Qumran Sabbath Law

QumranThe Qumran sect began the Sabbath shortly before sunset on Friday night to ensure that they would not do work on the Sabbath. All discussion of business was forbidden and even walking in the field to plan future work was prohibited.

The sect accepted the Sabbath limit – tehum shabbat – and ruled that a man could only walk a thousand cubits beyond his city limits unless he was pasturing animals, in which case he could walk two thousand cubit.

All food had to be prepared before the Sabbath, including the opening of containers. Food and drink could be consumed only within the camp. Carrying from domain to domain was prohibited even inside the camp.

The Sabbath could not be violated to save material possessions, including animals. It is probably that the sect allowed the violation of the Sabbath to save a human life but required this be accomplished without the use of instruments or tools that were muqseh, wherever possible.

The Qumran sect also prohibited spending the Sabbath amongst gentiles, either for fear that one would be tempted to violate the day or because of the danger of impurity.

For more information about the Qumran Sabbath Code, see Schiffman, The Halakhah at Qumran, p.84-133.





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