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Miqzat Ma’ase ha-Torah: Laws of Sacrifice and Purity (Martinez)

The Dead Sea Scrolls
This fragmentary text (also known as MMT) outlines the halakhic disagreements of the Dead Sea sectarians with the ruling Hasmoneans and the Pharisaic teachers in Jerusalem concerning the Temple service. It appears that the sectarians took the views of the Sadducean priesthood which was ousted from prominence in Temple affairs in 152 B.C.E. Their inability to control Temple ritual to their satisfaction caused them to leave Jerusalem and to establish their sect in the Judean Desert. For this reason, MMT may be viewed as a foundation document for the Dead Sea sect. The text shows that the schism leading to the formation of the Dead Sea sect was over issues of Jewish law which was at the center of religious life in Second Temple times.

These are some of our regulations [concerning the law of G]od, which are pa[rt of] 5 the
precepts we [are examining and] they [a]ll relate to … 6 and the purity of […] …
[Concerning the offering of the] wheat of the Gen[tiles which they…] 7 and they touch it
[…] and they defi[le it- you shall not eat it.] 8 [None] of the wheat of the Gentiles shall be
brought into the temple…. And concerning the sacrifice] 9 which they cook in vessels [of
bronze…] 10 the flesh of their sacrifices and […] in the courtyard the […] 11 with the
broth of their sacrifices. And concerning the sacrifice of the Gentiles- [we say that they
sacrifice] 12 […] [And concerning the thank-offerings] 13 which they postpone from one
day to another, w[e think] 14 that the ce[real]-offering [should be eaten] with the fats and
the meat on the day of their sa[crifice, and that the] 15 priests should oversee in this
matter in such a way that the [sons of Aaron] do not 16 lead the people into error.

And also in what pertains to the purity of the red heifer in the sin offering- 17 that
whoever slaughters it and whoever burns it and whoever collects the ash and whoever
sprinkles the [water of] 18 purification, all these ought to be pure at sunset, 19 so that
whoever is pure sprinkles the impure. For the sons of 20 [Aaron] ought [to be…] 21 [And
concerning the] hides of cat[tle and the flocks, we think that….] 22 the vessels of[hide…
] 23 [in order to bring] them into the tem[ple… ] 24 […] And also concerning the hid[es
and the bones of the unclean animals; they shall not make,] 25 ]from their bones] and
from their hides, handles of ves[sels. And also, concerning the carcasses] 26 [of the]
clean [animals]- the one who [carries] its carcass [shall not approach the holy purity] 27
[…] And also concerning […] which they […] 28 [… for] 29 the priests ought to com[ply
with all these] things [so that they do not] 30 lead the people into sin.

And concerning what is written- Lev 17-3, [“When a man slaughters within the camp”—
they] 31 [slaughter] outside the camp—”a bull, or a [she]ep or a she-goat”- the pl[ace of
slaughter is to the north of the camp.] 32 And we think that the temple [is the place of the
tent of meeting, and Je]rusalem 33 is the camp; and outside the camp is [outside
Jerusalem;] it is the camp of 34 their cities. Outside the ca[mp…] […] You shall remove
the ashes 35 from the altar and bur[n there the sin-offering, for Jerusalem] is the place
which 36 [he chose from among all the tribes of Israel…] 37 […] 38 […they] do not
slaughter in the temple […] 39 [And concerning pregnant animals, we think that] the
mother and offspring [should not be sacrificed] on the same day 40 [… And concerning
who eats, w]e think that one can eat the offspring 41 [which was in the womb of his
mother after she has been slaughtered; and you know that] this is so and that this matter is
written down; the pregnant 42 […And concerning the Ammonite and the Moabite and the
bastard and the one with crushed testicles and one with sever]ed penis, if these enter 43
[the assembly…and] take a bone 44 […] 45 […] we think 46 […] concerning these 47
[…that they should not] join them and make them 48 […] and not be brou[ght] 49 [into
the temple…. And you know that some] of the people 50 …some associating with others.
51 [Because the sons of Israel ought to keep themselves from all] uncleanness of the male
52 and be respectful towards the temple.

And also concerning flowing liquids- we say that in these there is no 59 purity. Even
flowing liquids cannot separate unclean 60 from clean because the moisture of flowing
liquids and their containers is 61 the same moisture. And into the holy camp dogs should
not be brought which 62 could eat some of the bones from the te[mple…] the flesh on
them. Because 63 Jerusalem is the holy camp, the place 64 which He has chosen from
among all the tribes ofIs[rael, since Jer]usalem is the head 65 of the camps of Israel….

92 [And you know that] we have segregated ourselves from the rest of the peop[le and
(that) we avoid] 93 mingling in these affairs and associating with them in these things.
And you k[now that there is not] 94 to be
found in our actions deceit or betrayal or evil, for concerning [these things w]e give
[…and further] 95 to you we have wr[itten] that you must understand the book of Moses
[and the words of the pro]phets and of David [and the annals] 96 [of eac]h generation.

And in the book it is written […] not to 97 […] And further it is written that [you shall
stray] from the path and you will undergo evil. And it is written 98 […] and we
determined […] 99 […] And it is written that 100 [all] these [things] shall happen to you at
the end of days, the blessing 101 and the curse [. . . and you shall ass]ent in your heart
and turn to me with all your heart 102 [and with a]ll your soul […at the e]nd [of time]
and you shall be […] 103 [And it is written in the book of] Moses and in [the words of the
prop]hets that [blessings and curses] will come upon you which […] 104 [the bl]essings
which c[ame upon] him in the days of Solomon the son of David and also the curses 105
which came upon him from the [days of Je]roboam son of Nebat right up to the capture
of Jerusalem and of Zedekiah, king of Judah 106 [that] he should bring them in […].

And we are aware that part of the blessings and curses have occurred 107 that are
written in the b[ook of Mo]ses. And this is the end of days, when they will repent in
Israel 108 for [ever…] and not backslide […] but the wicked will act wickedly and […]
109 And […] remember the kings of Israel and reflect on their deeds, how whoever of
them 110 who respected [the Torah] was freed from his afflictions; those who sought the
Torah 111 [were forgiven] their sins. Remember David, one of the “pious,” and he, too,
112 was freed from his many afflictions and was forgiven.

And also we have written to you 113 some of the precepts of the Torah which we think
are good for you and for your people, for in you [we saw] 114 intellect and knowledge of
the Torah. Reflect on all these matters and seek from him so that he may support 115
your counsel and keep far from you the evil scheming and the counsel of Belial, 116 so
that at the end of time, you may rejoice in finding that some of our words are true. 117
And it shall be reckoned to you as just when you do what is upright and good before him,
for your good 118 and that of Israel.

56. Garcia Martinez,The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, pp. 77-9.

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