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"The Seductress"

The Dead Sea Scrolls
by Geza Vermes

[pp. 397-8]

The Seductress

   A long and relatively well-preserved Wisdom poem from Cave 4 (4Q184) depicts, by means of the metaphor of the harlot, the dangers and attraction of false doctrine. See J.M. Allegro and A.A. Anderson, DJD,V, 82-5; J. Strugnell, RQ 7 (1970), 263-8.  Palaeographically, the text is dated to the first century BCE, but the work may be much older, possibly antedating the Qumran sect.

...speaks vanity
   and ... errors.
She is ever prompt to oil her words,
  and she flatters with irony,
   deriding with iniquitous l[ips].
Her heart is set up as a snare,
   and her kidneys(affections) as a fowler's nets.
Her eyes are defiled with iniquity,
   her hands have seized hold of the Pit.
Her legs to down to work wickedness,
   and to walk in wrong-doings.
Her...are foundations of darkness,
   and a multitude of sins is in her skirts.
Her...are darkness of night,
   and her garments...
Her clothes are shades of twilight,
   and her ornaments plagues of corruption.
Her couches are beds of corruption,
   and her...depths of the pit.
Her inns are couches of darkness,
   and her dominion in the midst of the night.
She pitches her dwelling on the foundations of darkness
   she abides in the tents of silence.
Amid everlasting fire is her inheritance,
   not among those who shine brightly.
She is the beginning of all the ways of iniquity.
Woe (and) disaster to all who possess her!
   And desolation to all who hold her!
For her ways are ways of death,
   and her paths are roads of sin,
   and her tracks are pathways to iniquity,
   and her by-ways are rebellious wrong-doings.
Her gates are gates of death,
and from the entrance of the house
   she sets out towards the underworld.
None of those who enter there will ever return,
   and all who possess her will descend to the Pit.
She lies in wait in secret places,
In the city's squares she veils herself,
   and she stands at the gates of towns.
She will never re[st] from wh[orin]g,
   her eyes glance hither and thither.
She lifts her eyelids naughtily
   to stare at a virtuous man and join him,
   and an important man to trip him up,
   at upright men to pervert their way,
   and the righteous elect to keep them from the
   at the firmly established to bring them down wantonly,
   and those who walk in uprightness to alter the statute;
to cause the humble to rebel against God,
   and turn their steps away from the ways of justice,
   to bring insolence to their heart,
   so that they march no more in the paths of uprightness;
   to lead men astray to the ways of the Pit,
   and seduce with flatteries every son of man.

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