'She is the beginning of all the ways of perversity': Femininity and Metaphor in 4Q184

Melissa Aubin


Commentators of Quern text 4Q184 have variously identified the poem's subject, the Seductress as a prostitute or a symbol of enemies to the Essenes. Rather than a "real" woman, or even a code for a particular, specified anti-Essene group, she is a vehicle for promoting the ideals of the orthodox poet, an alarming example of the fate of the wayward. An emblem legitimated by the feminine models in the Hebrew Bible upon which the poet draws, the evil woman as heretical symbol rages anew. Her amplified presence in 4Q184 affirms an ideological "siege mentality" that manifestly distinguishes "in group" from "other" in several Qumran documents.

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