Friday, January 26, 2007

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (1.2. Part 4: Re-examining the Davidide in the DSS)

Scholars generally downplay the presence of Davidic expectations in the first-century by noting that the Qumran community expected a priestly Messiah.[1] While this fact should not be overlooked, it should also not obscure the important point that Davidic hopes were indeed present. Regarding the Dead Sea community Sanders has made the stunning claim that the Davidic Messiah “does nothing.”[2] This extreme view goes against the opinion of most Qumran analysts.[3] A careful look at the sectarian literature reveals that Sanders’ claim is simply inaccurate.

As we saw earlier, the passage in 4Q252 5:1-4 identifies the “messiah of justice” as “the branch of David.” In 4Q285 5:2-3 this Davidic figure is called the “Prince of the Congregation.” It is most likely he who leads God’s people in the eschatological war (4Q285 4-5; 4Q376 3; 1Q28b 5:20-29). 1Q28b describes how this prince will defeat the enemy “by the breath of his lips,” evoking the Davidic figure of Is. 11:4. While there are two messianic figures—one cannot deny the important role of the Davidic figure.[4] In fact, it is widely accepted that Davidic expectations were especially high in the sect’s later period (4 B.C. to A.D. 68).[5]
[1] CD 7:10-21 interpreting Balaam’s prophecy in Nm 24:13 in terms of the “Interpreter of the law” (= “the star) and the “Prince of the whole congregation” (= “the scepter”); 1QS 9:11-12: “the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel”; 4Q174 1:11-12: “the branch of David” and the “Interpreter of the law”.
[2] Sanders, Historical Jesus, 241.
[3] Laato, A Star¸294, cf. n. 17; For example, see Frank Moore Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran (3rd ed.; Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1995). Cross writes that the Davidic figure “would be lay head of the New Israel, commander of the troops in the Final War, and universal king” (159).
[4] Collins, The Scepter, 60: “The Dead Sea sect did indeed have its own distinctive attitude to messianism and indeed did look for supernatural deliverance in the final war, but the Davidic king had a well-established place in their expectations.”
[5] Mark Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts: The Promise and its Fulfillment in Luke Christology (JSNT Supplement Series 110: Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 43, cf. n. 3 for further sources.


cranky said...

Your posts are always fascinating. The content is super. Wish print were larger. When I get smarter, I'll as questions.

DimBulb said...


If you press your Ctrl key and hold it down and then press your plus/equal key [+=] the text size will increase. The text gets bigger the more you press the += key. To decrease size press the Ctrl key and the hyphen/minus key. To return text to original size press the Ctrl key and the zero key.