Tefillin dating

And we cannot establish whether the tefillin from Qumran followed the order of the two major types known from later times as Rashi or Rabbenu Tam, named after the protagonists who continued this argument into the medieval period.

Because the Rabbis forbade insertion of additional passages to those required, scholars have theorized that those tefillin found at Qumran containing only required passages are Pharisaic-type tefillin.

In construction, the Qumran tefillin are generally similar to those known from rabbinic halakhah and traditional Jewish practice.

The head tefillin, comprising four compartments, consists of a cube with its strap passing immediately below the cube.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Central to the religious life described in talmudic sources are tefillin and mezuzah.

The tefillin, usually called phylacteries in English (a misnomer derived from the Greek word meaning “amulet”), are leather boxes containing parchments, each with certain biblical passages.

In dealing with the tefillin, we need to discuss several separate issues- how the leather boxes enclosing the scriptural texts were constructed, which passages were placed in the boxes, and how these passages were written.These same findings about the formation of letters also apply to the biblical scrolls and mezuzot from Qumran.Since we now know that the biblical scrolls represent various communities in Israel during this period, we can conclude that these scribal regulations were either not yet in force or were not widely observed.Previous to the discovery of the Qumran corpus there was much debate about the dating and extent of these practices in ancient Israel.The finding of large numbers of tefillin and mezuzot at Qumran has certainly shown that these practices date back at least to Hasmonaean times.The boxes are attached with leather thongs to the head and arm.The mezuzah (plural, mezuzot) is a similar parchment enclosed in a container and is attached to the right doorpost of doors and entryways.When we examine how the Qumran tefillin passages are written we discover that the letters are not formed according to the halakhot found in later rabbinic texts, although corrections and other aspects of writing generally do follow rabbinic law.We cannot be sure whether this is because these laws did not yet exist, even among Pharisaic Jews, or because the sectarian users of these tefillin observed practices different from those of the Pharisaic-rabbinic movement.Rabbinic tradition testifies to disputes over the order of the passages enclosed in the tefillin.The evidence of the Qumran tefillin as a whole reveals fluidity in this regard- different phylacteries follow different sequences.

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