On March 15, 2015, Jeremiah Bailey (PhD candidate, Baylor University) presented a stimulating paper at the Southwestern Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, or SCRS):
The Genesis Apocryphon is a fascinating example of the genre of “rewritten Bible.” However, the fascination with its adherence and divergence from the biblical text has left aspects of its text underexplored. One such underexplored textual feature is found in Column II of the scroll wherein Lamech worries that his son Noah is the illegitimate offspring of the Watchers leading him to confront his wife about the nature of the conception. Most of the work on this passage has focused on its relationship to the version of the story in 1 Enoch 106-107, but the text is interesting even beyond its relationship to a group of stories at Qumran about the birth of Noah. The Genesis Apocryphon uniquely gives Lamech’s wife, Bitenosh, a chance to answer the accusation of her infidelity.
In 1QAp Gen II, 9-10, 14, Bitenosh defends the legitimacy of Noah by demanding that Lamech remember the sexual pleasure she received during their intercourse. Why this should prove convincing is not immediately clear from the context of the passage. Despite the perplexing nature of the comments, most interpreters have made little more than passing reference to Bitenosh’s argument, and to date there have only been two real attempts—both recent and both dependent on Greek science—to provide a thorough and satisfactory explanation. This essay will provide an alternative interpretation to those currently on offer. It will argue that the key to understanding this passage lies outside Bitenosh herself, both physically and emotionally, and instead is rooted in the physiology of the Watchers and their offspring, specifically, the portrayal of the Watchers as endowed with absurdly large sexual organs.
Jeremiah Bailey’s interpretation comes after Pieter W. van der Horst’s alternative explanation, discussed earlier by Remnant of Giants.
Jeremiah’s suggestion certainly got me thinking again about Bitenosh’s sexual pleasure, and how it was meant to convince her husband Lamech of her fidelity. But I don’t know. It seems to me that Jeremiah is drawing a long bow.