UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

4QInstruction also known as “1QInstruction” Shirav, Anna


4Q/1QInstruction, or Musar le-Mevin, is the most extensively preserved wisdom text among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The text was found in multiple copies in Cave 4 (4Q415, 4Q416, 4Q417, 4Q418, 4Q418a, 4Q423), while an additional copy was found in Cave 1 (1Q26). The earliest copy (4Q417) is dated to the end of the Hasmonean period (70 BCE), while the latest (4Q423) is dated to mid-late Herodian (10-50 CE). The provenance and the writing time of the text are controversial, and much depend on the attributed social context. The composition, which occasionally reflects apocalyptic perceptions, covers a wide range of topics, offering its readers insights and advice on different aspects of their lives. The material can be roughly divided into two categories: cosmological and practical wisdom. The cosmological parts address the relationship of the reader with God, his cast lot, and his assigned place in the cosmic structure of the universe. The practical wisdom offers advice on the social behaviour of its addressee, family and women, agriculture, or financial matters. 4QInstruction resembles linguistically, literary, and ideologically with other wisdom works. The composition, undoubtedly, inspired and relies on the scriptural wisdom works as the Book of Proverbs, with whom it often shares rhetorical structure. Other textual similarities can be identified between the composition and the Wisdom of Ben Sira, including priestly references, for example, or some financial matters. Additionally, scholars emphasize the affinity between 4QInstruction to Hellenistic wisdom texts as the Wisdom of Solomon or the writings of Philo, point towards similar expressions or similar understanding of the creation and men. The possible context of the composition in is directly related to the question regarding the affinity between 4QInstruction, the movement associated with the Qumran site (the Yahad) and its writings. There is some resemblance between 4QInstruction and the core writings of the movement, especially the Community rule and the Hodayot (1QS and 1QH respectively, and their parallels in Cave 4). The affinity includes joint worldview and concepts, as well as the revelation of wisdom according to one’s status. Yet, it is ambiguous whether the text was written outside the community (for example, among priestly circles which rejected the authority of the temple) and adopted by the Yahad, or composed among the movement at some stage. The objectors for the latter point towards occasionally different halakhic perspectives between 4QInstruction and the Community Rule, or the sections which concerns women and family matters, topics which are absent from the Community Rule.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International