The King, His Guard, and the Royal Council in the Temple Scroll, Lawrence H. Schiffman, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 54 (1987).


The publication of the Temple Scroll by the late Professor Yigael Yadin1 was expected to resolve many of the longstanding issues pertaining to the Dead Sea corpus as a whole and its place in the history of Judaism in the Second Commonwealth period. Despite the truly momentous nature of this discovery, the results have been very different. The scroll has opened up a host of new questions which scholars in the field are just now beginning to address.2 Whereas it was believed by Yadin that this new scroll was authored by the sectarians of Qumran (whom he identifies as the Essenes of Philo and Josephus) and that it echoed their beliefs and teachings, it is now increasingly recognized that the scroll was authored by either a predecessor of the Qumran sect or by a related group.3 It is now clear that the final version of this document was redacted and that the redactor had before him earlier (or at least preexistent) materials.4 For these reasons, issues of dating and provenance have become extremely important in the study of this scroll.

The scroll consists of two types of material. Much of it is simply rewritten, or reedited, Pentateuch. These materials reflect the exegesis of the author(s) and his views on matters of sacrificial and cultic law, as well as various other ancillary topics. Other sections include newly composed text which is not biblical. These passages offer the best opportunity for dating and for the identification of the author or authors (or redactors) since here the spirit of the text is given free rein. Such original passages are always integrated within a framework of rewritten Torah. The most prominent example of such a section, including both rewritten Torah and original composition, in fact the most extensive example of original composition in the entire scroll, is the section now termed the Law of the King (TS 56-12–60-21).5

This study will examine in detail the various regulations regarding the king, his bodyguard, and his council in the Temple Scroll. Any information which will help to date the scroll, or at least to date the section being analyzed, will be considered. The laws of war dealt with here will be skipped over as they have been discussed in another paper in which they are compared to parallels from the Deuteronomic collection at the end of the scroll.6

Literary analysis has shown that the Law of the King should be regarded as a separate unit within the text. The Law of the King was available to the final author/redactor of the Temple Scroll who incorporated it into his work, as he incorporated other collections as well.7 The scroll begins with the command to build a sanctuary in Ex. 34–35 and then works through the end of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers extracting the materials related to the sanctuary and the sacrificial system. The author gathers all the details regarding a specific topic around the first occurrence of the subject. In this way he reedits and reredacts the Pentateuchal legislation, often making use as well of material from the Prophets and the Writings. When he reaches the conclusion of the laws of purity and impurity discussed in Leviticus and Numbers, he turns to various topics in Deuteronomy.8 Thus he found himself at Deut. 17-14–20 which deals with the laws of monarchy. At this point he inserted a previously existing text, the Law of the King. Afterwards, he presented a Deuteronomic collection which, unlike the rest of the scroll, is not the result of a type of midrashic exegesis, but rather, is simply a quotation or paraphrase of Scripture. This Deuteronomic collection concludes with the discussion of consanguineous marriages in Deut. 23 which leads to some passages from Leviticus. With this, the scroll comes to an end. It is our view that the Deuteronomic collection was created by the final author/redactor to create the impression that his scroll was a complete Torah, including the legal prescriptions of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The Law of the King represents an expansion and interpretation of Deut. 17-14–20. The following topics are treated-

(1) The commandment to appoint a king (TS 56-12–14),

(2) the requirement that the king be Jewish (TS 56-15–16),

(3) the limitations on the king’s power (TS 56-15–19),

(4) the commandment for the king to write a Torah (TS 56-0–57-1),

(5) the king’s obligation to muster an army (TS 57-1–5),

(6) the king’s guard (TS 57-5–11),

(7) the king’s council (TS 57-11–15),

(8) laws pertaining to the marriage of the king (TS 57-15–19),

(9) prohibitions on corruption of the king (TS 57-19–21),

(10) the law of defensive warfare (TS 58-3–11),

(11) the division of spoils (TS 58-11–15),

(12) the law of offensive warfare (TS 58-15–21),

(13) the curse and the blessing (TS 59-2–21).9

This study will take up most of these sections, omitting only 5, 6, 10, 11 and 12 which are discussed in our study of the laws of war in the Temple Scroll. After investigating the provisions of our text, we will discuss the relevance of this passage to the dating and provenance of the scroll.10

The Commandment to Appoint a King

TS 56-12–14 sets forth the obligation to establish a monarchy-

כי תבוא אל הארץ אשר אנוכי נותן לכה וירשתה וישבתה בה ואמרתה אשימה עלי מלך ככול הגואים אשר סביבותי שם תשים עליכה מלך אשר אבחר בו.

When you enter the land which I am giving you, and you take possession of it and dwell in it, and you say, “I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,” you shall (Yadin- “may”) set as king over you the one whom I choose.

This passage is virtually identical to Deut. 17-14–15, except that, as is his general technique, the author or redactor has replaced the third person “which the Lord your God is giving you” with the first person. This is intended to emphasize that this rewritten Torah, the Temple Scroll, is the direct revelation of God, which has not been delivered through any intermediary.11

Significantly, the author of the Law of the King considers it an obligation for the Jewish people to be ruled by a monarch. Lest this contention be challenged on the assumption that the biblical text which he reproduces is itself vague on whether the appointment of a king is an option or a requirement, we should note that the Law of the King is in its entirety a statement of law. Indeed the entire Temple Scroll is an attempt to construct an ideal society which is intended to replace the present order in the period in which the scroll was redacted. It is not a Messianic document, but rather, a revisionist text.12 This scroll contains nothing but obligations, from beginning to end. The monarchy is required.

The requirement that a king be appointed is most likely a critique of the early Hasmonean rulers who, while serving as high priests, arrogated to themselves the temporal powers of the king.13 Our author, in discussing the laws of offensive warfare (TS 58-15–21) certainly emphasized that the duties of these offices are to remain separate. The king may not undertake offensive war without the authorization of the high priest who himself must consult the oracle of the Urim and Thummim. Our passage requires a king, and he is to be distinct from the high priest.

The narrative in 1 Sam. 8 certainly gives the impression that the establishment of a monarchy was considered to be a concession to the weakness of the people (verses 7–8), and Deuteronomy is itself ambiguous. Josephus (Ant. IV, viii, 17 [224]) takes it as optional declaring that aristocracy is the best form of polity. Philo (Special Laws IV, 157) seems to assume that kingship is prescribed by the Torah.14 Tannaitic literature attests to controversy over whether or not the appointment of a king was a commandment.15 From the baraitot in B. Sanhedrin 20b it appears that the majority view was that there is a commandment to establish a monarchy. The author of the Law of the King takes this same view.16

The Requirement that the King be Jewish

TS 56-14–15 specifies that the king must be of Jewish descent-

מקרב אחיכה תשים עליך מלך. לוא תתן עליכה איש נוכרי אשר לוא אחיכה הוא.

You must set one of your (own) brethren over you as king. You may not set a foreigner over you, one who is not your brother.

This law is an almost verbatim quotation of Deut. 17-15. The only change is that Masoretic lo’ tukhal la-tet, literally, “you are not able to set,” has been replaced with lo’ titten, “you may not,” or “you must not set.” Yadin’s suggestion that this change is to accentuate the Masoretic text17 is far from the mark. The real purpose of the change is to eliminate the possibility of interpreting the establishment of a monarchy as optional. The requirements are to be presented as absolute.

The Jewish status of the king was taken as required by all interpreters in view of its explicitness in the text of Deuteronomy.18 The Jewishness of kings became an issue only with Herod, whose mother was not Jewish but whose father was. Josephus’s report regarding Herod (Ant. XIV, xv, 2 [399–405]) certainly shows evidence of a definition of Jewish status based on the mother’s descent, and we have shown elsewhere that this same conception is found already in Ezra 9-2, 10-2 and 10 (cf. Neh. 13-23).19 At the same time, there is nothing in the Temple Scroll to indicate how Jewishness was determined.

The Limitations on the King’s Power

Following Scripture, the scroll continues with a series of prescriptions which circumscribes the powers of the monarch (TS 56-15–19)-

רק לוא ירבה לו סוס ולוא ישיב את העם מצרים למלחמה למען הרבות לו סוס וכסף וזהב. ואנוכי אמרתי לכה לוא תוסיף לשוב בדרך הזואת עוד. ולוא ירבה לו נשים ולוא יסירו לבבו מאחרי וכסף וזהב לוא ירבה לו מואדה.

But he may not keep for himself many horses nor may he send the people back to Egypt for war in order to accumulate for himself horses, silver and gold. For I have said to you, “You may never go back that way again.” Nor may he have many wives, lest they turn his heart from following me, nor may he accumulate for himself silver and gold to excess.

This, of course, is an adaptation of Deut. 17-16–17. Here, however, the changes are considerable. The author has adapted the text so that God speaks in the first person, a phenomenon already seen above. The use of the singular sus, “horse,” for MT susim is intended to harmonize with the use of the singular below. Since the author is providing a series of restrictions addressed to the king, he replaces lakhem with lekhah (in Qumran orthography), and tosifun with tosif.

The author of this section has added the word la-milhamah, “for war,” to Deuteronomy’s restriction on sending the people back to Egypt. This addition is intended to eliminate the ambiguity of the verse. The author sees the prohibition as covering only military action, whereas, we may presume, commercial activity such as that of Solomon, is to be considered permissible in his opinion. This view contrasts sharply with an explanatory gloss added to a baraita’ in P. Sanhedrin 10-8 (end, 29d) which permits returning to Egypt for trade, business and to conquer the land.20 That our scroll, like the Palestinian Talmud, permits going to Egypt for business is certain. Our author, however, prohibits military action in Egypt. The Deuteronomic text states that the king’s motivation for returning the people to Egypt is the accumulation of horses. In the Temple Scroll, wealth in the form of silver and gold are added by analogy with the latter part of the Deuteronomic text. Perhaps some historical event led the author to the conclusion that such action must be explicitly prohibited for it is difficult to find any exegetical basis for this law.

Josephus (Ant. XIII, x, 1 [273]) states that the unrest in Syria “gave Hyrcanus leisure to exploit Judea undisturbed, with the result that he amassed a limitless sum of money.”21 His extensive military campaigns outside the boundaries of Judea22 no doubt contributed further wealth to his coffers. While it is true that the Tobiads also profited greatly from their political activity,23 Hyrcanus’ time would provide a likely setting for the repetition of the Torah’s legislation against the king’s sending his people to war to increase his own wealth.

Finally, whereas the Masoretic text has we-lo’ yasur levavo, the scroll has we-lo’ yasiru levavo. This change is intended to emphasize that it is his many wives who are expected to lead the king astray from the ways of the Lord. The same interpretation is found in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, the Peshitta, and in the views of Rabbi Judah (bar Ilai) and Rabbi Simeon (bar Yohai) in M. Sanhedrin 2-4.24

The Writing of the King’s Torah

Following the order of the canonical Book of Deuteronomy, the Law of the King now takes up the requirement that the king write a Torah for himself (TS 56-20–57-1)-

והיה בשבתו על כסא ממלכתו וכתבו לו את התורה הזואת על ספר מלפני הכוהנים [ןהלויים …]. וזואת התורה [אשר יכתבו לו מלפני ]הכוהנים.

When he sits on his royal throne, they shall write for him this law (Torah), in a book before the [Levitical] priests. [Yadin restores lines 01–06 based on Deut. 17-19–20.]25 And this is the law (Torah) [which they shall write for him from before] the priests-

Several important changes have been introduced. The canonical text, we-khatav lo, “he shall write,” requires the king to actually copy his Torah, whereas our scroll, we-khatevu lo, “they shall write for him,” expects the copying to be done by others. This represents an exegesis of the text similar to that of the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan which expects that “the elders” (savaya’) will do the copying. This interpretation appears to be in contrast to M. Sanhedrin 2-4 which assumes that the king himself will write his Torah.26 Philo (Special Laws IV, 160) also expects the king to write the Torah with his own hand.27 Yet the emphasis in M. Sanhedrin 2-4 and T. Sanhedrin 4-7 on li-shemo, “for himself,” as explained in the Tosefta to mean that the writing must be for his own sake, certainly indicates that the tannaim permitted the scroll to be written by others, provided that it was done on the new king’s behalf. It appears then that tannaitic sources are in complete agreement with our scroll on this question.28

A second change raises the issue of what is to be written. Deut. 17-18 mentions mishneh ha-torah ha-zot. The Temple Scroll, however, refers to ha-torah ha-zot. Furthermore, in the transitional sentence between the sections of Pentateuchal legislation discussed so far and the original compositions of the author of the Law of the King, what follows is introduced with we-zot ha-torah (TS 57-1). Indeed, the view of the author of the Law of the King as it appears in the scroll, not the book of Deuteronomy as expected by the Septuagint and Philo,29 and certainly not the entire Pentateuch as required in tannaitic tradition.30 The suggestion that the entire Temple Scroll is to be written by the king31 cannot be accepted in light of the explicit statement of the text to the contrary.32

Our scroll next turns to the king’s obligation to muster an army (TS 57-1–5). We have treated this law in our study of “The Laws of War in the Temple Scroll,” and will therefore omit it from consideration here.

The Royal Guard

TS 57-5–11 deals with the organization and duties of the royal guard-

וברר לו מהמה אלף אלף מן המטה להיות עמו שנים עשר אלף איש מלחמה אשר לוא יעזבוהו לבדו ויתפש ביד הגואים. וכול הברורים אשר יבור יהיו אנשי אמת יראי א-לוהים שונאי בצע וגבורי חיל למלחמה. והיו עמו תמיד יומם ולילה אשר יהיו שומרים אותו מכול דבר חט ומן גוי נכר אשר לוא יתפש בידמה.

He (the king) shall choose for himself from them (those he has mustered) one thousand from each tribe to be with him, twelve thousand warriors, who will not leave him alone, lest he be captured by the nations (or “the non-Jews”). And all those selected whom he shall chose shall be trustworthy men, who fear God, who spurn unjust gain, and mighty men of war. They shall be with him always, day and night, so that they will guard him from any sinful thing, and from a foreign nation, lest he be captured by them.

The king is required to select twelve thousand men, one thousand from each tribe, to serve as a palace guard. They must never leave him, lest he be captured by foreign enemies, or fall into transgression. The members of the guard are to be honest, Godfearing men, of the highest military prowess.33

The Scriptural sources which served as the basis of this legislation are not difficult to discern. The number 12,000 appears in Num. 31-3–4 which described the army sent to war against the Midianites. Indeed, this same account served our author as the source for the laws of the division of the spoils of war in TS 58-11–15. It is impossible to know why the author of the Law of the King chose this biblical model for his royal guard. Perhaps he saw it as representing the elite of Israel’s armed men. Furthermore, Solomon had 12,000 horsemen (1 Kings 5-6, 10-26).34 The description of the men to be chosen is based on Ex. 18-21 which describes the officers appointed by Moses at Jethro’s suggestion to relieve him of the task of dispensing justice to the entire nation.35 The mention of officers of thousands and hundreds in both the Exodus and Numbers passages may have influenced the author to combine them in his text.

This guard and the council described immediately afterwards (TS 57-11–15) constitute the major governmental reforms called for by the author of the Law of the King. These represent not original ideas, but rather demands that the long existing royal guard and gerousia be reformed in their structure, composition and functions. In the case of the military guard, the men are to be representatives of the people of Israel, men of the highest possible standards. This is certainly aimed at a revision of the Hasmonean approach, followed from the time of John Hyrcanus on, of employing foreign mercenaries.36 The author demands Jews who are not only more trustworthy in his view, but who will keep the king from transgressing. Apparently, the author regarded the Hasmonean rulers as absorbing too much of the foreign influence of their mercenaries.

The purpose of the guard was to prevent the capture of the king. The elaborate arrangements for the royal guard presented in the Law of the King can only be understood against the background of the last days of Jonathan the Hasmonean. Jonathan had successfully maneuvered himself politically among the various Seleucid pretenders until at last he allied himself with Trypho. The latter feared his ally and therefore hatched a plot to capture him. Keeping only three thousand men with him, Jonathan was induced to travel with Trypho to Ptolemais (Acre), where he was seized and his guards killed. Simon attempted to pay his brother’s ransom, but Trypho murdered him nonetheless (1 Macc. 12-39–13-24, cf. Ant. XIII, vi, 1–6 [187–212]).

An interesting parallel has been noted between the description of the royal guard in the Temple Scroll and that of the Egyptian king as portrayed in the writings of Diodorus Siculus (I, 70, first century B.C.E.) who claims to derive his information from Hecataeus of Abdera (fourth century B.C.E.). Diodorus tells us that the conduct of the king was regulated by laws, and that sacred writings were to be recited before him, so that he would contemplate “excellent general principles.” The royal guards had to be free men, descendants of the priests, over twenty, and educated. By attending the monarchy day and night, they would prevent him from following “low practices.”37 Clearly, the author of the Law of the King was not alone in his belief that ensuring the righteous behavior of the king was among the duties of his guard.

The author of the Law of the King recognizes and accepts the need for a royal guard. On the other hand, he radically alters the existing system. He must have realized that foreign mercenaries are often considered more reliable than natives by oppressive rulers. His demand implies rule by a king who can trust his subjects to defend him, a king who reflects the life of Torah which the scroll as a whole demands for the Jewish people.

The King’s Council

TS 57-11–15 describes the royal council, the second of the author’s major innovations in regard to government-

ושנים עשר נשיי עמו ומן הכוהנים שנים עשר ומן הלויים שנים עשר אשר יהיו יושבים עמו יחד למשפט ולתורה. ולוא ירום לבבו מהמה ולוא יעשה כול דבר לכול עצה חוץ מהמה.

Twelve princes of his (the king’s) people (shall be) with him, as well as twelve of the priests and twelve of the Levites, so that they will sit together with him for judgments and for (reaching decisions about) the law (Torah). He may not act haughtily to them, nor do anything regarding any decision apart from them.

Our text requires that at all times the king be accompanied by a council of twelve princes, twelve priests and twelve Levites. This evenly divided gerousia of thirty-six must be available for consultation by the king at any time, especially regarding matters of justice and rulings of law. He is forbidden to act on any matter without consulting them.

The composition of this council, including as it does priests, Levites and Israelites, should not surprise us in light of the various institutions of similar composition attested in the Qumran sectarian corpus, as well as the tannaitic requirement that an attempt be made to include priests and Levites in the courts.38 This apparently was a unanimous view in early Jewish sources, although the application of this principle differs in the various texts. Further, the number twelve also figures prominently in sectarian literature.39

The text speaks of twelve princes, clearly representing the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Num. 1-44, etc.). The system of twelve tribes functions prominently in the Temple Scroll, and it can certainly be assumed that the redactor, at least, intended us to understand the twelve princes as representatives of the tribes. In the ideal world of the author/redactor, the ancient Israelite tribal organization would function, and this division would be represented in the architectural plan of the ideal Temple (TS 39-12–13, 40-13–41-11). Again, our author calls for the institution of this approach in his own day, not in some far off, Messianic era. While the author is clearly aware of the ambiguity of the case of Joseph, often divided in the Pentateuch into Ephraim and Menasseh, he usually regards Levi as one of the twelve and Ephraim and Menasseh as one (TS 39-12, 40-14, 41-05). The Law of the King must differ, however, since it is hard to imagine that the descendants of Levi would receive twelve priestly and twelve Levitical seats on the council, and then that one of the representatives of the Israelites would be a Levite.

What is of especial significance is that our author calls for this evenly divided council which must approve all the king’s decisions. Such a body existed in pre- and post-Maccabean times in Judea. It must have been modeled on the ancient biblical council of elders (zeqenim), although such representative bodies were found throughout the ancient world. The letter to the Jews from Antiochus III specifically mentions the gerousia as representing the people (Ant. XX, iii, 3 [138]). Its members appear together with the priests and scribes (para. 142). In the time of Antiochus IV such a body also functioned (2 Macc. 11-27), and a gerousia is associated as well with Judah in the letter to the Jews of Egypt (2 Macc. 1-10). In a letter to the Spartans Jonathan appears with the gerousia, the priests and the rest of the Jews (1 Macc. 12-6=Ant. XIII, v, 8 [166]). It is most likely that 1 Maccabees, like Judith, which refers to a gerousia several times (4-8, 11-14, 15-8), was originally written in Hebrew. In that case, the terminology would be attributable to the translator’s impressions of the historical context and not necessarily to the actual reality.40 Josephus (Ant. IV, viii, 17 [224]), in recapitulating the law of Deuteronomy, requires that the king have the consent of the high priest and the gerousia for all decisions. Philo (Special Laws IV, 174–175) says that the king should listen to the advice of his councillors, but no further specifics are provided.

We can assume that the composition of the gerousia varied according to the preferences of the king and the political alignment of the various parties (known usually as sects) of Second Temple Judaism. Our author calls for a fixed representation giving equal weight to the three “estates” of the Jewish community. On the other hand, by giving priestly and Levitical representatives a clear majority of two-thirds, the Law of the King insures the prominence given to cultic matters about which the author/redactor of the complete Temple Scroll was so concerned. The scroll guarantees that the king will function according to the law as the author sees it. Effectively, the king is to be controlled by the religious leaders of the people, identified by the author as the priests and the Levites.

The context is again the Hasmonean period. At least for the period of John Hyrcanus it is known that he was supported by a coalition of Pharisees and Sadducees. This coalition must have been reflected in the gerousia. The difficulties of this arrangement are documented in the famous banquet account known from Josephus (Ant. XIII, x, 5 [288–295] and tannaitic literature (B. Qiddushin 66a, referring to Yannai ha-melekh).41 Our author demands the replacement of the coalition of parties with an evenly mandated representation which gives the majority to the advocates of what he regards as sanctity, purity and holiness. Under the guidance of these leaders, the king would rule the nation in accord with the Torah as presented in the Temple Scroll.

The laws pertaining to the king’s marriage, prescribing that he must marry a Jewish woman (perhaps from his own clan), that he may only have one wife, and that he may only remarry if his wife dies, are taken up in TS 57-15–19. Because of the complex relationship of these laws to those of the Zadokite Fragments, they will have to await a separate study of the marriage laws of the Temple Scroll.

The Prohibition of Corruption

The final law to be treated here is the requirement that the king refrain from unjust practices (TS 57-19–21)-

ולוא יטה משפט ולוא יקח שוחד להטות משפט צדק. ולוא יחמוד שדה וכרם וכול הון ובית וכול חמוד בישראל וגזל.

He (the king) may not pervert justice, nor may he take a bribe to pervert a righteous (correct?) judgment. He may not covet a field or a vineyard, nor any wealth or house, nor any object of delight in Israel and rob…

Two forms of corruption are singled out here. The king may not engage in the perversion of the system of justice, especially in the taking of bribes. Further, he may not use his powers to confiscate or otherwise take possession of the property of his subjects, whether monetary or real.
The law found here is clearly derived from Deut. 16-19,42 which is understood by our text to be directed to the king, rather than to the entire people. The appointment of judges and bailiffs described in verse 18 was likewise understood by the Law of the King to refer to the ruler’s obligation to appoint military officers (TS 57-3–5). Indeed, Deut. 16-18–20 serves in TS 51-11–18 as the basis for the obligation to establish courts and judge fairly and honestly. An addition to the Pentateuchal text tells us that bribery renders the Temple impure (line 14), and a second addition prescribes the death penalty for anyone who takes a bribe or perverts justice (lines 16–18). The appearance of this biblical passage in two places in the Temple Scroll is a further argument for the view that the Law of the King was already composed before being redacted into the scroll. The association of Deut. 16-19 with the king was conditioned by 1 Sam. 8-3 which relates that “His (Samuel’s) sons did not follow in his ways but inclined to unjust gain, took bribes and perverted justice.” (It was this situation which led the elders to demand that Samuel appoint a king [verses 4–5]). Philo (Special Laws IV, 169) speaks of the “law-abiding ruler” “who is impervious to bribes and gives just judgments justly and ever exercises himself in the laws.”43 Philo clearly applied the same passages in Deut. 16 to the king as did the Temple Scroll.

The second part of this law is somewhat more complex. It is derived from 1 Sam. 8-14 and Micah 2-2.44 Yet behind it there is certainly an exegesis of the root hmd, usually translated as “covet.” The tannaim, in analyzing Ex. 20-14, take this root to refer to acquiring an object which the owner does not really want to sell.45 Maimonides explains that one who “covets (homed)… pressures him through many friends and entreats him until he buys it from him.” Such a person has violated, in tannaitic law, the commandment against “coveting,” which represents a forbidden action, not just an emotion.46 Our scroll takes this verb in the same sense. It is forbidden for the king to pressure his subjects into selling him any of their possessions, regardless of the price. This would be an abuse of the royal power such as that perpetrated by Ahab whose original idea was to pressure Naboth into exchanging or selling his vineyard (1 Kings 21-2, 6). The king’s power is again limited, and the rights of his subjects to their ancestral possessions are in this way protected by the Law of the King. (The laws of defensive war, division of spoils, and offensive war follow in the scroll. These are treated by us elsewhere.)

The Curse and the Blessing

The Law of the King concludes with an adaptation of the treaty curses of Deut. 28. The first section (TS 59-2–13) deals with the punishments which will befall the people if they transgress, and emphasizes God’s willingness to accept their repentance and redeem them.47 TS 59-13–21 returns to the subject of the monarch-

והמלך אשר זנה לבו ועינו ממצוותי לוא ימצא לו איש יושב על כסא אבותיו כל הימים כי לעולם אכרית זרעו ממשול עוד על ישראל. ואם בחוקותי ילך ואת מצוותי ישמור ויעש הישר והטוב לפני לוא יכרת לו איש יושב מבניו על כסא מלכות ישראל לעולם. והיתי עמו והושעתיהו מיד שונאיו ומיד מבקשי נפשו לשאתה. ונתתי את כל אויביו לפניו ומשל בהמה כרצונו והמה לוא ימשולו בו. ונתתיה למעלה ולוא למטה לראוש ולוא לזנב ויארך ימים רבים על מלכותו הוא ובניו אחריו.

As for the king whose heart and eye(s) turn aside from my commandments, no one will be found of his to sit on the throne of his fathers (for) all time. For I will cut off his progeny forever from ruling over Israel. But if he follows My statutes, and observes My commandments, and does what is upright and good before Me, no one shall be cut off of his sons from sitting on the throne of the kingdom of Israel forever. I will be with him, and I will save him from the hand of his enemies and from the hand of those who seek to take his life. And I will give over all his enemies before him, so that he may rule over them according to his will, and they will not rule over him. I shall place him above and not below, at the head and not at the tail, so that he may continue (to rule) over his kingdom for many years, he and his sons after him.

The author adapts the admonition of Deut. 28 and various related passages which deal with the people of Israel as a whole to the king and his descendents. Our author was led to adapt the tokhahah to refer to the king because of the mention of the monarch in verse 36. Indeed, it is possible that the top of column 59 of the Temple Scroll originally contained this verse, since line 2 is an expanded version of verse 37.48

Our discussion, however, will focus on the passage dealing with the king. This section is much more independent of Scripture and should be considered the composition of the author of the Law of the King. Lines 13–16 are a pastiche of biblical expressions but exhibit no clear derivation. Line 16, however, alludes clearly to the admonition of Lev. 26-3. The author has found a mandate for applying’ this verse to the king in 1 Kings 6-12 which uses similar phraseology in God’s words to Solomon.

Our passage tells the king that only his adherence to the Torah will assure the continuance of his royal line. Here we can recognize the view of the author that because the Hasmonean monarchy is not in accord with his Law of the King it will not continue. Philo, we should note, also was of the opinion that the hereditary nature of the Israelite monarchy was dependent on the merit of the king.49

Interestingly, the Temple Scroll makes no reference to either the Davidic descent of the king or his anointment.50 Nor does he speak of Judah, in the geographical sense, preferring the designation Israel. This should not surprise us, since such a reference would be anachronistic as these aspects are not mentioned in the Pentateuch. Both the author of the Law of the King and the final author/redactor of the Temple Scroll were concerned to avoid explicit anachronism as well as to abstain from direct polemical attacks on those whose views differed.

One faint echo has come through, however. Lines 18–19 mention those who seek to take the king’s life. This fits in with the notion which we encountered above in the scroll that the king requires a royal guard. Further, it is in consonance with the experience of the Jews in the early Hasmonean period when Jonathan was captured and murdered.


The Law of the King, and specifically the prescriptions studied in this paper, represent a rewriting of and supplement to the Torah’s legislation concerning the king. The author of this section sees the appointment of a king as mandatory, and he details the requirements for the king’s guard and council, as well as for his conduct. The writing of the Law of the King by the new monarch is also required here.

The specifics of the non-Pentateuchal sections, as well as the need to emphasize the Pentateuchal prescriptions, place our text squarely in the Hasmonean period. It was at this time that our author sought a complete reformation of the existing structure of the Temple and its cult, as well as of the governmental system. He requires, therefore, a separation of the roles of king and high priest, seeing the authority of the religious leader as superior. In the same way he expects the king’s council, a reorganized gerousia, to give the priests and the Levites the dominant role even in the temporal affairs of the nation. Details of the laws studied here accord well with specific historical developments and events in the early Hasmonean period, and point as well to such dating. The numerous parallels to Greek literature which have been pointed out51 are certainly exaggerated, yet they do suggest a widespread interest in defining the role and functions of the monarch during this period.

The paleographical study of the earliest fragments of the Temple Scroll leads to the conclusion that the scroll dates no later than the period of Alexander Janneus (103–76 B.C.E.). It is possible that a still unpublished fragment can be dated somewhat earlier. Yadin dated the text to the period after 150 B.C.E., “in the days of John Hyrcanus or shortly earlier”.52 For our purposes the central issue is whether the scroll should be dated to the pre-Maccabean period, as Wacholder maintains,53 or, as we have concluded, to the post-Maccabean.

Wacholder’s dating of c. 200 B.C.E. ignores the paleographical studies and is based on the view that various other texts used the Temple Scroll, a matter open to dispute. Charlesworth has argued for a somewhat later date for the complete Temple Scroll, c. 100 B.C.E., perhaps in the reign of Alexander Janneus.54 Wacholder’s assumption that our scroll reflects a Messianic law cannot be accepted, and therefore, a realistic historical background or the author’s thoroughgoing demands for reform must be located. We ought not look for a time in which Temple worship and governmental structure are in accord with the provisions of the Temple Scroll. Rather, we must seek a period in which the scroll can be seen as a reaction to the events and circumstances of religious and political life in Judea.

Two levels of composition must be accounted for, that of the Law of the King (and the other sources used in the scroll), and that of the complete scroll as we now have it. Since it reflects the historical experiences of the Hasmoneans Jonathan and John Hyrcanus, we must see the composition of the Law of the King as taking place no earlier than the second half of the reign of John Hyrcanus, himself termed king by Josephus (Ant. XIII, viii, 4 [249], Ant. XIII, x, 5 [288]).55 After all, it is he who is the first of the Hasmoneans to consolidate a stable empire.

Our investigation of the treatment of the King, his royal guard, and his council in the Temple Scroll argues for a context in the post-Maccabean era, probably in the latter half of John Hyrcanus’ reign, or very early in the reign of Alexander Janneus. At that time, the author/redactor, using such sources as the recently composed Law of the King, set out his notion of the ideal Israel. It was to be a nation built on Temple, sacrifice, priesthood, and kingship, a nation whose Torah he rewrote, charting its way of life in the remaining years before the redemption. The end of days he expected would dawn only if his Torah were observed. Then would be fulfilled the words of our author (TS 59-11–13)-

והושעתים מיד אויביהמה ופדיתים מכף שונאיהמה. והביאותים לארץ אבותיהמה, ופדיתים והרביתים. וששתי עליהמה, והייתי להמה לא-להים, והמה יהיו לי לעם.

I will save them from the hands of their enemies and deliver them from the hand of those who hate them, and bring them to the land of their fathers, where I will deliver them and multiply them. Then I will take delight in them, and I shall be their God, and they shall be My people.

1 Megillat Ha-Miqdash, 3 vols. (Jerusalem- Israel Exploration Society, 1977); The Temple Scroll, 3 vols. (Jerusalem- Israel Exploration Society, 1983). All references in this article are to the 1983 English edition. All translations appearing here are mine. For complete philological notes to all passages quoted, cf. Yadin, ad loc.

2 Cf. L. Schiffman, “The Temple Scroll by Yigael Yadin,” BA 48 (1985), pp. 122–26.

3 B. Levine, “The Temple Scroll- Aspects of its Historical Provenance and Literary Character,” BASOR 232 (1978), pp. 5–23; J. Milgrom, “‘Sabbath’ and ‘Temple City’ in the Temple Scroll,” BASOR 232 (1978), pp. 25–7; Y. Yadin, “Is the Temple Scroll a Sectarian Document?” Humanizing America’s Iconic Book, Society of Biblical Literature Centennial Addresses (Chico, Calif.- Scholars Press, 1980), pp. 153–69; L.H. Schiffman, Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Courts, Testimony and the Penal Code (Chico, Calif.- Scholars Press, 1983), pp. 13–17.

4 See A.M. Wilson, L. Wills, “Literary Sources in the Temple Scroll,” HTR 75 (1982), pp. 275–88.

5 This section is so central to the scroll that it led M. Weinfeld, “‘Megillat Miqdash’ ’o ‘Torah La-Melekh,’” Shenaton 3 (1978), pp. 214–37 to conclude that the entire scroll was a parashat ha-melekh.

6 “The Laws of War in the Temple Scroll,” to appear in JQR.

7 Wilson and Wills, pp. 287f.

8 Cf. L.H. Schiffman, “The Temple Scroll in Literary and Philological Perspective,” Approaches to Ancient Judaism II, ed. W.S. Green (Chico, Calif.- Scholars Press, 1980), p. 153.

9 Cf. the list in Yadin I, p. 346 which is somewhat different from ours.

10 D. Mendels, “Huqqat Ha-Melekh Bi-Megillat Ha-Miqdash We-Ha-Masa‘ Ha-Ra‘ayoni shel Ha-Simposiyonim Be-’Iggeret Aristeas Le-Philocrates,” Shenaton 3 (1978), pp. 245–52, sees Aristeas 182–300 as representing a Hellenized version of the same ideas found in the Temple Scroll. We, however, see this similarity as the result of the influence of the Scriptural material which served as the basic of the two documents.

11 Cf. Yadin I, pp. 71–3.

12 Contrast B.Z. Wacholder, The Dawn of Qumran, The Sectarian Torah and the Teacher of Righteousness (Cincinnati- Hebrew Union College, 1983), pp. 21–32.

13 The opposite complaint is put forward by Josephus and the tannaim. See below, n. 41.
14 Cf. H.A. Wolfson, Philo, Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Cambridge- Harvard University Press, 1947) II, p. 329.

15 Sifre Devarim 156 (ed. Finkelstein, p. 208), T. Sanhedrin 4-5; cf. the parallels and discussion in L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia- Jewish Publication Society, 1968) VI, p. 230f. n. 47 and Ibn Ezra and Nahmanides to Deut. 17-14–15.

16 Cf. G. Blidstein, “The Monarchic Imperative in Rabbinic Perspectives,” AJSR 7–8 (1982–1983), pp. 15–39 and his ‘Eqronot Mediniyyim Be-Mishnat Ha-Rambam (Ramat Gan- Bar-Ilan, 1983), pp. 19–31.

17 Temple Scroll II, p. 253.

18 Cf. Josephus, Ant. IV, viii, 17 (223) and Philo, Special Laws IV, 158 whose interpretation follows the LXX (so F.H. Colson, Philo VIII [Cambridge- Harvard University Press, 1939), p. 106 n. b).

19 Cf. L.H. Schiffman, Who Was a Jew? Rabbinic and Halakhic Perspectives on the Jewish Christian Schism (Hoboken- Ktav, 1985), pp. 12–17.

20 Or to conquer other lands, according to Maimonides, H. Melakhim 5-8, but contrast M. Margaliot, Pene Mosheh, to P. Sanhedrin, ad loc.

21 Trans. R. Marcus, Josephus VII (Cambridge- Harvard University Press, 1933), p. 365.

22 Cf. E. Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (Edinburgh- T. and S. Clark, 1973), pp. 207–10.

23 Cf. V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, trans. S. Applebaum (Philadelphia- Jewish Publication Society, 1966), pp. 126–42.

24 Yadin II, p. 265. The midrashic character of this statement from M. Sanhedrin 2-4 may indicate that the primary locus of this material is the parallel in Sifre Devarim 159 (ed. Finkelstein, p. 210).

25 Yadin’s restoration is problematical in light of the use of Deut. 17-19–20 in TS 59-14 and 21. The Law of the King does not use Deuteronomic material more than once, since it is essentially an attempt to rewrite the relevant parts of Deuteronomy.

26 Cf. Yadin II, p. 254.

27 Note that in the Temple Scroll the king only writes one Torah, not two as in T. Sanhedrin 4-7.

28 Cf. Josephus, Ant. IV, viii, 17 (223–224) who takes this commandment figuratively.

29 Special Laws IV, 160. Cf. C. Albeck, Shishah Sidere Mishnah, Neziqin (Jerusalem- Mosad Bialik, Tel Aviv- Dvir, 1959), p. 443.

30 M. Sanhedrin 2-5, T. Sanhedrin 4-7, Sifre Devarim 160 (ed. Finkelstein, p. 211).

31 Wacholder, pp. 19–21.

32 Yadin, I, p. 345 maintains that Targum Pseudo-Jonathan agrees with our scroll. He understands its paraphrase, parsha’ ’orayyta’ hada’ as “this section of the Torah.” This reading, however, is very problematical. Aramaic requires parsheta’, feminine, which would be modified by hada’. Further, we would expect the preposition d- before ’orayyta’. The reading of Ms. London (ed. Ginsburger) parshegen ’orayyta hada (cf. Onkelos) is therefore to be preferred. It would mean, “the repetition of this Torah.”

33 Cf. Y. Thorion, “Zur Bedeutung von Gibbore Hayil La-Milhamah in 11Q T LVII, 9,” RQ 10 (1981), pp. 597f. and M. Weinfeld, “The Royal Guard according to the Temple Scroll,” RB 87 (1980), p. 395 n. 6 who explain that the addition of la-milhamah to the biblical phrases was to eliminate ambiguity.

34 Weinfeld, “Royal Guard,” p. 394 n. 3.

35 Yadin, I, p. 348.

36 Ant. XIII, viii, 4 (249); XIII, xiii, 5 (374); XIII, xiv, 1 (377). Cf. Yadin, I, pp. 348f., 389. Note the use of mercenaries by Joseph the Tobiad (Ant. XII, iv, 5) [180] although he was never the official ruler of the nation.

37 Weinfeld, “Royal Guard,” pp. 395f.

38 All surveyed in Yadin I, pp. 349–51; Schiffman, Sectarian Law, pp. 26–28.

39 Cf. J.M. Baumgarten, Studies in Qumran Law (Leiden- E.J. Brill, 1977), pp. 145–71. On the number thirty-six see E.E. Urbach, Hazal (Jerusalem- Magnes Press, 1971), pp. 432–4.

40 Cf. Schürer II, p. 203f. and I. Gafni, “Gerusia,” EJ 7, 522f.

41 Cf. Schürer I, pp. 212–14.

42 Yadin II, p. 259.

43 Trans. Colson, p. 113. Philo also speaks of the honesty of the ruler in Special Laws IV, 183–187, cf. Wolfson II, pp. 334–37.

44 Yadin II, p. 259.

45 Mekhilta’ De-Rabbi Ishmael Yitro 8 (ed. Horovitz-Rabin, pp. 234f.), cf. Mekhilta De-Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai to Ex. 20-14 (ed. Epstein-Melammed, p. 153).

46 H. Gezelah We-’Avedah 1-9; cf. M.M. Kasher, Torah Shelemah 16 (New York- American Biblical Encyclopedia Society, 1954), pp. 120f. and contrast Ibn Ezra’s long commentary to Ex. 20-14.

47 Cf. Y. Thorion, “Tempelrolle LIX, 8–11 und Babli Sanhedrin 98a,” RQ 11 (1983), pp. 427f.

48 Yadin (II, p. 265) would prefer restoring an abridged version of Deut. 28-15f.

49 Wolfson II, p. 332.

50 Cf. Wacholder, pp. 146 and 274 n. 74. Wolfson II, p. 333 notes that Philo does not mention Davidic kingship since he portrays the Deuteronomic view.

51 Weinfeld, “Megillat Miqdash,” pp. 222–31.

52 I, p. 390.

53 Dawn, p. 202–12.

54 BL 1985 Seminar Papers, pp. 197–202.

53 Cf. Ant. XIII, xi, 1 (301), referring to Aristobulus.

Pages 237-259

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