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On the path of correct law observance: a comparative and diachronic study of the Hebrew roots d.r.a, and in the Qumran Manuscripts, biblical Hebrew and rabbinical literature

Grant number: 16/26177-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2017
Effective date (End): January 31, 2018
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature
Principal Investigator:Clarisse Ferreira da Silva
Grantee:Rebeca Mendes da Fonseca da Silva
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/50339-4 - Jewish history and literature from the Second Temple period: interdisciplinary commentaries on the Qumran manuscripts, AP.JP


The scrolls discovered in the region of Qumran, near the Dead Sea, gather biblical, apocryphal and pseudepigrapha texts, as well as unique documents that were produced by a Jewish sect that probably existed between the first and the second century. These documents are characterized by the radical nature of their world view, which divided the humanity between the "children of light" and the "children of darkness". At the same time, the identity of the sect was defined by its particular and rigorous exegesis of the Mosaic Law. It was a prerequisite for belonging in the community to sharing the belief that Jewish society was lenient in its interpretation and in its observance of divine teachings through the Holy Scriptures.The sectarian world, nevertheless, creates a peculiar language, recognizable, in all its depth and scope, only by its own members. On the other hand, biblical Hebrew was clearly the standard to be followed, being imitated with some success. At the same time, it is clear that the sectarian authors and their scribes were influenced by the Hebrew of their own time, which still developed for a few more centuries to be eventually transcribed in the first rabbinic compilation: the Mishnah. The present project aims to work with three Hebrew roots that can be correlated by their direct connection with correct exegesis and observance of the Law: "d.r.a" (to inquire, to seek, to examine), "" (= to step on) and "" (= to go, to walk, to follow). The research perspective will be diachronic, comparing its semantic values in biblical texts, sectarian manuscripts of Qumran and in ancient rabbinical literature, more specifically, the Mishnah. We see the root "d.r.a", for example, appear as a central noun in the rabbinic language, that is, through the word "midrash". This term is present in the biblical and qumranic texts, but would it originally have the same meaning and importance that it would later gain among the rabbis? It is not what it seems to us, although the verb "lidroa" was evidently very dear to the sectarians of Qumran, who used it when dealing with the means of inquiring the divine will stipulated in the Law. In its turn, "derekh" (= path) may have been imbued by the Qumranites of a sense close to that which would later be conferred on the "halakhah" by the rabbis. However, only a thorough research of each of the contexts - Rabbinic and Qumranic - and the deep meaning of the two terms will allow their differences and semantic similarities to be verified. In any case, even if Qumran did not know or reject the term "halakhah", the use of the verb "lehithalekh" (= to walk) in close connection with the Law was part of the common sect vocabulary. (AU)

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