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4QPseudo Ezekiel Shirav, Anna


Words of Ezekiel (WoEzek) or Pseudo-Ezekiel are the designated names to a group of manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The composition which was not known prior to its discovery in Qumran is commonly associated with the prophet Ezekiel and his oracles. WoEzek was preserved in at least three fragmentary parchment copies, sharing an overlapping textual section: 4Q385, 4Q386 and 4Q388. Two additional sigla numbers are associated with the composition: 4Q385b which contains a single fragment, and the papyrus scroll 4Q391. These manuscripts do not share any textual parallels with the scrolls stated above, yet 4Q385b and 4Q391 are identified as additional copies of WoEzek based on their rewriting style of the scriptural text of Ezekiel. The earliest manuscript, 4Q391 is dated to 150-100 BCE, while the other scrolls are roughly dated to 50-25 BCE. Although the composition was found in Qumran, its content does not show any special connection to the religious movement settled at the site (the Yahad), and thus it could have originated among different social groups in the Second Temple period. The composition contains a series of visions revealed to the prophet Ezekiel. Some of the preserved oracles also appear in the biblical (or the scriptural) versions of the Book of Ezekiel known today, such as the vision of the dry bones (Ezek 37) or the merkavah (chariot) vision (Ezek 1 and 10). Other sections are not known from any textual witnesses of scriptural Ezekiel, and their context is rather the Jewish literary and ideological framework in the Second Temple period. WoEzek is often categorised as “pseudo-prophetic” text (Dimant, 2001), and “rewritten scripture” (Zahn, 2014). It means that the composition uses the voice of the prophet and rewrites the scriptural source by setting it in a new framework and putting it to a different use. While the fragmentary state of the composition makes it difficult to determine its context, the principal orientation of the text is most likely apocalyptic, as it often highlights the apocalyptic connotation which can be attributed to Ezekiel’s oracles. The text contains references to the “day of the lord” and suggests that the redemption reflected through the vision of the dry bones is promised exclusively to the righteous among Israel, whose reward will be an actual resurrection at the eschatological end of the current universe.

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