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Cherchez les femmes: Were the yahad Celibates?

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This article challenges the consensual view that the yahad were a celibate group by raising the following arguments: (1) The silence of the Community Rule regarding women and family cannot attest to celibacy, since there are no passages in the scrolls which refer to celibacy; (2) The passage in CD 7:3–10 should not be regarded as alluding to the celibacy of the yahad; (3) Comparisons with early-modern sects attest to the centrality of celibacy in the group ideology, hence it is impossible that celibacy was self-understood; (4) 4Q502 Ritual of Marriage mentions marriage, reproduction and children, and bears several lexical affinities with 1QS and other compositions of the yahad. Therefore, it should be related to the yahad. Consequently, the sweeping identification of the yahad with the (mainly celibate) Essenes seems problematic.

Affiliations: 1: Martin (Szusz) department for Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel;, Email:


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