Chapter 6 - Works Reckoned as Righteousness Legal Texts

Legal discussion was a major element of Jewish life in the period of the Scrolls, and legal disagreements were a primary factor in the formation of groups and sects. These discussions were grounded in a desire to implement the Commandments of God, and necessary because the Bible’s demands were often not complete or entirely clear. Thus interpretation entered the picture, and with it disagreements.


Though appearing to dwell on insignificant points, these arguments illustrate how anxious the people were to obey God. Even the smallest details of His requirements had to be obeyed. And no compromise was possible. How could one compromise what God required? Thus competing groups could arise around differences of legal interpretation.

When compared to those of Rabbinic literature, the legal positions of the Scrolls are generally conservative. The Scrolls are relatively harsh, too, often seemingly favouring priests over lay people, that is, if one ignores the esotericism of some of the commentaries. Compare this harshness with a story about Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew. In the context of a challenge to his practice of healing on the sabbath, Jesus is pictured as asking his audience, ‘Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out?’ (Matt. 12:11).


Clearly the expected answer was that yes, of course, anyone would lift that sheep out. But the author of A Pleasing Fragrance (Halakah A) below would not. The sabbath was so Holy in his eyes that one might save a human from a pit, but not an animal. Saving an animal was ‘work’, and work on the sabbath was forbidden by the Bible.

Some of the works collected below are of the most explosive significance. Though seemingly mired in legal minutiae that to modern readers might appear quite trivial, they actually give a picture of the mindset of the people in Palestine at this critical juncture in the formation of what is now called Western Civilization. We are on fairly safe ground if we imagine this mindset of extreme apocalyptic ‘zeal’ as being the dominant one - not the mindset of the Pharisees or Herodians, which has been the popular picture up until now, but rather that of ‘opposition’ groups and others normally thought of as ‘sectarian’ in the Jerusalem of this time.


Certainly the ‘Zealots’ were parties to it, as probably were that group now referred to as ‘Jewish Christians’, i.e., those Jerusalem Church supporters or followers of James the just called ‘zealous for the Law’ in Acts 21:21. It would be like imagining, for the purposes of discussion, a non-Muslim venturing into Mecca during the pilgrimage season and seeing the atmosphere of zeal and militancy that would normally be widespread there. Of course, a non-Muslim could not do this; he would not be permitted. But that is just the point.

The same atmosphere held sway in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount in the period we are considering, including the same restrictions regarding ‘foreigners’ on the Temple Mount, at least where so-called ‘Zealots’ and the partisans of the literature we have before us were concerned. The use in the two Letters on Works Righteousness, with which we begin this Chapter, of the language Paul uses in Romans and Galatians to describe the significance of Abraham’s salvationary state (also used in Islam with a slightly different twist to produce similar new departures) is of the most fundamental importance for understanding the foundations of Western Civilization.


These two letters are also important for deciphering the sectarian situation in the Jerusalem of this period. The last document in this Chapter is equivalent to the last column of what we have been referring to throughout this work as ‘the Damascus Document’. We have been relying on the two copies of these materials found in the Cairo Genizah by Solomon Schechter at the end of the last century.


Columns representing the first column of this document have now been found in the unpublished materials from Qumran; they are not, however, the first column of the Qumran document, i.e. there is indecipherable material belonging to an additional column or columns to the right of the material paralleling the Cairo version on the unpublished plates. A good deal of the other Damascus Document materials found among the unpublished fragments from Qumran do parallel the Cairo recensions; therefore we have not included them.

This last column does not, though it alludes to passages and themes in the Cairo recensions. Therefore, we have included it. We have also included it because it is so interesting and so well preserved.

Revealingly, it is an excommunication text of the most heightened and unbending kind. It absolutely embodies the ethos we have been delineating in this Chapter and concern for the Torah of Mores - words it actually uses. It would certainly have been directed against someone of the mindset of a Paul, had Paul ever been to the ‘Damascus’ the Qumran text so reveres.


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35. The First Letter On Works Reckoned As Righteousness (4Q394-398) (Plates 13 & 14)
(‘Some of our Words concerning the Torah of God’)

This text is of the most crucial importance for evaluating the Qumran community, mindset and historical development. Parts of it have been talked about, written about and known about for over three decades. Particularly in the last decade, parts have circulated in various forms, some under the by now popular code ‘MMT’. In turn, this is often incorrectly spoken of as ‘some words of the Torah’.


This title would only be appropriate to the First Letter, but the allusion on which it is based actually does not occur until Line 30 of the Second Letter. Its proper Translation would be ‘some works of the Torah’ (italics ours). Where the history of Christianity is concerned, this is an important distinction. Our reconstruction, transliteration and Translation here are completely new. We have not relied on anyone or any other work, but rather sifted through the entire unpublished corpus, grouping like plates together, identifying all the overlaps, and making all the joins ourselves.


As it turns out, this is not very difficult, as these group out fairly readily and are quite easily put together. Nor did we rely on the recently published extended Claremont catalogue, because our work was completed before this became available. We also added the calendrical materials at the beginning of the First Letter, which have never been known in any form and are not unimportant, as we have seen, since the control and regulation of society are often based on these.

What we actually have here are two letters, something like Corinthians 1 and Corinthians 2 or Thessalonians I and Thessalonians 2 in the New Testament. It would appear from the multiple copies of them, that these letters were kept and recopied as important Community documents.


The addressee of the Second Letter looks very like a king of some kind - like the addressee of the Paean to King Jonathan in Chapter 8 at the end of this collection - or, if one prefers ‘the Leader of the Community’ at the beginning. In our view, if the letter is to be placed in the first century BC and grouped with other texts mentioning historical figures in Chapter 4 and Chapter 8, this could be ‘King Jonathan’, i.e. Alexander Jannaeus, or his zealot minded and more populist son, Aristobulus, or either of the latter’s two like-minded sons, Alexander or Antigonus, the second having actually been a king.


If placed in the first century, where we would prefer to place it because of its language - a form of ‘proto-Mishnaic Hebrew’ - and clear typological parallels with similar ‘early Christian’ efforts; then the addressee is most probably Agrippa I (c. AD 40), who according to the extant literature, if nothing else, made a pretence at Torah observance, or possibly his son Agrippa II (c. AD 60), who was less positively regarded. If it is ‘the Leader of a Community’, then it is someone who is not at odds with this Community, or who is at least sympathetic enough to be addressed by it in such a comradely and collegial tone.

In the first part the text lays out its calendrical reckonings relating to festivals and sabbaths, ending up with the by now familiar 364-day scheme set forth in the Genesis Florilegium, Jubilees and Priestly texts above, that is, it sets forth the calendar according to the feast days it recommends. Since, superficially, it mentions no other calendar, one must assume the situation had not yet been finally regulated one way or the other and was to a certain extent still in flux. The very fact of its polemic, though, would seem to imply that a lunisolar calendar of the type set forth in Chapter 4 was being used in the Temple.

It then moves on to discuss serious, if seemingly ‘nit-picking’ legal issues of a different kind - the key words here being ‘reckoned as’ or ‘counted for’ in Lines 2, 10, 34, 50, etc. We have seen these words used above in various contexts. Associated with them is an emphasis on ‘doing’ (cf. Line 62), and of course, the ultimate Hebrew variation of the root of this word, ‘works’. These words ‘reckoned as’ or ‘counted for’ are summed up best in the climactic conclusion of the Second Letter, where they are used as follows: ‘And finally, we wrote to you about some of the works of the Torah, which we reckoned for your Good and for that of your people...’.


The relation of these words to Paul’s use of the same language in discussing Abraham’s faith in Rom. 3:28: ‘We reckon that by faith a man is justified and not by works of the Law’; or in Rom. 4:9: ‘Faith was counted to Abraham as Righteousness’ based on Gen. 15:6; or finally in Gal. 3:6 to the same effect, is crucial (italics ours). Both the Qumran letters and Paul’s are operating in similar ideological frameworks, the only difference being that the Qumran ones are completely ‘works’ and Torah-oriented; Paul’s, the opposite.

As Paul puts it: ‘If Righteousness is through the Law then Christ died for nothing’ (Gal. 2:21, introducing Chapter 3 above). This will have particular relevance to his analysis of why Christ’s having taken upon himself ‘the curse of the Law’ would ‘redeem’ those Paul is newly converting from ‘the curse of the Law’ and enable them to be ‘adopted sons’ and through faith ‘receive the promised Spirit’ (Gal. 3:13-14 and 4:5-6). We will have occasion to discuss this cluster of allusions relative to such Deuteronomic ‘cursing’ at the end of the Damascus Document below.

Gen. 15:6’s words, ‘counted for him as Righteousness’, concerning Abraham, were also applied in Ps. 106:31 to the high priest Phineas’ act in fending off foreign pollution from the camp in the wilderness. This must have been a matter of some excitement for ‘Zealots’.


Phineas’ ‘zeal for God’ in killing backsliders because of interaction with Gentiles (a subject too of the present letter) was, as we have seen, an archetypical event for the Maccabean family (cf. Mattathias’ farewell speech to his sons in 1 Macc. 2:54), as it was for the so-called ‘Zealot’ movement that followed. We say ‘so-called’, because Ant. 18:23 never really calls it this - only ‘the Fourth Philosophy’ - and also because it was ‘Messianic’. The evocation of critical words such as these in the several various settings above further concretizes the relationships of these movements.

Some of the positions enumerated in the recitation of legal minutiae before us, such as fluids transmitting the impurity of their containers along the course of the poured liquid, have been identified in the Talmud as ‘Sadducean’. But the Talmud can hardly be considered historically precise. By ‘Sadduki’, i.e. ‘Sadducee’ or ‘Zadokite’, it often means sectarian generally (min) - including even Jewish Christians.


The group responsible for these two letters could certainly not have been ‘establishment Sadducees’ of the Herodian period and group pictured in the New Testament. Josephus describes these as ‘dominated in all things by the Pharisees’. It could, however, have been the Maccabean Sadducees of an earlier period, in so far as they - or their heirs - were not dominated by the Pharisees or involved in the acceptance of foreign rule, foreign involvement in the affairs of the society, or foreign gifts or sacrifices in the Temple.

Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians and Qumran: A New Hypothesis of Qumran Origins, Leiden, 1983, set forth on the basis of Josephus’ writings, the Qumran texts, and Talmudic materials a sitz IM leben for these matters without benefit of either these letters or the Temple Scroll. It identified - at least in the Herodian period - two groups of Sadducees, one ‘establishment’ and another ‘opposition’. The latter can also be called ‘Messianic Sadducees’. In the Maccabean period they can be called ‘Purist Sadducees’.


These last devolve into groups that are called ‘Zealot’, ‘Essene’, or even ‘Jewish Christian’, depending on the vantage point of the observer, just so long as one understands their ‘opposition’ nature and their nationalist, unbending and militant attachment to the Law (which Josephus calls ‘national tradition’). This is exemplified in letters of attachment such as we present here. For instance, if one wants to call attitudes such as these ‘Essene’, one would have to redefine to a certain extent what one meant by that term.

The group responsible for this First Letter on ‘those works of the Torah reckoned as good for you’, or to use the language of Paul, ‘reckoned as Righteousness’ or ‘reckoned as justifying you’, are very interested in the Temple as per the parameters of the Damascus Document and the Temple Scroll, with which it can be typologically grouped. They are particularly concerned with ‘pollution of the Temple’. This last, as we have seen, along with ‘fornication’ - a theme the letter also addresses - constituted two out of the ‘three nets’ which ‘Belial (Herod?) deceived Israel into considering as Righteousness’ (CD, iv-v).

The idea that the literature at Qumran was anti-Temple, which developed in the early days of Qumran research from considering the Community Rule only and misunderstanding its splendid imagery, is just not accurate. The ‘zeal’ shown for the Temple in these letters and other works is pivotal throughout, but this Temple must be one ‘purified’ of all polluted works. It should be noted that this ‘nationalistic’ attachment to the Temple in Jerusalem, and a consonant xenophobia related to it, is tangible throughout the document.

Here Gentile gifts (5ff.) and the ‘vessels’ that bear them (particularly ‘skins’; cf. 18ff.) exercise the document’s authors to no little degree. This theme, particularly as it relates to the ‘skins’, also exercises the authors of the Temple Scroll, Columns 46-7, where it is linked to classes of polluted persons barred from the Temple. The same gist is discernible here. In the Temple Scroll such ‘skins’ are referred to as ‘sacrificed to idols’.


This theme is again discernible in Line 9 of the present document. It links the whole issue of Gentile gifts and sacrifices in the Temple to idolatry, and is but an adumbration of the more general theme of ‘things sacrificed to idols’ elsewhere, particularly in the New Testament.

These themes, not to mention the ones of ‘works Righteousness’ and the Law, are also discernible in extant works relating to James the just (the ‘Zaddik’ / ‘Zadok’), the leader of the so-called ‘Jerusalem Community’ from the 40s to the 60s AD - what has retrospectively come to be called ‘Jewish Christianity’ in Palestine. The movement that seems subsequently to have developed also came to be called the Ebionites (i.e. ‘the Poor Ones’), a term of self-designation running the gamut of Qumran documents (see our discussion of it in Hymns of the Poor in Chapter 7).


In particular, James is portrayed in the Book of Acts as insisting upon abstention from ‘blood’, ‘fornication’ and ‘food’ / ‘things sacrificed to idols’ (Acts 21:25; also Acts 15). His position on ‘works counted’ or ‘reckoned as Righteousness’ is made clear in the letter attributed to his name and the riposte it contains to the Pauline position on Abraham’s faith in Romans and Galatians.

The issue of Gentile gifts and Gentile sacrifices in the Temple was a particularly crucial one in the period running up to the war against Rome from the 40s to the 60s AD. Josephus makes this clear in the Jewish War, where he describes the barring of these - demanded by ‘the Zealots’ and presumably other opposition groups - as ‘an innovation which before our ancestors were unacquainted with’.


Other aspects of this problem, including the barring of Herodians (who were looked upon as Gentiles by groups such as these, though not by the Pharisees) and their sacrifices, not only from the Temple, but ultimately from all Jerusalem, was but a special case of this attitude. In the war the Herodian palaces were eventually burned, as were those of the high priests owing their positions to them, not to mention all the debt records.

Though it is possible that Gentile gifts and sacrifices in the Temple were also an issue in the Maccabean period, the literature does not record it. In the end this issue was the one that triggered the war against Rome in AD 66-70 or rather the one that was used by extremists to trigger it; because in AD 66 this war was made inevitable when the lower priesthood stopped sacrifices on behalf of Romans and other foreigners in the Temple, in particular those daily sacrifices which had up to that point been offered on behalf of the Roman Emperor.


That is how important these themes are. This text also refers to the matter of the Red Heifer for particularly important purification procedures, a matter further developed in the text by that name below. In line with the general nationalistic xenophobia across the spectrum of Qumran documents, Ammonites and Moabites are grouped with people like the deaf and the blind, suffering from some serious physical imperfection (47-83). This theme, which is also treated above in the Temple Scroll in some manner probably involves barring Gentiles from the Temple generally.

This is to be contrasted sharply with the portrait of Jesus’ pro-Gentile sentiments or behaviour in the Gospels, where he is even pictured, as noted above, as keeping ‘table fellowship’ with similar classes of barred persons, including most strikingly ‘prostitutes’ and ‘tax-collectors’ - important allusions for this period. Nor should one forget the imagery of Jesus as ‘Temple’ generally in Paul.


In this context, one image in the Gospels, comparing Gentiles with dogs being allowed to eat the crumbs under the table (Matt. 15:27, etc.), is not without resonance in this text. In Lines 66-7, even dogs are barred from the Temple because they eat the bones with the flesh still on them, i.e. they acquire the kind of pollution associated with ‘things sacrificed to idols’.

These things are related, too, to the issue of ‘fornication’, which in Lines 83-9 is equated to the one of ‘hybrids’. In turn, both appear to be related to intermarrying between Israel and foreigners actually referred to in 87-8. This theme, of course, would be dear to ‘Zealots’ inspired by the saving act of Phineas warding off such ‘mixing’ in ancient times. Here, it would seem also to relate to intermarrying between priests and Israelites.

Line 86 uses an allusion from the Community Rule, which we have already referred to-the reference to ‘priests’ on the Community Council as a spiritualized ‘Holy of Holies’ leading up to the two allusions to the ‘Way in the wilderness’ of Isa. 40:3 (viii. 5-9 and ix. 4). But the reason for the banning of both ‘fornication’ and intermarriage would appear to be the same: i.e. Israel is supposed to be ‘a Holy People’, ‘a Holy Seed’.


It is difficult to conceive of a more xenophobic group than this. The concern for the Temple exhibited in all these passages should be clear throughout. Where the identifiably ‘Sadducean’ position on the impurity of poured liquids travelling between vessels is concerned, the infraction relates to that of not ‘separating impure from pure’, which is fundamental to the Qumran approach and stated as such in Line 64.


This theme is at the root of the problems in the Temple signalled in the Damascus Document too, for instance those relating ‘fornication’ to Temple ‘pollution’ (v.6-7). It is also at the root of the exegesis of ‘preparing a Way in the wilderness’ (1QS, viii.11-13), which is introduced by the injunction ‘separate yourselves’. In the Damascus Document, it is contended that they do not observe proper ‘separation’ in the Temple (i.e. between ‘pure’ and ‘impure’), and therefore ‘pollute’ the Temple, because 1) they sleep with women during their periods and 2) because every man of them marries his niece.


These two charges are fundamental to the Qumran mindset and are sufficient to develop a sitz im leben. The first charge no doubt relates to the perception of sexual relations with Gentiles; the second, most probably to the Herodian family, as no other group before them can be demonstrably so identified. Niece marriage was a practice the Herodians indulged in habitually as a matter seemingly of family policy.


It may well have something to do with their Idumaean / Arab origins, and even today, the practice is not uncommon among heirs to these cultures. This conjunction of antagonism to foreigners and niece marriage becomes most perfectly embodied in the Herodian family and those incurring their pollution by intercourse - sexual or social - with them (see CD,vi.l4-15, following the allusion to ‘vipers’ and ‘firebrands’: ‘No man that approaches them shall be free of their guilt.’).

Finally, it should be noted that in one unpublished version of the Damascus Document there appears to be material relating to the problem of ‘copper vessels’ signalled in Line 6, itself not unrelated to the issue of gifts from Gentiles. Also, the distinction made in Lines 77-8 between intentional and inadvertent sin is discussed at some length in the Community Rule (vi.24ff. and viii.22ff.).



Part 1: Calendrical Exposition

[(1) In the first month, (2) on the fourth (3) of it is a sabbath; (4) on the eleventh (5) of it is a sabbath; (6) on the four- (7) teenth of it is the Passover; (8) on the eight- (9) teenth of it is a sabbath; (10) on the twenty- (11) fifth (12) of it is a sabbath; (13) afterward, on the twenty- (14) sixth (15) of it is the Waving of the Omer. (16) On the second (17) of the second month (18) on that day is a sabbath; (19) on the ninth (20) of it is a sabbath; (21) on the fourteenth (22) of it is the Second Passover; (23) on the sixteenth (24) of it is a sabbath; (25) on the twenty(26) third (27) of it is a sabbath; (28) on the thirtieth (29) of it is a sabbath. (30) In the third month (31) on the seventh (32) of it is a sabbath; (33) on the fourteenth (34) of it is a sabbath; (35) afterward, (36) on the fifteenth (37) of it is the Festival of Weeks; (38) on the twenty- (39) first (40) of it is a sabbath; (41) on the twenty- (42) eighth (43) of it is a sabbath; (44) after (45) Sunday and Monday, (46) an (extra) Tuesday (47) is added. (48) In the fourth month (49) on the fourth (50) of it is a sabbath; (51) on the eleventh (52) of it is a sabbath; (53) on the eight- (54) eenth of it is a sabbath; (55) on the twenty- (56) fifth (57) of it is a sabbath.


(58) On the second (59) of the fifth month (60) is a sabbath; (61) afterward, (62) on the third (63) of it is the Festival of New Wine; (64) on the ninth (65) of it is a sabbath; (66) on] the sixteenth (67) of it is a sabbath; (68) on the twenty(69) third (70) of it is a sabbath; (71) [on the] thir[t]ieth (72) [of it is a sabbath. (73) In the sixth month, (74) on the seventh (75) is a sabbath; (76) on the fourteenth] (77) of it is a sabbath; (78) on the twenty- (79) first (80) of it is a sabbath; (81) on the twenty- (82) second (83) of it is the Festival of (84) (New) Oil; (85) after[ward, on the twenty- (86) third] (87) is the Offerin[g of Wood; (88) on the twenty- (89) eighth (90) of it is a sabbath; (91) after (92) Sunday and Monday (93) an (extra) Tuesday (94) is added. (95) On the first of the seventh (96) month (97) is the Day of Remembrance; (98) on the fourth (99) of it is a sabbath; (100) on the tenth (101) of it is the Day (102) of Atonement; (103) on the eleventh (104) of it is a sabbath; (105) on the fifteenth (106) of it is the Festival (107) of Booths; (108) on the eight- (109) eenth of it is a sabbath; (110) on the twenty- (111) second (112) of it is the Gathering; (113) on the twenty(114) fifth (115) of it is a sabbath. (116) On the second (117) of the eighth month (118) is a sabbath; (119) on the ninth] (120) of it is a sabbath; (121) on the sixteenth (122) of it is a sabbath; (123) on the twenty(124) third (125) of it is a sabbath; (126) on the th[irt]ieth (127) [of it is a sabbath.


(128) In the ninth month, (129) the seventh (130) is a sabbath; (131) on the fourteenth (132) of it is a sabbath; (133) on the tw]ent[y-first (134) of it is a sa]bbath; (135) [on the] twenty- (136) eighth (137) of [it] is a sabbath; (138) after (139) S[unday] and Mond[ay,] (140) [an (extra) Tuesday (141) is added. (142) In the tenth month] (143) on the [fourth (144) of it is a sabbath;] (145) on the eleventh] (146) of’ it is a sabbath; (147) on the eight- (148) teenth of it is a sabbath; (149) on the twenty- (150) fifth (151) of it is a sabbath. (152) On the second (153) [of the eleventh] (154) mon[th (155) is a sabbath. (156) on the ninth (157) of it is a sabbath; (158) on the sixteenth (159) of it is a sabbath; (160) on the twenty(161) third (162) of it is a sabbath; (163) on the thirtieth (164) of it is a sabbath. (165-167) In the twelfth month, (168) the seventh (169) is a sabbath; (170) on the fourteenth of it is a sabbath; on the twenty-first of it is a sabbath; on the twenty- (171) eighth of it] is a sabbath; after [Sunday and Monday an (extra) Tuesday (172) is addled. Thus the year is complete: three hundred and [sixty-four] (173) days.

Part 2: Legal Issues

(1) These are some of our words concerning [the Law of Go]d, that is, so[me (2) of the] works that [w]e [reckon (as justifying you; cf. Second Letter, line 34). All] of them have to do with [holy gifts] (3) and purity issues. Now, [concerning the offering of grain by the [Gentiles, who...] (4) and they tou[c]h it... and render it im[pure... One is not to eat] (5) any Gentile grain, nor is it permissible to bring it to the Tem[p]le. [Concerning the sin offering] (6) that is boiled in vessels [of Gentile copper,] by which means [they (the priests) render impure] (7) the flesh of their offerings, and (further, that) they b[oi]l in the courtya[rd of the Temple and thereby pollute] it (the Temple) (8) with the soup they make-(we disagree with these practices). Concerning sacrifices by Gentiles, [we say that (in reality) they] sacrifice (9) to the i[doll that seduces them; (therefore it is illicit). [Further, regarding the thank] offering (10) that accompanies peace offer[ings,] that they put aside on one day for the next, w[e reckon] (11) that the gra[in offering is to be ea]ten with the fat and the flesh on the day that they are [offer[ed. It is incumbant upon] (12) the priests to assure that care is taken in this matter, so that [the priests will not (13) brin[g] sin upon the people. Also, with regard to the purity of the heifer that purifies from sin (i.e., the Red Heifer): (14) he who slaughters it and he who burns it and he who gathers its ashes and he who sprinkles [the water] (15) (of purification from) sin-all of these are to be pure with the se[tt]ing of the sun, (16) so that (only) the pure man will be sprinkling upon the impure. The sons (17) of Aaron must give wa[rning in this matter...]


(18) [Concerning] the skins of catt[le and sheep...] (19) their [skins] vessels [...One is not (20) to bring] them to the Templ[e...] (21) Also, regarding the skin[s and bones of unclean animals-for they are making] (22) [from the bones] and from the s[kilns handles for ve[ssels-one is not to bring them (i.e., the vessels) to the Temple. With regard to the ski]n from the carcass (23) of a clean [animal,] he who carries that carcass [must not touch [holy items] susceptible to impurity. (24) [...Al]so concerning... that the[y... (30) The members] (31) of the pries[tho]od must [be careful [about] all [these] matters, [so that they will not] (32) bring sin upon the people. [Con]cerning (the fact) that it is written, [’And he shall slaughter it on the side of the altar...,’ they (33) are slaughtering] bulls and [lam]bs and shegoats outside the ‘camp.’ On the contrary, the (lawful) pl[ace of slaughter is at the north within the ‘camp.’


(34) We reckon that the Temple [is ‘the Tent of Witness,’ while] Jerusale[m] (35) is the ‘camp.’ ‘Outside the camp’ [means ‘outside Jerusalem.’] (It refers to) the ‘camp (36) of their cities,’ outside the ‘ca[mp’ (which i]s [Jer]u[salem.) Regarding the si]n offering, they are to remove the offal of (37) [the] altar and bur[n it outside Jerusalem, for] it is the place that (38) [He chose] from among all the tri[bes of Israel, to establish His Name there as a dwelling...] (43)... they are [no]t slaughtering in the Temple. (44) [Regarding pregnant animals, we maintain that one must not slaughter (both)] the mother and the fetus on any one day. (45) [...Also, concerning anyone eating the fetus, w]e maintain that he may eat the fetus (46) [that is in its mother’s womb (only) after its (separate) slaughter. You know that th]is is the proper view, since the matter stands written, ‘A pregnant animal...’


(47) [With respect to the Ammonite and the Moabite and the bastard and the man with cru[shed testicles and the man with a damaged male organ who are entering (48) the assembly... and taking [wives, to make them ‘one (49) bone’... (50) polluted. We also reckon (51) [that one must not... and one must not have inter]course with them (52) [...And one must not integrate them and make them (53) [’one bone’... And one must not bring] them in (54) [...And you know that so]me of the people (55) [...integr]ating (56) [...For the sons of Israel must guard against] all illicit marriage (57) and (thus) properly revere the Temple. [In addition, concerning the bli[n]d, (58) who cannot see so as to avoid polluting mingl[ing,] and to whom [sinful (59) mingling is invisible-(60) as well as the deaf, who hear neither law, nor statute, nor purity regulation, and do not (61) hear the statutes of Israel-for ‘He who cannot see and cannot hear does not (62) know how to perform (the Law)’-these people are trespassing on the purity of the Temple!


(63) Concerning poured liquids, we say that they possess no (64) intrinsic [pu]rity. Poured liquids do not (properly) separate between the impure (65) and the pure (i.e. vessels), because the fluid of poured liquids and that of a receptacle used with them (66) is one and the same (i.e., the pollution travels between the vessels along the path of the fluid). One is not to bring dogs into the H[ol]y ‘camp’ because they (67) eat some of the bones in the Te[m]ple while the flesh is (still) on them. Because (68) Jerusalem is the Holy ‘camp’-the place (69) that He chose from among all the tribes of Israel. Thus Jerusalem is the foremost of (70) the ‘ca[m]ps of Israel.’ Regarding trees planted for food (71) in the land of Israel, (the fruit of the fourth year) is analogous to a first fruit offering and belongs to the priests. Likewise the tithe of cattle (72) and sheep belongs to the priests. In the matter of those suffering from a skin disease, we (73) s[ay that they should not dome with holy items susceptible to impurity. Rather, they (74) must stay alone [outside the camps. And] it is also written, ‘From the time when he shaves and bathes, let him [st]ay outside (75) [his tent seven d]ays.’ But at present, while they are still impure, (76) those suffering from a skin disease are coming] home [w]ith holy items susceptible to impurity. You know (77) [that anyone who sins by inadvertence, who breaks a commandment] and is forgiven for it, must bring (78) a sin offering (but they are not doing so). [As for the intentionally disobedient, it is written, ‘He is a despiser and a blasphemer.’


(79) [While th]e[y suffer impurities caused by [s]kin diseases, they are not to be fed with ho[ly] food (80) until the sun rises on the eighth day (after they are cured). Concerning [impurity caused by contact with a dead] (81) person, we say that every (human) bone, whether it is [skeleton] (82) or still covered (with flesh), is governed by the statute for the dead person or those slain in battle. (83) As for the fornication taking place among the people, they are (supposed to be) a (84) Holy People, as it is written, ‘Israel is Holy’ (therefore, it is forbidden). Concerning a man’s cloth[es, it is written, ‘They are not] (85) to be of mixed fabric;’ and no one should plant his field or [his vineyard with mixed crop]s.


(86) (Mixing is forbidden) because (the people) is Holy, and the sons of Aaron are H[oly of Holy](87) [nevertheless, as y]ou know, some of the priests and the [people are mixing (intermarrying).] (88) [They] are intermarrying and (thereby) polluting the [holly seed, [as well as] (89) their own [see]d, with fornication...

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36. The Second Letter On Works Reckoned As Righteousness (4Q397-399) (Plates 15 & 16)
(‘Some Works of the Law We Reckon as justifying you’)

That this text is a second letter is clearly signalled in Lines 29-30, quoted above, which refer to a first letter already having been written on the same subject - ‘works reckoned as justifying you’ (italics ours). Though fragments of the two letters are in the same handwriting, it is not clear that these are directly connected or on the same or succeeding columns.


That the same scribe wrote both letters would not be either unexpected or surprising - nor would the possibility that both letters were already circulating as part of the same document or manuscript, as for instance 1 and 2 Corinthians or 1 and 2 Thessalonians noted above. The second letter is, in any event, extant in a single document. This short epistle of some 35 extant lines is also of the most far-reaching significance for Qumran studies, not only for all the reasons set forth in our discussion of the First Letter, but also because this text is clearly eschatological.


The question then becomes, when were people thinking in such an eschatological manner, i.e. using expressions in daily correspondence like ‘the End of Days’ (13 and 24) or a less familiar one used here for the first time in the new materials we have been considering, ‘the End Time’ (15 and 33)? Together these terms are used four times in an extant document of only some 35 lines. This also distinguishes this letter to a certain extent from the first one, where they were not used, at least not in extant fragments.

Besides these points, the exact nature and context of the ‘split’ between the group responsible for these writings and ‘the majority of the people’ is delineated here. Its words are pregnant with meaning: ‘we broke with the majority of the people and refused to mix with or go along with them on these matters.’ The word used in Line 7 is parash, the presumable root of the word ‘Pharisee’, but these are obviously not anything resembling normative Pharisees.


The very issue of ‘mixing’ in Line 8 (cf. Line 87 above) is, of course, related to that of ‘improper separation’ and not ‘separating clean from unclean’ just discussed above. This sentence alone - known but not revealed for over 35 years would be sufficient to identify our group as .sectarian - at least according to their own evaluation. And it definitively identifies them as a group - a movement.

Finally, the issues over which the split occurred are brought into stark relief. These are always firmly attached to ‘the Law’, repeatedly and unequivocally called here ‘the Book of Moses’ (11, 16, 24, and compare Line 6 of the last column of the Damascus Document below: ‘the Torah of Moses’). Added to these are the Prophets, David (presumably Psalms), and some additional writings, probably Chronicles and the like (10-11); that is, we are at a point when the Bible, as we know it, has to a very considerable extent emerged and the Deuteronomic blessings and curses are recognized as being intimately connected with the arrival of ‘the last days’ (23-24).


These ‘blessings and curses’ will also be the focal point of the last column of the Damascus Document at the end of this Chapter. The vocabulary is rich in Qumranisms throughout, including references to hamas (‘violence’), (ma’al) (‘rebellion’), zanut (‘fornication’), Sheker (‘Lying’), and ‘heart’ and ‘Belial’ imagery. Many of these phrases are to be found in the Damascus Document. For instance, CD, iv.7, as we have seen, actually uses the terminology ‘condemning the Wicked’ (25) - as opposed to ‘justifying the Righteous’ - when describing the eschatological activity of ‘the sons of Zadok... in the last days’.

Probably reinforcing the impression that this is addressed to an actual king, the particular example of David is developed in Line 27ff., as are his works - which were in their view ‘Pious’ (Hassidim). Again the ‘Way’ terminology, so widespread in these materials, is evoked, a phrase, as we have seen, delineated in the Community Rule in terms of the ‘study of the Torah’ and known to the Book of Acts as a name for early Christianity in Palestine from the 40s to the 60s (22:4, 24:22, etc).


Here, forgiveness from sin is found in ‘seeking the Torah’, just as in the Community Rule ‘the Way in the wilderness’ - applied in the Gospels to John the Baptist’s activities - is interpreted as ‘the study of the Torah’ and, immediately thereafter, ‘being zealous for the Law and the time of the Day of Vengeance’ (note the parallel use of the word ‘time’ again). This expression ‘study of the Torah’, familiar in Rabbinic Judaism too, will reappear in the last line of the Damascus Document below.


The text ends with a ringing affirmation, as we have noted above, of what can be described as the Jamesian position on ‘justification’: that by ‘doing’ these ‘works of the Law’ however minute (note the emphasis on doing again) in the words of Gen. 15:6 and Ps. 106:31 - a psalm packed with the vocabulary we are considering here - ‘it will be reckoned to you as Righteousness’. As a result, you will have kept far from ‘the counsel of Belial’ and ‘at the End Time you will rejoice’ (32-3).


This last most surely means either ‘being resurrected’ or ‘enjoy the Heavenly Kingdom’, or both - an interesting proposition to be putting to a king or Community Leader in this time. Note, too, the allusion to this word ‘time’ paralleling the second exegesis of ‘the Way in the wilderness’ material in 1QS, ix. 19 above. The tone of the address, like that to King Jonathan below, is again most certainly warm and conciliatory.



(2)... because they come... (3) will be... (4) and concerning wome[n...] And the rebellion [...(5) For by reason of these... because of] violence and fornication [some] (6) places have been destroyed. [Further,] it is writt[en in the Book of Moses,] ‘You [are no]t to bring the abomination t[o your house, because] (7) the abomination is despised (by God).’ [Now, you know that] we broke with the majority of the peo[ple and refused] (8) to mix or go along wi[th them] on these matters. You also k[now that] (9) no rebellion or Lying or Evil [should be] found in His Temple. It is because of [these things w]e present [these words] (10) [and (earlier) wrot]e to you, so that you will understand the Book of Moses [and the words of the Prophets and of Davi[d, along with the (11) chronicles of every] generation. In the Book (of Moses) it is written .... s[o] that not...


(12) It is also written, ‘[(If) you turn] from the W[a]y, then Evil will meet [you.’] Again, it is written, (13) ‘It shall come to pass that when [al]1 [t]hese thing[s com]e upon you in the End of Days, the blessing (14) [and] the curse [that I have set before you, and you call them to m[in]d, and return to me with all your heart (15) and with [a]ll [your] soul’ [ the En]d [Time,] then you will 1[i]v[e... Once again, (16) it is written in the Book] of Moses and in [the words of the Prophets that [blessings and curses] will come [upon you... (21) the ble]ssin[gs that] cam[e upon i]t (Israel) in [his days [and] in the days of Solomon the son of David, as well as the curses (22) [that] came upon it from the d[ays of Jer]oboam the son of Nebat until the exi[1]e of Jerusalem and Zedekiah the king of Jud[ah.]


(23) [For] he may bri[n]g them upon... And we recognize that some of the blessings and curses have come, (24) those written in the Bo[ok of Moses; therefore this is the End of Days, when (those) in Isra[e]l are to return (25) to the La[w of God with all their heart,] never to turn bac[k] (again). Meanwhile, the wicked will increase in wick[ed]ness and...


(26) Remember the kings of Israe[1], and understand their works. Whoever of them (27) feared [the L]aw was saved from sufferings; when they so[ug]ht the Law, (28) [then] their sins [were forgiven] them. Remember David. He was a man of Pious works, and he, also, (29) was [salved from many sufferings and forgiven. And finally, we (earlier) wrote you about (30) some of the works of the Law (see the First Letter above), which we reckoned for your own Good and for that of your people, for we see (31) that you possess discernment and Knowledge of the Torah. Consider all these things, and beseech Him to grant you (32) proper counsel, and to keep you far from evil thoughts and the counsel of Belial.


(33) Then you will rejoice at the End Time, when you find some of our words were true. Thus, ‘It will be reckoned to you as Righteousness’ (or in Paul’s language, ‘reckoned as justifying you’), your having done what is Upright and Good before Him, for your own Good and for that of Israel.

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37 . A Pleasing Fragrance (Halakhah A - 4Q251) (Plate 17)

This text is typical of the kind of legal minutiae found at Qumran. It further fleshes out our view of the basic legal approach there. In it, there are parallels to both the Community Rule and the Damascus Document. For instance, the enumerations contained in Fragment 1 parallel many in the Community Rule.


Those in Fragment 2 parallel similar materials in the Damascus Document. In both cases the parallels are precise, though the language varies. For instance, the penalty for ‘knowingly Lying’ in Line 7 of Fragment 1 and in the Community Rule are exactly the same, though the offence is described slightly differently (1QS, vii. 3).

The same applies to pulling a beast out of a pit or cistern on the sabbath in the Damascus Document (xi.13-14) and pulling a beast out of the water on the sabbath in this document (2.5-6). It is also true for wearing soiled garments on the sabbath (2.3 and xi .3). Since, in fact, there are overlaps in legal issues between the Damascus Document in the Cairo recensions and the Community Rule (e.g. the matter of loud guffaws in meetings of the Community), it is possible that the legal Chapters of both, which are more or less rationalized in the present document, originally constituted a single whole.


The reference to ‘tent’ in 2.4 is interesting too. This is one of the first direct references to living in a ‘tent’ at Qumran. It may actually give evidence of the style of living in the area of settlements or ‘camps’ (i.e. the wilderness ‘camps’) including perhaps Qumran - always somewhat of a puzzle. On the other hand, the reference may simply be a casual one.

Even more interesting in this text are the descriptions of the Council of the Community. The language of ‘making atonement for the land’ and the reconstructed material about being ‘founded on Truth for an Eternal Planting’ in 3.8-9 is exactly that of the Community Rule,viii.5-6. If the reconstruction ‘fifteen men’ in Line 3.7 is correct, then another puzzling problem in Qumran studies is solved - whether the ‘twelve men and three priests’ mentioned in the Community Rule, viii. 1 as ‘a Holy of Holies’ and ‘a House (i.e. a Temple) for Israel’ should be exclusive or inclusive: that is, should they be three within the twelve, paralleling Christian reckonings of twelve apostles and a central triad, or three in addition to twelve?

The allusions to ‘making atonement for the land’ and being a ‘pleasing fragrance’ (3.9) also directly parallel material in 1QS, viii.5-12, where the imagery of the Community Council as a spiritualized Temple is found, which introduces the exegesis of Isa. 40:3 that this is ‘the time of the preparation of the Way in the wilderness’.


The reference to being witnesses at the Last judgement (3.8-9) is also paralleled word for word in these lines in the Community Rule. It strengthens the supernatural aspects of the role of the ‘sons of Zadok’ in the Damascus Document and the spiritualized atonement imagery generally that moves into Christian theory. The reference to ‘Judgement’ again at the end of ‘the era of Wickedness’ in 3.10 further reinforces this.

The text ends with a complete elaboration of the prohibited degrees of marriage, including the important law banning niece marriage (7.2-5), which we have analysed above, and which is so much part of the legal approach and ethos in these texts. This law was probably understood as including close cousins as well, which are not included in the extant text, and was rationalized on the basis of not uncovering the nakedness of one’s father or mother, brother or sister.


The fragment completely exhausts just about all the aspects implicit in this problem in greater detail than, for instance, either the Temple Scroll or the Damascus Document. Again, it shows the great concern for this matter at Qumran. To us, the application to Herodians, moreover, seems obvious.



Fragment 1

(1) [...t]en days... (2) thirty days [...he will be fined] (3) half of his food ration for fift[een days...] (4) he will be fined for three months [half his food ration. A man that speaks prior to the turn] (5) of his neighbor, though he (the latter) is enrolled ahead of him, must be separated [from the Many...] (6) in them half his food ration. A man who... (7) thirty days. And a man who tells a lie kn[owingly will be punished for six] (8) months, and fined during that time half his food ration... (9) knowingly about everything, his penalty is thirty days and half his food ration... (10) kno[wingly, they shall] separate him (from the Community) for six months...


Fragment 2

(1) The Sab[bath...] (2) on the Sabbath d[ay]. A [man] should not [wear garments that are] soil[ed on the Sabbath day]. (3) A man should not... in garments th[at have] dust on them or... (4) on the Sabbath day. [A ma]n [should not bring out] of his tent any vessel or food (5) on the Sabbath day. A man should not lift out cattle which has fallen (6) in[to] the water on the Sabbath day. But if it is a human being who has fallen into the wat[er (7) on the day of] the Sabbath, he will throw him his garment to lift him out with it. But he will not lift an implement... (8) [...on the day of] the Sabbath. And if an army...

Fragment 3

(1)... on the day of [the Sabbath...] (2) on the day of] the Sabbath, and not... (3) A man from the seed of Aaron will [no]t sprinkle the waters [of impurity on the Sabbath day...] (4) [The Passover is a (high) holiday, and a fast on the day of [the Sabbath .... A man] (5) may take his cattle two thousand cub[its on the Sabbath day, but he may not walk unless he is a distance from] (6) [the Temple of more than thirty stadia.. A [man] should not... (7) [When] there are in the Council of the Community fif[teen men, Perfect in everything which has been revealed in all the Law] (8) [and the Prophets, the Council of the Communi[ty] shall be founded [on Truth for an Eternal Planting and true witnesses at the judgement, and the Elect] (9) of (God’s) favor, and a pleasing fragrance to make atonement for the land, from a[ll Evil...] (10) The Period of Wickedness will end in judgement, and the... (11) In the first] week... (12) which were not to brought to the Garden of Eden. And the bone of... (13) shall be for it forever, which was not brought nea[r... (14) to the] Holiness of the Garden of Eden, and all the verdure in its midst is Holy. [When a woman conceives and bears a boy,] (15) she shall be unclean seven days. Just as in the days of her menstrual impurity, she shall be unclean; and th[irty three days she shall remain in the blood of (16) her purification. If she bears a girl, she will be unclean [two weeks, just as in her menstrual period; and sixty-six days (17) she shall rema]in in the blood of her purification. [She should touch] no Holy thing [and should not enter the Temple.]


Fragment 4

(1) [...If a man strikes another] in the eye, [and he is bedridden, but gets up and walks around (2) outside on his staff, the one who struck him will merely] compensate [him for his] con[valescence and his medi]cal expenses. (3) [If a bull gores a man or wo]man, the bull will be killed. He will stone it, (4) [and not eat its meat, and the bull’s owner shall be blameless. But if the bull had gored previously (5) [and the owner had been apprised, but he had not kept it (penned up); and it kills a m]an or a woman, (6) [the bull will be stoned, and its owner will be put to death as well... .]

Fragment 5

(1) [...grain, new wine, or fresh oil, unless [the priest has waved it...] (2) their early produce, the frst fruits. And a man should not delay (giving) the full measure, for... (3) is the firstfruit of the full measure. [And the] grain is the offering... [And the bread of] (4) the firstfruits is the leavened bread that they bring [on] the day of the [firstfruits...] (5) are the firstfruits. A man should not eat the new wheat... (6) until the day he brings the bread of the firstfruits. He should not...

Fragment 6

(2)... he should not... (3) [...the grain offering of the tithe is for [the priest...] (4) [...the firstborn of a ma]n or uncle[an] cattle [he should redeem] (5) [...the firstborn of a man or unclean cattle (6)... the flock, and the sanctuary, from (7) [...i]t is like the firstborn, and the produce of a tree (8) [ the first [year], and the olive tree in the fourth year (9) [...and the heave offering; everything that is set apart for (the support of) the priesthood


Fragment 7

(1) Concerning immoral unions... (2) A man should not marry his si[ster, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother... A man should not marry] (3) the daughter of his brother or the daughter of his si[ster...He should not uncover] (4) the nakedness of the sister of his fa[ther or the sister of his mother. Nor should a woman be given to the brother of] (5) her father or to the brother of her mother [to be his wife...] (6) A man should not uncover the nakedness of... (7) A man should not take the daughter of...

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38. Mourning, Seminal Emissions, Etc. (Purity Laws Type A - 4Q274) (Plate 18)


The contents of this manuscript are remarkable, discussing issues not previously found in any Qumran text. All have to do with matters of ceremonial purity and impurity in accordance with stipulations set forth in legal portions of the Bible. A number of the matters considered here involve impurities that require a seven-day period of purification.


Provisions are made for mourners to dwell apart in a special place during the days of their impurity, apparently acquired from contact with the corpse of a loved one. The text stipulates that such people and others, suffering from Levitical uncleanness of various sorts, are to dwell to the north-west of the nearest habitations - a law reminiscent of the placement of the latrine in the Temple Scroll (11QT, xlvi.13-16).


The rationale for the north-westerly situation of impure places is still unclear, though the fact of the Temple being north-west of a ‘camp’ such as that which may have been at Qumran could have something to do with it, i.e. such people were to walk in the direction of the Temple.

Several lines concern women during menstruation. These women are not to ‘mingle’, but it does not appear that this requires their leaving their homes during this period in order to dwell outside the town. It is surprising to read in 1.7 that a ‘scribe’ or ‘counter’ kept records of the number of days of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and that the record-keeper could be a female. Since in the ancient world women were much less likely than men to be literate, their inclusion in scribal activity is noteworthy.


Much of the text concerns the question of when those suffering the impurities under discussion are allowed to partake of the ‘purity’ - priestly foodstuffs. The answer is that they are free to do so on the seventh day, after bathing and washing their clothes. The more fragmentary portions of the text apparently concerned impurities that could be transmitted by liquids. The reference in Line 1.6 to ‘the camps of the Holy Ones of Israel’ (Kedoshim) is also interesting.


This allusion calls to mind materials in the War Scroll, vii.3-6 about the extreme purity regulations relating to ‘the Holy Angels’ actually joining the camps of the Community, i.e. ‘in the wilderness’. The same allusion is recapitulated in CD, xv, where the blind, lame, deaf, simple, children, etc. are barred from ‘the Community’ or these camps, because of the presence of ‘the Holy Angels among them’.


The term, taken as another name for the rank and file of the Community and those adhering to this rule, paralleling ‘the Many’, also calls to mind Dan. 7:21-2’s ‘Saints’ (Kedoshim) and ‘Saints of the Most High God’. Whatever the conclusion, the allusion at this point in this ‘Halakhic’ text brings this movement even closer to the one founded by and centred around Judas Maccabee - thought by many to be the subject of these allusions in Daniel.


However this may be, there can be no doubt that the spirit and purpose are the same, i.e. Holy War, which is, of course, the gist of the War Scroll’s statement that ‘none of these shall march out to war with them. They shall be... Perfect in Spirit and body prepared for the Day of Revenge’ (vii.5).


The allusion to ‘camps’, too, besides making it clear that these ‘camps’ actually existed, implies multiple settlements of this kind and resonates strongly with this usage in the apocalyptic and Messianic War Scroll and Damascus Document.



Fragment 1

Column 1

(1) he is to delay distributing the portions (that he has prepared for the priests). He is to sleep in a bed of mourning and dwell in the house of bereavement, separated with all the other impure persons, twelve cubits distance from (2) the pure food, in the designated part of town, and the same distance to the northwest of any inhabited dwelling. (3) Any man suffering from the various types of impurity should bathe himself and wash his clothing on the [seve]nth [da]y, and afterwards he may eat (the pure food). For this is what it means, “Unclean, unclean!’ (4) he should call all the days of his affliction.’ As for the woman who suffers a seven-day flux of blood, she should not touch a man suffering from a flux, nor any implement that he touches, (5) nor anything upon which he rests. But if she does touch (these things), she should wash her clothes and bathe and afterwards she may eat (the pure food). At all costs she is [no]t to mingle during her seven (6) days, so that she does n[o]t defile the camp of the Ho[ly O]nes of Israel. Nor is she to touch any woman suffer[ing] a long[standing] flux. (7) And the person that is keeping a record of the period of impurity, whether a man or a woman, is not to to[uch the menstruant] or the mourner during the period of uncleanness, but only when she is cleansed [from her uncleanness, for (8) that uncleanness should be reckoned in the same way as a flux [for] anyone who touches it. And if someone touches a [bodily] flux [or a seminal emission, then [h]e should be unclean. Anyone touching any of these types of (9) impure people should n[ot] eat the pure food during the seven days of his purification]. When someone is impure because of touching a core[se, he is to bathe himself in water and wash (his clothes) and afterwa[rds]


Column 2

(1) he may a[at...] (2) and sem[inal emission...]


Fragment 2

Column 1

(1)... who sprinkle upon him for the first time and he should bathe and wash his clothes before (2)... on the seventh day. One is not to sprinkle on the sabbath (3)... on the sabbath, only he should not touch the pure food until he changes (4) [his clothes...] Anyone who touches a human seminal emission must immerse everything down to the last item of dress, and the person that carries the item (5) [...must immerse, and the garment upon which the emission is found or any item that carries it (the emission) (6)... And if there should be found in the camp any man that is incapab[le] (or, that does not have enough) (7)... the garment that it/she has not touched, only he should not touch it-his meat-and he that touches (8)... they should dwell. If he did not touch it, he should wash it in water, but if (9) [he did touch it]... and he should wash (it). Regarding all offerings, a man should wash


Column 2

(1) his flesh, and thus... (2) but if... (3) with him... (4) to... (5) reptile. Impure [people...] (6) and he that touches it... (7) and eve[ry...] (8) But if... (9) who...


Fragment 3

Column 1

(1)... God’s revealing the apple of His eye, and (2)... every law... (3) or every... (5) and she is unclean... (6) they pour liquid upon and he does not eat eat in purity, and every... (7) [(everything) tha]t they will dissolve by rubbing, and whose solvent liquid has evaporated, a man should not eat (8)... the impure among them, and also among garden vegetables... (9) or a boiled cucumber. A man who [po]urs liquid upon a foodstuff

Column 2

(1)...they are impure... (3) and everything that he possesses... (4) to purify, and the remains of all the garden vegetables (5) from the moisture of dew he may eat, but if n[ot]... (6) in the water, except a man... (7) the land, if there comes upon it... (8) the rain upon it, if a man touches it... (9) in a field by all means he at the turn of the season of... (10) every frangible vessel that... (11) which is in its middle... (12) the foodstuff upon which water has been poured...

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39. Laws Of The Red Heifer (Purity Laws Type B - 4Q276-277)


The two manuscripts presented here are of the most interesting subject matter: the law of the Red Heifer, a subject already referred to in the First Letter on Works Reckoned as Righteousness above. The Red Heifer purification ceremony was one of the most holy in Jewish tradition.


It is also, interestingly enough, echoed in the name the Koran gives to its principal Sura, ‘the Cow’ (2). Most of the laws governing this purification procedure are to be found in Num. 19 and indeed, most of the matters alluded to in these texts are to be found there, though there are some interesting additions in these two Qumran texts.

According to Numbers, the people were to prepare this heifer by burning it with cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet material. The ashes were then gathered and mixed with water. This water, known as ‘the water that removes impurity’, was sprinkled upon those who had acquired certain types of ritual impurity - including some of the bodily and sexual impurities mentioned in the preceding text.


Unlike Numbers, these two texts appear to have a special interest in the clothes worn by those taking part in the heifer’s preparation. Apparently these clothes were to serve only for the ceremony and could not be worn for profane tasks. The vessel in which the presiding priest (usually, if not always during the Second Temple period, the high priest) gathered the heifer’s blood at a certain point in the ceremony was a special one.


The Bible does not make this stipulation. Possibly Manuscript B Line 2 attempts to clarify the meaning of an uncertain phrase in Num. 19:9. The Biblical text says that the ashes of the heifer are to be gathered by a ‘pure man’. What, precisely, did this phrase require? According to Josephus, the understanding in the first century was that the phrase was intended to designate a priest for the task, as opposed to a layman.


The Qumran text may take a different tack, specifying that the man be innocent of all defiling sins. That is to say, specific sins were understood to be ritually defiling.



Manuscript A

Fragment 1

(1)[...clothes] in which he has not performed (any) sacr[ed] rite. (2)... and he should regard the clothes as impure(?). Then he (a designated man, not the presiding priest) will slaugh[ter] (3) [the] heifer before him, and he (the priest) will take up its blood in a new earthen vessel that (4) [has never drawn] near the altar and sprinkle some of its blood with [his] finger seven (5) [times to]ward the front of the T[e]nt of Meeting. Then he should cast the cedar wood (6) [and the hyssop and the scarlet] material into the mid[st] of its (the heifer’s) fire. (7) [Then the priest and the man who burns (the heifer) and the man who gathers the heifer’s ashes [should bathe] (8) [and wash their clothes, and they shall be unclean until evening. And this they should establish as a ceremony (9) [for that water which removes the impurity of sin, and as an Eternal Law. And] the priest should put on


Manuscript B

Fragment 1

(1)... and the hyssop and the... (2) [a man] pure of all sin[full impurity... (3) [And] the priest who atones with the blood of the heifer and all [the men should] put [on different clothes (4) and wash their tu]ni[cs and] their seamed robes in which they made atonement in performing the law [governing the removal of sin. (5) Each man should bathe] in wader and be un]clean until the eve[n]ing. The man who carri[es the plot containing the water that removes impurity will be im[pure...] (6) A man [should sprinkle] the water that removes impurity upon those who are imp[ure, in]deed a pu[re] priest [should sprinkle (7) the water that removes impurity on the]m. Thu[s he will] atone for the impure. No wicked man is to sprinkle upon the impure. A m[an] (8) [...the water that removes im]purity. They should enter the water and become pu[r]e from the impurity that comes from contact with dead people... (9) [an]other. [The priest [should] sprinkle them with the water that removes impurity, to purify (10) [...R]ather they shall become pure, and their [fl]esh p[ure.] Anyone who touches [him...] (11) his flux... and their [hands] unwashed with water, (12) [then] they shall be impure... his be[d] and [his] sea[t...] they touched his [f]lux, (it) is like the impurity [that comes from contact with dead people.] (13) [The] man who touches (these things) [should bathe and be] impure till [the] evening, and the man who carries (these things) [should wash] his [cl]othes and be impure till evening.

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40. The Foundations Of Righteousness (The End Of The Damascus Document: An Excommunication Text - 4Q266) (Plates 19 & 20)

There can be no doubt that what we have here is the last column of the Damascus Document. Though the text as we have it here does not precisely follow any material from either of the two overlapping known manuscripts found by Solomon Schechter in the Cairo Genizah in 1897, many of its allusions do. So does their spirit.

The piece is preserved in two copies: one is nicely ruled; the second, in what is called ‘semi-cursive’, would appear to be a private copy. We present the second, which is the more completely preserved, with occasional help from the first to fill in blanks. That it really is the last column of the document is ascertainable from the blank spaces on the parchment at the left. The edge of a previous column with some stitching is also visible on the right (see Plates 19-20).


The Hebrew here is often close to Mishnaic, and apparently superior to medieval recensions. This text also contains one interlinear addition between Lines 4 and 5, as well as one or two corrections. The correspondences are principally to Columns i, viii and xv of the Cairo version of the Damascus Document. There are also interesting new materials in the present document, e.g. about a convocation of those who ‘dwell in camps’ on ‘the third month’ - in Judaism, Shevuot / ‘the Feast of Weeks’; in Christianity, Pentecost.


The purpose of the convocation would appear not to be to celebrate the revelation and descent of the Holy Spirit, and by implication the abolition of the Law in favour of more Pauline, Gentile-oriented doctrines and devices as in Acts 2: lff. (see also the picture of Paul hurrying to Jerusalem to be in time for Pentecost below). It is rather to curse all those who depart in any manner from the Law or ‘the Torah of Moses’ (17-19).

In fact, the text is an excommunication text, similar to that embedded in the Chariots of Glory in Chapter 7. The words there are to be pronounced by the Community Council. The words here are to be pronounced ‘by the Priest commanding the Many’ (see our discussion of the Mebakker below) on ‘anyone who rejects these judgements based on the (exact) sense of all the Laws found in the Torah of Moses’ (5-6). ‘Rebellion’ is referred to in Line 7, and Lines 9-10 contain the actual ‘curse’ to be pronounced by this ‘priest’ (high priest?) on the rebellious person being ‘expelled from the presence of the Many’.

Preceding this, Lines 2-4, referring to inadvertent sin - already treated in the Halakhic texts above - begin by insisting that the penitent bring a sin or guilt offering (presumably to the Temple) to be purified (cf. Lev. 4). It is worth noting that at the time of his final Pentecost visit to Jerusalem, James imposed a similar purification procedure on Paul in the Temple.


Here, in the words of Acts 21:21-4, Paul was publicly to exhibit that he was ‘still walking in the Way and keeping the Law’ (italics ours). In Lines 3-5 the passages adduced to support this penance for ‘remission of sin’, including the interlinear addition mentioned above (5ª), are a little esoteric, even ambiguous. One even makes allusion to the pleasing ‘fragrance of their offerings’ we have seen in the Pleasing Fragrance text above, and in the process, possibly to the Heavenly Ascents of Hechalot mysticism (see the reference to ‘ascending to the Highest Heaven’ in Line 4).

Among many other key usage’s, one should note the reference to ‘the peoples’ to designate those who did not follow the Law in Line 10. We have already seen how Paul in Rom. 11:13 uses this key word ‘peoples’ to describe himself and the people to whom he is addressing his mission. One should also note the key use of the word maas (‘reject’) in Lines 5-6 above concerning ‘rejecting... the Torah of Moses’ and a parallel word ga’lah in Line 7, where the man ‘whose spirit rejects the Foundations of Righteousness’ is referred to. We have encountered this word ma’as repeatedly in key passages throughout the Qumran corpus.

In the Habakkuk Pesher it is used to describe the ‘Lying Spouter’ who ‘rejects the Law in the midst of the whole congregation’. The language is paralleled too in the Community Rule, iii-iv, which also describes the behaviour of an archetypical ‘son of Darkness’ with ‘a blaspheming Tongue’, whose ‘soul rejects the Foundations of the Knowledge of the Judgements of Righteousness’, whose ‘works are abomination, whose Spirit fornication, whose Ways uncleanness, whose service (mission) pollution... who walks in all the Ways of Darkness’.

There is also a parallel in i.15-16 of the Cairo Damascus Document. Here the ‘Foundations of Righteousness’ are called ‘the Pathways of Righteousness’. This allusion occurs in the midst of a long description of how the Scoffer/ Comedian ‘poured over Israel the waters of lying’. In it, the allusion to ‘wandering astray in a trackless waste without a Way’, which the present text uses to describe ‘the peoples’, i.e. ‘the families (of man) and their national languages’ in 10 above, is used in i.15 to describe the effect of the Spouted Scoffer’s ‘waters of Lying’.

The same is true for the connections between Lines 12-13 in the Foundations of Righteousness about ‘the boundary markers which were laid down’ and CD, i.18: ‘removing the boundary markers which the First (the forefathers) laid down as their inheritance that He might call down upon us the curses of the Covenant’. Lines 13-14 of the present text also end by again ‘cursing’ those who ‘cross’ or ‘transgress’ these ‘boundary markers’.


We will see more about the importance of the language of ‘cursing’ below. The language parallels in these texts are exact. They increase the connections between the process of excommunication being referred to in this text and the subject of the ‘Lying Spouter’ / ‘Comedian’ in other texts.

There are pregnant parallels of this kind in every line of the text. An interesting parallel in early Christian history would be James. 2:10’s assertion: ‘He who breaks one small point of the Law is guilty of breaking it all.’ This passage too is presented against a background of Qumranisms like ‘keeping’ (keeping the Law), ‘breaking’/’Breakers’ (breaking the Law), ‘Doer’/’doing’, ‘Light’, ‘Judgement’, etc.

In the context, too, of ‘rejecting the judgements about the exact sense of all the Laws found in the Torah of Moses’ in Line 6, the text also uses the key word ‘reckoned’, which we encountered in the two Letters on Works Righteousness above: ‘He will not be reckoned among all the sons of God’s Truth, because his soul rejected the Foundations of Righteousness.’


It would be easy to appreciate how such words could be applied in a mindset of the kind represented by this text to a person teaching ‘the Many’, that ‘the works of the Law’ were ‘a curse’ as in Gal. 3:6-10 (in the section about Abraham’s faith we have discussed above) or to someone who, by making himself ‘a friend of man’, had turned himself into ‘an Enemy of God’.

The language at this point in the text is that of Deuteronomy’s ‘blessing and cursing’. See the parallel in Column ii of the Community Rule. Just as in the Community Rule, v-vii, the expellee is not to participate in the pure food of the Community any longer (or, according to another vocabulary circle, not to keep ‘table fellowship’ any more), here one is not to ‘eat with him’ (15). In the Community Rule, too, no one is to cooperate with him in ‘common purse’ or ‘service’/ ‘activity’/’ministry’; here one is not to ‘keep company with him’ in any way or ‘ask after his welfare’. Those who do so are to ‘be recorded by the Mebakker’, who is to make sure any additional ‘Judgement’ with regard to them is carried out (16).
This Mebakker or ‘Overseer’ has already been extensively referred to in Columns xiii-xv of the Cairo Damascus Document and Column 6 of the Community Rule above. In the latter, he is above the Community Council and functions as treasurer. In the Damascus Document he functions as a kind of ‘Bishop’ and obviously has absolute authority over the Community and its camps.


Described as someone between 30 and 50 years old, who ‘is the master of all the Secrets of men and all tongue(s) according to its (their) enumerations’ (note very carefully the ‘Tongue’ and ‘language’ significations here; CD, xiii .13-14). His word is law in everything. He is to examine carefully potential entrants, teach ‘the exact sense of the Law’, make ‘Judgements’, and carefully record all the matters mentioned in this document and elsewhere, particularly these ‘Judgements’.


The usage ‘the priest commanding the Many’ in Line 8 (and probably Line 1) should be explained too. Since he also makes ‘Judgements’ (cf. Lines 1 and 16), he is very likely identifiable with the ‘Bishop’ just described. If they are identical - and there seems to be every reason to think they are - then this dual role is almost indistinguishable from the dual role accorded to James the just in early Church tradition.


Even James’ title, ‘Bishop of Jerusalem’, and the description of him in almost all early Church sources as ‘high priest’, reverberates with the materials before us here, particularly if this ‘priest commanding the Many’ is to be considered a kind of ‘opposition high priest’ as well.

The issue in Lines 17-18 of ‘cursing all those who have departed to the right or to the left from the Torah’ at Pentecost is particularly interesting. For Paul in Gal. 3:11-13 above, ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law’ by becoming ‘a curse’ or ‘cursed’ (by the Law) himself. To explain or show how this could be, he cites Deut. 21:23 (in a discussion flanked by citation of the two key scriptural passages: Gen. 15:6 about Abraham’s ‘faith’ and Hab. 2:4 ‘the Righteous shall live by his faith’), to the effect that a man hung upon a tree is ‘cursed’. The language of the one approach mirrors the language of the other.


Both are operating within the framework of the ‘blessing and cursing’ from Deuteronomy. Paul, if one can be so bold, is reversing the cursing language of his opponents, who, we can assume, have also ‘cursed’ him, throwing at them the worst affront imaginable, that their Messiah, who for the purposes of argument let us say was ‘hung upon a tree’, was in a manner of speaking ‘cursed’ according to the very Law they cursed him with.


Therefore, this Messiah has, by taking this ‘curse’ upon himself, redeemed Paul, and for him and Christianity following him, all mankind as well. The issues before us are that momentous and one sees how important the context we are talking about here really is. If this suggestion has any truth to it, one can imagine how it would have enraged the interlocutors of the kind illustrated here. James. 3:10, evoking as in 1QS,ii, Paul and Lines 8-14 above the Deuteronomic ‘blessing and cursing’ backgrounds of the whole issue, of course, ties this ‘cursing’ to its nemesis ‘the Tongue’.

The text ends with the evocation of an annual convocation on Shav’uot - in Jewish tradition, classically the commemoration of Moses’ receipt of the Torah 50 days after going out from Egypt. Here ‘the Levites’ and the inhabitants of all ‘the camps’ are to gather every year for the purposes of cursing those ‘who depart to the right or the left from the Torah’ (17). Paralleling this, in 1QS,ii.19ff., they are to curse ‘all the men of the lot of Belial... as long as the Government of Belial (Herod?) endures year by year in perfect order ranked according to their Spirit’. In Acts 2:1, Pentecost commemorated the descent of the Pauline ‘Holy Spirit’ with its ‘Gentile Mission’ accoutrements of ‘speaking in tongues’, etc.


One should compare this allusion with the abilities of the Mebakker in this regard in CD,xiv.9, referred to above, who is to ‘master... all tongue(s) and its enumerations’. We have already noted the revealing picture in Acts 20:16ff. of Paul hurrying to Jerusalem with his contributions to be on time for just such an annual convocation of the early Church (i.e. the Community) at Pentecost. In this context he runs into his last difficulties in Jerusalem with those within the Community of a more ‘Jamesian’ frame of mind, who cite complaints about his activities abroad and demand absolute adherence to the Law. In such a presentation, Acts’ picture of Pentecost can be seen as the mirror reversal of the ‘Pentecost’ being pictured here.


Lines 17-18 also highlight the phrase ‘the exact sense of the Law’ - here ‘Judgements’ - ‘in all the Eras of Evil’ and ‘Wrath’, just as the Damascus Document did in xiii. 5-6 and xiv.16ff. - these last in relation to the ‘Judgements’ the Mebakker was to make ‘until God should visit the earth’ and ‘the Messiah of Aaron and Israel should arise to forgive their sins...’


This language of ‘doing the exact sense of the Torah’ is very important. It is also to be found earlier still in vi. 14-15 coupled with a reference to ‘the Era of Evil’ and ‘separating from the sons of the Pit’ (italics ours). This ‘not one jot or tittle’ approach to the Law is, of course, prominent in traditions associated with Jamesian Christianity, not least of which is the famous condemnation of ‘breaking one small point of the Law’ in James. 2:10. Here, too, ‘doing’ and ‘breaking the Law’ are prominently mentioned. The text ends by evoking the phrase midrash ha-Torah, i.e. ‘the study’ or ‘interpretation of the Law’.

This term also turns out to be the focal point of the critical analysis in 1QS,viii.15 of Isa. 40:3’s ‘preparing a Way in the wilderness.’ Here, too, once again the emphasis is on doing, that is, doing the ‘exact sense of the Law’. The actual words are: the Way ‘is the study / interpretation of the Torah which He commanded by the hand of Moses that they should do according to all that has been revealed... as the Prophets have revealed by His Holy Spirit’ (italics ours).


This then ties all these documents and approaches together. Those, who in 1QS,viii.14’s words ‘.separate from the habitation of the men of Evil and go out in the wilderness to prepare the Way of the Lord’ (italics ours) are none other than the inhabitants of ‘the camps’ being addressed and described in the present text.


The implications are quite startling and far-reaching. One thing is sure: one has in these texts a better exposition of what was really going on ‘in the wilderness’ in these times so pivotal for Western civilization than in any other parallel accounts.




[...before the Priest commanding]

(1) the Many, and he freely accepted His judgement when He said by the hand (2) of Moses regar[ding] the person who sins inadvertently, ‘let such a one bring (3) [his] sin offering [or] his guilt offering.’ And concerning Israel it is written, ‘I shall ascend (4) to [the Highest in Heaven, and there will not smell the fragrance of their offerings.’ And in another place (5) it is written, ‘return to God with weeping and fasting.’


(5ª) (In [anoth]er place it is written, ‘rend your hearts and not your clothes.’) As for every person who rejects these (6) Judgements (which are) in keeping with all the Laws found in the Torah of Moses, he will not be reckoned (7) among all the sons of His Truth, for his soul has rejected the Foundations of Righteousness. For rebellion, let him be expelled (8) from the presence of the Many. The Priest commanding the Many shall speak against him. He (the Priest) is to stand (9) and say, ‘Blessed are You, You are all, everything is in Your hand and (You are) the maker of everything, who established (10) [the Peoples according to their families and their national languages. You ‘made them to wander astray in a wilderness without a Way,’ (11) but You chose our fathers and to their seed gave the Laws of Your Truth (12) and the judgements of Your Holiness, ‘which man shall do and thereby live.’ And ‘boundary markers were laid down for us.’ (13) Those who cross over them, You curse. We, (however), are Your redeemed and ‘the sheep of Your pasture.’


(14) You curse their transgressors while we uphold (the Law).’ Then he who was expelled must leave, and whosoever (15) eats with him or asks after the welfare of the man who was excommunicated or keeps company with him, (16) that fact should be recorded by the Mebakker / Overseer according to established practice and his judgement will be completed. The sons of Levi and (17) [the inhabitants] of the camps are to gather together in the third month (every year) to curse those who depart to the right or (18) [to the left from the] Torah. And this is the exact sense of the judgements that they are to do for the entire Era (19) [of Evil, that which was commanded [for al]l the periods of Wrath and their journeys, for everyone [who dwells in their camps and all who dwell in their cities, al]1 that [is found in the ‘Final M]idra[sh] of the Law.’

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(35) First Letter on Works Reckoned as Righteousness (4Q394-398)
Previous Discussions: J. T. Milik, ‘Le travail d’édition des manuscrits du désert de Juda’, (SVT 4) 24;
DJD 3, 222-5; E. Qimron and J. Strugnell, ‘An Unpublished Halakhic Letter from Qumran’, in Biblical Archaeology Today: Proceedings of the International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, April 1984 (Jerusalem, 1985) 400-407; idem, ‘An Unpublished Halakhic Letter from Qumran’, Israel Museum journal 4 (1985) 9-12 and Plate 1; L. H. Schiffman, ‘The New Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) and the Origins of the Dead Sea Sect’, Biblical Archaeologist, (June, 1989) 64-73; R. H. Eisenman, ‘A Response to Schiffman on MMT’, The Qumran Chronicle, 2-3, (Cracow, 1991) pp.94-104.

Most important photographs: PAM 43.477, 43.490, 43.491, 43.492 and 43.521, ER 1427, 1440, 1441, 1442 and 1471. We present an eclectic text that follows no one manuscript where they overlap. Internal analysis shows that this text and the Second Letter were originally separate works, although two manuscripts (4Q397-8) copy them together. Note that several fragments of 4Q398 evidently belong in ‘Legal Exposition’, Lines 48-56, but cannot be precisely placed and are not represented here. Further note that the calendrical exposition is attested by 4Q394, and it is our perception only that it is an integral part of the First Letter.

(36) Second Letter on Works Reckoned as Righteousness (4Q397-399)

See (35) above.

Most important photographs: PAM 42.838, 43.476, 43.489 and 43.491, ER 1045, 1426, 1439 and 1441.

Note that 4Q398 is longer at Lines 11-13 than the form of the text that we present. Note also that the ending of the Second Letter differs slightly in 4Q399 as compared with 4Q398. We present the version contained in 4Q398 here.

(37) A Pleasing Fragrance (Halakhah A - 4Q251)
Previous Discussions: Milik, Years, 111.

Photographs: PAM 43.304, 43.305, 43.306, 43.307 and 43.308; ER 1339-43. Milik had originally grouped all the fragments presented here as a single manuscript. According to the DSSIP, the portions have subsequently been regrouped into two literary works, to be designated as 4Q251 and 4Q265. The latter work comprises 43.304-6. But all these portions are in the same hand, and for that and other reasons too technical to detail here, we follow Milik’s original notion.

(38) Mourning, Seminal Emissions, etc. (Purity Laws Type A - 4Q274)

Previous Discussions: None.

Photographs: PAM 43.309; ER 1344.


(39) Laws of the Red Heifer (Purity Laws Type B 4Q276-277)
Previous Discussions: None.

Photographs: PAM 43.316 (Manuscript A on top, Manuscript B below), ER 1351.

(40) The Foundations of Righteousness (The End of the Damascus Document: An Excommunication Text - 4Q266)
Previous Discussions: J. T. Milik, MS, 235; J. Baumgarten, “’Scriptural Citations” in 4Q Fragments of the Damascus Document’, Journal of Jewish Studies 43 (1992) 95-8.


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