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The book of Deuteronomy was one of the most popular religious texts in the Second Temple period. The finds from the Judean Desert present us with a wealth of manuscripts of Deuteronomy from the late Second Temple period, and the literature of Second Temple Judaism attests to the importance of Deuteronomy in Jewish thought in the period, quoting, alluding, and reusing the text in numerous ways. This paper presents some of the evidence for the popularity of Deuteronomy through a look at some of the texts found in the caves at Qumran. It begins with manuscripts of Deuteronomy itself, then turns to a group of texts that uses portions of Deuteronomy for liturgical or study purposes (including the phylacteries and the mezuzot), and finally it examines two texts from the category “Rewritten Bible” that utilize Deuteronomy, 4QReworked Pentateuch and the Temple Scroll.
The paper presents several examples of manuscripts from the Qumran collection that testify to the importance and popularity of the book of Deuteronomy in the Second Temple period. Deuteronomy was an authoritative text in and of itself, an important book in the creation of texts for study purposes and/or liturgical use, and was used as a base text in the exegetical creation of Rewritten Bible works with claims to their own authority. Deuteronomy may be termed the “second law” but clearly had attained first place in Second Temple Judaism.