This study is premised on the understanding that the authors of the Qumran Pesharim believed that rare words and word combinations held special-contextual meaning when found in sacred texts. In support of this concept it is shown that Pesher uses an exegetical technique in which scriptural verses identified through rare words contained within them, and which are lexically associated with the lemma through Stichworter, are themselves used to provide additional keywords. Through these keywords subsequent verses containing other rare or conspicuous words are identified which, although not directly associated with the lemma, are incorporated into the interpretation. This process could be repeated multiple times, i. e., cascading Stichworter, in order to “reveal” a desired interpretation. In the cases presented, this very elegant hermeneutical method has the key benefit of explaining in an objective way not only the relationship between the lemma and the gloss but also the narrative flow of the gloss itself. Most importantly, it also provides a third level of understanding to the text: 1) lemma 2) gloss and 3) a newly revealed level consisting of the community’s dogma, theological underpinnings, and kerygma. Further, this hermeneutical method allows for the understanding that the interpretation promulgated was revealed through the “Word (davar) of God,” based on divinely placed markers which would alert the inspired-understanding reader to pay attention to their surrounding context and then make the required connections. This method is illustrated first in its simplest form with the use of the basic building blocks of this technique to contemporize scripture. Ultimately, it is shown that Pesher carries this technique a step further by using these units of hermeneutics to build on one another into what can be understood as a cascade of Stichworter and word crafting which is presented in increasing levels of intricacy.
This study posits that the Temptation pericope of Matt 4:1–11 and the Psalm Pesher (4QpPsa, 4Q171) are based on a common tradition. Underlying this tradition is a dual-tripartite construct of testing/temptation. This is based on the three Pentateuchal wilderness tests encountered by Israel which are identifiable through the root נ–ס–ה/“test:” keeping the law, false prophecy leading to idolatry, and testing God. Conflated, and individually correlated with this, are the three nets of Belial: “fornication,” “wealth,” and “profanation of the Temple,” respectively. Also going beyond the biblical narrative are the Devil acting in circumlocution for God, the venues, forms of testing, and lexicon used in corresponding testing sections of these two texts. Only through Psalm 37, together with its exegesis in 4Q171, is this shared tradition recognized. In conclusion, the provenance and diachronic history of this tradition, which resulted in differing understandings of it, is investigated.