The Temple Scroll LVI-LVII: The Law of the King (Martinez)


Temple Scroll

Temple Scroll

The Temple Scroll is a rewriting and reediting of the Torah from the command to build the Temple at the end of Exodus through the end of the laws of Deuteronomy. This part of the scroll emphasizes the selection of a king who is a native, married to a Jewish woman, a follower of the Torah, and one who does not aggrandize himself with wealth for its own sake. This passage is a polemic against the Hasmonean kings of the writer’s own time, and the scroll as a whole dates to the Hasmonean era.

LVI 12 When you enter the land which I give you, and own it and live 13 in it and say to yourself- “I shall set a king over myself like all the peoples which surround me-” 55 14 then you shall set a king over yourself, a king whom I shall choose. From among your brothers you shall set over yourself a king; 15 you shall not set a foreign man who is not your brother over yourself. But he is not 16 to increase the cavalry or make the people go back to Egypt on account of war in order to 17 increase the cavalry, or the silver and gold. I told you, “You 18 shall not go back again on this path.” He is not to have many wives or 19 let his heart go astray after them. He is not to have much silver and gold. 20 When he sits upon the throne of his kingdom they shall write 21 for him this law according to the book which is in front of the priests.

LVII 1 This is the law […] the priests. 2. On the day when they proclaim him king, the children of Israel [shall assemble], from those 3 more than twenty years old up to those of sixty years, according to their banners. And he shall appoint 4 at their head chiefs of a thousand, chiefs of a hundred, chiefs of fifty 5 and chiefs of ten in all their cities. From them he shall select a thousand, a thousand 6 from each tribe, to be with him- twelve thousand men of war 7 who will not leave him on his own, so that he will not be seized by the hands of the nations. All those 8 selected, which he selects, shall be men of truth, venerating God, 9 enemies of bribery, skilled men in war; and they shall always be with him 10 day and night and they shall guard him from every act of sin 11 and from the foreign nations so that he does not fall into their hands. He will have twelve 12 princes of his people with him and twelve priests 13 and twelve levites who shall sit next to him for judgment 14 and for the law. He shall not divert his heart from them or do anything 15 in all his councils without relying on them.

He shall not take a wife from among all16 the daughters of the nations, but instead take for himself a wife from his father’s house, 17 from his father’s family. He shall take no other wife apart from her 18 because only she will be with him all the days of her life. If she dies, he shall take 19 for himself another from his father’s house, from his family. He shall not pervert justice, 20 or accept a bribe to pervert correct judgment. He shall not crave 21 the field, the vineyard, the wealth, the house or any valuable thing in Israel or purloin….

And if he sallies out to war against 16 his enemies, a fifth part of the people shall sally out with him, the men of war, the mighty men of 7 valor. And they shall refrain from every impurity and every immodesty and from every sin and fault. 18 They are not to sally forth until he has entered the presence of the high priest and he has consulted for him the decision of the Urim 19 and Thummim. On his orders he shall sally out and on his orders he shall (re-)enter, he and all the children of Israel who 20 are with him; he shall not sally out on the advice of his heart until he has consulted the decision of the Urim 21 and Thummim. He will have success in all his paths as long as he goes out in accord with the decision which….

The king who 14 prostitutes his heart and his eyes, removing them from my commandments, will not find someone who will sit on throne 15 of his fathers for ever, because over the centuries I shall prevent his line from governing again in Israel. 16 But if he walks according to my precepts and keeps my commandments and does 17 what is upright and good before me, there will not be lacking one of his sons who sits on the throne of the kingdom 18 of Israel for ever. I shall be with him and free him from the hand of those who hate him and from the hand 19 of those who seek his life in order to destroy it; I shall place in front of him all his enemies and he will govern them 20 as he pleases and they shall not govern him. I shall make him improve and not diminish, [I shall place him] at the head 21 and not at the tail, and he will extend his kingdom for many days, he and his sons after him.

54. Garcia Martinez,The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, pp. 173-5.

55. Cf. Deut. 17- 14-20.

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