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The Festivals of the Month of Nisan. Reprinted from Yigael Yadin, The Temple Scroll, Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem 1983.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

After enumerating the commands on the continual burnt offering (Col. XIII-10-17) and the Sabbath burnt offering (from Col. XIII-17 to the top of Col. XIV), the author of the scroll discusses the burnt offerings for the beginnings of months (the line preceding Col. XIV-1), The text, with certain modifications, is based on NUM. xxviii- 11 f., which comes directly after the specification of the Sabbath burnt offering, as in the scroll. However, the style used in enumerating the cereal and drink offerings is influenced by Num. xv-4 f., which lists the cereal and drink offerings that accompany the sacrifices. In other words, the cereal and the drink offering for each type of animal is specified, and not, as in Num. xxviii, all the cereal offerings first and then all the drink offerings. This text and the ensuing enumeration for the first day of the first month indicate clearly that, as viewed by the author of the scroll, Num. xxviii-11 refers to the beginnings of months in general, and not to the first day of the first month (note the commentary of Ibn Ezra).


After these commands we read- “and on the First day of the month” (Col. XIV-9), after which the sacrifices are set out. The subject is unquestionably the first month, as the continuation treats the days of ordination, the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (see below). As the wordהשנה , “the year”, is preserved at the beginning of 1.10, it is possible to restore השנה ובאחד לחודש ה[ראישון ראוש חודשים ראישון הוא לכמה לחודשי] /, “And on the first day of the [first] month [(shall be) the beginning of months; it shall be the first month] of / the year [for you]”, according to Ex. xii-2, the source that explicitly defines Nisan as the first month of the year. From the list of sacrifices— the male goat sin offering, one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old—it is evident that the text of the scroll is based on Num. xxix- l f.; which deals with the first day of the seventh, month, but the author shortens the biblical text and alters the order of the verses concerning the male goat, which he purposely mentions first (see my comments to the lines). The restoration [יום תרועה יהיה לכמה] is impossible. For if we go by the beginning of 1.11, the end of 1.10 should be restored [ועשיתמה שעיר עזים לחטאת]. The vestiges of letters at the beginning of 1.13 lend colour to the assumption that there, too, a text such as [מ]ל[בד עו]ל[ת החודש was found. That is, the sacrifices of the first day of the first month are to be offered over and above the sacrifices for the beginning of the months, as is the case with the first day of the seventh month.

The opening text itself —ובאחד לחודש ה[ראישון . “And on the first day of the [first] month” — taken from Ezra vii-9 is a1so unmistakably related to Ex. xl-2 and to Ezek. xlv-18, whose subject-matter is discussed afterwards. So we may postulate that the scroll deals with a special festival- the first day of the first month, on which day more sacrifices than those for regular beginnings of the month are to be offered. The author emphasizes that the male goat is to be offered “by itself” (see my comments to Col. XXIV- 10 f), before the other burnt offerings, as on several of the other festivals (see the detailed discussion below, Chapter Three, Section I). As elsewhere in the scroll, the author prescribes that the male goat sin offering requires a cereal and a drink offering (see my comments to Col. XIV- 18).

The clearest parallel to the celebration of the first day of the first month and its sacrifices can be found in the Book of Jubilees, which not only specifics that “he prepared the kid first”, but gives an identical number and identical types of sacrifices. Noah preserves the wine until
the new moon of the first month. And he celebrated with joy the day of this feast, and he made a burnt sacrifice Unto the Lord, one young ox and one ram, and seven sheep, each a year old, and a kid of the goats that he might make atonement thereby for himself and his sons. And he prepared the kid first… (Book of Jubilees vii-2 f.)

The first day of the first month is the day on which, according to the Book of Jubilees and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, several events of particular’ importance took place- Jacob arrived at Bethel on the eve of the first day of the first month (Book of Jubilees xxvii-19), and Levi (ibid., xxviii-14) and Kohath (excerpt from the Testament of Levi) were born on this day.

Of course, the significance of the first day of the first month is linked with the construction of the Tabernacle- “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting” (Ex. xl-2). It is also linked with the anointing of the priests, and so forth (but on this and on Ezek. xlv- 18 see the discussion below on the days of ordination). See also- “for on the first day of the first month that was the foundation (יסד) of the going up from Babylonia” (Ezra vii- 9). It was also on this day that the abandonment of foreign wives was completed (Ezra x- 17). Compare also “That day (the first of Nisan) took ten crowns” (BT Shabbath 87b).

The author of the scroll views the first day of the first month as one to be celebrated by offering the same sacrifices offered on the first day of the seventh month. The year is thereby divided into two equal parts of six months each, with the beginning of each part marked in the same way. In a sense, the author enjoins two beginnings of the year, a notion that is reflected in the sect’s prescription that the number of priestly courses shall be twenty-six.

Pages 89-91

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