Qumran Sabbath, Naphtali Wieder, The Judean Scrolls and Karaism, East and West Library, London 1962.


2 Sh. Talmon (Scripta Hierosolymitana, iv, pp. 187ff.) explains the association of the Sabbath with the festivals in the Damascus Document by the assumption that the Qumran sect reckoned the Sabbath from sunrise to sunrise and not from sunset to sunset, as practised by normative Judaism and Karaites alike. This assumption is flatly controverted by the following halakhah in CDC, x, 14–17- ‘Let no man do any work on the sixth day from the time when the orb of the sun is distant from the gate by its own diameter, for that is what He said, Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Deut. 5, 12).’ Talmon proposes to eliminate this clear evidence by declaring the halakhah cited to have been altered by ‘the copyist of the Damascus Document, who lived in the 10th–11th centuries (or one of his predecessors), whether a Karaite or a Rabbanite’, who ‘adjusted the text to the current laws prevailing in his community’. This method of eliminating a crucial piece of evidence is hardly admissible. It is instructive to remind ourselves of a similar solution of a vexed problem which has recently been disproved. I refer to the explanation given by a number of students (including the present writer, see JJS, iv [1953], p. 168, note 2) for the singular expression ‘the Messiah of Aaron and Israel’ in CDC, xiv, 19, instead of the plural ‘the Messiahs’ as in DSD, ix, II, as being due to a correction on the part of the mediaeval scribe. In fact, the singular of the mediaeval copy has now been confirmed by the oldest exemplar of the Damascus Document found in Qumran Cave IV (4QDb). See Milik, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea, p. 125. Another solution will now have to be found for this discrepancy.

As for Talmon’s argument from DSD, x, 10–14, mentioning the morning prayer first, the fact should be noted that Rabbanite prayer-books begin the order of prayers with the morning service, whereas Karaite prayer-books with the evening service. It goes without saying that one cannot take this fact as evidence of a difference of opinion concerning the beginning of the day and conclude that the Rabbanites reckoned the day from the morning and the Karaites from the evening. Talmon contrasts the passage in DSD with the Mishnah Berakhoth which deals first with the evening Shema‘ and ‘only afterwards does the tractate concern itself with the reading of the Shema‘ in the morning’. Rabbanite prayer-books concern themselves, as said, first with the morning prayers, but nobody would think of deducing from this that there existed a disparity as to the beginning of the day between the Jews in mishnaic times and those in subsequent ages [see Addenda].

Pages 54-55

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