1QS srk

RGmyrken at aol.com RGmyrken at aol.com
Fri Sep 13 04:34:18 EDT 2002

Dear Serge,

    It is indeed complicated.  B. Levine, "Aramaic Texts from Perseopolis", 
JAOS 92 (1972) 72-75 surveys instances of the root srk and concludes that the 
biblical and rabbinic use, where srk (in both verbal and nominal forms) 
denotes adhering/adherance is to be distinguished from the distinctive Dead 
Sea Scrolls usage in a specialized governmental / administrative context 
(mainly nominal, but in 1QM ii 1, 6 used as a verb referring to arranging or 
organizing temple institutions).  
    I think Weinfield was indeed arguing that serekh and riksu / rikistu / 
rikiltu are semantic parallels rather than direct cognates.  He points to 
bNid. 67b (serekh bittah) and bHul 106b (serekh terumah) to show rabbinical 
usage of serekh is consistent with the idea of tieing or tightening, similar 
to the Akkadian term.
     In 1QM the term serekh can refer to the army in formation (iii 3; vi 
10-11; vii 1; xiii 1).  At 1QM vii 1 we also have the sorekhe ha-mahanoth or 
camp prefects:  Those governing the camps shall be between 50 and 60 years 
old."  These last are individuals (senior officers, by their age, but 
evidently retired from field duties).
    I consider 1QM to be crucial to tracing the development of the term 
serekh.  It is generally recognized that the oldest strata of material in 1QM 
is found in columns x-xix, which e.g. has very primitive tactics in 
comparison to columns ii-ix, which is based on a Roman Tactica of the second 
century BCE.  (See R. Gmirkin, "The War Scroll and Roman Weaponry 
Reconsidered", DSD [Dead Sea Discoveries] 3 [1996] 89-129; cf. J. Duhaime, 
"The War Scroll from Qumran and Graeco-Roman Tactical Treatises", RevQ [Revue 
d' Qumran] 13 [1988] 133-51.)  A few traces of Serekh terminology exists in 
the older sections of the War Scroll.  In this older material, the leaders of 
the army are listed as the high priest, his brothers the priests, the 
levites, and the "chiefs of the men of the rule" (1QM xiii.1; xv.4; 
xviii.5-6).  These references, probably dating to early 165-164 BCE, when the 
tactics of the Maccabean army was dominated by liturgical hymns and rituals 
(as in 1QM x-xix) show that military formations were described by the term 
Serekh at that time.  Additionally, there is an interesting reference to a 
"[Bo]ok of the Serekh for this time" at 1QM xv.5, showing the beginning of a 
Serekh literature by 164 BCE.  However, this "[Bo]ok of the Serekh" does not 
contain rules of combat, as one might expect from later use of the term 
serekh.  Rather, this "[Bo]ok of the Serekh" was said to contain "words of 
thanksgiving" (i.e. hymns for the priestly commanders).  This reflects the 
earlier religious phase of Maccabean warfare dominated by ritual and 
liturgical interests rather than the professional, disciplined warfare of 1QM 
ii-ix.  Hymns play but a minor role in the Serekh literature of the Megillat 
Serekhim, etc.  The "[Bo]ok of the Serekh" is probably best interpreted as a 
liturgical "Book of the Army" rather than a "Book of the Rule" as it has 
sometimes been translated.   From the traces of Serekh terminology in 1QM 
xiii-xix, one may conclude that by 165-164 BCE the commanders of the 
Maccabean army had seen a need to organize and train their troops as well as 
to have war manuals for their commanders, but these needs were fulfilled only 
in the most primitive fashion.  It is only with the reorganizing and 
professional retraining of the Maccabean army along Roman lines after Dec. 
164 BCE that we see a genuine war manual (1QM ii-ix) or organized military 
formations and discipline.  It is only now that serekh has the distinctive 
meaning of a collection of rules.  The War Scroll thus argues for the 
emergence of a Serekh literature in 164/163 BCE starting about the time of 
the Maccabean rededication of the temple alluded to at ii.1-6. The major 
"sectarian" (Serekh) texts (1QS, 1QSa, 1QSb, portions of CD) share common 
vocabulary and legal content with 1QM ii-ix (see generally Schiffman, _The 
Halakhah at Qumran_) and are therefore best taken as approximately 
contemporary. (In the case of CD, which is a composite document, this comment 
only applies to the organizational legal materials with affinities to 1QS - 
the older halachic legal materials are somewhat older.)  I would view the 
organization of military and other national institutions by the Maccabees in 
164/163 BCE to be the historical backdrop for the various specialized 
meanings attached to the term serekh in the texts listed above.  But most 
other scrolls scholars still date the Serekh texts to the first century BCE.
    That pretty much exhausts my thinking on the term serekh.  Again, I hope 
this is helpful.

    Best regards,
    Russell Gmirkin

>    Dear Russel,
>  thank you very much for your answer.
>   As can be seen  from my questions, I am no Qumran expert, but still I
>  decided  to read with my students a few Quran texts available to me as
>  photos + in Garcia Martinez & Tigchelaar edition. Having read you last
>  posting I got a couple more questions on this word. (I would never guess 
>  story is so complicated.)
>     W.Leslau in his Comparative Dictionary of Ge`ez (513b) seems to believe
>  that Eth. sira:k/$ira:k "line, column, segment" etc. ($=sin) has  good
>  Semitic cognates in Arabic, Hebrew ($ro:kh 'shoelace'), and  Syriac, but
>  Etiopic has only nominal formation from this root (the causative verb being
>  denominative), while the WS languages do have a primary verb $/s.r.k. (Cf.
>  also Ug. $rk "asociarse, unirse", a hapax in a difficult context, but si
>  vera lectio hardly a Persian loan). Etiopic has  $rg sarga 'intertwine' 
>  512b),  Leslau  does not relate it to $rk. But  according to HALAT, $rk and
>  $rg are root variants.
>     If the Qumran serekh is related to Ethiopic sirak "line, way" and
>  Biblical
>  serokh, "string" (actually, $rok), it is hardly a direct cognate of
>  riksu<raka:su, cf. BH rks 'anbinden' (but poorly attested and not very
>  expressive because of  possible $>s, to  say nothing of the metathesis) and
>  Ug. rks, though of course the semantic affinity is remarkable. Irregular
>  (and multiple/parallel) reflexation?
>     If our 1QS  serekh is a Semitic word with the basic meaning "tie" or
>  something like this, it could possibly come to mean "order", and this seems
>  to be  implied by HALAT 1265a ("DSS srk Regel", in the Hebrew entry $rk).
>  Then BibAram srak "hoher Beamter" would be an unrelated word, a Persian
>  loan, perhaps (???) obtaining also in Qumran Hebrew: HALAT 1753 (Aram.
>  section, s.v. srk) quotes Qumran  swrky hmh.nwt (h.=het) which are supposed
>  to be human beings (I have no Qumran concordance and am unable to find the
>  reference),  but then "auch Ordnung" (1QM VI 10, 11 `n$y hsrk) in the same
>  HALAT entry is misleading.
>         What do you think?

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