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Halakhah in the MakingThe Development of Jewish Law from Qumran to the Rabbis$
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Aharon Shemesh

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520259102

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520259102.001.0001

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Writing Halakhah in Qumran

Writing Halakhah in Qumran

(p.21) One Writing Halakhah in Qumran
Halakhah in the Making

Aharon Shemesh

University of California Press

The library of Qumran contains a wide range of different compositions, which, though not the exclusive source, are the prime source for our knowledge of the legal system of the Qumran community. This chapter employs information about legal subjects extracted from nonlegal sources, such as the liturgy or wisdom literature. It surveys two main aspects of the halakhic compositions found in the caves: their literary genre and their content and intent. Most of the scrolls are found in a very fragmentary condition, due to which this is not always an easy task. Moreover, it is difficult to determine the original size of any given composition or the right order of its remaining fragments. This chapter describes the writing style of two compositions empirically. These two main literary genres are represented by the Temple Scroll, on the one hand, and by the legal part of the Damascus Document, on the other. These two literary genres differ fundamentally from that of the Temple Scroll and the genre of the rewritten Bible. The penal code was a sectarian innovation intended to serve the Qumran community's special needs and to protect its unique social structure. Very much like the Qumran literature, rabbinic halakhic writings also form two very distinct genres: midrash and mishnah. However, the Qumranic literature continues the biblical tradition in that it is unified and unanimous.

Keywords:   halakhah, Qumran, halakhic compositions, Temple Scroll, Damascus Document, midrash, rewritten Bible

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