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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Bible Interpretation

1. Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab), 11:2–12:10 : The Trials of the Saints Foretold in Scripture (=Hab 2:15–17 )

( 11:2 ) Woe to him who gives his neighbours to drink, pouring out (3) his venom till they are drunk, so that he may gaze at their appointed festivals (Hab 2:15 ).

(4) Interpreted this concerns the Wicked Priest who (5) pursued after the Teacher of Righteousness so that he might confuse him with his venomous (6) fury in the house of his exile. And at the time appointed for rest on (7) the Day of Atonement, he appeared before them to confuse them, (8) and to make them stumble on a day of fasting, a sabbath set aside for their repose.

You have been sated with (9) ignominy rather than with glory. Now you drink and stagger! (10) The cup in the Lord's right hand will come round to you, and shame will come (11) upon your glory (Hab 2:16 ).

(12) Interpreted this concerns the priest whose ignominy became greater than his glory. (13) For he did not circumcise the foreskin of his heart, and he walked in the ways of (14) drunkenness, so that he might quench his thirst. But the cup of the venom of (15) God shall confuse him, incre[asing] his [ignominy] and the pain of [(16) his…]

[For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and the destruction of the beasts] ( 12:1 ) will terrify you, because of bloodshed and the violence against the land, the city, and all its inhabitants (Hab 2:17 ).

(2) Interpreted this saying concerns the Wicked Priest, who will be repaid with (3) the recompense which he himself gave to the Poor. For Lebanon is (4) the Council of the Community; and the beasts are the simple-hearted of Judah who keep (5) the Torah. God shall condemn him to utter destruction, (6) just as he himself plotted utterly to destroy the poor. And as for what it says, Because of bloodshed (7) in the city and the violence against the land, its interpretation is that the city is Jerusalem (8) where the Wicked Priest committed abominable deeds and defiled (9) the temple of God, and the violence against the land refers to the cities of Judah where (10) he robbed the poor of their possessions.

Comment: The Pesharist sees in the words of Habbakuk foreshadowings of precise events in the life of his community, but he refers to these events cryptically. The Teacher of Righteousness was probably the founder of the Community, who was driven out of Jerusalem by the Wicked Priest (one of the Hasmoneans). There is a hint that the community did not observe the Day of Atonement at the same time as the rest of Israel, otherwise the Wicked Priest would have been unable to travel to the Teacher's ‘house of exile’ (? Qumran) on the most holy day of the Jewish year. ‘The Poor’ is one of the community's self-designations. The term ‘Lebanon’, which was widely used in early Jewish writings as a designation of the temple (based on 1 Kings 7:2 ; cf. Sifre Deut. 6 ; Num.R. XI 3), is here transferred to the community: they are now the true temple. On Pesher Habakkuk see MAJ GEN A.2.

2. Philo, On the Creation of the World, 1–3, 7–9, 16–20: God as the Architect of the Cosmos (= Gen 1 )

(1) Some lawgivers have set out nakedly and without adornment what they consider to be just, while others, investing their thoughts with over-abundant amplification, have befuddled the masses by obscuring the truth with mythical inventions. (2) But Moses, rejecting both these courses, the one as inconsiderate, thoughtless, and unphilosophical, the other as mendacious and full of trickery, introduced his laws with a most fine and noble exordium. He refrained, on the one hand, from declaring at once what should or should not be done, or, on the other hand, from himself inventing myths or acquiescing in those composed by others, because he needed to predispose the minds of those who would use his laws to accept them. (3) His exordium, as I have said, is most admirable. It consists of an account of the creation of the world, thus implying that the world is in harmony with the law and the law with the world, and that the man who obeys the law becomes at once a citizen of the world, regulating his actions in accordance with the will of Nature, by which the whole world is itself administered….

(7) Some, admiring the world rather than its Maker, have declared it to be ungenerated and eternal, and, falsely and impiously, have attributed an almost total inactivity to God, whereas they ought, on the contrary, to have marvelled at his powers as Maker and Father, and not to have glorified the world beyond proper measure. (8) But Moses, because he had reached the very summit of philosophy, and been instructed by oracles in the numerous fundamental principles of nature, recognized that all things that exist must be classified either as active Cause or as passive object, and that the active Cause is the pure and unsullied Mind of the universe, transcending virtue, transcending knowledge, transcending the good itself and the beautiful itself, (9) while the passive object is in itself incapable of life and motion, but, once set in motion and shaped and given life by Mind, is transformed into that most perfect work, our world….

(16) God, since he was God, foresaw that a good copy could never be produced without a good pattern, and that no object of sense perception could ever be faultless that was not made in the image of an original discerned only by mind. So when he had determined to create our visible world he first formed the intelligible world, in order that he might have an incorporeal, Godlike pattern to use to produce the material world, which would be the exact replica of the older creation, and contain as many objects of sense perception as the other contained objects perceptible only to mind.

(17) To speak of or imagine that world which consists of ideas as being in some place is impermissible, but we may understand how it exists, if we consider an analogy from our own world. When a city is founded to gratify the great ambition of a king or governor, who, claiming absolute power and harbouring grandiose designs, is eager to display his good fortune, a trained architect comes along who, observing the favourable climate and convenient position of the site, first sketches in his own mind nearly all the parts of the city that is going to be completed—temples, gymnasia, town-halls, market-places, harbours, docks, streets, the position of the walls, and the location of the private and public buildings. (18) Having received in his own soul, as on a wax tablet, the form of each of these buildings, he carries about in his head a picture of a city which is as yet perceptible only to his mind. Then by his innate power of memory, he recalls the images of the various parts of this city, and imprints their outlines yet more clearly in it. And so, like a good craftsman, he begins to erect the city of stones and timber, keeping his eye upon his pattern, and making the material objects correspond to each of the incorporeal ideas.

(19) We must think about God in the same way. We must suppose that, when he had decided to found the one great city, he conceived beforehand the plans of its parts, and that from these he formed a world discernible only by the mind, and then, using that as a template, he completed the world which our senses perceive. (20) Just as the city which was planned beforehand in the architect's mind had no place in the external world, but had been imprinted on the soul of the artificer, so the universe that consists of ideas could have had no other location than the Divine Reason, which had set them in order.

Comment: If the essence of Torah lies in its commandments (‘what should or should not be done’), why does Moses not plunge straight into an enumeration of the laws? Why does he begin with the story of the creation? The answer is that he wishes to make the point that ‘the world is in harmony with the law and the law with the world’, and, therefore, whoever follows the law is living in conformity to nature. Philo rejects the common philosophical notion that the world, though contingent, is eternal. He was one of the first to assert (incorrectly) that Gen 1 teaches the doctrine of creation out of nothing. In keeping with the Platonic theory of ideas, he implies that Gen 1:1 refers to the conception of the plan of creation in the Divine Reason, in accordance with which the physical world was then created (Gen 1:2–2:2 ). On Philo see MAJ GEN A.3.

3. Mekilta of Rabbi Ishmael, Bahodesh, 6: The Prohibition of Images (= Ex 20:4 )

You shall not make for yourself an idol (Ex 20:4 ).

He may not make for himself one that is engraven, but perhaps he may make one which is solid? But Scripture says, ‘Or any likeness’ (Ex 20:4 ). He may not make for himself one that is solid, but perhaps he may plant a sacred tree? But Scripture says, ‘You shall not plant any tree as a sacred pole (an Asherah)’ (Deut 16:21 ).

He may not plant a sacred tree, but perhaps he may make an idol of wood? But Scripture says, ‘Of any kind of wood’ (Deut 16:21 ). He may not make one of wood, but perhaps he may make one of stone? Scripture says, ‘Or place any figured stones’ (Lev 26:1 ). He may not make one of stone, but perhaps he may make one of silver or gold? Scripture says, ‘You shall not make any gods of silver alongside me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold’ (Ex 20:20 ). He may not make one of silver or gold, but perhaps he may make one of bronze, iron, or tin? Scripture says, ‘Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves’ (Lev 19:4 ).

He may not make for himself an image of any of these, but perhaps he may make an image of a figure? Scripture says, ‘So that you may not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves in the form of any figure’ (Deut 4:16 ). He may not make an image of a figure, but perhaps he may make an image of cattle or fowl? Scripture says, ‘The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air’ (Deut 4:17 ). He may not make an image of any of these, but perhaps he may make an image of fish, locust, unclean animals, or reptiles? Scripture says ‘The likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters below the earth’ (Deut 4:18 ).

He may not make an image of any of these, but perhaps he may make an image of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets? Scripture says, ‘And when you look up to the heavens and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and worship them’ (Deut 4:19 ).

He may not make an image of any of these, but perhaps he may make an image of the angels, the Cherubim, and the Ofannim (an order of angels)? Scripture says, ‘Of anything that is in the heavens above’ (Ex 20:4 ). One might think that ‘in the heavens’ refers to images of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets, but it says, ‘of anything that is in the heavens above’—not the image of the angels, nor the image of the Cherubim, nor the image of the Ofannim.

He may not make an image of any of these, but perhaps he may make an image of the deeps or the darkness? Scripture says, ‘Or in the waters under the earth’ (Ex 20:4 ), which includes reflected images. Thus is the opinion of Rabbi Aqiba. Some say that it includes the Shabriri (demons).

Thus Scripture goes out of its way to pursue the evil inclination, in order to leave no room for anyone to find the least excuse to permit [idolatry]!

You shall not bow down to them or worship them (Ex 20:5 ).

Why is this said? To show, in accordance with the verse, ‘And has gone to worship other gods and has bowed down to them’ (Deut 17:3 ), that one is guilty for the act of worshipping by itself and for the act of bowing down by itself. (You might say,) This is your opinion, but perhaps one is not guilty unless he both worships and bows down? However, Scripture says, ‘You shall not bow down to them or worship them’, thus indicating that one is guilty for the act of worshipping by itself and for the act of bowing down by itself.

Comment: Does Ex 20:4–5 contain one commandment or two? Is the injunction directed against making images in order to bow down to them, or against both making images and bowing down to them? The first interpretation allows the possibility of images for decorative, non-religious purposes; the second precludes all figurative art. The Mekilta takes the latter view. It also treats ‘bowing down’ and ‘worshipping’ in v. 5 as two separate offences and draws in all the parallel verses so as to forbid figurative art in any medium, form, or material. A strict interpretation of the law on images seems to have prevailed in Second Temple times, but archaeology suggests that some took a more liberal attitude in the Talmudic period, when figurative art was found even on the mosaic floors of synagogues. On the Mekilta of Rabbi Ishmael see MAJ GEN A.4–5.

4. 1 Enoch, 6:1–6; 7:1–6; 8:1–4 : The Fall of the Angels (= Gen 6:1–5 )

( 6:1 ) And it came to pass, when the sons of men had multiplied, that in those days handsome and beautiful daughters were born to them. (2) And the angels, the sons of heaven, saw them and desired them; and they said one to another: ‘Come, let us choose for ourselves wives from the daughters of the men of earth, and let us beget for ourselves children’. (3) And Shemiḥazah, who was their leader, said to them: ‘I am afraid that you will not want to do this deed, and that I alone will pay the price for a great sin.’ (4) And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and bind one another with curses, that none of us will change this plan till we have fulfilled it and have done this deed.’ (5) Then they all swore together and bound one another with curses. (6) And there were two hundred of them who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon; and they called the mount Hermon, because they swore and bound one another with curses upon it.…

( 7:1 ) And they took wives for themselves; each chose for himself a wife; and they began to cohabit with them and to defile themselves with them. And they taught the women charms and spells and showed them the cutting of roots and herbs. (2) And they became pregnant by them and bore great giants, three thousand cubits tall. (3) These devoured the entire fruits of men's labour, so that men were unable to sustain them. (4) Then the giants treated them violently and began to devour mankind; (5) and they began to sin against the birds and the beasts and the reptiles, and the fish, and to devour each other's flesh, and drink their blood. (6) Thereupon the earth complained against the lawless ones.

( 8:1 ) Azael taught men how to make swords and knives and shields and breastplates and every weapon of war; and he showed them the metals of the earth, how to work gold to fashion ornaments, and how to make silver into bracelets for women; and he instructed them about antimony, and eye-shadow, and about all kinds of precious stones and coloured dyes; and the children of men fashioned these things for themselves and for their daughters, and they transgressed and led astray the saints. (2) Much impiety arose upon the earth, and they committed fornication and went astray and corrupted their ways. (3) Shemiḥazah taught about spells; Hermoni taught about medicines and the loosing of spells; Baraqiel taught about the auguries of lightning; Kokabiel taught about the auguries of the stars; Ziqiel taught about the auguries of meteors; Araqiel taught about the auguries of the earth; Shimshiel taught about the auguries of the sun; Sahriel taught about the auguries of the moon. They all began to reveal secrets to their wives and sons. (4) Then the giants began to devour the flesh of men, and men began to be few upon the earth; and as they perished, their cry went up to heaven: ‘Bring our cause before the Most High, and our destruction before the Great Glory, before the Lord of Lords in majesty.’

Comment: The ‘sons of God’ of Gen 6:1 are identified with angels, and the Nephilim of 6:4 with the offspring of the monstrous union of angels and human women. The wickedness which marked those days and led to the Flood is attributed to the forbidden knowledge (about weapons of war, magic, jewellery, and cosmetics) that the angels imparted to humankind. The text, which reflects a view widely held in antiquity that great technological advances depend on extraterrestrial knowledge being brought down (often illicitly) to earth, displays a deep-seated ambivalence towards technological progress. On 1 Enoch see MAJ GEN A.7.

5. Jubilees, 8:10–17; 22–30; 9:14–15 : The Division of the World among the Sons of Noah (= Gen 10 )

( 8:10 ) And it came to pass at the beginning of the thirty-third jubilee that they divided the earth into three portions, one portion for Shem, one for Ham, and one for Japheth, a patrimony for each, in the first year, in the first week, while one of us, who had been sent to them, was still with them. (11) And Noah called his sons and they came to him, they and their children; and he divided the earth by drawing lots to decide what each of his three sons would possess, and they reached out their hands and took the document from their father Noah's lap.

(12) And the lot of Shem was assigned in his document as the middle of the earth, which he would take as his patrimony and his sons' patrimony for ever. From the middle of the Mountains of Rafa, from the mouth of the river Tina, his portion runs westwards along the middle of this river, and extends (eastwards) as far as the Waters of the Abysses, out of which this river rises. The river empties its waters into the Sea of Me᾽at, and this flows into the Great Sea: all the land on the northern side belongs to Japheth and all the land on the southern side belongs to Shem. (13) And his portion extends to the vicinity of Karaso, which is in the centre of the tongue that faces south. (14) And his portion goes on in the direction of the Great Sea, and it goes straight on till it reaches the west (? east) of the tongue that faces south (for this sea is called the tongue of the Sea of Egypt). (15) And it turns from here southwards, along the coastline, and it continues westwards, in the direction of the mouth of the Great Sea, to Afra. It goes on till it reaches the waters of the river Gihon, and (it turns) southwards to the waters of the Gihon, to the banks of this river. (16) And it goes on towards the east till it approaches the Garden of Eden on its south side, the south and east of the whole land of Eden and the whole east. It turns in the east and goes north till it approaches the east of the mountain called Rafa, and it goes down to the bank of the mouth of the river Tina. (17) This portion was assigned by lot to Shem and to his sons as an eternal possession for his descendants for ever.…

(22) And to Ham was assigned the second portion—all that lies beyond the Gihon southwards, to the right of the Garden. And his portion extends southwards and goes along the Mountains of Fire; and it goes towards the west to the Sea of Atel, and it continues westwards till it approaches the Sea of Ma᾽uk, on which nothing sets sail without perishing. (23) And it goes northwards to the vicinity of Gadir. And it goes along the coast, along the edge of the waters of the Great Sea, till it approaches the river Gihon. And it goes along the river Gihon till it reaches the right side of the Garden of Eden. (24) And this is the land that was assigned to Ham, which he was to occupy for ever, he and his sons, generation after generation for ever.

(25) And for Japheth the third portion was assigned—all that lies beyond the river Tina, to the north of the outflow of its waters. And his portion extends towards the north-east to the whole region of Gog and to all the country east of it. And it goes northwards as far as the mountains of Qelt and towards the Sea of Ma᾽uk; and it goes to the east (? west) of Gadir as far as the shore of the waters of the sea. (27) And it goes on until it approaches the west of Fereg, and returns towards Afreg; and it continues on eastwards to the waters of the Sea of Me᾽at. (28) And it goes on alongside the river Tina in a north-easterly direction till it reaches the end of its waters towards Mount Rafa; and then it turns round towards the north. (29) This is the land that fell to Japheth and his sons as the portion of his inheritance, which he was to occupy, himself and his sons, generation after generation for ever—five large islands, and a large tract of land in the north. (30) But it is cold, and Ham's land is hot, but Shem's is neither hot nor cold, but a blend of cold and heat.…

(9:14) And Noah's sons divided their lands among their sons in the presence of their father Noah; and he made them all swear an oath, to put a curse on anyone that tried to seize a portion that had not been assigned to him by lot. (15) And they all said, ‘So be it! So be it!’, for themselves and their sons for ever, in every generation till the day of judgement, when the Lord God will judge them with a sword and with fire on account of all their uncleanness and the wickedness of their misdeeds, which have filled the earth with sin, uncleanness, fornication, and transgression.

Comment: The passage is poorly preserved (the translation above is based to some extent on conjectural restoration), but there emerges from it nevertheless a vivid image of the world, such as an educated Jew would have had in late Second Temple times. It correlates the three sons of Noah with the three continents of the Ionian Greek geographers (Japhet with Europe; Shem with Asia; and Ham with Libya/Africa). Since Noah's sons solemnly agreed to this division of the world after the Flood, it has the force of international law. Elsewhere the author of Jubilees exploits this idea to deny the legitimacy of the Greek occupation of the Land of Israel. The Greeks, as sons of Japhet, had their allotted patrimony in Europe. By seizing ‘a portion that had not been assigned to them by lot’, they had brought upon themselves a curse. He also exploits the same idea to argue that Canaan, a son of Ham, had usurped the so-called Land of Canaan. The true owners of this land were the Jews as sons of Shem. On Jubilees see MAJ GEN A.8.

6. Josephus, Antiquities 1.222–36: The Binding of Isaac (= Gen 22:1–19 )

(222) Now Abraham loved Isaac deeply, because he was his only son, born to him by the gift of God on the threshold of his old age. The child, for his part, earned still more good will and affection from his parents by practising every virtue, fulfilling his obligations to his father and mother and being zealous in his piety towards God. (223) Abraham placed all his own happiness in the hope that, when he died, he would leave his son unharmed. This indeed he achieved in the end by the will of God, but God, wishing to test his piety towards himself, appeared to him and, after enumerating all the blessings he had bestowed on him, (224) how he had made him stronger than his enemies, and how he owed to him his present happiness and his son Isaac, asked him to offer up that son to him as a sacrificial victim. He commanded him to take the child up to Mount Moriah, erect an altar and make a burnt-offering of him: thus he would show his piety towards God, if he put his good pleasure above the preservation of his child.

(225) Abraham judged that nothing could justify disobedience to God but that all should submit to his will, since all living creatures owe their existence to his providence and bounty. So, hiding from his wife God's command and his own resolve to sacrifice the child, indeed, concealing it even from his servants, lest he should be prevented from obeying God, he took Isaac with two servants, loaded an ass with everything needed for the sacrifice and set off for the mountain. (226) For two days the servants accompanied him, but on the third, when the mountain came in sight, he left his companions on the plain and went on with his son alone to the mountain, which later King David fixed as the site of the temple. (227) They brought with them everything needed for the sacrifice except a victim. As Isaac, who was now twenty-five years old, was preparing the altar, he asked his father what he was going to sacrifice, since there was no victim; to which his father answered that God would provide for them, since he was able to make abundant provision for those who had nothing, and to take away the possessions of those who felt assured of them. So God would grant him a victim, if he was pleased to grace the sacrifice with his presence.

(228) But when the altar had been prepared and he had arranged the firewood on it and all was ready, he said to his son: ‘My boy, I prayed to God ten thousand prayers to have you as my son, and when you came into the world, I spared no pains on your upbringing. I had no thought of greater happiness than to see you grow up, and to leave you at my death heir of my estate. (229) But, since it was by God's will that I became your father, and now again it pleases him that I should give you up, bear this consecration valiantly, for I yield you to God who now claims from us this honour in return for the favours he has granted me as my supporter and defender. (230) As you were born [contrary to nature, so] quit this life not in the usual way, but sent by your own father to God, the father of all, through the rite of sacrifice. I suppose, he does not reckon it right for you to depart this life by sickness or war or any of the calamities that usually happen to men, (231) but rather would receive your soul with prayers and sacrifice and keep it near himself; and you will be my support and stay in my old age, the very purpose for which I reared you, by giving me God instead of yourself.’

(232) Now Isaac, since the son of such a father could not but be noble-minded, received these words with joy, and said that he was not fit to have been born at all if he rejected the decision of God and his father and did not readily submit to both their wills, seeing that it would be wrong to disobey even if his father alone was so minded. He rushed to the altar to be sacrificed, (233) and the deed would have been done, if God had not intervened, for he called Abraham by name and forbade him kill the boy. It was not, he said, from any desire for human blood that he had commanded him to kill his son, nor did he wish in such a wicked way to rob him of the son that he himself had given him. Rather, he wanted to test his disposition and see whether he would obey even such a command. (234) Now that he knew his zeal and the depth of his piety, he was pleased with the benefits he had already given him, and would in the future always watch over him and his race with the greatest care. His son would attain to a ripe old age, have a happy life and bequeath to a virtuous and legitimate offspring a great dominion. (235) He also foretold that their race would grow to become many nations, whose wealth would increase and whose founders would be held in perpetual remembrance, that they would subdue Canaan by force of arms and be the envy of everyone.

(236) When God had said this, he produced for them a ram for the sacrifice from a hidden place. So, having been restored to each other beyond all their hopes and having heard promises of such great blessings, they embraced each other, and, when they had offered the sacrifice, they returned home to Sarah and lived happily, God helping them in whatever they desired.

Comment: Josephus fills out the story with speeches and explanations to heighten the drama: his wordy, syntactic, typically Greek style stands in stark contrast to the economy of the Hebrew. He adds little of substance, save for two points: (1) He depicts Isaac as a full-grown man whose co-operation would have been needed (and, indeed, was freely offered), if the sacrifice had taken place. Isaac thus becomes as much a hero as Abraham, and is shown in an equally meritorious light. (2) Mount Moriah is identified as the place ‘which later King David fixed as the site of the temple’. This was an old and widespread tradition in early Judaism (cf. 2 Chr 3:1 ). On the basis of it some seem to have argued that the temple sacrifices were not efficacious in themselves, but only as a re-enactment and recollection of the sacrifice of Isaac. On Josephus see MAJ GEN A.9.

7. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Gen 4:1–8 : The Reason for the World's First Murder

( 4:1 ) And Adam knew that Eve his wife had conceived from Sammael the angel, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain, and he was like those on high, not like those below; and she said, ‘I have acquired a man, the angel of the Lord.’ (2) And she went on to bear from Adam, her husband, his twin sister and Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a man tilling the earth. (3) And it came to pass at the end of days, on the fourteenth of Nisan, that Cain brought of the produce of the ground, of the seed of flax, as an offering of first-fruits before the Lord. (4) And Abel, for his part, also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat parts, and it was pleasing before the Lord, and the Lord showed favour to Abel and to his offering: (5) but to Cain and to his offering he did not show favour. And Cain was very angry, and the expression of his face fell. (6) And the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? and why has the expression on your face fallen? (7) If you have done your work well, your guilt will be forgiven you. But if you have not done your work well in this world, your sin will be kept for the great day of judgement. At the doors of your heart sin lies waiting, but in your hand I have given power over the evil inclination; towards you will be its desire, but you will have authority over it either to act righteously or to sin.’

(8) And Cain said to Abel his brother, ‘Come, let us both go out into the field.’ And it came to pass that when they had both gone out into the field, that Cain answered and said to Abel: ‘I see that the world was created with mercy, but that it is not governed according to the fruit of good deeds, and there is partiality in judgement; therefore your offering was accepted with favour, but my offering was not accepted from me with favour.’ Abel answered and said: ‘The world was indeed created with mercy, and it is governed by the fruit of good deeds, and there is no partiality in judgement. But because the fruit of my deeds was better than yours and offered prior to yours, so my offering was accepted with favour.’ Cain answered and said to Abel: ‘There is no judgement and no judge and no other world; there is no good reward to be given to the righteous, and no punishment for the wicked.’ Abel answered and said: ‘There is a judgement and a judge and another world; there is a good reward to be given to the righteous, and there is punishment for the wicked.’ And concerning these matters they fell into a dispute in the open field, (9) and Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and drove a stone into his forehead, and slew him.

Comment: As in Rewritten Bible the Targum fills in the narrative lacunae of the biblical text (which is given here in italics). Thus it explains how Cain killed Abel (with a stone), and why (the world's first murder happened because of a theological argument about whether God governs the world justly). It offers an interpretation of the famous crux in Gen 4:7 , where it finds a reference to the rabbinic doctrine of the two inclinations, one towards good, the other towards evil (cf. ANTH D.4). The assertion (v. 1 ) that Cain was born of the union of Eve and Sammael (a rabbinic name for the Devil) is surprising (cf. the story of the intercourse of angels and humans in ANTH A.4). It explains why Cain was evil: he was an alien, a child of the Devil, who did the Devil's work. On the Targumim see MAJ GEN A.11.

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