the
biblical text, relating it to the actual circumstances of the Community in the
last days. In the pesharim, the passages from the prophets or from the psalms
quoted ealier are commented on, verse by verse. In the other compositions
included here, which could be called thematic pesharim, texts derived from various
biblical books and collected for a specific purpose, are interpreted.
Of course, a number of the compositions in the chapter ‘Para-biblical narratives\
could just as well have been included in this chapter, since they narrate,
explain, expand on or alter the biblical text which sustains the life of the Community.
The boundary between interpretation, the result of exegesis and mere
paraphrase of the biblical text or incorporation of duplicate traditions, is a movable
border where there are no certainties.
(TO BE CONTINUED )