NPJ Book Review: The Temple Scroll (3 vols.) Ed. Yigael Yadin

The Temple Scroll (3 vols.) Ed. Yigael Yadin

During the late 1980’s I purchased the threer-volume set (plus a supplement with photographs) of The Temple Scroll edited by Yigael Yadin (1983) from The Israel Exploration Society at The institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, during a time in which I had an interest in the Second Temple among other ancient writings. In the preface of the Hebrew Edition was a quote that represented my search. It was from the – Sayings of the Fathers ii:16 : “It is not my part to finish the task, yet thou art not free to desist from it.”

The three volumes are finely detailed descriptions of an idealized temple with inner, middle and outer courts. Yadin covers the acquisition of the scroll and its unrolling, writing and spelling, language and the use of certain words and their meaning to technical terms, to rules and purity rituals associated with the temple…marriage, family, laws, placement of furniture and furnishings, health, food, drink, prayer, war, he booty of war, festivals and so forth are to be found. Much also appears to have been drawn from the Torah.

This is a reference tool. When reading, context is everything. It requires a historical, theological and philosophical awareness of why people desire rituals around what they consider as sacred. That is, human perception of the sacred is also tied to its rituals and subsequent rules and laws. The Temple Scroll requires patience of its reader and explorer. An understanding or at least an appreciation of ancient Hebrew cultures and thought is significant if not essential. It’s worth more than a cursory effort for those having an interest.