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Genesis Apocryphon

This passage is very fragmentary, but seems to contain the story of the Watchers (Heb: עירין) or Nephilim found in 1 Enoch 1-36, based on Gen 6:1-4. Columns 2-5 tell the story of the birth of Noah, using both third-person accounts, and first person language from the point of view of Lamech, Noah’s father. The text details an exasperated Lamech, who questions whether the child being borne by his wife, Bath-Enosh, is his own, or belongs to one of the Nephilim.

A portion of column 2 states:

She said to me, “O my master and [brother, recall for yourself] my pregnancy. I swear to you by the Great Holy One, by the Ruler of Hea[ven] that this seed is yours, that this pregnancy is from you, that from you is the planting of [this] fruit [and that it is] not from any alien, or from any of the Nephilim, or from any heavenly bein[g.]

Trans. by Reeves

Cols. 6-17

This passage opens with the title “[A Copy of] The Book of the Words of Noah“, which parallels Persian chancery hand

In addition, the Aramaic word for “copy” parallels the Greek “A Copy of the Testament of X” in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

The framework for this section is established to be a “copy” of an authoritative record of either an edict or a patriarchal discourse.

The narrative is written in first person from Noah’s point of view and is his testament about the events that took place during his life. Column 6 begins with Noah’s declaration that he is a righteous man who has been warned about darkness. He marries, has sons and daughters, and arranges marriages to the children of his brother for all his offspring, “in accordance with the law of the eternal statute” (col. 6, line 8).

Some time later, a Nephilim, also known as “an emissary of the [Great] Holy One” (col. 6, line 13), comes to Noah with a warning about an upcoming flood. Noah heeds the being’s proclamation, and thus survives the flood in an ark with his family. When the flood has ceased, the ark comes to rest in the Ararat mountains, and Noah leaves the boat to give a thank offering to God. He and his family explore the land and praise God for the beauty that is found there.

God appears to Noah and makes a covenant with him to rule over the earth, so long as he and his sons do not consume blood. This covenant between God and man is made manifest by a rainbow “a sign for [Noah] in the clouds” (col. 12, line 1). Noah and his family adhere to the covenant by cultivating the land. Children are born to Noah’s sons, and he plants a vineyard.

Four years after the flood, Noah holds a festival in his vineyard to praise God. He falls asleep, drunk on wine, and a vision of a cedar and an olive tree comes to him. The interpretation of the vision is also granted to Noah; he is the cedar tree with many shoots because he will have many descendants. However, most of them will be evil, and a “man coming from the south of the land, the sickle in his hand, and fire with him” (col. 15, line 10) will come to judge those who rebel.

The passage ends with a detailed description of how Noah divides up the land among his sons, who in turn divide their shares of land among their sons.

Cols. 19-22

This series of columns is a retelling of the story of Abram, though with much closer adherence to the biblical Genesis than the Noah account, sometimes even translating portions of the Genesis text verbatim.

Unfortunately, column 18 has been lost, but is purported to have contained the beginning of the Abram story from Genesis 11–12, as column 19 begins with Abram already in Canaan. Prior to Abram’s journey to Egypt, there is mention of him in Hebron, which is not mentioned in Genesis. However, it is recorded in Jubilees that he passes through Hebron, and in fact the remaining timeline of the Abram story in the Apocryphon follows the timeline in Jubilees rather than the considerably different chronologies of Josephus and the rabbis.

Suffering from a famine, Abram decides to enter Egypt, the land of the children of Ham. Before entering Egypt, Abram receives revelation in the form of a dream.

Abram dreams of a cedar tree and a date palm growing from a single root. People come to cut down and uproot the cedar, leaving the palm to itself. However, the date palm objects and says “Do not cut the cedar down, for the two of us grow from but a single root.” So the cedar is spared and is not cut down.

Abram deduces that he is the strong cedar, and that Pharaoh will seek to kill him while sparing Sarai. Abram instructs Sarai to say she is his sister so that they can avoid this. Sarai was very distressed by this dream as they entered Egypt, and for five years was exceedingly careful so that the Pharaoh of Zoan would not see her.

Eventually members of the Egyptian court visit Abram and Sarai, and one attendant, Hyrcanos describes Sarai’s wondrous beauty in a poem. In Column 20, Pharaoh had her brought to him after hearing of her immense beauty. Sarai ensures that Abram is spared by declaring he is her brother. Abram weeps along with Lot the night that Sarai is taken. He asks God to have vengeance and show his power against Pharaoh and his household. God sends a spirit to torment the Pharaoh of Zoan and the men of his household. After two years of attempting to understand why his household was afflicted, Pharaoh sent his attendant to Abram and Lot. Lot tells the attendant the truth, and Pharaoh becomes angry and sends Sarai back to Abram along with a substantial amount of wealth and gifts.

After leaving Egypt and settling back in Canaan Abram and Lot grow flocks together. Eventually, they decide to divide their land since their flocks were too numerous and the land couldn’t support them. After Abram and Lot split ways and Lot leaves, Abram is very generous and the text makes large note (col. 21, line 6) of his grief at their parting (line 7).

After this day Lot parted from me because of the conduct of our shepherds. He went and settled in the valley of the Jordan, and all his flocks with him, and I too added much to what he had. He kept pasturing his flocks and came to Sodom. He bought himself a house in Sodom and dwelt in it. I was dwelling on the mountain of Bethel, and it grieved me that Lot, the son of my brother, had parted from me. (col. 21, lines 5-7)[9]