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Hasmonean Surnames

A Brief look at the Mattathias and his sons and the surnames or titles that have been recorded for us.

Mattathias the Hasmonean

  • Or Matiṯyāhu ben Hasmonay
  • Patriarch of the Family, of the Joarib lineage.
  • Started the revolt in 167 BC
  • Died 167 of Old Age
  • Surname
    • Meaning Unknown
    • Josephus mentions it comes from a Family Patriarch named Asmoneus or Asamoneus (Hebrew – Hasmonay)
      • Perhaps a corruption of Mattathias’ grandfather Simeon (The Simeon or Ha-Shimon)
    • Perhaps it came from the village Heshbon (Johusa 15.27)

Judas Maccabeus (The Middle Child)

  • Or Judah/Yehuda Maccabeus
  • The Middle or Third Born Son of Mattathias
  • Lead Revolt from 167-160 BC
  • Defeated in the Battle of Elasa by General Bacchides
  • Surname Maccabeus
  • Most Likely Suggestion is that it is perhaps from Hebrew מַקָּבָה or maqqaba “hammer”
    • Could speak of his valor in battle and so Hammerer
    • Or perhaps it speaks of physical appearance and so Mallet-headed
  • Others suggest כָּבָה or chabab “to extinguish or quench” so “Extinguisher” or “Quencher”
    • Speaking of Judah’s quenching the spirit of Hellenism.
  • Perhaps it is stands for innitials for the phrase “Who are like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods,” which was inscribed upon Judah’s banners.

John Gaddi

  • Or Johanan/Yohanan Gaddi
  • The Eldest son of Mattathias
  • Killed in 160 BC by the sons of Jambri while seeking refuge with the Nabeteans
  • Surname Gaddi
  • Maybe Shorten from of Gaddiel (Numbers 13.10) or the Name Gaddi (13.11)
    • The Name Gaddiel means “God is my Fortune”
    • The Name Gaddi means “my fortune”
  • From Hebrew or Aramaic גָּד gad which means “(good) fortune”
    • So “Fortunate” or “Lucky”
  • Another suggestion is that its related to “round grain,”
    • And so “round headed,” like that of Judah

Eleazar Avaran

  • Or El‘azar Charbon
  • The Fourth Son of Mattathias
  • Died c. 162 in the Battle of Beth-zechariah when slaying a War Elephant
  • Surname Avaran
  • עוּר or ˓wr, ‘ur = “Awake”
    • Perhaps given because he was not a soundly sleeping baby
  • חור Or ḥwr = “to be pale” or “pale(face).”
    • Perhaps he was lighter skin or had a skin disease
  • Perhaps from Arabic havar “to pierce”
    • “The Piercer,” i.e. his killing of the Elephant

Jonathan Apphus (The Youngest)

  • Or Yehonatan Apphus
  • The Youngest Son of Mattathias
  • Lead Revolt from 160-142 BC
    • High Priest from 153-142 BC
  • Treacherously killed by Diodotus Tryphon.
  • Surname Apphus
  • הפץ Or hpṣ, “to seek, search,”
  • חפץ or ḥpṣ, chaphets “to desire.”
    • “Favorite, Beloved, or Desired”
    • This may speak of a child’s nickname, i.e. he was the favorite son.
  • Syraic Version reads Ḥappūs, which points to “the dissembler” or “the cunning”

Simon Thassi

  • Or Simeon/Shimon Tharsi
  • The Second Born of Mattathias
  • High Priest from 142-134 BC
  • Murdered by Son-in-Law Ptolemy son of Abubus, Governor of Jericho
  • Surname Thassi
  • No convincing explanation, could be Tharsi, Thatis, or even Thadsi
  • Thassi could mean “Burning or Zealot”
  • Syria version has Tharsi could mean “The Guide”
    • Fits with 2.65 of him being a “man of counsel”
  • Perhaps from Thassis which would point to “weakling” – weak child?

John Hyrcanus (Son of Simon Thassi)

  • Or Yōḥānān Hurqanōs
  • Youngest of Simon Thassi’s sons
  • Often labeled in Rabbinic Literature as Yoḥanan Cohen Gadol = Johanan the High Priest
  • High Priest from 134-104 BC
  • Gave Sadducees a Prominence Near End of Reign
  • Died of Old Age after a rule of Thirty Years
  • Gave Civil Rule to his wife and religious rule to his son
  • Surname
    • Hyrcanus means “One from Hyrcania,” a reigion on the Black Sea
      • Perhaps because Ancestors were of Hyrcanian descent, known exilic group there.
    • Ancient Writers such as Eusebius and Jerome saw the title stemming from his conquests of the Hyrcanians
      • John did participate in Antiochus VII campaign against the Parthians
    • Herqanosh (1QapGenar) is suggested to equal Hyrcanus

Essenes in Ancient Soucres

The following is a set of some of the earliest of sources concerning the Essenes group which some connect to the Qumran group which left us the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is probably not a totally exhaustive list, but it would certainly be an excellent starting point. As a last note, I have purposefully not left any comments with these.

Philo of Alexandra

The Translations of Philo of Alexandra come from the Loeb Classical Library, Philo Volume IX, they are translated by F.H. Colson.

Every Good Man is Free (Quod Omnis Probus Liber Sit) 75-91

XII. (75) Palestinian Syria, too, has not failed to produce high moral excellence. In this country live a considerable part of the very populous nation of the Jews, including as it is said, certain persons, more than four thousand in number, called Essenes. Their name which is, I think, a variation, though the form of the Greek is inexact, of οσιότης (holiness), is given them, because they have shown themselves especially devout in the service of God, not by offering sacrifices of animals, but by resolving to sanctify their minds. (76)The first thing about these people is that they live in villages and avoid the cities because of the iniquities which have become inveterate among city dwellers, for they know that their company would have a deadly effect upon their own souls, like a disease brought by a pestilential atmosphere. Some of them labour on the land and others pursue such crafts as co-operate with peace and so benefit themselves and their neighbours. They do not hoard gold and silver or acquire great slices of land because they desire the revenues therefrom, but provide what is needed for the necessary requirements of life. (77) For while they stand almost alone in the whole of mankind in that they have become moneyless and landless by deliberate action rather than by lack of good fortune, they are esteemed exceedingly rich, because they judge frugality with contentment to be, as indeed it is, an abundance of wealth.

(78) As for darts, javelins, daggers, or the helmet, breastplate or shield, you could not find a single manufacturer of them, nor, in general, any person making weapons or engines or plying any industry concerned with war, nor, indeed, any of the peaceful kind, which easily lapse into vice, for they have not the vaguest idea of commerce either wholesale or retail or marine, but pack the inducements to covetousness off in disgrace. (79) Not a single slave is to be found among them, but all are free, exchanging services with each other, and they denounce the owners of slaves, not merely for their injustice in outraging the law of equality, but also for their impiety in annulling the statute of Nature, who mother-like has born and reared all men alike, and created them genuine brothers, not in mere name, but in very reality, though this kinship has been put to confusion by the triumph of malignant covetousness, which has wrought estrangement instead of affinity and enmity instead of friendship.

(80) As for philosophy they abandon the logical part to quibbling verbalists as unnecessary for the acquisition of virtue, and the physical to visionary praters as beyond the grasp of human nature, only retaining that part which treats philosophically of the existence of God and the creation of the universe But the ethical part they study very industriously, taking for their trainers the laws of their fathers, which could not possibly have been conceived by the human soul without divine inspiration.

(81) In these they are instructed at all other times, but particularly on the seventh days. For that day has been set apart to be kept holy and on it they abstain from all other work and proceed to sacred spots which they call synagogues. There, arranged in rows according to their ages, the younger below the elder, they sit decorously as befits the occasion with attentive ears. (82) Then one takes the books and reads aloud and another of especial proficiency comes forward and expounds what is not understood. For most of their philosophical study takes the form of allegory, and in this they emulate the tradition of the past. (83) They are trained in piety, holiness, justice, domestic and civic conduct, knowledge of what is truly good, or evil, or indifferent, and how to choose what they should and avoid the opposite, taking for their defining standards these three, love of God, love of virtue, love of men.

(84) Their love of God they show by a multitude of proofs, by religious purity b constant and unbroken throughout their lives, by abstinence from oaths, by veracity, by their belief that the Godhead is the cause of all good things and nothing bad ; their love of virtue, by their freedom from the love of either money or reputation or pleasure, by self-mastery and endurance, again by frugality, simple living, contentment, humility, respect for law, steadiness and all similar qualities ; their love of men by benevolence and sense of equality, and their spirit of fellowship, which defies description, though a few words on it will not be out of place.

(85) First of all then no one’s house is his own in the sense that it is not shared by all, for besides the fact that they dwell together in communities, the door is open to visitors from elsewhere who share their convictions.

(88) Again they all have a single treasury and common disbursements ; their clothes are held in common and also their food through their institution of public meals. In no other community can we find the custom of sharing roof, life and board more firmly established in actual practice. And that is no more than one would expect. For all the wages which they earn in the day’s work they do not keep as their private property, but throw them into the common stock and allow the benefit thus accruing to be shared by those who wish to use it. (87) The sick are not neglected because they cannot provide anything, but have the cost of their treatment lying ready in the common stock, so that they can meet expenses out of the greater wealth in full security. To the elder men too is given the respect and care which real a children give to their parents, and they receive from countless hands and minds a full and generous maintenance for their latter years.

XIII. (88) Such are the athletes 88 of virtue produced by a philosophy free from the pedantry of Greek wordiness, a philosophy which sets its pupils to practise themselves in laudable actions, by which the liberty which can never be enslaved is firmly established.

(89) Here we have a proof. Many are the potentates who at various occasions have raised themselves to power over the country. They differed both in nature and the line of conduct which they followed. Some of them carried their zest for outdoing wild beasts in ferocity to the point of savagery. They left no form of cruelty untried. They slaughtered their subjects wholesale, or like cooks carved them piecemeal and limb by limb whilst still alive, and did not stay their hands till justice who surveys human affairs visited them with the same calamities. (90) Others transformed this wild frenzy into another kind of viciousness. Their conduct showed intense bitterness, but they talked with calmness, though the mask of their milder language failed to conceal their rancorous disposition. They fawned like venomous hounds yet wrought evils irremediable and left behind them throughout the cities the unforgettable sufferings of their victims as monuments of their impiety and inhumanity. (91) Yet none of these, neither the extremely ferocious nor the deep-dyed treacherous dissemblers, were able to lay a charge against this congregation of Essenes or holy ones here described. Unable to resist the high excellence of these people, they all treated them as selfgoverning and freemen by nature and extolled their communal meals and that ineffable sense of fellowship, which is the clearest evidence of a perfect and supremely happy life.

Apology for the Jews (Hypothetica)11.1-18

The following extract is made by Eusebius at a later point in the same book of the Praeparatio. He introduces it by saying that the Jewish nation is divided into two sections, (1) the multitude which Moses intended to be guided by the literal meaning (ρητή διάνοια), and (2) the philosophers who can rise from the literal to the higher meaning. As an example of the second class he reproduces Philo’s two accounts of the Essenes, one from the Quod Omn. Prob. (see above), and the following which he quotes from ” “The Apology for the Jews.”

(11.1) Multitudes of his disciples has the lawgiver trained for the life of fellowship. These people are called Essenes, a name awarded to them doubtless in recognition of their holiness.

They live in many cities of Judaea and in many villages and grouped in great societies of many members. (11.2) Their persuasion is not based on birth, for birth is not a descriptive mark of voluntary associations,but on their zeal for virtue and desire to promote brotherly love. (11.3) Thus no Essene is a mere child nor even a stripling or newly bearded, since the characters of such are unstable with a waywardness corresponding to the immaturity of their age, but full grown and already verging on old age, no longer carried under by the tide of the body nor led by the passions, but enjoying the veritable, the only real freedom. (11.4) This freedom is attested by their life. None of them allows himself to have any private property, either house or slave or estate or cattle or any of the other things which are amassed and abundantly procured by wealth, but they put everything together into the public stock and enjoy the benefit of them all in common.

(11.5) They live together formed into clubs, bands of comradeship with common meals, and never cease to conduct all their affairs to serve the general weal. (11.6) But they have various occupations at which they labour with untiring application and never plead cold or heat or any of the violent changes in the atmosphere as an excuse. Before the sun is risen they betake themselves to their familiar tasks and only when it sets force them selves to return, for they delight in them as much as do those who are entered for gymnastic competitions. (11.7) For they consider that the exercises which they practise whatever they may be are more valuable to life, more pleasant to soul and body and more lasting than those of the athlete in as much as they can still be plied with vigour when that of the body is past its prime. (11.8) Some of them labour on the land skilled in sowing and planting, some as herdsmen taking charge of every kind of cattle and some superintend the swarms of bees. (11.9) Others work at the handicrafts to avoid the sufferings which are forced upon us by our indispensable requirements and shrink from no innocent way of getting a livelihood.

(11.10) Each branch when it has received the wages of these so different occupations gives it to one person who has been appointed as treasurer. He takes it and at once buys what is necessary and provides food in abundance and anything else which human life requires. (11.11) Thus having each day a common life and a common table they are content with the same conditions, lovers of frugality who shun expensive luxury as a disease of both body and soul. (11.12) And not only is their table in common but their clothing also. For in winter they have a stock of stout coats ready and in summer cheap vests , a so that he who wishes may easily take any garment he likes, since what one has is held to belong to all and conversely what all have one has.

(11.13) Again if anyone is sick he is nursed at the common expense and tended with care and thoughtfulness by all. The old men too even if they are childless are treated as parents of a not merely numerous but very filial family and regularly close their life with an exceedingly prosperous and comfortable old age ; so many are those who give them precedence and honour as their due and minister to them as a duty voluntarily and deliberately accepted rather than enforced by nature.

(11.14) Furthermore they eschew marriage because they clearly discern it to be the sole or the principal danger to the maintenance of the communal life, as well as because they particularly practise continence. For no Essene takes a wife, because a wife is a selfish creature, excessively jealous a and an adept at beguiling the morals of her husband and seducing him by her continued impostures. (11.15) For by the fawning talk which she practises and the other ways in which she plays her part like an actress on the stage she first ensnares the sight and hearing, and when these subjects as it were have been duped she cajoles the sovereign mind.

(11.16) And if children come, filled with the spirit of arrogance and bold speaking she gives utterance with more audacious hardihood to things which before she hinted covertly and under disguise, and casting off all shame she compels him to commit actions which are all hostile to the life of fellowship. (11.17) For he who is either fast bound in the love lures of his wife or under the stress of nature makes his children his first care ceases to be the same to others and unconsciously has become a different man and has passed from freedom into slavery.

(11.18) Such then is the life of the Essenes, a life so highly to be prized that not only commoners but also great kings look upon them with admiration and amazement, and the approbation and honours which they give add further veneration to their venerable name.


The Translations of Josepsus are taken from various places, The Judean Wars (2.8.213) are translated by Steve Mason and in the Brill Josephus translations All other translations come from Todd S. Beall’s Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Life of Josephus 1.2  §10-12

10 When I was about sixteen years old, I decided to get experience of the sects that existed among us. These are three, as we have said many times: the first, that of the Pharisees; the second, that of the Sadducees; and the third, that of the Essenes. For I thought that in this way I would choose the best, if I carefully examined them all. 11 Therefore, submitting myself to strict training and many strenuous labors, I passed through the three groups. Having considered the experience thus gained to be insufficient for myself, and on learning of a certain man named Bannus, who lived in the desert, wore clothing supplied from trees, took as food only that which grew by itself, and washed many times in cold water both day and night for purification, I became his devotee. 12 When I had lived with him for three years and had accomplished my purpose, I returned to the city. Being now nineteen years old, I began to conduct myself according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees, which nearly resembles that called Stoic among the Greeks.

War of the Jews 2.8.213 § 119-61

119 For three forms of philosophy are pursued among the Judeans: the members of one are Pharisees, of another Sadducees, and the third [school], who certainly are reputed to cultivate seriousness,  are called Essenes; although Judeans by ancestry, they are even more mutually affectionate than the others.

120 Whereas these men shun the pleasures as vice, they consider self-control and not succumbing to the passions virtue. And although there is among them a disdain for marriage, adopting the children of outsiders while they are still malleable enough for the lessons they regard them as family and instill in them their principles of character:

121 without doing away with marriage or the succession resulting from it, they nevertheless protect themselves from the wanton ways of women, having been persuaded that none of them preserves her faithfulness to one man.

122 Since [they are] despisers of wealth —their communal stock is astonishing —, one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions. For by a law, those coming into the school must yield up their funds to the order, with the result that in all [their ranks] neither the humiliation of poverty nor the superiority of wealth is detectable, but the assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.

123 They consider olive oil a stain, and should anyone be accidentally smeared with it he scrubs his body, for they make it a point of honor to remain hard and dry, and to wear white always. Hand-elected are the curators of the communal affairs, and indivisible are they, each and every one, [in pursuing] their functions to the advantage of all.

124 No one city is theirs, but they settle amply in each. And for those school-members who arrive from elsewhere, all that the community has is laid out for them in the same way as if they were their own things, and they go in and stay with those they have never even seen before as if they were the most intimate friends.

125 For this reason they make trips without carrying any baggage at all—though armed on account of the bandits. In each city a steward of the order appointed specially for the visitors is designated quartermaster for clothing and the other amenities.

126 Dress and also deportment of body: like children being educated with fear. They replace neither clothes nor footwear until the old set is ripped all over or worn through with age.

127 Among themselves, they neither shop for nor sell anything; but each one, after giving the things that he has to the one in need, takes in exchange anything useful that the other has. And even without this reciprocal giving, the transfer to them [of goods] from whomever they wish is unimpeded.

128 Toward the Deity, at least: pious observances uniquely [expressed].Before the sun rises, they utter nothing of the mundane things, but only certain ancestral prayers to him, as if begging him to come up.

129 After these things, they are dismissed by the curators to the various crafts that they have each come to know, and after they have worked strenuously until the fifth hour they are again assembled in one area, where they belt on linen covers and wash their bodies in frigid water. After this purification they gather in a private hall, into which none of those who hold different views may enter: now pure themselves, they approach the dining room as if it were some [kind of] sanctuary.

130 After they have seated themselves in silence, the baker serves the loaves in order, whereas the cook serves each person one dish of one food.

131 The priest offers a prayer before the food, and it is forbidden to taste anything before the prayer; when he has had his breakfast he offers another concluding prayer. While starting and also while finishing, then, they honor God as the sponsor of life. At that, laying aside their clothes as if they were holy, they apply themselves to their labors again until evening.

132 They dine in a similar way: when they have returned, they sit down with the visitors, if any happen to be present with them, and neither yelling nor disorder pollutes the house at any time, but they yield conversation to one another in order.

133 And to those from outside, the silence of those inside appears as a kind of shiver-inducing mystery. The reason for this is their continuous sobriety and the rationing of food and drink among them—to the point of fullness.

134 Whereas, then, in these other matters there is nothing that they do without the curators’ having ordered it, these two things are matters of personal prerogative among them: [rendering] assistance and mercy. For helping those who are worthy, whenever they might need it, and also extending food to those who are in want are indeed left up to the individual; but in the case of the relatives, such distribution is not allowed to be done without [permission from] the managers.

135 Of anger, just controllers; as for temper, able to contain it; of fidelity, masters; of peace, servants. And whereas everything spoken by them is more forceful than an oath, swearing itself they avoid, considering it worse than the false oath; for they declare to be already degraded one who is unworthy of belief without [resorting to] God.

136They are extraordinarily keen about the compositions of the ancients, selecting especially those [oriented] toward the benefit of soul and body. On the basis of these and for the treatment of diseases, roots, apotropaic materials, and the special properties of stones are investigated.

137 To those who are eager for their school, the entry-way is not a direct one, but they prescribe a regimen for the person who remains outside for a year, giving him a little hatchet as well as the aforementioned waist-covering and white clothing.

138 Whenever he should give proof of his self-control during this period, he approaches nearer to the regimen and indeed shares in the purer waters for purification, though he is not yet received into the functions of communal life. For after this demonstration of endurance, the character is tested for two further years, and after he has thus been shown worthy he is reckoned into the group.

139 Before he may touch the communal food, however, he swears dreadful oaths to them: first, that he will observe piety toward the deity; then, that he will maintain just actions toward humanity; that he will harm no one, whether by his own deliberation or under order; that he will hate the unjust and contend together with the just;

140 that he will always maintain faithfulness to all, especially to those in control, for without God it does not fall to anyone to hold office, and that, should he hold office, he will never abuse his authority —outshining his subordinates, whether by dress or by some form of extravagant appearance;

141 always to love the truth and expose the liars; that he will keep his hands pure from theft and his soul from unholy gain; that he will neither conceal anything from the school-members nor disclose anything of theirs to others, even if one should apply force to the point of death.

142 In addition to these, he swears that he will impart the precepts to no one otherwise than as he received them, that he will keep away from banditry, and that he will preserve intact their school’s books and the names of the angels. With such oaths as these they completely secure those who join them.

143 Those they have convicted of sufficiently serious errors they expel from the order. And the one who has been reckoned out often perishes by a most pitiable fate. For, constrained by the oaths and customs, he is unable to partake of food from others. Eating grass and in hunger, his body wastes away and perishes.

144 That is why they have actually shown mercy and taken back many in their final gasps, regarding as sufficient for their errors this ordeal to the point of death.

145 Now with respect to trials, [they are] just and extremely precise: they render judgment after having assembled no fewer than a hundred, and something that has been determined by them is non-negotiable. There is a great reverence among them for—next to God—the name of the lawgiver, and if anyone insults him he is punished by death.

146 They make it a point of honor to submit to the elders and to a majority. So if ten were seated together, one person would not speak if the nine were unwilling.

147 They guard against spitting into [their] middles or to the right side and against applying themselves to labors on the seventh days, even more than all other Judeans: for not only do they prepare their own food one day before, so that they might not kindle a fire on that day, but they do not even dare to transport a container —or go to relieve themselves.

148 On the other days they dig a hole of a foot’s depth with a trowel —this is what that small hatchet given by them to the neophytes is for—and wrapping their cloak around them completely, so as not to outrage the rays of God, they relieve themselves into it [the hole].

149 After that, they haul back the excavated earth into the hole. (When they do this, they pick out for themselves the more deserted spots.) Even though the secretion of excrement is certainly a natural function, it is customary to wash themselves off after it as if they have become polluted.

150 They are divided into four classes, according to their duration in the training, and the later-joiners are so inferior to the earlier-joiners that if they should touch them, the latter wash themselves off as if they have mingled with a foreigner.

151 [They are] long-lived, most of them passing  years —as a result, it seems to me at least, of the simplicity of their regimen and their orderliness. Despisers of terrors, triumphing over agonies by their wills, considering death—if it arrives with glory—better than deathlessness.

152 The war against the Romans proved their souls in every way: during it, while being twisted and also bent, burned and also broken, and passing through all the torture-chamber instruments, with the aim that they might insult the lawgiver or eat something not customary, they did not put up with suffering either one: not once gratifying those who were tormenting [them], or crying.

153 But smiling in their agonies and making fun of those who were inflicting the tortures, they would cheerfully dismiss their souls, [knowing] that they would get them back again.

154 For the view has become tenaciously held among them that whereas our bodies are perishable and their matter impermanent, our souls endure forever, deathless: they get entangled, having emanated from the most refined ether, as if drawn down by a certain charm into the prisons that are bodies.

155 But when they are released from the restraints of the flesh, as if freed from a long period of slavery, then they rejoice and are carried upwards in suspension. For the good, on the one hand, sharing the view of the sons of Greece they portray the lifestyle reserved beyond Oceanus and a place burdened by neither rain nor snow nor heat, but which a continually blowing mild west wind from Oceanus refreshes. For the base, on the other hand, they separate off a murky, stormy recess filled with unending retributions.

156 It was according to the same notion that the Greeks appear to me to have laid on the Islands of the Blessed for their most courageous men, whom they call heroes and demi-gods, and for the souls of the worthless the region of the impious in Hades, in which connection they tell tales about the punishments of certain men —Sisyphuses and Tantaluses, Ixions and Tityuses —establishing in the first place the [notion of] eternal souls and, on that basis, persuasion toward virtue and dissuasion from vice.

157 For the good become even better in the hope of a reward also after death, whereas the impulses of the bad are impeded by anxiety, as they expect that even if they escape detection while living, after their demise they will be subject to deathless retribution.

158 These matters, then, the Essenes theologize with respect to the soul, laying down an irresistible bait for those who have once tasted of their wisdom.

159 There are also among them those who profess to foretell what is to come, being thoroughly trained in holy books, various purifications, and concise sayings of prophets. Rarely if ever do they fail in their predictions.

160 There is also a different order of Essenes. Though agreeing with the others about regimen and customs and legal matters, it has separated in its opinion about marriage. For they hold that those who do not marry cut off the greatest part of life, the succession, and more: if all were to think the same way, the line would very quickly die out.

161 To be sure, testing the brides in a three-year interval, once they have been purified three times as a test of their being able to bear children, they take them in this manner; but they do not continue having intercourse with those who are pregnant, demonstrating that the need for marrying is not because of pleasure, but for children. Baths [are taken] by the women wrapping clothes around themselves, just as by the men in a waist-covering. Such are the customs of this order.

Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.2, 5 § 11, 18-22

11 There were three philosophies among the Jews inherited from the most ancient times: that of the Essenes, that of the Sadducees, and the third the ones called the Pharisees. Indeed, I happen to have spoken already about them in the second book of The Jewish War, but I shall still give an account of them briefly here.

18 The doctrine of the Essenes is that they like to leave all things to God. They regard souls as immortal and believe that the path of righteousness is worth striving for.

19 Sending votive offerings to the temple, they offer sacrifices [E and Lat. both have the negative here – they do not offer sacrifices] with a difference in the rites of purification that they employ; on account of this they are excluded from the common court and offer their sacrifices by themselves. Otherwise they are the noblest men in their way of life and have dedicated themselves to work entirely in agriculture. 20 They are worthy of admiration above all those who lay claim to virtue, because such (qualities) did not exist among any Greeks or barbarians, not even to a small degree; but they have been with (the Essenes) for a long time and they have not been hindered in their pursuit of them. In addition, they hold their possessions in common, and the wealthy person does not benefit any more from his household possessions than the man who owns nothing at all. The men who live in this way are over four thousand in number. 21They neither bring wives into (the community) nor do they seek to acquire slaves, since they consider that the latter leads to injustice and the former inclines towards causing factions. Rather, they live by themselves and practice service for one another. 22 They elect good men as treasurers of their revenue and what the land yields, and priests for the preparation of their bread and their food. They live no differently from, but most similarly to those who among the Dacians are called Ctistae.

Minor Notices of the Essenes in Josephus

These are various minor mentions of the Essenes throughout Josephus. Some involve tales of certain prophets others mere name drops. Josephus furthermore has at times related an account in both Jewish Wars and Antiquities with minor differences.

Judas the Essene

Judean Wars 1.3.5 §78-80

Now any one would be astonished at Judas on this occasion. He was an Essene by background, and there was never an occasion when he erred or spoke falsely in his predictions. At that time, when he saw Antigonus passing through the temple precincts, he cried out to his acquaintances (for not a few of his disciples were attending upon him), “Alas! It would be better for me to die, since the truth has already died before me and one of my predictions has proven false. For Antigonus lives, this one who ought to have been killed today; the place fated for his murder was Strata’s Tower, and that is six hundred stades from here, and it is already the fourth hour of the day. So time knocks out prediction.” Having said this, the old man remained downcast in his meditation. A little later it was announced that Antigonus had been killed in an underground place that was also called Strata’s Tower, by the same name as the Caesarea Maritima. This, then, had thrown the seer into confusion.

Antiquities of the Jews 13.11.2 §311

And especially one might marvel at a certain Judas, an Essene by background, who had never been faulted in the truth in his predictions. For when he saw Antigonus passing through the temple precincts, he cried out to his friends and acquaintances, who were with him for the sake of instruction in foretelling things to come, that it would be better for him to die, since he had spoken falsely about Antigonus who was (still) alive. He had predicted that he would die today at the place called Strato’s Tower, and (now) he was seeing him going about alive. For the place where he had foretold that Antigonus would be killed was six hundred stades away from where he was then, and the greater part of the day was already over, so that his prophecy was likely to be false. Now as he was saying these things and was dejected, it was reported that Antigonus had been killed in the underground place that was also called Strato’s Tower, by the same name as the Caesarea Maritima. It was this, then, which had thrown the seer into confusion

Simon the Essene

Judean Wars 2.7.3 §111-113

Now Archelaus, when he had taken possession of his ethnarchy, according to his remembrance of old quarrels, treated savagely not only Jews, but also Samaritans. Both of them sent envoys against him to Caesar, and in the ninth year of his reign he was banished to Vienne, a city of
Antiquities of the Jews 17.13.3 §346-48

But when they [interpreters of Archelaus’ dream] differed with one another (for all their interpretations did not come to one conclusion), Simon, an Essene by background, sought for assurance and said that the vision signified a change in the affairs of Archelaus, and not for

Judean Wars 2.7.3 §111-113

Gaul, and his possessions were assigned to Caesar’s treasury. Before he was summoned by Caesar, it is said that he saw a dream such as this: he seemed to see nine full and large ears of grain being devoured by oxen. Having summoned the soothsayers and some of the Chaldaeans, he asked them what they thought it signified. When one after the other gave their interpretations, Simon, an Essene by background, said that he thought the ears of grain were years and the oxen a revolution, since in plowing they alter the land; so that he would reign the same number of years as the ears of grain and would die after various revolutions. Five days after he heard these things, Archelaus was summoned to his trial.
Antiquities of the Jews 17.13.3 §346-48

the better. For the oxen signify both misery, since this animal suffers in its labors, and change in his affairs, since the land plowed by their toil cannot remain in the same state. The ears of grain, of which there were ten, designate the same number of years, since in the course of each year there is a harvest, and thus the time of the reign of Archelaus has expired. In such a way did this man interpret the dream. On the fifth day after Archelaus first had this vision, the other one called Archelaus, who had been sent to Judaea by Caesar, arrived.

John the Essene’s Military Exploits

Judean Wars 2.20.4 §566-68

Other generals were chosen for Idumaea: Jesus, son of Sapphas, one of the chief priests, and Eleazar, son of the high priest Neus; and they ordered Niger, then governor of Idumaea, who was of a family from Peraea beyond (the) Jordan (hence he was called the Peraean), to submit to these generals. Nor did they neglect the other regions: Joseph, son of Simon, was sent to be in command at Jericho; Manasseh was sent to Peraea; John the Essene was sent to the toparchy of Thamna – Lydda, Joppa, and Emmaus were also allotted to him; John, son of Ananias, was designated commander of Gophna and Acrabetta; and J osephus, son of Matthias, of the two Galilees. Gamala, the strongest city in that area, was also added to his command.

Judean Wars 3.2.1 §9-11

Now the Jews, after the defeat of Cestius, uplifted by their unexpected military successes, were unrestrained in fervor, and as though stirred up by good fortune, extended the war further. Immediately, then, all their best warriors were mustered and pressed forward against Ascalon. This is an ancient city, about 520 stades from Jerusalem, which had always been odious to the Jews; because of this at that time it seemed nearer for the first attacks. This raid was led by three men outstanding in both courage and intelligence, namely, Niger the Peraean, and Silas the Babylonian, and besides them was John the Essene. Now Ascalon was strongly fortified with walls, but was nearly destitute of assistance, for it was garrisoned by one cohort of footsoldiers and by one troop of horsemen, which Antonius commanded.

The Gate of the Essenes

Judean Wars 5.4.2 §142-145

Now of the three walls (of Jerusalem), the most ancient, on account of both the ravines and the hill above them, upon which it was built, was almost impregnable. But in addition to the advantage of its position it was also strongly built, since David and Solomon and the kings who followed them prided themselves on the work. Beginning on the north at the tower called Hippicus, it extended to the Xystus; then joining the council chamber, it terminated at the western colonnade of the temple. Beginning at the same place in the other direction, it reached down westward through the place called Bethso, to the gate of the Essenes; and then it turned to the south above the fountain of Siloam, from which also it again inclined to the east towards Solomon’s pool, and passing through to a certain place they called Ophlas, joined the east colonnade of the temple.

View on Fate

Antiquities of the Jews 13.5.9 § 171-73

Now at this time there were three sects of the Jews, which held different opinions concerning human actions: the first was that of the Pharisees, the second the Sadducees, and the third the Essenes. Now the Pharisees say that somethings, but not all, are the work of fate; some are going to happen or not, depending on ourselves. But the sect of the Essenes maintains that fate is ruler of all things, and that nothing happens to people except it be according to its decree.

Minor Mention

Antiquities of the Jews 13.10.6 §289

…But concerning these two sects [i.e., the Pharisees and Sadducees], and that of the Essenes, it has been accurately reported in the second book of my Judaica (i.e., Jewish War).

Menahem’s Prophecy

Antiquities of the Jews 15.10.4-5 §371-79

And those who are called Essenes by us were also pardoned from this necessity [viz., taking an oath of loyalty to Herod]. This is a sect that practices a way of life introduced to the Greeks by Pythagoras. Now I shall explain about these people more clearly elsewhere. But it is proper to state here the reasons why (Herod) held the Essenes in honor and why he thought more highly of them than their mortal nature would require. For the matter does not appear to be improper for this genre of history, since it will set forth the prevailing opinion about these men.

One of these Essenes was named Menahem, whose entire course of life testified to his virtue, and who had foreknowledge from God of the future. This man, upon seeing Herod (while he was still a child) going to his teacher, greeted him as “king of the Jews.”

But Herod, thinking that the man either did not know him or was bantering him, reminded him that he was an ordinary citizen. But Menahem, smiling gently and slapping him on the backside, said,’ ‘But you shall indeed be king, and you shall exercise the reign well, for you have been found worthy by God. And remember the blows given by Menahem, so that this too may be a symbol to you of the changes of fortune. For the best attitude would be if you love both justice and piety towards God, and equity towards the citizens. But I know that you will not be such a one, since I understand everything. You will spend your life in such good fortune as no other person, and you will gain lasting glory, but you will forget piety and what justice means. These things, however, will not escape the notice of God, when at the end of your life his wrath will call these things to mind.” At that very time Herod paid little heed to these words, lacking any hope of their fulfillment; but after gradually being raised to both kingship and good fortune, at the height of his reign, he sent for Menahem and questioned him about the length of time he would reign. But Menahem did not tell him at all. In view of his silence, Herod asked him only whether he would reign for ten years; and he said, “For twenty or thirty years,” but he did not set a limit for the end of the appointed time. Yet Herod was satisfied even with these words and dismissed Menahem with a friendly gesture. From that time on he continued to hold all the Essenes in esteem. Now we have thought it proper to explain these things, however astonishing they may be, to our readers, and to reveal what has happened among us, since many of these people [Essenes] have because of their virtue been thought worthy of this acquaintance with divine things

Important Non-Jewish Sources

Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD)

The Translations of Pliny the Elder come from the Loeb Classical Library, Pliny: Natural History II, they are translated by H. Rackham.

Natural History Book 5.15.73

On the west of the Deed Sea, but out of range of the noxious exhalations of the coast, is the solitary  tribe of the Essenes, which is remarkable beyond all the other tribes in the whole world, as it has no women and has renounced all sexual desire, has no money, and has only palm-trees for company. Day by day the throng of refugees is recruited to an equal number by numerous accessions of persons tired of life and driven thither by the waves of fortune to adopt their manners. Thus through thousands of ages (incredible to relate) a race in which no one is born lives on forever: so prolific for their advantage is other men’s weariness of life!

Dio Chrysostom (c. 140-120 AD)

Sive de Suo Ipsius Instituto 3.2

Furthermore, he somewhere [else] praises the Essenes, an entire happy city (polis) beside the dead water in the interior of Palestine, lying somewhere near the [place of] Sodom itself.

Solinus (3rd Century?)

Collectanea 35.9-12

[In] the interior of Judaea [is a city(?)] the Essenes hold. [They are those] who, possessed by a remarkable discipline, retreat from the universal observance of people, to this way of excellence supposedly destined by providence. The place itself is dedicated to virtue, into which none is admitted, unless he is accompanied by merit, with continence, trust and innocence. For whoever is guilty of even a small thing, however much he wants to advance, is removed by the divinity.


Genesis 6.1-8 As Fall of Angel Interpretations From 150 BC – 400 AD

The following was a set of quotations that I produced for set of teaching on Genesis 6.1-8, the passage with the Sons of God, Nephilim, and the Heroes of Old. They go from Biblical, to Pseudepigraphal, to interpretations found in the Church Fathers and some Jewish documents. This is of course, not a full set of quotations, and more could probably be said. But its a good basis to see how widespread the view that the events in Genesis 6.1-4 specifically were seen in a supernatural light by many early interpretors. 

BibleOld TestamentUnless otherwise noted scripture quoted is the ESV, pseudepigrapha unless noted is R.H. Charles

Genesis 6.1-8 

6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Some Septuagint Comments

Notes that man manuscripts in 6.2 have “angels of God” instead of “sons of God.” Also further note that it says instead of “nephilim” and “mighty men,” it has “giants” in both spots, where it sees both as one and the same and as giants.

LXX of Ezekiel 32.12,20-21,26-27 appears to have been influenced by Genesis 6.4 Mighty Men/Men of Valor are now translated as Giants and nations seem more personified as the “Giants of Old.”

Bible –  New Testament

2 Peter 2.4

Genesis 6 or primeval fall of Satan?

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

Jude, 6,7 

Again Genesis 6 or primeval fall of Satan? Note, however that the angels are linked with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah which is specifically noted as “sexual immorality.”

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

1 Corinthians 11.10

Is Paul’s reasoning based on a supernatural view of Genesis 6.1-4? See Tertullian below

That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

1 Peter 3.18-20

Are the spirits here the fallen Angels of Gen 6.1-4 or Spirits of Men prior to Noah’s flood? Or something else all together?

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

Mark 12.24-25 (Cf. Matthew 22.29-30; Luke 20.36)

Did Christ highlight the fact that the Angels were heaven to note that those who had descended on the earth had? Or did Christ in this passage also reject the supernatural view of Genesis 6?

24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Second Temple Literature

Jubilees (ca.150)

4.22 Enoch Warning to the Watchers

And he testified to the Watchers, who had sinned with the daughters of men; for these had begun to unite themselves, so as to be defiled, with the daughters of men, and Enoch testified against them all.

Jubilees 5.1-11 First Account

5 And it came to pass when the children of men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the angels of God saw them on a certain year of this jubilee, that they were beautiful to look upon; and they took themselves wives of all whom they chose, and they bare unto them sons and they were giants. 2 And lawlessness increased on the earth and all flesh corrupted its way, alike men and cattle and beasts and birds and everything that walks on the earth—all of them corrupted their ways and their orders, and they began to devour each other, and lawlessness increased on the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all men was thus evil continually. 3 And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, and all flesh had corrupted its orders, and all that were upon the earth had wrought all manner of evil before His eyes. 4 And He said that He would destroy man and all flesh upon the face of the earth which He had created. 5 But Noah found grace before the eyes of the Lord. 6 And against the angels whom He had sent upon the earth, He was exceedingly wroth, and He gave commandment to root them out of all their dominion, and He bade us to bind them in the depths of the earth, and behold they are bound in the midst of them, and are kept separate. 7 And against their sons went forth a command from before His face that they should be smitten with the sword, and be removed from under heaven. 8 And He said ‘My spirit shall not always abide on man; for they also are flesh and their days shall be one hundred and twenty years’. 9 And He sent His sword into their midst that each should slay his neighbour, and they began to slay each other till they all fell by the sword and were destroyed from the earth. 10 And their fathers were witnesses (of their destruction), and after this they were bound in the depths of the earth for ever, until the day of the great condemnation, when judgment is executed on all those who have corrupted their ways and their works before the Lord. 11 And He destroyed all from their places, and there was not left one of them whom He judged not according to all their wickedness.

 Jubilees 7.21-26a Second Account

For owing to these three things came the flood upon the earth, namely, owing to the fornication wherein the Watchers against the law of their ordinances went a whoring after the daughters of men, and took themselves wives of all which they chose: and they made the beginning of uncleanness. 22 And they begat sons the Nephilim, and they were all unlike, and they devoured one another: and the Giants slew the Nephil, and the Nephil slew the Elyo, and the Elyo mankind, and one man another. 23 And every one sold himself to work iniquity and to shed much blood, and the earth was filled with iniquity. 24 And after this they sinned against the beasts and birds, and all that moves and walks on the earth: and much blood was shed on the earth, and every imagination and desire of men imagined vanity and evil continually. 25 And the Lord destroyed everything from off the face of the earth; because of the wickedness of their deeds, and because of the blood which they had shed in the midst of the earth He destroyed everything. 26 ‘And we were left, I and you, my sons, and everything that entered with us into the ark

1 Enoch 611 (Latest 165 BC Likely prior to 200 BC)

6 And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. 2 And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ 3 And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ 4 And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’ 5 Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. 6 And they were in all two hundred; who descended ‹in the days› of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. 7 And these are the names of their leaders: Samîazâz, their leader, Arâkîba, Râmêêl, Kôkabîêl, Tâmîêl, Râmîêl, Dânêl, Êzêqêêl, Barâqîjal, Asâêl, Armârôs, Batârêl, Anânêl, Zaqîêl, Samsâpêêl, Satarêl, Tûrêl, Jômjâêl, Sariêl. 8 These are their chiefs of tens.

7 And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. 2 And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: 3 Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. 4 And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. 5 And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood. 6 Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.

8 And Azâzêl taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals 〈of the earth〉 and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. 2 And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. 3 Semjâzâ taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, ’Armârôs the resolving of enchantments, Barâqîjâl (taught) astrology, Kôkabêl the constellations, Êzêqêêl the knowledge of the clouds, 〈Araqiêl the signs of the earth, Shamsiêl the signs of the sun〉, and Sariêl the course of the moon. 4 And as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven …

9 And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. 2 And they said one to another: ‘The earth made †without inhabitant cries the voice of their cryings† up to the gates of heaven. 3 «And now to you, the holy ones of heaven», the souls of men make their suit, saying, “Bring our cause before the Most High.”’ 4 And they said to the Lord of the ages: ‘Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, 〈and God of the ages〉, the throne of Thy glory (standeth) unto all the generations of the ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages! 5 Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee. 6 Thou seest what Azâzêl hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were (preserved) in heaven, which men were striving to learn: 7 And Semjâzâ, to whom Thou hast given authority to bear rule over his associates. 8 And they have gone to the daughters of men upon the earth, and have slept with the women, and have defiled themselves, and revealed to them all kinds of sins. 9 And the women have borne giants, and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness. 10 And now, behold, the souls of those who have died are crying and making their suit to the gates of heaven, and their lamentations have ascended: and cannot cease because of the lawless deeds which are wrought on the earth. 11 And Thou knowest all things before they come to pass, and Thou seest these things and Thou dost suffer them, and Thou dost not say to us what we are to do to them in regard to these.’

10 Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: 2 〈‘Go to Noah and〉 tell him in my name “Hide thyself!” and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. 3 And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.’ 4 And again the Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azâzêl hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dûdâêl, and cast him therein. 5 And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. 6 And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. 7 And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. 8 And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azâzêl: to him ascribe all sin.’ 9 And to Gabriel said the Lord: ‘Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men: [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle: for length of days shall they not have. 10 And no request that they (i.e. their fathers) make of thee shall be granted unto their fathers on their behalf; for they hope to live an eternal life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years.’ 11 And the Lord said unto Michael: ‘Go, bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. 12 And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is for ever and ever is consummated. 13 In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: 〈and〉 to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. 14 And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations. 15 And destroy all the spirits of the reprobate and the children of the Watchers, because they have wronged mankind. 16 Destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work come to an end: and let the plant of righteousness and truth appear: ‹and it shall prove a blessing; the works of righteousness and truth› shall be planted in truth and joy for evermore.

17 And then shall all the righteous escape,

And shall live till they beget thousands of children,

And all the days of their youth and their old age

Shall they complete in peace.

18 And then shall the whole earth be tilled in righteousness, and shall all be planted with trees and be full of blessing. 19 And all desirable trees shall be planted on it, and they shall plant vines on it: and the vine which they plant thereon shall yield wine in abundance, and as for all the seed which is sown thereon each measure (of it) shall bear a thousand, and each measure of olives shall yield ten presses of oil. 20 And cleanse thou the earth from all oppression, and from all unrighteousness, and from all sin, and from all godlessness: and all the uncleanness that is wrought upon the earth destroy from off the earth. 21 ‹And all the children of men shall become righteous›, and all nations shall offer adoration and shall praise Me, and all shall worship Me. 22 And the earth shall be cleansed from all defilement, and from all sin, and from all punishment, and from all torment, and I will never again send (them) upon it from generation to generation and for ever.

111 And in those days I will open the store chambers of blessing which are in the heaven, so as to send them down ‹upon the earth› over the work and labour of the children of men. 2 And truth and peace shall be associated together throughout all the days of the world and throughout all the generations of men.’

Damascus Document 2.16-19 (ca. 100 BC)

Because they walked in the stubbornness of their heart the Heavenly Watchers fell; they were caught because they did not keep the commandments of God. And their sons also fell who were tall as cedar trees and whose bodies were like mountains.

Testament of Reuben 5.5-7 (ca. 150 BC)

Flee, therefore, fornication, my children, and command your wives and your daughters, that they adorn not their heads and faces to deceive the mind: because every woman who useth these wiles hath been reserved for eternal punishment. 6 For thus they allured the Watchers who were before the flood; for as these continually beheld them, they lusted after them, and they conceived the act in their mind; for they changed themselves into the shape of men, and appeared to them when they were with their husbands. 7 And the women lusting in their minds after their forms, gave birth to giants, for the Watchers appeared to them as reaching even unto heaven.

Testament of Naphtali 3.3-5 (ca. 150 BC)

The Gentiles went astray, and forsook the Lord, and changed their order, and obeyed stocks and stones, spirits of deceit. 4 But ye shall not be so, my children, recognizing in the firmament, in the earth, and in the sea, and in all created things, the Lord who made all things, that ye become not as Sodom, which changed the order of nature. 5 In like manner the Watchers also changed the order of their nature, whom the Lord cursed at the flood, on whose account He made the earth without inhabitants and fruitless.

Josephus 1.73 (Loeb Translation) (37-100 AD)

(iii.1) For seven generations these people continued to believe in God as Lord of the universe and in everything to take virtue for their guide; then, in course of time, they abandoned the customs of their fathers for a life of depravity. They no longer rendered to God His due honours, nor took account of justice towards men, but displayed by their actions a zeal for vice twofold greater than they had formerly shown for virtue, and thereby drew upon themselves the enmity of God.  For many angels of God now consorted with women and begat sons who were overbearing and disdainful of every virtue, such confidence had they in their strength; in fact the deeds that tradition ascribes to them resemble the audacious exploits told by the Greeks of the giants.  But Noah,  indignant at their conduct and viewing their counsels with displeasure, urged them to come to a better frame of mind and amend their ways; but seeing that, far from yielding, they were completely enslaved to the pleasure of sin, he feared that they would murder him and, with his wives and sons and his sons’ wives, quitted the country.

(2) God loved Noah for his righteousness, but, as .for those men, He condemned not them alone for their wickedness, but resolved to destroy all mankind then existing and to create another race pure of vice, abridging their term of life from its former longevity to one hundred and twenty years; he therefore converted  the dry land into sea. Thus were they all obliterated, while Noah alone was saved.

Philo of Alexandra On the Giants 6-7 (20 BC-50AD) (Quotes from Newman’s Ancient Exegesis of Genesis 6:2,4)

Note that Philio of Alexander (20BC-50AD) also seems to have thought the union in Genesis 6 was of angels and men, however it is at times hard to be certain because of his use of allegory. In commenting on this passage  quotes the OG version of Genesis which says, Angels of God and then after quoting Genesis 6.2 notes:

It is Moses’ custom to give the name of angels to those whom other philosophers call demons [or spirits], souls that is which fly and hover in the air. And let no one suppose that what is here said is a myth.” Later Philo noted, “So, then, it is no myth at all of giants that he [Moses] sets before us; rather he wishes to show you that some men are earth-born, some heaven-born, and some God-born.” However its very likely that Philo rejected a literal mean of this passage in any case.


Targum Pseudo-Jonathan 6.1-2,4 (Extant form 7th Century AD, but quoted passage likely redates 2nd Century AD)  – Quotes from Newman

Note that Shamhazi and Azael reference 1 Enoch

And it came to pass when the sons of men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and beautiful daughters were born to them, that the sons of the great ones saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, with eyes painted and hair curled, walking in nakedness of flesh, and they conceived lustful thoughts; and they took them wives of all they chose. . . . Shamhazai and Azael fell from heaven and were on earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of the great ones came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same are called men of the world, the men of renown.

Talmud (6th Century)

For the most part the interpretations in the Talmud are not supernatural, but the Talmud does in places see a supernatural view such as Yoma67b where we read of the affair of Uza and Aza’el, a reference to 1 Enoch and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan also Nid. 61a speak of Ahijah son of Shamhazai

The School of R. Ishmael taught: Azazel — [it was so called] because it obtains atonement for the affair of Uza and Aza’el.

And the Lord said unto Moses: Fear him not. Consider: Sihon and Og were brothers, for a Master stated, ‘Sihon nad Og were the sons of Ahijah the son of Shmahazai’

Church Fathers

Justin (c.100-c.165) 2 Apology 5

[God] committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels whom He appointed over them. But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness. Whence also the poets and mythologists, not knowing that it was the angels and those demons who had been begotten by them that did these things to men, and women, and cities, and nations, which they related, ascribed them to god himself, and to those who were accounted to be his very offspring, and to the offspring of those who were called his brother), Neptune and Pluto, and to the children again of these their offspring. For whatever name each of the angels had given to himself and his children, by that name they called them.

Irenaeus (c.115-202) Demonstration 18-19 – Note Irenaeus Appears to Reference 1 Enoch 7

  1. And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread, and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them: and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons who for their exceeding greatness were called giants. And the angels brought as presents to their wives teachings of wickedness. in that they brought them the virtues of roots and herbs, dyeing in colours and cosmetics, the discovery of rare substances, love-potions, aversions, amours, concupiscence, constraints of love, spells of bewitchment, and all sorcery and idolatry hateful to God; by the entry of which things into the world evil extended and spread, while righteousness was diminished and enfeebled. 19. Until judgment came upon the world from God by means of a flood…

Tertullian (c.160-225) On Prayer 22.5Note 1 Corinthians 11.5

“Of course, it is on account of the angels, he says, that the woman’s head is to be covered,3 because the angels revolted from God on account of the daughters of men.”

Idolatry 9

One proposition I lay down: that those angels, the deserters from God, the lovers of women, were likewise the discoverers of this curious art, on that account also condemned by God

Lactantius Divine Institutes 2.15 (240-320)

When, therefore, the number of men had begun to increase, God in His forethought, lest the devil, to whom from the beginning He had given power over the earth, should by his subtilty either corrupt or destroy men, as he had done at first, sent angels for the protection and improvement of the human race; and inasmuch as He had given these a free will, He enjoined them above all things not to defile themselves with contamination from the earth, and thus lose the dignity of their heavenly nature. He plainly prohibited them from doing that which He knew that they would do, that they might entertain no hope of pardon. Therefore, while they abode among men, that most deceitful ruler of the earth, by his very association, gradually enticed them to vices, and polluted them by intercourse with women. Then, not being admitted into heaven on account of the sins into which they had plunged themselves, they fell to the earth. Thus from angels the devil makes them to become his satellites and attendants. But they who were born from these, because they were neither angels nor men, but bearing a kind of mixed nature, were not admitted into hell, as their fathers were not into heaven. Thus there came to be two kinds of demons; one of heaven, the other of the earth.

Sulpicius Severus (363-420) History 1.2

When by this time the human race had increased to a great multitude, certain angels,whose habitation was in heaven, were captivated by the appearance of some beautiful virgins, and cherished illicit desires after them, so much so, that filling beneath their own proper nature and origin, they left the higher regions of which they were inhabitants, and allied themselves in earthly marriages. These angels gradually spreading wicked habits, corrupted the human family, and from their alliance giants are said to have sprung, for the mixture with them of beings of a different nature, as a matter of course, gave birth to monsters.

Josef Horovitz on the Ethiopian Maccabees

The following is an Article written by Josef Horovitz, it is machine translated by Google with a few fix ups. But I would still consider it quite rough.

The Original German follows , the English so if anyone who knows German would like to help me fix this up please let me know. The original article can be found on Google books here

The Article also contain the first Ethiopian Maccabees in the Ge’ez and a German translation as well. Since information is so sparse concerning these works I figured I try and help get a little more information out.

The Ethiopian Maccabees

By Josef Horovitz.

The description which L. Goldschmidt[1] gives from the Frankfurt Codex Ruppell II 7 prompted me several years ago to read this manuscript. His polemic remarks against Dillmann proved to be, as expected, unjustified; but to allow others a final judgment, it is perhaps not superfluous if I publish the extracts and summary that I have made. The characteristics which Dillmann has given ABBADIE’schen manuscript of the Ethiopian Maccabees,[2] as well as occasional quotes in his dictionary to prove that it contains the same book as the Frankfurt manuscript, as well, as the manuscripts of the British Museum, of which I have compared in several places, matches the Frankfur.[3] The Frankfurt manuscript is not unique.

At the end of all the manuscripts it indicates, that the book consists of three sections (); in the Frankfurt manuscript I have found only two outwardly separated sections. All the manuscripts are young (18th century); I could not determine the date of the work.

It was also known in Abyssinia (s. Fetḥa Nagast, ed. Guidi S. 18), that there “are two book in the history of the Maccabees,” but the real Maccabees have been translated late, after the vulgate, into Ethiopian.[4] The book treated here, remembers only a few names and the refusal of the heroes to sacrifice to idols, from our Maccabees.[5] When our maccabean heroes and martyrs start appearing Abijä, Silä and Phentos appear. The names of the first two are otherwise represented in the calendar of the saints (according to Hiob Ludolf, these are the saints of the 21st and 30th of January), the third name I could not find anywhere else. Besides these, another two nameless maccabean brother appear in the first part, all five suffer under the cruel king Ṣiruṣaidān (= Tyre + Sidon)[6] martyrdom.

Only later is the speech of Maqäbis, the Moabite ancestor of the Maccabees, and by his sons Makabjos, Maqäbjos and Judah and in another place is also called Mattathias. The Biblical chronology of the author is in the greatest confusion and a coherent story is not often apparent. A large space is given to hortatory speeches and the the Pseudepigrapha in Ethiopia are highly used. How, depends on the writer, however it is to prove the resurrection of the dead; although he opposes the views of the Sadducees, Pharisees, Samaritans, he never forgets that that this is an Old Testament book , and so Christ is nowhere mentioned.[7]

Now the original German Follows

Das äthiopische Maccabäerbuch.

Von Josef Horovitz.

Die Beschreibung, welche L. Goldschmidt[8] von dem Frankfurter Codex Rüppel II 7 giebt, hat mich vor mehreren Jahren veranlasst, diese Handschrift durchzulesen. Seine polemischen Bemerkungen gegen Dillmann erweisen sich zwar, wie zu erwarten war, als unberechtigt; aber um auch anderen ein endgiltiges Urteil zu ermöglichen, ist es vielleicht nicht überflüssig, wenn ich die Auszüge und die Inhaltsangabe, die ich angefertigt habe, veröffentliche. Die Charakteristik, welche Dillmann nach der ABBADIE’schen Handschrift von dem äthiopischen Maccabäerbuche gegeben hat,[9] sowie gelegentliche Zitate in seinem Lexikon beweisen, dass sie dasselbe Buch enthält wie die Frankfurter Handschrift; ebenso stimmen die Handschriften des British Museum, von denen ich eine an mehreren Stellen verglichen habe, mit der Frankfurter überein.[10] Die Frankfurter Handschrift ist also kein Unicum.

Am Ende aller Handschriften wird angegeben, dass das Buch aus drei Abschnitten (•flrh.C) bestehe; in der Frankfurter Handschrift habe ich allerdings nur zwei auch äusserlich voneinander getrennte Abschnitte gefunden. Alle Handschriften sind jung (18. Jahrhundert); die Entstehungszeit des Buches konnte ich nicht bestimmen.

Man wusste auch in Abessinien (s. Fetha Nagast, ed. Guidi S. 18), dass es »zwei Bücher der Geschichte der Maccabäer« giebt, aber die wirklichen Maccabäerbücher wurden erst spät nach der Vulgata ins Aethiopische übersetzt.[11] Das hier behandelte Buch erinnert nur durch einige Namen und die Weigerung der Helden, den Götzen zu opfern, an unsere Maccabäerbücher.[12] Als maccabäische Helden und Märtyrer treten zunächst nur Abijä, Silä und Phentos auf. Die Namen der beiden ersten sind auch sonst im Heiligenkalender vertreten (nach Hiob Ludolf sind es die Heiligen des 21. und 30. Januar), den des dritten konnte ich sonst nicht finden. Ausser diesen erscheinen im ersten Teil noch zwei namenlose maccabäische Brüder und alle fünf erleiden unter dem grausamen König Ṣiruṣaidān (= Tyrus -fSidon)[13]den Märtyrertod.

Erst später ist von Maqäbis die Rede, dem moabitischen Stammvater der Maccabäer, und von seinen Söhnen Makabjos, Maqäbjos und Jehuda und an einer anderen Stelle wird auch Mattathias genannt. Die biblische Chronologie ist bei dem Verfasser in die grösste Verwirrung geraten und eine zusammenhängende Erzählung vielfach überhaupt nicht herauszuschälen. Einen grossen Raum nehmen die paränetischen Reden ein, und sehr stark sind die in Abessinien verbreiteten Pseudepigraphen ausgebeutet. Das, worauf es dem Verfasser aber vor allem ankommt, ist, die Auferstehung der Toten zu beweisen; obwohl er die Ansichten der Sadducäer, Pharisäer, Samaritaner bekämpft, vergisst er nie, dass es sich um ein alttestamentliches Buch handeln soll, ud so ist denn von Christus nirgends die Rede.[14]

In den Auszugen habe ich die Orthographie de Frankfurter Handschrift beibehalten und die Schribung von

English FootNotes

[1] The Ethiopian manuscripts of the public library of Frankfurt a. M.S. 21.

[2] Lexicon, Prolegomena p. XI.

[3] Wright, Catalogue X 3, XI 9, XV 7, XXVI 10, XXVIII 5, XXXI 2, XXXII 1. Other manuscripts Conti Rossini does not know (Rendiconti Lincei Series V vol. VIII p. 625).

[4] Wright, Catalogue XV 8, XXVIII 4, XXX 1.

[5] Whether the representation of the martyrdom of the Maccabees in Seneksär comes from ours or the wrong Maccabees, unfortunately I could not tell.

[6] So Dillmann 1.C.

[7] Perhaps the author has used besides Matthew also Zënā Ajhūd as a source.

The German Footnotes

[8] Die abessynischen Handschriften der Stadtbibliothek tu Frankfurt a. M. S. 21.

[9] Lexicon, Prolegomena p. XI.

[10] Wright, Catalogue X 3, XI 9, XV 7, XXVI 10, XXVIII 5, XXXI 2, XXXII 1. Andere Handschriften kennt auch Conti Rossini (Rendiconti Lincei Serie V vol. VIII p. 625) nicht.

[11] Wright, Catalogue XV 8, XXVIII 4, XXX 1.

[12] Ob die Darstellung des Martyriums der Maccabäer im Seneksär unseren oder dem falschen Maccabäerbuch entstammt, konnte ich leider nicht feststellen.

[13] So schon Dillmann 1. c.

[14] Vielleicht hat der Berfasser ausser Matthäus hier aurch Zena Ajhud als Quelle benutzt.

How important is the Apocrypha?

One of my interests that separates me from many people within my church group is really my interest in those set of books commonly called the Apocrypha. (I’m really interested in the much wider net of Second Temple literature, but we’ll stick with the apocrypha). It is hard, however, to convince them to look at these books, especially to look at them more than saying, hey the Catholics have these or some such nonsense.

The Apocrypha, is important and I think the historic Church has thought so as well. Sure, Protestants have not usually included them in the canon and I’m not arguing that they do so at this time. But I would argue that any faithful preacher of the words should have some sort of working knowledge of these books, especially as they try to interpret the New Testament.

Really? Some might say. In fact, I have gotten such a response before, but I am being totally honest.

These books have within them the expansion of themes that appear within the Old Testament and help to explain some of the theology and culture that surrounds the New Testament background. Tobit, has an extensive theological background on angels for example. Wisdom’s passages on Lady Wisdom had an important part of the Christological debates of the early church for another example. That’s just two brief mentions, which could certainly be expanded upon.

Culturally these books gives us hints on such things as marriage ceremonies and cultural values (again Tobit and the Wisdom books), important historical events for the Jewish people (the Maccabees), the stand against idolatry (Wisdom, Baruch, Daniel’s addition, just to name a few) and so much more.

It is true that the New Testament doesn’t cite any of these books, (although let’s be honest, there are other books in the OT canon it doesn’t cite either), but some scholars argue, and I think rightly, that does allude to them in several places. The author of Hebrews, for example, in the faith passage mention some that were sawed in two, which could easily refer to extra-biblical belief that Isaiah was sawed in two by Manasseh. Or 11.35, which appears to allude to the story of martyrs founds in 2 Maccabees.

Do we need to know the apocrypha to understand these passages, certainly not, but having a knowledge of them, helps us to more fully understand the author’s intent in the various writings.

Above, I also mentioned that the historic church has indeed made use of the apocrypha. The patristic church used and cited the scripture as canon (except for those few fathers who knew Hebrew i.e. Jerome, but he still made use of the Apocrypha), and this naturally followed into the medieval period.

Protestants, however, with a renew sense of returning back to the original languages of the Bible, took more time to look at the canon and the church’s differing opinion of these books and took them out of the canon (and I would argue with good reason). Yet, many of these same leaders still commented that these books were still of use.

Luther for example wrote in the preface to the Apocrypha: “Apocrypha: these books are not held equal to the Scriptures but are useful and good to read.” (Martin Luther, vol. 35, Luther’s Works, Vol. 35 : Word and Sacrament I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 35:337.)

Calvin gives a list of reasons of why he does not accept the books of the apocrypha as canonical; however, he like the other Reformers does not throw the books out completely. They do not have any sort of doctrinal authority, however, they are useful reading. (For instance, see his tracts against Trent)

The Anglican Church viewed Apocrypha like Jerome and says they are to be read “for example,” but they were not to be used to “establish any doctrine.” (“The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England,” in the Creeds of Christendom, ed. Phillip Schaff, volume 3 (New York: Harper and Row, 1931), 3:490.)

These, are just few examples, but they do show how early protestants felt about these books, which show a tremendously different outlook than many of those who I deal with today.

So what should one think about these works? I think they should look at them and come to their own conclusions and not simply lean on the views of others. I certainly see a use in knowing them slightly and not just saying they’re Catholics books, because honestly if anything they are Jews in the Second Temple period books.

They help to give us insights that too often are shrugged at, and provide wonderful stories of faithful people during the interim period of the Old and New Testament.

I say read some of them, it’s certainly more worth your time them some of the other things we read and watch today and I’m including stuff we would call Christian. What would it hurt? It would take two seconds to look it up online, or to pop up in most Bible apps on your phone.

The choice is yours.

Benaiah and the Queen of Sheba

The following is a short passage from the Targum Sheni of Esther, which relates Benaiah’s meeting with the Queen of Sheba, before taking her to Solomon. The full targum can be found here, pages 263-344. This specific passage was found on pages 280-82. Looking around for Benaiah lead to the post yesterday, so I figured I’d pop this up.

Just as a quick note, I did change the names to be the more well known names so the Queen of Saba  is now the Queen of Sheba and Benayahu, son of Yehoyada  To Benaiah son of Jehoiada

Benaiah and the Queen of Sheba

After three years, the Queen of Sheba really came to King Solomon, who, when he heard of her arrival, sent Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, to meet her. He was beautiful as sunrise (or like Venus the lustrous star), and like the white lily which stands by brooks of water. Now when the Queen of Sheba saw Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, she dismounted from her riding animal.

“Why,” asked Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, “dost thou dismount from thy riding animal?”

She rejoined, “Art not thou King Solomon?”

He replied, “I am not King Solomon, but one of his servants who attend upon him.”

Thereupon she turned to her great men, and said this proverbial saying: “If you do not see the lion, you see his lair; though you do not see King Solomon, yet you see a handsome man who stands before him.”

Then Benaiah conducted her to the king.

A Talmudic Tale of Asmodeus

In boredom I have actually looked at the Talmud concerning my favorite demon, Asmodeus.  The following is found in b.Gitten 68a.  This is from the Soncino translation,  let it be noted I’ve changed “Benaiahu” and “Ashmedai” to Benaiah and Asmodeus respectively, formated it to be more paragraph like, and added quote marks. Here is the source of the text I used. So here as follows is b.Gitten 68b.

Solomon thereupon sent thither Benaiah son of Jehoiada, giving him a chain on which was graven the [Divine] Name and a ring on which was graven the Name and fleeces of wool and bottles of wine. Benaiah went and dug a pit lower down the hill and let the water flow into it and stopped [the hollow] With the fleeces of wool, and he then dug a pit higher up and poured the wine into it and then filled up the pits. He then went and sat on a tree. When Asmodeus came he examined the seal, then opened the pit and found it full of wine. He said, “It is written, Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whosoever erreth thereby is not wise, and it is also written, Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding.  I will not drink it.”

Growing thirsty, however, he could not resist, and he drank till he became drunk, and fell asleep. Benaiah then came down and threw the chain over him and fastened it. When he awoke he began to struggle, whereupon he Benaiah said, “The Name of thy Master is upon thee, the Name of thy Master is upon thee.”

As he was bringing him along, he came to a palm tree and rubbed against it and down it came. He came to a house and knocked it down. He came to the hut of a certain widow. She came out and besought him, and he bent down so as not to touch it, thereby breaking a bone. He said, “That bears out the verse, A soft tongue breaketh the bone” He saw a blind man straying from his way and he put him on the right path. He saw a drunken man losing his way and he put him on his path. He saw a wedding procession making its way merrily and he wept. He heard a man say to a shoemaker, “Make me a pair of shoes that will last seven years,” and he laughed. He saw a diviner practicing divinations and he laughed. When they reached Jerusalem he was not taken to see Solomon for three days. On the first day he asked, “Why does the king not want to see me?” They replied, “Because he has overdrunk himself. So he took a brick and placed it on top of another.” When they reported this to Solomon he said to them, “What he meant to tell you was, Give him more to drink.”

On the next day he said to them, “Why does the king not want to see me?” They replied, Because he has over-eaten himself. He thereupon took one brick from off the other and placed it on the ground. When they reported this to Solomon, he said, “He meant to tell you to keep food away from me.” After three days he went in to see him. He took a reed and measured four cubits and threw it in front of him, saying, “See now, when you die you will have no more than four cubits in this world. Now, however, you have subdued the whole world, yet you are not satisfied till you subdue me too.”

He replied: “I want nothing of you. What I want is to build the Temple and I require the shamir.” He said: “It is not in my hands, it is in the hands of the Prince of the Sea who gives it only to the woodpecker,to whom he trusts it on oath. What does the bird do with it? — He takes it to a mountain where there is no cultivation and puts it on the edge of the rock which thereupon splits, and he then takes seeds from trees and brings them and throws them into the opening and things grow there.” (This is what the Targum means by nagar tura). So they found out a woodpecker’s nest with young in it, and covered it over with white glass. When the bird came it wanted to get in but could not, so it went and brought the shamir and placed it on the glass. Benaiah thereupon gave a shout, and it dropped [the shamir] and he took it, and the bird went and committed suicide on account of its oath.

Benaiah said to Asmodeus, “Why when you saw that blind man going out of his way did you put him right?”
He replied: “It has been proclaimed of him in heaven that he is a wholly righteous man, and that whoever does him a kindness will be worthy of the future world.”

“And why when you saw the drunken man going out of his way did you put him right?”
He replied, “They have proclaimed concerning him in heaven that he is wholly wicked, and I conferred a boon on him in order that he may consume [here] his share [in the future].”

“Why when you saw the wedding procession did you weep?”
He said: “The husband will die within thirty days, and she will have to wait for the brother-in-law who is still a child of thirteen years.”

“Why, when you heard a man say to the shoemaker, Make me shoes to last seven years, did you laugh?”
He replied: “That man has not seven days to live, and he wants shoes for seven years!”

“Why when you saw that diviner divining did you laugh?”
He said: “He was sitting on a royal treasure: he should have divined what was beneath him.”

Solomon kept him with him until he had built the Temple. One day when he was alone with him, he said, “it is written, He hath as it were to’afoth and re’em, and we explain that to’afoth means the ministering angels and re’em means the demons. What is your superiority over us?”
He said to him, “Take the chain off me and give me your ring, and I will show you.”

So he took the chain off him and gave him the ring. He then swallowed him, and placing one wing on the earth and one on the sky he hurled him four hundred parasangs. In reference to that incident Solomon said, “What profit is there to a man in all his labour wherein he laboureth under the sun.”

And this was my portion from all my labour.  What is referred to by ‘this’? — Rab and Samuel gave different answers, one saying that it meant his staff and the other that it meant his apron. He used to go round begging, saying wherever he went, I Koheleth was king over Israel in Jerusalem. When he came to the Sanhedrin, the Rabbis said: Let us see, a madman does not stick to one thing only. What is the meaning of this?

They asked Benaiah, “Does the king send for you?” He replied, “No.” They sent to the queens saying, “Does the king visit you?” They sent back word, “Yes, he does.” They then sent to them to say, “Examine his leg.” They sent back to say, “He comes in stockings, and he visits them in the time of their separation and he also calls for Bathsheba his mother.”

They then sent for Solomon and gave him the chain and the ring on which the Name was engraved. When he went in, Asmodeus on catching sight of him flew away, but he remained in fear of him, therefore is it written, Behold it is the litter of Solomon, threescore mighty met, are about it of the mighty men of Israel. They all handle the sword and are expert in war, every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.