The Genesis Apocryphon

The Genesis Apocryphon was found in the Qumran caves

The first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the spring of 1947. Among them was a scroll from Qumran Cave 1, which archaeologists labeled “The Genesis Apocryphon.” At the time, the area had political and military turmoil because it was the year preceding the founding of the State of Israel. Four of the scrolls were transported from Jerusalem to Lebanon to Syria and eventually to the United States before returning to Israel. The first three scrolls were unrolled immediately, but the 4th scroll was not unrolled until later. It ended up in the Monastery St. Mark in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The State of Israel purchased the Genesis Apocryphon scroll, and experts unrolled it. The scroll is written in Aramaic and tells about the patriarchs described in the book of Genesis. The text begins with the story of Lamech (the father of Noah) and ends with Abraham freeing the captives of Sodom, covering roughly Genesis 5 to 15.

The scroll agrees with the account we see in our Bibles, but it adds some insight to the events described there. One of those is the discussion between Noah’s mother (Bitenosh) and his father, Lamech. One of the things that the scroll makes clear is that the name “Bitenosh” means “daughter of man.” That is in contrast to the popular notion that Genesis 6 refers to aliens or spirit creatures (verse 4). In the Genesis Apocryphon, Bitenoch reminds Lamech of their sexual relationship that produced Noah.

Archaeology in the biblical lands offers excellent support for the integrity of the Bible and the accuracy of its records. The science of archaeology is another discipline that is a friend of the Bible and can help us strengthen our faith in the Bible as God’s Word.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Biblical Archaeology Review Summer 2021, Volume 47 Number 2, pages 66-67.