The Dead Sea Scrolls: Phylactery

Fragment A: height 17.7 cm (7 in.)length 3 cm (1 3/16 in.)
Fragment B: height 3.8 cm (1 1/2 in.)length 2.8 cm (1 1/8 in.) Mur 4 Phyl


Copied first century-early second century C.E.
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority (3)

The command “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes” (Deut. 6:8) was practiced by Jews from early times. In the Second Temple period the sages established that tefillin (phylacteries; amulets in Greek) would include four scriptural passages inscribed on parchment placed in box-like containers made of black leather. One of the phylacteries was worn one on the left arm and the other on the forehead.
These served “as a sign upon your hand and as a symbol on your forehead that with a mighty hand the Lord freed us from Egypt” (Exodus 13:9, 16).The Dead Sea region has now yielded the earliest phylactery remains, both of the leather containers and the inscribed strips of parchment. As a rule, phylacteries include the same four selections, two from the book of Exodus (Exod. 13:1-10; 13:11-16) and two from Deuteronomy (Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21). The scriptural verses were penned in clear minuscule characters on the elongated writing material, which was folded over to fit the minute compartments stamped into the containers.


Milik, J. T. “Textes Hebraux et Arameens.” In Les Grottes de Murabba`at,
Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, II, pp. 80- 85. Oxford, 1961.
Yadin, Y. “Tefillin (Phylacteries) from Qumran [XQ Phyl 1-4])” (in Hebrew), Eretz-Israel 9 (1969):60-83 and plates.
English Translation of the Phylactery (Tefillin) Scroll
Mur 4 Phyl

Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority (3)

Exod. 13:1-3 (1)And spoke the Lord to Moses saying, (2)”Consecrate to Me every first-born the first issue of every womb of the Israelites, man and beast is Mine.”
(3)And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you went (free) from Egypt, the house of bondage,
how with a mighty hand the Lord freed you from it; no leavened bread shall be eater. (4)This day

Transcription by J. T. Milik; translation adapted from “Tanakh,” pp. 103-4.
Philadelphia, 1985.

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