• Sabbath-Temple-Eden: Purity Rituals at the Intersection of Sacred Time and Space

    Yonatan Miller (see profile)
    Dead Sea scrolls, Rabbinical literature--Study and teaching, Judaism--Post-exilic period (Judaism)
    Item Type:
    purity, sabbath, Rabbinics, Second Temple Judaism, Talmud, Midrash, and Rabbinics
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    Despite repeated biblical mentions of the sanctity of the Sabbath and numerous imperatives to keep the day holy, there is little in rabbinic writings on the Sabbath reflecting these facets of the day’s observance. In contrast, Jewish writers from the Second Temple period and mem- bers of the Samaritan-Israelites actively sanctified the Sabbath by maintaining the day in a state of ritual purity. In this article, I reassess the exegetical and theological origins of this latter practice. I illustrate how non-rabbinic writers were attuned to the web of biblical connections between Sabbath, Tabernacle/Temple, and Eden, which they understood as bringing the Sab- bath into the realm of cultic law. Just as access to the Temple demanded the ritual purity of the entrant, so too entering the Sabbath day. This “spatialization” of ritual time coheres with other known extensions of the domain of Temple laws. With these findings as a backdrop, I present the previously unexplained ritual purity tangents attested in Mishnah Shabbat as both responding to, and dismissing, the sectarian practice. This move coheres with an additional phenomenon, whereby the rabbis systematically disengaged the imperative to sanctify the Sabbath from the people. Whereas Jewish theologians see in the rabbinic Sabbath a temporal Temple, such an understanding is foreign to rabbinic literature and instead finds its best articulation in sectarian sources.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago


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