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orion-list Identification of "King Jonathan" in 4Q448
One of the scrolls in the exhibition currently at the Field Museum in Chicago
is 4Q448, Prayer for King Jonathan/Tefillah li-Shlomo shel Yonatan ha-Melekh.
This seems to be the only DSS that mentions a "King Jonathan." The catalog
states (p. 34): "The King Jonathan mentioned in this text can be no other
than the Hasmonean monarch Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.E.)."
In this scroll "Jonathan" is spelled Yonatan (as given). However, this name
is spelled differently on the coins. Those universally attributed to
Alexander Jannaeus have Yehonatan (with an extra he). There are also two
issues with Yonatan (omitting the shooruk of 4Q448), which are attributed by
Dr. Ya'akov Meshorer to John Hyrcanus II, 67 and 63-40 B.C.E. Neither of
these coins uses the title king, however, and one in fact is always
overstruck on coins inscribed Yehonatan ha-Melekh. The Hebrew name of
Hyrcanus II is not known, but was assumed to be Yonatan based on these
overstruck coins. (These Yonatan coins were previously given by Meshorer to
Alexander Jannaeus.) Dr. Michael Wise mentioned 4Q448 in his lecture April
2, and I asked him afterwards about the spelling differences; it was his
opinion that the loss of the he was a normal pronunciation variation and not
significant. However, if Hyrcanus II was in fact named Yonatan, he could be
a candidate for the "King Jonathan" of 4Q448, though only in 67 B.C.E. when
he might reasonably have been addressed as "king."
This question is of interest because of the diametrically-opposed views of
Wise and Dr. Eric Meyers, who lectured March 12. Dr. Meyers said that
Alexander Jannaeus was "a prime candidate for the Wicked Priest," thus
unlikely to be praised by the Qumran Essenes (his opinion), while Dr. Wise
said that Alexander Jannaeus was favored by the DSS writers because he had
their enemies, the Pharisees, crucified. The catalog supplies a translation
of 4Q448 by E. Eshel, H. Eshel, and A. Yardeni that reads in part "for king
Jonathan...your name be blessed," a prayer for the welfare of King Jonathan
and his kingdom. However, in a posting to Orion 3/27/00, Stephen Goranson
wrote: "The so-called paean to [Alexander Jannaeus] (4Q448)...is now
increasingly and properly read as a condemnation."
Would anyone care to comment on (1) the identification of the "King Jonathan"
of 4Q448, (2) the authorship of 4Q448, or (3) its date of composition?
Robert D. Leonard Jr.
For private reply, e-mail to RLWinnetka@aol.com
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