We examine the Hebrew Talmud's account of internal controls in the ancient Jerusalem Temple (c.823 B.C.E. to 70 C.E.) This far-reaching enterprise involved an extensive system of sacrificial offerings, management of three annual pilgrimages, a court system and maintenance of a priestly class. We outline the annual process of collecting half-shekel and other donations, withdrawals from the Temple treasury and the sale of libations. The Talmud describes numerous internal controls: donations were segregated according to their specific purposes and donation chests were shaped with small openings to prevent theft. When making withdrawals from the Temple treasury, the priest-treasurer was required to wear specific clothing to prevent misappropriation of assets. The Treasury chamber itself had seven seals, requiring the presence of seven different indiÃ‚Âviduals, including the king, in order to open it. The process of selling libations and meal offerings required purchasing and then redeeming different tickets, which were specifically marked to prevent fraud. In explaining the reasoning for this tight system of internal controls, the Talmud reveals that an individual shall be guiltless before G-D and before Israel [Numbers 32: 22], so that a sound system of internal controls prevents both theft and any suspicion of theft, thus establishing the fiscal credibility of the Temple institution in the eyes of its congregants. Such an approach indicates that accounting did not represent a profane, secular vocation at odds with the Temple's mission. To the contrary, a system of accountability formed integral steps in the Temple's ritual processes.
Fonfeder, Robert; Holtzman, Mark P.; and Maccarrone, Eugene
"Internal controls in the Talmud: The Jersusalem Temple,"
Accounting Historians Journal: Vol. 30
, Article 5.
Available at: https://egrove.olemiss.edu/aah_journal/vol30/iss1/5