Dice, Stars and Names: Women and Technical Divination in the Dead Sea Scrolls

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
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  • 1 Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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Abstract

Recent studies demonstrate the Dead Sea Scrolls attest to a wide variety of methods of technical divination. While scholars have analyzed these techniques, women’s involvement in them has not been addressed. I argue that by choosing a methodological perspective that allows women’s presence in the texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide an important witness to women’s involvement in various divinatory techniques. By focusing on three avenues to inquire about the divine will: the oracle of the lot, astronomy, and physiognomy, I suggest that apart from being objects of these methods, women were involved in their practice. Women’s participation in technical divinatory techniques is the most noticeable in inquiries that concern their own bodies and matters related to procreation.

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