The purpose of this paper is to discuss a 'new' book by the name of The Words of Gad the Seer. This is an apocryphal Hebrew book known only from a unique manuscript that was copied at Cochin, India, in the middle of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century it was purchased by the University of Cambridge, England, and since then it has been there.1 The name of the book, together with other Extra-biblical books that were in the possesion of the Jews of Cochin, has appeared in print in German, Hebrew and English during the last two centuries. Nevertheless, that book is almost unknown to the scholarly world.2 The aim of this paper is not only to draw attention to this book, but to demonstrate its significance by evaluating its date.
It was S. Z. Schechter who announced the existence of the manuscript at the Cambridge library toward the end of the 19th century.3 He devoted only one page to the manuscript expressing his opinion that the book was written in the Middle Ages. Some thirty years later I. Abrahams devoted a whole paper (of five pages) to the same text, repeating Schechter's opinion concerning the date of the book.4 Nonetheless, the writer of this paper believes that the book under discussion is from the first centuries c.e., and this problem will be dealt with in this paper.
I. The content of The Words of Gad the Seer
Before any attempt is made to analyze the book, a short description of the content of the book is not superfluous. So, first there is a brief summary of the text in order to give a rough idea of this book. The Words of Gad the Seer contains 14 chapters dealing with King David and his prophet Gad.5 The nature of each of the chapters is different than the others, so one who has already read the first chapter, for example, cannot predict any other chapter in the book. The style is Biblical, in accordance with its heroes (some of whom are not mentioned in the Bible or elsewhere). Even when the author writes his own ideas, almost every word or phrase reflects biblical verse. Now, let us consider each of the chapters, one by one.
Needless to say each of the stories, the revelations and the subjects mentioned above deserve careful analysis, as well as comments and commentary, which I intend to produce in further studies. However, in the meantime, I must admit that I cannot recall any other book whose structure or redaction resembles The Words of Gad the Seer, which, of course, makes the whole evaluation of the text even more problematical. At any event, it is believed that any given book has indications of its author's date, but the only problem is to reveal them. This will be done later.
II. Dating the text
Scholars who study a text do not necessarily discuss such a complicated question as the date of the text they are dealing with, and there is more than one reason for that. The significance of any text arises from its own intrinsic nature, style, and content, regardless of its date. There are a couple of ways to determine the date of any text, though each of them, so it seems, is not sufficient. At any event, there are cases when this question of date goes beyond mere curiosity and intrudes upon the very text itself; apparently, this is the case here.
Now, from the very beginning it was evident that the text in hand could not have been written in the 18th century, since there is no such book from Jewish circles from that period. This assumption is strengthened by the fact that the manuscript of the book was written in Cochin where there is no way to trace the book to this geographical arena, either in that particular century, or earlier.6 The nature of the book does not provide even a slight suggestion of such a late date, and no one has suggested otherwise.
For that reason, the date of the book in hand might be one of the following three: (a) The Words of Gad the Seer was indeed written by David's prophet, so it is a 'biblical' text, from the tenth century b.c.e. (b) The book was written only hundreds of years later, so the text is another example of the vast pseudepigrapha, some of which became known to the scholarly world only relatively recently. (c) The book was written in medieval times and apparently was not esteemed. It is nothing more than a late forgery, and has nothing to do with antiquity.
The analysis of each of these hypotheses must be done step by step. First the 'ancient' assumption will be discussed, then all the arguments for its relatively late date, as Schechter and Abrahams believed, must be brought forward. Only at last, after the medieval explanation is rejected, can the other arguments for the ancient date be discussed and proved, though admittedly some questions remain unanswered.
A. Dating the text: the 'Biblical' period
It never occurred to the scholars who previously dealt with the text that this book might be some kind of an extra-biblical text of the biblical period (though it does contain biblical chapters and is interrelated with the Bible). In spite of the biblical nature of the book, the apocalyptic genre is known only from the last centuries b.c.e. and later, but not from the tenth century b.c.e.
Not only that, but the word vezehu in verse 57 reveals the language stratum the text was written in, Mishnaic Hebrew, despite its initial biblical appearance.
From the content of the book one may remark on its polemic nature in regard to Israel as the chosen people, an issue that appears a couple of times and in different forms, a fact that (with other themes) seems to discount a historical connection of the book in hand with the real Gad the Seer and his lost book. So, only two possibilies remain. Since both Schechter and Abrahams agreed on its medieval date, next we shall examine their arguments for the late date of the book.
B. Dating the text: the Medieval period
Schechter was sure that, although there was no direct evidence for the identity of the author or its date, the book had been written in the Middle Ages. He based his view on certain words and phrases in it. These are as follows: 1) haBehira (verse 184), that is 'the free choice'; 2) haMa'ase hu Sores (verse 189), that is 'the deed is (like) a root'; 3) Et haGasmi veEt haRuhani... Et haHusim (verse 204), that is 'the physical and the spiritual... the senses'; 4) Qum Binah, Qum Gevurah, Qum Malkhut, Qum Hod veTiferet (verse 35), that is 'rise up, wisdom; rise up, might; rise up, kingdom; rise up, glory and splendour'. Finally Schechter added that it 'leaves no doubt as to the author's acqaintance with the Cabbalah'. So, let us evaluate these proofs, and the last one will be dealt with first.
I do not know why the verse Qum Binah etc. should be related to Kabbalah more than to 1 Chr 29:11: 'Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty'. True, the word Binah does not occur in Chronicles, but the other Kabbalistic Sefirot are missing in the text as well. Furthermore, this way of itemizing the biblical text as some kind of a poem is known elsewhere. In p. Ber. 1:7, 3d, there is a poem related to R. Aha (3rd century Palestinian Amora): 'Gratitude and Praise to Your Name, to You greatness, to You mightiness, to You beauty'. From this poem one is not likely to derive any connection between this Talmudic poem and the apocryphal work. Rather one should observe how the biblical verse became a source for different writers who itemized the old text in a similar the same fashion: adding several times Qum or Lekha. Not only that, but almost the same textual phenomenon is repeated in a poem in the Book of Revelation, a mystical book that was composed, apparently, by a converted Jew in the late first century c.e.7 The Book of Revelation is extremely important for our case, because of the similarities of this book and The Words of Gad the Seer, as will be discussed below. However, in Revelation 4:11 it is written: 'Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power', and there 5:12: 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!'.8 True, these verses are not exactly similar to The Words of Gad The Seer, but they do not reflect the Kabbalah either. The verse that Schechter relied on as reflecting medieval texts is only a proof for the way a biblical verse was used by different Jews in antiquity: the author of Revelation, R. Aha, and the author of our book.
Schechter further states that Behira in the sense of 'freedom of choice' is known only from medieval times, though the word itself was known before.9 In talmudic literature this word appears (almost) only in the phrase Bet haBehirah, the building that God had chosen. So, it seems that relying on Behirah to reflect a relatively late period is rather weak.
Another quotation from the book haMa'ase Hu Sores cannot be taken as proof for lateness either. In that particular case (verse 189), Schechter quoted too little, and the whole text goes as follows: 'Show yourselves courageous and be mighty to observe (La'asot) the Torah... since the deed (haMa'ase) is the root, and hearing is the seed, and the tree is faith, and the fruit is justice (Sedaqa)'. It can be seen that the text is a kind of homiletic exegesis to a simile where the fulfillment of the Torah is compared to the different parts of a tree. Doing that, Gad the Seer, or the author in his name, continues the symbolic way of thinking of the old times, and his apocalyptic visions could show that as well. There is nothing, word or meaning, that was unknown in the Hebrew language in the first centuries c.e.
It looks as if the best proof for Schechter's view of the lateness of the book is the verse (204) where David tells Hiram that God created 'the planets (Galgalim), and Kima and Kesil, the sun and the moon, the physical and the spiritual (haGasmi, haRuhani), the planets and the senses (haHusim), and everything'. Here the problem is complicated: the vocabulary and the content, include seemingly philosophic words that are known not earlier than medieval times. As will soon be demonstrated, the burden of proof lies on this philosophic terminology (not all of which was considered by Schechter), and for that reason I should like to give a brief evaluation of this phenomenon.
It is usually believed that Greek philosophy penetrated the Jewish scholarly world only in the Middle Ages, as part of the interconnections between Islam and the Jewish world. Apart from Philo who left no impression on the whole rabbinic mind, it seems that Greek philosophy came to the attention of Jews through the Arabic translations of Greek Philosophy, so some philosophical terms entered Hebrew through the mediation of Arabic, by the Tibbon family, and not only them, of course. For that reason, whenever a philosophical term is to be found in Hebrew, it becomes evident that the text that includes the phrase is a medieval text.
This assumption cannot be taken as it is, simply because it is not true. First, the sages of the Talmud themselves, Tannaim and Amoraim, knew Greek or Hellenistic philosophers, and even had arguments with some of them, as is evident in m. `Abod. Zar. 3:4 and other cases.10 After it has been proved that the Hellenistic culture, in its broad sense, was known to the Rabbis, as S. Lieberman, A. A. Halevi and others have emphasized, it is not hard to believe that at least a few of the sages knew some Greek philosophy. As a matter of fact, quite a few scholars have pointed out some Talmudic parallels to Greek philosophy. However, because they appear sporadically in Talmudic literature, and because of the nature of the Talmudic arguments of the sages, this cultural loan is not immediately striking.11
Though identical terms could have been created by different peoples without any real connection, a specific Greek philosophical term which penetrated Rabbinic literature can be seen as evidence of the influence of the philosophers on the Rabbis. In an almost lost version of Midrash Tehilim 1 it is said: 'These are the heretics that say that the world is automatic'. In this particular case, it is clear that the 'heretics' are no other than the Epicurean philosophers, since 'automatic' was a special Epicurean term, as has already been noted by M. Stein.12 Later on, other terms like that will be discussed, but for the time being, we return to Schechter's argument that deduces the lateness of The Words of Gad the Seer from the words Gasmi, Ruhani and Husim.
As for the word Husim, in this meaning, it is not known before the Middle Ages though the idea of 'the senses' existed millennia earlier. The verb has is known from the Bible in three meanings: 1) fast, 2) sense (Eccl 2:25), 3) personal name (Gen 46:23). In Mishnaic Hebrew the verb remained in the second meaning only, though the noun derived from it, Hus, does not appear there.13
The case of the terms Gasmi and Ruhani is not dissimilar. Once again here are words that are known from the Hebrew philosophical terms in the Middle Ages (or already in a lost fragment in Numbers Rabbah). It should be noted that in Dan 3:27-28 appears Gesmehon, and in the Aramaic translations the word Gosmehon appears as a translation of 'bodies', and there is not a long distance from the noun Gosm to the adjective Gasmi. So, in the three last cases (Husim, Gasmi, Ruhani), the main innovation is new words, seemingly part of philosophical world, though based on words that are well attested in more ancient times.14
On the whole, out of the proofs that Schechter offered as reflecting the medieval date of The Words of Gad the Seer, only the last ones could be considered as serious: the philosophic terms Gasmi, Ruhani, and maybe the word Husim. Hence, this notion from Numbers Rabbah (which appears only in Ma'ase Torah), can be rejected but this text is doubtful as well. For that reason, this proof will remain until all the other proofs are discussed, those that reflect its lateness, and those that reflect its antiquity.
Summing up Schechter's contribution to the dating of the book in hand, it should be stated that he did not delve deeply into the subject, not only because of his confidence in his judgment, but probably because of the limited space for the subject in his paper. Had he done it, he might have brought forward more evidence for the lateness of the text, as well as other proofs to the contrary. It looks as if Schechter, before the discovery of the Genizah, was a different man than the one who was going to reveal the Damascus Covenant and relate it to the days of the Temple.
In the above mentioned paper, Abrahams, Schechter's successor at Cambridge, claimed that Schechter was right in attributing The Words of Gad the Seer to the Middle Ages, because of the philosophical terms, as well as the use of words from the Kabalah that reflect its late date. Just after the beginning, he hypothesized: 'Such books were written late as well as early, in times of trouble such as the era of the first Crusades', and toward the end of his analysis he says: '...but the whole style points to the thirteenth century'. Why these centuries in particular, I do not know, and of course, this question is less important if the text is much older. Though Abrahams sensed the special connection of this text with the Book of Revelation, the philosophical terms led him to this final conclusion as to its relative lateness.
Abrahams did not explain what he meant by 'the whole style' except that he again paid attention to the word Behirah. Furthermore, he claimed that in chapter 9 'the language is particularly medieval... the sentiment like the language being Maimonist'. Let us analyze th paragraph Abrahams dealt with, probably the most 'problematic' from the chronological point of view. In verse 203 David praises the Lord and says:
You should fear the Lord, creator of heaven and earth, the sea and the continents, wet and dry, warm and cold, the inorganic, the organic, the living and the speaking, the planets... the physical and the spiritual...The divisions of 'wet - dry - warm - cold' (Lah - Yaves - Hom - Kor), are unquestionably derived from Greek Philosophy, but they already appear in Hebrew in the Book of Assaf the physician. Now, Muntner who dealt with Assaf's material, its language, sources, healing prescriptions and so forth, came to the conclusion that Assaf could not have lived later than the sixth century, and probably in the Land of Israel.15 That is, of course, the Middle Ages, though it was still under the shadow of the former era. At any event, Assaf wrote as follows:
And we found in the books of the ancestors, and in the book of Shem, son of Noah, that his father gave him: the elements of the body structure are four, those that are basic, and those that are combinations (of the former), according to their divisions and weight: fire, air, earth and water, and the mixture of the four: warm, cold, wet and dry.Since these books of Shem and his father lie beyond our present field of study interest, they will be ignored here.16 It is more important to draw attention to the phrases in David's words, in The Words of Gad the Seer, actually, the same as in the Book of Assaf, though with a slight change of order. Not only that, but it becomes evident that these four are not the basic elements, although they are are derived from them. Now, these elements of the entire creation were already recognized as known to the ancient Jewish mystics and because of their hidden role in our book (though they are not explicitly mentioned), they should be considered. J. Levy showed that in Hekhalot Rabbati (chapter 18), one of the main mystical works from antiquity, while the mystics argued about the name of one of the great angels, they said (Greek in corrupted Hebrew letters) '0000'.17 The Book of Assaf assumes that one who knew these elements also knew their combinations: 'cold, warm, wet and dry'. Consequently, the whole issue of whether the knowledge of the four elements is evidence, ipso facto, of a medieval date depends on the date of the Hekhalot literature, and in my book Sitrey Tefilah veHekhalot I have supported its early date: from 2nd-4th centuries c.e.
Thus, this philosophical division that appears in The Words of Gad the Seer, is already attested in Hebrew in the Book of Assaf, and reflects the four elements known to the ancient mystics who compiled Hekhalot Rabbati. Consequently, these terms do not demonstrate the lateness of the text under study. It should be noted that the elements of the world appear once again in Numbers Rabbah 14:12:
Opposed to the four natures out of which God, blessed be He, created the world, there are upper ones, each above the other, and the fourth is lower, the heaviest of them all. And these are: the earth... the water... the air... and the fire.There is a similar text in Exodus Rabbah 15:22:
Three creations preceded the world: water, wind and fire. The Water became pregnant and gave birth to darkness, the fire became pregnant and gave birth to light, the wind became pregnant and gave birth to wisdom, etc.So, once again we have here the creation of the world, its 'natures' or 'elements', those four out of which come the other four known to Assaf and Gad 'wet - dry - warm - cold'. Now, these four elements, and the other four that are produced by them were known to Alexander Polyhistor, in the first century b.c.e. as Pythagorean beliefs (derived from Parmenides), and were well known in the Hellenistic world.18 So, if the sage knew at least one term of Pythagorean philosophy, it becomes evident that the other terms could have been known to the author of Gad, and there is no need to assume its lateness from these words (especially when there was nothing new in their denotation).19
That is to say that the words in The Words of Gad the Seer assumed to be late are known from the Book of Assaf, Numbers Rabbah and Exodus Rabbah. True, Zunz and other scholars thought that these midrashim are late, from the eleventh-twelfth centuries.20 but S. Lieberman refuted it and proved that they should be dated several centuries earlier, going back to the time when the Babylonian Talmud became well known in the Land of Israel.21 At any event, it seems that we have in hand a reciprocal situation, that is to say that if one sees in the four elements, as well as Husim, Gasmi and Ruhani, late Hebrew terms, then he considers the text under study as late, and vice versa. If these terms are not so 'new' as they were conceived, then there are no proofs to the lateness of Numbers Rabbah on the one hand, and The Words of Gad the Seer on the other.
In almost the same situation of analysis of its dating is Midrash Shelosha veArbaah, related to Maase Torah.22 It says there: '(There are) four divisions in opposition to the four elements: warm, wet, cold, dry'. As has already been noted, these are not the elements, but rather the four derivatives that emerge from them as mixtures as the Book of Assaf stated. Anyhow, here is a midrash with the same terminology as in The Words of Gad the Seer. Alas, S. Abrahamson regarded this midrash as late,23 so it seems that the problem of midrash Numbers Rabbah appears again. If the terms 'warm, wet' and so forth are considered late, then, of course, any text, midrash or apocalyptic book that uses them must be regarded as late.
To sum up this detailed study of the data so far, the four elements and the four interwoven divisions are derived from Greek philosophy, though in the Hebrew language. Despite this, one cannot be sure that these words are from the ninth century or later. It is extremely likely that this influence on Judaism is from the time of the Talmud, since the Tannaim and Amoraim knew, at least, some Greek philosophy. That is to say that the words that have been discussed thoroughly cannot be taken as certain proof of the lateness of The Words of Gad the Seer.24
Probably the most problematic words in our text are these mentioned above: 'the inorganic, the organic' etc, in Hebrew: Domem - Someah - Hay - Medabber. These terms, though very close in their structure and meaning to Biblical or Mishnaic Hebrew, are not known in rabbinic sources and are usually regarded as having been invented under medieval philosophical influence (that suggest the lateness of the text). I do not know where and when this division of the universe began, though its four facets, just as the four elements and the four derivatives, lead to the hypothesis that they are somehow related to Pythagorean (or earlier) beliefs. In that sense, the philosophical terms could have reached Hebrew not in the Middle Ages but rather in the first centuries c.e., though it is not clear in rabbinic documents (apparently, since they did not discuss philosophical issues systematically).
The last word that might be proof for the lateness of our text is Galgalim, the heavenly spheres, that seems to be a philosophical - astronomical term, though already in the Talmud this word appears in its astronomical sense. That particular case should be considered especially while treating the word and the subject as a whole. In b. Pes. 94b it is said:
Tanu Rabanan: the sages of Israel say Galgal is steady and Mazalot (=zodiac) rotate, and the sages of the nations of the world say Galgal rotates and Mazalot are steady.The Talmud continues with another argument between the sages of Israel and the sages of Umot haOlam (the nations of the world), in regard to other cosmological questions, but for our purpose it is remarkable. It shows connections between Jewish and non-Jewish sages, astronomers in this case. Now, since in antiquity astronomy was not separate from philosophy, it can demonstrate here how ancient philosophy influenced Jewish sages (and even the Hebrew language by giving a new meaning to the word Galgal). That is to say that from the word Galgal one cannot reach the conclusion that the text that uses it is late.
So, on the whole, this relatively long discussion intends to show that, though for Schechter and Abrahams it was almost self evident that The Words of Gad the Seer is a medieval text, after analyzing the vast material, this is in fact far from self evident. The philosophical terms could not simply be taken as evidence for the lateness of the Hebrew language especially because the only Hebrew known is that from Rabbinic documents which was not the only Hebrew at that time.25 This is quite clear from Sefer haRazim, for example, and from our book as well. The scribe who wrote it, whenever he lived, preferred Biblical Hebrew (at least, what he considered Biblical Hebrew), instead of the vernacular.
That is to say that one of the things that make this book so unique is its language. Its range of interest that includes Biblical , apocalyptic and philosophical themes might have led the writer to know, or even to invent, another stratum of the Hebrew language, which penetrated other Hebrew books only later. At any event, from the words that were considered as medieval, only few remain an obstacle for thinking that The Words of Gad the Seer was composed in antiquity. These words, in order of decreasing importance, are: Domem - Someah - Hay - Medabber, Husim and Lah - Yaves - Hom - Kor. It does not mean that they can be taken for granted as medieval words, but first other evidence must be considered.
C. Dating the text: Late Antiquity
After the evidence for the lateness of the book in hand has been evaluated, it is time to consider the other evidence for its antiquity. After all the proofs are analyzed, each 'set' of evidence weighed against the other, a final decision could be reached in regard to the problem of the date of The Words of Gad the Seer. They are as follows:
1 The Words of Gad the Seer incorporate three chapters from the Bible as if they were part of the whole work. Chapter 10 here is Psalm 145, chapter 11 is no other than Psalm 144, and chapter 7 is a kind of compilation of 2 Sam 24:1-21 with 1 Chr 21:1-30, a chapter that deals with the deeds of Gad the Seer. As will be demonstrated later, the Biblical text in Gad's book is slightly different from the masoretic text, with some 'minor' changes that might be regarded as scribal errata, though others are extremely important. In any case, this phenomenon of inserting whole chapters from the Bible into one's treatise is known only from the Bible itself. For example, David's song in 2 Sam 22:2-51 appears as well in Psalm 18:2-50, not to speak, of course, of other parallels in Biblical literature.26 It does not matter where the 'original' position of this chapter was. Only one who lived in the 'days of the Bible', or thought so of himself, could have made such a plagiarism including a Biblical text in his own work. As a matter of fact, our book might help modern research enter the 'editorial laboratory' of Biblical composition and narrative, but it is out of place here.
2 As it has already been mentioned, chapter 7 in the text under investigation is a combination of 2 Sam 24:1-21 and 1 Chr 21:1-30. The scribe, or editor, was aware, of course, of the differences in these sources and for that reason he combined them into one. For example, verse 173 appears as follows:
So David paid Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight and the oxen for fifty shekels according to the weights current among the merchants.It is obvious that this verse is a combination of two parallel texts with a phrase from Gen 23:16 as easily can be seen:
|2 Sam 24:24||1 Chr 21:25|
|So David bought the threshing floor||So David paid Ornan six hundred|
|and the oxen||shekels of gold by weight|
|for fifty shekels of silver||for the site|
The 'new' text created by the editor of our book is based on the Bible, though it has been 'rearranged'. To the best of my knowledge, this phenomenon is known only from (the Bible itself), the Samaritan Torah and the Temple Scroll. Moreover, such a text, though different, is known from Qumran (4QSama), where the scribe rewrote Samuel together with Chronicles with some parallels to the book in hand.27 Nevertheless, a writer not feeling free to rewrite the biblical text would not have dared to do such editing. It should be mentioned that the Tannaim themselves recognized the discrepancies between the parallel texts, just as our author did, though they did not try to rewrite the Bible, but rather posed questions and tried to solve them in regard to these differences between the sources (as Hivi haBalkhi later did).28 That is to say that the way the Biblical text was treated here is far from the Rabbinic or normative handling of a Biblical text, nor can it be related to any medieval editor. This way of rewriting the Biblical narrative from older sources could be done only at a time when there was no such notion as Canon (and that might explain part of the pseudepigraphical attribution of the book to an old prophet).
3 This phenomenon of rewriting the Bible is found in another facet of it, which involves different superscriptions to an already known chapter in the Psalms, and including the missing Nun verse in Psa 145. For example, Psa 144 begins with 'A Psalm of David' (LeDavid) only, while here verse 250, the same Biblical chapter begins: 'These are prayers of David praising the Lord on the day Elhanan son of Ya'ir smote Lehumi, brother of Goliath of Gat, and (when) Jehonatan son of Shima (smote) the man of Middah and he said'.29
Scholars have long been aware of the relative lateness of the superscriptions of the Psalms, because of the variations of these superscriptions in the Bible itself, and later on in the translations. Here is another example of that, where the editor of our book inserted a whole chapter from the Bible into his own masterpiece, with only some minor alterations. Some of these changes might reflect the text he knew, and, what is more important, he gave the text a 'new' superscription (that might have even been derived from a tradition we do not know).
Special attention should be paid to chapter 10, that is Psa 145, which begins with the following superscription: 'At that time David said this praise, saying', and then the whole chapter appears, written in the 'right' typography. that is: since the verses are in alphabetical order, each verse begins a new line, and the first letter of it is bold, dotted, and enlarged (Ot Rabbati).30 Now, when the author arrived at the Nun verse, that is missing in the masoretical text, he inserted the verse, though he begins it with a reversed Nun, probably to indicate that he is quoting from another manuscript.31 The unknown verse goes as follows: Nafelu Kol Oivekha JHWH, veKhol Gevuratam Bileu. That is 'All your enemies fell down, O Lord, and all of their might was swallowed up'. The style and content of the verse give good reason to believe that it is authentic.32 Nevertheless, even if the verse were characterized as the innovation of the editor of our book, it still would be interesting, since the sages of the Talmud did not know it, and the invention of fictitious Biblical verses is not known in the Middle Ages either.
4 The Words of Gad the Seer consists of more than one literary genre, and in addition to the biblical chapters it includes all kind of stories, folk tales that were given a literary style, a homily and other texts that should be sorted out. Probably the most original part of the book is its three apocalyptic visions, one still reflecting a combination of some biblical motifs, and two others that might ensure our author of a prize for outstanding visionary narrative creativity. These visions connect our book, first of all, with ancient Judaism. True, this genre is known from the Middle Ages as well as from late antiquity, and even closer to our own era. However, Gad's power of expression is far beyond the known late dated visions and other early Jewish apocalyptic documents. Now, this attitude to the text is relatively subjective, but the resemblance of our book can be seen in another visionary book which brings us to the next proof of the early date of the The Words of Gad the Seer.
5 It is argued that the visionary parts of The Words of Gad the Seer are very close to the Book of Revelation, the only apocalypse in the New Testament, derived from Jewish - mystical circles.33 These similarities are as follows: (I) In both visions the lamb plays a major role as symbolizing the Jewish nation (though, in Revelation, by being converted into Christianity, the lamb became a symbol for the Messiah only). Not only that, but the lamb praises the Lord with some Biblical verses (the same as in Perek Shirah), and other poems very similar to the praise of the Lord by the lamb in Revelation. (II) In both revelations, there is a detailed description of God sitting on His throne. (III) The literary style is very much the same in both books, since both are influenced by the Bible even when they do not quote a Biblical verse. (IV) There are some expressions that occur in both texts. For example, in The Words of Gad the Seer a chain of attributions to God appears, and God is characterized, inter alia (verse 183): Haya, Hove, veYihiye. Though in the manuscript the first word comes with Vav, and not with Yod, it is, apparently a slight scribal error (as well attested in Biblical texts). Now, this unique attribute is known from the Targumim, from Sefer haRazim (7:30, with the same scribal error), and above all, in the Book of Revelation (1:4,8; 4:8; 11:17; 16:5). Another example of the close relationship of the texts is (verse 18) 'and the man clothed in linen called like (=loud as) a trumpet' (similar to verse 367). This verse reminds the reader, of course, of Revelation 1:10 and other Biblical verses. (V) In both books there is a symbolic battle between Good and Evil, a well known myth that penetrated other pseudepigraphy literature as well. In The Words of Gad the Seer (verse 89) 'Michael, the high prince, fights against Samael, minister of the world'. In the Book of Revelation (12:7) there is a struggle: 'Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon'. (VI) Both books pay special attention to Satan. (VII) Finally, it should be recalled that the hymn in Gad that was used by Schechter to determine its date, is nothing less than another echo of Revelation (or vice versa). Actually, there are more affinities between both books, but for the time being, these suffice.
As a matter of fact, I do not know of any other book closer to The Words of Gad the Seer than the Book of Revelation, though what that implies is still to be considered. Both books were written by Jews, but one of them had converted to Christianity and the other had not. Not only that but the writer of Gad is arguing in regard to the chosen people, who is the true first-born of God and other issues. Though he did not explicitly name his opponents, it is likely that they were Christians. Our book's editor directed his book against people that thought like Paul on the one hand, and had had mystical experiences like the John of Revelation (and Paul) on the other hand. To sum up, these affinities between the books are not only in style and content, but in date as well, that is to say, the end of the first century or slightly later.
6 Some of the expressions found in The Words of Gad the Seer are known from the Pseudepigrapha as well. For example, the first vision of Gad took place near the stream of Kidron, just like the vision of 2 Baruch (5:5; 21:1). The stream of Kidron appears also at the beginning of Apocalypse of Baruch (3 Apo. Bar.), and Samael appears in both books. There are other similarities that should be discussed separately.
7 In The Words of Gad the Seer verse 78 there is a sentence: 'Woe to you, O Edom, that sits in the land of Kittim in the north of the day' (Yom, but it might be Yam, denoting the northern sea). It is obvious that this verse reflects Num 21:29 together with 24:23 as other Balaamic verses in that prophecy. Consequently, this use of Kittim, identified with Edom, apparently Rome.34 puts our text close to Qumran where 'Kittim' appears several times. Yet, it is true that the word appears in Sefer Josippon from the tenth century (though this fact is unsolved too). At any event, 'Kittim' is not used elsewhere, in Rabbinic sources, either in the Talmudic era, or in the Middle Ages.
8 In our book verse 217 it is said:
And Hiram took up his discourse, and said:Hiram's prophecy, echoing Balaam's speach, of course, in Num 24:17, is not surprisingly differently from the original, since he addressed here not the Biblical enemies of Israel, but rather his contemporary enemies (Ham and) the sons of Yephet, the Hellenistic and Roman conquerors. It is well known that 'the star of David' theme appears in other writings such as the Damascus Covenant VIII:19, T. Levi 18:3 and other texts. However, this verse shows literary and ideological resemblances to the literature composed toward the end of the Second Commonwealth, and evidently reflects its own time.
I have seen him, but not now;
I have looked at him but not nigh;
the sun shall come forth out of David,
and the moon rise out of the house of Jehudah,
it shall crush all the sons of Ham,
and break down all the sons of Yephet,
and he shall have all the kingdoms on the earth.
9 There are two peripheral subjects that might be considered as evidence to the antiquity of the book in hand. The first is that the name of God appears in it in its full four letters, as it does in the Bible, whereas usually the Jewish scribe refrained from writing it. In the whole of rabbinic literature, the name of God is shortened (in various ways). Only in the Hekhalot literature, and even not always there, does the full form of the Tetragrammaton occur. Yet, the same way of writing God's name appears in Sefer Josippon, but, actually, it is not known what this signifies. However, this almost unique style of writing is in addition to the special nature of the codex in which the book is written. The form of the book in the codex is more like a Biblical scroll: guiding lines were drawn and the letters are an enlarged form of (an eastern cursive) writing, denoting use for a public reader, as if it had been copied from a holy scroll.
Furthermore, The Words of Gad the Seer has its own Masora: there is a summary of the total number of the verses and chapters, the words of the verse that occur in the middle of the book are notified, Qere and Kethib, there are dots over some words, denoting that they are to be ignored after being written by mistake. There is a final Mem in the middle position, Otiot Rabbati (big letters), a 'hung' letter, a reversed Nun, some special letters with Tagim, 'crowns', and others. Though there are some traditions in regard to Masora, other than Biblical, for relatively late books, this unique treatment of the text should be taken into account. It may be assumed that this would not have been done unless the scribe(s) judged the book he was copying as an old (Biblical) text. That is to say that the attitude of the writer towards the text reveals its ancient nature.35
On the whole, it has been noticed that there are several considerations, each on its own, and all of them together to prove that The Words of Gad the Seer derived from late antiquity. Its closeness to Biblical literature, Qumran, pseudepigrapha and the Book of Revelation points to its relatively early date. Against these proofs there are some words, considered to be medieval philosophical terms such as Domem - Someah - Hay - Medabber, Husim and Lah - Yaves - Hom - Kor, Gasmi and Ruhani. Now, these proofs are all dependent on the Hebrew lexicon, or even on its semantics. That is to say that these words do not reflect any specific time as the modern word 'radar' might, for example. Not only that but they are related to the medieval period not with irrefutable proof, as in the case with words that are definitely known to be the invention of the Tibbon family. The words reflect the Middle Ages only ex silentio, and a number of scholars have already warned that nothing can be learned from the silence of the sources, and we probably have here a new example for this old law.36 So, after weighing the proofs and the evidence it is likely that those proofs on the side of the scale of antiquity - literary style, similarities in themes and more - outweigh those that suggest the Middle Ages. In other words, The Words of Gad the Seer was composed by a Jew influenced by apocalyptic and mystic circles at the end of the first century c.e. or little bit later.
Before ending, a methodological note should be added. It seems that the question in hand is very much the same as dating other documents of unknown origin. For example, the reader should be reminded that when the Damascus Covenant was found by Schechter in the Genizah and was attributed by him to a Zadokite sect, some scholars believed that this text was medieval in nature, and even that its Hebrew was medieval. Furthermore, it was hard to believe that there were non rabbinic Jews that might have handed this non normative book down so many years after it had been composed.37 Now, this argument was settled only after some sections of this book were found in Qumran, so now it is not so hard to believe that a non rabbinic text could have survived rabbinic culture and been transmitted many centuries later, especially in such a remote and odd community as Cochin.
This peculiar preservation of texts seems to have occurred a few more times as can be seen from 'Apocryphal Hymns of David'. This text was found in the Genizah by Harkavi who thought it had been composed in the Middle Ages, while only eight decades later, and after the discovery of Qumran this book was recognized as ancient.38 One may add that this problem of dating a non- canon book, regardless of the ephemeral argument about Qumran, seems to be intrinsic to pseudepigrapha. Thus, T. Solomon was considered to be late and only in the course of time and scholarship was it related to antiquity. In other words, the case of The Words of Gad the Seer looks very much the same as its other 'colleagues': at first they were ignored and considered to be late (and without importance); only later was their value recognized.
The Words of Gad the Seer which is being dealt with here is not the one that was in existence in Biblical times and which was apparently lost. A book with the same name was composed in one of the early centuries of this era, but was noticed only at the end of the 18th century. When the book itself appeared, it was thought a medieval work, assumed to be of little value. Contemplating the different proofs to its date of composition shows that despite the proofs for its lateness, they are outweighed by evidence of its early date. Nevertheless, if one insists on seeing the book in hand as 'only' a late work, still its importance is unquestionable. Its great value lies in showing the modern scholar some of the techniques of the editors of the Biblical narrative. It presents apocalyptic visions, and assuming the book gives us only the missing verse in Psa 145 - that would be enough. Further importance can be seen in the contribution of this book to the development of the Hebrew language in the first centuries of this era: 'Biblical' Hebrew on the one hand, and philosophical Hebrew on the other, a period from which (almost all) our Hebrew is Talmudic (except Sefer haRazim). Above all, this book might enhance our understanding of the Book of Revelation, the literature of that period in general, and the history of the Jews of Cochin would not be the lesser for it.
1 This is Ms. O0.1.20. My sincere thanks are due to the syndics of Cambridge University Library, and to Dr. Stefan C. Reif, for their kind permission to publish that manuscript. The microfilm in the Institute of Microfilms of Hebrew Manuscripts in the National Library in Jerusalem is 16265. On this occasion I wish to thank Professor I. Ta-Shema, the head of that institute, who followed my first steps in this research in 1981. From him I learnt a great deal, and some of my comments are derived from him.
2 See my paper: "The Discovery of The Words of Gad the Seer", Journal for The Study of Pseudepigrapha (under consideration).
3 S. Z. Schechter, "Notes on Hebrew MSS in the University Library at Cambridge", JQR (os) 6 (1894) 136-145.
4 I. Abrahams, "The Words of Gad the Seer", Livre d'Hommage a la memoir du Dr Samuel Poznanski (Varsovie: edit par le comite de la grande synagogue a Varsovie, 1927; rep. Jerusalem: publisher not mentioned, 1969) 8-12.
5 These chapters are divided in to 375 verses with approximately 5200 words only very few of which are corrupted and illegible. The nature of the manuscript is a matter by itself.
6 See my paper: "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, 119-126 (Hebrew).
7 See my paper: "Major Trends in the Development of the Qedusha", Daat (Hebrew, in press).
8 More on these poems, see: M. Bar-Ilan, Sitrey Tefilah veHekhalot (Ramat- Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1987) 49-51 (Hebrew).
9 See: M. Z. Kadari, MiYerushat Leshon Yemei haBinaim (Tel Aviv: Devir 1969) 11 (Hebrew).
10 See: A. Wasserstein, "Rabban Gamliel and Proclus the Philosopher (mishnah Aboda Zara 3,4)", Zion 45 (1980) 257-267 (Hebrew); M. Bar-Ilan, "The Occurrences and the Significance of 'Yotser haAdam' Benediction", HUCA 56 (1985) 9-27, esp. p. 25 n. 56 (Hebrew); M. Luz, "Abnimos, Nimos, and Oenomaus: A Note", JQR 77 (1986-87) 191-195; J. Geiger, "Athens in Syria: Greek Intellectuals of Gadara", Cathedra 35 (1985) 3-16 (Hebrew).
11 E. Kaminka, Mehkarim BaMikra uvaSifrut haRabbanit haAtika (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1965) 55, 62, 80 (Hebrew); J. Goldin, "Mashehu miBet Midrasho Shel Rabban Yohanan ben Zakai", Sefer haYovel liKhevod Tsvi Wolfson, Hebrew volume, (Jerusalem: American Academy for Jewish Research 1965) 69-92 (Hebrew); see also: Henry A. Fischel (ed.), Essays in Greco-Roman and related Talmudic Literature (New York: Ktav Publishing House Inc., 1977).
12 M. Stein, Bein Tarbut Israel veTarbut Yavan veRoma (Givataim - Ramat- Gan: Masada 1970) 122-124 (Hebrew).
13 M. Z. Kadari, MiYerushat Leshon Yemei haBinaim 35-38. See also b. B. Bat. 143b where the noun appears with the meaning of parts of reeds. In our text the verb appears as well, though in another sense (verse 191): 'Because of that, hurry up, hasten (Husu) and fulfill, hear and fulfill' (and then there is a scribal mark, perhaps to draw attention to the double phrase).
It should be noted that in the midrashic compilation known as Maase Torah (Jerusalem: Lewin Epstein, 1954, 50), there appears a quotation from Midrash Numbers Rabbah in a version that we do not know any longer. It is said there: 'There are ten senses (Husim) in a man: five are physical... five are spiritual (Gesmim, Ruhanim)'. It is true that Midrash Numbers Rabbah is considered to be one of the latest midrashim (and see below), so for that reason nothing can be deduced from that text. At any event, if Numbers Rabbah is taken not so late as it is now believed, then the whole proof from these words - postulating the lateness of The Words of Gad the Seer - is groundless.
14 It should not be overlooked that Paul used similar terms, e.g. 1 Cor 15:44 'It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body'.
15 Z. Muntner, Mavo leSefer Assaf haRofe (Jerusalem: Geniza, 1958) 33 (Hebrew). The following text is from p. 156, and see p. 154. See also: S. Pines, "The Oath of Asaph the Physician and Yohanan ben Zabda", Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 5 (1976), 223-264.
16 See: James H. Charlesworth, "Treatise of Shem", James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1983-85) 1.473-486; 'Sefer Noah', in A. Jellinek, Beit haMidrash (2d ed.; Jerusalem: Bamberger & Wahrmann, 1938) III.155-160 (The book begins: 'This is the medical book that the early wise men copied from the book of Shem son of Noah', the same text as in the Book of Assaf). Raziel the angel gave that book to Adam, and later Enoch found the place where the book was hidden'. Compare to the beginning of M. Margaliot (ed.), Sefer haRazim (Jerusalem: Yediot Aharonot, 1966) 66: 'This book out of the mystery books that Noah son of... was given from the mouth of Raziel the angel'.
17 J. Levy, Olamot Nifgashim (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1960) 259-265 (Hebrew).
18 Eduard Schweizer, "Slaves of the Elements and Worshipers of Angels: Gal 4:3, 9 and Col 2:8, 18, 20", JBL 107 (1988) 455-468.
19 It seems that the notion that water becomes pregnant and gives birth, as well as other anthropomorphic behavior is derived from non-Jewish philosophy.
20 L. Zunz, HaDerashot beIsrael (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1947) 124-127 (Hebrew). His opinion is grounded partly on some of the texts dealt with here, see in his edited book, p. 399 n. 81.
21 S. Lieberman (ed.), Midrash Devarim Rabbah (3rd ed., Jerusalem: Wahrmann Books, 1974) forward, pp. XXI-XXIII.
22 S. A. Wertheimer, Batei Midrashot (Jerusalem: Ketav ve Sefer, 1980) II.45-73, the text is from p. 73. See also there in Midrash Temura, p. 191 (and in Sarfatti's paper on note 25).
23 S. Abramson, "MeSihatan Shel Benei Erets Israel", Sinai 63 (1968) 20- 31, esp. p. 24 n. 10 (Hebrew). Abrahamson states that though midrash Shelosha veArbaah preceded Mishnat R. Eliezer 'both midrashim are late'. The text he dealt with there is the one being studied here, but while he took it as late, here it is taken, together with the Book of Assaf, as part of the language of antiquity though the terms do not appear in Talmudic literature.
24 Josephus in Antiquities 3,7,7, (183) described the construction of the Tabernacle in the desert, saying: 'The veils, too, which were composed of four things declared the four elements, for the fine linen was proper to signify the earth' etc. On the creation of Adam from the four elements (according to Philo and other sources), see: L. Ginzberg, The Legends of The Jews V.72; R. Patai, Adam veAdama (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University Press, 1942) I.159 (Hebrew).
25 See: G.B.A. Sarfatti, "Three comments regarding some Tannaitic sources", Tarbiz 32 (1963) 136-142 (Hebrew); I. Efrat, HaPhilosophia haIvrit haAtika p. 54, n. 12, p. 81 (Hebrew); S. Pines and Z. Harvie, "LiReot HaKokhavim VehaMazalot", Mehkarei Jerusalem BeMahshevet Israel, 3 (4, 1984) 507-511 (Hebrew).
26 A. BenDavid, Parallels in the Bible (Jerusalem: Carta, 1972).
27 F. M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies (2d ed.; Garden City: Doubleday, 1961) 188-192; E. C. Ulrich, The Qumran Text of Samuel and Josephus (Ann Arbor: Scholars Press, 1978) 156-159.
28 See: H. S. Horovitz (ed.), Siphre d'be Rab - Numbers (Leipzig: Libraria: Gustav Fock, 1917; rep. Jerusalem: Wahrmann Books, 1966) 48.
29 Compare this superscription to that of Syr. Psa 151 where Goliath is mentioned. See: J. H. Charlesworth and J. A. Sanders, "More Psalms of David", James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha II.609-624.
30 The superscription of this psalm from Qumran which begins with 'Prayer of David' differs from the masoretic one. So, on the whole, these three different superscriptions might be taken as evidence for the relative lateness of the superscriptions on the one hand, while showing that they were added before the canonization process took place on the other. So, the superscription that is supported in our book should be understood as also being very old. For more evidence of the additional Psalms see: A. M. Haberman, Ketav Lashon vaSefer (Jerusalem: Rubin Mass, 1973) 111-125 (and for more Davidic Hymns see below).
31 See: Sid Z. Leiman, "The Inverted Nuns at Numbers 10:35-36 and the Book of Eldad and Medad", JBL 93 (1974) 348-355; Baruch A. Levine, "Critical Note", JBL 95 (1976) 122-124. [These two works together with MacNamara's (supra n. 33), and a discussion in the Talmud should be consulted to revise James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, II.463-465.]
32 These phenomena should not be ignored: (a) In both parts of the verse there is Kol, just as the previous and the following verses. (b) The second stanza begins with conjunctive Waw, just as in the adjoining verses. (c) In the adjoining verses there is Shirshur, a chain structure, in which one word in a verse is repeated in the next verse. This structure is evident from the words Malkhutekha, Gevuratekha which appear in the Kaf and Lamed verses. Now, it recurs with the word 'Nafelu' that anticipates the Nofelim in the following verse. It should be kept in mind that the sages in b. Ber. 4b did connect the missing verse with falling down.
33 On the relationship between the Book of Revelation and Jewish sources, see: M. MacNamara, The New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1966) 209-217; E. E. Urbach, "Yerushalayim Shel Mata veYerushalayim Shel Maala", Yerushalayim LeDoroteha (Jerusalem: The Israel Exploration Society, 1969) 156-171 (Hebrew). See also the paper (only in regard to the Qedusha, the Trishagion), above mentioned n. 7.
34 This equation: Edom = Rome, appears in Talmudic literature as well as in Apocalypse of Ezra and IV Ezra.
35 In regard to this phenomenon, one should consult the testimony of R. Saadya Gaon, Sefer haGalui [A. A. Harkavi, (ed.), Petersburg: Meqitsei Nirdamim, 1892; rep. Jerusalem: publisher not mentioned, 1969) 150-152; 176-181]. Saadya mentions 'outer' books that were known to the sages of the Talmud and his contemporaries as well. Among these books there were Ben Sira, Elazar ben Irai and the book of the sons of the Hashmonaim. According to him, these books resemble Biblical books not only in the narrative and language (Prov, Ecc and Dan), but in their annotation as well. Those books were '(arranged like in the Bible) in chapters and verses, and (they were) marked and cantilated'. R. Saadya mentioned an outer book that he thought was composed in his life time by the people of Kairouan who had in their possession 'a Hebrew book, from Saadi (or: Elshunri haNotsri)... divided into verses and canticles in it'. See: E. Fleischer, "Iyun beSifrut haMeshalim haQedeumah", Bikoret uFarshanut 11-12 (1978) 19-54 (Hebrew). See there for the books of Ben Tiglah and Ben La'anah, and see now also: J. Faur, "Concerning the Term `kore be-iggeret'", Alei Sefer 15 (1989) 21-30 (Hebrew).
36 To demonstrate the argument of the lacuna of Hebrew language, it should be kept in mind that only relatively recently has the Hekhalot literature been related to Talmudic times (2-5 centuries c.e.). However, as yet there is not even one paper concerning the linguistic problem raised by that understanding. Even without thorough familiarity one can see that there is a gap between the Mishnaic or 'rabbinic' Hebrew, and the Hekhalot Hebrew.
37 Philip R. Davies, The Damascus Covenant (Sheffield: JSOT, 1983) 14.
38 D. Flusser and S. Safrai, "'Shirei David' HaHisonyim", Teuda 2 (1982) 83-109 (Hebrew).
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