Elements of pejorative wordplay and language of enmity in the Qumran Commentary on Nahum in historical-religious context

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Abstract

The article deals with the language of enmity and pejorative wordplay in the Qumran Commentary (Pesher) on Nahum (4QpNah = 4Q169). According to the author’s reconstruction, this sectarian work could be written in 88 B.C.E. after the defeat of the Judaean king and high priest Alexander Jannaeus’ army inflicted by the Syrian king Demetrius III Eucaerus, who was invited in Judaea by the rebellious Pharisees, near the city of Shechem: as a result, Alexander was forced to flee to the Ephraim Mountains (see: Josephus Flavius, The Jewish War, I, 95; The Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 379), in all probability to his mountain fortress Alexandrion. Taking advantage of this, the Pharisees temporarily came to power in Jerusalem – probably for some months in the same 88 B.C.E. In suppressing the rebellion, Alexander executed the Pharisees through crucifixion – hypothetically, more than once. The author analyzes such pejorative designations and notions as the «interpreters/expounders of smooth things (slippery)» ( דורשי חלקות ), «false teaching (talmûḏ)», «Ephraim», the «House of Peleg» attested in 4QpNah in correlation with the Pharisees, as well as the nicknames the «Furious Young Lion», the «Wicked Priest», the «Last Priest» with reference to Alexander Jannaeus. In particular, the high share of probability of the suggestion concerning the correlation of the pejorative designation דורשי חלקות («interpreters of smooth things») with the designation דורשי הלכות , the «interpreters/expounders of the halakhoth (laws)», which was used to refer to the teachers of the Law probably since the time of the first Tannaim (cf., e. g.: M. Nedarim, IV, 3; B. T. Betzah, 15b), allows one to assume that the latter designation was used in Judaea as a terminus technicus with reference to the Pharisees’ interpreters of the laws already in the Hellenistic period
Translated title of the contributionЭлементы пейоративной игры слов и языка вражды в кумранском Комментарии на Наума в историко-религиозном контексте
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727–740
JournalJournal of Siberian Federal University - Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume15
Issue number5
Early online date2021
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Keywords

  • language of enmity
  • pejorative wordplay
  • Pharisees
  • Sadducees
  • Essenes
  • Qumranites
  • the Qumran Commentary on Nahum (4QpNah)
  • the Qumran Commentary on Habakkuk (1QpHab)

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