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Document Details :
Title: Medicine and Magic in Genesis Apocryphon
Subtitle: Ideas on Human Conception and its Hindrances
Author(s): FRÖHLICH, Ida
Journal: Revue de Qumran
Volume: 25 Issue: 2 Date: numéro 98, 2011
Genesis Apocryphon, a paraphrase of selected narratives from Genesis was written with an exegetical purpose. One of the author’s main exegetical interests is in proving that the purity of certain female characters endangered in unusual situations was defended; attesting their purity leads to confirming the geneological purity of their offspring. This exegetical object is served by extending the biblical narrative with additions of medical nature. The biblical tradition is inserted on two points. The first is the odd dialogue of Lamech, Noah’s future father with his wife Batenosh about the origin of the child she was expecting (1Q20 2.1-18). Batenosh recalls as a proof of her conception her sexual pleasure (‘dynh) felt during a past intercourse with her husband. The second narrative addition in the work is the information about the pestilential spirit (rwḥ') which caused impotence in Pharaoh’s court, following Sarah’s taking away from Abraham and bringing her into the court of Pharaoh (1Q20 20.12-32). The spirit made unable Pharaoh to have sexual relations with Sarah. The additions in Genesis Apocryphon witness not only an interest of the author in medical lore but also to his good familiarity with various branches of contemporary medicine and healing methods. The words of Batenosh’s argumentation seems to reflect medical ideas phrased in Greek medical tradition, and perhaps an awareness of the author with some written tradition. The idea of the demonic origin of a dysfunction of the human body, and its healing method - exorcism through the laying on of hands - is based on the ancient Near Eastern medical concept of magical healing.