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Creating Community Halakhah

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Chapter Summary

The first part of this chapter briefly discusses the oath of the candidates in its textual contexts as descriptions of community practice. The second part analyzes the relevant sections of the Community Rule and the Damascus Document especially in the light of the redactional development illumined by the Cave 4 material. The third part demonstrates that it was not always scriptural exegesis, but it was sometimes the exigencies of community life that generated halakhah. The oath to be sworn when entering the community is discussed in 1QS 5:7-20, CD 15:5-16:6, and the Jewish War of Josephus. The Damascus Document identifies the oath of the candidate more broadly with "the covenant that Moses made with Israel". The Essene community clearly understood itself as the true representative of Israel, and considered its own existence as fulfilling the Mosaic ideal assigned to God's people.

Keywords: Community Rule; Damascus Document; Essene community; halakhah; Israel; Josephus; Moses



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