Reader's Requests for Pesher

© 2006,2007,2008 Dr. Barbara Thiering

Matthew 26:15

Matthew 26:15 was not in Section 6 which covers the Thursday and Good Friday as this event was one of those early in the month of March.

15. eipen, ti thelete moi dounai; kagō hymin paradōsō auton. Hoi de estēsen autō triakonta argyria.

15. He (RLR to Judas v. 14) said. “ The T ( Sadducee Greek letter replacing the Hebrew X for Taw, a ‘T’) you (plural Jonathan Annas the Chief Priests, Sadducee Pope) wish (acting under his own will, not monastic) to give (without payment for promotion) to me (Judas, to make Judas his levite). (A statement, not a question). And I to you (plural, Jonathan) will give-beside (serve as deputy to ) him.” (RLR to Jesus v.10, making Jesus the levite and Judas only a third, the king, and less culpable. ).

The ones (new subject) stood (Jonathan Annas remained as leader) for him (RLR to Jesus v. 15, Jonathan giving payment for (for the sake of) Jesus. Judas to be Chief Levite and Jesus to be simply the king, a third) thirty silver (the silver coins paid by the 30 lay levites as their annual promotion fee, confirming Judas as the Chief Levite).

15. See Figure 15. The outer hall at Qumran acted as the abbey, under the Abba, the abbot, Jonathan Annas at this time. Along its east-west length stood 4 rows of 30 each, totalling 120 (Acts 1:15). They paid their annual Herodian promotion fees, named in 4Q159, when they came to Qumran. The top row were lay levites, under the Chief Levite to Jonathan Annas the Chief Priest.The fees were paid in gold, silver, or copper coins according to rank. The top row paid 30 silver coins.

Jonathan Annas as a pro-Roman Pope was trying to keep the parties together by making Judas his Chief Levite. Judas said he would prefer to be subordinate to Jesus. That would mean that Jesus was the Chief Levite and Judas the third man, equal to the lay king, more easily pardoned.

Jonathan wanted to make Jesus the layman the third man, with a chance of being pardoned. Jonathan inisisted on Judas being the Chief Levite. So Judas received the 30 silver coins from the top row of lay levites. Judas sat in the position of levite to Jonathan Annas in front of him at the Last Supper.

Judas was playing a double role, acting also as the servant of Agrippa I, the enemy of Simon Magus the associate of Judas. During the Last Supper Judas betrayed his militant colleagues by sending a message to Pilate about their whereabouts. He hoped thus to buy a pardon for his own attack against Rome. Agrippa did not uphold him for this action. When Judas surrendered to be crucified, the money was given back, to finance the Potter’s Field, that is Loc 64 at Qumran where the potter’s kiln stood. (Matthew 27:3-10). It was in the area near the large cistern, Loc 71, which was for the first initiation of village pilgrims. They were taught by lay levites.

John 3:16

Essential point. The Sadducee Jonathan Annas, who has just become priestly head of the mission following the arrest of John the Baptist in March 31 AD, invites married men and Gentiles into a sacred meal originally intended for Therapeuts who were living as celibates. The inclusion of these with Jonathan Annas means that Jesus is treated as the legitimate heir of the David dynasty, against Pharisee opinion. Agrippa Herod has now become Sadducee and is expected to benefit from the Restoration in the deferred jubilee year 31 AD.

16. houtōs gar ēgapēsen ho theos ton kosmon, hōste ton huion ton monogenē edōken, hina pas ho pisteuōn eis auton mē apolētai all' echē zōēn aiōnion.

16. Thus for God loved the world , so the Only-begotten Son he (RLR to the World, the chief married man ) gave, in order that All One believing at him (RLR to World subject of "gave") should not be destroyed, nevertheless that he (RLR to All One) should have Life of the aeon.

16. According to the concealed chronology that dates all events, John the Baptist was arrested as a false prophet in March 31 AD. As the Zadokite heir, he had been the Pope to the ascetic community, acting in the position that had been established by Herod the Great in the 30's BC. Herod had endorsed the New Israel, an updated form of Judaism that was more acceptable to Jews in the Diaspora. Its Pope and patriarchs were called a (new) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When John the Baptist, a hardline ascetic, lost his position, he was replaced by the more liberal Jonathan Annas, a Sadducee who was one of the sons of Ananus the Elder, appointed high priest by the Romans in 6 AD. The term "believe", from "faith", applied to the "Abraham", as the original Abraham had been noted for his faith (Galatians 3:6-7).

As liberals, the Sadducees held that the pre-nuptial conception of Jesus at the time of Joseph and Mary's binding betrothal did not make him illegitimate. He was the Only-Begotten Son, a title of the Davids derived from Psalm 2:7. In the previous year James, the next brother of Jesus, was called the Only- Begotten Son, because he had been conceived in wedlock and Pharisee opinion held him to be the true heir (Luke 7: 12).

At this time Agrippa Herod was back in his homeland, having been expelled from Rome by Tiberius for bankruptcy. In association with the influential ascetics, he professed whatever political opinion was in power. He had followed John the Baptist, but now changed to the Sadducee views of Jonathan Annas. He would not for the present return to Rome, which under Tiberius was a place of destruction of his hopes for a restoration of the Herodian monarchy. Agrippa was accepted in his homeland after being classed with Sinners and Gentiles, the "unclean" class who could be redeemed on the Day of Atonement.

The information on calendar given in the Chronology section (See "Chronology" in Section 3) shows that a year 490, an Aeon, was expected in the gospel period. According to the prophecy of Enoch it would bring the Restoration of the true rulers of the country. Repeatedly deferred, it should come at one of the versions of year 490. Previous party differences had resulted in all the years of the gospel period being called the Aeon. This verse refers to the Day of Atonement in 31 AD.

Mark 9:1

The words were spoken by Jesus shortly before the occasion on September 12, AD 32, which is described in Mark's gospel (9:2-8) as the Transfiguration. It is one of the most important and valuable passages for the whole history. There are 3 independent accounts of what happened on that day. One is in the DSS, in 1QpHab 11:1-4, concerning the occasion when the Wicked Priest (Jesus) "caused them to stumble" on the Day of Atonement. The reason was that Jesus himself made an attempt at the papal power, as he agreed with neither of the rival parties. His garments "underwent a metamorphosis" and "became exceedingly white" when he put on the white robes of the Zadokite high priest (Mk 9:2-3). Another outside source is in the Clementines (Clementine Homilies 2, 24) which record that although Dositheus (Jonathan Annas) had gained the papacy after the execution of John the Baptist, he was subsequently ousted by Simon Magus. The gospels themselves give their account of the same event, both in the Transfiguration episode and in John 7.

1. Kai elegen autois, Amēn legō hymin hoti eisin tines hōde tōn estēkotōn hoitines ou mē geusōntai thanatou heōs an idōsin tēn basileian tou theou elēlythuian en dynamei.

1. And he (Jesus) said to them, "Truly I say to you that Certain Ones here of those standing, the Certain Ones will not-not taste of death until {heōs} they See{eidon} the kingdom of God having come in Power."

1. The pesher of this verse is about politics, as is always the case. Its theological meaning, apparently saying that some will not taste death until a great religious future, is only indirectly connected with its pesher. The special meaning concerns a political crisis that was occurring in September AD 32, when the Damascus party was formed as a military opposition to both Rome and to Agrippa. Jesus was at this point giving some support to its formation as being inevitable in the present circumstances, and was anticipating that it would win power.

A characteristic device of pesher is the use of a double negative that becomes a positive. The Greek "not not taste of death" means "will taste of death." "Death" is a name for a person, Simon Magus. He was the rival Pope who would gain power in the crisis . A certain person, given the pseudonym hoitines apparently meaning "some", would taste Death, that is form a political alliance with Simon Magus. The word "Power" also means Simon in his role as the Pope.

The men named in the verse by pseudonyms are Thomas Herod (tines), Theudas the Chief Therapeut (hoitines) (Certain Ones with the plural article meaning the Chief Therapeut), Simon Magus ("Death" and "Power"), and Jonathan Annas, the Sadducee who is referred to by the name "God", for Sadducee priests believed that they were an incarnation of God. All of these are found in the narrative of Acts in the party based in Damascus. It was the same party that produced the secatarian Dead Sea Scrolls.

Mark 12:17
"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

On the surface, the verse would mean "Politics is one thing and religion is another, and they should be kept separate".
Its pesher, however, says far more. It belongs in the historical circumstances of its day, different from our own. It is:
Support the Herod while he is pro-Roman, but don't let him misappropriate the welfare funds.

Herod the Great (37- 4 BC) had been appointed by Augustus Caesar his representative in the east. After the occupation of 6 AD, Judea had to pay tribute to Rome. There was no Herod for many years, and it was paid through the high priest. The subsequent claimant to the Herod kingship, Agrippa I, courted Rome by taking the credit for the payment of tribute even before he regained the monarchy. On these occasions he misled the public by using the title "Caesar". The pesher of "Caesar" when used without an added name is always the Agrippa, either Agrippa I in Mark 12:13-17, John 19;12-15, or Agrippa II in Acts. When they wanted to speak of the literal emperor, they used the title Sebastos, "Revered One" (Acts 25:21 ,Acts 25:25).

The capricious Agrippa I had frequent changes of attitude, sometimes in favor of Rome, at other times arousing eastern sentiment against its domination. The missionaries of the ascetic movement who were followers of Jesus were pro-Roman, accepting that the empire was solidly established and brought many benefits. In the gospel period, while Agrippa I was in his pro-Roman mood, they supported him against militant nationalists. But when he was not claiming to be a Caesar, they warned against him. So:

"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's". Support the Herod while he is pro-Roman.

In particular, there was a financial issue. Herod the Great, as is shown in the fragment 4Q159, had introduced a new way of raising revenue. The hundreds of thousands of Jews living in the Diaspora were usually prosperous, and were willing to send back money for the support of their impoverished homeland. To bring them into a close community, Herod drew on the current fashion for initiation. They became initiated as Jews, not simply born Jews, and that covered many proselytes who had been attracted by Judaism. Their initiation fee was called a "ransom for the soul", because they had been given salvation from a coming destruction by their membership, with its token payment of a half-shekel. In addition, they were given annual promotion in the hierarchy by the payment of another half-shekel, called a "peace offering" because it was the equivalent of a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. It was the origin of the system of indulgences.

Herod the Great became extremely wealthy by this means, and used the money for building programs in Judea, including Masada, the harbor at Caesarea, and above all the renovation of the Jerusalem temple. But by the time of Jesus there was a strong objection to the payment of money for religious salvation. When Jesus "cleansed the temple" he was dramatising his objection - a political action. Those agreeing with him gave initiation to Gentiles without any such payment. They were "saved by grace" - as a gift. But the consequence of such a policy was a serious erosion of Herodian income. When Agrippa I had returned to his country in 23 AD, out of favor with the emperor Tiberius, he was bankrupt. He was hungry for money, and moreover wanted to keep up the Herodian reputation by impressive building projects.

Long before the time of the Herods, Sadducee priests with Essenes had instituted a system of welfare funds that is described in CD 14:12-16. While homeland Essenes in their villages practiced common property from which they cared for the indigent, those in the Diaspora were not close to each other, but they earned money. They drew on the ancient Israelite system of tithes - one-tenth of the produce given to priests. At the end of every month of 30 days they handed over the income of 3 days. The first day was for the priest, the next two for the Poor and Crippled, the categories of welfare recipients. Their numbers ensured that this was an effective system.

Agrippa I, deprived of the ransom and indulgence fees by increasingly popular missionaries, began to feel the pinch, and saw a way out by dipping into the welfare funds. They did not belong to him but to the Sadducee priests, who accepted being addressed as "God" because they represented divinity. The saying of Jesus in Mark 12:17 warned that he should not be allowed to misappropriate the money and so rob the poor. So:

"And to God the things that are God's". Don't let the Herod misappropriate the welfare funds.

Since there can be approximate parallels in our own time, the verse can be seen to mean "Be political when it is necessary to fight corruption."

Mark 13:30

30 Amēn legō hymin hoti ou mē parelthē hē genea hautē mechris hou tauta panta genētai.

30. "Truly I say to you that not-not will this generation pass away until All Things These Things have come about."

30. Another case of a double negative meaning a positive, and of a special meaning that was political. A "generation" was a period of 40 years, using the divisions of time made by the Therapeuts. "All Things" refers to Herodian policy. Mark 13 was added to Mark's gospel after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, as all scholars recognize. The verse means that the Herodian political ambitions for world power would fail altogether following the destruction of the city. That event took place 40 years after the gospel period - a figure that is also drawn on in the DSS, in CD 20:13-15.

Matthew 6:6
"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

SUMMARY OF THE PESHER: Christians may make a private confession of sin as well as the public one in the congregation, The individual confession is to be made to a priest who does not give forgiveness on his own authority. He derives his authority from the act of atonement made on the cross. To illustrate this, he sits in the darkness behind a closed door, hearing the confession from the person in the space outside. The confession is to be made in the chancel area of the church. (See below for the reasons for the pesher.)

6. sy de hotan proseuchē, eiselthe eis to tameion sou kai kleisas tēn thyran sou proseuxai tō patri sou tō en tō kryptō. kai ho patēr sou ho blepōn en tō kryptō apodōsei soi.

Literal translation. Underlined words when pressed will show the pesher from the Lexicon of special meanings.

6. You (singular) when {hotan} you pray, come at at the closet of you. And having closed the door of you, to pray to the father of you, the one in the crypt. And the father of you, seeing {blepo} in the crypt will give-from to you.

The reasons for the pesher, which is summarised above:

The saying is addressed to "you" in the singular, by contrast with the previous verse (6:5) beginning "when you (plural) pray..." The difference means that the subject is to act as an individual, not as one participating in the congregation's confession.

"Pray" always has the special meaning "petition for forgiveness of sins". "Father" is used in the same sense as is still used, a minister understood to be a priest. In the original setting, he was a representative of the "Abraham", the first Pope,a word meaning "father". In the 1st century BC that part had been played by Hillel, the great Jewish sage, in the New Israel of the court of Herod the Great. Although a layman, his merit caused him to be ranked just below the highest priests "Michael" and "Gabriel". Such a man could consequently continue to represent him.

The physical arrangements are essential to the pesher. (Refer to Figures 9 & 10a below)
The arrangements were as in the cathedral building, shown from the side in Figure 10a. As indicated by the numbers at the right side, a middle floor, the doma, held the table for the sacred meal on row 10. It rested on a floor half a cubit (9 inches) thick, the cubit being 18 inches. Steps led up to it, each a half cubit in height (the half cubits are not shown in the diagram). There was a space of 3 1/2 cubits (63 inches, 51/4 feet) under the doma, above the ground level, the space corresponding to rows 13, 12, 11 and the lower half of row 10. This space was the "crypt", a word derived from kryptō " to hide". It had just enough room for a man to sit in darkness. It later became the much enlarged crypt of a Christian church. Here, in the original structure, a priest sat to hear individual confessions, the person confessing standing on the steps outside.

Figure 9 shows the numbering of rows north-south. Row 10 corresponded to row 10 of the 10x10 cubit Holy of Holies of the Old Testament tabernacle (Exodus 26). It had had a concealing curtain across this lowest row, now replaced by a door. The door between the priest and the person confessing was closed. Further up, on row 6, a position for the highest priest(s) corresponded to the altar of incense in the tabernacle , where the great rite of atonement for sins was made once a year (Exodus 30:1-10). Between the priest hearing the confession on row 10, and the atonement position on row 6, there were 3 cubits, rows 9, 8 and 7. The different Greek verbs "to see" are used for the pesher with precision, each giving the number of cubits between the person seeing and what is seen. In this verse, the verb blepō is used, meaning 3 cubits between. Its use indicates that the priest hearing the confession in the crypt was looking to a power of atonement that was not his own, but a higher one. In Christian usage, it meant the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The priest could then grant forgiveness derived from this higher source.

When the architecture of a Christian church reproduced the plan of seating derived from Qumran, the dividing line between clergy and congregation was placed on rows 12 and 13, where the dais and its step lay in the Qumran north vestry. The area for the choir and clergy came to be called the chancel. The arrangements for confession were for the area above row 13, so in the chancel.

Figure 9

Figure 9. The room for the sacred meal.

Figure 10a

Figure 10a. The Tower.

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