The Princes in 4QSongs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, Songs Six and Eight: Are They Angelic or Human?
Festschrift for Willie van Heerden
Keywords:4QSongs of the Sabbath Sacricice, Songs Six and Eight, princes, angels, people of discernment, angelomorphic, Qumran, Fletcher-Louis
The pervasive ambiguity in Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (SOSS) presents a major problem: When are the activities described in this text performed by angels and when by humans? This article builds on previous research on Songs One, Seven, Twelve, Thirteen, and knowledge in SOSS that hypothesized that as the liturgy proceeds through the thirteen songs of 4QSOSS a gradual transition takes place in the human participants. In Song Six the seven chief princes initially bless God and then proceed to bless “all councils in the sanctuary, and those who have knowledge of eternal things,” “those whose way is perfect,” “all who wait for Him … for a return of His gracious compassion.” The following song, significantly the middle of the liturgy, describes angelic messenger activity arising from the throne of God, based on Ezekiel’s merkebah chapters. After Song Seven, a dramatic change takes place. In Song Eight those who do the blessing are no longer “chief” princes, but “deputy” princes. The hypothesis of this article is that these deputy princes are the “people of discernment” introduced in Song One, who, having persevered in joint exaltation of God with the “holiest of holy ones,” are enabled to become “god-like” messengers of God, to convey God’s compassion to those “who wait for Him.”
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