Scripture and Law in 4Q265

Joseph M. Baumgarten

Baltimore Hebrew College

Among Qumran 'halakhic' writings, 4Q265 stands apart through the remarkably diverse character of its contents and the multiple literary genres which are represented among its fragments. Following tentatively the numeration of the ten fragments listed in the Preliminary Qumran Concordance, we may describe these contents as follows:

Fragment 1 preserves one column with penal rules similar to those found in the Community Rule and the Cave 4 manuscripts of the Damascus Document. It twice refers to a food penalty of 'half his bread' which is considerably more severe than the one quarter reduction mentioned in 1QS 6:25. The second column has another penal rule and then goes on to describe the stages in the examination of neophytes by the Overseer and the Many.

Fragment 2 twice uses the citation formula, "as is written" bwtk r#)[k]; the latter introduces a quotation from Isaiah 54:1-2, concerning the future exultation and expansion of Zion, but the context for these citations, as well as that of the word xm#y in Frg. 3 is missing.

Fragment 4, which has two lines and the bottom margin of a column contains a well known biblical quotation, "[Have] we [not al]l [one father? Has not one God] created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?" dx) l) )wlh wnlkl dx) b) )wlh
whyx)b #y) dwgbn (wdm wn)rb
(Malachi 2:10). This biblical rhetoric is immediately followed by a rule prohibiting young lads and women from partaking of the paschal offering. We shall return to this interesting pericope later.

Fragments 5-6 derive from the top of a column. The extant words
hm]d)h y(wrz and xyrphw suggest some allusion to fruits of the soil, but the context remains obscure.

Fragment 7 has two columns assigned to it in the Preliminary Concordance, although there is no join between them and their paleographic features are different. The first column, with approximately 39 letter spaces per line consists of Sabbath rules also found in the Damascus Document. One of them, serves to clarify the restriction on using implements to save a drowning man; it permits the use of a garment to draw him up.

Col. II with approximately fifty letter spaces per line, can best serve to illustrate the medley of subjects found in juxtaposition in 4Q265. The beginnings of the first two lines both refer to the Sabbath day. Line 3 begins with the restrictive phrase, "Let no man of the seed of Aaron sprinkle." NwrGhG) (rzm #y) zy lG[)]. It seems that this pertains to a ban on sprinkling the waters of purification from corpse impurity on the Sabbath. Such a law is found in M. Pesahim 6.2, where sprinkling is listed as twb#, a rabbinically prohibited activity on the Sabbath. )yh# xykwt h)zh
tb#h t) hxwd hny)w twb# Mw#m )yhw hwcm
. The general rule formulated by R. Akiba is that any procedure which can be done in preparation for the paschal sacrifice before the Sabbath does not override the Sabbath, tb# br(m htw#(l r#p)# hk)lm lk
tb#h t) hxwd hny)w
. Hence, even though the paschal sacrifice overrides the Sabbath, the purification of those who are to perform it does not. R. Eliezer dissents and permits both.

In the preliminary concordance the beginning of the fourth line is restored to read: Mwyb Mwcw lwdg MwH[y] xGsG[ph]. This reading presents substantial difficulties. Aside from the problem of the unparalleled designation of the day of the Passover as a fast day, there is a lack of continuity with the preceding context which pertains to purification on the Sabbath. In the sectarian calendar, as is known, the Passover sacrifice invariably occurs on Tuesday.

The subject of purification and the restriction of sprinkling on the Sabbath is found in another Cave 4 text, 4Q274, a portion of which of which we presented elsewhere in a preliminary publication.1 The following is a parallel relevant to the text of 4Q265 under consideration:

4Q274 1 ii

Mr+ sbkw Cxrw hnw#Gy)GrhG tG) wyl[ wzy r[#)         ] 1
yk tb#b zy l) tGb#h Mwyb y(yb#h wyl[( lw[xy M)w lkwy] 2
hn#y r#) d[( hrh+b (gy l) qr tb#hG[        ] 3

The first line refers both to the sprinkling of the purification water and the bathing and washing of garments associated with it.2 Naturally, the prohibition of sprinkling on the Sabbath applied also to the laundering of garments. Hence, I would suggest that the samekh in line 4 of our text belongs to the verb sbk, and the great fast day alluded to in the sequel is the 'Sabbath' of the Day of Atonement. The tentatively restored reading would be:

[l) Mgw wcxry l) Mgw tb#h Mwy]bG NwrGhG) (rzm #y) zy lG[)]
[            Myrwpkh] Mwyb M2cw lwdg MwH[yb] wHs[bky]

Line 5 continues the subject of the Sabbath with the rule, also found in CD 11,5-6, permitting a shepherd to go two thousand cubits outside his settlement to graze animals. Line 6 refers to another limit known from the Temple Scroll, that of thirty ris from the temple, the locus within which the slaughter of blemished animals was banned (11QT 52:17-19). Since the end of the line is missing, it is not clear whether this limit is applied here to the same law.

Lines 7-10 shift to an entirely different subject, that of the eschatological Council of the Community dxyh tc( described in 1QS 8:1-10. This Council is to have a quorum of fifteen, twelve laymen and three priests. Its future establishment was expected to bring an end to the ages of evil and usher in good will and atonement for the earth. The description of this millennial hope is couched in phraseology similar to that of 1QS. The Council will be a "most holy dwelling" which offers up a "sweet odor." In 4QpIsad 1 3 it is likened to the sapphire among the stones on the High Priests's breastplate. The pesher is based on the phrase Myrypsb Kytdsyw in Isaiah 54:11, which may conceivably have something to do with the word My)yb[nh] "the prophets" at the beginning of line 8.

The following section, lines 11-14, take us abruptly into the narrative concerning Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. We had occasion in 1992 to discuss this version of the Eden narrative and its intimate connection with Jubilees 3.3 What is stressed here is the sacred nature of Paradise, which impelled the author to postpone the introductions of Adam and Eve to the garden until after their respective purifications and their conjugal intercourse. Adam was brought to Eden forty days after his creation, while Eve was not admitted until the eightieth day. This revised chronology serves as a paradigm for the variation in the period of postpartem purification for a new mother depending on the sex of the infant, forty days for a boy and eighty for a girl, as set forth in Leviticus 12. Lines 15-17 of our text cite the substance of this levitical law, as does Jubilees 3.

The following schematic summary of the topics touched on in the extant portions of the seventeen lines of the column which we have described should suffice to bring out the difficulty of finding the connecting thread:

1. Sabbath rules
2. Prohibition of priestly sprinkling on the Sabbath
3. Permission to walk two thousand cubits to graze animals on the Sabbath
4. The eschatological Communal Council
5. Adam and Eve in Paradise
6. Purification after childbirth

The first three topics do pertain to one subject, the Sabbath, which indeed serves as one of the major topical rubrics of the Damascus Document, tb#h l(.

However, the fourth subject, the Communal Council of the future, pertains neither to the Sabbath, nor to anything ostensibly legal. The fifth topic, the revision of the garden of Eden narrative does have halakhic application, as is evident from the sequel which follows it, but the application is to the entirely distinct subject of post partem purification.

Of course, it would be inappropriate to to expect to find in Qumran works the discrete subject classifications and the distinctions between halakha and aggada which only emerged in Jewish literature much later. The topical rubrics found in the legal section of the Damascus Document are but rudimentary manifestations of the methodology which ultimately resulted in the order of the Mishnah. Yet, one is able in the Damascus Document to distinguish between the paraenetic prologue and the corpus of laws and to find associative links in the arrangement of rules within the latter. The genre of most Qumran writings is capable of being approximately defined; in the case of 4Q265 the diverse contents do not fit any readily recognizable anthological theme.

Did Qumran scribes combine unrelated works in order not to waste space? This seems to be illustrated elsewhere by the copying of different compositions on the verso and recto of the same scroll. It may also be pertinent to the presence of the sectarian calendar at the beginning of 4Q394, one of the manuscripts of MMT. As one of the editors observes, the calendar appears unrelated to the halakhic letter, whether form-critically or even in terms of subject matter. It is a list of another genre prefixed in this manuscript for uncertain reasons.4 However, what we have in 4Q265 is not merely the juxtaposition of unrelated works in the same scroll, but the collection of brief pericopes on diverse subjects in one document. Were there Qumran anthologies of excerpts from larger works culled for individual use?

While reflecting on these questions, I was delighted to come upon Emanuel Tov's recent study, "Excerpted and Abbreviated Biblical Texts from Qumran".5 While his paper deals primarily with biblical texts, its findings may also be relevant to anthologies from non-biblical Qumran compositions, including 'halakhic' ones. In his survey Tov lists some fifteen texts, most of which contain excerpts from one or several biblical books, while a few consist of abbreviations of one biblical book. He offers a classification of these texts by their apparent purposes: a. liturgical collections; here he places the Tefillin and mezuzot and all the anthologies of the Psalter. The latter were probably meant for devotional reading. b. exegetical-ideological anthologies; this is illustrated by 4QTestimonia, a small anthology of three pentateuchal texts and one from 4QapocrJoshua. The common theme is apparently the Messiah. c. copies made for personal reading; examples include 4QDeutq which has segments of the poem in Deuteronomy 32 and 4QCanta-b with abbreviated versions of several chapters of the Song of Songs.

In the possible adaptation of this classification to non-biblical texts, particularly 4Q265, the first heading, liturgical collections, may be left out of consideration. The exegetical-ideological category appears to be more pertinent, although it still requires the identification of a common theme which unites the discrete elements found in one anthology. In the case of 4QTanhumim the common theme is consolation. 4QFlorilegium is now described by A. Steudel as a "thematic pesher" and she has renamed it 4QMidrEschat.

4QOrdinances (4Q159)6, because of its combination of 'halakha' with pentateuchal narrative and pesher, is most relevant to our text. The laws in 4QOrdinances range over a wide variety of topics: Frg. 1 deals with portions of the harvest for the poor, the one time half shekel tax (under the rubric Mykr(h Psk l[(], and the equation of the measures ephah and bat in accordance with Ezekiel 45:11. After a vacat we find the following phrases, which are clearly narrative in nature:

Mh]yd[gb l(w M(h l[(
h]#wm Pr# l)r# [y ynb w#( r#) lg(h

I believe that the first line alludes to the purification of the people by sprinkling after the making of the golden calf. The second line refers to its burning by Moses. The consequences of the sin of the golden calf are also, in my opinion, alluded to in Frg. 5, which includes pesher comments on the death of the sinners, the role of the Levites, and Moses' self-isolation outside the camp:

]r#p wtwmyw l) MG[pgnb
]wHl ynbvacat
r]mG) r#)w +p#mb [
lh)h] t) h#wm txqb[
]rGbdh r#p hm# w)cy [ l) y#qbm lwk 5
] w hqwcb hrwtGhG #wr[dl
]h#wm rbd rG[#)


1 [when God plagued] them and they died. The interpretation [ ]
2 vacat The sons of Lev[i ]
3 [ ] in law. As to that which he sai[d, ]
4 [ ] when Moses took [the tent ]
5 [all who sought God went out there. The interpretation of the matter [ ]
6 [ to seek the Law in distress and [ ]
7 [ whic]h Moses spoke [ ]
8 [ ] all [ ]

Frgs. 2-4 include a reference to Lev 25:42, which forbids the use or sale of an impoverished Israelite as a slave, but the remainder of the extant text deals with legal matters: a twelve member court, the prohibition of transvestism, and the penalty for a husband who defames his bride.

4Q265 thus resembles 4QOrdinances in its legal contents and its literary form. Both texts contain medleys of rules which do not appear to follow any particular subject classification nor scriptural sequence. They also embrace biblical quotations and narrative allusions which are not strictly 'halakhic', although they may have served as support for the rules propounded by Qumran exegetes. The genre of these miscellaneous legal and narrative texts should now be added to the heterogeneous classification of Qumran compositions, although their functional purpose has yet to be clarified.

Let us now narrow our focus to one fragment of 4Q265, which juxtaposes a biblical citation with a very specific 'halakhic' ruling. The passage quotes Malachi 2:10, "Have we not all one father ? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?". The following line, which is the last of the column, reads:

hGsph hG[bzb] h#)w +w+(z r(n lk)wy [l)]

Let [neither] a young lad nor a woman eat the paschal [sacrifi]ce

The word before xsp was restored by one of the original editors to read g[xb] but gx without xbz usually refers to a festival, and only rarely to its offering (Ex 23:18). The lectio facilior xG[bzb] may in this case be preferable and it seems compatible with the vestiges on the facsimile.

The exclusion of women and children from sharing in the paschal lamb at first sight seems odd, particularly in the light of the description in Exodus 12, where it is an offering shared by all the 'souls' of each household. However, the passover sacrifice of later generations, twrwd xsp, as the Rabbis called it, was fashioned in accordance with the deuteronomic centralization of all sacrifice in the Temple (Deut 16:5-6). The levitical purity of all who partook of the paschal lamb was consequently a cardinal requirement. It is noteworthy that in Numbers 9:6, r#) My#n) yhyw
xsph t#(l wlky )lw Md) #pnl My)m+ wyh
, the problem of those who were impure at the time of Passover seems to pertain only to My#n) men. The description of the paschal offerings in the days of Josiah as having been distributed M(h ynb lkl (2 Chron 35:13) is likewise susceptible of being understood as limited to males. The author of Jubilees makes this explicit when he restricts the consumption of the paschal sacrifice to men twenty years or older who are to eat it in the sanctuary of the Lord (49:17). A similar ruling is found in the Temple Scroll 17 8-9:

hlylb whwlk)w wtw) w#(y hl(mw hn# [M]yr#( Nbm
#dwq[h ] twrcxb

Those twenty years and older shall perform it and eat it at night in the sacred courts.

The implied exclusion of women and minors from partaking of the paschal offering was apparently a sectarian stringency, later perpetuated in Karaite exegesis.7 The practice prevalent in the late Second Temple period was evidently more lenient, as one gathers from the description of Josephus. He states that each offering was eaten by a fraternity of between ten to twenty people, from which were excluded "those afflicted with leprosy or gonorrhea, or menstruous women (gunaixi\n e_pemmh&noij), or persons otherwise defiled" (J.W. 6.426). This is in accord with tannaitic halakha, such as M. Pesahim 8,1, which allows a woman to partake of the paschal lamb offered by either her father or her husband. Even a menstruant (hbz) who had completed her seven days of purification, could be counted as a participant on the eighth day (8,5): ynym#b hyl( Ny+xw# hbzhw.

The Mishnah does have some limitation on women and minors, that is that they must not be joined with slaves as participants in the Passover offering: Myn+qw Mydb(w My#n trwbx Ny#w( Ny)w "One should not form a group consisting of women, slaves, and minors" (8,7). The reason given in Tosefta (Pes. 8,6) is to prevent indecency, hlpth t) twbrl )l#. In Yerushalmi (Pes. 8,7 36a) the reason stated is "in order to avoid disgracing sacred offerings," Nwyzb ydyl My#dqh t) w)yby )l#, which S. Lieberman took to refer to a hrwbx of all women.8 In 4Q265 the exclusion of women and young lads from the paschal feast is not explained. We note, however, that the same exclusion is applied in 1QM 7:3 to their presence in the war camp: h#(w +w+(z r(n lwkw
Mtwnxml w)wby )wl
. Presumably, in both cases their presence was viewed as incompatible with the maintenance of strict purity.

We must now consider the question: What is the relationship between the quote of Malachi 2:10 in Frg. 4 and the exclusion of women and minors which follows it? That there is such a relationship we consider as assured, for the possibility that the sequence of rhetorical questions ("Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?") pertained to something in the preceding context which is missing appears remote. On the other hand, it seems plausible that the Qumran legist, aware of lax practices by which men who were participants in the paschal meal would share their portions with their wives and children, was impelled to denounce them as a breach of trust against their partners. For by involving those whose ritual purity was in doubt the errant partner was seen as subverting the purity of the common meal. It is noteworthy that tannaitic halakha was lenient also in this regard; for according to the Mishnah a paschal lamb which was slaughtered with the intention of feeding it to both the ritually pure and the impure is held to be kosher; those who are pure are not affected by the participation of the unqualified (M. Pes. 5,3).

From a literary perspective, the use of the Malachi quote as a prelude to the Passover rule seems to be an unusual rhetorical device in Qumran 'halakhic' writings. The Damascus Document, which we now recognise as primarily a legal composition, begins with an extended admonition and a historical discourse, but the function of the latter is to bolster the general call for repentance and the acceptance of the sect's interpretation of the laws. The laws themselves are set forth in the legal corpus without additional paraenetic material. Only the ban on polygamy, uncle-niece marriage, and the defilement resulting from failure to properly observe the separation from menstruants, are intertwined with a quote from Isaiah which serves to depict the three nets of Belial (CD 4, 9 -5, 11).

In MMT, the hortatory appeal to the addressee follows the 'halakhic' assertions, which repeatedly use the formula Myrmw) wnxn) "we say". However, the pronouncement concerning intermarriage (twnz) is accompanied by an extended analogy to the biblically forbidden mixing of species. Thus, the use of biblical allusions in 4Q265 in order to support Qumran legal rulings is not entirely without parallels. Moreover, rhetorical questions as literary devices are found elsewhere in Qumran writings (e.g. 1Q27 1 i 10-11)

So much for our initial evaluation of 4Q265, a most interesting specimen of an eclectic Qumran text, for which the provisional designation Serek-Dameseq no longer seems adequate. We may conclude this discussion with a phrase from Habakkuk 2:3 well utilized at Qumran,
d(wml Nwzx dw( yk.


1 J. Baumgarten, "The Laws about Fluxes in 4QTohoraa (4Q274)", Time to Prepare the Way in the Wilderness, ed. D. Dimant and L.H. Schiffman, Leiden: Brill, 1995, 1-8. [Back to text]

2 Sprinkling and washing on the third and seventh day after corpse impurity are likewise associated in 11QT 50, 14-15 and 4Q512 xii 5-7. [Back to text]

3 J. Baumgarten, "Purification after Childbirth and the Sacred Garden in 4Q265 and Jubilees", New Qumran Texts and Studies: Proceedings of the First Meeting of the International Organization for Qumran Studies, Paris 1992, ed. G.J. Brooke, Leiden: Brill, 3-10. [Back to text]

4 J. Strugnell, Appendix 3 , in Qumran Cave 4: Miqsat Ma'ase ha-Torah, DJD 10, ed. E. Qimron and J. Strugnell , Oxford: Clarendon, 1994, p. 203. [Back to text]

5 RQ. [Back to text]

6 Qumran Cave 4 I: DJD 5, ed. J.M. Allegro, Oxford: Clarendon, 6-9. [Back to text]

7 whyl) trd) ch. 9: Myrgwbh My#n)l lk)n hyh twrwd xsp. [Back to text]

8 Tosefta ki-Peshutah IV, 623. [Back to text]

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