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Scrolls And Hand Impurity

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Chapter Summary

According to the author, ovoid and cylindrical jars were used for a variety of storage purposes and are common at Qumran because they were adopted as distinctively shaped containers for the pure goods of the sect. Scrolls were stored in jars because they had a high degree of purity, like the sect's food and drink. However, in rabbinic Judaism Torah scrolls are associated with impurity, defiling the hands of those who touch them. The sectarian custom of storing pure food and drink (analogous to terumah) and scrolls in proximity seems to imitate the custom in the Jerusalem temple, a practice to which the rabbis objected. Yadin suggested that the design of the wrappers was intended to symbolize hiding the scrolls away in the temple, as was the practice in Jerusalem.

Keywords: Jerusalem temple; Qumran; terumah; Torah scrolls



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