Paraphrase and notes by Katie Kanyamas & Robin Kocot
Introduction by Alan Humm
These two texts may represent a variety of divination,
known as physiognomy, in which a person's personality or
fortune may be read from their physical appearance. They
contain what appear to be a series of short body type
descriptions which may be intended as a sort of catalogue of
physical types which might be useful to the physiognomist.
Another possibility is that these are 'prophetic'
descriptions of the body types of important biblical or
eschatological personages. J. Starky, for example suggests
that a related text, 4Q534, is a
description of the eschatological Prince of the
Congregation, while Vermes (357) sees it as a description of
4Q186 is Hebrew written in a cypher of sorts. The text
is written backwards (left to right) and a mixed alphabet is
used (Aramaic square script, Paleo-Hebrew and even Greek
characters). 4Q561 is in Aramaic.
The paraphrase of 4Q186 was prepared by Katie Kanyamas,
and except for a few corrections is largely unchanged. 4Q561 was
originally prepared by Robin Kocot but has been extensively
revised by me.
4Q186 (Katie Kanyamas)
The man, whose head and forehead are wide and
curved, [...]but the rest of his head is not [...]
...his stone is granite.
He has fixed eyes. He has long and slender thighs, toes, and feet. He was born during the second phase of the moon. His spirit has six parts in the house of light and three parts in the house of darkness. He shall be born under the haunch of Taurus and he will be poor. His animal
sign is bull.
...and his head...[and his cheeks are] fat. His
eyes are terrifying... His teeth are different lengths. His
hands and fingers are thick. Each of his thighs is thick and
very hairy. His toes are thick and short. His spirit has
eight parts in the house of darkness and one in the house of
His eyes are neither dark nor light. His beard
is light and curly. The tone of his voice is soft and
gentle. His teeth are fine and well aligned. He is neither
tall nor short, but well built. His fingers are thin and
long. His thighs are hairless. The soles of his feet and
toes are even and well aligned. His spirit has eight parts
in the house of light in the second column and one in the
house of darkness. His birth sign is...and his animal sign
4Q561 (Robin Kocot
revised by Alan Humm)
Frag. 1 col. I
1 [His ????]... and they will be
mixed and sparse. His eyes (will be) 2of a
medium shade. His nose (will be) a long 3and
attractive. And his teeth (will be) straight. And his
beard 4will be relatively thin. His limbs will
be 5in fit condition and niether underweight nor
overweight. 6... 7... his elbows will
be strong ... 8husky. And his thighs of [medium]
9bulk. And his feet will be [of medium]
10length. His foot 11...
12... 13... 14... his
shoulder... [medium]... His spirit 15... 16... full bodied
Frag. 1 col. II
1The voice will be ...
2stern (?)... 3it will not strain.
4The hair of his beard (will be) plentiful ...
5he will be neither fat n[or thin...
6And they will be short... 7His nails
will be strong... 8and his height will be ...
2[... His beard(?)]will be reddish...
3...His eyes] will be clear and circular...
4...The hair of his hea[d ...
 Granite refers to the birth stones of an
 "Fixed Eyes are a regular category in
Greco-Roman physiognomy and are generally a bad sign." (Wise,
Abegg, and Cook 245)
 "The second phase of the moon or "station"
of the moon (i.e., the places where it "stands"), suggests the
present interpretation." (Wise, Abegg, and Cook 245)
 The house of light - "the good spiritual
qualities of individual that is reflected in his share of light."
 The house of darkness - the bad spiritual
of individual that is reflected in his share of darkness.
 The haunch of Taurus - "implied the concept
of dodecatmoria. This Greek word is a name of further subdivision
of the zodiac." (Wise, Abegg, and Cook 244)
Eisenmen, Robert H., Wise Michael. The Dead Sea
Scrolls Uncovered. NY: Penguin
Lasor, William. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New
Testament. Grand Rapids: William B.
Publishing Comp. 1972.
Martinez, Garcia. The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The
Qumran Texts in English. New York: E.J. Brill Leiden
and Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.
Starcky, J. "Un texte messianique araméen de la
grotte 4 de Qumrân," in Mémorial du
Cinquantenaire 1914-1964 de l'École des Langues
Orientales Anciennes de l'Institut Catholique de
Paris, Paris, 1964, Pp. 51-66.
Vermes, Geza. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls In
English. New York: Allen Lane, The Penguine press,
Wise, Micheal, Abegg Jr. martin, and Cook Edward. The
Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. New York: Harper
Collins Publisher, 1996.
Yadin, Yigael. The Message of the Scrolls. NY:
Simon and Schuster. 1957.
November 23, 1998
Intro. to the Hebrew Bible
by Katie Kanyamas & Robin Kocot