In February 1993, after Professor Wacholder and I had begun to publish fascicles of Dead Sea Scroll transcripts that had been reconstructed with the aid of a computer (see BAS Publishes Dead Sea Scrolls,” BAR 17:05; “Computer-Generated Dead Sea Scrolls Texts 98% Accurate,” BAR 18:01; BAS Reprints Facsimile Edition of Scroll Photographs,” BAR 18:04), we received a letter from Professor Qimron’s attorney warning us that we could not “make any use” of his and Strugnell’s reconstruction of MMT. Admittedly, we cannot expunge from our minds the results of our study of the handwritten transcript we anonymously received in 1988. We are continuing our work on MMT as well as on other scrolls. We have also brought suit against Professor Qimron in an American court, not for damages, but simply for a declaration that Professor Qimron does not own the copyright in MMT, so that we can proceed with our work (see “American Professors Seek to Block Qimron’s Control of MMT,” BAR 19:06).


The most common Greek word for ma‘ase is ergon. The Greek word nomos most commonly translates torah.


In addition, the MMT text echoes the Hebrew text of Psalm 106:31 by using the passive niphal stem of hashab, rather than the active qal. Also, the preposition lamed is used to indicate the “product” of the reckoning in both Psalm 106:31 and MMT (“as righteous”), whereas in Genesis 15:6 “righteous” is the direct object of the verb. Psalm 106:31 and Genesis 15:6 are the only Biblical verses that contain both the verb hashab, to reckon, and the noun sedaqah, righteousness. Jubilees 30:17 records this same statement (probably referring to Psalm 106 as well) made to Simeon and Levi concerning their zealous act against the Shechemites (Genesis 34:25), even though in the Biblical passage their father condemned them (Genesis 34:25, 49:5).



Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell, “An Unpublished Halakhic Letter from Qumran,” Israel Museum Journal (1985), pp. 9–12, also in Biblical Archaeology Today: Proceedings of the International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, Apr. 1984, ed. J. Amitai (Jerusalem; Israel Exploration Society, 1985), pp. 400–407.


I owe much of the content of this article to the other members of this class: Rabbi Shira Lander, Dr. James Bowley, Mr. Lee Fields, Dr. Wave Nunnally and Dr. Keri Wynn; we all are indebted to Professor Wacholder for a unique experience.


Babylonian Talmud, Yebamot 47a-b.


Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell, “An Unpublished Halakhic Letter from Qumran,” p. 400.


Lawrence H. Schiffman, “The New Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) and the Origins of the Dead Sea Sect,” Biblical Archaeologist 53 (1990), p. 67.


Lawrence H. Schiffman, “New Light on the Pharisees,” in Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Hershel Shanks (New York: Random House, 1992), pp. 219–20.


I am in agreement with Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered (Rockport, MA: Element, 1992), in connecting “works of the Law” with the Apostle Paul; and “reckoned as righteousness” with Phinehas and Psalm 106:31.