Yigael Yadin was a good friend of mine and always supported me in my research. I only wish he had lived to criticize the views I express here that diverge from his own.


The Samaritan Pentateuch is the Torah in the form canonized by the Samaritans.


The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, as translated by Jews in Alexandria from the third century B.C. onwards.


“Literary Sources of the Temple Scroll,” Harvard Theological Review, vol. 75 (1982), pp. 275–288.



The question of Mosaic authority in the Temple Scroll is still much debated. Indeed, the name of Moses does not appear in the extant text of the Temple Scroll. Compare this with Deuteronomy 12–26. For this reason, Baruch Levine (“The Temple Scroll: Aspects of its Historical Provenance and Literary Character,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 232 [1978], pp. 5–23, especially pp. 17–21) denies any Mosaic authority for the Temple Scroll. His conclusion was challenged by Yadin (“Is the Temple Scroll a Sectarian Document?” in Gene M. Tucker and Douglas A. Knight [ed.], Humanizing America’s Iconic Book: SBL Centennial Addresses 1980 [Chico, CA: Scholar’s Press, 1982], pp. 153–169), who relies on Temple Scroll 44:5 and 51:5–7, where Moses is indeed indirectly addressed. But Levine correctly demonstrates the tendency of the Temple Scroll to replace the traditional authority of Moses with God himself. Probably, this is to be interpreted as polemical—against any human authority in Jewish legal matters.


In this Ben Zion Wacholder is wrong. See his book The Dawn of Qumran (Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1983), where he claims that the Temple Scroll “may have been intended to supersede not only the canonical Pentateuch but the other books of the Hebrew Scriptures as well” (p. 30).


Yigael Yadin believed that fragments of a document from Cave 4 (Rockefeller Museum No. 43.366, published in Yadin, The Temple Scroll [Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1983], supplementary plates 38 and 40) belonged to a copy of the Temple Scroll. As Professor John Strugnell has correctly pointed out, these fragments are from “a Pentateuch with frequent non-biblical additions” [4Q364 and 365] (quoted in Wacholder, The Dawn of Qumran, p. 206), not from the Temple Scroll. In this same reference, Strugnell refers to other unpublished Cave 4 fragments that might quote from, or actually be the text of, the Temple Scroll. The true nature of this text can be discussed, however, only after its publication by Emile Puech. He has kindly shown me the fragments of this scroll, which are unfortunately in very poor condition. They probably come from a late second-century B.C. copy of an expanded text of Deuteronomy, evidently differing from the text of the Temple Scroll. At this time, it is at least very uncertain that even a single Cave 4 manuscript of the Temple Scroll’s text exists.


The so-called “Damascus Documents” include two different books, the “Admonitions” represented by columns 18 and 19–20, and the “Laws” represented by columns 15–16 and 9–14. Both books were composed separately by the Essenes, and fragments of both of them were also found in the Qumran caves.


See Lawrence H. Schiffman, Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Courts, Testimony and the Penal Code (Chico, CA: Scholar’s Press, 1983), p. 77.


Yadin recognized this problem and tried to resolve it with the suggestion that in other scrolls from Qumran we are always dealing with high priests who are mentioned in contexts relating to the End of Days, with specific titles for them. But this is, at least, disputable: In those scrolls, the high priest at the End of Days is called ha-kohen, ha’aharon or sometimes meshiah ’Aharon, while kohen ha-rosh seems to be the more usual title used by the Qumran community, but strange to the Temple Scroll.


The Cambridge edition of the Septuagint by Allen E. Brooke and Norman McLean, The Old Testament in Greek According to the Text of Codex Vaticanus (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1906–1911), Vol. 1, Part I–III.


Yadin mistakenly thought these were references to other copies of the Temple Scroll. They were not that, but were simply fragments of scrolls of the same genre, or expansions within the Pentateuchal books themselves. Unfortunately, some of these are still unpublished, so they can not be treated very thoroughly, even by scholars. In regard to the failure to publish the Dead Sea Scrolls, see the following BAR articles by Hershel Shanks: “No Theological Reasons for Failing to Publish Dead Dea Scrolls: Syrian Authorities Commended,” Queries & Comments, BAR 11:01; BARview: Failure to Publish Dead Sea Scrolls Is Leitmotif of New York University Scroll Conference,” BAR 11:05; and BARview: Israel Authorities Now Responsible for Delay in Publication of Dead Sea Scrolls,” BAR 11:05.


Dating the composition of the Temple Scroll to the second half of the fifth century B.C. results in some provocative suggestions for further research:

First: The Pentateuch as we know it from our Bible must have been finally redacted at least a century before the composition of the Temple Scroll; at least a century would be needed to develop all the additions and alterations of the text used in the Temple Scroll.

Second: Some scholars already noticed that specific aspects of the Temple Scroll are closely related to the Biblical Books of Chronicles—for example, the status of the Levites. The stage of development of the Hebrew language is similar in both Chronicles and in the Temple Scroll. These relationships and similarities are much easier to explain if both Chronicles and the Temple Scroll are contemporaneous compositions, but they would be puzzling if the Temple Scroll was composed about three centuries later as supposed by Yadin and those who agree with him.

Third: Over the centuries, even Palestinian Jews no longer continued to regard the Temple Scroll as a canonical book, as the sixth book of the Torah, as it was in the mind of its author. Nevertheless, the preserved text of Yadin’s Temple Scroll demonstrates the way in which some priestly families at the Jerusalem Temple interpreted, augmented and used the canonical Pentateuch during the first century of the Second Temple period. This insight will enable us to understand much better the way priestly teaching developed at the Jerusalem Temple before Ezra returned there.