Reconstructing Qumranic and Rabbinic Halakhic Worldviews:
Dynamic Holiness vs. Static Holiness

Eyal Regev
Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies, Bar-Ilan University

Since the publication of the Temple Scroll and MMT it is clear that the Qumran sectarians held a stricter halakhic approach than the Pharisees and rabbis. But in what manner were the Qumranites stricter and why? During the last decade several attempts have been made to define the differences between these two "halakhic minds". Knohl argued that the Pharisees encouraged the participation of the laity in the Temple cult whereas the Qumranites kept them away from the sacred realm; D.R. Schwartz pointed out certain cases in which the Qumranites held a "realistic" approach as opposed to the rabbinic "nominalistic" approach. Heneshke has shown that the Qumranites rigorously emphasized the sanctity of the Temple, whereas the rabbis expanded the sanctity to the whole city of Jerusalem; and Harrington suggested that the Qumranites were stricter in their categories of holiness. Although I tend to agree with these theories, I believe that the first three are applicable to only certain halakhic controversies, and thus cannot define the more general point of departure between the two halakhic schools. Harrington's suggestion has indeed broader implications, but it is still too abstract: in what manner are the categories of holiness different, and why? In the present article I would like to raise a new theory which models Qumranic and rabbinic (or pharisaic) concepts of holiness in relation to the Temple, sacrifices and purity. This theory may not be the first attempt to reconstruct rabbinic halakhic worldview, but it is probably the first attempt to formulate the Qumranic opposite worldview. I will examine the halakhic controversies between the Qumranites and the Pharisees or rabbis in an attempt to define a comprehensive difference between their general halakhic approaches in terms of worldview. These diverse worldviews concern the most fundamental concept in religion, a concept that many scholars of religion and anthropology have tried to elucidate: holiness or sanctity.

In the following I will try to show that the Temple Scroll and MMT view holiness as dynamic, sensitive and dangerous, and maintain that the access to the sacred should be limited. In contrast, in Pharisaic and rabbinic Halakhah, holiness is static, and the access to the sacred is far less restricted, since it is not dangerous or threatening. Thus holiness is not an active entity but a status.

Before turning to the halakhic material, I would like to make a methodological clarification. Halakhah, law and regulation are all means of operating human behavior. Halakhic decision derives from a certain value or idea. Thus, a halakhic controversy may be the product of conflicting values, ideas or theoretical conceptions. In our case, as I shall show, there is a vast set of laws that bears a certain tendency or characteristic - the strict Qumranic halakhah - that is opposed to another enormous set of laws of a conflicting tendency - the lenient rabbinic halakhah. All these controversies regarding cultic laws pertain to halakhic details that are not explicitly stated in Scripture, and in certain cases the subject as a whole (viz. the calendar) is not discussed at all. The controversies thus introduce conflicting interpretations and supplements to the laws of the Pentateuch. The consistency of these two opposing tendencies cannot be coincidental, and therefore may attest to a certain worldview that lies in the base of each set of rules. The question is whether it is possible to reveal (as well as to formulate adequately) these competing halakhic pre-suppositions, which may be very abstract and philosophical, and yet explain the systematic halakhic trend.

Since the halakhic material was fully discussed in previous publications and seem quite familiar, I will not examine it thoroughly, but will focus on several examples. The halakhic cases will be classified into four categories: 1. purity/impurity, 2. sacred food or sacred people, 3. sacred space in the Temple or Jerusalem, and 4. sacred time (i.e. the calendar). In each of these categories the same opposing tendencies will be traced. Hence, it will be possible to point to a systematic but yet a rather specific character of a large set of Qumranic or rabbinic laws. Based on the indication of the general halakhic tendencies, I will suggest that they derive from different conceptions of what holiness really is. For the sake of comparison I will also mention my views concerning the biblical typology of holiness as well as the Sadducean worldview. Finally, in order to clarify the meaning of these new designations of dynamic/static holiness I shall also discuss several theories taken from cultural anthropology and the study of religion.

Purity and Impurity

Impurity is an (virtual) entity that threatens to desecrate the sacred or holy and cause the departure of the Divine Presence from the Temple. Thus laws of the so-called Priestly legislation order several rules in set down to restrict and remove it from the cultic realm. In at least six instances the Qumranites declare as impure what the rabbis view as pure: Bones and skin of unclean ("non-kosher") animals according to the Temple Scroll 51:1-4 and MMT B 21-23, while the rabbis declares them as clean (m. Hul 9:1). According to MMT B 55-58 the nitzok or mutzakot are defiled, namely, liquids that are poured from a pure vessel into an impure vessel beneath it contaminate the pure vessel, namely, impurity "climbs" above to the upper vessel. The rabbis, however, believed that the nitzok is pure, except for cases in which thick liquids are involved, viz. honey (m. Mach 5:9; m. Yad 4:7).

MMT B 13-17 orders that the red heifer be burnt by a person who is not totally pure, at Me´orav Shemesh (that is, sundown) and not Tevul Yom. The rabbis (m. Par 3:7; t. Par 3:9 [ed. Zuckermandel, 636]) insisted that the priest may nevertheless be in a status of Tevul Yom, namely, immerse and considered pure without waiting for sundown. In rabbinic halakhah corpse contamination is cleansed by sprinkling the ashes of the red heifer on the seventh day of impurity and immersing. However, the Temple Scroll and other Qumranic writings order immersion on the first day of impurity, and sprinkling the red heifer ashes on the third day, in addition to the sprinkling and final immersion on the seventh day. The Qumranic ritual, sometimes termed as 'gradual purification' is aimed to reduce uncleanness during the seven days of impurity. The rabbis did not acknowledge this gradual purification.

MMT B 39-49 also prohibits the entrance of Ammonite, Moavite, the mamzer, and men who are sexually disabled into the Temple, whereas the rabbinic halakha does not mentions such taboos at all. The explicit motivation for this Qumranic rigorousness is the suspicion of desecration of the cult's sanctity by the force of impurity (ibid., 48-49). MMT B 49-54 further prohibits the entrance of blind and deaf into the Temple (for the blind see also Temple Scroll 45:12-14) since they cannot restrict themselves from defilement and uncleanness. Obviously, the Pharisees and rabbis did not suspect that such a desecration would occur. However, it is still intriguing to ask why did they reduce the power of pollution. This question will be addressed further on.

Sacred Food

The category of sacred food is more flexible and concerns priestly dues and other food that must be eaten under sacred circumstances: consuming is done either by sacred people or in a sacred space, and also at a sacred time. The grounds of these limitations are ordered in Scripture (Lev. 7:18; 10:17; 19:6-8; Num. 18: 11-13) but certain detailed were not specified.

In the cases of the animal tithe, the fruits of the fourth year, and the arm, cheek and stomach of the shelamim sacrifice, the Temple Scroll and MMT maintain that the holy food should be given to the priests and eaten by them. However, the rabbis insist that it should be eaten by the lay owners. Quite surprisingly, the Temple Scroll 35:10-15, 37:8-12 orders separating between the sacrifices of the priests (and especially the hattat and asham) and those of the laity. Clearly, the authors of the scroll view the priest as more sacred than the laity, sacredness that requires separation. The Temple Scroll also holds that the eating of the fruits of the fourth year and the Paschal lamb should be restricted to the Temple's courts, whereas the rabbis permit eating them outside, in the entire city of Jerusalem. As for sacred time, both the Temple Scroll and MMT limit the time spent eating the breads of the thanksgiving shelamim to sunset, while the rabbis permit them to be eaten until midnight.

Clearly, in the first four cases the Qumranic point of departure is the exclusiveness of the priest as holy people: To what extent should they hold the monopoly on sacred food? The latter three cases regard the restrictions concerning the sanctity of the holy food or sacrifices in relation to space or time. In all cases, it is a matter of holiness on which the conflicting views diverge.

Sacred Space: The Temple and Jerusalem

The category of sacred space concerns the spatial distribution of holiness in the Temple, its boundaries and the restrictions that should be applied there concerning the priestly as well as lay activities. The rabbis restricted most of the impurity taboos to the Temple courts. In certain cases they restricted them to the entire Temple Mount, but not to the entire city of Jerusalem. Menstruated women, women after childbirth and women having menstrual discharge were not allowed to enter the Temple mount, and men having seminal discharge were restricted from the Temple courts. MMT, however, declares: '??????? ??? ???? ?????... ??????? ??? ??? ????? ?????' . "For Jerusalem is the camp of holiness… For Jerusalem is capital of the camps of Israel".

Thus, MMT applies to Jerusalem the greatest degree of holiness, the degree of ???? ????? which the rabbis applied to the Temple courts. This idea was implemented by the authors in MMT's prohibition of non-sacral slaughtering in Jerusalem (including using the hides and bones of animals not slaughtered in Jerusalem) as well as raising dogs in the city (since they might eat the remains of the sacrifices).

The same perception was introduced in a different manner and with many additional restrictions and prohibitions in the Temple Scroll. The Temple scroll describes a very detailed plan of the Temple courts, a plan influenced by the division of camps during Israel's wandering in the desert as well as Ezekiel's vision of the Temple. The ideal Temple was divided into three circumferential courts. The inner court includes the Temple building (parallel to the Greek naos) and the altar on which the animal sacrifices were offered. It may be paralleled to the priestly court in rabbinic terminology or fourth court in Josephus terminology. This inner court was designated for holy vessels that mustn't be taken outside this court, in contrast to the pharisaic/rabbinic view, that also required the purification of the Menorah after the certain festivals due to the suspicion that it had been defiled by lay people who had touched it. In this court the priestly cult and priestly meals of sacrifices and cereal-offerings tool place. They would not eat it outside the inner court since their priestly share of the sacrifices and offerings must be spatially separated from those of the laity that are eaten in the middle court (Temple Scroll 37:4-12).

The middle court, whose size may be paralleled to the whole Temple Mount in Josephus and tractate Middot, was designated for eating sacrificial food by the lay males (its function parallels the court of Israel in Middot). Women, children and proselytes (until the fourth generation) were not allowed to enter it (39:4-9). Wearing priestly garments was forbidden in the middle court (40:1-4) since it was not as holy as the inner court. The outer court's size was 1600 square cubits, much larger than the whole city of Jerusalem in the Hasmonean period (when the scroll was written). This was the court of the laity (quite like the court of women in Middot), but proselytes until the third generation were forbidden to enter it (40:6-7). The outer court was designated for the religious activities of the laity, such as building tabernacles and eating shelamim sacrifices during the feast of Succoth (21:2-4; 22:11-13). It contained dozens of rooms and chambers for the chiefs of the tribes, priests and Levites, and many porticos (parvarim). The tabernacles of the lay people were supposed to be built on the roofs of the chambers. The collaboration of all the people of Israel in the Temple ritual was symbolized by the twelve gates to and from the outer courts, each of which that was named after one of Jacob's twelve sons.

This spatial organization should be characterized as "graded holiness". Its main aim is to separate between the priestly and lay realms. However, the lay people have a significant hold on the Temple Mount, although their presence is located far from the altar, the holy vessels, and the atoning rituals.

Another spatial sphere that is discussed in the Temple Scroll is "The City of the Temple" (´ir ha-miqdash), which seems to overlap with the total area of all the three courts, and roughly overlaps the whole city of Jerusalem (termed in MMT as "the camps of holiness). Entrance is forbidden to skin-diseased and seminal discharged and seminal defiled males, including after intercourse with a women, in this latter case the purification process lasts three days (45:7-15). All these defiled persons may stay in three special areas located three thousand cubits from the "City of the Temple" (45-:15-46:2). Yadin also believes that the reason there are no interdictions pertaining to women in the City is since that women are not allowed to enter it at all. The are also strict restrictions regarding excretions in the City. These should be limited to a special place three thousand cubits outside the city (46:13-16). Impure food and drink mustn't be brought in (47:3-7). Non sacral slaughtering is forbidden, as well as bringing inside the hides and bones of such animals (47:7-18; 52:14-53:4, see also above on MMT).

Needless to say, rabbinic literature does not even recognize such a rigorous division of the Temple sphere between priests and non-priests. For example, the Pharisees didn't prevent situations in which lay people approached the altar and the holy vessels. They also did not concur with all these purity restrictions and the orders of rigorous separation between the priests and the laity. Thus, I believe that the core of all these disagreements is to what extent access to the holy space should be limited, or to what extent the holiest space, artifacts and activities should be protected from the possible profanation by the lay people.

Sacred Time: Calendar and Festivals

The so-called solar calendar of 364 day was introduced in the beginning of one of the copies of MMT and implied in the Temple Scroll's festival laws. One of its qualities is the differentiation between the Sabbaths and the festivals. musaf sacrifices of the festivals would not be offered on the Sabbath, and thus, in the view of the Qumranites, it wouldn't be necessary to violate the Sabbath rest in the Temple. The rabbis, of course, used a lunar-solar calendar of 354 days in which there was no control over the relationship between Sabbaths and festivals, and viewed such offering on the Sabbath as totally legitimate. Thus, the calendar controversy actually reflects, among other things, different approaches to Sabbath labor interdictions.

The Qumranic calendar also consists of several festivals that were not practiced by the rabbis: the annual days of milluim (inauguration) in which the priests were sanctified, and the feasts of the first fruits of wine and oil. The annual days of milluim were supposed to be celebrated in the seven or eight first days of Nisan (Temple Scroll 15:3-17:5). Quite similar to the original milluim in Ex 29 and Lev 8-9, this was a long and complex ritual in which the priests where consecrated and reappointed, a rite de passage which transferred them from a profane state to sacred one. Among other things, two bulls were sacrificed as hattat, one atoning for the priests, and the other ("the bull of the public") for the rest of the people of Israel. The rabbis, however, held that this ritual should not be practiced at all since its only purpose was to establish the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

The festivals of the first fruits of wine and oil were sacrificial rituals that were celebrated in order to attain atonement. The Temple Scroll mentions the root kipper in these rituals (21:8; 22:14-16). It seems that the purpose of these rituals is to redeem the sanctity of the new crop of grapes and olives (apparently the usual bringing of first fruits, bikurim, to the Temple did not satisfy the authors). Their taboo of sanctity was thus released and eating them, as God's own crop, was not considered sinful anymore. Obviously, the rabbis did not find any need for such additional atoning rituals. Since atonement is aimed at eliminating pollution or guilt and constituting sanctity, it follows that in comparison to the Qumranic tendency, the rabbis were less interested in these ritualistic or cultic ideas.

Defining Dynamic and Static Holiness: Cultic Ideology and Textual Evidence

I think it is clear by now that all these laws (as well as many others) concern the concept of holiness. The Qumranites increased purity restrictions in order to prevent the pollution of the sacred, limited the eating of some sacred food to the priests (who are more holy than the laity) and to a more sacred area (the Temple court) and even limited the time span for the consuming of the thanksgiving breads. They separated between the spatial activities of the priests and the laity in the Temple Mount in order to remove the danger of desecration of holy food or vessels by the laity. And they also shaped their calendar in a manner that avoids a possible violation of the Sabbath and increases atonement. The rabbis, however, did not follow these interdictions, limitations, separations, grading, and ritual taboos. Indeed, the Man of Lies, whom most scholars identify as the leader of the Pharisees, is accused (as well as his people) in pesher to Ps 37 in choosing the easy way (?? ???? ?????). Perhaps it is not difficult to understand why the Qumranites found it necessary to increase the boundaries around the sacred realm, but it is not clear what was the theoretical reasoning of the rabbis. How can their leniency be explained? Were they relatively indifferent to the danger of pollution and desecration? Obviously, the rabbis did not hold a lenient approach because they regarded the cult as a profane activity that needed no protection from impurity and desecration. They did so in spite of the fact that the Temple cult was so important for them. I conclude that their attitude towards the holy was different, and insist that it was not hitherto defined. In order to solve this puzzle and to better understand the basic difference between Qumranic and rabbinic halakhah we need more concrete terms for their conflicting tendencies.

I shall now turn to the reasoning that lies behind each of these approaches. I will suggest a theoretical, almost philosophical definition of each one of them by creating a new typology of holiness - dynamic versus static. The intensive pursuit of purity, sanctity and atonement in Qumran derives from the idea that pollution and desecration threaten the sancta constantly, and the violation of the cultic holiness bears guilt upon Israel and thus cause the divine wrath and punishment.

This idea is explicitly stated in MMT and it is implicit in the Temple Scroll. For instance, according to MMT one should restrict himself from impurity (ta´arovet) since one must "be full of reverence (?????) from the sanctuary" (MMT B 48-49); in case of eating shelamim sacrifices and thanksgiving cakes after sundown or bringing in bones and hides of animals which were not slaughtered in Jerusalem, in order that "the priests shall not cause the people to bear punishment" (??? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ???? MMT B 12-13, 26-27). They also imply that failure to observe the laws of MMT will result with misfortunes and curses (C 12-26). In the Temple Scroll the interdictions and warnings concerning desecration and impurity are prevalent, as well as the aspiration to atone for guilt. Such theological expressions, taken from the so-called priestly schools of the Pentateuch, are not frequent in rabbinic literature. The fear of pollution and sin and the everlasting aspiration for atonement and redemption are also dominant in non-halakhic passages in the admonition of the Damascus Covenant, the Hodayot, and the ceremony of entry into the covenant in the Community Rule. One may presume that these texts developed the trend already characteristic of the preceding halakhic tendencies of MMT and the Temple Scroll.

The basic pre-supposition of the Qumranic halakha is that holiness is very vulnerable. Any violation may transform it or cause its desecration, and the additional taboos and rituals were designated to prevent such a situation or restore sanctity in reaction to it. This perception of holiness may be termed dynamic. If one does not do his best to protect it, holiness (or the Divine Presence, namely, the earthly aspect of God's holiness) will vanish or at least be reduced, or and human action will be divinely viewed as sinful and punishable.

In contrast, the Pharisees and rabbis reduced cultic taboos and atoning rituals. They reduced the causes of impurity (e.g., bones and hides of unclean, "non-kosher", animals were considered pure), permitted certain labors in the Temple on the Sabbath in festivals, and did not consider the defilement of the Menorah by the laity as an offence, since it is also possible to cleanse it by immersion. In fact, there are many cases in which the rabbis reduced the social and theological hierarchy between the priesthood and laity. In addition to the cases already mentioned of the eating animal tithe and the fruits of the fourth year, the rabbis gave the sages authority that scripture (and consequently also the Qumranites) designated solely to the priest, such as the right to slaughter sacrificial animals and the halakhic determinations concerning skin disease.

One cannot assume that the rabbis were indifferent to the desecration of the holy since they discussed at length the legal aspects of this subject (viz. in tractates Zebahim, Hulin, and Me´ila). Their relative lack of attention to the danger of desecration of the holy should be explained as a different view regarding the very nature of holiness. The sancta and holy food will not be polluted or violated so easily since holiness is not as vulnerable as the Qumranites tend to think. Holy is only a status, not an entity. It is only an etiquette that God named for certain cultic objects or activities that relate to the worship of God. Holiness is thus static and may be approached more overtly, by the non-priests for example. Desecration is only an unwelcome change of this status and not a real cosmic or natural event. Its implications are limited to, at worst, impiety or non-disciplined behavior.

In their view, the whole cultic system of priests-Temple-sacrifices was a construction that follows God's orders, but lacks an inner meaning. It is not a symbolic system, such as the theology of sacrifices and purity of the Priestly school. It is a system of mitzvoth. Its aim is to fulfill God's commands and attain reward. The rabbis indeed believed that certain sacrifices atone for certain sins but viewed them as technical orders, and not as sublime activities that demand endless taboos or ritualistic measures, as the Qumranites thought.

In order to illustrate this argument, I would like to point to two famous amoraic sayings: Rabbinic midrash attributes to R. Yohanan ben Zakai the following saying concerning the rationale of the red heifer ritual: "By your lives, I swear: the corpse does not have the power by itself, nor does the mixture of ash and water have the power by itself to cleanse. The Truth is that the purifying power of the Rad Heifer is a decree of the Holy One. The Holy One said: 'I have set it down as a statute, I have issued it as a decree. You are not permitted to transgress My decree. "This is the statute of the Torah (Num. 19.1). R. Yohanan ben Zakai does not even try to find an explanation for the so-called paradox of the red cow, namely, the fact that the ashes which purify the corpse contaminated person also defiles the one who sprinkles it. R. Yohanan ben Zakai, who discussed the red heifer ritual perhaps more than any other rabbi, the sage who was believed to confront (and take over) the Sadducees and their priestly views, and also may have confronted rabbinic priests in Yavneh, thought that there is nothing to understand here, and there is no explanation to this paradox. The import of this provocative saying is that the greatest biblical cleansing ritual has no inner logic at all. One may presume that other rabbis had a similar approach concerning additional cultic practices.

Another saying of R. Levi, is even anti-sacrificial: "Because Israel were passionate followers after idolatry in Egypt and used to bring their sacrifices to the satyrs… and they used to offer their sacrifices in the forbidden high places, on account of which punishments used to come upon them, the Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'Let them offer their sacrifices to me at all times in the Tent of Meeting, and thus they will be separated from idolatry and be saved from punishment". Here R. Levi views the Temple cult as circumstantial and believes that the ideal and indigenous Judaism would have to exist without any sacrifices. Although this saying is documented in the relatively late Leviticus Rabbah, it is significant that the use of the same argument by Justin Martyr and the Pseudo-Clementines (ca 150-200 CE). Local Christian circles probably used a traditional Jewish or rabbinic idea in order to refute the Jewish belief in the rebuilding of the Temple. Thus, it should be concluded the core of the saying attributed to R. Levi is a later midrashic compilation circulated among Jews, probably in rabbinic circles, well before the days of R. Levi.

Following these sayings and other attestations, Urbach has asserted that "…when the Sages interpreted… Scripture with respect to 'the sanctity of all precepts', these expositions have no mystical-magical connotation, as in the Cabbala, nor do they allude to holiness emanating from the substance of the ritual observance that is linked to the object of the precept." Urbach also thought that the rabbis transformed the sanctity to the realm of the individual religious experience, to the personal commitment for observing the commandment. At first sight, it seems that the individual's access to the holiness was now more direct. However, "The commandment is thus voided not only of any magical-mystical quality, but also of its very ritual-cultic basis." Urbach's characterization of the latter rabbinic view of holiness illustrates what I meant by a static view of holiness, a concept of sanctity that is only a status, and not a tangible entity.

The sayings attributed to R. Yohanan ben Zakai and R. Levi reflect a perception by which the Temple cult is a set of heavenly commands without earthly reasoning or inner meaning, a view that (according to Urbach) may have been prevalent among the rabbis. Since this perception can definitely explain the lenient halakhic positions of Pharisees and rabbis concerning the danger of desecration and pollution, I conclude that it was already lied in the basis of their lenient approaches to the ritual practices and priestly cult. Indeed, earlier rabbinic sources do not explicitly mention this particular rabbinic cultic theology only because tannaitic sources do not tend to treat such meta-halakhic issues in a direct way. Therefore, the theological ideas that Urbach ascribed to the later rabbis can be traced back to the Pharisees in the Hasmonean period as well as to the earliest layers of the Mishnah.

I believe that the dynamic and the static world-views not only characterize the two halakhic systems, but they may also explain why the Qumranites and the rabbis differed concerning all these cultic issues in the first place. Each school shaped and developed its interpretation of Scripture according to a different theological, philosophical or anthropological pre-supposition. I am fully aware of the fact that both schools supported their laws with halakhic exegesis. But I maintain that most of these exegetical moves were motivated and directed by a general (but typical) concept of holiness. Otherwise, how should we explain the consistency of the conflicting halakhic tendencies in relation to holiness?

Each of these dual concepts of holiness was by no means innovated by the Qumranites and the Pharisees. In an earlier article, I described the dynamic concept of holiness in the so-called Priestly Schools of the Pentateuch and the static concept of holiness in Deuteronomy. However, I am not implying that there is a direct connection between the biblical and the post-biblical perceptions. All these trends may have been unconscious, but this of course does not invalidate my theory, since as sociologists and anthropologists teach us, humans are often unaware of their own basic values. Notwithstanding this, it is interesting to note on certain cases in which apparent conflicting scriptural commands, led the Qumranites or Jubilees to follow the Priestly Schools whereas the rabbis followed Deuteronomy. Here both schools had to determine between two halakhic possibilities, and naturally chose the option that suited their general perception regarding the adequate degree of restriction of impurity and desecration. In many cases the interpretive tools they used were not objective intellectual reasoning, but efforts for literary justification of a fundamental ideological determination. The determination of what does holiness, or attaining holiness, actually mean and what kind of culture the Torah aims to create.

Until now I didn't address the problem of the Sadducees and their halakhic worldview. In a previous study I have characterized the Sadducean concept of holiness as dynamic. However, it is important to draw attention to the differences between the Sadducean and Qumranic world-views. The Qumranites were much more extreme in two major categories: the calendar and the distribution and function of the Temple courts. I maintain that the Sadducees, quite like the Pharisees, used a lunar calendar. Furthermore, the fact that Sadducean high priests headed the standard or unutopian Temple proves that in contrast to the Temple Scroll, they did not insist that its spatial organization should be changed and did not wish to radically enhance the separation of the priests form the laity, as did the Temple Scroll. However, in contrast to the Sadducees, the Qumranites (and particularly the Temple Scroll) designated several ritual activities to the laity, such as their constant presence in the outer court and the role of the leaders of the tribes in the sacrificial cult according to the War Rule, column 2. The Temple Scroll also applied special purity regulations to the laity outside Jerusalem.

I Therefore suggest that there were two major conceptual differences between the Sadducees and Qumranites. In comparison to the Sadducees, the Qumranites insisted on more restrictions in order to prevent the desecration of the Sabbath by the festival rituals, and a stricter spatial separation between the priests and the laity in the Temple. In contrast to the Qumranites, the Sadducees were not concerned with the manner by which the laity would restrict itself from defilement outside the priestly system. In short, if the Sadducees' concept of holiness was dynamic, then the Qumranites concept of holiness was ultra-dynamic.

The Typology of Holiness in light of Religious and Anthropological Research

I have characterized the distinction between dynamic and static holiness in a general fashion and avoided a more exact definition since I could not find better terms in other fields of research. Nevertheless, since the conceptualization of holiness is the core of almost every culture, it is possible to point to somewhat parallel distinctions in the philosophy of religion, the study of religion and anthropology. Using such analogies may illustrate the differences between dynamic and static holiness and consequently may clarify the worldview of the Qumranites and the rabbis.

The typology of dynamic and static holiness parallels Y. Silman's double categorization of the relationship between God and man: ontological and deontological. According to the ontological pattern, this relationship is closely related to nature. Human behavior affects man's environment, and consequently also holiness. This perception is dynamic and hence can be related to the concept of dynamic holiness, since reality changes according to human actions. According to the deontological pattern, the relationship between God and man is established only by human discipline and obedience to heavenly commands, without any effect on nature and environment. It only consists of obedience and reward. Man cannot affect the holy, nor God's presence in the world, but only his own destiny before God, Thus, holiness has a static feature.

Due to the lack of a similar categorization of holiness in the study of religion in general, I would like to use an analogy from the typology which can be defined as dynamic/static purity/impurity in ancient Judaism as well as in other cultures. The reason this typology of purity conceptions is relevant is that, since (as already noted) impurity might desecrate the holy, the nature and consequences of pollution affect the character of the sacred. Dynamic impurity is a substantial entity. It is dangerous and violates the holy. Therefore, complicated elimination rites are extremely essential in order to protect the sacred. Dynamic impurity is common in African and Polynesian cultures, and in the concept of moral impurity in Qumran. Impurity is dynamic also in the laws of ritual impurity in the Temple Scroll and MMT.

Static impurity, in contrast, signifies the prohibited or improper, but it does not really endanger the holy. The disposal of static impurity may be necessary before a certain religious activity or experience, as a rite of passage from a profane status to a sacred one. This type of impurity can be found in ancient Greek ceremonies before entering the Temple, in rites of adulthood of girls among the castes system in Seri-Lanka, and in washing or bathing before prayer in Second Temple Judaism or in Islamic rite. In addition, neglecting the withdrawal from the causes of static impurity may violate social order, such as in the Indian caste system.

A somewhat similar static concept of impurity that cannot damage holiness, but is improper and even repulsive or disgraceful in relation to the holy is also typical of the rabbis. Although the rabbis held that the defilement of the sacred is a transgression of the heavenly commands, they did not believe that pollution bears a tangible danger for the holy. Impurity is only something that scripture orders to be avoided. In fact, the comparison of rabbinic purity laws with the impurity system of the priestly schools would indicate that the rabbis diminished the power of pollution. They ignored the prohibition to remain in a state of impurity, as well as the concept of "Sancta Contagion" (when the contact of profane people with sacred objects effect the first, sometimes even lethally). Furthermore, whereas the Qumranites and Jubilees viewed the Gentiles as morally and repulsively defiled, the rabbis only decree that the Gentiles are only considered as defiled in order to prevent intermarriage and did not emphasize the manner in which contact with them desecrates the holiness of the people of Israel.

Perhaps the most interesting and illuminating analogy to the typology suggested in the present article a cultural theory that is based on the work of anthropologists and ecologists. Thompson, Ellis and Wildavsky introduced a classification of social construction of nature that is based on the cultural model of Mary Douglas' theory of grid-and-group published in her book Natural Symbols. I think that their classification of three among five general ideological and sociological world-views may be paralleled to my categories of static, dynamic, and ultra-dynamic holiness.

"Nature Benign" sees nature (and, in our case, also God) as forgiving and gives a free hand to human activity. Nature, it seems, is static and does not severely respond (at least not directly) to human deeds and behavior. Hence, this perception supposes that nature is passive and does not radically change, and hence is not threatening and dangerous. It may be illustrated by a U shape with a ball rolling inside. No matter how the ball moves, it will always remain on course and return to the bottom of the basin.

"Nature Preserve/Tolerant", however, sees certain acts as tolerable, but nature is vulnerable to others, more radical, that leads to destructive effects. Nature's forgiveness and endurance is limited, and crossing the boundary of tolerance leads to awful consequences. Life is thus dynamic, and humans are obligated to behave in a certain way, otherwise harm will be caused. This perception may be illustrated by an M shape with a ball rolling on its top. The ball's course should be more limited than that of the U pattern, since the ball must not fall out of the M's borders.

"Nature Ephemeral" views the world as terrifying or fragile and God as unforgiving. The least jolt may trigger a complete collapse. Therefore, it requires setting up effective sanctions to prevent such a collapse from happening and encourages managing institutions (or rituals) that would treat ecosystem (or cultic system) with great care. This perception may be illustrated by an Omega in which the ball must stay in its top.

As for their social character, "Nature Benign" is related to an individualistic pattern of society, "Nature Preserve/Tolerant" is related to a hierarchic pattern, and "Nature Ephemeral" is related to a sectarian pattern of society. This also correspond the social tendencies of the Pharisees, Sadducees and the sectarians in Qumran. Thus, in religious movements there is a connection between the ideology concerning the sacred and the social typology. Perhaps the social characteristics of the so-called Jewish sects actually derived from their religious ideas.


The controversies between the Temple Scroll and MMT and rabbinic halakhah regarding cultic laws may be explained in light of conflicting worldviews of the character of holiness. The Qumranic strictness in avoiding or eliminating pollution and desecration following the perception that holiness is dynamic (or, considering the Sadducees' perception which is also dynamic, but not as strict as the Qumranites', actually ultra-dynamic): It is, sensitive to desecration, vulnerable and in some manner also changeable. The Pharisees, and later on, the Rabbis, held much more lenient views regarding the laws of purity and sacrificial rites and were less worried by the danger of defilement and desecration and did not require such extensive efforts to protect the holy due to their perception that holiness is static: It is not sensitive and desecration does not since really "change" it. "Holy" is not an entity but only a halakhic status. Thus, they saw the cultic laws as divine orders similar to any other heavenly command with no exceptional consequences.

These worldviews were induced from the character and reasoning of the laws of the Qumranites and rabbis in a somewhat hypothetical manner, with certain more explicit literary support and demonstration from expressions in MMT and the Temple Scroll as well as amoraic sayings. More than anything, I think that the present reconstruction explains the reasoning behind the rabbinic lenient approach to the priestly system. The illustrations I have used from anthropology and the study of religion indicate that such worldviews exist in many other cultures and may explain the ideological sources of conflicting modes of behavior. The dynamic/static terminology I haves used to characterize the different worldviews may be open to criticism and revision, but I would rather emphasize the meaning they bear instead of focusing on the actual terms. One should bear in mind that scholars of religion and anthropology find it difficult to establish such general terms for religious ideology, and hardly use such broad and definite historical evidence for basing their definitions.

I have tired to introduce a new typology of holiness in order to enable us to compare between Qumran and the rabbis. I hope that my theory has clarified how fundamental the difference was between these two halakhic or socio-religious world-views and that my conclusions explain, at least partly, why this ideological divergence occurred.