FAMOUS DEAD SEA SCROLLS: WAR SCROLL AND COMMUNITY RULE

CONTENTS OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS


Jeremiah or Ezra holding a scroll superimposed on a Dead Sea Scroll

The Dead Sea Scrolls contain early copies of almost every book of the Hebrew Bible and have been called, justifiably, the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century. Dating between roughly 200 B.C. up until about A.D. 70, when the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and Qumran was abandoned, the 900 manuscripts found in 11 caves contain materials that include canonical works from the Hebrew Bible, including Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Kings and Deuteronomy. They also include psalms, hymns, calendars, apocryphal (non-canonical) biblical works and community rules. One scroll made of copper describes the location of buried treasure. Questions about who wrote the scrolls are still debated. Many scholars believe they were writtem by a monastic sect called the Essenes, who lived at Qumran. [Source: Owen Jarus, Live Science, September 30, 2013]

Shaye I.D. Cohen of Brown University wrote: “The manuscripts that we call the Dead Sea Scrolls are a wide variety of texts. Some of these texts are hardly sectarian texts. These are texts that all Jews would have had, all Jews would have read. For example, the largest single category of Dead Sea text or Qumran Scrolls are text you and I call Biblical. No one is going to say the Book of Genesis was a Qumran document because fragments of the Book of Genesis were found in the Qumran scrolls.... We have to realize then that the Qumran scrolls contain a wide variety of text and we are not always able to distinguish clearly those texts which they simply read from those texts, which they actually wrote. [Source: Shaye I.D. Cohen, Samuel Ungerleider Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies Brown University, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

L. Michael White of the University of Texas wrote: “Among the cache of scrolls that we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls, are three distinct types of material. First, we have a collection of copies of the actual books of the Hebrew Scriptures. These people were copyists. They were preserving the texts of the Bible itself. Secondly, there were commentaries on these biblical texts. But these commentaries also show their own interpretation of what would happen. This is where we begin to get some of the insights into the way the Essenes at Qumran believed, because of the way they interpret the prophecies of Isaiah, or the prophesies of Habakkuk as well as the way they read the Torah, itself. So among the scrolls, then, we have a complete set of almost all the biblical books, and commentaries on many of them. "The Isaiah Scroll" is one of the most famous of the biblical manuscripts. And the commentaries on Isaiah is also very important for our understanding of Jewish interpretation of Scripture in this period. [Source: L. Michael Whit, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

“The third major type of material found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, though, in some ways is the most interesting insight into the life of the community that lived there, because this material includes their own sectarian writings, that is, their rules of life ... their prayer book. Included then, is the book of the rule of the community or sometimes called "The Manual of Discipline", which talks about how one goes about getting into the community. The rules for someone who wants to be pure and a part of the elect community. We also have something called "The War Scroll" and the War Scroll seems to be their own battle plan for the war that will occur at the end of the present evil age. And so this is something that really is real in their mind ... that this coming end of the age will be a cataclysmic event in their view. Also was found something called "The Copper Scroll". Quite literally, with the letters incised, in Hebrew, into soft, burnished copper. And the contents of the Copper Scroll are still a source of great interest among many people, because people think it may be a treasure map of their own holdings.” <>

Books: The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls ; The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English by Geza Vermes; Discoveries in the Judean Desert (Oxford University Press).

Websites and Resources: Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ; Bible History Online bible-history.com ; Biblical Archaeology Society biblicalarchaeology.org ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) ccel.org ; Judaism Judaism101 jewfaq.org ; Aish.com aish.com ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; torah.org torah.org ; Chabad,org chabad.org/library/bible ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/judaism ; BBC - Religion: Judaism bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica, britannica.com/topic/Judaism; Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline jewishhistory.org.il/history ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Jewish History Resource Center dinur.org ; Center for Jewish History cjh.org ; Jewish History.org jewishhistory.org ; Christianity and Christians Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Christianity.com christianity.com ; BBC - Religion: Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/ ; Christianity Today christianitytoday.com; Biblical Images: Bible in Pictures creationism.org/books ebibleteacher ebibleteacher.com ; Bible-History.com bible-history.com ; Pictures from the Bible lavistachurchofchrist.org ; Bible Blue Letter Images blueletterbible.org/images ; Biblical Images preceptaustin.org

War Scroll


Shaye I.D. Cohen of Brown University wrote: “The Qumran Scrolls reveal a variety of scenarios for the end of days. The most conspicuous one or the best known one perhaps, is the scroll called the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. Where the Sons of Light, of course, is short-[hand]... for themselves. The group itself clearly consists of the Sons of Light... the Sons of Darkness are everybody else, apparently - Jews, gentiles, priests, plain people, all alike, lumped together, under the category of the Sons of Darkness, and at some point there will be a major battle, a cataclysmic struggle, not just between people, not just between the bad guys and the good guys, as we would say in America, but also between cosmic forces, the cosmic forces of evil and the cosmic forces of good. And, in this gigantic struggle, the angels will fight along side the Sons of Light, against the Sons of Darkness and the forces of evil. And, needless to say, this will end with a victory for the Sons of Light.... What will happen after the victory, the Scroll does not clearly spell out as carefully as or clearly as we might have liked. Other scrolls have different scenarios or different pictures, which downplay or minimize this battle aspect and play up instead other aspects. [Source: Shaye I.D. Cohen, Samuel Ungerleider Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies Brown University, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

Michael Wise told PBS: This section of the scrolls presents the Essenes' apocalyptic vision of the final battle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. This kind of apocalyptic sensibility was a discernible strain of Jewish thought at the time of Jesus; some scholars detect this sensibility in Jesus' message about the coming Kingdom of God. Armageddon: the war to end all wars. These words stir up images of inevitable conflict, the final focus on the dark side of human nature, the ultimate catharsis that ushers in an age of peace. All of these issues come to a head in the War Scroll, a text that describes the eschatological last battle in gory detail as righteousness is fully victorious and evil is forever destroyed. This vivid account gives us insight into how, at about the time of Jesus, some Jews conceived of Armageddon. [Source: Michael Wise, Frontline, PBS, April 1998.Book; “Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation” by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr. And Edward Cook (Harper, 1996) <>]

“The first lines of the scroll (1QM 1:1-7) lay the framework for a three-stage conflict between the Sons of Light--that is, members of the Yahad[1] (see 1QS 3:13)--and the Sons of Darkness. The first battle finds the adversaries led by the Kittim of Assyria. (Although the name Kittim is often used in the scrolls as a reference to the Romans, its basic sense seems to have been "archetypical bad guys.") The Kittim of Asshur come in alliance with the biblical enemies Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia. Cooperating with this unholy alliance are the "violators of the covenant": Jews who had spurned the message of the Yahad and in so doing aligned themselves with the Sons of Darkness. The second stage expands the war's influence to the Kittim who dwelt in Egypt, and then finally to the Kings of the North. <>


War Scroll

“Although this war is said to extend over forty years, the writer of the scroll was particularly concerned with the details of the very final day of battle. After six bloody engagements during this last battle, the Sons of Light and Sons of Darkness are deadlocked in a 3-3 tie. In the seventh and final confrontation "the great hand of God shall overcome [Belial and al]l the angels of his dominion, and all the men of [his forces shall be destroyed forever]" (IQM 1:14-15). Along the way, in true apocalyptic fashion, the scroll goes into elaborate detail Concerning the battle trumpets (2:15-3:11), banners (3:12-5-2), and operational matters (5:3-9:16). Priestly prayers for the various phases of the conflict are recorded next (9:17-l5:3). Finally, the seven savage engagements of the final day of battle are detailed (15:4-18:8), culminating in a ceremony of thanksgiving on the day following the victory (18:10-19:14). <>

“As with biblical representatives of apocalyptic literature, Ezekiel 38-39 and the Revelation of John as pertinent examples, one can easily lose sight of the primary purpose of the work. It is not to be found in the intricate and often mysterious details of the text. Rather, the author was concerned with the tribulation and hopelessness that his readers were currently experiencing. He built his encouragement on a biblical theology of rescue: the defeat of Goliath at the hand of David (1QM 11:1-2), and Pharaoh and the officers of his chariots at the Red Sea (11:9-10). Coupled with this aspect was his understanding that great suffering was part of God's will for the redeemed. Indeed, God's crucible (17:9) was seen as a necessary component of man's existence so long as evil continued to exist in the world. Ultimately, God's purpose was to exalt the Sons of Light and to judge the Children of Darkness. The message is one of hope. In the face of such perverse evil, the Sons of Light are encouraged to persevere to the end. God was preparing to intervene and bring a permanent solution for the problem of evil.” <>

Contents of the War Scroll

The War Scroll itself is one of the first seven texts found by the Bedouin in 1947. Nineteen columns of text are preserved, lacking only a few lines at the bottom edge and the final page or pages of the composition. The description of the eschatological war Col. 1 reads: “For the In[structor, the Rule of] the War. The first attack of the Sons of Light shall be undertaken against the forces of the Sons of Darkness, the army of Belial: the troops of Edom, Moab, the sons of Ammon, the [Amalekitesl, Philistia, and the troops of the Kittim of Asshur. Supporting them are those who have violated the covenant. The sons of Levi, the sons of Judah, and the sons of Benjamin, those exiled to the wilderness, shall fight against them with [ . . . ] against all their troops, when the exiles of the Sons of Light return from the Wilderness of the Peoples to camp in the Wilderness of Jerusalem. Then after the battle they shall go up from that place a[nd the king of] the Kittim [shall enter] into Egypt. In his time he shall go forth with great wrath to do battle against the kings of the north and in his anger he shall set out to destroy and eliminate the strength of I[srael. Then there shall be a time of salvation for the People of God, and a time of dominion for all the men of His forces, and eternal annihilation for all the forces of Belial. [Source: Michael Wise, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

There shall be g[reat] panic [among] the sons of Japheth. Assyria shall fall with no one to come to his aid, and the supremacy of the Kittim shall cease, that wickedness be overcome without a remnant. There shall be no survivors of [all the Sons of] Darkness.

“Then [the Sons of Rig]hteousness shall shine to all ends of the world, continuing to shine forth until end of the appointed seasons of darkness. Then at the time appointed by God, His great excellence shall shine for all the times of e[ternity;] for peace and blessing, glory and joy, and long life for all Sons of Light. On the day when the Kittim fall there shall be a battle and horrible carnage before the God of Israel, for it is a day appointed by Him from ancient times as a battle of annihilation for the Sons of Darkness. On that day the congregation of the gods and the congregation of men shall engage one another, resulting in great carnage. The Sons of Light and the forces of Darkness shall fight together to show the strength of God with the roar of a great multitude and the shout of gods and men: a day of disaster. It is a time of distress fo[r al]l the people who are redeemed by God. In all their afflictions none exists that is like it, hastening to its completion as an eternal redemption. On the day of their batlle against the Kittim, they shall g[o forth for] carnage in battle. In three lots the Sons of Light shall stand firm so as to strike a blow at wickedness, and in three the army of Belial shall strengthen themselves so as to force the retreat of the forces [of Light. And when the] banners of the infantry cause their hearts to melt. then the strength of God will strengthen the he[arts of the Sons of Light.] In the seventh lot the great hand of God shall overcome [Belial and al]1 the angels of his dominion, and all the men of [his forces shall be destroyed forever].


War scroll


Community Rule Scroll

Originally known as The Manual of Discipline, the Community Rule contains a set of regulations ordering the life of the members of the "yahad," the group within the Judean Desert sect who chose to live communally and whose members accepted strict rules of conduct. This fragment cites the admonitions and punishments to be imposed on violators of the rules, the method of joining the group, the relations between the members, their way of life, and their beliefs. The sect divided humanity between the righteous and the wicked and asserted that human nature and everything that happens in the world are irrevocably predestined. The scroll ends with songs of praise to God. [Source: ibiblio.org/expo/deadsea.scrolls.exhibi

The Community Rule (Serekh ha-Yahad) is 8.8 centimeters (3 7/16 in.) high and 21.5 centimeters (8 7/16 in.) wide. Written on parchment, it was copied in late first century B.C. or A.D. first century and is now kept by the Israel Antiquities Authority. A complete copy of the scroll, eleven columns in length, was found in Cave 1. Ten fragmentary copies were recovered in Cave 4, and a small section was found in Cave 5. The large number of manuscript copies attests to the importance of this text for the sect. This particular fragment is the longest of the versions of this text found in Cave 4.

Shaye I.D. Cohen of Brown University wrote: “The Manual of Discipline is a text that envisions a community living in almost total isolation, a community that is self-contained, that is governed very strictly by a Board of Governors, or a series of overlapping authorities, governing community in which everybody owes obedience to their superiors. There's an oath of entry; it is a very much monastic community, for want of the better word, a community with little or no private property. That point is debated in the text but it seems at least that you surrendered if not all, then at least some of your property to the kind of community pot; in turn, then, the community would look out for you and look after you. So, it is very much a community where the individual has somehow been merged into a communal group.... Like a monastic community, there is no private property and, most striking of all, there are no women, and as a result, there are few children. It is a group almost exclusively consisting of adult males, who are to spend their life following the rules of the group and acting out the theological principles and beliefs of the group.... [Source: Shaye I.D. Cohen, Samuel Ungerleider Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies Brown University, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

Importance of the Dead Sea Scroll Community Rule

Michael Wise told PBS: “It was among the first seven scrolls found and has been central to discussions about the Dead Sea Scrolls ever since. But this work's centrality has depended less on the accident that it was among the first scrolls discovered (though that has been a factor) than on its character and on the fact that the Cave 1 copy was virtually intact. Also, the sheer number of copies of this work discovered in the caves--thirteen, almost as many as copies of Genesis and Exodus, and more than almost any of the other books of the Bible--dictates this work's centrality in any attempt to understand the phenomenon of the scrolls. Clearly sectarian, this writing uses striking language and imagery to express the mind-set of outsiders. [Source: Michael Wise, Frontline, PBS, April 1998. Book; “Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation” by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr. And Edward Cook (Harper, 1996) <>]


Community Rule Scroll


“Scholars commonly refer to this work as the"Community Rule.'' This work is supposed to have governed a community living at Qumran. But that idea is at least partly wrong; the work itself refers to various groups or chapters scattered throughout Palestine. Therefore it did not attach specifically to the site of Qumran (whatever the connection of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the site may be, and whatever the nature of that site may be). This text does not merely reflect a small community living there. Since "community" usually implies a definite and restricted geographical location and thereby calls this mistaken notion to mind, it seems better to find a different word for the text's users. To avoid the misleading connotations of various possible English semi-equivalents we have decided to use one of the association's most common self-designations, Yahad, "unity."<>

“The present text is essentially a constitution or charter for the Yahad. That it is a charter becomes clear by comparison with charters from elsewhere in the contemporary Greco-Roman world. Research by Moshe Weinfeld and Matthias Klinghardt among others has shown that virtually every structural element of this ancient Jewish writing has analogs in the charters of guilds and religious associations from Egypt, Greece, and Asia Minor. Yet it seems that something more is going on in this writing than simply chartering a club...<>

“Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, described the major Jewish groups as philosophical schools, not clubs. His portrayal is usually dismissed by scholars as a misleading adaptation of the true Jewish situation, done for the sake of his Greek-reading audience. If, however, we give the historian's characterization a bit more credence, we note that in some ways the group described by our text was indeed more like a philosophic academy than a club.<>

“As the work describes it, the association is made up of priests, Levites (a secondary priestly order),"Israel," and Gentile proselytes. In this context "Israel" means not the generality of Jews, but only those who accept the teachings of the group. Other Jews, along with the surrounding Gentile nations, are considered "Men of Perversity" who "walk in the wicked way." Entry into the group is through conversion. Following repentance from sin, the initiate begins a two year process leading to full membership. During this period he (women are not specifically mentioned) receives instruction in the group's secret knowledge and passes through progressively higher stages of purity; Some of the convert's wealth (according to 7:6-8 he retained an unspecified portion of his funds) is merged with that of the group, a practice markedly similar to that of early Christians described in the New Testament book of Acts. Eventually the association assigns him a rank based upon his obedience to the Law of Moses as they understand it. Rank and advancement in group life depends in large measure upon doing "works of the Law" (Hebrew maase ha-torah), a phrase significant also in writings of the apostle Paul.<>

Theological issues Raised in Community Rule

Michael Wise told PBS: ““Each chapter of the association has a leader known as the Instructor, probably the foremost priest, who guides deliberations about rules for the group's government, association funds, and biblical interpretation. Indeed, the heading of the text from Cave 1 states that this copy belonged to an Instructor, who may well have referred to the work when instructing new converts. Decisions are by majority rule. The local chapters comprise at least ten men who meet for meals and Bible study. Each year they conduct a full review of the membership. At that time a man's rank can change, for better or worse, according to his behavior and biblical understanding. The use of military terminology is notable. Members are described "volunteers" and are organized into groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. The method of organization is that used in the holy war conducted under Moses and Joshua when Israel first attacked the Canaanites and took possession of the land of Israel. This choice of terminology was, of course, deliberate. The group thought of itself as warriors awaiting God's signal to begin the final war against the nations and the wicked among the Jews. Meanwhile they sought to live in a heightened state of purity as the Bible required for holy warriors... [Source: Michael Wise, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]


Community Rule Scroll


“Many of this work's theological ideas are familiar to us from other Jewish writings and early Christianity (which was, of course, itself a Jewish movement when it began). As with Christianity, members of the association envision themselves as entering a new covenant with God, truly fulfilling the old Mosaic covenant. The charter calls this new covenant variously the Covenant of Mercy, the Covenant of the Eternal Yahad, the Eternal Covenant, and the Covenant of Justice. Believers are presently living in an era when Satan (here called Belial) rules the world. The New Testament terms Satan "the Prince of this world." Ultimately, that fact explains why believers, who know and live by the truth, have such difficulties in this world. Believers are Children of Light, nonbelievers Children of Darkness--terminology also used in the New Testament. Among the names, the association calls itself "The Way" (e.g., 9:18), a self-designation that some of the first Christians also used (Acts 9:2).<>

“In the future the charter anticipates a "gracious visitation" of God. Then adherents will enter into the Day of Vengeance, and this world's power structures will be overturned: the last shall be first and the first, last. Those who enter the Yahad of God can anticipate long life, bountiful peace, multiple progeny, and eventually life everlasting. One passage of the text may speak of the hope of resurrection (11:16-17). Believers will one day receive a "crown of glory" and a "robe of honor." On the other hand, everyone not belonging to the group is fated to everlasting damnation, an eternity of torture by the evil "angels of perdition," all the while burning in utter darkness. The charter's long descriptive passages on hell and the fate of unbelievers are chilling, their detail doubtless a reflection of the almost palpable hatred of outsiders.<>

“Perhaps the most striking conceptual--even verbal--similarity between early Christian thought and that of this charter is the notion of community as temple. Paul speaks of the believers being "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God" (Eph. 2:20-22). Our text describes the believers as a "temple for Israel and . . . Holy of Holies . . . the tested wall, the precious cornerstone whose foundations shall neither be shaken nor swayed . . . a blameless and true house in [srael" (8:5-9). Thus both early Christians and members of this association conceived of themselves al strictly as the true temple. They had replaced the physical structure in Jerusalem This was an idea with a transcendent implication, since the Bible could be read saying that God lived in the Jerusalem Temple. For both of these groups, God did not dwell in that mere hollow edifice built by human hands. He lived in them.<>

“The work begins by characterizing the covenant to which members are to commit themselves. The author further describes the ideal community in general terms and explains the role to be taken by an Instructor as a teacher for the community.<>

Contents of Community Rule

An English translation of The Community Rule reads: “And according to his insight he shall admit him. In this way both his love and his hatred. No man shall argue or quarrel with the men of perdition. He shall keep his council in secrecy in the midst of the men of deceit and admonish with knowledge, truth and righteous commandment those of chosen conduct, each according to his spiritual quality and according to the norm of time. He shall guide them with knowledge and instruct them in the mysteries of wonder and truth in the midst of the members of the community, so that they shall behave decently with one another in all that has been revealed to them. That is the time for studying the Torah (lit. clearing the way) in the wilderness. He shall instruct them to do all that is required at that time, and to separate from all those who have not turned aside from all deceit. [Source: Qimron, E. "A Preliminary Publication of 4QSd Columns VII-VIII" (in Hebrew). Tarbiz 60 (1991):435-37]

“These are the norms of conduct for the Master in those times with respect to his loving and to his everlasting hating of the men of perdition in a spirit of secrecy. He shall leave to them property and wealth and earnings like a slave to his lord, (showing) humility before the one who rules over him. He shall be zealous concerning the Law and be prepared for the Day of Revenge.... He shall perform the will [of God] in all his deeds and in all strength as He has commanded. He shall freely delight in all that befalls him, and shall desire nothing except God's will...”

Contents of Community Rule Col 1


Dead Sea Scroll jars

Col 1 of Community Rule reads: “A text belonging to [the Instructor, who is to teach the Ho]ly Ones how to live according to the book of the Yahad's Rule. He is to teach them to seek God with all their heart and with all their soul, to do that which is good and upright before Him, just as He commanded through Moses and all His servants the prophets. [Source: “Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation” by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr. And Edward Cook (Harper, 1996)]

“He is to teach them to love everything He chose and to hate everything He rejected, to distance themselves from all evil and to hold fast to all good deeds; to practice truth, justice, and righteousness in the land, and to walk no longer in a guilty, willful heart and lustful desires, wherein they did every evil thing. He is to induct all who volunteer to live by the laws of God into the Covenant of Mercy, so as to be joined to God's society and walk faultless before Him, according to all that has been revealed for the times appointed them. He is to teach them both to love all the Children of Light--each commensurate with his rightful place in the council of God--and to hate all the Children of Darkness, each commensurate with his guilt stand the vengeance due him from God.

“All who volunteer for His truth are to bring the full measure of their knowledge. strength, and wealth into the Yahad of God. Thus will they purify their knowledge in the verity of God's laws, properly excercise their strength according to the perfection of His ways, and likewise their wealth by the canon of His righteous counsel. They are not to deviate in the smallest detail from any of God's words as these apply to their own nme. They are neither to advance their holy times nor to postpone any of their prescribed festivals. They shall turn aside from His unerring laws neither to the right nor the left.”

Col. 5 of Community Rule

Col 5 of Community Rule reads: “This is the rule for the men of the Yahad who volunteer to repent from all evil and to hold test to all that He, by His good will, has commanded. They are to separate from the congregation of perverse men. They are to come together as one with respect to Law and wealth. Their discussions shall be under the oversight of the Sons of Zadok--priests and preservers of the Covenant--and according to the majority rule of the men of the Yahad, who hold fast to the Covenant. These men shall guide all decisions on matters of Law, money, and judgment. [Source: “Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation” by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr. And Edward Cook (Harper, 1996)]

They are to practice truth together with humility, charity, justice, loving-kindness, and modesty in all their ways. Accordingly, none will continue in a willful heart and thus be seduced, not by his heart, neither by his eyes nor yet by his lower nature. Together they shall circumcise the foreskin of this nature, this stiff neck, and so establish a foundation of truth for Israel--that is to say, for the Yahad of the Eternal Covenant. They are to atone for all those in Aaron who volunteer for holiness, and for those in Israel who belong to truth, and for Gentile proselytes who join them in community. Both by trial and by verdict they are to condemn any who transgress a regulation.


Temple Scroll

“General principles of organization intended to govern the various local chapters of the Community in their joint meals and study of the Bible. By these rules they are to govern themselves wherever they dwell, in acccordance with each legal finding that bears upon communal life. Inferiors must obey their ranking superiors as regards work and wealth. They shall eat, pray, and deliberate communally.Wherever ten men belonging to the society of the Yahad are gathered, a priest must always be present. The men shall sit before the priest by rank, and in that manner their opinions will be sought on any matter.When the table has been set for eating or the new wine readied for drinking, it is the priest who shall stretch out his hand first, blessing the first portion of the bread or the new wine. In any place where is gathered the ten-man quorum, someone must always be engaged in study of the Law, day and night, continually, each one taking his turn. The general membership will be diligent together for the first third of every night of the year, reading aloud from the Book, interpreting Scripture, and praying together.

“The purpose of tlie community, its manfesto, is reiterated. This statement ends by looking forward to the arrival of a prophet--perhaps the "prophet like Moses" predicted by the book of Dueteronomy, or perhaps a herald such as John the Baptist became for early Christians--and two messiahs, one priestly and one presumably in the royal line of David. When, united by all these precepts, such men as these come to be a community in Israel, they shall establish eternal truth guided by the instruction of His holy spirit. They shall atone for the guilt of transgression and the rebellion of sin, becoming an acceptable sacrifice for the land through the flesh of burnt offerings. the fat of sacrificial portions, and prayer, becoming--as it were--justice itself, a sweet savor of righteousness and blameless behavior, a pleasing freewill offering. At that time the men of the Yahad shall withdraw, the holy house of Aaron uniting as a Holy of Holies, and the synagogue of Israel as those who walk blamelessly. The sons of Aaron alone shall have authority in judicial and financial matters. They shall decide on governing precepts tor the men of theYahad and on money matters for the holy men who walk blamelessly. Their wealth is not to be admired with that of rebellious men, who have failed to cleanse their path by separating from perversity and walking blamelessly. They shall deviate trom none of the teachings of the Law, whereby they would walk in their willful heart completely. They shall govern themselves using the original precepts by which the men of the Yahad began to be instructed, doing so until there come the Prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel.”

Ein Gedi Scroll

Ein Gedi is a desert oasis located on the western shore of the Dead Sea. Its rich history includes nearly 5,000 years of off-and-on human occupation. Perhaps best known as the hideout of David when he fled from King Saul, Ein Gedi was also the site of a Byzantine Jewish village. At some point, the entire village burned down, including its mosaic-floored synagogue. In 1970, archaeologists unearthed a badly scorched scroll at the site where Ein Gedi’s synagogue used to be. Fire damage made it impossible to open, let alone read.

Almost 50 years later, modern technology did the unimaginable; it allowed the 1,500-year-old scroll to be read without unrolling it. Scientists scanned the parchment with specialized software that opened the scroll virtually. They were stunned when the process revealed legible writing, which nobody had truly expected. What they found were the opening verses of the Book of Leviticus. Now recognized as the oldest biblical text since the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Ein Gedi scroll is also the first Torah scroll to be unearthed in a synagogue during archaeological excavations.

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018


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