Tales of the Patriarchs
Paraphrase and comments by Lesley Faulk and Amanda Scott
The "Tales of the Patriarchs," which deals with the
descendants of Adam, is sometimes referred to as the "Genesis
Apocryphon." Originally, the Genesis Apocryphon
was referred to as the fourth scroll because it was the
fourth scroll out of seven to be found in the Qumran Cave.
This "Dead Sea Scroll" was originally thought to have come
from the apocryphal book of Enoch because a small portion of
the scroll that had been unraveled, mentioned Enoch's
name(Fitzmeyer, pg. 4). However, when another section was
unraveled, scholars were lead to believe that this scroll
came from the apocryphal book of Lamech, a name that was already
known to scholars because of the book Jubilees.
The reason why they thought this scroll came from the
book of Lamech is because the speaker spoke about
Bitenosh, Lamech's wife, in first person (Yadin, pg. 144).
Yet once again, this belief was wrong. When the scroll was
finally fully unraveled, it had references to Noah, Abraham
and Lot, making the scrolls relation to the
Jubilees more apparent. In many senses one can
refer to this text as a "Little Genesis" because its
literary dependence on Genesis is similar to that of the
Jubilees (Fitzmeyer, pg. 4).
When Avigad and Yadin published the fourth scroll, they
realized that they could no longer call it the "Book of
Lamech" and so they decided on the title Genesis
Apocryphon to avoid any further commitments to the
character of the writing contained in the scroll. Avigad
stated that "these stories are based on the biblical
narratives but they also deal with other subjects and
details previously unknown" (Fitzmeyer, pg. 5). An example
of this is in of the story of Joseph and Sarah and their
time in Egypt. In column 20 of the Apocryphon, the time
duration of Sarah living with the Pharaoh is given as two
years unlike the bible when a time frame was not given
(Yadin, pg. 144). Also, the purity of Sarah which was in
question in the bible is maintained in the Genesis
Apocryphon. Sarah could not have relations with the
Pharaoh because the evil spirit that Joseph prayed for to
God made all the men in Egypt impotent. Thus, the purity of
Adam descendants were maintained (WAC, pg. 74).
However, not all scholars agreed with this title
Apocryphon because as R. Meyers believes, "it evokes its
counterpart, a canonical book, and consequently introduces
not the Qumran literature a slight anachronism." Yet, even
with some criticism, the fourth scroll is known as the
Now that the debate of naming this scroll was over, the
task of placing this text into a genre began. It has already
been stated that this text relies heavily on the canonical
Genesis, however, this scroll contains additional details
that were obviously derived from some non-biblical sources.
For instance, Gn 5.28-29 in the bible is the starting point
for the extended narrative for columns 2-5 which are
embellishments of the birth of Noah. Columns 6-17 deals with
Noah, the flood, and the division of the earth between his
sons. These lines can once again be compared to the Jubilees
chapters 4-9. In column 18 and 19 where the narrative has
shifted to Abraham. This text is the expanded version
corresponds with of Gn 11.27-14. There is an obvious
similarity between the working of this section to the
Jubilees. In column 22, a less direct translation can be
seen, with the author reverting to the free reworking of the
Genesis story which has been seen in previous columns, yet
not returning to the first person except for conversation
itself (Fitzmeyer, pg. 6).
Frag.1 Col. 1
You should let your anger and tear out (?)... and who is the
man who.. the fury of your anger..... and those who have
been destroyed and killed, bereft and... and now I have
stopped the prisoners.... the Great Holy One....all that
Frag.1 Col 2:
day of... all...land of... and the evil for...
...and they were hit from behind...in front of the lord
.... and with the sowing....not even the mystery of evil
which....the mystery which
I thought, in my heart, that the conception was the work of
the Watchers the pregnancy of the Holy Ones and that it
belonged to the Giants... and my heart
was upset by this... I, Lamech, turned to my wife Bitenosh
and said... Swear to me by the Most High, Great Lord, King
of the Universe...the sons of heavens,
that you will truthfully tell me everything, if... You will
tell me without lies... Then Bitenosh, my wife spoke harshly
and she cried... and said: Oh my brother and lord! Remember
my pleasure... the time of love, gasping for breath. I will
tell you everything truthfully... and then my heart began to
ache... When Bitenosh realized my mood had changed...Then
she withheld her anger and said to me: O my lord and
brother! Remember my pleasure. I swear to you by the Great
Holy One, the King of the heavens... That this seed,
pregnancy, and planting of fruit comes from you and not a
stranger, Watcher, or son of the heaven... Why is your
expression changed and your spirit saddened... I speak
honestly to you... Then I, Lamech, went to my father,
Methuselah, and told him everything so that he would know
the truth because he is well liked... and he is in well with
the Holy Ones and they share everything with him. Methuselah
went to Enoch to find the truth... he will. And he went to
Parvaim, where Enoch lived... He said to Enoch: O my father
and lord, to whom I... I tell you! Do not be angry because I
came here to you... fear before you...
For in the days of Jared, my father...
Enoch...not from the sons of heaven, but from Lamech your
son... I now tell you... and I reveal to you... Go tell your
son Lamech... When Methuselah heard this... And with his son
Lamech, he spoke... Now when I, Lamech, heard these
things... Which he got out of me
I abstained from injustice and in the womb of my mother who
conceived me I searched for truth. When I emerged from my
mother's womb, I lived all my days in truth and walked in
the path of eternal truth. And the Holy One was with me...
on my pathways truth sped to warn me off the... of lie which
led to darkness.. I braced my loins with the vision of truth
and wisdom... paths of violence. vacat Then, I Noah
became a man that clung to truth and seized... I took
Amzara, his daughter as my wife. She conceived and bore me
three sons and daughters. I Then took wives from my
brother's family for my sons, and I gave my daughters to my
nephews according to the law of the eternal precept which
Most High ordained to the sons of man. vacat And in
my days, when according to my reckoning... ten jubilees had
been completed, the time came for my sons to take wives for
themselves... heaven, I saw in a vision and was explained
and made known the actions of the sons of heaven and... the
heavens. Then I hid this mystery in my heart and explained
it to no one. vacat... to me and a great and... and
in a message of the Holy One... and he spoke to me in a
vision and he stood before me... and the message of the
Great Holy One called out to me: "To you they say, O'
Noah,..." and I reckoned the whole conduct of the sons of
the earth. I knew and explained everything... two weeks.
then the blood which the Giants had spilled... I was at ease
and waited until... the holy ones with the daughters of
man... The I Noah, found grace, greatness and for my entire
life I have behaved righteously...I, Noah, a man...
God told Noah that he would rule over the earth and the seas
and all they encompass. Noah was overjoyed at the idea.
The arc rested upon the mountain of Ararat (Hurarat). Noah
atoned for the land and burned incense on the alter.
God makes a covenant with Noah telling him he could no
longer eat blood of any kind.
I placed my bow in the cloud and it became a sign for me in
the cloud... the earth... it was revealed to me in the
mountains... a vineyard in the
mountains of Ararat... After the flood Noah and his sons
descended from the mountain. They saw the widespread
devastation of the earth. After the flood Noah's children
began to have his grandchildren-Sons ands daughters. They then planted the soil and put a
vineyard on Mount Lubar that produced wine four years later:
On the first day of the fifth year, there was a feast at
which the first wine was drank. Noah gathered his family
together and they went to the alter and thanked god for
saving them from the destruction of the flood.
...They were cutting gold, silver, stones, and clay and
taking some for themselves. I saw the gold and silver...
iron, and they cut down all the trees and took some. I saw
the sun, moon, and stars cutting and taking some for
themselves... I turned to see the olive tree and behold, it
was rising up and for many hours... many leaves... appeared
in them. I watched the olive tree and the abundance of its
leaves... they tied to it. I was greatly amazed by the tree
and its leaves... the four winds of heaven were strongly
blowing and they were breaking off and smashing the branches
of the olive tree. The westerly wind hit first, knocking off
its fruit and leaves and scattering them everywhere. Then...
...Listen and hear! You are the great cedar... standing in
front of you in a dream on the mountain tops... truth. The
willow that springs from it and rises high (these are) three
sons... And the one that you did see, the first willow got
attached to the stump of the cedar... and the wood from
it... will never separate from you. And among it
posterity... will be called... will grow a wonderful
plant... will stand forever. And what you saw, the willow
caught the stump... the last willow... part of their branch
entered the branch of the first
tree, two sons... And what you saw, that part of their
branch entered the branch of the first tree... I explained
to him the mystery...
...And that you saw all of them... They will go around, the
majority of them will be evil. and what you saw, that a man
came from the south, with a sickle in his hand, and bringing
fire with him... who will come from the south of the land...
And they will put wickedness on the fire, a;;... And he
should come between... Four angels... between all nations.
And they will all worship and be dumbfounded... I will
honestly explain to you. And I, Noah woke up from my sleep
and the Sun.
Noah divided the land among his decedents.... all the land
of the north as far as... this boundary, the waters of the
Mediterranean.... the Tina River.
Noah further divided the land West, to Asshur, as far as the
Tigris. He gave Aram land as far as the source of.... this
Mountain of the Bull, and he crossed it westward as far
as.... where the three parts met.... For Arpachshad... He gave Gomer a part in the northeast t the Tina
River.... To Magog...
I, Abraham built and alter (at Bethel) and called to god,
praising him. I then went to the Holy mountain and to
Hebron where he lived for two years.
Because there was famine in the land my family and I
traveled to Egypt where grain was plentiful. I went across
the branches of the Nile to enter
Egypt, the land of the sons of Ham. I had a dream about a
cedar tree and a date-palm tree. When people came to cut
down the cedar tree, the date-palm tree objected, saying
that they were grown from a single root. The cedar tree was
spared. I became fearful of the dream and told it to my
wife. I explained it as it pertained to us telling Sarah
that the men will come for her and try to kill me. I warned
Sarah that she must tell everyone that I am her brother so
that my life can be spared. She became scared and did not
want to go to Zoan for fear of being seen. Five years
later, councilors of the Egyptians
court and advisors of the Pharaoh of Zoan came, having heard the words of my
wife. They brought gifts and requested knowledge from me. I
read to them from the Book of the words of Enoch.
The men return to the Pharaoh and describe Sarah's features:
beautiful face, supple hair, lovely eyes, pleasant nose,
radiant face. He continued on
describing her shapely breasts, perfect hands, and
everything down to her long and delicate fingers. the men
compared her to and rated her far higher than virgins and
birds, and all other women alike. Hearing this, and then
seeing Sarah, the pharaoh wanted her and took her for his
wife. Sarah saved me by telling the pharaoh that I was her
brother and that night I and my nephew Lot cried together I
prayed to Lord for justice. I wanted
the Lord to raise up against the pharaoh and protect Sarah.
God listened and sent an evil spirit to the entire household
that prevented the pharaoh from having sexual relations with
Sarah for the two years that they were together. At the end
of the two years, the plagues and afflictions were so great
that magicians and healers were sent for. They were, of
course, ineffective, and they all soon left. Hyrcanos went
to me pleading for help against the plague because I had
been seen in a dream. I agreed to help only when my wife
Sarah is returned to me. The pharaoh heard this and
confronted me, himself asking why I lied saying that Sarah
was my sister. He agreed to give Sarah back and I exorcised
the evil spirit from the house of the pharaoh. The pharaoh
swore to me that he had not touched Sarah while they were
together and gave her gifts of gold, silver, linen, and
purple-dyed clothing. Sarah and I were then led out of
Egypt. I, Sarah, Lot, and his wife took our flocks and the
gold and silver I had received and
I went to all my old campsites until I reached Bethel, the
place where I once built an alter, and then I built another
one and offered up burnt offerings and a cereal offerings to
the God Of Most High, and invoked the name of the Lord of
the Universe there. I praised God's name and blessed god and
gave thanks to Him there for all the flocks and goods and
wealth which he has given me, for the good he has done for
me, and because He had returned me to this land safely.
After this day, Lot left me on
the account of our shepherd's behavior. He went to live in
the Valley of Jordan taking all his flocks with him. And I
also added greatly to what he had. he pastured his flock and
kept moving until he reached Sodom
and bought a house there, while I still lived in the
mountain of Bethel. It bothered me that Lot and I had
God came to me in a dream and
said to me: Go up to Ramat Hazor
which is north of Bethel, the place you are living now, and
look to the east, west, south and to the north. Look at the
land which I am giving you and your descendants forever. The
next morning I went up to Ramat Hazor and looked at the land
from that height, from the river of Egypt up to Lebanon and
Senir, and from the Great Sea up to
Hauran, and all the land of Gebel to Qadesh, and
all the Great Desert, as far as the
Euphrates and he said to me: I shall give all this land to
your descendants; and they will inherit it forever. I will
multiply your descendants like the dust of the earth that
none can count. Your descendants will be numberless. Arise,
walk about, go "see how long and how wide it is, for I will
give it to you and to your descendants after you,
Then I, Abraham, went out
traveling in a circuit to survey the land. I began the
circuit at the Gihion River, I went
along the Mediterranean Sea until I reached the Mountain of
the Bull. I circled from the coast
of this great river saltwater sea, skirting the Mount of the
Bull, and continued eastward through the breadth of the and
until I came to the Euphrates river. I traveled along the
Euphrates until I reached the red sea in the east, whence I
followed the coast of the Red Sea until I came to the branch
of the Reed Sea, jutting out from
the Red Sea. From there I completed the circuit, moving
southward to arrive at Gihon River. Then I returned home
safely and found all is well with my men. Then I went and
settled next to the oaks of Mamre,
which is northeast of Hebron. There I built an alter and
offered up burnt offering and a cereal offering to the God
Most High. I ate and drank there, I and all the men of my
household, and invited Mamre, Arnem, and Eshkol, three
Amorite brothers and my friends. They ate and drank together
with me. Prior to those days Chedorlaomer, the king of Elam,
Amraphel, the king of Babylon, Arioch, the king of
Cappadocia, and Tidal, the king of
Goiim, which lies between the two
rivers had come. They had waged war on Bera, the king of
Sodom, Birsha, the king of Gomorrah, Shinab, the king of
Admah, Shemiabad, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela.
All these formed an alliance to do battle in the Valley of
Siddim. Now the king of Elam, and the kings with him proved
to be stronger than the king of Sodom and imposed tribute
upon them. Over twelve years they continued paying their
tribute to the king of Elam, but in the thirteenth they
rebelled against him. Thus the fourteenth year the king of
Elam sallied forth with all his allies, and they ascended by
the way of the desert. They smote and
plundered beginning from the Euphrates. They kept on
smiting-smiting the Rephaim who were in the Asteroth-
Kernaim, the Zumzammin who were
Amman, the Emim who were in Shaveh-
hakerioth, and the Horites who were in the mountain of
Gebal-until they reached El- Paran, in the desert. They
returned...in Hazazon-tamar. The
king of Sodom went out to meet him, together with the king
of Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and the king of Bela. They
engaged in battle in the valley of Siddim against
Chedorlaomer, and allies that were with him. The king of
Sodom was defeated and put to flight while the king of
Gomorrah fell into the pits... The king Elam plundered all
the property of Sodom and of Gomorrah and they captured Lot.
 The columns numbers differ between sources.
This is because recent research has shown that the 1Q20 fragments
comprise column 1 and 2 but are not after included with this
 Lamech believes that his wife Bitenosh has
been with fallen angels called Watchers or Nephilim. He fears
his child may be a Giant because of this union with the Watcher.
 Most High, Great Lord, King of the Universe
are all referring to God; the names make God appear even more
powerful and mighty.
 This column contains the beginning of
Enoch's reply to Methuselah. He starts talking about how in the
days of Jared, angels descended to take human wives.
 There are very few sources where this
column's context is explained. Many sources attempt to
hypothesize what the text is trying to get across but an
agreement has yet to be established. The main thrust of this
text is that Noah, after being born with the gift of knowing
the truth, lived his life righteously, married, and married his
children off. Finally this passage ends with Noah having a
 These are the activities that occur
immediately after the flood.
 Mountain of Ararat
 Noah's grandsons were Arpachsad, Gomer,
Magog, Madai, Yavan, Tubal, Mosok, and Tiras. Others were born,
as well as granddaughters, but their names are not mentioned.
 This column is not found in many sources
and no explanations are given beyond the text. It is unclear who
"they" and the significance of the olive tree. Columns 14 and 15
also have no further explanation.
 Part of the branch possibly got entangled
 This passage presents the idea that Noah
had been dreaming in columns 13,14,15 after he came down from the
 Noah's firstborn grandson.
 Son of Japhet.
 Another son of Japhet.
 In the bible it only states that Abraham
set out, continuing on his way to Negeb with no mention of
Hebron. Hebron is a town older than any other in the country-
approximately 2300 years old.
 Carmon is the branch mentioned but it is
controversial whether the translation from Greek gives an actual
branch of the Nile or not.
 As with all Biblical writings, the
mention of time periods is controversial. five years is not an
exact time period.
 Zoan is the old Testament name for Tanis,
a town in Egypt.
 The descriptions of Sarah's beauty
provide many details that writers of the scroll believed were
locking in the Old Testament.
 This can be literally taken as "all the
bloom" of her face. It suggests Sarah's god given beauty that
cannot be taken away.
 Biblical accounts do not include
Abraham's praying to God.
 This is actually interpreted incorrectly.
The gifts were given to Sarah by the Pharaoh, and Abraham's
wealth was independent of these gifts.
 located in the Jordan Valley but
unfortunately, no other information is given.
 it is the highest spot in the mountains
of Judea, which gives Abraham an unique view of the land.
 Mt. Hermon which is the southern tip of
the Anti-Lebanon range.
 it is a broad, high plateau that is
southeast of Mt. Hermon..
 it is the land south of the Dead Sea.
 associated with the Gebel, it is
southeast of the Dead Sea.
 the desert between Egypt and Palestine.
 it is associated with the Nile River and
it is undoubtedly the same as the "River of Egypt".
 it is part of the Taurus mountain range
called Mount Amanus, situated north of Alexandretta.
 Tongue-shaped gulf of the Suez.
 Are oak trees belonging to Mamre, the
Amorite that is later mentioned in this text. Abraham settles
near the oak of Ogyges.
 kingdom located in Asia Minor.
 A place in the Mesopotamia.
 Syrian Desert.
 Ashteroh is found east of Jordan.
 Inhabitant of the ancient land of Moab.
 Situated somewhere in the southern area
of the Dead Sea.
Fitzmyer, J. 1966. The Genesis Apocryphon Of Qumran
Cave I. Pontifical Biblical Institute: pgs. 1-164
Martinez, F.G. 1994. The Dead sea scrolls translated:
The Qumran text in English. E.J. Brill Leiden New
York: pgs. 230-237
Vermes, G. 1962. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in
English. Penguin Press: pgs. 448-458
Wise, Abegg, Cook. 1990. Dead Sea Scrolls: A new
Translation. Harper Collins Publishers: pgs. 74-85
Yadin, Y. 1957. The Message of the Scrolls.
Simon and Schuster: pgs. 145-148
Intro. to the Hebrew Bible
by Lesley Faulk and Amanda Scott