The Hebrew expression ביד רמה (“with an uplifted hand”) is used in the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls to convey defiance and arrogance. It is also used to qualify intent with respect to sin. This essay examines how data from the Qumran library significantly enhance our knowledge about how the expression was used in ancient Judaism. Special emphasis is placed on how a rare meaning found in the book of Numbers was used to shape religious law in many of the sectarian texts found at Qumran. Essene writers would not have made distinctions between what modern scholars label as Priestly and Holiness source materials in pentateuchal books, but modern literary analysis of the Pentateuch can shed light on how and why certain texts had the particular influences that they did in history. This paper suggests that the legal/literary innovations of the postexilic Holiness School ultimately played a role in the later development of Essene/sectarian constructions of Jewish identity. Literary and linguistic analyses can provide a partial genealogy of sin between the Holiness School and the Essenes. The Holiness School’s extension of the concept of holiness from the collective to the individual made it possible for the Essenes to develop a unique notion of Jewish identity that tied the Torah faithfulness of various types of individuals to their community status.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.