Serekh ha-Milhamah
4Q285 (SM)
Copied early first century C.E.
Height 4 cm (1 1/2 in.), length 5 cm (2 in.)
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority (12)

This six-line fragment, commonly referred to as the "Pierced Messiah" text, is written in a Herodian script of the first half of the first century C.E. and refers to a Messiah from the Branch of David, to a judgement, and to a killing.

Hebrew is comprised primarily of consonants; vowels must be supplied by the reader. The
appropriate vowels depend on the context. Thus, the text (line 4) may be translated as "and the
Prince of the Congregation, the Branch of David, will kill him," or alternately read as "and they
killed the Prince." Because of the second reading, the text was dubbed the "Pierced Messiah." The transcription and translation presented here support the "killing Messiah" interpretation, alluding to a triumphant Messiah (Isaiah 11:4).

Tabor, J. "A Pierced or Piercing Messiah?--The Verdict Is Still Out," Biblical
Archaeology Review 18 (1992):58-59.

Vermes, G. "The Oxford Forum for Qumran Research: Seminar on the Rule of the War
from Cave 4 (4Q285)," Journal of Jewish Studies 43 (Spring 1992):85-90.

1. ]Isaiah the prophet: [The thickets of the forest] will be cut [down
2. with an axe and Lebanon by a majestic one will f]all. And there shall come forth a shoot from
the stump of Jesse [
3. ] the Branch of David and they will enter into judgement with [
4. ] and the Prince of the Congregation, the Bran[ch of David] will kill him [
5. by stroke]s and by wounds. And a Priest [of renown (?)] will command [
6. the s]lai[n] of the Kitti[m]

Transcription and translation by G. Vermes