Parallels in The Words of Gad the Seer and the Bible

Meir Bar-Ilan

The manuscript of The Words of Gad the Seer is a Apocryphal Hebrew book (of some 5200 words) written at Cochin, India in the middle of the 18th century, though only recently it came under scholarly investigation. The book is written in pseudo-Biblical Hebrew and is composed of several genres such as Psalms, rewritten Bible, legend, apocalyptic scenes and even philosophical sermons. It is likely that the book was composed in the Land of Israel in one of the early centuries of this era.

The author of the book incorporated into his work two chapters from Psalms (145, 144), and also made up a chapter out of two biblical sources. The story of Joab who took a census over all the Land of Israel appears twice in the Bible: II Sam 24 and I Chro 21. The author of The Words of Gad the Seer composed his text by interweaving each verse of both versions. This scribal technique is a hypothesis in Biblical scholarship but in this unique case it is a proven fact (since here one has the sources and the late output as well).

The text of the three versions is printed in parallel columms and the text is highlighted by differnt fonts [for technical reasons, originated as colors: red (the original Chro), blue (the original Sam), and black (the author's additions). These fonts have been changed according to printer demand but are demonstrated in the electronic edition of the Hebrew text.

In addition, attention is drawn to some parallels in 4QSam and to the Targum, showing that the composers of these texts worked in the same way as the author of The Words of Gad the Seer. A few examples of the author's work show one of the earliest interpretations of the Bible.

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last updated: November 24, 1997