I've read that the Nash papyrus commandments have differences with the ones found at the Hebrew Bible of the time.

I was only able to find out that one of them is the sequence of 3 of the commandments.

Is there any other significant difference or variant?

I went yesterday to the Cambridge University library to see the papyrus and found this text regarding it:

The Nash Papyrus is one of the oldest examples of the text of the Hebrew Bible, dating back from the second century BCE. It contains only the Ten Commandments and the Shema prayer (‘Hear, O Israel’). It is perhaps from a phylactery, a box containing scripture that orthodox Jews wear when praying. The tex of the Ten Commandments preserved on the papyrus is different from that found in the Bible, suggesting that even this fundamental religious text has changed.

  • Wikipedia says that it combines elements of both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Considering that we now have more documents of that era in the Dead Sea Scrolls, it wouldn't be considered very likely to be original. – curiousdannii Aug 14 '16 at 14:36
  • @curiousdannii. The Dead Sea Scrolls are no older that the Nash Papyrus. – fdb Aug 14 '16 at 21:53
  • @fdb But they are considerably more numerous. – curiousdannii Aug 15 '16 at 0:38

I would not insist with information about the P.Nash itself, since there is quite a lot of research published on this, during the past years.

In fact the P.Nash presents fragments from Exodus 20:2-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21, but also Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Yes, this is from the Shema Israel.

Now there are at least two explanations of the differences that you are asking about.

  1. The combination of the Decalogue and the Shema indicates that the text of the papyrus represents the Torah readings included in the daily morning liturgy of Second Temple times (cf. Tam. 5:1: "they recited the Decalogue, the Shema, etc."). It has been suggested that it is, in fact, from a phylactery used in daily prayer. The liturgical texts, even if taken from the Bible, may differ from the source-biblical texts.

The Ten Commandments followed by the Shema Israel is without any doubt a sign that these two texts were and still are the basis for every believer in The Almighty.

  1. On the other hand, it has been already noticed many times that the content of the P.Nash is rather close to the LXX and the differences are related to the MT, which is a story in itself. Yet this may answer your question and it may explain the differences the label from Cambridge is talking about.

For a full transcript of the Hebrew text + translation + a very good presentation, please see: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/OTeSources/02-Exodus/Text/Articles/Burkitt-10Commands-JQR.pdf?etpiwik=8369fd7cfc93625d&referrer=https://www.google.ro/

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.