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Shifting From Priestly To Non-Priestly Legal Authority: A Comparison Of The Damascus Document And The Midrash Sifra

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Chapter Summary

This chapter establishes the presence and authority of a learned priest as a precondition for the formation of a minimal community of ten. The authority of the hereditary priesthood at Qumran, and their priority in matters of battle, judgment, teaching, worship, meeting, and meals, both in the present time and the awaited messianic time, is well-known from the sectarian scrolls. The chapter then qualifies the first, allowing for the possibility that a community might lack a priest with the requisite knowledge and experience, in which case a proficient Levite would fulfill the priestly leadership function, thereby giving expertise the edge over priestly heredity alone. Finally, the chapter deals with a specific area of purity law, skin affections, which demanded a particularly sophisticated expertise, both of the law and of the variety of types of skin affections that had to be recognized and judged in relation to it.

Keywords: Damascus; Dead Sea Scrolls; Midrash Sifra; Qumran



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