Among the fragmentary manuscripts of Cave 4 are remnants of two copies of a work on Sabbath law. The connection and overlap between these fragments were discovered in the last decade. The authors of this article propose new readings and conjectural completions of the text represented by these copies, and offer a new discussion of its contents against the background of early tannaitic halacha. Some of the laws contained in this work are not fully attested in other Qumran texts, and their importance for halachic history is considerable. (1) The text prohibits picking up or playing musical instruments on the Sabbath. This prohibition is directed both at private individuals and at the priests engaged in the sacrificial service. It does not only reveal a previously unknown aspect of sectarian halacha, but also facilitates reconstruction of the history of one of the prohibitions categorized as shevut in tannaitic halacha. The law with respect to the priests implies, in view of a passage from the War Scroll, that the members of the Yahad distinguished between the blowing of the trumpets mandated by the Torah, which they permitted on the Sabbath, and the musical accompaniment of the sacrificial service, which they prohibited. It seems that the sect rejected the Pharisaic position on this question, and it is possible that echoes of this dispute may be detected in several rabbinic midrashim. Furthermore, the language of the text allows us to identify the biblical passage which the sect adduced as a source for the obligation to play music in the Temple. (2) The text apparently prohibits reading from a scroll on the Sabbath. This enables us to suggest a new interpretation of Mishna Shabbat 16:1, which mentions Scriptural texts which 'are not read' on the Sabbath, as well as a new understanding of the nature and origin of this ancient prohibition. (3) The text prohibits 'pouring' live coals. It is possible that the word 'before' found adjacent to this fragmentary prohibition indicates that it referred to a prohibition of lighting or transferring a fire before the Sabbath in order to provide heat or light on the Sabbath. If this interpretation is correct, this passage would reveal the ancient beginnings of a dispute which raged in the medieval period.
|Translated title of the contribution||A Qumran Composition on the Laws of the Sabbath and its Contribution to Early Halachic History|
|Number of pages||36|
|State||Published - 2005|