Studies have focused both on the exclusionary and expansionist character of holiness in the Temple Scroll. On the one hand, it has been argued that the stringent purity restrictions in this text are due to the protection of the holiness of the sanctuary and exclusion from evil (Regev). On the other hand, holiness is described as so powerful that it unleashes itself beyond the borders of the Temple city to permeate the entire land (Schiffman). Thus, there is a paradox between the elitist tendency of the Scroll to protect the sanctuary by making extra-biblical exclusions from its precincts and, at the same time, bringing greater holiness to all Israel. Is the author’s vision to protect the sanctuary by keeping people at a maximum distance or to invade the secular realm with the divine presence?
This paper seeks to solve this riddle by re-examining the exclusions of the Temple Scroll. Who exactly is excluded and who is endorsed, and why? An analysis of purity and holiness dynamics in the Temple Scroll reveals the extent to which the sacred element has moved beyond the Temple Mount to affect the lay population. By raising purity standards, the author not only protects the sanctuary but expands cultic holiness into the lay sphere. The real chasm he creates is not between holy priests and profane Israel but between Israel and gentiles who might have joined her ranks.
The task at hand is to 1) examine the exclusions and expansions of the Temple Scroll on both the temple city and the ordinary city; and 2) to examine the passages related to the supposed inclusion of the resident alien among Israel.
While the Temple Scroll is a composite of sources, we are concerned here with the final presentation. The date of the Scroll has been variously set to around 100 BCE although the writer used earlier sources. The temple plan and much of the purity material likely predate the rest of the Scroll.
I Exclusion and protection of an expanded sanctuary
A The Plan
Let us first look at the plan of the Temple Scroll and its relationship to other plans in post-first temple times. An idealized square Temple plan is presented in the Temple Scroll. Johann Maier calculated that the Scroll dimensions of the three courts are:
Inner Court 280 cubits x 280 cubits (300 x 300 outer square); Middle Court 480 cubits x 480 cubits (500 x 500 outer square); Outer Court approximately 1600 cubits x 1600 cubits. The following illustration is an adaptation from Yigael Yadin’s earlier work (1983) by Lawrence Schiffman (“Architecture and Law,” p. 259).
If the measurements of these three courts were imposed on the city of Jerusalem known from Second Temple times, they would cover most of the city. Thus, it seems that the Temple City of the Temple Scroll and the city of Jerusalem in Second Century BC are approximately equivalent in size (Broshi, p. 115). Although the plan of the inner and middle courts are not exactly according to Ezekiel’s prescriptions, their concentric layout and size are clearly influenced by his temple vision. It seems the author of the Scroll thought that the whole city of Jerusalem ought to be set apart as Temple precincts. God’s name rests on the whole city , not just the Temple building, and sometimes the whole city is refer to as miqdash, “sanctuary” (e.g. col. 46:9-12).
Scholars have debated if there were a residential area in the Temple Scroll’s plan but it seems likely that no permanent residents were envisioned. As Sidnie White Crawford points out, there is no cemetery for Jerusalem; there are no quarantine areas for menstruants as there are in ordinary cities, surely of lesser sanctity; no ordinary animal skins may be used for vessels, so what does one do with common, unholy food and products? (Crawford, p. 49) Also, the writer often refers to the Temple City as the city where God dwells as opposed to the ordinary cities where the tribes of Israel dwell, the implication being that the latter do not reside in God’s city. Thus, the temple and its expanded courts functions as a cultic city, where Israel gathers to worship her God. Like the biblical model of Mt. Sinai, the Mountain was the holiest place, but the camp below was a temporary assembly of pure Israelites who had purified themselves to receive God’s revelation (Milgrom, “First Day Ablutions,” p. 562).
Now let us look at the particular exclusions from this city.
Inner court: only ritually pure priests and Levites allowed.
Middle Court: only Israelite men over 20 allowed.
Outer Court: only Israelite laity allowed + the ger in the 4th generation.
Only those who are pure are allowed in the Temple city; special places are allotted for those impure from scale disease, flows, and nocturnal emissions (11Q19 46:16b-18; 11Q20 13:1-2). Now scale disease and abnormal flows are serious impurities which are ritually contagious but a seminal emission carries a minor impurity which, according to Leviticus 15, may be purified in a day. However, the Temple Scroll requires three days of purification before anyone who has had sexual intercourse may enter the city (11Q19 45:11-12). Furthermore, anyone who has touched a corpse must remain outside the city until completely clean (11Q19 45:17; 11Q20 14:9b-10a). Based on analogy with the purifying corpse-contaminated person, probably other purifying persons would have been forbidden entry into the Temple City as well (opp. Werrett, p. 117). Even defecation must take place 3000 cubits outside the temple city.
The lack of places for menstruating women is puzzling. This probably indicates that women would simply not have come to the temple complex at all during menstruation. Surely menstruation is seen as oppositional to holiness since places are made in the ordinary cities to house women during this time. But why are they not allotted for the Temple City? Two ideas come to mind: If a woman were menstruating, the expectation is probably that she would simply stay at home (cf. Ant. 3:261). Alternatively, the place for those with “flows” might have included women during menstruation. The underlying biblical passage, Num. 5:2, excludes both men and women during times of flow. Although some refer this only to abnormal flows, perhaps it included normal menstruation as well. In any case, we can see from this list of exclusions from the temple city that the temple and all of its courts are restricted to those who are pure in body. In fact, the writer states, “And the city which I will sanctify to cause my name and my sanctu[ary to dwell within it] shall be holy and pure from every type of impurity by which they can become impure. And everything which shall enter it shall be pure (col. 47:3-6).
One other exclusion is the “blind.” 45:12b-14 reads: “No blind person shall enter it all their days; and they shall not defile the city in whose midst I dwell because I, YHWH, dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever and always.” The exclusion of priests with defects from offering sacrifices is clearly stated in Lev. 21:23a, “No man among the offspring of Aaron the priest who as a defect shall be qualified to offer Yahweh’s offering by fire; having a defect, he shall not be qualified to offer the food of his God. He may eat of the food of his God, of the most holy as well as of the holy, but he shall not enter behind the curtain or come near the altar for he has a defect.” The blind may be representative and inclusive of all who have defects. At first glance, it seems that the author is applying priestly purity to all of the city, but the matter is not so clear. Women and children, who have no possibility of being priests are still allowed into the city. Also, Leviticus 21 excludes the disabled priest from officiating but not from eating holy food. Notice also that Jesus encountered the blind and the lame in the Temple (Matt. 21:14). Furthermore, the Temple Scroll’s explicit concern is not the blind person’s appearance but the possibility that he will defile the city, a strong possibility for a person who cannot see, but not an issue for a hunchback or a dwarf. This concern is also stated in a related text 4QMMT 52-63 “…the blind….do not see the impurity of the sin-offering. And also concerning the deaf who do not hear the …regulations concerning purity.
So to summarize, the Temple City exclusions are based primarily on purity concerns. Its holiness is defined and protected by these restrictions. All pilgrims to the city had to be ritually pure since all of its courts were holy. Inner: priests and Levites; Middle: Men aged 20 and above; outer: women and children.
C. Exclusion or Expansion?
The above exclusions from the Temple City have led scholars to speak of the Scroll as “exclusive” and “elitist.” To be sure, the author’s vision is at direct odds with Herodian Jerusalem which restricted cultic activities to a relatively small area on the Temple Mount and allowed profane commerce in Jerusalem (Maier, “The Architechtural History,” pp. 23-62). However, the early Second Temple did extend over a much larger percentage of Jerusalem. The Temple Scroll author is joined by other early Second Temple writers who regarded Jerusalem at a higher level of purity than other cities (Neh. 12:30; CD XII, 2; cf. Ant. 3:261-64; m. Kel. 1).
The restriction of impurity from the Temple City/Jerusalem is not an elitist attitude of priest over laity but an endorsement of all Israel as the beneficiary of holiness with the right to be the sole occupants of the sanctuary and its environs. Indeed the author states that the people, not just the space, are to be kept from impurity (col. 51:7-10) in order to maintain this super-sized holiness. The Sanctuary is surely protected by increases in purity restrictions but the people too are enhanced by this system. No group of Israel is excluded from the sacred precincts as long as they are pure, and in most cases impurity is a temporary condition, which is easily purifiable. Thus, the Temple Scroll’s vision is expansive and maximalist rather than elitist and minimalist.
This view is corroborated by the fact that purity is increased throughout the ordinary cities of Israel even though they are not the holy city. The diagram above shows the gates of the Temple City by which the tribes entered from their ordinary cities. Greater sanctity is channeled into the ordinary city also by the isolation of individuals during their times of impurity. Installations are provided for menstruants, corpse-contaminated individuals and those with scale disease. Also heightened restrictions on the dead (carcassesses, foetus, restrictions in house of dead) apply. This standard is pertinent to the cities of all 12 tribes and provides for the permeation of holiness throughout the entire land.
Thus, Crawford is correct that “Holiness radiates outward from a central core….The aim of the TS is to protect that holiness with purity regulations that grow increasingly stringent as one progresses inward…The purity laws strive to protect the holiness of the Temple by growing increasingly stringent as one moves geographically closer to the Temple” (pp. 42-43). However, the converse dynamic is also true. Holiness also radiates outward from the Temple into the pure cities and bodies of Israel. Thus Israel has not been excluded from holiness but included in it at an increased level than previously enjoyed.
So is there an exclusivist tendency in the Scroll? Who is, in fact, excluded from holiness? To be sure, women are excluded from eating the Passover with men (11Q19 17:8-9), but this can be inferred already from Num. 9:6 and 2 Chron 35:15, and probably came as a result of Passover becoming a sacrificial ritual at the Temple (cf. Deut 16:5-7) (Baumgarten, p. 63). But, if we simply look spatially at each area of the Temple city, the territory of each court has been expanded, especially the area where men and women can worship together. The idea was not to exclude Israel from its sanctuary or push the people away from it, but to endorse them and embue them with a greater level of holiness by increasing purity restrictions. Intense purity is not only to protect the temple courts but to allow the dissemination of holiness into the lives of the people. The tribes live in ordinary cities opposite the gates of their sections of the third court so that holiness could emanate directly from the temple through its courts into the ordinary cities of the tribes (Schiffman, Courtyards, p. 231). So again, who is being excluded, not just due to temporary impurity but completely and irrevocably? To my mind, this person is the ger, often translated “resident alien,” or “proselyte,” and sometimes “integrated stranger” (Berthelot).
II Exclusion of the ger
The real barrier is not between sanctuary and people or excluding people from the sanctuary but, in my view, by creating a holy Israel living on a holy land in contradistinction to gentiles who had permeated the land in Hellenistic times. It is this barrier that becomes all-important. While Israelites are included and endorsed by extra purity restrictions, Gentiles and even “proselytes” are excluded.
First, the author complains of the תועבות הגויים, “the abominations of the Gentiles”; it is because of these detestable practices that God will drive the natives out of the land (LX, 16-20; cf. Ezek. 12). And, the author lists various sins of the Gentiles, such as, idolatry, child sacrifice, soothsaying and necromancy. Secondly, the author quotes Exod 34:15-16 to ban intermarriage with these pagans, “Be careful not to make a covenant with the residents of the land, for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods and call you and you eat of the sacrifice, “you will take of their daughters wives for your sons (ve-lakaḥat mibnotayv le-banekha), and their daughters, who prostitute themselves to their gods, will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods.” Exod 34:15-16 (cf. 11Q19 II, 12-15)
William Loader argues that the writer of the Temple Scroll does not regard intermarriage as an issue. He notes that although the Scroll author cites this verse from Exodus, he does not elaborate on it. Loader claims that this citation seems to reflect peaceful marriage ties, “covenant”(Loader, p. 10). He sees a concern with intermarriage only in the case of the king who is explicitly forbidden to marry theבנות הגויים , “the daughters of the Gentiles” (11Q19 LVII, 16). Following the biblical restriction on the high priest to marry only within his clan, the Temple Scroll applies the same law to the king. Loader supports his case by pointing to the acculturation of the captive war bride as evidence that intermarriage was sometimes considered legitimate in the case of the laity (Loader, p. 41). Also, permission is granted to the ger, one who has agreed to live according to Israel’s customs and religion, to enter the women’s court.
However, the data can be interpreted differently. The Temple Scroll’s citation of Exod 34:15-16 (11Q19 II,12-15) is a clear affirmation that taking a foreign spouse is detrimental to the Jew and leads to the worship of foreign gods. Although the Temple Scroll targets the marriage practice of the king, in particular, this is simply one application of its general stance against intermarriage. The reason for the ban is to ensure that foreign wives do not turn the king’s heart away from God (11Q19 LVI, 18-19; cf. Deut 17:17). Surely, that concern would apply to all Israel, not just to the king.
Let us look at the supposed “support cases” for intermarriage in the Temple Scroll: the cases of 1) the inclusion of the ger in the temple city, and 2) the captive war bride. At first glance, the Temple Scroll’s attitude toward foreigners may seem flexible since it appears even in the fragmentary text that the ger is allowed to enter the outer court of the temple after the third generation (39:5; 40:5-7). However, is this really an invitation to foreigners to join the community? How likely would it be for a foreigner to marry an Israelite knowing he would never be allowed, along with his descendants for three generations, to participate in the assembly at the sanctuary? In ancient Israel, one who is excluded from the temple courts is in essence told that he is not a true member of the religious community of Israel nor an appropriate marriage partner.
What then is the point of including the ger in the outer court if, in reality, this will not apply to him or his living descendants? To my mind, the answer is found in Deuteronomy 23. Loader notes that the laws regarding illicit unions and foreigners of Deut 23:1-9 are noticeably absent from the Temple Scroll, while the author treats the topics immediately following: vv 10-11 emissions, vv 12-14, toilets, and vv 21-23, vows. However, in my view, the author does imply vv 1-9 in his comment that the ger cannot come into the outer court for 3 generations. With this small remark, the author has expanded the three-generation constraint on Edomites and Egyptians entering the congregation (Deut 23:8) to apply to all foreigners who would seek inclusion among Israel. By inviting the ger into the Temple complex after three generations (only into the women’s court), the Temple Scroll is in effect excluding him from Israel.
Now let us look at the captive bride. According to Loader, the author of the Temple Scroll assumes that “foreign wives (like the captive wife) are a normal part of life” (Loader, p. 37). However, the law regarding the captive war bride, like that including the ger in the outer temple court, is another legal fiction. The Temple Scroll cites the Deuteronomic law allowing a man to marry a foreign war captive (11Q19 LXIII, 10-15). However, the writer adds a clause which prohibits the woman to touch her husband’s food for seven (or 14, Yadin) years. In my view, this addition makes the marriage a farce. To forbid a woman to eat with her spouse or even cook his food is a recipe for an impossible marriage in antiquity. The “concession” is really a legal fiction.
According to Manfred Lehman, the food in question is holy contributions given to the priests, and thus the author is concerned only about priestly intermarriage (Lehman, p. 267). To be sure, in light of its cultic topics, the Temple Scroll was probably addressed to priests and the marriage practices of both ordinary and high priest one of his main concerns. However, I would hesitate to argue that the intermarriage being described here is limited to priests only. Both of the underlying Deuteronomic texts are addressed to all Israel (Deut 21:10-14; 23:1-9). Also, the author’s earlier quote of Exod 34:15-16, carries no such priestly restriction.
To summarize, the author of the Temple Scroll is decidedly against intermarriage between Jew and Gentile. His almost verbatim quotation from Exod 34:15-16 leaves no doubt as to his position, yet he is careful to support biblical regulations allowing foreigners into Israel while neutralizing them with small changes in wording. Inclusion here is really exclusion.
In conclusion, the exclusion of impurities from the Temple and ordinary cities in the Temple Scroll is not just to protect the sanctuary itself but to keep Israel pure for the reception of its holiness. Foreigners are a threat to this agenda and are barred from marriage within Israel. Two biblical laws which include the ger are interpreted in such a way as to, in fact, exclude him from Israel. The holiness of the Temple is intensified and protected by increase of holy area and purity limitations for the purpose of empowering all Israel against the threat of Gentile penetration.
Hannah Harrington is Chair of the Department of Biblical and Theological Studies at Patten University. She is the author of The Purity Texts (T&T Clark, 2005).
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Berthelot, Katell. “La Notion de גר dans les Textes de Qumran,” RQ 74/19/2 (1999) 169-216.
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Harrington, Hannah K. The Purity Texts, Companion to the Qumran Scrolls 5 (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2005)
Lange, Armin. “Your Daughters Do Not Give to Their Sons and Their Daughters Do Not Take for Your sons (Ezra 9,12): Intermarriage in Ezra 9-10 and in the Pre-Maccabean Dead Sea Scrolls,” Biblische Notizen 139 2008).
Lehman, Manfred, “The Beautiful War Bride (יפת תאר) and Other Halakhoth in the Temple Scroll,” in Temple Scroll Studies: Papers Presented at the International Symposium on the Temple Scroll, Manchester, December 1987 (ed. George J. Brooke; JSPSup 7; Sheffield: JSOT Press,1989).
Loader, William. The Dead Sea Scrolls on Sexuality: Attitudes towards Sexuality in Sectarian and Related Literature at Qumran (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009).
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Scholars Press, 1989), pp. 267-84. [Also see revised version included in, Schiffman, Lawrence. The Courtyards of the House of the Lord: Studies on the Temple Scroll (ed. Florentino García Martínez; STDJ 75; Leiden: Brill, 2008].
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 See full discussion of the debate between Yadin/Milgrom and Levine/Schiffman in Crawford, pp. 48-49, who makes a reconciliation between the two positions by suggesting that the residence of Israel in the Temple City was temporary for times of festivals and other cultic occasions. Loader, p. 21, argues for a celibate city of men and women, but then we would expect areas for menstruants.
 Biblical models are utilized in the Temple Scroll’s system. Yadin saw the Sinaitic revelation as a model for the Temple City because it was the camp of Israel visited by the divine presence and impurity was purified by a 3-day preparation process. No sexual intercourse was allowed, but all Israel, including women and children were present. However, this model does not make boundaries between priests, men, and women cordoning them into separate areas. Schiffman sees the Wilderness Camp of Num 5 as a model for the Temple Scroll. According to Num 5 persons with scale disease, severe genital flows or corpse impurity, both male and female, are excluded from the camp. All of these are severely impure and most are hopelessly impure unless God heals. Thus, the Wilderness Camp is likely a model for the Temple Scroll author. On the other hand, the wilderness is where Israel lives, not just where they assemble for worship and sexual intercourse is not prohibited. The War Camp of Deuteronomy 23 is another model since men with bodily discharges must leave the camp until purified and no sexual relations are allowed. However, the Temple City includes women in the outer court. It seems that all of these models are utilized in some way, but the Temple Scroll design is distinctive.
 Lange, p. 83. Like Ezra-Nehemiah, the author lists the various Canaanite nations which were forbidden, none of which survive in his time, as a way of excluding all non-holy residents of the land, i.e. Gentiles (cf. Ezra 9:1-2). As Schiffman points out, prohibited marriages with Canaanites were later expanded to all Gentiles, “Laws Pertaining to Women in the Temple Scroll,” p. 214.
 So also, Ezra-Nehemiah deletes the time restrictions for acceptance of some foreigners altogether because for all practical purposes it is a moot point (Ezra 9:1-2).
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