Divine Revelation and Human Exegesis; Or, How to Recognize a False Prophet When You See One

Aharon Shemesh

in Halakhah in the Making

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780520259102
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945036 | DOI:
Divine Revelation and Human Exegesis; Or, How to Recognize a False Prophet When You See One

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The Qumran scrolls present the exegesis of the Torah and consequently the halakhic decisions that stem from it as the product of divine inspiration. However, the rabbinic writings treat it as an open-ended process of human exegetical activity. This chapter argues that this aspect of the relationship between early sectarian and later rabbinic halakhic discourse is best explained by the developmental model. This is because the early Jewish literature, very much like the Dead Sea Scrolls, strongly tends toward attributing a divine origin to halakhic biblical explanations. On the contrary, later generations tend toward embracing human activity as a source of authority that is rooted in the exegetical process. Parting of the ways between early sectarian writings and later rabbinic literature is especially evident in the procedures that the two groups employ for making legal decisions. This is best illustrated by their opposing treatment of the biblical injunctions concerning the false prophet, on the one hand, and the status of the high court's decisions, on the other. Rabbis, due to the lack of appropriate means, treated the false prophet as a sage; the Qumranites took the opposite tack.

Keywords: Qumran scrolls; divine revelation; false Prophet; Dead Sea Scrolls; rabbinic halakhic discourse

Chapter.  10247 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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