The Cave of Treasures on Swearing by Abel’s Blood and Expulsion from Paradise: Two Exegetical Motifs in Context SERGE RUZER

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In this essay, the version found in The Cave of Treasures (CT) of the

expulsion from Eden and the story of Cain and Abel is analyzed. A peculiar

combination of two exegetical motifs, discerned in this Syriac composition, is

outlined: the canceling of the immediate effects of Adam’s fall and the

introduction of the salvific swearing by Abel’s blood. While suggestions

concerning possible points of contact with other—both Jewish and Christian—

exegetical trends are raised, the peculiarities and the polemical overtones of

the CT stance are duly emphasized. It is suggested that these peculiarities

should be taken into consideration in the discussion on CT’s provenance.

Kinbote: What we term Original Sin can never grow obsolete.

Shade: I know nothing about that. In fact when I was small I

thought it meant Cain killing Abel.

V. Nabokov, Pale Fire


In late antiquity the story of Cain and Abel drew the attention of both

Jewish and Christian writers. Motifs and themes attested in Greek and

Syriac texts have recently been studied in detail by J. B. Glenthoj,1 whose

work has provided very useful data for further comparative study. On the

1. J. B. Glenthoj, Cain and Abel in Syriac and Greek Writers (4th–6th centuries)

(Louvain: Peeters, 1997).


Syriac side we have, in addition to a number of relevant fragments in

biblical commentaries and homilies (e.g., by Ephrem and by Jacob of

Serugh), also a Syriac Life of Abel published by Sebastian Brock2 and a

(later) composition published by A. Levene.3

This study deals with The Cave of Treasures (CT), another original

Syriac work that addresses the story of Cain and Abel. CT retells the

history of salvation—from the days of the Creation and Adam’s fall, all

the way to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and the Pentecost. There seems to be

a scholarly consensus that CT was originally composed in Syriac; the text

has been presented by Ri as extant in two recensions, West-Syriac and

East-Syriac (R. Oc. and R. Or., respectively).4 The fourth century has

often been seen as a time of compilation of an earlier version of the text;

Ri in his new edition of CT proposes the first half of the third century. In

any case it is quite probable that much earlier traditions also found their

way into CT. A later (final?) redaction in the beginning of the sixth

century by an East-Syrian scholar is usually assumed.5

CT addresses the story of Cain and Abel and its repercussions at

considerable length; in fact, that story is one of the central themes of the

composition’s first part. This study discusses a number of unique features

attested in CT’s presentation of the theme. It demonstrates that the CT

version is characterized by a peculiar combination of two trends: on the

one hand, it plays down the negative effects of Adam’s sin and the expulsion

from Paradise; on the other hand, it presents the ritual swearing by

Abel’s innocent blood as a self-sufficient salvific act. These peculiar motifs

are backed in CT by references to certain oddities in the biblical text itself.

CT seems to be aware of both the exegetical problems posed by the

biblical source and a range of existing exegetical solutions. The unique

trends attested in CT are outlined vis-à-vis relevant traditions in both

Christian and Jewish exegesis of late antiquity, and the question of possible

points of contact and influence is discussed. Finally, this analysis

attempts to promote a better appreciation of the polemical stance of the

cult-oriented community that CT supposedly addresses.

2. Brock suggested a late fifth- or early sixth-century date for its composition. See

S. P. Brock, “A Syriac Life of Abel,” Mus 87 (1974): 467–92.

3. A. Levene, The Early Syrian Fathers on Genesis (London: Taylor’s Foreign Press,


4. Su-Min Ri, ed., La Caverne des Tresors: Les deux recensions Syriaces, CSCO

(Louvain: Peeters, 1987).

5. For a recent discussion of the status quaestionis and new suggestions see C.

Leonhard, “Observations on the Date of the Syriac Cave of Treasures” (Journal for

the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement Series, forthcoming).



As pointed out by Philip R. Davies,6 the biblical account of Cain’s crime

and punishment might itself have functioned as a reiteration of sorts both

of Adam’s original sin and of his expulsion from Paradise. No wonder

then that, according to some early Jewish traditions, the primordial disaster

to the human race had to do not so much with the expulsion from

Paradise but with Cain’s crime (or, alternatively, his hideous nature).7

Traditions of this kind were further developed in a number of Gnostic

sources from late antiquity.8 However, the motif is found neither in Jubilees,

a book on which CT is clearly dependent, nor in the Testament of

Adam, another pseudepigraphic composition that seems also to be literarily

linked with CT.9 This motif is also absent from the Greek Life of Adam

and Eve.

On the other hand, another, related emphasis—namely, that on expelled

Adam’s proximity to Paradise—is strongly present in the Life of

Adam and Eve. This motif is also attested—in different modifications—in

the Syrian tradition. The Syriac tradition adopted the notion according to

which Paradise was situated on the top of the highest mountain,10 and,

beginning with Ephrem, if not earlier, attempts were made to somehow

alleviate the shock of the expulsion from Paradise by having Adam dwell

even after the expulsion in the vicinity of Paradise. Ephrem in his Hymns

on Paradise, however, is not consistent. On the one hand, he speaks of

casting Adam out “in the region of wild beasts . . . in the wilderness,” and

then of Adam’s returning—after he repents—“to his former abode and

kingship” (Hymns 13.6).11 On the other hand, Ephrem suggests that

6. “Sons of Cain,” in A Word in Season: The William McKane Volume, ed. J. D.

Martin and P. R. Davies, JSOT Supplement Series 42 (Sheffield: JSOT, 1986), 35–56.

7. E.g., attested in Philo (Questions on Genesis 60; On the Posterity and Exile of

Cain 2–4) and Targums (e.g., Tg. Ps.-J. to Gen 6.4).

8. See B. A. Pearson, “Cain and Cainites,” in idem, Gnosticism, Judaism, and

Egyptian Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), 95–107, esp. 103.

9. S.-M. Ri, “Le Testament d’Adam et la Caverne de Tresors,” in V Symposium

Syriacum, 1988, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, 29–31 août 1988, ed. René

Lavenant, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 236 (Rome: Pontificum Institum Studiorum

Orientalium, 1990), 111–22.

10. For discussion of the cosmic mountain theme in relation to descriptions of

Paradise see G. Anderson, “The Cosmic Mountain: Eden and Its Early Interpreters in

Syriac Christianity,” in Genesis 1–3 in the History of Exegesis: Intrigue in the

Garden, ed. G. A. Robbins (Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 1988), 187–223.

11. (Intro. and tr.) S. Brock, Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise

(Crestwood: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1990) (hereafter Hymns on Paradise will

signify the introduction and commentary by Brock while Hymns will signify his

translation of the hymns proper).


Adam was settled—by God’s grace—“in the valley below the foothills of

Paradise,” and only later “when mankind even there continued to sin they

were blotted out . . . there [then?] the families of the two brothers had

separated” (Hymns 1.10).12 That “valley below the foothills of Paradise”

becomes in another context a higher ground on the slopes of the mountain.

13 There is a particular reason that the proximity of the repentant

Adam’s dwelling to his original abode in Paradise is so important for

Ephrem. Paradise is seen by the Syrian father as a type of future human

condition; according to Ephrem, sinners “who have done wrong out of

ignorance, once they have been punished and paid their debt” must be

allowed “to dwell in some remote corner of Paradise” (Hymns 1.16).14


Even if one bears in mind the existence of these exegetical tendencies, the

stance of The Cave of Treasures on the issue still presents itself as somewhat

extraordinary. First of all, CT does everything to turn the expulsion

of Adam and Eve from Paradise into an orderly and peaceful exodus. Of

course, it has to report Adam’s sorrow about leaving the Garden of Eden,

but it presents God himself as calming the first couple and explaining to

them that in fact not much is going to change:

R. Or.

P‹O oO=q}U wO oR=q }6p・ ˙Ro ˜URq Iqo KP o}I˙ oP

oU}oP ˙‹Pq AKflOA} oOI =6Ar KP oRo oRUO K˙r˙}=Pq

o˙‹rP wO K˙IOA KPr K˙P‹O

(R.Oc.: =6A o‰ KP oRo oRUO K˙rfl}=Pq P‹O Iqo o}I˙ oP

K˙OA} oOI . . .) (CT 5.3–4)15

Do not be saddened, Adam (R.Or.: + because of the verdict that you are to

exit Paradise), I am sending you to your inheritance, and see how merciful

am I towards you: I cursed the land for your sake, but I did not curse you.

12. That horizontal rather than vertical segregation is attested also in Levene, Early

Syrian Fathers, 56. Cf. Josephus (Jewish Antiquities 1.1–2), who distinguishes between

the two expulsions: first God removed Adam and Eve out of the garden into

“another place,” and later Cain—again together with his wife—was cast “out of that


13. Hymns on Paradise, Introduction, 55–57, note on p. 189. See also Hymn 1.12.

14. See also 10.14–15; 8.11. Elsewhere in the Hymns Ephrem goes even further,

making a claim for Paradise being in proximity to Gehenna, so that the terrible cries

of the wicked mingle with the praise of the good in the Garden of Eden (Hymns 7.29).

I shall return to this motif later.

15. Ri, Caverne des Tresors, 36–39.


As some scholars see a literary connection between CT and the Testament

of Adam (TA)—a pseudepigraphic composition compiled, probably

originally in Syriac, before the fifth century c.e.16—a comparison is in

place here. In both texts God is said to have comforted Adam in view of

his imminent expulsion from Paradise. Yet the difference is rather telling:

while in TA the words of consolation relate exclusively to a distant future

(“after a space of many years”), to the salvation in Christ, God-incarnate,

who will bring about the deification of Adam himself,17 the consolation in

CT relates to the immediate future—that is, to the continuation of Adam’s

existence outside Paradise. It is also worth noting that, unlike the Testament

of Adam, our text takes care to provide an exegetical link to the

Bible, presenting its version of events as an interpretation of Genesis 3.17

(“cursed is the ground because of you”).

In fact, in CT God provides for Adam a second Paradise; thus the Cave

of Treasures is situated not “in the valley” (where Adam dwelled after the

expulsion—according to, inter alii, Ephrem), but on the top of the holy

mountain in closest proximity of Paradise (CT 5.10). It seems that God

managed to persuade Adam that his loss was not too significant: when

addressing his sons, Adam concentrates exclusively on the future. At this

point in the narrative, extensively used by pseudepigraphic expansions of

the story for emphasizing Adam’s repentance and grief about Paradise

lost,18 CT is completely silent about Adam’s “change of heart.”19 If, in the

emphasis on God’s mercy (grace) in his dealing with Adam, one may see a

continuation of Ephrem’s exegetical thought,20 this basic closeness (indebtedness?)

to Ephrem makes the peculiarity of the CT exegesis even

16. See note 9, above.

17. Testament of Adam 3.2. For an English translation see S. E. Robinson,

“Testament of Adam,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols., ed. J. H.

Charlesworth (New York: Doubleday, 1983), 1:993–95.

18. See, for example, The Life of Adam and Eve 6–9. In some versions of the text

the story begins with the “penitence narrative.” See G. A. Anderson, “The Garments

of Skin in Apocryphal Narrative and Biblical Commentary” (forthcoming).

19. Cf. Syriac Life of Abel 7, where Abel speaks of the tremendous loss his parents


20. The motif of God’s grace toward Adam (and of its interaction with God’s

justice) might have been known to Ephrem from, inter alia, midrashic sources, where

its presence was significant. In contradistinction to Ephrem, however, the emphasis in

the midrash is on God’s grace as the decisive factor in the creation of Adam, not in

God’s dealing with him in Paradise and after the Fall. See Gen. Rab. 8. See also A.

Kofsky and S. Ruzer, “Justice, Free Will and Divine Mercy in Ephrem’s Commentary

on Genesis 2–3,” Mus 113 (2000): 315–32.



more stunning: in our text Adam’s repentance is not mentioned at all!21

Later we will have more than one opportunity to observe that the absence

of the motif of repentance, as well as the fact that Adam’s existence

outside Paradise is presented as completely harmonious and that he is

therefore in no need of salvation, are among the most peculiar features of

CT’s narrative.


Having related to God’s consolation to Adam, formulated in general

terms: “Do not be saddened, Adam, I am sending you to your inheritance,

and see how merciful am I towards you,” let us turn now to some

particularities of this inheritance. In Paradise, according to CT, Adam

enjoyed the status of king, prophet, and high priest (4.1). It is clear that

CT borrowed this motif from an existing tradition that most probably

originated in Jewish sources.22 Ephrem also was aware of this “three

crowns” motif. He emphasized the kingly vocation of Adam as fully

developed but claimed that the crowns of priesthood and (prophetic)

knowledge/wisdom were Adam’s only potentially—he would have received

them had he managed to resist the temptation.23 In the meantime,

access to the Holy of Holies was blocked by the Tree of Knowledge.24 The

emphasis this tradition gets in our text is, however, quite different. Unlike

Ephrem, having mentioned the three vocations traditionally assigned to

21. As opposed to such exegetes as Eusebius of Emesa, who would claim that

Adam’s dwelling in the vicinity of Paradise was supposed to evoke his repentance and

put him in a constantly penitential mood. See L. van Rompay, “Memories of Paradise:

The Greek ‘Life of Adam and Eve’ and Early Syriac Tradition,” Aram 5.1–2 (1993):

562 and n. 30 there.

22. See m. Abot 4; Philo, De vita Mosis 2.3, 187, 292. See also D. Flusser, “Jewish

Messianic Beliefs and Their Reflections in Early Christianity,” in Messianism and

Eschatology (Jerusalem: Z. Shazar Press, 1984) (Hebrew), 119–20; Hymns on

Paradise, note to 3.14 (p. 191). As the book of Jubilees (3.27) testifies, the notion of

Adam’s priestly vocation had already taken hold in the 2nd century b.c.e.

23. See Ephrem, Commentary on Genesis 2.23, English translation by E. G.

Matthews, Jr. and J. P. Amar in St. Ephrem the Syrian: Selected Prose Works, ed. K.

McVey, FC 91 (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1994); Hymns

on Paradise 12.17.

24. There are a number of studies on Ephrem’s concept of the inner structure of

Paradise as Sanctuary. See I. Ortiz de Urbina, “Le paradis eschatologique d’après

Saint Ephrem,” OCP 21 (1956): 467–72; N. Séd, “Les Hymnes sur le Paradis de Saint

Ephrem et les tradition juives,” Mus 81 (1968): 455–501; T. Kronholm, “The Trees of

Paradise in the Hymns of Ephraem Syrus,” Annual of the Swedish Theological

Institute 11 (1977/78): 48–56; Hymns on Paradise, pp. 52–53.


Adam, CT immediately forgets about two of them. It never bothers to

explain what kingship and prophecy stand for, instead concentrating

exclusively on Adam’s priestly function. According to CT, the priestly

function was Adam’s ultimate calling in Paradise, paired with the duty of

abstaining from the forbidden fruit:

And as Adam was the priest, the king, and the prophet, God brought him

into Paradise so that he might worship inside the Garden of Eden as a priest

in the Church. And the blessed Moses bears witness to this saying, “to toil

it” (=‰A=AvUR⁄) (Gen 2.15)—meaning by priestly worship in glory, and “to

keep it” (=‰A=}ERA) (ibid.)—meaning the commandment. . . . (CT 4.1)25

According to CT this priestly vocation continues uninterrupted after

the exodus from Paradise. Adam’s first act outside the Garden of Eden—

right before consummating his marriage with Eve—would be to consecrate

the Cave of Treasures, which would serve as the Sanctuary for

Adam and his descendants (5.17–18). As Lucas van Rompay has demonstrated,

traditions claiming that “after his expulsion man stayed for some

time in the neighborhood of Paradise” describe man’s basic emotion as

“longing . . . for the regaining of his former state.” Only later did this

emotion come to be accompanied by a gradually developed awareness

that re-entering Paradise “during this life would not be possible” and that

the hopes should be set “on restoration in the hereafter.”26 The fact that

CT adopts this traditional motif of longing only further highlights the

peculiarity of the text under discussion: it is not Paradise itself any more

but the Cave of Treasures that is the true object of longing. To return to

the blessed Cave, not to leave the Cave for the sake of regaining the

paradisiacal state, is at the core of CT nostalgia. Further on in the text the

loss of the Cave, that “second Paradise,” would be lamented in the same

breath as the loss of the first one. At the time of Adam’s “second expulsion,”

when his body was removed from the Cave, Adam’s descendants

“raised their eyes and fixed them on Paradise and cried and lamented in

sadness saying” (17.8):27

25. The difference from Ephrem’s approach is noteworthy: in his Commentary on

Genesis Ephrem concentrates (the dependence on rabbinical exegesis is clear here) on

the same verbs (=‰r=}‹Rr =‰r=APURq) but avoids mentioning the priestly function:

with him both verbs relate to (different aspects of) observing the commandment not

to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (Com. Gen. 2.7).

26. See van Rompay, “Memories of Paradise,” 565, 567.

27. For the motif of second expulsion see also CT 12.18–20, where God did not

allow the descendants of Adam—after they had mingled with Cain’s tribe—to climb

the Holy Mountain; the stones under their feet “became fire” (an emulation of the

cherubim theme?); and see 13.8, where Yared is said to have been the first to depart


Iqo wr・oq o◊=q˜ o˙}UO o◊=q˜ oO=q}U oOP◊・ ◊rU

Farewell to you, holy Paradise, the holy Cave of our father Adam. . . .

To be sure, the marital relations between Adam and Eve are described

as a novelty pertaining to their existence outside Paradise, but CT takes

pains to present the consummation of the protoplasts’ marriage as a holy

union, not as a sign of the pitiful change in their status (5.17–18). In

Ephrem’s Hymns there is a vivid description of the “lower abode of

Paradise,” where voices of praise from above mingle with cries of suffering

from Gehenna—yet another expression of the idea of the proximity of

Paradise.28 In CT this motif is given a very peculiar twist: Adam’s descendants

worshipping in the Cave would be able to join the choir of angels

singing in Paradise. In fact, as far as the worship of God is concerned, they

would become part of the angelic thegma, taking the place of the fallen

angels (7.4):

wrR‰ or‰ r˜PO o=O◊ wO PURq ooeqo◊q oOp˙ r‰ UPAr

wO˙ rr‰ wr‰=˙or AoO=q}U =PrUoe◊・ w=A・◊O wrr‰Rq

oIoPoeO IU o‰PoP wrPP‰Rr wrA・◊Rq…oA=R・r o=P◊・

ooeIoPOq oP˜ rr‰w=UO◊ ˙=oR=Oo P‹O oO=q}U・ w=A・◊Oq

And instead of that order of demons that had fallen down from heaven,

they were going up to praise [God] from the outskirts of Paradise. And they

were dwelling there in peace and calm . . . so that they might praise and

glorify God together with the angels which praise God in Paradise, as they

could verily hear the voices of angels [from where they were put to dwell].

As noted earlier, Ephrem had certain reservations with regard to the

fulfillment of Adam’s priestly vocation even while still in Paradise. In the

Syriac Life of Abel either Adam is considered unworthy of performing his

priestly function after his fall or the phenomenon of priesthood in general

is relegated to the reality “after and outside Paradise,” with Cain and

saddened from the world. For Yared’s place in the fatal Fall in the book of Jubilees (cf.

1 Enoch 6.6) see J. C. VanderKam, “The Angel Story in the Book of Jubilees,” in

Pseudepigraphic Perspectives: The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in Light of the

Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. E. G. Chazon and M. Stone (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 151–70, esp.

155. For the blessed state of Adam, Eve, and their descendants while connected with

the Cave see CT 11.12; 13.19, where Enoch is lifted up “to that place of life, dwelling

of bliss which is on the outskirts of Paradise,” (oO=⁄}U =g⁄A・⁄). The Holy

Mountain and the Cave are similarly described in CT 16.6, where the blissful

existence of Adam, Eve, and their descendants is said to have taken place “in the

blessed land on the outskirts of Paradise” (oO=⁄}U =g⁄A・⁄ oflI}・O oy}o).

28. See note 14, above.


Abel given the appellation “o=rg◊ oRoe‰I” (“first priests”).29 There is no

place for such misgivings in our text: according to CT, Adam’s priestly

vocation was not only fully realized in Paradise30 but continued uninterrupted

after the expulsion and the transition to the Cave of Treasures,

and was passed on in an orderly fashion to Adam’s descendants.

CT claims an uninterrupted chain for the high priestly tradition. This

chain begins not with Melchizedek but with Adam himself, the first

“o}OrI-oR‰I.” Thus, CT cannot accept the tradition, propagated by

the Epistle to the Hebrews (e.g., Heb 6.20), which sees Melchizedek as

the prototype of the true high priesthood. CT can neither accept the

(habitual?) interpretation of the statement that Melchizedek “did not

have either father or mother” (Heb 7.3),31 but somehow has to incorporate

Melchizedek into the chain and, for that end, provides him with a

genealogy (CT 16.22; 20.8). This emphasis on the genealogy of

Melchizedek is not surprising at all as, according to CT, proof of a sound

priestly (and kingly) genealogy is crucial even for the Messiah himself.32

According to CT the high priesthood of ancient times—up to the end of

the Flood—had been centered on (the altar of) Adam’s body and (swearing

by) Abel’s blood33—a point that will be discussed later. These elements

are presented in CT as sufficient for salvation as such and not simply as

types of Christ’s body and blood. Thus, according to the viewpoint presented

in CT, Melchizedek is merely a middle link in the chain. In no way

does he inaugurate the true worship of God; he only renews it after a

period of neglect.34


Given that the high priesthood is presented in our text as having a salvific

function, let me summarize a number of important ideas characteristic of

29. For the text see Brock, “Syriac Life,” 472. See also there commentary on p. 486.

30. In contradistinction to the Syriac Life of Abel, in CT Adam is the first priest,

“o=O⁄› ox‰I” (5.27).

31. In CT those who do accept that claim are branded as “o‹r=oe⁄‰ ” (illiterate

simpletons). See CT 30.17.

32. See CT 32.11–16; 33.5–16. For a discussion of Christian traditions concerning

Jesus’ Aharonite descent, see W. Adler, “Exodus 6:23 and the High Priest from the

Tribe of Judah,” JTS n.s. 48 (1997): 24–47.

33. See, for instance, CT 7.11–14,19–20; 9.5–8; 10.8; 13.6–7; 16.14,19–20, et al.

34. For example, CT 28.11. There is even an attempt to play down the importance

of the bread-and-wine offering introduced by Melchizedek, presenting these elements

as nothing but a provision intended to sustain Shem and Melchizedek on their journey

from the vicinity of the Ark to the “middle of the earth.” See CT 22.4.


the CT stance on the issue of salvation. According to CT’s overall outline,

Adam’s fall caused both the expulsion from Eden and a simultaneous

outpouring of God’s mercy (grace), so that the grace essentially nullified

the effects of the Fall—all this without even mentioning Adam’s repentance

(or Eve’s, for that matter). To be sure, the motif of future salvation

in Christ as an (additional?) reason for Adam not to be saddened is also

present in CT.35 In due time God will send his Son to bring salvation to

humankind (5.7–9). However, as was already hinted above, in CT the

need for salvation seems to be related not to Adam himself, nor to his

immediate progeny—as far as they continued to dwell, alive or dead, in

the vicinity of the Cave—but to Adam’s later descendants, who would

move to the “cursed land”:

Exit [Paradise] and do not be saddened, as when the times for your dwelling

in the cursed land according to my decree are fulfilled I will send my Son.

Order . . . that after your death they embalm . . . your body and put it in

this Cave where now I put you to dwell. [You will remain here] until your

descendants’ exit from the vicinity of Paradise to that evil land. (5.6–10)

Those people who dwell “in the cursed land” are said to be in need of

salvation. However, those, who worship in the Cave of Treasures and

participate—on par with angels—in the heavenly choir praising the Lord,

and, even outside Paradise proper, continue to be nourished by nothing

apart from its delightful fruits,36 are already saved. As CT states again and

again, they are not prisoners of their own fallen nature but spend their

days in peace and harmony.37 In short, the Adam of CT who is expelled

from Paradise is not yet the Adam of Paul.38

35. Not unlike the Testament of Adam. See the discussion above.

36. “o‚=‚g ogoU.” See CT 7.7. Cf. The Life of Adam and Eve 1–5. See

Anderson, “Garments of Skin.”

37. For example, CT 6.2, 22; 7.1–4.

38. See F. H. Borsch, “Further Reflections on ‘The Son of Man’: The Origins and

Development of the Title,” in The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and

Christianity, ed. J. H. Charlesworth (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 137. Borsch

discusses there a common interest of important strands of the baptizing sectarianism

of the beginning of the common era and of later Gnosticism “in Adamic lore—

associated with a more general conception with a long and varied history, of the first

man as a royal figure.” In other brands of Gnosticism it is Adam’s son Seth who takes

center stage. See, for example, A. F. J. Klijn, Seth in Jewish, Christian and Gnostic

Literature, Supplementum Novum Testamentum 46 (Leiden: Brill, 1977); G. Stroumsa,

Another Seed (Leiden: Brill, 1984); Borsch, “Further Reflections,” 139. Rather

tellingly, in CT it is Adam, not Seth, who remains the key figure—one more indication

that Adam is not seen there as a failure?



It may be remarked that this peculiar cancellation of the effects of the Fall

fits the CT’s concept of Adam’s basic nature. Like Ephrem in his Commentary

on Genesis, CT discusses the question of Adam’s nature in

connection with Genesis 1.26–27. Like Ephrem, CT states that the plural

form of “Let us create man in our image and in our likeness” relates to

God’s hypostases39 or (the) Persons of the Holy Trinity. However, here

also the basic closeness to Ephrem highlights even more the CT peculiarities.

First, CT suggests a complementing (an alternative?) interpretation for

the plural form of the verb “q・UR” (let us make), namely, that it relates to

the heavenly host of angels. This exegesis had been current in rabbinic

circles long before Ephrem; among Christians it seems to have had the

reputation of a “Jewish folly.”40 Unlike the Syrian father, who ignores this

exegetical option in his Commentary, CT combines it with the

“hypostatical” interpretation. The adoption of this “angelic host” exegetical

option clearly serves CT’s general outline of the Paradise story,

where—again in contradistinction to Ephrem’s Commentary—angels play

such a crucial role. On the one hand, there are angels in CT who belong to

Satan’s thegma and on account of their envy of Adam do everything to

bring about his fall. On the other hand, there are angels who belong to a

completely different thegma and with whom Adam joins in a heavenly

choir to praise the Lord.

Second, Ephrem interprets the problematic “likeness of image” in a

restricting way. He claims it pertains exclusively to the dominion given to

Adam over the rest of God’s creatures. This dominion-centered interpretation

was known in Ephrem’s time to both Jewish and Christian exegetes,

and according to the Syrian father, it is only in this functional

sense that Adam is “like God.”41 CT, however, interprets the “likeness”

literally: in our text the created Adam is not only lord of the cosmos but

also a man in whom the awesome image of God (Holy Trinity?) is revealed

to the world:

(R.Or.)“Let us make (q・UR) Man (o◊R}・) in our image, as our likeness

(wflrOq K=o wOIz・)”—making known by this [using] of nun instead of

alaph the [inclusion of the] blessed Persons of the Son and the Spirit. And

39. Different modifications of this exegesis had been known to both Jewish and

Christian exegetes long before Ephrem. See, for example, Philo, De opificio mundi 69;

Tatian, Address to the Greeks 7. See also Gen. Rab. 8.

40. See, for example, Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 62.1.

41. See Com. Gen. 1.29.


when the angels heard that being said, they became full of awe and told one

another: the great wonder is going to be shown to us today—[we are going

to see] the very image of God our Creator. (CT 2.3–4)

Further on, the western recension is even more specific, describing

Adam’s body as that of the cosmic man, Adam Kadmon of the Jewish


And when the angels saw the image and the glorious sight of Adam, they

trembled (were shocked) because of the beauty of it. They saw the sight of

Adam’s face, which was glowing with glorious light like the face of the sun,

and the light of his eyes was like the rays of the sun, while his body was

like the glorious shining of crystal. (CT 2.13–14)

Again, as opposed to Ephrem’s Commentary, wherein the glory of

Adam comes from the Robe of Glory that covered and hid the (shameful?

threatening?) sight of Adam’s bodily parts,43 in CT the first man’s body is

itself a glorious one (an image of God?). To be sure, the traditional motif

of the Robe is present here as well, but in our text the Robe is described as

a kingly one (“o˙rIIOq omr・I”);44 by no means is it tailored to compensate

for Adam’s being inadequate in his own right.

To sum up: while in Ephrem’s Commentary Adam is presented in all his

human weakness, upon which his eventual fall is predicated,45 in CT we

are dealing with a figure of cosmic proportions.46 Unlike some apocalyptic

and Gnostic or semi-Gnostic schemes, where this cosmic figure undergoes

a fall that is also of cosmic proportions, in CT’s exegesis the basically

glorious nature of the first man somehow remains intact. In contradistinction

to rabbinic traditions, which speak of the cosmic dimensions of the

first man,47 CT does not mention Adam’s body being diminished in size as

the result of his sin. I suggest that this peculiarity complements the trend

42. See b. Hag. 12a; Gen. Rab. 8; Lev. Rab. 14.

43. See Com. Gen. 2.21.

44. Only the crown placed on Adam’s head does CT call “the crown of glory”

(“oflAr・◊fl⁄ oP=PI”) (2.17).

45. Accordingly, God’s mercy/grace was to be unceasingly employed to improve

Adam’s odds of succeeding in his test. Moreover, from Ephrem’s point of view, every

step of the test was especially designed not to be too difficult, not to overwhelm

Adam, but to help him win. This issue is discussed in Kofsky and Ruzer, “Justice, Free

Will, and Divine Mercy.”

46. On the communities putting emphasis on Adamic lore as opposed to those

taking more interest in Enoch and the generation of Genesis 6 see M. E. Stone, “The

Axis of History at Qumran,” in Pseudepigraphic Perspectives (see note 27, above),


47. See, for example, b. Hag. 12a; Gen. Rab. 8; Lev. Rab. 14.


in the CT narrative discussed above—namely, ignoring the immediate

effects of Adam’s fall and a complete lack of interest in Adam’s repentance.


From here on the discussion will focus on the second act of the drama.

The cancellation of the effects of Adam’s fall seems to be logically connected

with presenting, instead, the Cain-Abel affair as the real trigger for

the fatal expulsion—not from Paradise itself but from its vicinity or, more

specifically, according to CT, from the Cave of Treasures. In CT, however,

this second and really fatal expulsion of the sons of Seth occurred not

immediately after Cain’s fratricide (and even not as its immediate result!)

but a number of generations later, after Seth’s sons became involved with

the daughters of Cain. This second expulsion is presented in CT as a

preemptive strike before the Flood.48 Before that the sons of Seth had been

pure and holy—that is why, so claims CT, they were called “sons of God”

(Gen 6.2). Here CT follows an earlier tradition;49 but as we shall see there

is a peculiar twist to the CT’s exegesis: the delay of the expulsion—from

Abel’s murder until the days of Yared—is presented in our text as connected

with, or rather secured by, a ritual swearing by Abel’s innocent

blood performed by the leader of every successive generation.

Let me first review a number of important exegetical trends from late

antiquity, connected with the story of Abel’s murder. In Genesis 4.10 God

says to Cain the murderer: “What have you done? The voice of your

brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” The verse constituted a

problem for early Jewish and Christian exegesis. The midrash sees here

mainly two problematic points: 1) Why does the Hebrew text use the

plural ymd (deme, literally bloods)? and 2) How should one understand the

biblical metaphor of the “crying blood”; that is to say, what does blood’s

48. It is worth noting that the motif of the second expulsion as a preemptive strike

is conspicuously absent from Jubilees and the Testament of Adam, as well as from

Ephrem’s Commentary on Genesis. According to the Syrian father, it was Cain

himself who decided to leave his native land: “because Cain sought to escape from

reproach. . . . Those who would find him were the sons of Seth, who were compelled

to seek revenge for the blood of Abel, their uncle. They cut themselves off from Cain

and did not intermarry with him because of their fear of him; but they did not dare

to kill him because of his sign. After Cain received the punishment and the sign had

been added to it . . . Cain separated himself from his parents and his kin because he

saw that they would not intermarry with him . . . [and went to the land of Nod]

(Com. Gen. 3.10–11).

49. See, for example, Gen. Rab. 26.5; Ephrem, Com. Gen. 6.3. Cf. Jubilees 5.1;

Philo, Questions on Genesis 92.


voice represent here? The first question was irrelevant for most Greek and

Syrian authors—in the translations of Genesis they used, the plural form

had long since been turn into singular;50 but in the midrash the plural

form of deme was usually explained as pointing to Abel’s future descendants,

who were, in a sense, murdered together with him. This tradition,

attested in the Targums51 and Mishnah,52 and later incorporated into

Genesis Rabbah, fits an important development in rabbinic thought where

the value of every human life was greatly emphasized.53 A particular

subdevelopment may be discerned here; thus in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan54

the “bloods” represent not Abel’s potential descendants in general but

specifically the just ones among them. This midrashic pattern is also

present in traditions about God’s decision—in spite of reservations expressed

both by the angels and by God himself—to create a man. One

decisive argument in favor of the creation seemed to be that among

Adam’s future descendants there would be some righteous people as

well.55 The motif of murder and the plural form “bloods” have no function

in this last tradition, as here, unlike in the case of Abel, the midrash is

talking about Adam’s actual descendants, those who will eventually be


The second peculiarity—namely, the metaphor of the “blood crying

out”—was explained already in Jubilees as a demand for God’s intervention

and vengeance: “And he killed him in the field, and his blood cried

out from the earth to heaven, making accusation.”56 Philo, with his

emphasis on incorporeal life as the real one, avoids mentioning both

vengeance and Abel’s blood:

(Gen. 4.10) What is the meaning of the words “The voice of thy brother

calls me from the earth”? This is most exemplary, for the Deity hears the

deserving even though they are dead, knowing that they live an incorporeal

life. (QG 70)57

50. LXX: “fvnO a・matow toE edelfoE sou boo prOw me §k t∞w g∞w”; Peshitta: “oP›

oU}o wO =flrv oUp KrAo⁄ ‰O⁄⁄.” See, for example, Ephrem’s Com. Gen. 4.6–

7: “What then would you say, Cain? Should Justice take vengeance for the blood

(sing.!) which cried out or not?”

51. See Tg. Onq. to Gen 4.10.

52. m. Sanh. 5.

53. See, for example, the continuation of the discussion in m. Sanh. 5.

54. See Tg. Ps.-J. and Tg. Neof. to Gen 4.10. See Glenthoj, Cain and Abel, 11.

55. The discussion of different types of Adam’s progeny may be found in Gen. Rab. 8.

56. Jub. 4.2–3. The English translation is by O. S. Wintermute in Old Testament

Pseudepigrapha (see note 17, above), vol. 2.

57. The English translation quoted here is by R. Marcus. See Philo, Supplement I,

Questions and Answers on Genesis, LCL (London: Harvard University Press, 1953),

42. Josephus (Jewish Antiquities 55–57) avoids the issue altogether.


The motif of vengeance, however, survives in rabbinic midrash, where

it is attributed to a famous second-century sage and expressed in a rather

forceful fashion:

R. Simeon b. Yohai said: It is difficult to say this thing, and the mouth

cannot utter it plainly. Think of two athletes wrestling before the king; had

the king wished, he could have separated them. But he did not so desire,

and one overcame the other and killed him, he [the victim] crying out

[before he died], “Let my cause be pleaded before the king!” Even so, The

voice of thy brother’s blood cries out against Me.58 (Gen. Rab. 22.9)59

Although “the mouth cannot utter it,” the midrash manages to articulate

the almost inconceivable thought: Abel condemns God himself for

not sparing him; and since God did not intervene then, did not prevent

the murder, the pure blood spilled should urge him to wreak the vengeance

speedily. This tendency to see a pure martyr’s death as a “trigger”

for God’s vengeful intervention and speedy visitation of his wrath on the

evil ones was further developed in later Jewish sources.60


It is illuminating to see how the different submotifs reviewed above are

conflated (and modified in the process) in the logion found in Matthew

and Luke:

Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and

apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,” that the blood of all

the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required from

this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechari’ah, who

perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be

required from this generation. (Luke 11.49–51, RSV)61

On the one hand, we see that, according to the New Testament, the

pure blood shed is not only Abel’s but also, as in Targums Pseudo-

Jonathan and Neofiti, that of the righteous men of God—here, the prophets

of future generations. On the other hand, these are not the righteous

ones who “died in Abel” but—in line with midrashic expositions on

58. yla (elay, “to Me”) is read here as yl[ (‘alay, “against Me”). Cf. Tanh. Ber. 1.9.

59. The English translation here is by H. Freedman from the Soncino Press edition

of the Midrash Rabbah, 3rd edition (London/New York, 1983).

60. See I. Yuval, “Ha-nakam we-ha-qelala, ha-dam we-ha-alila—me-alilot qedoshim

le-alilat dam” (“Vengeance and Curse: From Sanctification of the Name to Blood

Libel”), Zion 58 (1993): 33–90.

61. Cf. Matt 23.33–35.


Adam’s progeny—those who were actually born (sons of Seth) and carried

on Abel’s vocation. The motif of vengeance is central to the Gospel

pericope exactly as it is central to the midrashic exegesis. Moreover, the

blood shed is clearly presented here as a trigger for God’s wreaking


The motif of vengeance continues to be central in the later Christian—

both Greek and Syriac—exegesis of Genesis 4.10. Thus John Chrysostom

explains Abel’s blood “crying out” as follows: the “voice” of the blood

flies up, ascends to heaven, and there “rushes through the heaven of

heaven” in order to lament the murder and bring accusation (before the

heavenly court).62

The same line is taken up a century later by Jacob of Serugh: “The

blood which was shed provoked the high place against the murderer;

Abel was alive and his blood spoke like thunder among the angels.”63 The

difficulty in giving blood a voice is also fully recognized in the Syriac Life

of Abel: “The sound of your brother’s blood groans out towards me from

the earth. Who is it who has given a voice to the blood, for blood has no

voice, blood has no ability to differentiate, having no intelligence?” (13)

It is worth noting that the word oI› (voice) is used abundantly throughout

the text and by different speakers—e.g., Abel while still alive (20) and

Eve lamenting Abel (21, 23). This fact may point to an alternative (vis-àvis

the call for vengeance) exegetical solution. In any case, the examples

of Jacob of Serugh and the Syriac Life of Abel bear witness to the awareness

of Syriac writers (from the period close to the final redaction of CT)

of the exegetical problem existing in Genesis 4.10: the expression “the

voice of your brother’s blood” calls for an explanation.

The Epistle to the Hebrews is another New Testament text where

Abel’s death features prominently:

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through

which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting

his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking. (Heb 11.4, RSV)

We see that the Epistle adopts the same exegesis as is attested elsewhere

in pre-Christian Jewish sources64—an exegesis according to which the

expression “[Abel’s] blood cries out” hints at the continuation of per-

62. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 161. See Glenthoj, Cain and Abel, 172.

63. Jacob of Serugh, Homilies 147–50 on Cain and Abel 26–27, cf. ibid., 20. See

Glenthoj, Cain and Abel, 174. See also S. Brock, “Jewish Traditions in Syriac

Sources” (London: Variorium, 1992, first published in JJS 30 [1979]: 212–32, esp.


64. See the discussion on Philo’s position and note 55, above.


sonal existence after physical death. According to the Epistle, it is Abel’s

faith that allows him to overcome death. The exegesis here, as in Philo,

seems to be centered on spiritual existence as a means to “survive death,”

so, in fact, it has no use for “blood.” Speaking of the first hero of faith in

human history, the Epistle—exactly like Philo in QG65—avoids mentioning

Abel’s blood; it is Abel himself and not his blood that goes on “speaking

out” even after his death.

On the other hand, Abel’s blood does feature prominently in Hebrews

12, where not so much faith, but rather vengeance, the punishment for

apostasy, is the key theme:

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and

darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and a sound of a trumpet, and a voice

whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken

to them. For they could not endure the order that was given . . . . Indeed,

so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you

have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly

Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels . . . and to a judge who is God of all,

and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a

new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more powerfully

(kre›tton laloEnti, RSV: more graciously) than the blood of Abel. See that

you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when

they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if

we reject him who warns from heaven. (Heb 12.18–25, RSV)

The fragment contains the strongest possible warning against leaving

the newly acquired faith, and the vengeful character of this admonition is

quite obvious.66 However, another motif is combined with that of vengeance

in Hebrews 12.24: the blood of revenge turns out to be at the same

time the blood of a new covenant that in the context of Hebrews stands

for remission of sins and salvation.

65. See note 57, above.

66. Cf. Heb 12.15–17. There have been a number of different suggestions

regarding the nature of the community to which the admonition was addressed:

Gentile Christians, ex-Essenes, members of Jewish priestly families from Jerusalem

converted to Christianity. See M. Bourke, “The Epistle to the Hebrews: Introduction,”

in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. R. E. Brown, J. A. Fitzmyer, and

R. E. Murphy (Herndon: Geoffrey Chapman Press, 1997), 920–21. Cf. the interpretation

by Cyril of Alexandria discussed by Glenthoj (Cain and Abel, 175). According

to Cyril, while Abel’s blood cried out against Cain, the blood of Christ cries out

against the cruelty and ingratitude of the Jews. This interpretation may be seen as

highly partisan, and it hardly fits the context of Hebrews, although it is certainly true

to the vengeful spirit of the Epistle.



It has already been noted that, as opposed to the authors of the midrash

and the New Testament, exegetes who were disconnected from the Hebrew-

speaking milieu were generally not concerned with the plural of

deme (bloods) of the Hebrew text of Genesis 4.10; for in both the Greek

and the Syriac translations the singular form had been substituted for the

plural one.67 On the other hand, we have seen among all exegetes a

recognition of the other peculiarity of Genesis 4.10—namely, the description

of Abel’s blood as having a voice and “speaking out” after being shed

by Cain. We have also seen that the motif of vengeance was central to

most exegeses: the pure blood was supposed to expedite God’s vengeance.

This last motif was partly but not completely mitigated in the Epistle to

the Hebrews. It stands to reason that at least some of the questions raised

by the exegetes and some of the solutions offered by them were known to

the CT’s compiler(s), who had so great an interest in the story of Cain and

Abel. The Epistle to the Hebrews was definitely known to the transmitters

of the CT tradition: our text quotes the Epistle several times; Ephrem’s

writings undoubtedly exercised considerable influence on CT; Jacob of

Serugh as well as the author of the Syriac Life of Abel might have been

contemporaries of the CT’s final redaction; and the compilers/transmitters

of the CT material are generally believed to have had access to

rabbinic traditions of the time.68

Now, with the exegetic expositions reviewed above forming a background

of sorts, the CT treatment of the problem may be better appreciated.

In line with other exegeses, CT finds it necessary to provide an

explanation for Abel’s blood “speaking” after Abel’s death; but in our

text the blood’s “crying out to heaven from earth” represents the solemn

oath instituted by Seth before he died:

qA ˙rAR oPq P=・‰q o=Is ‰Oq・ wrIP oROrO

◊RoP wr˜・◊fl oPr o◊=q˜ oR‰ o}r‹ wO wrIRO

oPr‹˜ w=o˜ oe=R・ ˙rP ˙rARq wrI˙qPoe r˙ wO

67. See note 50, above.

68. See G. Stemberger, “Exegetical Contacts between Christians and Jews in the

Roman Empire,” in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation,

vol. 1, part 1, ed. M. Sæbo (Göttingen: Vandenhöck and Ruprecht, 1996), 585. G.

Sternberger called CT “certainly the richest source for Jewish traditions.” S. Brock

(“Jewish Traditions,” 228) discussed an interesting case of possible connection

between CT and rabbinic exegesis. It is noteworthy that the example he chose was

also connected with the story of Cain and Abel.


wP ˙=o o˙r・・qPU・ oq=o wr˙=Uq= }=p wrIPI

P=・‰P ‰P‹˜q oOr= wO ‰OU

I put you under oath by the pure blood of Abel that no one of you will

descend from this sacred mountain. Do not allow anyone of your

descendants to go down to the sons of Cain, the murderer, as you all know

what an enmity there is between us and him since the day when he killed

Abel. (7.18)

First, it is worth noting that the description of the relations between the

sons of Seth and the sons of Cain (“what an enmity [o˙r・・qPU・] there is

between us and him”) is reminiscent of the biblical description of the

relations between the humans and the serpent.69 That fits the tendency

already observed in CT—namely, to see Cain’s crime, not Adam’s fall, as

the primordial fatality. It may also be noted that, although in CT the

exegetical problem—the first martyr’s blood having a voice—is not mentioned

explicitly,70 swearing by Abel’s pure blood clearly stands here for

the blood’s “speaking out,” thus providing a solution to the problem. In

comparison to Hebrews, the motif of vengeance is further subdued, the

emphasis here being on the salvific quality of Abel’s blood.71 It comes as

no surprise that, according to CT, this will be true also regarding Jesus’

blood. Swearing by Abel’s blood, however, is presented in our text as

sufficient for the salvation of the sons of Seth; those who dwell—thanks

to swearing by Abel’s blood—on the holy mountain do not need any

further salvation. The subsequent salvation through Christ pertains only

to later generations, who broke the oath.

I have discussed CT’s exegetical exposition on Abel’s blood “crying

out.” But there is yet another element in the CT exegesis: the reenactment

of swearing (“Abel’s blood speaking out”) in every successive generation

of the sons of Seth.72 Thanks to this reenactment the sons of Seth remain

pure and holy, up to the days of Yared, when the men of Seth’s tribe fail to

keep the oath, go down to Cain’s daughters, and are prevented from

returning.73 It is likely that this emphasis on “multiplying” Abel’s blood

69. See Gen 3.15: “I will put enmity (Syr.: oflr・・⁄PU・) . . . between your seed and

her seed.”

70. Unlike in the Syriac Life of Abel—see the discussion above.

71. Thus, the emphasis is put on Abel’s own death and not on his animal offering

being accepted by God. For this other exegetical motif attested also in Syriac

literature, see S. P. Brock, “Fire from Heaven: From Abel’s Sacrifice to the Eucharist.

A Theme in Syriac Christianity,” SP 25 (1993): 229–43.

72. See CT 7.19; 8.13; 9.5, et al.

73. See CT 10.14; 12.18–20. They tried also to resume swearing by Abel’s blood,

but this time in vain.


“crying out” and its connection with the righteous ones of successive

generations points to another exegetical problem, one that is imbedded in

the Hebrew version of Genesis 4.10 with its plural form of deme (“bloods”).

As observed, this exegetical motif is found in neither Greek nor Syriac

Christian expositions during the relevant period. Thus it might bear

witness to a contemporary exegetical contact with rabbinic tradition.


The discussion in this paper centered on the CT version of the expulsion

from Eden and the story of Cain and Abel. This version was analyzed visà-

vis other relevant traditions—both Jewish and Christian—that might

have been known to the CT compilers/redactors. It was observed that

CT’s treatment of the issue is characterized, inter alia, by a strong exegetical

trend: both the canceling (or, at least, softening) of the effects of

Adam’s fall and the introduction of the salvific swearing by Abel’s blood

are backed by references to certain peculiarities in the biblical texts. In

most instances CT seems to be aware of both the exegetical problems

posed by the text and a range of existing exegetical solutions. CT adopts

some of those solutions, transforming them to suit its particular needs. I

have suggested that at least one exegetical move performed in our text—

the story of swearing by Abel’s blood by the righteous ones of successive

generations—although it appears in CT with obviously Christian connotations,

may bear witness to an exegetical contact with rabbinic tradition.

When did the supposed contacts with rabbinic tradition occur? What

stage in the development of the CT text do the exegetical trends discussed

in this paper represent? The final redaction or, maybe, earlier phases in

CT’s textual (oral?) history? There are other questions as well, the most

fascinating of them being that of the CT milieu. CT speaks in terms of the

Golden Age of righteous forefathers, who knew the secret of true worship

of God and lived—together with their wives and children—in a blessed

state on the holy mountain. The traditional motif of “second expulsion”

is developed here in a rather peculiar fashion: the life of the dwellers on

the holy mountain is presented as life in Paradise. Their cult also was

perfect, it even included the sacred elements of body (Adam’s) and blood

(Abel’s), which had in themselves (and not only as a prefiguration of

Jesus’ body and blood!) a sufficient salvific force so that the need for

salvation through Christ pertained only to those who eventually left the

mountain. What kind of cult-oriented community does CT address? It

seems to be a community characterized by a peculiar polemical emphasis


on an independent (alternative?) “non-Christian,” or maybe “pre-

Christian” path to salvation. What kind of polemic is the community

involved in? What kind of polemic are the exegetical trends discussed in

this paper, e.g., CT’s highly idiosyncratic reinterpretation of Hebrews 7.3,

tailored to serve? How are these polemical trends related to the polemical

stance taken by CT elsewhere (e.g., 24.10–11; 45.4–15; 53.21–26) vis-àvis

(in addition to the Jews, those “usual suspects”) Greek- and Latinspeaking


The present study is mainly descriptive in character, but these are the

questions that it should eventually lead us to ask. Any attempt to answer

them would necessitate widening the scope of investigation, addressing

additional exegetical trends attested in CT. It is to be hoped that an effort

of this kind will be made.

Serge Ruzer is Lecturer and Researcher in the Department of

Comparative Religion, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

Mount Scopus, Israel

The Cave of Treasures on Swearing by Abel’s Blood and Expulsion from Paradise: Two Exegetical Motifs in Context