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Keeping Outsiders Out: Impurity At Qumran

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Chapter Summary

This chapter revisits the evidence for the ritual impurity of outsiders at Qumran and hopes to resolve this crux with recently transcribed fragments from Cave 4. Although the texts discussed in this chapter may have various origins, they were adopted and preserved by the community at Qumran and collectively represent a certain general stance toward impurity. It is maintained that the sect considered all outsiders both ritually and morally impure. First, the chapter reviews the general impurity laws related to outsiders and then it discusses the specific status vis-à-vis ritual purity of the non-sectarian Jew, the Gentile and the ger. It offers a rationale as to why the sectarians regarded outsiders impure. The chapter also establishes working distinctions between moral and ritual impurity in the Bible. Even though these categories somewhat oversimplify the matter, they are still helpful.

Keywords: Bible; Cave 4; impurity; non-sectarian Jew; Qumran



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