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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter XXIII

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Text Commentary

1And behold, 1 So BR Rum.: U om. Sofonima, Nir's wife, was barren and had borne Nir no child. 2And Sofonima was well on in years and very near her death; and she conceived, although Nir the priest had not had intercourse with her since the day the Lord set him before the people. 2 Here J ends. 3Sofonima 3 R ‘When Sofonima realized that she had conceived, she’. was ashamed and hid herself day after day, and no one of the people knew; and the day came when she should give birth. 4And Nir remembered his wife and called her to him in his house to talk to her; and Sofonima went to her husband, and behold, she was about to give birth. 4 Lit. ‘she had in her womb at the time of birth’. 5And when Nir saw her he was very ashamed because of her, and he said to her, Why have you done this, wife, and brought shame upon me before all the people? 6And now, away from me: go where you have so shamefully conceived, 5 Lit. ‘you have conceived the shame of your womb’. in case I sully my hands on you and sin before the Lord. 7And Sofonima answered her husband, saying, Behold, my lord, I am well on in years 6 BR Rum. add ‘and the day of my death (+ has come R)’. and no youthful desires are left in me: I do not know how in my innocence I have conceived. 8Nir did not believe her, and he said to her a second time, Away from me, in case I strike you and sin before the Lord. 9And it came to pass, while Nir was speaking to his wife, that Sofonima fell down at Nir's feet and died.

10And Nir was greatly distressed and said to himself, Is it because of what I said 7 Lit. ‘Is it from my word (= B Rum.: R ‘voice’; U ‘Lord’).’ that this has happened to her? But now the eternal Lord is merciful, for I lifted no hand against her. 8 U adds here ‘And the archangel Gabriel appeared to Nir and said to him, Do not think your wife Sofonima died as a result of sin. This child that is born of her is righteous fruit; and I will take him up to Paradise, so that you be not a father to a gift of God’. 11And Nir made haste and shut 9 So BR Rum.: U ‘opened’. the doors of his house and went to his brother Noe and told him everything that had happened to his wife. 12And Noe made haste and went to his brother's house; and his brother's wife was clearly dead, and she was about to give birth. 10 Lit. ‘and the aspect of his brother's wife was in death, and her womb at the time of birth’. 13And Noe said to Nir, Do not be distressed, Nir, my brother, for the Lord has concealed our shame today, since no one of the people knows about this; and now make haste, 11 BR Rum. ‘let us make haste’. let us bury her, and the Lord will conceal our disgrace. 12 R ‘the disgrace of our shame’. 14And they laid Sofonima on a bed, and clothed her in black garments, and shut the door, and went and hollowed out tombs 13 So U – no doubt assuming a separate tomb for the child: BR Rum. ‘tomb’. secretly.

15And when they had gone out to her tomb, 14 So Vaillant: U ‘to her bed’; B Rum. ‘to Nir's house’; R om. the child came out of the corpse of Sofonima and sat on the bed. 16And Noe and Nir came in to bury Sofonima, and they saw the child sitting by the corpse, and he had a garment on him. 15 So U Tr.: R Rum., supported by B, ‘and wiping his garments’. 17And Noe and Nir were very frightened, for the child's body was perfect: he spoke with his mouth and blessed the Lord. Noe and Nir stared at him, saying, This is the Lord's doing, my brother. 18And behold, the seal of the priesthood was on his breast, and he was a joy to look at. 19And Noe said to Nir, Brother, behold, the Lord will restore the holy tabernacle after us. 20And Nir and Noe made haste and washed the child and arrayed him in the priestly garments, and they gave him bread that had been blessed and he ate it; and they called him Melchisedek. 21And Noe and Nir took Sofonima's body and took the black garments off her; and they washed her body and clothed her in splendid and exquisite garments. And they built her a tomb; 16 B Rum., suported by R, ‘another house’. and Noe went, and Nir and Melchisedek, and they buried her with honour openly. 22And Noe said to his brother, Keep the child secretly until the time appointed, for the people's wickedness has increased everywhere on earth, and if they see him, they will find some way of killing him. 23And Noe returned home.

24And behold, all kinds of iniquities increased greatly 17 increased greatly = B Rum., supported by R: U om. everywhere on earth in Nir's days; and Nir was greatly distressed, the more so for the child, saying, What can I do for him? 25Nir stretched out his hands towards heaven and invoked the Lord, saying, Alas, eternal Lord, all kinds of iniquities have increased greatly on earth in my days, and I sense that our end is near. 26And now, Lord, what is the future of this child, and what his fate? What can I do for him, so that he is not involved with us in this destruction? 27The Lord heard Nir and appeared to him in a vision at night and said to him, Behold, Nir, the corruption on the earth is universal: 18 Lit. ‘a great iniquity has already been on the earth’. no longer will I tolerate it or endure it. 28Behold, I intend very soon to bring a great destruction on the earth; but have no worries about the child, Nir, for after a little while I will send my archangel Gabriel, 19 Tr.R ‘my archistratege Michael’. and he will take the child and put him in the Paradise of Eden. 29He will not perish with those who are about to perish, for I have sent him as a sign; 20 Lit. ‘and I have shown him forth’. for he shall be to me a priest of priests for ever – Melchisedek, and I will set him apart, 21 Lit. ‘and I will sanctify him’. and I will make of him 22 So U (lit. ‘and I will change him into’): BR Tr. Rum. ‘and I will set him up as’. a great people who will honour me.

30And Nir got up from his sleep and blessed the Lord who had appeared to him, saying, Blessed art thou, Lord God of our 23 So U: BR Rum. ‘my’. fathers, who hast not let reproach fall on my priesthood or 24 Lit. ‘in’. the priesthood of my fathers, for thy word has created a high priest in the womb of my wife Sofonima. 31For I had no children, and this child shall be 25 So B Rum.: UR ‘and may this child be’. in place of my own children and become 26 BR add ‘as it were’. my son; and thou shalt count him with thy servants 27 BR Rum. add ‘and with thy priests’. 28 So U: BR Rum. differ not a little. with Sonfi and Onoch and Rusi and Milam and Seruch and Arusan, Nail and Enoch and Methusalom and thy servant Nir; 28 So U: BR Rum. differ not a little. and Melchisedech shall be chief priest in another generation. 32For I know 29 So BR: U corrupt. that this generation will end in turmoil and all will perish, and Noe my brother will be preserved to another generation 30 So UR: B Rum. ‘in that day’: R continues ‘and the procreation will be from his tribe, and there will be another people, and there will be another people, and there will be another Melchisedek, chief of the priests …’. to be its father; 31 Lit. ‘for the procreation’. and from his family will spring a numerous people, and Melchisedek will be chief priest among a people that is subject to thee, O Lord, and serveth thee.

33And it came to pass, when the child had been in Nir's house for forty days, the Lord said to the archangel Gabriel, 32 So U: BR Rum. ‘to Michael’. Go down to earth, to Nir the priest, and take the child Melchisedek that is with him 33 with him = BR Rum.: U om. and put him in the garden of Eden to keep him safe. 34For the time is now very near when I shall let loose all the waters over the earth, and all that is on the earth shall perish; and I will give him a place of honour in another generation, and Melchisedek shall be chief priest in that generation. 35And Gabriel 34 So U: BR Rum. ‘Michael’. made haste and flew down by night; and that night Nir was asleep on his bed and Gabriel 34 So U: BR Rum. ‘Michael’. appeared to him and said to him, Thus says the Lord to Nir, Let the child I entrusted to you come to me. 36And Nir did not recognize who it was that was speaking to him, and he was much troubled and said to himself, Can it be that the people know about the child, and want to take him away and kill him? (For the people's thoughts and inclinations were evil in the Lord's sight.) 37And he answered Gabriel 34 So U: BR Rum. ‘Michael’. and said, I have no child, neither do I know who it is that is speaking to me. 38And Gabriel 35 So U: B Rum. ‘Michael’; R ‘he that spoke to me’. answered him, Have no fear, Nir, I am the archangel Gabriel: 36 So U: BR Rum. ‘I am the archistratege of the Lord’. The Lord has sent me; and behold, I will take your child today and I will go with him and put him in the Paradise of Eden. 39And Nir remembered his first dream, and he believed and answered Gabriel, 34 So U: BR Rum. ‘Michael’. Blessed be the Lord who has sent you to me today; and now bless your servant Nir, and take the child and do with him everything you have been told to do. 40And Gabriel 34 So U: BR Rum. ‘Michael’. took the child Melchisedek on his wings that night and put him in the Paradise of Eden. 41And when Nir got up in the morning and went into the house, he did not find the child; and this was for Nir a cause both of great joy and of sorrow, 37 So U: BR Rum. ‘And Nir had great sorrow in place of joy’. for he had come to look upon the child as a son. 38 U adds a doxology, ‘Glory be to our God always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen’. In B our apocryphon forms part of a series of Biblical stories and is followed immediately by an account of the Flood. R ends ‘… in place of joy, for he had no other son but him. So Nir died; and afterwards there was no priest among the people. And from that time arose much tumult on the earth’. Then follows a very much condensed account of the Flood and Noah's subsequent history. Rum. ends with the opening sentence of a Flood account, ‘… in place of joy, for he had come to look upon the child as a son. But in that time all great tumult arose on the earth. The Lord called Noe to the mountain Asir and told him to make an ark speedily’.

Notes:

1 So BR Rum.: U om.

2 Here J ends.

3 R ‘When Sofonima realized that she had conceived, she’.

4 Lit. ‘she had in her womb at the time of birth’.

5 Lit. ‘you have conceived the shame of your womb’.

6 BR Rum. add ‘and the day of my death (+ has come R)’.

7 Lit. ‘Is it from my word (= B Rum.: R ‘voice’; U ‘Lord’).’

8 U adds here ‘And the archangel Gabriel appeared to Nir and said to him, Do not think your wife Sofonima died as a result of sin. This child that is born of her is righteous fruit; and I will take him up to Paradise, so that you be not a father to a gift of God’.

9 So BR Rum.: U ‘opened’.

10 Lit. ‘and the aspect of his brother's wife was in death, and her womb at the time of birth’.

11 BR Rum. ‘let us make haste’.

12 R ‘the disgrace of our shame’.

13 So U – no doubt assuming a separate tomb for the child: BR Rum. ‘tomb’.

14 So Vaillant: U ‘to her bed’; B Rum. ‘to Nir's house’; R om.

15 So U Tr.: R Rum., supported by B, ‘and wiping his garments’.

16 B Rum., suported by R, ‘another house’.

17 increased greatly = B Rum., supported by R: U om.

18 Lit. ‘a great iniquity has already been on the earth’.

19 Tr.R ‘my archistratege Michael’.

20 Lit. ‘and I have shown him forth’.

21 Lit. ‘and I will sanctify him’.

22 So U (lit. ‘and I will change him into’): BR Tr. Rum. ‘and I will set him up as’.

23 So U: BR Rum. ‘my’.

24 Lit. ‘in’.

25 So B Rum.: UR ‘and may this child be’.

26 BR add ‘as it were’.

27 BR Rum. add ‘and with thy priests’.

28–28 So U: BR Rum. differ not a little.

29 So BR: U corrupt.

30 So UR: B Rum. ‘in that day’: R continues ‘and the procreation will be from his tribe, and there will be another people, and there will be another people, and there will be another Melchisedek, chief of the priests …’.

31 Lit. ‘for the procreation’.

32 So U: BR Rum. ‘to Michael’.

33 with him = BR Rum.: U om.

34 So U: BR Rum. ‘Michael’.

35 So U: B Rum. ‘Michael’; R ‘he that spoke to me’.

36 So U: BR Rum. ‘I am the archistratege of the Lord’.

37 So U: BR Rum. ‘And Nir had great sorrow in place of joy’.

38 U adds a doxology, ‘Glory be to our God always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen’.

In B our apocryphon forms part of a series of Biblical stories and is followed immediately by an account of the Flood.

R ends ‘… in place of joy, for he had no other son but him. So Nir died; and afterwards there was no priest among the people. And from that time arose much tumult on the earth’. Then follows a very much condensed account of the Flood and Noah's subsequent history.

Rum. ends with the opening sentence of a Flood account, ‘… in place of joy, for he had come to look upon the child as a son. But in that time all great tumult arose on the earth. The Lord called Noe to the mountain Asir and told him to make an ark speedily’.

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