The Words of Gad the Seer: The Author's Opponents and the Date of Its Composition

Review of Rabbinic Judaism, 10.1 (2007), pp. 1-10  Meir Bar-Ilan

 

Introduction

The Words of Gad the Seer (hereafter: Gad’s Words) is an Apocryphal Hebrew book known only from a single manuscript, which was written during the 18th century in Cochin, India.1 Generally speaking, this work has been overlooked by scholars and in the last seventy years has not been mentioned at all. I have demonstrated the antiquity of the text and dwelt on its significance in various papers, with a view to publishing the whole text in the near future.2

Gad’s Words has about 5400 words which means it is not a small book. Primarily it is an apocalyptic book, contains three visions and as such is a unique contribution to apocalyptic literature. However, it is also a kind of rewriting the Bible and it is a mixture of various genres, such as citations from Psalms, legends, visions of God on His throne, apocalyptic prophecies, and more. Ostensibly, the text is biblical, but there are some clues suggesting that it belongs to a later period. According to S. Schechter and I. Abrahams, the book is a product of the Middle Ages. However, Gad’s Words has several resemblances to 2 Baruch, 3 Baruch and 4 Ezra. Moreover, Gad’s Words has a lot of affinities with, no less than, the Book of Revealation (written by a Jew who converted to Christianity). These parallels and other factors that are far beyond the present discussion lead to a conclusion that Gad’s Words was composed during the early centuries of the Common Era.

When one recalls that so far all Hebrew apocryphal books are known only from translations, or were found in Qumran, the importance of this work is clear: it is the first Hebrew apocryphal book that was transmitted in Jewish tradition. On the one hand, the book has a Masorah, as if it is a Biblical book, an unheard phenomenon. On the other hand, the book is a non-Rabbinic book with very few affinities to Rabbinic ideas (and rejecting one of them). All these characteristics, and many others, make this book unique and call attention to anyone who is looking for new voices from Antiquity. After studying the book since 1981, hopefully the book will be published in the coming years, together with a full commentary as well as an Introduction that will cover every aspect of this text, and there are great many of them.

Gad’s Words presents many complicated problems, each deserving a separate discussion. The present paper attempts to establish the identity of the opponents of the author of Gad’s Words. The author wrote in a symbolic language to disguise his own personality, as well as his real time. When the author mentions his nation’s enemy, it is easy to discern that he means Rome. However, when the author of Gad’s Words mentions his opponents, since they are not identified appropriately, they are not easy to be identified. For that reason the present paper aims to analyze this problem, trying to identify the author’s opponents according their claims as recorded in Gad’s Words. It is assumed that answering this question, as well as giving a detailed look at every aspect of the book will set the historical background with which this book was written.

A. The Opponents and Their Views

The author of the text does not identify his opponents just as he “fails” to disclose the actual date of his composition. It is assumed that just as he situated himself in the days of King David not to disclose himself, like many others pseudepigraphers, he didn’t say explicitly who his opponents were. However, we can infer their identity from some verses that the author devotes to his enemies, or rather the enemies of the Jewish people. Hereafter, verses 78-82 are given, as well as a few more verses that might be helpful in our task.

Chapter 2 opens with a prophecy concerning the end of days, when God shall gather His people from amidst the nations and lead them to war against their enemies. Then the author goes on to say (vss 78-82):

Woe to you, O Edom, that sits in the land of Kittim in the north (of the) sea. For your destroyers will emerge from a terrible nation not leaving you a remnant. For you said: On high is my seat, and I have knowledge of the God of gods, for the Lord chose me instead of His holy people, since He abominated them. And His former people is abhorred and execrated, (they) do not know the Lord and His image.
Verily, we are wise and clever; we know the Lord and His Torah, we know His image and His presence.3

After God promises to punish Edom, He says (verse 85):

For it is not you (=Edom) whom I knew formerly, and where is the bill of divorce of My people, that ye said would be a prey, read it to me!4

In the entire text the author ignores his opponents, so these verses are the only basis of our study, and later will be discussed some allusing as to the identity of the ‘enemies’.

Biblical Edom was identified with the Romans at least as far back as the second century C.E. The association between the Romans and biblical Kittim was made even earlier.5 Thus, without specifically mentioning the Romans, the text establishes a threefold equation: Rome = Edom = Kittim.6 On the other hand, the future destroyers of ‘Edom’ are not identifiable since the prophecy refers to them in general terms. One can be quite certain as to the notion that the text in hand was written after the destruction of the Temple, though this too is not explicitly stated. In Gad’s Words there is a call for revenge as well as a voice of “Wow” of grief over the fate of the Jewish people. These verses lead one to assume that the text was written after the destruction and the author thinks of Rome. Edom’s claim that it “sits high above the other nations” echoes Obad 3, a prophecy on Edom. In view of the fact that the Romans strongly believed they had conquered the world and were superior to all peoples, it is most likely that in this text, Edom stands for Rome (and the author used an oblique reference to protect himself against persecution).

The above political claim is followed by a theological one, which deserves careful study. The author attributes to the Edomites the claim that they know the God of gods: “We know YHWH and His Torah; we know His image and His presence”. Here the Edomites insist that they know the Lord far better than do the Jews and this claim cannot be attributed to the Romans. It is a common belief that the disputes between Rome and Jerusalem never concerned theological matters. They were rather motivated by political aspirations: who is the ruler over a small piece of land in the Middle East. For this reason, it can be postulated that in this particular case of a religious dispute, Rome stands for Christianity. In other words, our text reflects a theological polemic - perhaps one of the earliest of its kind between two religions: Christianity and Judaism.7 What strengthens this conclusion is the following statement: “since YHWH chose me instead of His holy people”. This statement must be ascribed to the Christians, since the argument it conveys was already prevalent in the early stages of Christianity.8

It is noteworthy that this claim of ‘knowing God’ goes hand in hand with the claim that they know His Torah, since according to the Epistles, it was Paul who claimed knowledge of the real Torah of Moses.9 Still, the exact meaning of “we know His image and His presence” is not clear, though it could be related to Paul’s visions of God (2 Cor 12:1-4).10 A different explanation might be that by stating “we know His image and His presence”, the opponents, namely the Christians, were apparently quoting Col 1:15 or Heb 1:3 concerning Jesus, or that the author referred to some Christian mystical experience - such as could be found in the Book of Revelation - which reflects knowledge of God’s “image and His presence”.11

However, the last sentence (vs 82) might be understood not as an argument made by Edom, but rather as the beginning of the Jewish refutation.12 Thus interpreted, the statement “Verily, we are wise and clever” would seem to derive from Deut. 4:6, while the assertion “we know YHWH and His Torah” bears close resemblance to 1 Sam 3:7, Isa 49:23 and the biblical parallels. Accordingly, the ending of the above verse, “we know His image and His presence”, corresponds to the notions embraced by the Apocalyptic movement, in which the author must have played a role. However, the author of Gad’s Words was not alone in this “movement” since Christians were apocalpticists as well. Some of these Christians have had visions and they saw God and wrote it down in detail.13 So it may be that these visions were the source for their claim: “Verily, we are wise and clever; we know YHWH and His Torah, we know His image and His presence”.

Other claims that the author attributes to his opponents seem to underscore the anti-Christian character of the given text. Thus the opponents’ statement “since He abominated them. And His first people is abhorred and execrated” reflects a typically and exclusively Christian stand.14 According to Christians, God abandoned the Jews, as testified by the destruction of the Temple and the sovereignty of Rome over the Jews and Jerusalem, and chose the Christians to be His people instead of His former people, the Jews.15

Special treatment should be given to the bill of divorce that was given to Israel according the opponents of Gad, a claim that Gad rejects. The author writes: “and where is the bill of divorce of My people... read it to me!”. This reflects the Christian view that the Lord had the Christians to supersede the Jews while using a symbolic divine deed: God divorced His former people. This usage of symbols was inspired by the biblical notion that the relationship between God and Israel is similar to that of a husband and a wife. It is also reminiscent of Jer 3:8 (or Isa 50:1), where the prophet claims in the name of God that He divorced Israel (as opposed to Judea), and gave her a bill of divorce. Apparently, the early Christians used this verse to substantiate their claim that God rejected Israel by giving her a bill of divorce.16 However, this very claim is stated by Ephraem the Syrian in the 4th c. who in one of his sermons writes the following:

He wrote a writ of divorce and extended it to the harlot.17

That is to say, according to the bishop of Nisibis and Eddesa, the Lord saw that his wife, Israel, went astray (following Jer. 3:6; Ezek. 16:16), by not following Jesus, and therefore He gave his former wife (=people) a bill of divorce. There is no reason to assume that this argument was Ephraem’s own imagination, and that Gad knew Ephraem’s sermon. On the contrary, it seems an old issue of debate between Jews and Christians. At any event, one thing is clear: our author challenges this notion by saying: “read it to me!” (in sarcasm). That is: where is your new Torah or covenant with God which you regard as a bill of divorce to God’s former wife: Israel. All in all, the above mentioned refutations can be understood as a polemic against the Christians.

Before ending this discussion, two facts should be noted concerning the text under study: (1) the theme of “Israel: the Chosen People” runs through the text in various guises; (2) the text has a lot in common with The Book of Revelation.

The insistence on Israel as the chosen people is conveyed in the following verses: In verse 47, the seer hears a voice from heaven telling him of the nation of Israel: “My son you are, My first born you are, My first harvest you are”.18 In verse 191, King David preaches to his people in Jerusalem in the name of God: “You are [the] true seed” (similar to vss 54, 71).19 In vss 207-209 King David responds to King Hiram of Tyre (concerning the latter’s desire to convert to Judaism): “We are called children of [the] true God... since us He chose”.20 The same notion underlies the blessing contained in verse 214: “Blessed [is] David His servant, king of His people, and blessed [is] Israel who YHWH chose as His inheritance”.21 Other verses such as this one (95; 209) confirm that the author of this text was arguing with a sect or a group who believed that they, rather than the Jews, were the true children of the Lord. This suggests the author’s rejection of Christian conceptions that go against Judaism.22

Concerning the similarities between Gad’s Words and the Book of Revelation,23 the following features are common to both works: (1) the image of the lamb, which plays a major role in symbolizing the Jewish nation and praising the Lord; (2) a detailed description of God sitting on His throne and judging His creatures with the aid of the heavenly books; (3) the reference to the heavenly altar, the heavenly sacrifice, and the heavenly hymn uttered by the lamb;24 (4) a similar literary style (regardless of the specific language in which it is expressed) and apocalyptic ambiance; (5) some specific expressions, such as 'הוה הוה ויהיה' (verse 183 in Gad’s Words and its parallels in the Book of Revelation: 1:4,8; 4:8; 11:17; 16:5); (6) an allegorical battle between Good and Evil - a well-known myth that penetrated other pseudepigraphic texts as well; (7) the prominent figure of Satan;25 (8) both books include prophecies;26 (90 both seers are told by an angel to commit their vision into writing.

What can we make of these similarities? Perhaps both authors were affiliated with closely-related theological circles, namely with some apocalyptic ‘movement’, though each of them was on the other side of the religious fence (at least after John converted into Christianity). Perhaps too the author was somewhat acquainted with Christian thinking and exploited his knowledge for the very purpose of refuting their beliefs through his own work.

All of these contact points seem to reinforce the idea that the author of Gad’s Words was in direct contact with Christians and was familiar with anti-Jewish polemics.27 It is also possible that his words are targeted specifically at the Jewish Christians, though on this point nothing definite can be inferred from the text.28 Anyway, it seems that identifying the author’s opponents might provide some clues as to the date of his composition.

B. The date of The Words of Gad the Seer

It is not easy to determine the exact date of Gad’s Words on the basis of the above discussion. The crucial problem seems to be whether the equation: Rome = Edom = Kittim may reflect any specific date. As a rule, the association of Edom with Christianity originated after the fall of the Land of Israel into the hands of Constantine in 324 C.E.29 Earlier than that, so it is assumed, one could not identify Edom, that is Rome, with any theological arguments against the Jews.

However, this is not the only way to understand the text. It should be noted that Rome is not explicitly mentioned in the text. Moreover, possibly the author lived in Israel in the third century and knew a local Christian governor, and came to identify Rome with Christianity.30 If this is the case, then the text could be dated before the time of Constantine.

As to the possibility that Gad’s Words is actually a product of the Middle Ages, it should be noted that this work sharply differs from any medieval Jewish polemical treatise against Christianity both in terms of its main theme (election, rather than Jesus) and style.31 In addition, the identity of the author’s opponents and the arguments of both sides rule out such a possibility. References to Kittim, “his first people”, and “bill of divorce” suggest a much earlier date. Any speculation of a ‘late’ date should be checked against the above features of Gad’s Words and their chronological implications. On the whole, the similarity with the Book of Revelation, which, according to most scholars, was written in the last decade of the first century, suggests that Gad’s Words was written around the same period - either in the last decade of the first century or in the first decade of the second century. When one considers the polemical nature of the Book of Revelation,32 one wonders if Gad’s Words is not an echo of an old polemic between Jews and Christian-Jews.

The idea that Gad’s Words comes from Antiquity is corroborated by the author’s interpolation of biblical texts. His work contains two chapters from Psalms (145, 144). It is rightly important to note that they are different than the Masoretic text in minor and major differences. Moreover, Gad’s Words has a reproduction of two other chapters - a combination of the parallel 2 Sam 24:1-25 and 1 Chr 21:1-30, and the book has more affinities to Biblical texts. That is to say that the book represents in a way a trend of “Rewriting the Bible”, a tendency known from Pseudepigrapha, not from Rabbinic circles and certainly not from the Middle Ages. This might suggest that the work was produced at a time when the biblical text was still fluid, when scribes and other people felt free to reshape the past.

These considerations go against a former view that the text under study was composed in the Middle Ages.33 They also rule out the possibility that the author lived in the fourth of fifth centuries, for at that time, so far that we know, a Jewish writer did not incorporate biblical chapters in his work, or so it looks.

Speculations about the date of the text offer two different conclusions. Either the text is a product of the fourth century, or it was written much earlier, in the third or even the second century. Thus, though no conclusive answer is offered, it seems that the above-analyzed excerpts reflect a confrontation between (non-Rabbinic) Jews and Christians that took place (in the Land of Israel) between the 2nd – to 4th centuries C.E. It is hoped that further studies of the text will yield a better understanding as well as a more specific date.

Conclusion

The Words of Gad the Seer is a “Biblical” text, with a stress on Apocalyptic visions, and as such it is a non-Halahkic in nature, reflecting neither Rabbinic nor “Karaite” or Zadokite concepts. This book seems to be a true remnant of a non-Rabbinic Judaism(s) of Antiquity.

Though the author of The Words of Gad the Seer does not designate his opponents, several clues in the text lead to the conclusion that they were Christians. If so, then the text is a unique Jewish testimony, and represents one of the earliest polemics against Christians. On the basis of textual analysis, it seems that it was produced around the 1st – to 4th centuries of this era.34

1. The text of Gad’s Words appears in MS Cambridge O0.1.20 (No. 16265 in the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem). My sincere thanks are due to the syndics of Cambridge University Library, and to Prof. Stefan C. Reif, for their kind permission to publish that manuscript. For a former publication see I. Abrahams, “The Words of Gad the Seer,” Livre d'Hommage a la memoire du Dr Samuel Poznanski (Varsovie: edit par le comite de la grande synagogue a Varsovie, 1927; rep. Jerusalem: publisher not mentioned, 1969), pp. 8-12.

2. M. Bar-Ilan, 'The Date of The Words of Gad the Seer', JBL, 109/3 (1990), pp. 477-493; idem, “The Geographical Source of The Words of Gad the Seer,” Proceedings of the Tenth World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1990), A., pp. 119-126. (Hebrew); idem, “Books from Cochin,” Pe‘amim, 52 (1992), pp. 74-100 (Hebrew); idem “Personal Names in ‘The Words of Gad the Seer’”, Sinai, 114 (1994), pp. 109-119 (Hebrew); idem “The Discovery of The Words of Gad The Seer,” Journal for the Study of Pseudepigrapha, 11 (1993), pp. 95-107; idem “Parallels in the Bible and in “The Words of Gad the Seer”,” Beit-Mikra, 42/4 (1997), pp. 343-355 (Hebrew).

3. The translation is based on my interpretation of the following Hebrew text: אוי לך אדום היושבת בארץ כיתים בצפון היום: כי מחריביך יצאו מעם נורא לבלתי השאיר לך שריד: כי אמרת מרום מושבי ודעת אל אלים ידעתי כי אותי בחר יהוה תחת עם קדושו כי נמאס בהם: ועמו הראשון עם נבזה ונדחה לא ידעה את יהוה ואת תוארו: אבל אנו חכמים ואנו נבונים אנו יודעים את יהוה ואת תורתו אנו יודעים את תוארו והויתו:

4. The Hebrew text is: כי לא אתכם ידעתי מקדם ואיזהו ספר כריתות עמי אשר אמרתם לבז יהיו קראיני לי.

5. Bilha Nitsan, Megillat Pesher Habakkuk (Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1986), pp. 83-86 (Hebrew)

6. See Gershon D. Cohen, “Esau as Symbol in Early Medieval Thought,” A. Altman (ed.), Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), pp. 19-48. See also Nahum N. Glatzer, “The Attitude Toward Rome in Third-Century Judaism,” Alois Dempe, H. Arendt and F. Engel-Janosi (eds.), Politische Ordnung und Menschliche Existenz, Festgabe für Eric Vögelin zum 60 Geburtstag (München: Verlag C. H. Beck, 1962), pp. 243-257.

7. Concerning the early polemics between Christianity and Judaism see: A. Marmorstein, “Judaism and Christianity in the Middle of the Third Century,” HUCA, 10 (1935), pp. 223-263; Y. Baer, “Israel, the Christian Church, and the Roman Empire,” Scripta Hierosolymitana, 7 (1961), pp. 79-149 (=Hebrew: Zion 21 [1956] 1-49); R. Kimelman, “Rabbi Yohanan and Origen on the Song of Songs: A third century Jewish-Christian disputation,” HTR, 73 (1980), pp. 567-595; Daniel J. Lasker, “Qissat Mujadalat al-Usquf and Nestor Ha-Komer: The earliest Arabic and Hebrew Jewish anti-Christian polemics”, J. Blau and Stefan C. Reif (eds.), Genizah research after ninety years The case of Judeao-Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 112-118; Ora Limor, ‘Judaism looks at Christianity’, Pe‘amim, 75 (1998), pp. 109-125 (Hebrew).

8. For the idea of the chosen people or the ‘real’ Israel in Christianity see Rom 9:4-12; 1 Pet 2:9; Gerard S. Sloyan, “Who Are the People of God?” in A. Finkel and L. Frizzell (eds.), Standing Before God: Studies on Prayer in Scriptures and Tradition with Essays in Honor of John M. Oesterreicher (New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1981), pp. 103-114. Among the Jews this idea is reflected in: Tanhuma, Gen., Va-Yera 5; Tanhuma, Buber (ed.), (Wilna 1885), 88. See also E. Mihaly, “A Rabbinic Defence of the Election of Israel,” HUCA, 35 (1964), pp. 103-143; F. Dreyfus, “The Scales are Even (Tanhuma, Ki-Tissa, 34),” Tarbiz, 52 (1982), pp. 139-142 (Hebrew). See also: D. Rokeah, “Early Christian-Jewish Polemics on Divine Election,” in Chosen People, Elect Nation and Universal Mission, S. Almog and M. Heyd (eds.), (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 1991), pp. 71-98 (Hebrew); M. Hirshman, Mikra and Midrash: A Comparison of Rabbinics and Patristics (Tel-Aviv: Hakibutz Hameuchad, 1992), pp. 13-20 (Hebrew).

9. Concerning the ‘true’ Torah, see Rom 10:4; Gal 6:13; b. Sabb. 116a-b (the words of the philosopher who had a dispute with Rabban Gamliel).

10. P. Schäfer, “New Testament and Hekhalot Literature: The Journey into Heaven in Paul and in Merkavah Mysticism,” JJS, 35 (1984), pp. 19-35.

11. See E. E. Urbach, “Homiletical Interpretations of the Sages and the Expositions of Origen on Canticles and Jewish-Christian Disputation,” Scripta Hierosolymitana, 22 (1971), pp. 247-275 (= Hebrew: Tarbiz, 30 [1960], pp. 148-170 = idem, MeOlamam shel Hakhmim, Jerusalem: Magnes, 1988, pp. 514-536).

12. Cf. Gen 42:21 for a similar use of the word אבל in the beginning of a sentence (in a dialogue).

13. A. Yarbro Collins, “The Early Christian Apocalypses,” Semeia, 14 (1979), pp. 61-121.

14. See Exod. Rabba 31:10; A. Marmorstein, “The Battle of the Christian Church against Judaism according to one Aggadah,” Jewish Studies, issued in honour of the Chief Rabbi J. L. Landau (Tel-Aviv: Hapoel Hasair, 1936), pp. 44-50 (Hebrew). Compare to Yalkut Shimoni on Isa 54 (Remez 478) [= ibid. Ps. 4 (Remez 627)], which attributes to the heathen, the children of Noah, the following statement: “Their (the Jews’) God has left them, forgot them, and removed His Shekhinah from them... and His sovereignty will not come back”. See also M. D. Herr, “Anti-Semitism in Imperial Rome in the Light of Rabbinic Literature,” in E. Z. Melamed (ed.), Benjamin de Vries Memorial Volume (Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem: Tel-Aviv University Research Authority, 1968), pp. 149-159 (Hebrew).

15. Concerning the rejection of Jews by God see b. Yeb 102b.

16. See Yalkut Shimoni on Isa 50 (Remez 473), where Resh Laqish (3rd century) claims that God has never divorced Israel. These words could be taken as a mere interpretation of Jer 3 or as a direct refutation of (his older contemporary), Origen homily ad. loc. See also Baer (supra, note 6), p. 101; Kimelman (supra, note 7), pp. 569, 589 ff.

17. A. P. Hayman, “The Image of the Jew in the Syriac Anti-Jewish Polemical Literature”, J. Neusner and E. S. Frerichs (eds.), “To See Ourselves as Others See Us”: Christians, Jews, “Others” in Late Antiquity (Chico, California: Scholars Press, 1985), pp. 423-441 (esp. 428).

18. The Hebrew text is:.בני אתה בכורי אתה ראשית כל תבואתי אתה See: Col 1:15, 17; Jonathan Z. Smith, Map is not Territory (Leiden: Brill, 1978), pp. 40-41.

19. The Hebrew text is: להיותכם זרע אמת.

20. The Hebrew text is: .אבל אנו בני בריתו ... נקראים בני אל אמת: כי אם בנו בחר

21. The Hebrew text is: ברוך יהוה אלהי ישראל הבוחר בעמו וברוך דוד עבדו מלך עמו וברוך ישראל אשר בהם בחר יהוה לנחלתו. This is a unique blessing. For parallel blessings see M. Bar-Ilan, 'The Idea of Election in Jewish Prayer', in Chosen People, Elect Nation and Universal Mission (supra, note 8), pp. 121-145 (Hebrew).

22. On the opinion that a Jew who does not observe the Torah is no longer called a ‘child’ (of the Lord) read carefully b. Qidd. 36a. Extremely important is the polemical text from Agadat Bereshit (ed. S. Buber, 2nd ed. Wilno 1925, ch. 31, p. 54: “The heart of these liers became stupid who claim that God, blessed be He, has a son… (since) He loves Israel and called them children, as is written (Ex. 4:22), pp. ‘My firstborn Israel’”. See: S. Spiegel, “MeAgadot Ha-‘Aqeda”, S. Lieberman (ed.), A. Marx Festschrift (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1950), pp. 471-547, esp. 508 n. 26 (Hebrew).

23. See: M. McNamara, The New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1966), pp. 209-217; John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan - Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), pp. 269-279.

24. Such a song by a heavenly lamb is known from three books only: 1) Book of Revelation; 2) Gad’s Words; 3) Perek Shira. However, the last book is quite enigmatic by itself. See: J. M. Baumgarten, “Perek SHIRA, An early Response to Psalm 151,” RevQ, 9 (1978), pp. 575-578. See also: Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman, “The Aramaic Song of the Lamb”, Johannes C. de Moor and Wilfred G. E. Watson (eds.), Verse in Ancient Eastern Prose (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchen, 1993), pp. 265-292.

25. P. Sacchi, Jewish Apocalyptic and its History (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), pp. 211-232. Needless to say that a thorough examination is needed and it will be done in depth in the future when the whole text of The Words of Gad the Seer is published.

26. For the Jewish background (either origin or sources) of The Book of Revelation, see: M. Misisch, “Hebrew Fragments (Of the original Text of the Christian Book of Revelation)”, Ph. Levi and T. Karl (eds.), Dr. Moshe Fürman Festschrift, Lebow, 1926, pp. 32-43 (Hebrew); E. E. Urbach, Me‘Olamam shel Hakhamim (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1988), pp. 376-391 (Hebrew); D. Flusser, “Hystaspes and John of Patmos”, S. Shaked (ed.), Irano-Judaica (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1982), pp. 12-75.

27. There are other topics of discourse that might be taken as reflecting the polemics with the Christians. Verse 188 reads: “Strengthen yourselves and be mighty to fulfill all the Torah rather than merely hearing it”. In verses 206-208 King David tells Hiram: “And if you do so (fear God) and fulfill the commandments that were prescribed to the children of Noah your father... but we are to fulfill all the Torah”. This might be taken as a rejection of those (such as Barnabas) who claimed and preached to the early Christians that the Torah commandments are symbols only.

28. In vss 188-191 the author strengthens his readers (=audience) for “doing” the Torah “not listening only”. The author continues with a simile, not known from anywhere else, that a (religious) deed is like a root where the listening is like a seed and a seed without a root stinks… “and you are the true seed”.

29. See A. Linder, “The Roman Imperial Government and the Jews under Constantine,” Tarbiz, 44 (1974-75), pp. 95-142 (Hebrew).

30. On Christians in high positions both in Egypt (Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, VII, 15) and Palestine (b. Abod. Zar., 4a), in the third century see: I. Levine, “The Land of Israel in the Third Century,” Z. Baras, S. Safrai, Y. Tsafrir and M. Stern (eds.), Eretz Israel: from the Destruction of the Second Temple to the Muslim Conquest (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1982), pp. I. 119-143 (esp. 141), Hebrew.

31. See also Robert L. Wilken, Judaism and the Early Christian Mind (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1971); W. Horbury, “The Benediction of the Minim and Early Jewish-Christian Controversy,” JTS, 33 (1982), pp. 19-61.

32. P. Borgen, “Polemic in the Book of Revelation”, Craig A. Evans and Donald A. Hagner (eds.), Anti-Semitism and Early Christianity: Issues of Polemic and Faith, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), pp. 199-211.

33. This hypothesis is based on the ground of few words in the book that betrays philosophical meaning. Though it could be suggested that a few words penetrated the text in the Middle Ages, it should be stated that the words by themselves are not new (such as מְדַבֵּר). Furthermore, the claim is based on two separate arguments that rise ex silencio: 1) that Jews never met any philosopher and were not involved in philosophy before the Arab conquest (an allusion easily refuted by Talmudic sources); 2) that all the Hebrew words from Antiquity are preserved in the Rabbinic corpus. Needless to say that both arguments are merely false.

34. In future study, when the whole text will be edited and commentated, more arguments concerning the date of the book will be given. Analyzing the different aspects of Gad’s Words will yield slightly different dates.