Akkadian commentaries from ancient mesopotamia and their relation to early hebrew exegesis

Uri Gabbay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Commentaries from ancient Mesopotamia, written in cuneiform script and in the Akkadian language, are known from the eighth century B.C.E. up to the last centuries B.C.E. The article investigates the authority of the texts about which commentaries are known, often considered canonical and divine, vis-à-vis the authority of the commentaries themselves, considered oral tradition transmitted by scholars. This is comparable to the authority of the biblical texts that serve as the base for early Jewish interpretations, and to the authority of the commentaries containing these interpretations, both in Qumran and in early Rabbinic literature. The article also surveys and analyzes various hermeneutical terms and techniques found in ancient Mesopotamian commentaries in relation to early Jewish commentaries. In addition, the article discusses the pesharim from Qumran in their divinatory context, in light of omen interpretations from Mesopotamia which use the noun pišru.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)267-312
Number of pages46
JournalDead Sea Discoveries
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Authority
  • Canonization
  • Cuneiform commentaries
  • Divination
  • Hermeneutics
  • Midrash
  • Pesher


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