HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (Nov 2016)

Another look at the identity of the ‘wicked woman’ in 4Q184

  • Ananda Geyser-Fouché

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 72, no. 4
pp. e1 – e9


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In this study, I take another look at the possible identity of the ‘wicked woman’ in 4Q184. Although a number of scholars attempted to identify the ‘wicked woman’, I would like to examine two other possibilities that (as far as I know) have not been discussed yet. The first possibility is that it can be seen as a metaphor for the city Jerusalem. This possibility is inspected by comparing the ‘wicked terminology’ that was used to describe the ‘wicked priest(s)’ in the Habakkuk commentary with the ‘wicked terminology’ that was used in 4Q184, as well as in a study of existing traditions in the Old Testament where Jerusalem was portrayed as a woman or wife. The other option is that the ‘wicked woman’ is a metaphor for foreign wisdom, specifically in the form of Hellenism and Greek philosophy or Hellenistic (non-Israelite) diviners. The fact that 4Q184 refers to ‘teaching’ and warns against her influence (this kind of wisdom), that she can let righteous and upright people (not foolish young people) go astray might be a very strong possibility that the Yaḥad is warned not to get diverted by this ‘upcoming culture’ that seems to be so attractive.