Eruv and Sectarianism in Ancient Judaism: The Book of Jubilees
So far we have seen that the prohibition on carrying from domain to domain is widespread in the Dead Sea Scrolls literature. But we have argued above that this is part of a wider trend in Jewish law. To convince you that this is correct, and that in general the priestly trend, that is, the Zadokite-Sadducee approach, takes this view, we will now look at parallels from the book of Jubilees. This is a text that was composed somewhere between 180 B.C.E. and the Maccabean revolt (168-164 B.C.E.) of which a number of fragmentary manuscripts are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unfortunately, the passages we will discuss here are not preserved in Second Temple period manuscripts but derive from the ancient Ethiopic translation probably via Greek.
The prohibition of carrying appears in Jubilees in two separate collections of Sabbath laws. Jubilees 2:29-30 states:
(29) …(That it is not lawful to) draw water, or bring in or take out thereon (i.e., on the Sabbath) through their gates any burden, which they had not prepared for themselves on the sixth day in their dwellings. (30) And they shall not bring in or take out from house to house on that day; for that day is more holy and blessed than any Jubilee day of the Jubilees.
While it is likely that there is some confusion in the text that mixes the prohibition on carrying with the requirement that things handled on the Sabbath be prepared beforehand, verse 30 makes clear that based on the Jeremiah passage this text contains the prohibition on carrying from the private domain to the public domain and vice versa, and even from one private domain to another on the Sabbath. (Check notes).
A parallel prohibition is found in Jubilees 50:8 where water drawing, mentioned as we noted in the Zadokite Fragments, is prohibited along with carrying from domain to domain:
And the man that does any work on it shall die:… And whoever draws water thereon (i.e., on the Sabbath) that he had not prepared for himself on the sixth day, and whoever takes up any burden to carry it out of his tent or out of his house shall die.
Clearly, this text sees carrying on the Sabbath from domain to domain, whether out of a tent or a house, as a capital offense. Punishments are not mentioned in the Zadokite Fragments, but we can be certain that this trend of Jewish law saw all violations of Sabbath law as Torah violations, hence incurring death penalties. While it is not our topic today, we should note that the subtle distinctions of the rabbis regarding what is a rabbinic or a Torah prohibition, and, hence, what kinds of real or theoretical punishments would have been involved, is absent in the literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls sect and related groups. It is interesting to note here that drawing of water and carrying from domain to domain, so closely related in the Zadokite Fragments, are again related in this way in Jubilees. This is because these two texts belong to the same priestly, Zadokite-Sadducee trend of Jewish law.
We do not know exactly how traditions of the sectarians in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jubilees were transmitted to them, but it is common to find that the Samaritans, Karaites and the Falashas also saw carrying on the Sabbath as prohibited. Like our ancient Qumran and Jubilees texts, these later groups also did not have the institution of the eruv. This solution was limited to the Talmudic rabbis. In general, these later sect preserve the remnants of priestly, Zadokite-Sadducee legal tradition.
Sadducees according to Rabbinic Sources
Mishnah Eruvin 6:1 reads as follows:
“If someone lives with a non-Jew in a courtyard, or with someone who does not accept (the validity of the institution of) the eruv, then that one (the eruv-denier) imposes a prohibition [of transferring any object from his (the Jew’s) house into the courtyard on the Sabbath on him],“ the words of Rabbi Meir. [But] Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob says: “Indeed, he (the eruv-denier) does not impose a prohibition unless two (ordinary) Israelites impose a prohibition on one another.
This Mishnah clearly refers to somebody who does not accept the institution of eruv. However it does not in any way tell us who this is. This information is filled in by M. 6:2:
Rabban Gamliel said: “There is a story about a certain Sadducee who used to live with us in an alleyway in Jerusalem….
He then continues to describe his father’s opinion on how to avoid this Sadducee’s making impossible the holding of the courtyard as common property for the purpose of having an eruv.
While I am aware that several colleagues have sought to focus this passage on different issues, I would suggest that the classic way of looking at it as identifying the Sadducee as one who does not accept the validity of the eruv is in fact the correct interpretation. What, however, has been under debate for some time is the meaning of not accepting the validity of the eruv. In modern times, it is customary to deal with those who because of legal stringency, whether real or imagined, do not make use of an eruv but do not carry on the Sabbath. I would submit that this was the position of the Sadducees, who denied the entire notion since it is totally dependent on the oral law and not rooted in the written law. I will admit that in my earlier volume I understood the Sadducees differently; I thought that their position was that they did not accept the existence of a prohibition on carrying from domain to domain since it is not explicitly stated in the Torah, only in the Prophets. However, in those years, previous to the publication of the MMT text from Qumran, we did not properly understand the nature of the two competing trends in Jewish law that existed in ancient times. With a fuller perspective, I would support totally the view that the Sadducees did not accept the institution of eruv but did accept the prohibition on carrying from domain to domain, such as is found in the Qumran and Jubilees texts.