Family relations and the economic-metaphysical message of Instruction

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Much of the sapiential treatise Instruction (=4QInstruction) can be read as a systematic attempt to support one basic ideological principle: Each person has a divinely assigned share, and every interaction that requires mixing that share with other agents is a breach of the metaphysical order. This idea was first formulated with regard to Instruction by Menahem Kister. In the present article, I apply this notion to the prologue (preserved in 4Q416 1) and to the sections on family relations (parents, wife) in 4Q416. These latter cases explore the financial relations within a family and align them with the overall principle of Instruction. The various sections highlight the person’s spirit as a commodity, intertwined with the life and capital of that person. The literary focus is on the phenomenology of the spirt, as it shifts during various transactions. The biblical allusions in these sections are explained along the same line of argument.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalJournal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • 4QInstruction
  • Qumran
  • economy
  • family relations
  • wisdom literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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