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The Purity Law in the Qumran Scrolls

이윤경 1

1숭실대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

_______________________________________________________________________________________ The Purity Law in the Qumran Scrolls _______________________________________________________________________________________ Yoon Kyung Lee Lecturer at Ewah Womans University The Graduate Theological Union, Ph. D. This paper begins with the presupposition that the Qumran community had separated from the Hasmonean dynasty and the larger Jewish society not primarily because of political agenda, but because of their distinctive interpretations of laws. We cannot fully set aside political reasons surrounding the high priesthood. Yet the emergence and presence of the Qumran community had been derived from the different view and interpretative orientation regarding the laws. This paper presents this matter by examining the purity law in the Qumran scrolls. The peculiarity of the Qumranic interpretation of the law is the tendency to collocate or integrate the legal rulings of the Old Testament and also to harmonize or reconciliate the conflicting biblical rules. In this paper, the three aspects of the purity law in the Dead Sea Scrolls are examined: the purification ritual, the maximized interpretation of the law, and internal/external purification. The characteristic of the Qumranic purification ritual is revealed in the extended use of the water for purification ( ). In the Old Testament, this water is limited to the case of washing the person who contacted with the dead body, both human beings and animals. But in the Qumran, the water is used almost all cases for impurity, including initiation rite. Similar tendency to extend the use and bounds of the biblical purity law can be found in much more strict and literal interpretation of the laws. For instance, Numbers 19 stipulates that the impure person from death should sprinkle on the third and seventh day, wash his/her clothes, and bathe his/her body. The interpretation of this law in 11QT is to sprinkle the water not only on the third and seventh day, but also on the first day. More important development of the Qumranic purity law is the notion that purification ritual is not only for washing and eliminating physical/material impurity, but also for purifying the spirit. The Qumranic concern for purity and purification is evidenced in the archaeological remains in the Khirbet Qumran. In the Khirbet Qumran we can find sixteen cisterns and/or baths. This number is definitely more than the normal need such a small community as Qumran. Scholars agree that the use of the inordinate water system must have been related to purity laws and practices of purification rituals. Also, in the Khirbet Qumran, stone vessels are excavated. The stone vessels are believed to have been made specially for avoiding contagion.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.