THE FINAL VERSION
It is known that in the second and first century B.C. some Jews used an adjusted solar calendar with a year of 364 days. Up to now this calendar has been considered as peculiar to some sectarian groups, but what I shall bring out here indicates that it was of such general use as to shape the final version of the received text of the story of the Deluge.
The discoveries at Qumran have revealed that for the sectarians who had their headquarters in this locality, an essential element of holiness was to live in tune with the structure of the cosmos; what was peculiar to them was that they conceived the ordering of the cosmos in terms of time units, not those of length, volume, and weight. For this reason it was vital that religious duties be observed in accordance with the right calendar. These sectarians objected strenuously to the lunar calendar followed at their time by the Temple of Jerusalem. At Qumran there was followed the calendar described in the non-canonical composition known as the Book of Jubilees.
The Book of Jubilees is a restatement of the story of Genesis, as revealed by angels to Moses at Mount Sinai. The reason for retelling the story of Genesis was to fit it into an elaborate chronological scheme: the time structure was the essential element of creation. The most complete text of the Book of Jubilees is provided by an Aethiopic translation; there are also some Greek and Latin excerpts. Up to recently it was not known whether the original had been written in Hebrew or in Aramaic; but today from fragments found at Qumran we know that there the Hebrew text of the Book of Jubilees was one of the canonical writings. It appears to have been written during the reign of John Hyrcanus (135-104 B.C.), that is, around the time of the first settlement at Qumran.
A key point in the Book of Jubilees is the establishment by Noah of the true and eternal calendar, a calendar that it related to the chronology of the Deluge (6:23-32). This calendar is the solar calendar of 365 days reduced by one day so as to make the length of the year a multiple of 7 (52 weeks = 364 days). The year is divided into 4 seasons of 91 days -- i.e., 13 weeks, each season consisting of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days. A result of this scheme is that the days of the week fall each year on the same day of the month; they fall always on the same day within each cycle of 91 days.(112)
Probably this system was conceived in order to remove any uncertainty from the observance of the Sabbath.
This calendar was in use among the Jews in the two centuries preceding the Christian era and was used by several sectarian groups at the time of the passion of Jesus. According to many modern interpreters this calendar may help to solve the difficult problems of the chronology of the passion week.
The Book of Jubilees quotes from another non-canonical writing, the one known as Enoch I, which also emphasizes the year of 364 days. Enoch I, 72:32: "The year exactly as to its days three hundred and sixty-four." It seems that Enoch I was written around the time of the great Jewish revolt against King Antiochos Epiphanes (167 B.C.).
What I have just quoted has been up to now considered the earliest reference to the adjusted calendar of 364 days, but in my opinion the last revision in the chronology of the Deluge in the text of Genesis had the purpose of conforming with this calendar.
Earlier I have stated that the fourth version of the story of the Deluge added verse 8:14 in order to make the flood last a solar year of 365 days + 10 days (375 days). The last revision kept the ending date at the 27th day of month II of the second year and kept the duration of 375 days, but set the beginning one day earlier, because by the new adjusted solar calendar one day was taken away at the end of the year.
In verse 7:13 it is stated that Noah entered the Ark on the 17th of month II, so that the flood must have started on the 18th. The last revision made the flood start on the same day of the entering into the Ark, by adding verses 7:11b, 12.
The text continues: "On that very day entered Noah . . . into the Ark." It is obvious that the mention of the beginning of the flood before entering into the Ark is out of place. The repetition of the words "the same day" and "that very day" indicates the limits of the phrases that were inserted.
The Midrashim and the Talmud realized the conflict in verses 7:11-13 and tried to explain it by relating that Noah waited until the water reached his ankles, because he, too, like the sinners, could not believe that the world would be destroyed.
In the original version of the Deluge there were 40 + 7 days from the beginning of the year to the beginning of the flood. In the last revision the number of the days was reduced to 46, because in the calendar of the Jubilees the seasons of 91 days can be divided into 46 + 45 days.
According to the Book of Jubilees the rain began on the 47th day of the year and lasted for 45 days (not 40 days). At the beginning of the second season, on the 1st day of the month IV, the fountains of the deep became effective, not by spouting water, but by closing so that rain water accumulated on the Earth. After 91 days, at the beginning of the third season, on the first day of the month VII, the fountains of the deep opened so that the water could ebb. This interpretation is similar to that of Greek mythology according to which the water flushed through an opening in the ground. The water ebbed for 91 + 91 days, that is, up to the end of the year. In the second year Noah waited 46 days for the ground to dry up completely, and then waited 11 days more before leaving the Ark.
The last waiting of 11 days does not make much sense in terms of the chronology of the Book of Jubilees. As I have explained, this period was introduced by the fourth hand in order to extend the length of the Deluge to 375 days. The Book of Jubilees tries to reconcile the final date with that of the 27th of month II by stating that the earth was dry on the 17th, but Noah opened the Ark on the 27th. The author of the Book of Jubilees uses the same method that is used by some contemporary fundamentalists in order to reconcile the statments of our text of Genesis to he effect that the earth was dry on the first day of the second year, but Noah left the Ark on the 27th day of month II of the same year. This difficulty could explain why in some of the manuscript traditions of the final text of Genesis the exit from the Ark takes place on the 17th of month II instead of the 27th.(113)
It follows that the canonical text of Genesis was being fixed just at the time when the calendar of 364 days was authoritative.
The conclusion that the canonization of the text of Genesis dates from a period in which the calendar of 364 days was authoritative, causes one to raise grave doubts about the accepted opinion concering the date of the canonization of the text of the Pentateuch. The accepted argument is that, since the Pentateuch is sacred scripture to the Samaritans, and since the Samaritan text of the Pentateuch does not differ substantially from the Masoretic text of the Jews, the canonization of the Pentateuch must have preceded the schism between Samaritans and Jews, that is, roughly 400 B.C. But there is no proof that the Samaritan text dates from the very beginning of the schism, or, conversely, that the Samaritans did not come to adopt as canonical a recension prepared by Jews. On the contrary, there is evidence in favor of the last alternative, since the text used by the Samaritans contains alterations introduced in a spirit of hostility to the Samaritans.
It is a reasonable supposition that the calendar of 364 days, which makes certain the date of the Sabbath and of religious feasts, may have been a response to the confusion created among Jews by the adoption of the Macedonian lunar calendar, official for the Kingdom of Syria, on top of the Persian solar calendar and the Babylonian lunar calendar. Extrabiblical sources speak of the Macedonian calendar as the calendar of legal transactions Minian Storoth). It is also conceivable that the solar calendar of 364 days may have become a rallying symbol during the revolt against Syria at the time of Antiochos Epiphanes, the time in which Enoch I seems to have been composed. After the settlement of the revolt the Temple may have returned to the lunar calendar, since it was the policy of the Temple to try to coexist with the Kingdom of Syria, whereas the sectarians held on to the adjusted solar calendar.
In conclusion, I am asking the reader to consider the possibility that the text of the Pentateuch was canonized in the age of Antiochos Epiphanes. The findings of Qumran indicate the use of a text which may be taken as the common ground of the Masoretic, Septuagint, and the Samaritan recensions. The very fact that the Pentateuch used at Qumran does not differ from the received text, in spite of the intense ideological commitments of the sectarians, could be taken as an indication that the canonization was a recent event so that alterations had not had time to creep in.
What I have just presented is a group of suppositions, but what I can state positively is that the text of the Pentateuch was canonized when the adjusted solar calendar of 364 days was widely used among Jews. Hence, according to the quantitative spirit of my method, I declare that the way to establish the date for this canonization in a positive way is to trace the history of this calendar.
113. In my interpretation I have followed the version adopted by all modern editions according to which the extreme dates of the Deluge are the 17th of the II month of the first year and the 27th of the II month of the second year. It is to be noted, however, that according to the Masoretic text, the beginning is on the 17th of the IInd month, and the end on the 17th of the IInd month, whereas according to Septuagint the beginning is on the 27th of month II. Other manuscript traditions waver in a similar way. Since the date given by the Septuagint for the beginning is certainly wrong, there is no reason to be much concerned with these variations. Since the beginning was set at the 17th of month II and the end on the 27th of month II, it is natural that copyists would assume an error and make both figures either 17 or 27. The copyists reasoned like a modern scholar who, starting from the assumption that the correct length must have been an exact year, has tried to prove through a patient analysis of the several manuscripts that the beginning was on the 27th of month II and the end on the same day of the following year. I have attempted what has not been done before, that there was a rationale for setting the beginning on the 17th of month II.