Qumran Phylactery, 1st century CE


Tefillin from the Dead Sea Scrolls Sect

Date- 1st c. CE

Current Location- Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

Language and Script- Hebrew, alphabetic


Qumran Phylactery

General Information-

The Bible speaks of three main covenantal symbols between Israel and God. They are the Sabbath, male circumcision, and wearing Totafot, or phylacteries, on the head and arm. As often occurs in the Torah, little explanation of the mitzvah, or commandment, to wear phylacteries is given. This is where the Oral Tradition comes into play and fleshes out the details. Known to the Rabbis and to this day as Tefillin, these objects are black leather amulets that are to be strapped onto both forehead and arm and that contain four religious texts on small, folded-over parchments. There are long-standing discrepancies that follow along sectarian lines over which texts ought to be included. For instance, Samaritans use the Ten Commandments as one of the texts in their Tefillin, while the Rabbis did not. Even within Rabbinic Judaism, a controversy regarding phylacteries percolated in the Middle Ages. Rashi and his grandson, Rabbenu Tam, disagreed on the order of the texts. One of the earliest-known phylacteries was discovered in the caves at Qumran along with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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