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Temple Scroll

TEMPLE SCROLL

TEMPLE SCROLL , scroll of the *Dead Sea Sect. In 1967 Yigael *Yadin acquired for the "Shrine of the Book," through the generosity of the Wolfson foundation, a scroll which almost certainly came from the Qumran caves. It is one of the most important of the Qumran finds and has been named the Temple Scroll. The longest scroll hitherto discovered, it measures over 28 ft. (8.6 m.) in length and consists of 66 columns (of text). It has been dated to the end of the second century b.c.e. The author of the scroll evidently believed, or wanted his readers to believe, that it was part of the Torah (given by God to Moses) since he always lets God speak in the first person. Furthermore, the Tetragrammaton is always written in full and in the same (square) script as in the scroll, which was the practice of the Qumran scribes only when copying biblical texts. The scroll is also unique in its contents, which concern four groups of topics:

Halakhot on Various Subjects

The arrangement of these laws – of which the scroll contains a large collection – differs from that in the Torah and many additional rules are given, some of sectarian and polemic nature and others concerning, though at many times disagreeing with, rulings of the Mishnah. Of special interest are the many passages dealing with rules of cleanness and uncleanness, both because they contain quotations from the Pentateuch with interesting variations from the masoretic text and because they manifest greater strictness in these matters than the parallel injunctions in the Mishnah. The scroll also has a special chapter on the rules of burial and regulations with regard to cemeteries.

Festivals and Festival Practice

A considerable part of the scroll is devoted to a detailed prescription of rules concerning the celebration of the various festivals, their sacrifices, and offerings. It decrees, however, the celebration of two festivals additional to those in the traditional Jewish calendar, namely that of the New Wine and that of the New Oil (the latter is known also from other Qumran documents) to be celebrated 50 and 100 days respectively after Shavuot.

Temple Plan and Practice

The commandment to build the Temple and the detailed instructions provided follow the manner and style of Exodus 35ff., which deals with the Tabernacle. The scroll differs, however, from all hitherto known ancient sources concerning the First, Second, and Herodian Temples, and it appears that its author endeavored to supply the "missing" Torah concerning the Temple which was given to David by God (i Chron. 28: 11ff.; cf. tj, Sanh. 29a for reference to such a scroll). The Temple of this scroll is a man-made one to be built as ordained by God until the day that God will create His own Temple. It is particularly in this section of the scroll that the terminology (words like ris ("stadium"), roved ("a tread of a stair"), kiyyur ("entablature"), mesibbah ("spiral staircase")), betrays the period of its writing.

The main interest of this section lies, however, in the detailed prescriptions for the courts and the sacrificial machinery, and in the instructions for Temple procedure during festivals, notably Sukkot. There were to be three exactly square courts, one inside another, being respectively about 280, 500, and 1,600 cubits long. The middle and outer courts were to have 12 gates corresponding to, and named after, the 12 tribes of Israel. A considerable portion of the Temple section is devoted to a variety of rules of cleanness and uncleanness to be observed in the city itself, even going into such detail as to prescribe location and architectural details for public toilets.

The Statutes of the Kings

Another section of the scroll deals at first with the king's bodyguard, which is to consist of 12,000 soldiers – 1,000 per tribe. These must be without blemish, "men of truth, God-fearing, hating unjust gain" (cf. Ex. 18:21 where the text concerns judges). The main purpose of this guard is to protect the king against the gentiles. The scroll also prescribes death for acts of espionage. Finally, the scroll gives detailed mobilization plans, the size of the army to be called into action varying from one-tenth to one-half of the nation's force – depending on the seriousness of the threat of war facing the king and the people – while the remainder are to stay in the cities and protect them.

Further Research

Further research on the Temple Scroll, which culminated in its publication with a detailed commentary in three volumes, confirmed the main conclusions given in the original article above. The suggested date of its composition, the second half of the 2nd century b.c.e., is confirmed on paleographic, linguistic, syntactical and historical grounds. It was the formative period of the Hasmonean dynasty, that of John *Hyrcanusi (135–104 b.c.e.), his son *Aristobulus (104–103) and Alexander Yannai (103–76), the last two of whom were High Priests and temporal rulers.

The attainment of independence, the problems raised by this dual role, the need for the reconstruction of the *Temple, the necessity for promoting regulations for the civil administration, the judicial system, the army, relations between the king and the people constitute the background to the two largest portions of the Scroll – the details of the building of the Temple and its practice and the *Statutes of the Kings, details about both of which are sparse in the Bible. To give but one example: the prohibition against the use of foreign mercenaries is to be viewed in the light of the fact that according to *Josephus (Ant. 12:244), John Hyrcanus was the first to employ those mercenaries.

The Scroll can be divided into two parts – editorial and additions.

The first part is characterized by the superb skill of the author in assembling and harmonizing into a whole the different and sometimes contradictory passages in the Bible on a given subject. He does not hesitate to emend the traditional text or to add words and phrases in order to gain his point. In this section biblical Hebrew largely predominates. It is the second part, dealing largely with contemporary matters, that contains post-biblical words, and phrases and syntax which are found only in the Mishnah.

This second part consists of the additions enumerated in the original article: the halakhah laid down by the sect; the festivals and their regulations; the plan of the Temple and its rules; the monarchy and its administration.

The Halakhah

All the evidence points to the fact that, unlike the other *Qumran documents, the Scroll was not a sectarian commentary on the Scriptures, but was regarded as a canonical work, part of their Torah, possibly to be identified with the "Book of Hegu" mentioned in the Damascus Covenant (10. 12.14), or even with the Mishneh Torah mentioned in the Bible, regarded by the Pharisees as referring to the Book of Deuteronomy, and having the same status as the Pentateuch.

The Scroll thus constitutes what might be called the halakhah of the *Essenes, written when the halakhah of the *Pharisees, which became normative Judaism, was being transmitted only orally, and its importance lies in the fact that for the first time we have an exposition of Jewish practice other than that of normative Judaism.

Many of its regulations stand in direct conflict with those of the Pharisees and always reveal a more extreme attitude. Thus, where the Mishnah (Hul. 4:3) says that a dead fetus in the womb does not render the mother ritually unclean, the Scroll says the opposite; where Pharisaic law limits the contamination from animal carcasses to the flesh, but explicitly excludes "the bones, the teeth, the nails and the hair," the Scroll equally explicitly includes them. Where the rabbis interpret Deut. 21:22 to mean that the body of a criminal on whom the death sentence was carried out was to be suspended from a tree after death (Sanh. 46b), basing themselves on the order of the words, the Scroll deliberately inverts that order to state: "You shall hang him on the tree and he shall die" (Col. 64). It is in the laws of ritual purity and impurity that the extremism of the Essenes is most marked.

The Festivals

As stated in the original article, where normative Judaism provides for only one festival of the first fruits, on the 50th day after "the morrow of the Sabbath" (Lev. 23:15) after which first fruits could be brought regularly, the Scroll provides for four such festivals, at 50-day intervals, for barley, wheat, wine and oil. Since they interpreted the words "the morrow of the Sabbath" not only, like the Sadducees, as Sunday, but as the Sunday after the conclusion of the whole Festival of Passover, i.e., the 26th of the first month, and since according to their calendar the 1st of the first month always fell on Wednesday, all these festivals fell on Sunday: the First Fruit of Barley, Sunday the 26th of the first month; the First Fruit of Wheat, Sunday the 15th of the third month; the First Fruit of Oil, Sunday, the 22nd of the sixth month. In addition there were the festival of the wood offering (cf. Neh. 10:35, and Mishnah Ta'an 4:4, 5) which lasted for six days, and an annual seven-day festival of the ordination of the priests. It was based on the ordination of the priests mentioned in Lev. 6, which normative Judaism regarded as a one-time act.

The Temple and its Regulations

The Scroll deals with the building of the Temple in such exhaustive detail that half of it is devoted to this, justifying the title "Temple Scroll" given to the document as a whole. It was to be an earthly Temple, built by man, as distinct from the Temple to be built by God "at the end of days." Its main aspect was that it was to be surrounded by three concentric squares.

It is in this section that the extremism of the sect with regard to ritual purity is most marked. The Pharisees applied the word "camp" in the Bible, in which ritual purity was to be maintained, to three "camps" of descending order of sanctity: the Temple itself, the Levitical camp, i.e., the Temple precincts, and the "camp of Israel," which was the city, thus permitting leniency in the laws of ritual uncleanness in Jerusalem.

The Essenes, however, declared that the whole city of the Temple constituted that camp, with the result that all acts involving ritual contamination, including sexual intercourse, body evacuation, and the bringing of animal products other than those for sacrifices, were forbidden within the city boundaries. As a protest against the disregard of these laws they refrained from participating in the Temple cult and withdrew to the desert until such time as their rules would be accepted.

The Statutes of the Kings

It is in these statutes that the contemporary historical situation is most strongly in evidence, pointing to the date of the composition of the Scroll. It deals with (1) the king's guard; (2) the obligation of the king to organize an army; (3) the appointment of a judicial council; (4) the number of wives permitted to a king; (5) the relations between the king and the people; (6) regulations for conscription in case the country is attacked; (7) regulations for an offensive war; (8) the division of booty; and (9) the obligation of the king to adhere to the Divine Commandments.

An important aspect of the Temple Scroll is the light it throws on the relations between the Essenes, to whom the Temple Scroll undoubtedly belongs, and early Christianity. It had previously been assumed that the common denominator between them was the rejection of the Temple cult. The scroll, however, reveals beyond question that not only did the Essenes uphold this cult, but they were its most extreme adherents, regarding the Pharisees as heretics.

It is therefore to be assumed that the early Christians came into contact with the Essenes during the later period of their existence when, in rejection of the administration of the Temple of their time, they withdrew from Jerusalem and evolved a theology and a practice which enabled them to live without it. This was, however, only a temporary measure, until such time as the Temple would be rebuilt and their principles put into practice. What was a temporary solution to the Essenes was accepted by the early Christians as their permanent standard.

bibliography:

Y. Yadin, in: D.N. Freedman and J.C. Greenfield (eds.), New Directions in Biblical Archaeology (1969); Y. Yadin, Megillat Ha-Mikdash, 3 vols. (1977). add. bibliography: Y. Yadin, The Temple Scroll, 3 vols. (1983); G. Brooke (ed.), Temple Scroll Studies (1989); M.O. Wise, A Critical Study of the Temple Scroll from Qumran Cave 11.

[Yigael Yadin]

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