Saturday, March 19, 2011

11QT - The Temple Scroll - a document written in the reign of Herod or was it Earlier?

On page 18 of his book, the Dead Sea Scrolls Today, James VanderKam gives dates for when 11QT was written or copied.  The paleographic dates are given as "late 1st century BC/early first century AD; and the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dates are given as "97 BC - AD 1".  These dates cover a period of Herod's reign.  One might easily conclude that the document was written during the reign of Herod.  The paleographic dates are at the end of Herod's reign.  The AMS dates just about cover the end of Herod's reign.  Given the large size of this scroll (28.5 ft or 8.75 m), one might have expected that few copies would have been made.  Also presumably this scroll was precious to the writer and one might assume that any copies would have been produced close to the time the original was written.  The 11QT manuscript could be documentary (original).  BUT GOLB SAYS THAT ALL THE SCROLLS (APART FROM THE COPPER SCROLL) ARE COPIES.   Shiffman says that "we can safely date the scroll as a whole no earlier than the second half of the reign of John Hyrcanus to which the scrolls polemics apply.  That would yield a date sometime after 120 BCE."  So it seems Schiffman agrees with Golb.  Do the scrolls polemics apply to the time of John Hyrcanus?      

In Chapter 16, The Enigma of the Temple Scroll, p257 of Reclaiming The Dead Sea Scrolls, Schiffman has: "The author/redactor of this scroll called for a thoroughgoing revision of the existing Hasmonean 'order', advocating its replacement with a temple, sacrificial system, and government representing his own understanding of the law of the Torah."  So my question is this.  Why a replacement of the HASMONEAN order which would involve the temple and sacrificial system?   

One question springs to mind.  Does the Temple Scroll show any awareness of THE HASMONEAN temple?  The temple of the Temple Scroll is on  larger scale than THE HASMONEAN temple.  It would have been easy to envisage such a temple, given that the writers of the Temple Scroll had already seen THE HASMONEAN TEMPLE.  The temple of the Temple Scroll had an outer court with overall dimensions of roughly 730m square.  The overall dimensions of the HASMONEAN Temple were much less, very roughly ---m from south to north and ---m from east to west. (See The Quest).  The writer of the Temple Scroll just had to make his ideal temple bigger than the HASMONEAN, yet still remain feasible.  Although no actual place is mentioned for the location of the temple, the Temple Scroll clearly refers to 'the city', meaning Jerusalem .  The intention almost certainly was to build it on the site of the Hasmonean temple.

On p260, Schiffman has: "This is an ideal Temple, built upon the beliefs of the author or authors."  On p258, Schiffman has: "To this day, we still do not know who wrote the scroll or why."   So why would someone take the trouble to laboriously write such a 28.5 ft long scroll?  What was the motive for this massive effort?  Also on p258, Schiffman wrote: "The Temple Scroll does not mount a sustained polemic against the priestly establishment in Jerusalem, with which the sect argued."  Who were the members of this "priestly establishment", and why does Schiffman call them "priestly".  Is Schiffman hiding something?  Were those who were 'priestly' actually prophets?  Other Scrolls do contain polemic against the 'priestly' establishment in Jerusalem.  In fact many of the Scrolls are riddled with polemic.  We have the 'seekers of smooth things', the 'wicked priest', and 4QMMT written to a king.

 4QMMT  contained corrections to the existing conduct in the Temple.  The priest who wrote it thought that the practices in the temple were against the Law.  He also wrote that he and other priests had separated from the people and the Temple.  Remarkably, on p263 of Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, Schiffman gives a figurative quotation from 11QT 2:5; "Indeed you must tear down their altars".   This is in an introductory section where the writer has God imparting his Covenant between himself and Israel.  So here was a group that was completely dissatisfied the Hasmonean Temple and its practices.  They were planning a new era with a new Temple. Schiffman was wrong to say there was NOT a sustained polemic against the residents of the temple.  The priests were being increasingly isolated and paranoid, leading to their visions of the future temple.

Under a heading The Law of the King (p269 of Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls) Schiffman states: "The Temple Scroll goes on to require that the appointed king be Jewish and that he have written for him a special copy of the Torah for his edification."   In 11QT:16, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Vermes  has: "When he sits on the throne of his kingdom, they shall write for him this law from the book which is before the priests."    This would be the ideal.  4QMMT was an attempt at some tentative steps towards this, written in trepidation.

Schiffman's Chapter, The Enigma of the Temple Scroll (Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls) is full of conjectural expressions such as 'most likely', 'perhaps', 'probably' and 'may be', illustrating his own uncertainty.   On p269, Schiffman states: "The requirement that a king be appointed is most likely (itallics mine) intended as a critique of the early Hasmonean rulers, while serving as high priests, arrogated to themselves the temporal powers of the king.  Our passage requires that the monarchy and the high priesthood be two separate offices with two distinct incumbents."  The passage quoted in Schiffman's book was from 11QT:56:12-14 (see Vermes): "When you enter the land which I give you, take possesion of it, dwell in it, and say, 'I will appoint a king over me as do all the nations around me!', you may surely appoint over you the king whom I will choose."  Schiffman ended his quote at this point.  But the text continues (see Vermes): "It is from among your brothers that you shall appoint a king over you.  You shall not appoint over you a foreigner who is not your brother."  Clearly, this was not a critique of Hasmonean rulers who were all true blue Jews.  But were they?

On p269, Schiffman quotes Temple Scroll 56:15-19: "But he may not keep for himself many horses, nor may he send the people back to Egypt for war in order in order to accumulate for himself horses, silver and gold.  For I have said to you, 'You may never go that way again.'  Nor may he have many wives lest they turn his heart from following Me, nor may he accumulate for himself silver and gold to excess."  Schiffman speculates that the amassing of wealth was by the Hasmonean John Hyrcanus who mounted military campaigns outside of Judea.   Herod had amassed wealth himself by military means.  Also Herod had threatened war against Cleopatra of Egypt and he had many wives, two points of the quotation not mentioned by Schiffman.       

On p269, Schiffman quotesTemple Scroll 57:5-11: "He (the king) shall choose for himself from (those he has mustered) one thousand from each tribe to be with him, twelve thousand warriors, who will not leave him alone, lest he be captured by the nations.  And all those selected whom he shall choose shall be trustworthy men, who fear God, who spurn unjust gain, and mighty men of war.  They shall be with him always, day and night, so that they will guard him from any sinful thing, and from a foreign nation, lest he be captured by them."  Schiffman states on p269: "This description of the royal guard is in direct contrast to its Hasmonean counterpart.  The author requires for the royal guard not only trustworthy Jews but also those who will keep the king from transgressing.  Apparently, the author is here criticizing the Hasmonean rulers for being overly influenced by their foreign mercenaries."     

On p271 of Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, Schiffman has: "The complete, edited scroll (11QT) may be seen to a large extent as a polemic against the policies of the Hasmoneans on the one hand, and against the rulings of the Pharisees on the other.  A similar polemic underlies the Halakhic Letter (4QMMT), confirming that Pharisaic rulings were being followed in the Temple in the early Hasmonean period."  But the pharisees did not exist when the Scrolls were written.  In another paragraph on p271, Schiffman has: "It appears that the Sadducean sources included laws dating back to pre-Maccabean days, a theory confirmed by comparing this scroll (11QT) with the Halakhic Letter."  The words in itallics show Schiffman's uncertainty, and that he is speculating.  Sadducees did not exist when the scrolls were written.  Sadducees and Pharisees are not mentioned anywhere in the vast quantity of the scroll manuscripts.  The polemic was against the policies of Hasmoneans and the prophets who they supported.  The writers of 11QT and 4QMMT were priests.  So the priests, the writers of the Temple Scroll, were complaining about prophets.  

On p261 of Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, Schiffman wrote: "Because he wanted to claim that the law had been handed down directly by God without the intermediacy of Moses, the author altered the commandments of Deuteronomy, wherein God speaks through Moses, but preserved the language of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, wherein God speaks directly....".   What Schiffman neglected to say was that throughout this long scroll of 11QT, despite its many references to the time of Moses, Moses does not recieve one direct mention at all.  (Schiffman does say on p262: "In one passage the writer/redactor seems to have slipped, allowing an indirect reference").  This of course does not mean that Moses did not exist.  It does, partially at least, mean what Schiffman said.  The writers did not believe in the intermediacy of Moses.  They wrote in 1QH, Hymn 14, p272 of The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Vermes: "For Thou wilt bring Thy glorious salvation to all the men of Thy Council, to those who share a common lot with the Angels of the Face.  And among them shall be no mediator to invoke Thee, and no messenger to make reply; for ... they shall reply according to Thy glorious word and shall be thy princes in the company of the Angels."  They would speak to God directly using the words of the law and as a prince speaks to his king.  And they saw themselves as being in the company of Angels.  But there was more to this than simply the idea of rejecting Moses as an intermediary.  Moses as intermediary was the excuse for rejecting him. 

The writers of 11QT and 1QH had no time for Moses, although he gave them most of the Law.  The real reason for this was because Moses not only legislated for the priests, but the prophets also.  The Temple Scroll doesn't have a good word to say about the prophets.  The first mention of prophets is a hostile warning (11QT 54:9-19, Vermes): "If a prophet or dreamer appears among you and presents you with a sign or a portent, even if the sign or the portent comes true, when he says, 'Let us go and worship other gods whom you have not known!', do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, for I test you to discover whether you love YHWH, the God of your fathers, with all your heart and soul.  It is YHWH, your God, that you must follow and serve, and it is him that you must fear and his voice that you must obey, and you must hold fast to him.  That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for he has preached rebellion against YHWH, your god, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to lead you astray from the from the path I have commanded you to follow.  You shall rid yourself of this evil." This was a thinly veiled instruction to the followers of the writer not to have anything to do with the Jewish prophets.  What kind of God was a prophet going to preach to the priests?   There was a sharp theological difference between the priests and prophets, and thus a sharply different view of what God was like.  The priests were in effect following a different God from the prophets.  The writer craftily conveyed his message as though it was his God speaking, thus: "I test you" and "I have commanded you".  It wasn't his God doing the testing it was the writer himself. 

The second place where prophets are mentioned (11QT 71:1-4, Vermes) is also a hostile warning: ".....to utter a word in my name which I have not commanded him to utter, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall be put to death.  If you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which YHWH has not uttered?', when the word uttered by the prophet is not fulfilled and does not come true, that is not a word that I have uttered.  That prophet has spoken arrogantly; do not fear him."  My question here is: why should the writer have to reassure his readers not to be afraid of a prophet clearly said to be speaking in the name of YHWH?

In Philo's Hypoththetica, 11.1, Eusebius quotes (PE 8.5.11ff) what is supposed to have been written by Philo : "But our lawgiver trained an innumerable body of his pupils to partake in those things, who are called Essenes, being as I imagine, honoured with this appellation because of their exceeding holiness.  And they dwell in many cities of Judaea, and in many villages."  Eusebius, gave the game away.  Philo's original text undoubtedly had Moses as the "our lawgiver" (legislator) for the prophets.  Eusebius obviously hadn't met any.  He could only imagine what they were.  The "Essenes" didn't just appear out of the blue, as in Josephus's extant text.