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The Son Of God (4Q246) (Plate 4)
This is a Messianic pseudo-Daniel fragment in Aramaic, relating to the literature centering about that figure. It is full of the language and heightened imagery of these apocalyptic visionary recitals. In fact, it takes its cue from a reference in the Biblical Daniel to the ‘Kingdom’ that ‘the God of Heaven will set up ... which shall never be destroyed’, nor be conquered or absorbed, but rather ‘last forever’ (Dan. 2:44).
There are also parallels in style with the ‘little Apocalypse’ in the New Testament, where Jesus is pictured as foretelling the future woes leading to the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20). A key phrase in the text is, of course, the reference to calling the coming kingly or Messianic figure, whose ‘rule will be an eternal rule’, ‘the son of God’ or ‘the son of the Most High’, while previous kingdoms, because of their transitoriness, are compared only to ‘shooting stars’.
Other imagery in the Biblical Daniel also helped define our notions about Jesus as a Messianic figure, imagery relating to the ‘Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven’ (Dan. 7:13). This imagery is strong in the War Scroll, where it is used to interpret ‘the Star Prophecy’ (Columns xiff. This is repeated even more forcefully in Column xixf., where the Heavenly Host is depicted as coming on the clouds of Heaven and ‘shedding judgement’ like ‘rain’ on all mankind).
There can be no denying the relation of allusions of this kind to the Lukan prefiguration of Jesus: ‘He will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the Throne of his father David ... For that reason the Holy offspring will be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:32-35). Images of this kind, however, abound in Old Testament scripture, particularly in honouring great kings. See, for instance, Ps. 2:7: ‘You are My son; on this day have I begotten you’ (in Christian tradition, part of the prefiguration of Jesus’ baptism; for a more Jewish Christian presentation of this, see Heb. 1:5 and 5:5).
See, too, 2 Sam. 7:14: ‘I will be a father to him [David] and he shall be a son to Me’, or Ps. 89:27: ‘He shall say to Me, “You are my father, my God - the Rock of my deliverance.”’ Scriptural pre-figurations such as these are also strong in Wisdom and at Qumran, where all ‘the Righteous’ are reckoned as ‘the sons of God’. This is particularly true in the Qumran Hymns where the ‘sonship’ imagery regarding the Righteous and its putative author ‘the Teacher of Righteousness’ is strong throughout.
In the Son of God text, one should also note the emphasis on ‘Truth’ or ‘Righteousness’ two central Qumran concepts (hence, our capitalization of them throughout this work). Nor can there be any mistaking its eschatological nature and its emphasis on ‘judging’ or ‘the Last judgement’, more key Qumran conceptuality’s probably stemming from Daniel’s proclamation of ‘the end time’ in 8:20, 11:25, etc.
That the concepts incorporated in words of this kind have gone directly into Christian presentations of its Messiah and his activities is hardly to be doubted. See, for instance, Line 4 in Column 2 and Matt. 10:3 4: ‘I came not to send peace, but a sword.’ This kind of ‘sword’ allusion is also found in Column xix. 12 above of the War Scroll, ‘the sword of God’, used in the war against ‘the Kittim’. Further to this, one should note the allusion again to ‘Peoples’ in Line 8.
One point, however, should be emphasized: the Messianic figure envisaged in texts like the Son of
God, War Scroll, etc.., whether taken figuratively or otherwise, is extremely war-like. This is in line with the general uncompromising, militant and nationalist ethos of the Qumran corpus; the Messianic figure was to be a triumphant, quasi-nationalist king figure. One should also note that the peace envisaged in this text will only come after the cataclysmic Messianic war. As in the War Scroll, God will assist in this enterprise with His Heavenly Host. For the War Scroll, this is the point of the extreme purity regulations and being in camps in the wilderness, which is put in vii-5-6 as follows:
‘because the Angels of Holiness are with their hosts,’ i.e. ‘the war volunteers, the Perfect in Spirit and body ready for the Day of Vengeance’. We shall learn more about the extreme purity regulations required in the ‘camps’ in the last column of the Damascus Document in Chapter 6 below.
(1) [the king. And when the Spirit] came to rest upo[n] him, he fell before the throne. (2) [Then Daniel arose and said,] ‘0 Wing, why are you angry; why do you [grind] your teeth? (3)[The G]rear [God] has revealed to you [that which is to come.] It shall indeed all come to pass, unto eternity. (4) [There will be violence and gr]eat [Evils.] Oppression will be upon the earth. (5) [Peoples will make war,] and battles shall multiply among the nations, (6)[until the King of the people of God arises. He will become] the King of Syria and [E]gypt. (7) [All the peoples will serve him,] and he shall become [gre]at upon the earth. (8)[... All w]ill make [peace,] and all will serve (9) [him.] He will be called [son of the Gr]eat [God;] by His Name he shall be designated.
(1) He will be called the son of God; they will call him son of the Most High. Like the shooting stars (2) that you saw, thus will be their Kingdom. They will rule for a given period of year[s] upon (3) the earth, and crush everyone. People will crush people, and nation (will crush) nation, (4) until the people of God arises and causes everyone to rest from the sword. (5) His Kingdom will be an Eternal Kingdom, and he will be Righteous in all his Ways. He [will jud]ge (6) the earth in Righteousness, and everyone will make peace. The sword shall cease from the earth, (7) and every nation will bow down to him. As for the Great God, with His help (8) he will make war, and He will give all the peoples into his power; all of them (9) He will throw down before him. His rule will be an Eternal rule, and all the boundaries..