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Prophet of Lies

LIES, PROPHET OF (Heb. מַטִּיף הַכָּזָב, Mattif ha-Kazav,"spouter of falsehood"), a person mentioned in some of the Qumran texts, whose identity with the Man of *Lies cannot be assumed as certain in the present state of knowledge of the *Dead Sea Scrolls. The designation given to him is derived from Micah 2:11, "If a man walking in wind and falsehood do lie, 'I will preach (attif) unto thee of wine and of strong drink'; he shall even be the preacher (mattif) of this people!" (quoted 6QD 8:13). He is also called the "man of scoffing" near the beginning of the Zadokite Admonition: about the same time as the rise of the *Teacher of Righteousness, it is said, "there arose the man of scoffing, who preached [hittif, "spouted"] to Israel water of falsehood and led them astray in a trackless wilderness" (6QD 1:14f.). The reference is probably to a rival religious leader, probably to a leader of the Pharisees, for the Prophet of Lies and his associates "interpreted with smooth things" (1:18) – adopted a less exacting halakhah than did the followers of the Teacher of Righteousness – and other passages which mention the *Seekers after Smooth Things indicate that this is a description of the Pharisees. Later in the same document these people are called "the builders of the wall" who "walked after ẓav" (a reference to Hos. 5:11). The enigmatic ẓav is explained in terms of a "preacher" (mattif), in whom a variant and inferior reading of Micah 2:6 (hattef yattifun, as against the masoretic text, al tattifu yattifun) is seen as fulfilled: he leads his followers astray by his interpretations of the marriage law and the law of purity (see Book of Covenant of *Damascus).

In the Qumran commentary on Micah the denunciation of Samaria in Micah 1: 5–7 is interpreted of "the Prophet of Lies who [leads astray] the simple." In the commentary on Habakkuk, the denunciation of "him that buildeth a town with blood" (Hab. 2: 12) is interpreted of "the Prophet of Lies (mattif ha-kazav) who has led many astray, to build a worthless town with blood and to raise up a congregation with falsehood for the sake of its glory"; but he and his followers "will come to fiery judgments for having reviled and defamed God's elect ones" (1QpHab. 10:9–13). This language is akin to the condemnation in the Zadokite Admonition of those who, at the instance of the Prophet of Lies, "built the wall and daubed it with plaster" (6QD 8:12; cf. Ezek. 13:10ff.).

Although it is fairly certain that this Prophet of Lies is a Pharisaic teacher, his identity remains in doubt. Simeon b. Shetaḥ is one possibility, but since the Prophet appears to have been contemporary with the Teacher of Righteousness, the identity of the former must depend on the date assigned to the latter.


G.R. Driver, Judaean Scrolls (1965), 307–10; Roth, in: JSS, 4 (1959), 339ff.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.