Dead Sea Scrolls

1. The Identity of the Qumran Community
   1.1. Probable Identification of the Inhabitants of the Qumran Settlement with the Essenes
   1.1.1. Pliny the Elder
   1.1.2. Dio of Prusa
   1.1.3. Epiphanius
   1.2. Parallels between Descriptions of Essenes in the Classical Sources and Qumran Sectarian Texts
      1.2.1. Practices
         A. Prohibition against Use of Oil
         B. No Private Property
         C. The Pure Meal
         D. Prohibition against Spitting
         E. Strictness of Sabbath Observance
         F. Oaths upon Entrance
         G. Secretiveness
         H. Similar Entrance Procedure
      1.2.2. Theological Beliefs
   1.3. Essene Life and the Qumran Settlement
2. The History of the Community
   2.1. Origins
      2.1.1. CD 1.5-11
      2.1.2. Conflict
         A. Internal Conflict
         B. External Conflict
   2.2. Expectation for the Future
   2.3. Pesher-Type Interpretation
3. Organization of the Community
4. Entrance into the Community
   4.1. 1QS 6.13-24
      4.1.1. Initial Examination of Instruction of Candidates (1QS 6.13b-15a)
      4.1.2. Appearance Before the Community (1QS 6.15b-17)
      4.1.3. After the First Year (1QS 6.18-21a)
      4.1.4. Final Admission after the Second Year (1QS 6.20b-23)
   4.2. CD 15.6-15
   4.3. Josephus, War 2.137-39
5. The Essenes as Foretellers of the Future
   5.1. War 1.78-80
   5.2. Ant. 15.371-79
   5.3. War 2.112-13
6. Some Qumran Sectarian Texts
   6.1. Rule of the Community
      6.1.1. Introduction
      6.1.2. Outline of the Rule of the Community
   6.2. The Damascus Document
      6.2.1. Introduction
      6.2.2. Outline of the Damascus Document
   6.3. 4QMMT: Some of the Works of the Torah (Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah)
      6.3.1. Introduction
      6.3.2. Outline of 4QMMT: Some of the Works of the Torah
   6.4. The Temple Scroll
      6.4.1. Introduction
      6.4.2. Outline of Contents
   6.5. Thanksgiving Hymns (Hodayot)
   6.6. The Habakkuk Pesher
   6.7. Barkhi Nafshi (Bless, Oh My Soul)
   6.8. 4Q180–181 (The Ages of Creation)


1. The Identity of the Qumran Community

T. S. Beall, Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls (1988); R. Bergmeier, Die Essenerberichte des Flavius Josephus. Quellen studien zu den Essenertexten im Werk des Jüdischen Historiographen (1993); P. Bilde, "The Essenes in Philo and Josephus," Qumran between the Old and New Testaments (ed. F. Cryer and T. Thompson) 32-68; G. Brooke, The Dead Sea Scrolls And The New Testament (2005); P. Callaway, The History of the Qumran Community (1988); A. F. M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran (1994) 54-87; A. Dupont-Sommer, Les écrits esséniens découverts près de la Mer Morte (1983) 349-68; R. C. Leaney, The Rule of Qumran and its Meaning (1966) 31-33; J. Milik, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea (1959) 80-98; P. Sacchi, The History of the Second Temple Period (2000) 214-49; H. Stegemann, The Library of Qumran (1998); J. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (1994) 71–119; G. Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (1997) 1–90; id., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective (rev. ed.) (1977); G. Vermes and M. Goodman, The Essenes According to the Classical Sources (1989); P. Wernberg-Møller, The Manual of Discipline (1957) 19-20.

As is now well-known, in 1947 the first of many manuscripts mostly written in Hebrew and Aramaic was discovered in a cave near Khirbet Qumran, a village on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. After many years of searching and political wrangling, many more caves containing manuscripts were located. Between 1947 and 1956 eleven caves were located around the ruins of an ancient settlement. The caves in this area were found to contain biblical manuscripts and other texts dating paleographically from the second-Temple period. Of the non-biblical texts discovered, some were already known and available to scholars, but most were not. In addition, some of these were clearly sectarian in origin and not the common intellectual property of second-Temple Judaism.

Ruins at Qumran and Nearby Caves

In the background are the ruins of the settlement at Qumran. The settlement was occupied for about two centuries until 68 or 69, except for a period after an earthquake in 31 BCE. It consisted of a complex of structures with different functions, including workshops, stables, cisterns and what the excavators have identified as a scriptorium. In the foreground are visible some of the caves in which scrolls were found. The rest of the eleven caves are in the vicinity.

Soon after the discovery of these manuscripts investigation began into who was responsible for the composition or copying and preservation of these texts; it is generally assumed that the ruins located nearby were connected to the texts found in the caves, belonging to the community to which the texts belonged, although not every scholar has granted this assumption. The fact that artifacts recovered in the caves are similar to those found at the ruins at the settlement at Khirbet Qumran suggests that the residents of that settlement owned the manuscripts and placed them in the caves. In particular, the clay jars, of a type not otherwise known, in which some of the scrolls were placed are the kind found and produced at the Qumran settlement (Stegemann, The Library of Qumran, 64-65). Naturally, scholars turned to the historical sources to search for the most likely candidate from known Jewish religious groups (or "philosophies," as Josephus calls them) of the second-Temple period. Although there are some who dispute this conclusion, most agreed that the most likely candidate for the production and/or preservation of the Qumran texts was the Essenes, about whom some ancient authors wrote, but, until the Qumran discoveries, whose writings were unavailable. The evidence for the identification of the settlement and texts as Essene is as follows.

1.1. Probable Identification of the Inhabitants of the Qumran Settlement with the Essenes

R. de Vaux, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls, rev. ed. (1973) 133-38; M. Broshi, "The Archeology of Qumran—A Reconsideration," The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research (ed. D. Dimant and U. Rappaport) (1992); P. R. Davies, Qumran (1982); id., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective (1977); J. Murphy-O'Connor, "Kh. Qumran," ABD 5.590-94; J. Magness, "What Was Qumran? Not A Country Villa," BAR 22/6 (1996): 38, 40-47, 72; id., The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002); E. M. Cook, "Qumran: A Ritual Purification Center," BAR 22/6 (1996) 39, 48-51, 73-75.

Josephus describes the Essenes as one of three Jewish "philosophies," by which he means interpretations of Judaism: "For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a stricter discipline, are called Essenes (War 2.8.2; 119). Three non-Jewish sources identify an Essene settlement in the vicinity of the ruins found in Khirbet Qumran. Since there is no detracting evidence, it is probable that the inhabitants of the Qumran settlement were Essenes.

Qumran Cave Four

Qumran Cave Four Exterior

Qumran Cave Four Interior

1.1.1. Pliny the Elder (Natural History)

Pliny the Elder, a Roman, compiled a text from various sources that is a description of places from Spain to India that would interest a Roman reader (Natural History). Probably relying upon a written source, Pliny describes an Essene settlement on the western side of the Dead Sea, to the south of which is the town of En-gedi (infra hos Engada). He writes, "Lying on the west of Asphaltites, and sufficiently distant to escape its noxious exhalations, are the Esseni....Below this people was formerly the town of Engada" (Ab occidente litora Esseni fugiunt usque qua nocent....infra hos Engada oppidum fuit) (5.73). The reason that the phrase infra hos Engada is translated as meaning to the south of and not beneath in a vertical sense is that there is no trace of a settlement "above" En-gedi. Both meanings are possible, and Pliny himself sometimes uses infra with the meaning of "south of" (E. M. Cook, "Qumran: A Ritual Purification Center," BAR 22/6 [1996] 39, 48-51, 73-75. But see A. D. Crown & L. Cansdale, "Qumran: Was It An Essene Settlement?" BAR 20/5 [1994] 25-35, 73). The only ancient ruins that fit Pliny's description are those at Qumran. The fact that when he wrote, c. 77 CE, the Romans had already destroyed the Qumran settlement does not mean that Pliny is referring to another Jewish group who had taken up residence there since its destruction (see Callaway, The History of the Qumran Community, 82-83, 86). Rather, Pliny's source no doubt predates 68 CE.

To the west [of the Dead Sea] the Essenes have put the necessary distance between themselves and the insalubrious shore. They are a people unique of its kind and admirable beyond all others  in the whole world, without women and renouncing love entirely, without money, and having for company only the palm trees. Owing to the throng of newcomers, this people is daily re-born in equal number; indeed those whom, wearied by the fluctuations of fortune, life leads to adopt their customs, stream in in great numbers. Thus, unbelievable though this may seem, for thousands of centuries a people has existed which is eternal yet into which no one is born: so fruitful for them is the repentance which others feel for their past lives!  Below the Essenes was the town of Engada, which yielded only to Jerusalem in fertility and palm groves but is today become another ash-heap.  From there one comes to Masada, situated on a rock, and itself near the lake of Asphalt.

There are some factual errors in Pliny's account. First, to say that the Essenes have existed for a "thousand centuries" (per saeculorum milia) is exaggeration easily recognizable as such by any reader, ancient or modern. Second, the comparison between En-gedi and Jerusalem should probably be between En-gedi and Jericho. Third, why Jerusalem (or Jericho) is an "ash-heap" and not En-gedi is not clear. If he was writing after the Jewish war with Rome, Pliny may have been referring to the fact that the Romans destroyed and burnt the city. But why would he refer to the Essene settlement as if it were still flourishing, for surely it was destroyed at the same time? (R. de Vaux placed the destruction of the settlement to 68 CE, following which it was occupied by Roman soldiers.)  As indicated, probably Pliny's source antedated the Jewish war with Rome, whereas, when writing his Natural History after the war, he was aware that Jerusalem (or Jericho) had been destroyed. In other words, he did not update his source used for the Essene settlement. In spite of these factual errors, however, Pliny's report is credible, and, therefore, becomes strong evidence that the inhabitants of this settlement in the second-Temple period were Essenes; this further suggests that the texts found in the nearby caves were placed there by them.


1.1.2. Dio of Prusa (c. 40 to after 112)

Dio Cocceianus, later known as Chrysotomos, in a discourse preserved by Synesius of Cyrene (c. 370-413) probably identifies Khirbet Qumran as an Essene settlement (Dio 3.2). Synesius of Cyrene writes, "Also somewhere he [Dio Cocceianus] praises the Essenes, who form an entire and prosperous city (polin holên eudaimona) near the Dead Sea, in the center of Palestine, not far from Sodom" (Dio, 3). Most likely the ruins of the settlement at Khirbet Qumran represents what remains of this "city," because there are no other ruins in the region that could be what Dio describes.

1.1.3. Epiphanius

Although he mistook it for a Samaritan sect, Epiphanius makes reference to a sect called the "Ossaioi" that dwelt in the region of the Dead Sea (Haer. 19.1.1-4, 10). The group to which he refers is probably the Essenes at Khirbet Qumran.

1.2. Parallels between Descriptions of Essenes in the Classical Sources and Qumran Sectarian Texts

Another support for the Essene hypothesis is the fact that what the classical sources, such as Josephus, Philo and Pliny (in the quotation above), affirmed about the Essenes agrees well with Qumran sectarian practice and theology. This includes halakic views.

1.2.1.  Practices

A. Prohibition against Use of Oil

Because oil can transmit ritual uncleanness, the Essenes refrained from using it on their bodies, so as not to render themselves ritually impure. This is consistent with the view expressed in the Qumran sectarians writings that oil is easily susceptible to ritual impurity, unlike the more liberal views of their opponents.

War 2.123

They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments.

In 4QMMT it is said that oil poured from one container to another communicates the uncleanness of the oil in the original container and is not pure for being separated.  In CD 12.15-17, oil that is found on wood stones or dust is said to communicate uncleanness. 

B. No Private Property

In the classical sources, the Essenes are said to have no private property. This agrees with the procedure in the Rule of the Community whereby the property of full members will be "assimilated" into the common resources of the community.

War 2.8.2; 122

"These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, — insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren."


Natural History 5.17.4 (73)

"A people ... without money"


1QS 6.18-23

"When he has completed one year within the community, the many shall be asked about his affairs (lit. "things") with regard to his insight and his works in the Torah. If the lot should go out to him, that he should approach the assembly of the community according to the priests and the multitude of the men of their covenant, then both his property and his possessions shall be given to the hand of the man who is the examiner over the possessions of the many. And he shall register it into the account with his hand, and he must not bring it forth for the many. He must not touch the drink of the many until he has completed a second year among the men of the community. When that second year has been completed he shall be examined according to the many. If the lot goes out to him to approach the community, he shall be registered in the order of his rank among his brothers, for Torah, judgment and purity and his property shall be assimilated. His counsel and his judgment shall belong to the community."

C. The Pure Meal

In the classical sources, the Essenes ritually purify themselves by bathing in cold water before they eat a common meal. In the Rule of the Community, regulations for a common meal eaten in a state of ritual purity effected through washing with water are found.

War 2.8.5; 129-31

"After which they assemble themselves together again into one place; and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they every one meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into the dining-room, as into a certain holy temple, and quietly set themselves down; upon which the baker lays them loaves in order; the cook also brings a single plate of one sort of food, and sets it before every one of them; but a priest says grace before the meal; and it is unlawful for any one to taste of the food before grace be said. The same priest, when he has dined, says grace again after the meal; and when they begin, and when they end, they praise God, as he who bestows their food upon them."

1QS 5.13-14

"They shall not enter the water to partake of the pure meal of the holy ones, for they shall not be cleansed unless they turn from their wickedness; for all who transgress his word are unclean."

In 1QS 6.13-23, it is stipulated that the candidate for admission into the community is not allowed to touch the food of the pure meal until a year has passed; he must wait another year before he is allowed to drink the wine (see also 1QS 6.3-6).

D. Prohibition against Spitting

War 2.8.9; 147

"Accordingly, if ten of them be sitting together, no one of them will speak while the other nine are against it.They also avoid spitting in the midst of them, or on the right side."

1QS 7.13

"And a man who spits in the midst of the session of the many shall be punished for thirty days."


E. Strictness of Sabbath Observance

War 2.8.9; 147

According to Josephus the Essenes were stricter with respect to the observance of the Sabbath than other Jewish groups. He writes, "Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day; for they not only get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on that day, but they will not remove any vessel out of its place, nor go to stool thereon." 

Based on the regulations for the Sabbath outlined in CD 10-11, it is clear that the Qumran community was stricter than early rabbinic halakah, which is probably more or less reflective of the Pharisaic position.

F. Oaths upon Entrance

Josephus says that the Essenes take an oath before eating. Similarly, the Rule of the Community requires oaths on those who enter the community.

War 2.139

"But before touching the common food, he makes solemn oaths before his brothers."

1QS 5.7-8

"Everyone who enters into the council of the community shall enter into the covenant of God in the sight of all those who devote themselves. He shall take upon himself a binding oath to return to the Law of Moses, according to all that he has commanded."

G. Secretiveness

Josephus indicates that the Essenes did not reveal to outsiders their distinctive beliefs and practices. The same injunction to secretiveness occurs in the Qumran sectarian writings.

War 2.141

"Also he swears to conceal nothing from the members of the sect and to reveal nothing to outsiders, even though unto death is used against him."

1QS 4.5-6

"Concealing the truth of the mysteries of knowledge"

1QS 9.16-19

"But one must not quarrel with the men of the pit in order that the counsel of the Torah may be concealed in the midst of the men of deceit"

CD 15.10-11

"Let no one makes the precepts known to him before he stands before the examiner."

H. Similar Entrance Procedure

The procedure by which a prospective member formally becomes a part of the Essenes as described by Josephus (War 2.137-42) is very similar to instruction for the initiation of new members in 1QS 6.14-23. See Entrance into the Community

1.2.2.  Theological Beliefs

Josephus distinguishes the three Jewish "philosophies" on the basis of their views on divine sovereignty ("fate") and human freedom; the three represent the spectrum of possibilities: the Pharisees believe that in some things human beings have free will while in others they do not; the Essenes deny human freedom and attribute everything to God's sovereignty ("fate"); the Sadducees reject "fate," holding that human beings have free will. 

At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essenes. Now for the Pharisees, they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essenes affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal; but they suppose that all our actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly. (Ant. 13.171-73)

The depiction of the Essenes as believing "that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination" agrees with similar assertions in the Qumran sectarian writings. (Unlike Josephus' statements, these assertions are stated, of course, using non-Hellenistic terminology.) There are passages in the Qumran sectarian writings that assert God's complete sovereignty over human affairs, including presumably including the choices of human beings (1QH-a 10.9-10; 1QS 1.7-8, 19-20; 11.11, 17-18).  Likewise, in several passages from the Qumran sectarian writings, it is affirmed that the eternal destiny of each Jew (or perhaps every human being) is determined by God.  In 1QS 3.18-25, Jews are differentiated according to whether he walks in the spirit of truth or of falsehood. Those "born of Truth" originate from a fountain of light, while those "born of falsehood" originate from a source of darkness. It adds that the sons of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of Light and the sons of falsehood are ruled by the Angel of Darkness. The implication is that Jews find themselves in one of these categories and then live out their lives accordingly. Similarly, in 1QH-a 15.13-19, the author confesses that the inclination of every spirit is in the control of God. Not only did God create the righteous from the womb, in order to bless with salvation, but God also created the wicked from the womb, in order to punish in the day of wrath. Since of the three Jewish "philosophies" only the Essenes hold to the full sovereignty of God ("fate") and since 1QS and 1QH-a, two obviously sectarian writings, affirm that all affairs, human or otherwise, are under the control of God,  it seems to follow that the Qumran community was Essene.

     Josephus also notes as a distinctive belief of the Essenes their belief in the immortality of the soul and that righteous souls receive a reward of eternal, incorporeal life.

Indeed, it is a firm belief among them that although bodies are corruptible, and their matter unstable, souls are immortal and endure forever; that, come from subtlest ether, they are entwined with the bodies that serve them as prisons, drawn down as they are by some physical spell; but that when they are freed from the bonds of the flesh, liberated, so to speak, from long slavery, then they rejoice and rise up to the heavenly world (War 2.154-55)

Similarly, according to Ant. 18.18, the Essenes "declare that souls are immortal, and consider it necessary to struggle to obtain the reward of righteousness." (The phrase "reward of righteousness" is a genitive of origin: reward resulting from righteousness.) The reward no doubt is eternal life. Essene convictions about the soul differ from those of the Sadducees insofar as they did not believe in an immortal soul at all and the Pharisees insofar as they believe that the righteous souls are destined "to revive and live again," referring to a renewed corporeal existence (Ant. 18.14; see War 3.374). What Josephus reports about the Essenes' post-mortem hope is consistent with what the fact in the Qumran sectarian writings nothing is said about a renewed corporeal existence for the righteous who have died. It should be noted, however, that Hippolytus claims that the Essenes had a doctrine of the resurrection (ho tês anastaseôs logos). He writes, "The doctrine of the resurrection has also derived support from among them, for they acknowledge both that the flesh will rise again and that it will be immortal in the manner as the soul is imperishable" (Refut. 9.22). It seems that Hippolytus has erroneously interpolated this statement into Josephus' account or the common source to which both he and Josephus were indebted.

1.3. Essene Life and the Qumran Settlement

From the descriptions of them in the writings of Philo and Josephus (the Jewish sources on the Essenes) it is clear that the Essenes did not all reside in one geographical location. Rather, members of the Essene movement were spread throughout Palestine, including Jerusalem. Certainly, the site at Qumran could not have supported the some 4,000 Essenes that Josephus or his source knew to have existed at one time (Ant.18.20; see Philo, Omn. Prob. Lib. 75 "over four thousand"). In spite of not living together in one place, the Essenes, nonetheless, formed a sociologically distinct group, which explains why they are called a "people" (gens [Nat. Hist. 5.73; genos [War 2.113; Ant. 13.172; 15.371]). The evidence for this derives from Philo and Josephus' description of the Essenes. Hippolytus' lengthy account of the Essenes is very close to Josephus' account in War 2, but does differ at points; it is not certain whether the differences have resulted from Hippolytus' own redaction of Josephus' account or whether he and Josephus share a common source, to which one, the other or both have made changes (see M. Smith, "The Description of the Essenes in Josephus and the Philosophoumena," HUCA [1958] 273-313). The evidence from Josephus and Philo makes sense of the reference in the War Scroll to how the victorious Essene army shall return "to the congregation in Jerusalem, by which is meant the Essene community" (1QM 3.10-11; see 7.3-4).

Philo, Quod omnis probus liber sit

First it should be explained that, fleeing the cities because of the ungodliness customary among town-dwellers, they live in villages (kômêdon) (76)

For the seventh day is thought holy. On that day they proceed to the holy places called synagogues, where they sit in appointed places, according to their age, the young men below the old, attentive and well-behaved (81-82)

First, no house belongs to any one man; indeed there is no house that does not belong to them all, for as well as living in communities, their homes are open to members of the sect arriving from elsewhere. Second, there is but one purse for them all and a common expenditure. Their clothes and food are held in common, for they have adopted the practice of eating together. (85-86)

Philo, Apologia pro Iudaeis

Our Law-giver encouraged the multitude of his disciples to live in community: these are called Essaeans...They live in a number of cities (poleis) in Judaea, and also in many villages (kômas) and large groups (1-2).

None of them can endure to possess anything of his own, neither house, slave field, nor flocks, nor anything that feeds and procures wealth. but they set down everything in a heap in their midst, and enjoy in common the resources of them all. They live together in brotherhoods, having adopted the form of associations and the custom of eating in common. Nevertheless, they all follow different occupations (4-6).

Josephus, War

They despise riches and their communal life is admirable (2.122).

They are not in one town only, but in every town several of them form a colony. Also everything they have is at the disposal of members of the sect arriving from elsewhere as though it were their own, and they enter into the house of people whom they have never seen before as though they were intimate friends (2.124).

Josephus, Antiquities

They therefore live among themselves and serve one another. (18.21)

From the evidence provided by Philo and Josephus, one can conclude that the Essenes were a voluntary religious association within Judaism, and so could be called a "people" in a sociological sense. Their members attempted to withdraw socially and religiously as much as possible from other Jews and live communally, even though they did not work communally, but each had his own occupation. Combining the data from Josephus and Philo, it seems that Essenes both lived together in districts within cities and towns throughout Palestine, separated from non-Essenes as much as possible, and lived apart from other Jews in their own villages because of the immorality of the former: "fleeing the cities because of the ungodliness customary among town-dwellers" (Omn. Prob. Lib. 76). It is probable that the Damascus Document refers to the Essenes living in communities throughout Palestine as living in "camps" (mchnwt) in imitation of Israel in the wilderness (CD 7.6-7; 12.23; 13.20; 14.3; 19.2). Each camp has its own "examiner" (mevaqqer ) (CD 13.7) and there exists one "examiner" for all the camps (14.8-9), possibly residing at the Qumran settlement. (Josephus may refer to the examiners of the "camps" as epimelêtai [War 2.123, 129; see also the phrase apodektas tôn prosodôn ["collectors of the revenue"] in Ant. 18.22).

Boccaccini argues that the adverb kômêdon does not mean "in a village," but "village-wise," meaning that the Essenes lived within cities and towns as if they lived in villages, that is in self-contained enclaves separated from other Jews (Beyond the Essene Hypothesis, 25). This translation, however, does not do justice to Philo's claim that the Essenes "flee the cities," because this statement clearly implies that they have left larger cities and founded settlements of their own. Further confirmation that some Essenes, at least, lived in all-Essene villages is what Philo says about the Egyptian therapeutai, the same name that he attributes to the Palestinian Essenes (Omn. Prob. Lib. 12). He says of the therapeutai in Egypt that they live in isolation from other Jews "having left their homes and emigrated to a certain spot most suitable, which is situate above the Mareotic Lake, on a low hill" (Vit. Con. 22). It is possible that what is true of the therapeutai is also true of the Essenes in Palestine.

It may be significant that Josephus refers to "the gate of the Essenes" (hê pulê Essênôn) located somewhere in Jerusalem; it is possible that the gate was so named because this was the part of Jerusalem where Essenes lived communally (War 5.145) (see B. Pixner, "Jerusalem's Essene Gateway," BAR 23/3 [1997] 23-31, 64-67).

The Essenes held everything in common (War 2.122, 127; Omn. Prob. Lib. 86-87, Apol. 4), lived communally in houses (Omn. Prob. Lib. 85; War 2.132) but still worked at their various trades outside of the community, perhaps out of economic necessity.

Josephus explains that each day, "After these prayers the superiors dismiss them so that each man may attend to the trade (technê) with which he is familiar" [War 2.129]. Later, in his Antiquities, he says that the Essenes were "wholly given up to agricultural labor" (18.19). Likewise, Philo writes, "Some Essaeans work in the fields, and others practice various crafts contributing to peace; and in this way they are useful to themselves and their neighbors" (Omn. Prob. Lib. 76). Similarly, he says of the Essenes: "They employ their whole activity for the common good. Nevertheless, they all follow different occupations....There are farmer among them...shepherds leading every sort of flock and bee-keepers. Others are craftsmen in divers trades" (Apol. 5-8). According to Philo, the Essenes gave their earnings to elected administrators (Omn. Prob. Lib. 86; Apol. 4, 10; see War 2.123; 1QS 6.19-20 "The mevaqqer [Examiner] of the possessions of the many") It seems, nevertheless, that the Essenes retained some of their earnings, because Josephus says that each could give his own money at his own discretion to someone considered deserving (War 2.134). Similarly, the Damascus Document requires that a man give two days wages per month for the support of the needy, which naturally presupposes that he retains some of his earning as private (CD 14.12-13). What percentage of their earnings that an Essene would keep back is not specified in the classical sources.

As as community they ate their two meals communally every day in a refectory in a state of ritual purity (Omn. Prob. Lib. 86, 91; Apol. 5, 11; War 2.129-33). The morning meal is taken after working until the fifth hour of the day (11:00 a.m.); the second meal was taken later in the day. Each morning, before dawn, the Essenes would gather and recite ancestral prayers; afterwards they would do to their various places of work (War 2.128-29). On the Sabbath, the Essenes would gather together in synagogues primarily for the purpose of religious instruction (Omn. Prob. Lib. 81-83). (According to Philo, their interest was the "ancestral laws" [patroi nomoi] [Omn. Prob. Lib. 81].) These synagogues seem to be used only by the Essenes.

     Philo explains that the Essenes are a celibate community: "Shrewdly providing against against the sole or principal obstacle threatening to dissolve the bonds of communal life, they banned marriage at the same time as they ordered the practice of perfect continence. Indeed, no Essaean takes a woman (Apologia pro Iudaeis 14). Likewise, according to Josephus, the Essenes did not marry. He writes in his Antiquities, "They take no wives and acquire no slaves" (18.21). Similarly, he affirms elsewhere the reason that the Essenes did not take wives: "The Essenes renounce pleasure as an evil, and regard continence and resistance to the passions as a virtue. They disdain marriage for themselves, but adopt the children of others at a tender age in order to instruct them... It is not that they abolish marriage, or the propagation of the species resulting from it (War 2.120-21). (Josephus' claim that the Essenes would adopt "the children of others," however, seems to contradict Philo's assertion that there were neither children, adolescents nor even young men among the Essenes. Philo writes about the Essenes [Apol. 3]. Perhaps Philo is speaking of what was generally true.) Nevertheless, Josephus also indicates that there was another group of Essenes who did marry, but only for the sake of procreation; they considered having children to an important part of their religious life and obligation.

There exists another order of Essenes who, although in agreement with the others on the way of life, usages and customs, are separated from them on the subject of marriage. Indeed, they believe that people who do not marry cut off a very important part of life, namely, the propagation of the species; and all the more so that if everyone adopted the same opinion the race would quickly disappear. Nevertheless, they observe their women for three years. When they have purified themselves three times and this proved themselves capable of bearing children, they then marry them. And when they are pregnant they have no intercourse with them, thereby showing that they do not marry for pleasure but because it is necessary to have children (War 160-61).

From what Josephus says, there does not seem to have been any acrimony or division between the two groups. In fact, the Rule of the Community assumes that the members of the community are celibate, but the Damascus Document provides rules for a domestic context, in which one would find women and married couples (see CD A 16.10-11; 11-12; CD B 19.1-5). This may be explained by assuming the Rule of the Community concerns only celibate Essenes, whereas the Damascus Document prescribes for the other order of Essenes, those men who have not fully left domestic life.

     Since only a small percentage of the Essenes would have dwelt at Qumran, the question that needs to be addressed is how the Qumran community of Essenes related to the other Essenes scattered throughout Palestine. The Jewish sources, Philo and Josephus, testify to a network of Essene communities in Palestine, whereas the non-Jewish sources, Pliny and Dio speak as if there is only one Essene community near the Dead Sea existing in complete isolation from other Jews. A common explanation has been that the Qumran settlement represents celibate Essenes, whereas the Essenes who married and had children lived outside of this monastic community. The impression left by the description by Josephus and Philo, however, is that there were celibate Essenes among those Essenes who lived communally in the villages, towns and cities of Palestine. To conclude that all celibate Essenes dwelt at Qumran, whereas all married Essenes dwelt elsewhere seems unwarranted from the classical sources. It is also possible that the community at Qumran was simply one of many Essene "villages" throughout Palestine. (This is consistent with Philo's assertion about the Essenes that " fleeing the cities because of the ungodliness customary among town-dwellers, they live in villages" (Omn. Prob. Lib. 76). But, given the presence there of an extensive library, it seems unlikely that the settlement at Qumran was just one "village" among many others. Rather it is more probable that the settlement at Qumran served as a type of a religious headquarters for the Essenes. There may have been a permanent "staff" there overseeing the production and preservation of texts (see S. Goranson, "Qumran: A Hub of Scribal Activity?" BAR 20/5 [1994] 37-39). (Stegemann argues that there is archaeological evidence of a non-odiferous type of tannery at Qumran [The Library of Qumran, 43-44; 52-54].) (Of course, there is evidence of economic activity at the Qumran settlement, which was probably undertaken in conjunction with scribal activities.) The fact that there are no private houses found among the ruins at the site implies that this was not a settlement in the usual sense. Exactly how the non-Qumran Essenes related to the Qumran settlement and its inhabitants remains an unknown. H. Stegemann suggests that the Qumran site functioned as a library and a type of a publishing house where manuscripts were produced for the larger Essene community ("The Qumran Essenes: Local Members of the Main Jewish Union in Late Second Temple Times," The Madrid Qumran Conference: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls [1992] 1.83-166; id., The Library of Qumran [1998] 51-57; 80-85.) Indeed, the discovery of long tables and inkwells in one of the rooms of the settlement at Qumran suggests that it was used for writing and copying scrolls, a scriptorium. It is also possible that Essenes visited the Qumran settlement in order to make use of the library there for the purpose of study. This would make sense of the quotation from Isa 40:3 "In the wilderness prepare the way of **** (Yahweh)" interpreted as being fulfilled in the Essene's withdrawal into the wilderness to study the Torah:

And when these become members of the community in Israel according to all these rules, they shall separate from the habitation of ungodly men and shall go into the wilderness to prepare the way of Him; as it is written, 'Prepare in the wilderness the way of [ ], make straight in the desert a path for our God.' This (path) is the study of the Law which He commanded by the hand of Moses, that they may do according to all that has been revealed from age to age, and as the Prophets have revealed by His Holy Spirit." (1QS 8.12-16)

The Essenes saw their community as that which was preparing the way of the Yahweh in the wilderness. The means by which they prepared the way of God was through the study of the Law; this was the "path" that they were making for God. Their study of the Law was preliminary to the soon-to-come eschatological judgment and salvation of God. (E. M. Cook even proposes that it was ritual purification center and that the Essenes used the halakot for ritual purification found in the Temple Scroll ["Qumran: A Ritual Purification Center".)

G. Boccaccini argues that the description of the Essenes in the classical sources differs to such an extent that the historian is compelled to posit the existence of two Essene groups (Beyond the Essene Hypothesis, 21-49). On the one hand, there is larger, original group of Essenes, who dwelt in various cities and towns in Palestine, and, on the other hand, there is the splinter group of Qumran Essenes who lived at Qumran in complete isolation from other Jews. The Jewish classical sources—Philo and Josephus—describe the former, whereas the non-Jewish classical sources—Pliny and Dio—describe the latter. The differences between the two Essene groups is not so much in kind but in degree. Boccaccini's hypothesis, however, is not established.

First, according to Boccaccini, what is said in the two sets of sources about the location, extent and antiquity of the Essenes is contradictory. According to Jewish classical sources, the Essenes were a widespread movement consisting of 4,000 Jews living throughout Palestine. In spite of their communalism, the Essenes did participate in the political, social and economic life of Palestine. This description, however, is said to contradict the non-Jewish classical sources, which identify only the occupants of the Qumran settlement as Essenes and assert that they live in complete isolation from other Jews. Likewise, the non-Jewish sources testify to the antiquity of the Essene scarcely fits those who dwelt in the Qumran settlement, because it was first occupied only in the middle of the second century BCE, but it is truer of the original Essenes, from which the Qumran Essenes separated. In Boccaccini's view, this discrepancy can be accounted for by assuming that the Qumran community was a more separatist splinter group of Essenes, the only type know to the non-Jewish classical sources. The other explanation of this datum, however, is that the non-Jewish classical sources identify the occupants and seemingly do not know of Essenes living outside of the settlement at Qumran is that the Qumran settlement functioned as the religious center of the wider Essene movement. This would explain why it is identified simpliciter with the Essenes by non-Jewish authors. Indeed, Boccaccini would have to explain how an insignificant splinter group would attract the attention of non-Jewish authors at all and then be erroneously identified with the Essene movement. Pliny's attribution great antiquity to the Essenes ("for thousands of centuries a race has existed that is eternal") is not a as much of a problem if the Qumran settlement was the geographical center of the Essene movement and those who lived there were seen as representative of all Essenes, so that Pliny should be interpreted as making a pars pro toto statement.

Second, Boccaccini claims that the classical sources disagree on the issue of communal ownership. According to the Jewish classical sources, the communal life of the Essenes was not all-encompassing. Although they lived, worshipped and and ate together, the Essenes did not perform communal labor, but worked outside of the community and so were economically independent. Also, Boccaccini claims that Essenes owned private houses, although they had an obligation to extend hospitality to other Essenes. By contrast, the non-Jewish sources are said to depict the Essenes at Qumran were completely separated socially and economically from other Jews. Assuming that Essenes living at Qumran were economically self-sufficient, which is probably impossible to prove from the archaeological remains, it does not follow that the Essenes at Qumran were a more radical version of the Essenes outside of Qumran. It is conceivable that both types economic arrangements could have been in effect (or hybrids of the two), depending on where an Essene community resided, either in a city or town or in its own village, as at Qumran. Besides, contrary to Boccaccini's view, Philo seems to indicate that there was no private ownership of houses: "No house belongs to any man; indeed there is no house that does not belong to them all" (Omn. Prob. Lib. 85).

Third, according to Boccaccini, the two sets of source disagree concerning the question of marriage and celibacy. The Jewish classical sources are supposed to depict a less radical view of celibacy than the non-Jewish classical sources. Josephus even indicates that there are even a married group of Essenes (War 2.160-61). The evidence, however, does not allow such a bifurcation, because there are some statements made by Philo and Josephus concerning the Essenes' extremely negative attitude to marriage and women in general (Apol. 14; War 2.120). Such statements are not consistent with their alleged less radical views of marriage and celibacy. The real problem for the historian is to determine how these two types of Essenes co-existed.

Some scholars argue that the Essenes and the Qumran community should not simply be equated. Rather, the advocates of what is known as the Groningen hypothesis assert that the origin of the Essenes is to be located in third-century Jewish apocalypticism. On this hypothesis, the Qumran community is actually a splinter group from the Essenes, and took up residence at the Qumran site in the time of John Hyrcanus (134-104 BCE). The figure of the Teacher of Righteousness was the leader of this sectarian off-shoot from the Essenes. Moreover, on this hypothesis, the term “the Wicked Priest,” which occurs in some of the sectarian writings, is to be identified with a succession of six High Priests, not one, as is commonly assumed. These High Priests are: Judas, Alcimus, Jonathan, Simon, John Hyrcanus, and Alexander Hyrcanus (They are differentiated from one another in the Habakkuk Pesher by the addition of relative clauses following the title.) The weakness of this explanation is a lack of compelling evidence to separate the Qumran Essenes from the larger Essene movement and to situate the origins of the Essenes in the third century BCE. In fact, Josephus first mentions the Essenes during the reign of Jonathan (160-142 BCE), possibly implying that they originated around this time (Ant. 13.17) (But see Ant. 18.20 "Yet among them it [the practice of righteousness] has prevailed unimpeded from a remote age.") The advocates of the Groningen hypothesis also wrongly assume that the adherents of the Qumran sectarian movement dwelt only at Qumran, so that any Jew living outside of the Qumran settlement could not belong to the Qumran community. But if the Qumran settlement served as the religious center of the Essene movement then this assumption is no longer valid. Furthermore, no convincing evidence exists for a split within the Essene movement, except an apostasy from the original community led by the “Man of the Lie” (CD A 1.11-2.1; CD A 7.9-8.21 [see CD B 19.1-35]; CD B 20.15). But this separation from the apostates does not seem to be a small minority separating from its parent religious movement. The fact that Pliny probably identifies the Qumran settlement as Essene suggests strongly that those who lived at Qumran were part of the larger Essene movement, for surely, after more than two centuries, this alleged spinter group would no longer be identified with the Essene parent movement, especially as the split would not have been amicable. It is also difficult to believe that the splinter group, the Qumran community, would retain the texts produced by the Essenes, such being the nature of internecine religious struggles. As has been traditionally held, the Essenes probably had their origins in the Chasidim movement mentioned in 1 & 2 Maccabees and became differentiated from it somehow. On the hypothesis that the Essenes are not to be equated with the Qumran community, see J. Murphy-O'Connor, The Essenes and Their History," RB 81 (1974) 215-44; B. Z. Wacholder, The Dawn of Qumran, 1983; F. Garcia Martinez, “Qumran Origins and Early History: A ‘Groningen’ Hypothesis,” Folia Orientalia 25 (1988) 113-136; F. Garcia Martinez and J. Trebolle Barrera, The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their Writings, Beliefs and Practices (Leiden: Brill, 1995); A. S. van der Woude, “Wicked Priest or Wicked Priests? Reflections on the Identification of the Wicked Priest in the Habakkuk Commentary,” JJS 33 (1982) 349-59; id., "Once Again: The Wicked Priests in the Habakkuk Pesher from Cave 1 of Qumran," RevQ 17 (1996) 375-84; P. Davies, The Damascus Document, 1983; id., Behind the Essenes, 1987; id., “The Prehistory of the Qumran Community” The Dead Sea Scrolls. Forty Years of Research (ed. D. Dimant and U. Rappaport (1992) 116-125. C. Hempel, The Laws of the Damascus Document: Sources, Tradition and Redaction (1998) 3-8; G. Boccaccini, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis (1998); P. Sacchi, The History of the Second Temple Period (2000) 230-34.

For a critique of the Groningen hypothesis, see T. H. Lim, “The Wicked Priests of the Groningen Hypothesis,” JBL 112 (1993) 415-25; id., “The Wicked Priest or the Liar?" The Dead Sea Scrolls in Their Historical Context (ed. T. H. Lim et al.) (2000) 45-51.

2. The History of the Community

Unfortunately, the etymology of the Greek term "Essene" (Philo: Essaioi; Josephus, Dio, Hippolytus: Essênoi) is obscure and so discloses no information on the origin and nature of this Jewish group. There have been several speculative attempts at etymology but these cannot be established with any probability. Josephus first mentions the Essenes as a distinct Jewish group in the time of Jonathan (160-142 BCE): "Now at this time there were three schools of thought (haereseis) among the Jews" (Ant. 13.171). The implication may be that before this time the Essenes did not exist as such. Whether the Essenes (or the other two Jewish "schools of thought") emerged from other Jewish groups, in particular, the Chasidim mentioned in 1 & 2 Maccabees, is not stated, because Josephus says nothing about their origin. There is no comprehensive history of the community among the textual finds at Qumran, but there are a several historical references in the Qumran sectarian texts that allow for a tentative situating of the Essenes in the larger historical movements of the second-Temple period. To reconstruct the origin and history of the Essenes assumes that these oblique references provide historical data that may be synthesized in order to reconstruct a very partial historical account of the Essenes. If these assumptions are not granted, then little can be known about the Essenes from their own writings. (Neither P. Davies [The Damascus Covenant, 1982] nor P. Callaway [The History of the Qumran Community, 1988] is sympathetic to this synthesizing and harmonizing approach.) It must also be noted that the archaeologists who excavated the site of the Qumran settlement determined that it was inhabited by the community from c. 150 BCE until 68 CE (see R. de Vaux, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls). If this is true, then the history of the community must be situated in relation to that chronological period. Unfortunately, not all scholars agree with these chronological perimeters. J. Magness maintains the site was settled no earlier than 130 BCE and probably not until between 100 and 50 BCE (The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls). Similarly, George Brooke affirms that settlement at the site did not begin until around 100 BCE (The Dead Sea Scrolls And The New Testament). But it must not be thought that the inception of the Essene movement is necessarily tied to the beginning of the settlement at Qumran. Rather the settlement may have come into existence after the Essenes had existed for a period of time.

Cracked Steps

A distinction is made between what is called Period Ia (150-100 BCE) and Period Ib (100-31 BCE). The latter period saw an expansion of the settlement. It is hypothesized that Period Ib came to an end after the settlement was heavily damaged by the earthquake of 31 BCE (see War 1.270-72; Ant. 15.121-22). After a period of abandonment, Period II began (4 BCE-68 CE). This crack in the steps of what was probably a mikveh (ritual bath) may have been caused by the earthquake that hit the region in 31 BCE. The Essenes abandoned the site after the earthquake, and when they returned years later they did not repair all of the previously damaged structures.


Ruins at Khirbet Qumran

Aqueduct at Qumran

Assembly Hall and Refectory at Qumran

Mikveh at Qumran

Scriptorium at Qumran

2.1. Origins

2.1.1. CD 1.4-11

In the Damascus Document an account of the origins of the community is provided. The earliest history of the community can be divided into two periods: before the arrival of someone called the Teacher of Righteousness and after his arrival. References to this man occur in the Damascus Document and the Pesharim. (He is never mentioned in the Rule of the Community, however, probably because it contains so few historical references or allusions.) This individual is probably also known as "the Teacher" (CD B 20.28) and the "unique Teacher" (CD B 19.35-20.1), who was "gathered in," i.e. died (CD 20.14). (But possibly the text should be emended as "the teacher of the yahad" [community].) He is also no doubt the man called the "interpreter of knowledge" in contradistinction to "the man of the lie (4QpPs-a 1.27) and may also be the "interpreter of the Law" (CD A 6.7).The person referred to as "the one who teaches righteousness in the end of days," however, appears to be an eschatological teacher expected in the future (CD A 6.11). The Damascus Document explains the historical appearance of the Teacher of Righteousness as follows:

He left a remnant to Israel and did not deliver it up to be destroyed. And in the age of wrath, three hundred and ninety years after He had given them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, He visited them, and He caused a plant root to spring from Israel and Aaron to inherit His land and to prosper on the good things of  His earth. And they perceived their iniquity and recognized that they were guilty men, yet for twenty years they were like blind men groping for the way. And God observed their deeds, that they sought Him with a whole heart, and He raised for them a Teacher of Righteousness to guide them in the way of His heart. (CD 1.4-11)

The community came into being 390 years after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE (see 2 Kings 24; 2 Chron 36), which places its inception in 196 BCE, if the number 390 is to be taken literally. (It has been suggested that the figure of 390 derives from Ezekiel’s lying on his side for 390 days [Ezek 4:5] by a similar process by which Jeremiah’s seventy years becomes 490 years in Dan 9:2, 24–25, in which case the number may not be historically reliable.) Although they had repented (i.e. "perceived their iniquity and recognized that they were guilty men," the members of the community did not know what to do by way of obedience to the Law until twenty years later, which would be 176 BCE, when the man identified as the Teacher of Righteousness assumed leadership of the community (CD 1.11). (It should be noted that the figure of twenty years may not be intended literally either.) This seminal event is also described in the "well-pesher" in CD 6.2-11, which is based on Num 21:18. In the pesher, there is distinguished "those who dug the well" interpreted as "the repentant of Israel" from the "staff," identified as "the interpreter of the Law," who is probably the Teacher of Righteousness. He is also said to be the "star" in Num 24:17: "The star is the interpreter of the Law who came to Damascus, as it is written, 'a star stepped forth out of Jacob...'" (CD 7.18-19). Thus, taking CD 1.5 literally, the inception of the community is to be dated during the reign of Antiochus III. This period is called the "age of wrath" because, in retrospect, this was the period of Israel's apostate infatuation with Hellenism that led to God's wrath being poured out in the form of the Antiochan persecution. It is tempting to identify this community, which identified itself in 196 BCE as "a plant root to spring from Israel and Aaron to inherit his land and to prosper on the good things of  His earth," as the Chasidim referred to in 1 & 2 Maccabees and Josephus' writings, but the evidence falls short of proof. The many references to "the sons of Zadok," and the distinction made between both priests and Levites and the general memberships suggests that the community had a significant priestly component to it. Thus it is not surprising that the Teacher of Righteousness himself was a priest (4QpPs-a [4Q171] 3.15; 1QpHab 11.8). At a later time, in the mid-second century BCE or perhaps later, the Essenes founded the settlement at Qumran, probably as a religious center of their movement; the majority of the Essenes, followers of the Teacher of Righteousness, however, lived outside of Qumran in the cities and towns of Palestine.

References to the Teacher of Righteousness

Damascus Document

1.11 "And he raised up for them [the] Teacher of Righteousness to guide them in the way of his heart."

20.32 "When they listened to the voice of [the] Teacher of Righteousness."

Habakkuk Pesher

1.13 [Its interpretation: the evil doer is the Wicked Priest and the upright man] is the Teacher of Righteousness.

2.2 [The interpretation of the word concerns] the traitors with the man of the lie since they do not [believe in the words of the] Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of God."

5.9-10 "Its interpretation concerns the house of Absalom and the members of his council, who kept silent at the time of the reproach of the Teacher of Righteousness and did not help him against the man of the lie."

7.4 "It interpretation concerns the Teacher of Righteousness to whom God has disclosed all the mysteries of the words of his servants the prophets."

9.9 "Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest, since for the wickedness against the Teacher of Righteousness and the members of his council God delivered him into the hands of his enemies."

11.4-5 11.4-5 "Its interpretation concerns the wicked priest who pursued the Teacher of Righteousness to consume him...during the rest of the Day of Atonement"

Micah Pesher 10. 1.4 "[The interpretation of this co]ncerns the Teacher of Righteousness who [teaches the Law to his council] and to all those volunteering to join the chosen [of God]."
Psalms Peshera

3.15 "Its interpretation concerns the priest, the Teacher [of Righteousness, whom] God choose to stand [ ]."

3.19 "The interpretation of the word concerns the Teac[her of Righteousness, who...]."

4.27 "[Its interpretation concerns] the Teacher of [Righteousness...]

Psalms Pesherb

1.4 "...of the Teacher of Righteousness."

2.1 "[the Te[acher] of Right[eousness]

4Q172 7 1.1 "...Teacher of [Righteousness]

     The Teacher of Righteousness claimed to have the proper of understanding of the Torah, being the one through whom God would reveal to the community "the hidden things in which Israel had gone astray" (CD 3.12-15). He also claimed to be an inspired interpreter of the prophets, as the one "to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of his servants the prophets" (1QpHab 7.5). He is "the Priest whom God has placed wi[thin the community,] to foretell the fulfillment of all the words of his servants the prophets" (1QpHab 2.8; see 4QpPs-a 3.15). In other words, the Teacher of Righteousness claimed to find inspired new applications of prophecy for the final generation before the eschaton. Probably, some of the Thanksgiving Hymns (Hodayot) were composed by the Teacher of Righteousness and reflect his personal experiences. These compositions, however, tend to be general and lacking in detail, so that they historical usefulness is limited. (G. Jeremias claims that the following derive from the founder, whom he identifies as the Teacher of Righteous: 1QH-a 10.1–19; 10.31–39; 11.1–18; 12.5–13.4; 13.5–19; 13.20–15.5; 15.6–25; 16.4–40 [Der Lehrer der Gerechtigkeit, 168–267].)

On the assumption that he composed some of the Thanksgiving Hymns, the Teacher of Righteousness interprets his leadership role as having been given to him by God. He describes himself as chosen by God to receive “mysteries” (10.13; 12.27; 13.25). His calling was to serve as a source of enlightenment for all who would heed his words. He describes himself as both a “father to the sons of your [God’s] lovingkindness” and “a wet-nurse to the men of portent.” His followers are then compared to a child opening its mouth on the lap of its wet-nurse, taking in spiritual nourishment (15.21). Comparing himself to a skilled irrigator, the Teacher of Righteousness also asserts that his teaching is indispensable to the spiritual life of the community (16.21–24). (See also 10.10, 13, 17–18a; 12.27–28; 13.9; 16.12, 14, 16.) Although it is not specified, presumably, the content of the revelation received and imparted to his followers was the proper interpretation of the Law (see 13.11; 12.10) and what would become the foundational elements of the community’s eschatological beliefs, as found in other texts. Similarly, the Teacher of Righteousness claims that God has demonstrated his power in him, as a confirmation of his calling. This seems to have taken the form of God’s rescuing the founder from his opponents, after a period of suffering at their hands, which served as a divine discipline (13.15; see12.23). The founder believes that God has established him in his covenant (1QH-a 15.19b–20a; see 15.10), and he gives thanks to God, “because you have illumined my face by your covenant” (12.5). This seems to mean that God chose the Teacher of Righteousness as the means by which the covenant with Israel would be renewed. Although he faced severe opposition, God did not allow him to desert the covenant, that is, his role in the renewal of the covenant (15.7b–8a). (God gave him a spirit of holiness in order that he might not stumble [15.7].) Nevertheless, it seems that the Teacher of Righteousness’s own sin would have barred him from the covenant, had it not been for God’s mercy (12.35). Through the Teacher of Righteousness, others also may also enter the covenant. Those who accept his teaching as from God, becoming members of his community, are said to have joined together in God’s covenant (12.24a); they have aligned themselves with God in the council of the holy ones, which probably refers to angels (12.24b). (He also refers to this as joining his council [13.24].) (See also 13.9, 23.) Since assuming his salvation-historical role, the founder thereby becomes the mediator of God’s covenantal blessings to those who accept his teachings: “I am...healing to all who turn from sin” (10.8b–9a). Because of their acceptance of the founder and his teaching, they are pleasing to God and walk in the ways of his heart; consequently, they will stand before God forever and be established forevermore (12.21b–22a).

On the other hand, the Teacher of Righteousness becomes a snare to those who reject his claim to be a teacher from God (10.8); because of their opposition to him, they will fall under God’s eschatological judgment (12.20, 26b). God has set him as a reproach and a mockery to his opponents (10.9b–10a), and, because of their guilt, has concealed from them the fact that the founder is indeed “the source of understanding” and “the foundation of truth” (13.25–26). The founder thereby becomes the criterion by which God will judge his people: “Because at the judgment you will condemn all who assail me, separating the righteous and the wicked through me” (15.12). A person’s response to the founder determines his eschatological destiny. The Teacher of Righteousness refers to his opponents as "seeker of smooth things" (1QH 10.15, 32), and says of his opponents that they exchanged his teaching for smooth things (12.10). It is probable that he is reflecting upon his disputes with the Pharisees or proto-Pharisees, since "smooth things" is a cipher for Pharisaic teaching elsewhere in the Qumran sectarian writings.

One area in which Israel had gone astray was in its adoption of the lunar calendar, rather than a solar calendar consisting of 364 days (see 11QPs-a 27.6). (The lunar year had 354 days; a lunar month was c. 29.5 days long and so six months would have twenty-nine days, while the other six had thirty days; approximately seven times during a period of nineteen years an extra month would be added at the end of the year, with the result that the intercalated year would have 383 days.) The result of using the wrong calendar was that Sabbaths, new moon festivals and annual festivals were observed on the wrong day, which, from an Essene point of view, meant that they were not observed at all. There were many other halakic issues, however, that separated the Essenes from other Jews, and especially the Hasmonean rulers. Lists of these can be found in the Damascus Document, the Temple Scroll, Some of the Works of the Torah (4QMMT) and Ordinances (4Q159).

     In two places in the Damascus Document (text A), it is said explicitly that those who belong to the community have actually entered the new covenant, foretold by the prophet Jeremiah (6:19; 8:21; see also 20:12 text B). (The new covenant is the promise of eschatological forgiveness and restoration.) The new covenant is contrasted implicitly in CD with "the covenant of the forefathers" (berit ri'sonim), the covenant that God made with Moses and the generation of the exodus. Because of their disobedience, the members of the covenant of the forefathers came under the wrath of God, which culminated in the exile; in contrast, God made a covenant forever (berit ad olam) with the remnant who held fast to the commandments, revealing to them the hidden things in which Israel had gone astray (CD 3.10-14). It is not so much that there exists in God's purposes two different covenants, but rather one covenant with two different phases: a preliminary phase ending in failure and an eschatological phase ending in God's final victory over all wickedness, beginning with the inception of the community in 196 BCE.

There is a probable reference to the new covenant in 1QpHab 2.3. The apostates of the community are called "those who betr[ayed] the new [covenant]). The implication is that the Jeremian promise of the new covenant has come into effect. Presumably, as Jeremiah predicts, the new covenant consists of spiritual transformation and forgiveness. Since it represents God's offer of mercy to his covenant people, the rejection of the offer of the new covenant brings dire consequences for an individual. Synonymous with "new covenant" is "covenant of God" occurring in the next clause: Those who betrayed the new covenant did so, "because they did not believe in the covenant of God" (2.3b-4a). What is meant by not believing in the covenant of God is not accepting that the Essene community is the tangible expression of God's gracious renewal of the covenant with his chosen remnant, which is interpreted as the new covenant.

2.1.2. Conflict

There are several oblique references to conflicts between the Teacher of Righteousness and other Jewish groups and individuals from those groups. In fact, the community's self-identity is defined in part by an internal conflict with a faction from within their own ranks and an external dispute with one called "the Wicked Priest."

A. Internal Conflict

Mention is made in the Damascus Document to an apostasy from the original community (CD A 1.11-2.1; CD A 7.9-8.21 [see CD B 19.1-35]; CD B 20.15). In 1QS 5.1-2, the community is described as those who "shall separate from the congregation of the men of deceit, in order to become a community, with Law and property, under the authority of the sons of Zadok, the priests who keep the covenant." The phrase "the congregation of the men of deceit" may refer to this original group of apostates; if so, then this traumatic event served to define the community, so that they understood themselves negatively as those who separated from this rival religious group. This apostate group was led by a man variously called in the Damascus Document and the Pesharim "the Man of Scoffing" (h'sh hltzwn) (CD 1.13), "Man of the Lie" ('sh hkzb) (CD 20.15; 1QpHab 2.1b-2a; 5.11; 4QpPsa 1.26; 4.14) and "the Spouter of [the] Lie" (mtyp [h]kzb) (CD A 8.13; 1QpHab 10.9) (see CD A 1.14 "who spouted to Israel waters of lie"; CD B 19.25b-26a "spouts to human beings lie," CD A 4.19b-20a "the Spouter" and "Zaw" (or "Vanity"), based on an pesher interpretation of Hos 5:11b (CD 4.19). The indictment against this opponent of the Teacher of Righteousness is that he led Jews astray, which means that he taught wrong halakic and perhaps theological views. In so doing he defied the Teacher of Righteousness and contested his teaching: ""[This concerns] those who were unfaithful together with the Liar, in that they [did] not [listen to the word received by] the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of God" (1QpHab 2.1-3; see 4Q171 1.26-27). (The statement that the Spouter of Lies led many astray "that he might build his city of vanity with blood" is metaphorical of establishing a religious community in unrighteousness [1QpHab 10.9.) Who exactly this man was, however, is unknown.

Hab 1.5 "Behold the nations and watch marvel and be completely astonished. I do a deed in your days and no one will believe it when" is interpreted as referring to apostates from the community who do not believe the prognostications of the Teacher of Righteousness. These apostates seem to be divided into three groups (1QpHab 2.1-10). The first group is those who apostatized with "the man of the lie" who are said not to have listened to the words of the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of God (see also 5.8b-12a). The followers of this original apostate are also referred to elsewhere as "the men of scoffing" (CD 20.11; 4QpIsa b frg. 1, col. 2.6, 10). The second group of apostates is those who have apostatized from the new covenant, because they did not believe the covenant of God and [blasphemed] his holy name. This group probably represents those who have abandoned the community some time after the original apostasy of the man of the lie and his followers. The third group is those apostates who will arise in the last days. If the interpreter sees his own time as the last days, then these final apostates are his contemporaries. Although it is never explicitly said, past, present and future apostates from the covenant of God forfeit any spiritual benefit that they might have derived if they had not rebelled.

      The followers of this religious rival of the Teacher of Righteousness are called "the Men of Scoffing" (CD 20.11; 4QIs-b 2.6, 10) and " Traitors with the Man of the Lie" (1QpHab 2.1b-2a) and the "violent ones of the covenant" (4QpPs-a 2.14-16; 3.12). The fact that this dissenting group is also said to have "sought smooth things" (CD 1.18) could indicate that, after its falling out with the Teacher of Righteousness, this group eventually evolved into the Pharisees, since the sobriquet "Seekers of Smooth Things" is used to refer to the Pharisees in the Nahum Pesher (4Q169 frg. 3+4, cols. 1.3; 3.3, 6) (see also see 1QH-a 10 [2].15, 32; 4.7-12; 4QpIs-c frg. 23, col. 2.10; 4Q169 frg. 3+4, col. 2.2, 4; 4QCat-a [4Q177] frg. 9, col. 1.4).

During the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (104-78 BCE), the Pharisees made the political mistake of allying themselves with the Syrian king Demetrius III (Theos Philopater Soter) against Alexander; this indicates that the Pharisees were at variance with the Hasmoneans and their Sadducean supporters. The result was that Alexander crucified 800 Pharisees while dining in a conspicuous place with his concubines and had the families of the 800 killed in front of them while they died on the crosses (Ant. 13.372-9; War 1.93-98). Although Josephus does not identify Alexander's victims as Pharisees, it is clear from what he says later that a large number must have been, because the Pharisees sought to persuade Salome Alexandra to avenge the death of these Jews (see (Ant. 13.408-16; War 1.110-12). This implies that many of those crucified were Pharisees or at least sympathizers. This event is also referred to 4Q169 (Nahum Pesher). The lion of Nahum 2:11b is interpreted as Demetrius III. But in the interpretation of Nahum 2:12a, the lion appears to become Alexander, whose victims, mentioned in 2:12a, b are said to be "the seekers of smooth things," (the term used for the Pharisees) whom the furious young lion hung alive, i.e., crucified. The author criticizes the "seekers of smooth things" for plotting to depose Alexander and bring the independent Jewish nation under the control of the Seleucids again: "[But God did not permit the city to be delivered] into the hands of the kings of Greece, from the time of Antiochus until the coming of the rulers of the Kittim" (4Q169 frg. 3+4, col. 1.3).

Under Queen Salome Alexandra (78-69 BCE), the widow of Alexander Jannaeus, the Pharisees were given free reign in the area of politics/religion; this was their golden age (Ant. 13.408-16; War 1.110-12). As said already, the Pharisees sought revenge on those who were involved in the crucifixion of Alexander's opponents. If it dates from the period of Salome, 4Q169 (Nahum Pesher) gives further that the Pharisees dominated politically and religiously during the reign of Salome. The author interprets Nahum 3:6-7 as a prediction of the imminent eschatological destruction of “the seekers of smooth things,” who have led the nation astray ((4Q169 frg. 3+4, col. 3.1-8).

Rather than calling the Pharisees "Seekers of Laws” (dorshe halakot) as they no doubt called themselves, the Qumran community created a pun on this self-designation, referring to the Pharisees as "Seekers after Smooth Things" (dorshe halaqot). (The phrase "Seekers of Smooth Things" is an allusion to Isa 30:10, where the prophet criticizes Israel for rejecting the prophetic message of impending judgment and preferring to hear "smooth things," which is to say, easy, non-threatening things) Implicit in this designation is the criticism of the Pharisees for being too lenient in their interpretation of the Law, hence the name seekers of "smooth" (or easy) things. This is borne out by the halakot found in the Qumran sectarian texts: consistently they are stricter than what we know to be Pharisaic halakot and early rabbinic halakot. In the view of the Essenes, the Pharisees replaced biblical commandments with their own easier regulations, and this became for the community a reason to separate from this rival group. The fact that in Hos 5:11b those who have gone after "Zaw" (Vanity) (interpreted as the leader of the apostate group) are called Ephraim may have attracted the interpreter to this passage in CD 4.19 because in the Nahum Pesher "Ephraim" denotes the Pharisees (4Q169 frg. 3+4, cols. 1.12; 2.2, 8; 3.5; 4.5). It should also be noted that the Qumran sectarians criticize an unidentified group referred to only as "builders of the wall" (CD 4.19-20); probably this criticism was also directed against the Pharisees, the rivals of the Essenes, who created extra-biblical laws in order to protect the Law (see m. Abot 1.1: "And make a fence around the Torah") (see also CD 8.12-13, 18; 19.31) (see See L. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, 249-52). The point is that the Pharisees replace biblical commandments with their own regulations.

It should also be noted that a group identified as "the House of Absalom and the members of its council" is said to have done nothing to stop the man of the lie from reproaching the Teacher of Righteousness (1QpHab 5.9-12); it is not clear to whom this designation refers, but could be the supporters of the "Man of the Lie," in which case they would have been the group that became the Pharisees. The choice of the designation "Absalom" would then be for the purpose of connoting treachery on the part of the dissenters, since David's son Absalom betrayed his father and sought to usurp the throne (2 Sam 13:20-18:18) (Alternatively "Absalom" may denote a real man, perhaps the one mentioned in 1 Macc 11:70; 13:11; 2 Macc 11:17.)

Because, in the Nahum Pesher, "Ephraim" is probably identified with the Pharisees (the "seekers of smooth things") (4Q169 frg. 3+4, cols. 1.12; 2.2, 8; 3.5; 4.5), it is probable that the other group, Manasseh, also mentioned in the Nahum Pesher, represents the Sadducees (4Q169 frg. 3+4, cols. 3.9; 4.1, 3, 6). If so, then the community, who were Essenes seemed to be opposed by both the Sadducees and the Pharisees, since "Manasseh" is portrayed negatively in the pesher. How the Sadducees came into existence and whether they did so in conflict with the Teacher is unknown. Nevertheless, in 4QpPsa 2.18-19, Ps 37:14-15 is interpreted as referring to opposition from "Ephraim and Manasseh" to "the Priest and the members of his council in the period of testing that will come upon them." If "Ephraim and Manasseh" refer to the Sadducees and Pharisees respectively, then the interpreter foresees a time when these two rival groups will oppose the Teacher and his followers, the Essenes. So at some point in their history, the Sadducees opposed the Teacher of Righteousness.

There are also references to "the house of peleg" in the Nahum Pesher: "They are the wick[ed] people of Judah], the house of peleg, which consorted with Manasseh" (4Q169 frg. 3+4, col. 4.1) and in the Damascus Document "[These verses refer to] the house of peleg who went out of the holy city...But [although] they considered the sanctuary impure, they returned to the way of the people in some few ways" (CD 20.22-24) Assuming th at the referent is the same, the phrase "the house of peleg" probably refers to another group in opposition to the Teacher of Righteousness and his followers. It seems that those who belong to this group were original adherents of the Teacher of Righteousness and went out with him and his followers from Jerusalem ("the holy city") but some of whom returned again to the city. This is why they are called the "house of separation [peleg]": they separated from the Teacher of Righteousness and his followers. According to the Nahum Pesher this group that abandoned the Teacher of Righteousness then joined the Sadducees, designated as "Manasseh."

B. External Conflict

It has been suggested that the man known as "the Man of Scoffing," "the Man of the Lie" and "the Spouter of [the] Lie" (mtyp [h]kzb), possibly the leader of the group that one could call the proto-Pharisees, is also to be identified with the one called "the Wicked Priest" (hkwhn hrsh') known from the Pesharim (1QpHab 8.8; 9.9; 11.4-5; 12.2, 6; 4QPs-a 4.8; see 1QpHab 8.16 "the priest who rebelled"). The basis for this identification is the fact that the Wicked Priest is portrayed in these texts as opposing and even persecuting the Teacher of Righteousness and his followers. Nevertheless, it seems more probable that the Wicked Priest is another opponent of the Teacher of Righteousness and his community. (The absence of any reference to the Wicked Priest in the Damascus Document is difficult to explain, if he is to be identified with the leader of the original apostasy.) Based on what is said about him in the Habakkuk Pesher, it is probable that the Wicked Priest was actually the High Priest, who exercised both religious and civil authority. Statements such as "When he ruled over Israel, his heart became proud" (8.9-10) and "He robbed and amassed the riches of the men of violence who rebelled against God, and took the wealth of the peoples, heaping sinful iniquity upon himself" (8.11-12) imply that the Wicked Priest wielded political power, which, at that time, would only have been possible for the High Priest to do, since he was recognized as the ruler of Judea. If the Wicked Priest was the High Priest, then this may explain the choice of the epithet "Wicked Priest": in Hebrew the term "High Priest" (ha-kohen ha-ro'sh) sounds like "Wicked Priest" (ha-kohen ha-rasha'). The statement in 1QpHab 8.8-11: "Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest who was called by the name of truth when he first arose" implies that initially the community and the Teacher of Righteousness supported this man, but then turned against him. After their falling out with him, the community withdrew from Judea to "the land of Damascus," which could be taken literally to the city of Damascus or figuratively as referring to where the Essenes withdrew, possibly to near Qumran where they constructed their own religious center (CD A 6.3-5; see A 7.14). If the latter, then it may derive from the community's pesher interpretation of Amos 5:27 as found in CD 7.14-18: "Damascus" is the place of their "exile," just as for Amos Israel was to be exiled "from my tent to Damascus" (not "beyond Damascus," as in the MT). Or, if the settlement at Qumran did not begin until later, it is possible that their withdrawal to "Damascus" means simply their "exile" or separation from other Jews to become a distinction community living in various places in Palestine. At any rate, they were waiting for God's eschatological vengeance to come to their enemies. In the meantime, they had withdrawn from participation in Temple worship (CD A 6.11-12; see Omn. Prob. Lib. 75 "They do not offer animal sacrifice" ) (It should be noted, however, that CD 11.19-12.2 provides regulations for the use of the Temple, presumably for the time when the Temple is no longer defiled [see CD 16.13-14; see 1QS 16.13]. It should also be noted that Josephus says that the Essenes "send offerings to the Temple," which may imply that the Essenes did send some sacrifices to the Temple but did not personally participate in the Temple worship [Ant. 18.19]. The epitome of Josephus and the Latin version, however, place a negation before epitelousin: "They do not send.")

Opponents of the Teacher of Righteousness

  Damascus Document Habakkuk Pesher Psalms Pesher
Man of Scoffing

1.13: "When the Man of Scoffing arose who spouted to Israel waters of lie"

Man of the Lie 20.15 "And from the day the unique Teacher was gathered in until the end of all the men of war who turned away with the Man of the Lie there will be forty years

2.1b-2a "[The interpretation of the word] concerns the traitors with the Man of the Lie, since they do not [believe in the words of the] teacher of righteousness from the mouth of God, the traito[rs of the] new [covenant]"

5.11 "Its interpretation concerns the house of Absalom and the members of his council who kept silent at the reproach of the teacher of righteousness and did not help him against the Man of the Lie"

1.26 "Its interpretation concerns the Man of the Lie who misled many with deceptive words since they thought up absurdities and [did not] listen to the interpreter of knowledge."

4.14 "[Its interpretation concerns] the Man of the Lie [ ]."

Spouter of [the] Lie

8.13 "And the Spouter of Lie spouted [preached] to them, against whose entire congregation God's wrath was kindled."

(see A 1.14)

10.9 "The interpretation of the word concerns the Spouter of Lie who has led the many astray, that he might build his city of vanity with blood and raise a congregation of deceit."  
Wicked Priest or Priest  

8.8 "Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest, who was called by the name of truth when he first arose."

8.16 "Its interpretation concerns the Priest who rebelled..."

9.9 "Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest, since for the wickedness against the teacher of righteousness and the members of his council God delivered him into the hands of his enemies."

11.4-5 "Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest who pursued the Teacher of Righteousness to consume him...during the rest of the Day of Atonement."

11.12-13 "Its interpretation concerns the Priest whose shame has exceeded his glory because he did not circumcise the foreskin of his heart...but the cup of God's anger will engulf him."

12.2 "The interpretation of the word concerns the Wicked Priest, to pay him the recompense for what he did to the poor"

12:8 "Its interpretation: the city is Jerusalem since in it the Wicked Priest performed repulsive acts and defiled the sanctuary of God."

4.8 "Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest who spies on the righteous man [and wants] to kill him."

      It may be possible to identify the High Priest known to the community as the Wicked Priest and thereby fill in some of the gaps in the sparse historical reconstruction. (It should be noted that not every reference to the Wicked Priest may be to same man [see W. Brownlee, "The Wicked Priest, the man of Lies, and the Righteous Teacher—The Problem of Identity," JQR 73 [1982] 1-37; A. S. van der Woude, “Wicked Priest or Wicked Priests? Reflections on the Identification of the Wicked Priest in the Habakkuk Commentary,” JJS 33 (1982) 349-59. P. Davies even goes as far as to deny all historical reality to the Wicked Priest [Behind the Essenes, 28]. Nevertheless, the burden of proof is on the one who would deny this assumption. It is possible that the two references to the "Priest" in 1QpHab do not denote the same person as the "Wicked Priest.") The Teacher of Righteousness made his appearance to the community in 176 BCE, assuming that the chronology in the Damascus Document is to be taken literally. At this time, the High Priest was Onias III and the Seleucid king was Antiochus III. Sometime later there occured a break between the Teacher of Righteousness and the High Priest and his supporters. After the break, the Teacher of Righteousness and his adherents separated themselves from mainstream Jewish society. In this period after 176 BCE there were five men who served as High Priest who therefore are candidates for being identified as the Wicked Priest: Joshua (Jason), brother of Onias III, Menelaus, Alcimus, Jonathan (the Maccabean) and his brother Simon. The first three were pro-Hellenistic, and would never have been supported by the community and the Teacher of Righteousness at the beginning of his administration. This leaves Jonathan, who was appointed High Priest by Alexander Balas, and Simon, brother of Jonathan, who was acclaimed High Priest by the Jewish people (1 Macc 10:18-20; Ant. 13.2.2; 45). Of the two, the most probable is Jonathan, since his death as described in 1 Macc 13:39-48 and Ant. 13.6.1-3; 187-96 agrees with the description of the demise of the Wicked Priest described in 1QpHab 9: "This concerns the Wicked Priest whom God delivered into the hands of his enemies because of the iniquity committed against the Teacher of Righteousness and the men of his Council, that he might be humbled by means of a destroying scourge, in bitterness of soul, because he had done wickedly to His elect." Similarly, 4Q171 describes the end of the Wicked Priest as follows: "And [God] will pay him his reward by delivering him into the hand of the violent of the nations, that they may execute upon him [judgment]" (4.10). Jonathan was murdered by Tryphon while being held captive; in other words, he was murdered by "his enemies" and the "violent of the nations." Simon, on the other hand, was murdered by his own son-in-law. In 4Q175 (4QTestimonia) reference is made to "a man of Belial" and another man, both of whom are instruments of violence; although these men are not named, they are probably Jonathan and his brother Simon. It follows that, if the "King Jonathan" mentioned in it is Jonathan, the brother of Judas, 4Q448 (4QApocryphal Psalm and Prayer) must have been composed before the falling out between the Teacher of Righteousness and the High Priest Jonathan. (Why this text was preserved in view of Jonathan's eventual status as the Wicked Priest is unclear.) (The other, perhaps more probable alternative, however, is that "King Jonathan" refers to Alexander Jannaeus, because the Hasmonean rulers did not begin to refer to themselves as "king" until Simon.) 

Stegemann argues that the Teacher of Righteousness was actually the High Priest before Jonathan and was deposed by the latter (The Library of Qumran, chap. 7). (He was preceded in this by J. Murphy-O'Connor, The Essenes and Their History," RB 81 [1974] 215-44.) In 1 Maccabees, no High Priest is named for the period from the death of Alcimus in 159 BCE to the assumption of the position of High Priest by Jonathan on the authority of the Seleucid king Alexander Balas in 152 BCE (1 Macc 10:18-20). The reader is left with the impression that there was no High Priest at all for this period of time. Indeed Josephus, who uses 1 Maccabees as a source, draws this conclusion (Ant. 20.237). It is improbable, however, that the office remained vacant for these years. Stegemann suggests that the reason that nothing is said in 1 Maccabees about a High Priest between the despicable Alcimus and Jonathan was apologetic: to conceal the fact that the Hasmoneans obtained the High Priesthood by usurping it from its rightful holder, the Teacher of Righteousness. After being deposed, the Teacher went into exile with his supporters from Jerusalem to Damascus (Stegemann interprets CD 7.18-20 as referring to this event, and not as referring to the appearance of the the eschatological king and priest.) Those who would still recognize him as High Priest formed the nucleus of the Essene community; originally there were seven Jewish groups, known collectively as the Chasidim, that came together under his leadership of the Teacher c. 150 BCE; this conclusion was drawn from 4Q171 4.23-24: "They are the seven divisions of the converts of Is[rael who...]" (see also 3.1-2; CD 4.2-3; 20.22-25). Some from the Chasidim, however, did not join; these were identified as the Pharisees, or the "schismatics" (The name "Pharisee" may derive from the Hebrew parash, which means to separate.) Apart from being on the speculative side in general, Stegemann's hypothesis is shaky on two counts. First, in the surviving sectarian literature from Qumran, never is the accusation made that the Wicked Priest usurped the office of High Priest from the Teacher of Righteousness, contrary to what Stegemann claims; yet, if his view is correct, one would expect that this would be the major thrust of the criticism against Jonathan. (Stegemann claims the purpose of the Halakic Letter was to convince Jonathan to step down as High Priest, but this does not seem correct.) Second, according to CD 1, the Teacher of Righteousness became the leader of the community in 176 BCE, and did not first create the "Essene union" in 150 BCE.

      Probably, the reason that the community turned against the High Priest, whom they came to identify as the Wicked Priest, was that he would not yield to the authority of the Teacher of Righteousness. When Jonathan was appointed High Priest by Alexander Balas, it seems that the Teacher attempted to dictate religious and political policy to him, which he resisted. This resulted in a crisis in the alliance between the Hasmoneans and the Teacher and his supporters. (As already indicated, it is possible that the movement whose inception is described in CD 1 is the group designated as the Chasidim in 1 & 2 Maccabees and Josephus' writings, or, at least, formed a part of the Chasidim.) From what is said in the Psalms Pesher-a, the Teacher of Righteousness sent a letter to the Wicked Priest outlining his views, but, not only did he reject his interpretation of the Torah, the Wicked Priest also tried to have the Teacher killed (4Q171 4.7-9). In 4Q171 the author interprets Ps 37:32-33 as follows: "Its interpretation concerns the [Wic]ked Priest, who spies on the righteous man [and wants] to kill him." (The righteous man is probably an allusion to the Teacher of Righteousness.) It is also said the Wicked Priest attacked in some way the Teacher of Righteousness and his followers on the day on which they were observing the Day of Atonement (according to their calendar), which may be a reference to a second attack on the Teacher of Righteousness (1QpHab 11.1-9).  In some of the Thanksgiving Hymns, the Teacher complains about the mistreatment that he suffered at the hands of his enemies, including no doubt the Wicked Priest. Many scholars identify the text known as Some of the Works of the Torah (4QMMT) as this letter written to Jonathan, the High Priest (see 4QMMT).

      One possible historical reconstruction of the religious history of this period is that in the early part of the second century BCE, the Chasidim, the opponents of the Hellenists and early supporters of Judas, were still undifferentiated, but with the appearance of Teacher of Righteousness, who apparently insisted on being recognized as a religious authority, and then the appointment of Jonathan as High Priest, there arose disputes that split the movement into the Essenes, the Pharisees and possibly the Sadducees. It is conceivable that a part of the Chasidim, at least, should be identified with the movement described in CD 1: "And they discerned their iniquity and knew that they were a guilty people" (1.8-9). If so, then the original apostates from the authority of the Teacher of Righteousness and his followers "separated" to become the Pharisees and then allied themselves with the Hasmonean Jonathan. The explanation offered in 1QpHab 11.12-14 for the refusal of the Wicked Priest to accept the authority of the Teacher is the former's spiritual depravity: "He did not circumcise the foreskin of his heart, and he walked in the ways of drunkenness that he might quench his thirst."  Needless to say, Jonathan and his supporters would have a different perspective. The Pharisees, however, eventually have a falling-out with the Hasmoneans.

2.2. Expectation for the Future

It is clear that the community did not expect to out of power indefinitely. Rather, these Jews believed that, at the "visitation" of God, there would be an eschatological reversal of fortunes, when God would vindicate their community (see CD 8; 4Q171 4.10-12). It is explained that from the death of the Teacher of Righteousness until the end of those apostates who left the community under the leadership of the "Liar," there will be forty years, perhaps a symbolic number, corresponding to the Israelites forty years spent in the wilderness (CD 20.13-17). In the Damascus Document B occurs a pesher-type interpretation of Zech 13:7 and Ezek 9:4 used to express the community's expectation of God's "visitation" (a different version using different Old Testament texts occurs in Damascus Document A [7.9-8.10).

But all who despise the ordinance and the statutes, the evil ones will be repaid their due when God visits the land, when that happens of which it is written by Zechariah the prophet, ‘Awake , O sword, upon my shepherd so the sheep will be scattered and I will turn my hands to the little ones’ (Zech 13:7). But those who guard it (the precept) are the poor of the sheep. These will escape at the time of the visitation. But those who remain will be handed over to the sword when the Messiah of Aaron and Israel comes. (And this will be) as it happened at the first time of visitation; as it is said through Ezekiel, ‘To make a mark upon the foreheads of those who sigh and groan’. (Ezek 9:4). But those who remained were turned over to the avenging sword of the covenant’s vengeance. And thus (is) the judgment of those who enter his covenant (and) who will not hold firmly to these statutes: they will be visited unto destruction by the hand of Belial .” (CD 19.5-14)

The community interpreted Zech 13:7 as foretelling the "visitation" of God, the first part describing judgment of those outside of the community and the latter as describing the salvation of the community. Who the shepherd is who will be struck by the sword as judgment is not identified, but probably he is a contemporary Jewish leader, no doubt a Hasmonean. The sheep represent Israel and the "poor of the sheep" the community, also designated as "those who guard the precept," by which is meant those who maintain correct obedience to the Law (see 1QpHab 12.3, 6, 10; 4Q171 2.8-11; 1QM 14.7 for references to the community as "poor"). Judgment will come in conjuection with the appearance of an eschatological figure known as "the Messiah of Aaron and Israel," who seems to be the Davidic Messiah of Old Testament prophecy; it seems, however, that Belial will be the means by which punishment in the form of the sword will be carried out. The community expects a judgment like that upon Judah in the 6th century BCE through the Babylonians , which is why it interprets Ezek 9:4 as referring to themselves as a second fulfilment. In other texts, the community expected that the "Kittim" (i.e., the Romans) would bring the Hasmonean dynasty to a premature end (1QpHab 8.16-9.15), and then the community would defeat the Kittim and their Jewish apostate allies (War Scroll). It seems, however, that the Essenes took up arms against Vespasian and then later Titus and were destroyed as a religious group within Judaism (see War 2.152, 567).

References to Other Historical Events in Dead Sea Scrolls

In 4QTest (4Q175), a passage from the non-biblical Psalms of Joshua (4Q378-79) (see Josh 6:26) is cited and interpreted in a pesher-like manner:

At the time when Joshua finished praising and giving thanks with his psalms, he said, "Cursed be the man who rebuilds this city. Upon his first-born will he found it, and upon his youngest son will he erect its gates." And now an accursed man, one of Belial, has arisen to be a fowler's trap for his people and ruin for his neighbors [...] will arise to be the two instruments of violence. And they will rebuild [this city and ere]ct for it a rampart and towers to make it into a fortress of wickedness [a great evil] in Israel and a horror in Ephraim and Judah. (4QTest 1.21-27)

By the phrase "accursed man, one of Belial," the author is probably referring to one of the Hasmonean kings, because only one of these could have rebuilt the city (even though the textual restoration is not certain). Clearly, the interpreter has a negative view of this Hasmonean king, because he is described as "a fowler's trap for his people and ruin for his neighbors." Since the phrase "instruments of violence" derives from Gen 49:5, where it is used to described Simeon and Levi, it is possible that the interpreter intends to describe two brothers with an equal reputation for violence. One of these brothers may be the "accursed man, one of Belial" or, since Joshua refers to a man and his two sons, the text may refer to two brothers who are sons of a father known as the "accursed man, one of Belial." If the former then the two "instruments of violence" may be Jonathan and Simon (see 1 Macc 10:10-11; 12:35-37; 13:10, 52; 14:37). If the latter then the two brothers may be Judas and Mattathias, the older and younger sons of Simon (1 Macc 16:11-17; Ant. 13.7.4; 228-29).

In fragments of the text known as Calendars of Priestly Courses (4Q320-30), there appear to be references to John Hyrcanus II, son of Salome Alexandra and Alexander Jannaeus, (4Q322; 4Q324b); Queen Salome (Shelomzion) (4Q322; 4Q324b). It seems that memorial days for the queen and her son were identified in the Essene calendar. In the same text (4Q324b), it says "Aemilius killed," which is probably a reference to M. Aemilius Scaurus, the Roman general under Pompey; whom he killed is not stated.

3. Organization of the Community

Although they no doubt applied to the Essenes who dwelt at Qumran, regulations for the organization of the community found in the Rule of the Community probably applied to all Essenes regardless of where they lived. If so, then all the members of the Essene were organized by rank (1QS 6.22). This ranking consisted of divisions between priests, Levites and then the remainder, who are organized in a military fashion by thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, in conformity to how the Israelites were organized in Exod 18:21-22 (1QS 2.19-3.12). (Some scholars doubt that there were ever so many members as to be able to organize them into groups of hundreds and thousands.) Within each of the categories of priests, Levites and the remaining members, individual members were ranked, probably according to their understanding and obedience. The priests played a leadership role in the community. For this reason, a priest must be present at every gathering over ten or more members of the community, and was the one to recite the blessing before a meal (1QS 6.3-8).  It is probable that priests are those who are to study the Torah continually, so that they could be teachers of the other members (1QS 6.7; 8.11-12).

      Although sometimes in Qumran sectarian writings it is said priests in general occupy the highest ranking (see 1QS 9.7), it seems that Zadokite priests (priests who could trace their lineage back to Zadok the High Priest in the time of Solomon) took precedence over all other priests. The Zadokite priests served as teachers and judges to which all the other members must submit, and they conducted the meetings of the entire congregation (1QS 5.1-3, 8-10; 1QSa 1.1-3, 2.1-3).  In 1QSa 1.23-25, the following ranking is set forth regarding the supervision of the members in their work: the sons of Levi supervise the lower ranked members, but the sons of Levi are supervised by sons of Aaron and the non-priestly "heads of the family of the congregation," but the ultimate authorities are named as the sons of Zadok along with more "heads of the family of the congregation."  Although it is not clear how  exactly this authority structure was to work, nevertheless, the sons of Zadok shared authority with a body of  non-priestly leaders.

      It goes without saying, however, that the Teacher of Righteousness, a priest probably of Zadokite extraction, functioned as the highest authority when he was alive. Thus, probably, when he died, an office was created to fill the leadership void that his death left. There are two titles that occur in the Dead Sea Scrolls both of which seem to denote the leader of the entire community:  mevaqqer (examiner) and maskil (instructor). These two terms probably refer to a single office, the leader of the entire community, whose responsibilities include teaching (see 1QS  3.13-15; CD 13.7-9), presiding over assemblies (1QS 6.11-13), examining those seeking to join (CD 13.7-9; see CD 13.13; 14.8-12) and ranking members (1QS 6.20-22). He is to conform to high moral standards (1QS 9.12-14; see CD 12.20-22); he is also not to dispute with "the men of the pit" and not to transmit any the teaching of the community to them (1QS 9.16-17 ). Another term for the leader designated as "the examiner" and "the instructor" is probably the "appointed one" (paqid); like the mevaqqer, he is to examine those seeking membership (1QS 6.14).

      In 1QS 8.1-4, there is a reference to a group of fifteen men, three of whom are priests (see 4Q265 frg. 7 2):  "In the Council of the Community there shall be twelve men and three priests....They shall preserve the faith in the Land with steadfastness and meekness and shall atone for sin by the practice of justice and by suffering the sorrows of afflictions."  How exactly these fifteen men relate to the leader of the community and where they are to be situated in the overall authority structure, however, is not clear. Whether these fifteen men lived together in the Qumran community is unclear.

4. Entrance into the Community

Because they were were a voluntary Jewish group, formal entrance into the Essenes was required. In the Qumran sectarian texts, there are several description of the procedures for the initiation of members. In addition, Josephus provides an account of how Jews became members of the Essenes.

4.1. 1QS 6.13-24

4.1.1. Initial Examination of Instruction of Candidates (1QS 6.13b-15a)

And regarding each one who freely offers himself from Israel to join the council of the community, the paqid ("appointed one") at the head of the many shall examine him with respect to his insight and his works. If he is suited to the discipline he shall permit him to enter into the covenant to turn to the truth and depart from all deceit; he shall instruct him in all the precepts (lit. "judgments") of the community.

The candidate for membership is first interviewed by the paqid ("appointed one"), who is probably the leader of the community and is also known by the titles mevaqqer (examiner) and maskil (instructor). If the candidate is found to have sufficient knowledge ("insight") and is generally obedient to the Law ("works"), he is accepted. This qualifies him to receive instruction into the precepts of the community for an undetermined period of time. Based on CD 15.6 , the man seeking entrance takes an oath to return to the Torah of Moses at this time. This means that he will learn Essene halakah and foundational beliefs, including their understanding of their place in salvation history. (According to 1QS 9.16-18, the members of the community are forbidden from revealing Essene teaching to non-Essenes.)

4.1.2. Appearance Before the Community (1QS 6.15b-17)

And later, when he enters to stand before the many, they shall all be asked concerning his affairs (lit. "things"), and as the lot comes out according to the counsel of the many, he shall approach or withdraw. When he approaches the council of the community he must not touch the pure food of the many, until he has been examined concerning his spirit and his work until one full year is complete, nor shall he have any share in the property of the many.

After an undisclosed period of time, the initiate shall appear before the "many," or the entire community, and a decision shall be made about whether he is qualified to become an Essene: "As the lot comes out according to the counsel of the many, he shall approach or withdraw." How exactly the decision is made is not specified. If accepted, during the next full year, the initiate has only a provisional standing within the community. For this reason, he is ineligible to eat with the community: "He must not touch the pure food of the many." In addition, he has no access to the common property of the community. (He has not yet given his own financial assets to the community.)

4.1.3. After the First Year (1QS 6.18-21a)

When he has completed one year within the community, the many shall be asked about his affairs (lit. "things") with regard to his insight and his works in the Torah. If the lot should go out to him, that he should approach the assembly of the community according to the priests and the multitude of the men of their covenant, then both his property and his possessions shall be given to the hand of the man who is the examiner over the possessions of the many. And he shall register it into the account with his hand, and he must not bring it forth for the many. He must not touch the drink of the many until he has completed a second year among the men of the community.

After a year of conditional membership in the community, the initiate is again brought before the community, at which time his "affairs" are examined by the priests and the men of the community. During the past year, the initiate has had a partial and provisional membership in the community. He is examined according to his "his insight and his works in the Torah," which means that his knowledge of the Torah and his behavior are the criteria by which he is judged worthy of membership. Although how exactly a decision is made is not clear, if he is found worthy, the initiate is admitted to a higher level of membership in the community: "Both his property and his possessions shall be given to the hand of the man who is the examiner over the possessions of the many." In other words, he will be allowed to hand over his assets to the community. Nevertheless, during the next year his assets will be kept apart from the community's and kept by a man identified as "the examiner over the possessions of the many," who seems to a different man from the man identified the paqid. The initiate will be allowed to eat with the community but not to partake of its drink; this is because liquid foods are more susceptible to ritual impurity than dry foods, and the initiate is not yet trusted to handle what is more susceptible to ritual impurity.

4.1.4. Final Admission after the Second Year (1QS 6.20b-23)

When that second year has been completed he shall be examined according to the many. If the lot goes out to him to approach the community, he shall be registered in the order of his rank among his brothers, for Torah, judgment and purity and his property shall be assimilated. His counsel and his judgment shall belong to the community.

After the second probationary year, the initiate shall become a full member of the community, and will now be allowed to come into contact with liquid foods. He will be given a rank according to his knowledge of the Torah, the foundational principles of the community ("judgment") and his knowledge of ritual purity (see War 2.150). (According to 1QS 5.23-24, all the members are annually examined and their ranks adjusted accordingly.) His assets will be merged with those of the community and he will be allowed to give counsel during the community's assemblies. (But, from what Josephus says, it seems that full members retained control over some of their financial assets because they are allowed to render assistance to the needy at their own discretion [War 2.134].)

      It should be added that the initiates are required to take an oath upon being admitted to the community, which includes returning to the Torah of Moses and separating from the "men of deceit," who would be all other Jews (5.8-10; see 5.14-18). There seems to have been a formal, annual ceremony during which new members were admitted (1QS 1.16-2.23).

4.2. CD 15.6-15

In the Damascus Document, there is another description of the formal procedure for joining the community, which differs somewhat from that found in the Rule of the Community.

Who, for passing among those that are mustered, take the oath of the covenant. Similar is the precept during the entire time of evil for everyone who repents of his corrupt way. On the day that he speaks with the mevaqqer (examiner) of the many, they shall muster him with the oath of the covenant that Moses made with Israel, the covenant to return to the Torah of Moses with all his heart and with all his soul, to that which is found to be done during the entire time of evil. Let no one make the precepts (lit. "judgments") known to him until he stands before the mevaqqer (examiner) lest he proves to be a fool when he questions him. But when he takes upon himself to return to the Torah of Moses with all his heart and all his soul, they are free of his blame if he should transgress. Should he err in any matter of the Torah revealed to the multitude of the camp, the mevaqqer (examiner) shall make it known to him and enjoin it upon him, and teach him for a minimum of one complete year.

From what is described, it seems that the initiate presents himself to the mevaqqer (examiner) and is "mustered" or enlisted into the ranks of the community and takes an oath to "to return to the Torah of Moses with all his heart and with all his soul." It is possible that the procedure is that only after a year does the mevaqqer (examiner) reveal to him the foundational teaching of the community ("precepts"), unless what is being described is a one-year initiation period after taking an oath during which the initiate is instructed in the "precepts." It is likely that CD 15.6-15 describes the procedure for the admission of members into the community, parallel to 1QS 6.13b-24. In this case the mevaqqer (examiner) is a synonym for the paqid ("appointed one"). The procedure in CD 15.6-15, however, is a two stage initiation, whereas the procedure in 1QS 6.13b-24 is longer and more complicated. How the differences are to be explained is not clear. It is possible that, based on what is said in 1QS 6.13b-24, what is described is the period between the time when a man states his intention to join the community and appears for the first time before the paqid ("appointed one"), following or during which he receives instruction in "all the precepts," and his appearance before "the many" for the first time. If so, then the description in 1QS 6.13b-24 omits to mention that there was a period of time of the duration of a year between an initiate's appearance before the paqid ("appointed one") and his first appearance before "the many," which is described in CD 15.6-15. It is also possible that there were different procedures in force at different times in the history of the community.

4.3. Josephus, War 2.137-39

Josephus provides a similar description of the procedure whereby a man enters the Essene community.

Those desiring to enter the sect do not obtain immediate admittance. The postulant waits outside for one year; the same way of life is propounded to him and he is given a hatchet, the loin cloth which I have mentioned, and a white garment. Having proved his continence during this time, he draws closer to the way of life and participates in the purificatory bathes at a higher degree, but yet he is not yet admitted into intimacy. Indeed, after he has shown his constancy his character is tested for another two years, and if he appears worthy he is received into the company permanently. But before touching the common food he makes solemn oaths before his brothers.

There are some obvious parallels between Josephus' description and 1QS 6.13a-24, but there are some differences also. He agrees that no man is immediately received into membership, but must submit to a multi-year process to become a member. Unlike 1QS 6.13b-15a, however, Josephus indicates that the period of time during which the initial instruction occurs is one year. This does agree, however, with CD 15.15: "The mevaqqer (examiner) shall make it known to him and enjoin it upon him, and teach him for a minimum of one complete year." Josephus adds that the initiate upon being admitted to the year-long period of instruction receives a "hatchet" (for burying feces), a loin cloth and a white garment. Josephus seems to collapse the two probationary years following the instruction in the "precepts" into a two-year period without differentiating between the two years.

5. The Essenes as Foretellers of the Future

In addition to being known as healers (Philo, De vit. comtemp., 2; Jos., War 2, 136), the Essenes had a reputation for foretelling the future (see War 2, 159: "expert in foreseeing the future"). Josephus relates three such accounts.

5.1. War 1.78-80 (see Ant. 13.310-313)

A remarkable incident in this matter involved Judas. This man was an Essene who had never misled or lied in his prophecies. When he saw Antigonus at that time coming through the Temple, Judas called out to his friends, of whom a fair number of disciples were seated with him: "Alas, now it is time for me to die since the truth has died on me and one of my foretellings has proved a lie, for Antigonus here is alive although he ought to have been killed today. The place for his decease was fixed by fate as Straton's Tower, and that tower is a good six hundred stadia from here, while the day has reached the fourth hour. The time has rendered invalid the prophecy." With these words the old man pondered hard with gloomy countenance, and a little later it was announced that Antigonus had been killed in the underground spot which is also called Straton's Tower, having the same name as Caesarea by the coast. This is what had confused the seer.

According to Josephus's source, the Hasmonean king Aristobolus tragically arranges to have his brother Antigonus killed, because he wrongly suspects him of disloyalty. Judas the Essene predicted the day of Antigonus' death and place, Straton's Tower, which was the name of Caesarea (Maritima) before Herod's reconstruction of the city. When he saw Antigonus in the Temple on the day that he was predicted to die, Judas assumed that he was wrong and became despondent, because there was no way that Antigonus could reach Caesarea from Jerusalem on that day since it was already 10:00 a.m. and the distance between the cites was six hundred stadia (stadion = c. 85 meters). According to the account in Ant. 13.311, Josephus explains that Judas was in the Temple surrounded by his disciples whom he was instructing in foretelling the future (tou prolegein). It turned out, however, that Judas was correct after all, because Antigonus was killed "in the underground spot which is also called Straton's Tower."

5.2. Ant. 15.371-79

And those who are called by us Essenes were also excused from this necessity. This is a group that follows a way of life taught to the Greeks by the Pythagoreans. Now about these men I shall speak more clearly in another place. It is, however, proper to explain what reason Herod had for holding the Essenes in honor and for having a higher opinion of them than was consistent with their merely human nature....There was a certain Essene named Manaemus (Menahem) whose virtue was attested in his whole conduct of life and especially in having from God a foreknowledge of the future. This man had once observed Herod, then still a boy, going to his teacher, and greeted him as "king of the Jews." Thereupon Herod, who thought that the man either did not know who he was, or was teasing him, reminded him that he was only a private citizen. Manaemus, however, gently smiled and slapped him on the backside saying, :Nevertheless, you will be king and you will rule the realm happily, for you have been found worthy of this by God. And you shall remember the blows given by Manaemus, so that they also may be for you a symbol of how one's fortune can change. For the best attitude for you to take would be to love justice and piety towards God and mildness towards your citizens. But I know that you will not be such a person, since I understand the whole situation. Now you will be singled out for such good fortune as no other man has had, and you will enjoy eternal glory, but you will forget piety and justice. This, however, cannot escape the notice of God, and at the close of your life his wrath will show that he is mindful of these things." At the moment Herod paid little attention to his words, but after gradually being advanced to kingship and good fortune, when he was at the height of his power, he sent for Manaemus and questioned him about the length of time he would reign. Manaemus said nothing at all. In the face of his silence Herod asked further whether he had ten years more to reign, and the other replied that he had twenty or even thirty, but he did not set a limit to the appointed time. Herod, however, was satisfied even with this answer and dismissed Manaemus with a friendly gesture And from that time on he continued to hold all Essenes in honor.

An Essene called Menahem (Manaemus) foretold that Herod (the Great) would become "king of the Jews," but would "forget piety and justice." Remembering that he predicted that he would be king of the Jews, Herod summons Menahem to ask him how long his reign would be. He replies that he has twenty or even thirty years as king. Because of Manaemus, Herod holds the Essenes in high esteem.

5.3. War 2.112-13 (see Ant. 17.345-48)

It is said that, before he [Achelaus] received his summons from Caesar, he had this dream: he thought he saw nine tall and full-grown ears of grain on which oxen were grazing. He sent for the soothsayers and some Chaldeans and asked them their opinion of its meaning. Various interpretations having been given, a certain Simon, of the sect of the Essenes, said that in his view the ears of grain denoted years and the oxen a revolution, because in ploughing they turn over the soil; he would therefore reign for as many years as there were ears of grain and would die after a chequered experience of revolutionary changes. Five days later Archelaus was summoned to his trial.

In this account, an Essene named Simon provided a prophetic interpretation of a dream that Archelaus, son of Herod the Great and ruler of Judea and Samaria had. The dream foretold that he would be removed from power after only nine years.

6. Some Qumran Sectarian Texts

6.1. Rule of the Community

P. Alexander and G. Vermes, Qumran Cave 4 XIX Serekh Ha-Yahad and Two Related Texts (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 26) (1998); W. H. Brownlee, The Dead Sea Manual of Discipline: Translations and Notes (1951); J. Charlesworth, ed., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek Texts with English Translations. Volume 1. Rule of the Community and Related Documents (1994); M. Knibb, The Qumran Community (1987); A. R. C. Leaney, The Rule of Qumran and its Meaning (1966); S. Metso, The Textual Development of the Qumran Community Rule (1997); J. Murphy-O'Connor, "La genèse littéraire de la Régle de la Communauté" RB 76 (1969) 528-49; J. Pouilly, La régle de la communauté de Qumrân. Son évolution littéraire (1976); P. Wernberg-Møller, The Manual of Discipline (1957).

6.1.1. Introduction

What is called the “Book of Rule of the Community” served as something of a constitution for the Qumran community. It provided for the maskil not only regulations for entrance into the community and the ordering of common life, but also some of the theoretical underpinnings of the sectarian movement. Twelve copies of this text have been discovered in the Qumran caves. In addition to the well-preserved copy from cave one (1QS), fragments of ten more copies of the Rule of the Community were found in cave four (4QS-a-j [4Q255-264]) and another in cave five (5Q11). Based on paleographical considerations, 1QS is be dated from between 100 to 75 BCE. 4QS-a is the earliest copy of the Rule of the Community found among the text fragments from cave four, dating from the end of the second century (125-100 BCE), earlier than 1QS. Another of these cave four copies, 4QS-c, is roughly contemporary with 1QS (100-75 BCE), while the remaining nine are later than 1QS. It is reasonable to assume that the earliest stage of the Rule of the Community began in the middle of the second century BCE, coeval with the beginnings of the Qumran community. Even though fragmentary, the copies of the Rule of the Community from caves four and five at times differ significantly from 1QS, so that one must conclude that there were different recensions of the Rule of the Community. Thus, one cannot assume that, because it happened to survive relatively in tact, 1QS is the original and the others derive from it.

      The Rule of the Community is clearly composite, and its literary divisions probably reflect the stages of its development; in addition, each of the literary divisions also shows signs of being composite. Evidence of its evolution is the fact that 1QS has changes to the text introduced by a later scribe or scribes; moreover, the copies of this text from cave four and five have variant readings and not every section of 1QS is found in the other copies of the Rule of the Community. It is one thing, however, to recognize that a text has evolved literarily, but another thing altogether to be able to trace the stages of its evolution. It is not surprising, therefore, that reconstructions of the literary history of the Rule of the Community tend to be on the speculative side. Although there is some debate over the literary divisions of the Rule of the Community, 1QS can be divided into the following divisions: 1QS 1.1–1.15; 1.16–3.12; 3.13–4.26; 5–7 (5.1–6.23; 6.24–7.25); 8.1–9.26a; 9.26b–11.22. (These literary divisions no doubt correlate somehow with stages in the evolution of the text, but how exactly is a matter of debate.)

6.1.2. Outline of Rule of the Community

A. 1QS 1.1-15

Serving as an introduction to the Rule of the Community, this section sets out the nature and purpose of the community.

B. 1QS 1.16-3.12

This section continues the theme of entrance into the community begun in 1.1-15, providing details about the procedure of admitting initiates.

C. 1QS 3.13-4.26

The Two-Spirits Teaching found in this section functions literarily as an appendix to the material in 1QS 1.1-3.12. It explains the origin of evil in the world and even the community itself by recourse to a cosmic, ethical and psychological dualism. Although it probably does not originate with it, the Qumran community adopted the Two-Spirits Teaching and incorporated it into some of its recensions of the Rule of the Community.

      This section begins with a heading that describes its contents: "It is for the Master to instruct and teach all the sons of light concerning the nature of all the sons of men, according to all the kinds of spirits revealed in the character of their deeds during their generations and according to their visitation of affliction as well as their times of reward" (3.12). In other word, this section of the Rule of the Community provides an interpretation of the human being, including the two possible eschatological destinies of "the sons of men."

D. 1QS 5-7

These three columns contain a series of procedures and rules for the ordering of common life.  This is implied by the headings found in this section, “This is the rule for the men of the community who have freely pledged themselves to be converted from all evil and to cling to all his commandments according to his will,” “This is the rule for the assembly of the congregation,” and “These are the rules by which they shall judge at a community inquiry according to the cases.”  Although generally very practical in orientation, nevertheless, frequently the theological self-understanding of the community become transparent.  Also more information is provided on the procedure by which a Jew becomes a member of the community.

E. 1QS 8.1-9.26a

This section of the Rule of the Community represents another programmatic text, perhaps going back before the inception of the community.  The purpose and underlying principles of the community are restated, along with some of the rules governing the membership, including the process by which a Jew would join the community.  1QS 8.1-9.11 concerns itself predominantly with the general membership, while 9.12-26a provides directions for the leaders of the community.

F. 1QS 9.26b-11

A hymn follows the descriptions of the responsibilities of the master (maskil), which presumably is for his use as master. This hymn is both personal and theological.

6.2. The Damascus Document

J. Baumgarten, Qumran Cave 4 XIII The Damascus Document (4Q266-273) (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 18) (1996); M. Broshi, ed., The Damascus Document Reconsidered (1992); J. Charlesworth, ed., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations. Volume 2. Damascus Document, War Scroll and Related Documents (1995); P. R. Davies, The Damascus Covenant (1982); P. Kahle, The Cairo Genizah (1959); J. Murphy-O'Connor, “An Essene Missionary Document? CD II, 14–VI, 1,” RB 77 (1970) 201–29; id., “A Literary Analysis of Damascus Document VI, 2–VIII,3,” RB (1971) 210–32; id., “The Damascus Document Revisited,” RB 92 (1985) 223-46; id., “A Literary Analysis of Damascus Document XIX, 33–XX, 34,” RB 79 (1972) 544–64; "The Critique of the Princes of Judah (CD VIII, 3-19) RB 79 (1972) 200-16; H. H. Rowley, The Zadokite Fragments and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1952).

6.2.1. Introduction

Two copies of the Damascus Document (so called because of several times it is stated that the new covenant was made in the land of Damascus [6.19; 8.21; 10.34; 20.12] and Damascus is mentioned in other contexts [6.5; 7.15, 19]) were found in the Cairo Genizah (the storeroom of a synagogue in Cairo). These texts became known as Cairo Damascus (Document) (CD) A and B, and were dated to the tenth and twelfth centuries respectively. The longest of the two copies of the Damascus Document is CD A, containing sixteen columns of twenty and twenty-three lines each; CD B contains only two columns, one with thirty-five lines and the other with thirty-four lines. (The first column of CD B, known as CD 19, parallels CD 7.5-8.21.) The Damascus Document as reconstructed from manuscripts A and B consists of two major divisions: the exhortation (1–8; 19–20) and a collection of laws (9–16). The former serves to introduce the latter. (CD MS A 7.6–8.21 is parallel to CD MS B 19.1–34; CD MS B 20.1–34 is the continuation of the text that is absent in CD A.)

      Fragments of eight manuscripts of this text discovered in cave four at Qumran indicate that manuscripts A and B from the the Cairo Genizah are missing significant material from the original text, much of which is halakic. (There were also small fragments of the Damascus Document discovered in caves five and six.) The earliest of the Qumran manuscripts of the Damascus Document is 4QDa (4Q266), dating from the first half or the middle of the first century BCE. It is generally accepted that the Damascus Document is a composite text, which means that it has evolved literarily to its present form, so that different sections of the text may have different dates. (The fact that there are some differences among the manuscripts could also indicate that there may be different texts with different evolutionary histories.) Although there have been attempts to reconstruction the literary and redactional history of the Damascus Document, as yet no consensus has been reached; in fact, owing to insufficient evidence, it is improbable that any hypothesis can be established with any degree of probability. The task of separating out sources, identifying their original setting and audience, not to mention identifying later interpolations and spotting scribal errors and omissions is superhuman. The absence of any allusion to the Roman presence in Palestine in the text, however, probably indicates that it was finished before c. 70 BCE.

      The nature and purpose of the Damascus Document has been debated. When CD A and CD B were first discovered, it was difficult to place these texts in what was then known of Jewish religious history. With its discovery among the texts at Qumran it became clear that the Damascus Document had to be situated in the history of the Essene movement. Like the Rule of the Community, the Damascus Document probably functioned as a type of constitutional document, explaining the origins of the community, providing a theological basis of its existence and setting forth rules for the community. Much of the legislation in the text presupposes that those for whom the legislation is given live among non-Essenes in cities, towns and villages. What is especially significant about the Damascus Document is that it gives an insight into how the Essenes interpreted scripture: Routinely, biblical passages are interpreted non-literally as applying to past or future events not envisioned by the original author (This has come to be known as the “pesher” method of interpretation.)

Damascus Document 4Q271(Df)

(= CD A 2.4-6; 3.6-11; 4.19-21; 5.20-6.2)

6.2.2.  Outline of the Damascus Document

As indicated, the Damascus Document as reconstructed from Manuscripts A and B consists of two major divisions: the exhortation (1-8; 19-20); a collection of laws (9-16); the former serves to introduce the latter. (CD MS A 7.6-8.21 is parallel to CD MS B 19.1-34; CD MS B 20.1-34 is the continuation of the text that is absent in CD A.) From the evidence of the fragments of the manuscripts of the Damascus Document found at Qumran, some—and perhaps most—versions of the Damascus Document have material preceding CD A 1.1. Similarly, on the basis of the 4QDamascus Document fragments, it is clear that CD A does not contain all the material from the second section (Collections of Laws) that other copies of the text have. In addition, it is probable that columns fifteen and sixteen should be place before column nine since this makes better literary sense and because this is the order of the material in the Qumran copies of the Damascus Document.

* = Material from copies of the Damascus Document from Qumran

A. The Exhortation

*1. First-person call of teacher to sons of light to separate from sinners and remain faithful to the Law.

2. 1.1-2.1 begins with an exhortation, followed by an account of the community’s origins and a contrast of the community with sinners.

3. 2.2-2.13 contains an exhortation followed by a description of God’s judgment on Israel and his preserving of a remnant of the people (the community).

4. 2.14-3.12a begins with an exhortation, and then describes examples of those who rebelled against God and were destroyed and of those who kept God’s ordinances.

5. 3.12b-4.12a  describes how God established a covenant with those who obeyed God’s ordinances (the community).  The process by which the community came into existence is explained.

6. 4.12b-6.1  describes how Belial leads astray Jews outside of the community.  The community’s criticism of the Jewish religious establishment is found.

7. 6.2-7.8  describes how God renewed the covenant with the community; passages from the Bible are interpreted as predictive of this.  Those lawless Jews outside of the community are criticized.

8. 7.9-8.21 = CD B 19.5b-34; CD B 19.35-20.27a prescribes for non-celibate members and then describes God’s future judgment of the wicked and those who have left the community.  It is also affirmed that those who held firmly to the covenant will be saved, in accordance with the predictions of scripture.

9. CD B 20.27b-34 contains blessings for those who repent and join the community.

B. Collections of Laws

*1. Introduction to the laws, the overseer and the priests

*2. Rules about priests and their disqualification

*3. Diagnosis of skin diseases, the Zab (man with discharge)

*4. Impurity from menstruation and childbirth

*5. Levitical laws pertaining to harvest

*6. Gleanings from grapes and olives

*7 Fruits of the fourth year

*8 Measures and tithes

*9 Impurity of Idolators' metal, corpse impurity and sprinkling

*10. Wife suspected of adultery

*11 Integrity in commercial dealings and marriage

*12 Overseer of the camp

13. 15.1-15a:  Oath to return to the law of Moses be taken by those entering the covenant.

14. 15.15b-20:  Exclusion from the community on the basis of a physical defect.

15. 16.1-20:  Oath to enter the community, as well as laws concerning the taking of other oaths and vows.

16. 9.1:  Death to the one responsible for the death of a Jew using gentile courts of justice.

17. 9.2-8:  Laws about reproof and vengeance.

18. 9.9-10.10a:  Laws about oaths, lost articles and testimony and judges.

19.  10.10b-13  “Purification in water.”

20. 10.14-11.18  Regulations for keeping the Sabbath.

21. 11.19-12.2a  Laws for maintaining the purity of the Temple.

22. 12.2b-6a  Handling of transgressors

23. 12.6b-11a  Relations with gentiles

24.  12.11b-15a  Dietary laws

25. 12.15b-22a  Two purity rules  (This is where the “rule” (regulations) for the “cities” of Israel ends.)

26. 12.22b-14.19  Regulations) for those dwelling in the camps

27. 14.20-22  Fragment of a penal code dealing with infractions of communal discipline.

*28. Expulsion Ceremony

Criteria are required in order to determine whether a Qumran text has a non-sectarian provenance. These criteria include the following. 1. Historical References. The most obvious and reliable criterion of sectarian origin are references in a Qumran text to events or persons inseparably tied to the history of the community, such as the founding of the community, the appearance of the Teacher of Righteousness and its opponents. Similarly, any reference to the separation from the Temple sacrifices is an indicator of sectarian origin, because the community withdrew from active participation in the Temple early in their history and interpreted itself as the replacement of the Temple. 2. Distinctive Vocabulary. Certain technical terms tend to occur in the descriptions of the history of the community. The more obvious such terms include “Teacher of Righteousness” the founder of the community, and his opponents, “Wicked Priest” and “Man/Spouter of the Lie.” The use of the term “smooth things” in reference to their Pharisaic opponents is likewise unique to the Qumran community. Other distinctive technical terms are used to describe the organization of the community, such as “community” (ychd) (or a phrase containing the word “community”), “rule” (swd), “overseer” (mbqr) and “sage” (mškwl). Another set of unique terms are used to express the community’s theological dualism, the most obvious of which are: “sons of light / sons of darkness," “lot of God / lot of Belial.” It should be noted that, although it is a distinctive of the Qumran community, the dualism and predestinarian outlook is not unique to the Qumran community, and so the presence of a vocabulary to express such views is not necessarily an indication of sectarian provenance. 3. Pesharim. It is generally conceded that the pesher genre is an innovation of the Qumran community, so that, unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary, all pesharim found among the Qumran texts probably originated in the community. 4. Paleographical Dating. If, on paleographical grounds, the earliest date for the composition of a Qumran text is determined to have been composed before the founding of the Qumran community in the middle of the second century BCE, then it is probable that the text in question is non-sectarian. Rather, since it predates the founding of the community, the text was brought to the community. The weakness of the use of this criterion, however, is that paleographical dating is only approximate, and there are many exceptions to the rules of paleographical evolution. 5. Orthography. Although not used exclusively, the sectarian texts, identified as such by means of other criteria, tend to be characterized by a distinctive orthographic system, different from the later Masoretic text. If a text from Qumran conforms to this orthography the probability is increased that it is sectarian in origin. 6. Designations for God. In the Qumran sectarian texts, known to be such by means of other criteria, the tetragrammaton tends to be avoided. Thus, if a text from Qumran contains the tetragrammaton, then it is probably not a composition of the Qumran community. The avoidance of the tetragrammaton, however, is not unique to the Qumran sectarian texts, but is true in general of Palestinian Jewish texts from the third century BCE onward. What does tend to be unique to the Qumran sectarian texts is the avoidance of the terms 'lhwm, 'dwny and 'l ysr'l. The preferred designation for God is 'l. 7. Multiple Copies. The fact that multiple copies of a text sometimes in more than one cave have turned up is an indicator that the text was important for the community. Texts that were written by the community (by definition, sectarian texts) would be important texts for it, and so exist in multiple copies. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this, since multiple copies of the Enochic books, the Book of Jubilees and Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice have been found in the Qumran caves. Suffice it to say, that a text that does not exist in multiple copies in different caves is probably not sectarian in provenance. 8. Citation of a Sectarian Text. If a text cites a sectarian text, then probably it likewise is sectarian, since only a member of the community would have access to sectarian texts and the inclination to cite it. 9. Solar Calendar. The Qumran community withdrew from participation in the Temple sacrifices in part because it objected to the use of the lunar calendar rather than the solar calendar consisting of a four quarter, fifty-two week and 364 day year. Any text that does not presuppose this solar calendar cannot have a sectarian provenance. It must be stressed, however, that disputes over the solar calendar predate the formation of the Qumran community, so that the adoption of the solar calendar is no guarantee that a text was composed by the Qumran community. On the development of the Essene calendar, see R. Beckwith, “The Earliest Enoch Literature and Its Calendar: Marks of Their Origin, Date and Motivation,” RevQ 10 [1981] 365-403; P. Callaway, “The 364-Day Calendar Tradition at Qumran,” (Mogilany 1989 Paper on the Dead Sea Scrolls Offered in Memory of Jean Carmignac, Part 1 (ed. Z. Kapera; Krakow: Enigma Press, 1993) 19-29. On the issue of criteria of sectarian provenance, see D. Dimant, The Qumran Manuscripts: Contents and Significance,” Time to Prepare the Way in the Wilderness (ed. D. Dimant and L. Schiffman; STDJ 16; Leiden: Brill, 1995) 23-58; id., “Qumran Sectarian Literature,” Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (ed. M. Stone; CRINT 2/2; Assen: Van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984) 483-550; E. Chazon, “Is Divrei Ha-Me’orot a Sectarian Prayer?,” The Dead Sea Scrolls. Forty Years of Research (ed. D. Dimant and U. Rappaport; STDJ 10; Leiden: Brill, 1992) 3-17; E. Tov “The Orthography and Language of the Hebrew Scrolls Found at Qumran and the Origin of These Scrolls,” Textus 13 (1986) 31-57; id., “Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts from the Judaean Desert: Their Contribution to Textual Criticism,” JJS 39 (1988) 5-37; id., “Scribal Practices Reflected in the Documents from the Judean Desert and in the Rabbinic Literature,” Texts, Temples and Traditions. A Tribute to Menahem Haran (ed. M. Fox et al.; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1995) 383-403; id., “Further Evidence for the Existence of a Qumran Scribal School,” The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years after Their Discovery (ed. L. Schiffman, E. Tov, J. VanderKam; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2000) 199-216; C. Newsom, “‘Sectually Explicit’ Literature from Qumran,” The Hebrew Bible and its Interpreters (ed. W. Propp and D. Freedmann; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990) 167-87; H. Stegemann, “Religionsgeschichtliche Erwägungen zu den Gottesbezeichnungen in den Qumrantexten,” Qumrân, sa piété, sa thélogie et son milieu (ed. M. Delcor; BETL 46; Paris-Gembloux: Duculot, 1978) 200-17; A. Lange, Weisheit und Prädestination (STDJ 28; Leiden: Brill, 1995) 6-20.

6.3. 4QMMT: Some of the Works of the Torah (Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah)

J. Baumgarten, “Sadducean Elements in Qumran Law,” The Community of the Renewed Covenant: The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls (1994); O. Betz, “The Qumran Halakhah Text Miqsat Ma‘asê Ha-Tôrah (4QMMT) and Sadducean, Essene, and Early Pharisaic Tradition,” The Aramaic Bible. Targums in Their Historical Context (1994); J. Kampen and M. Bernstein, ed., Reading 4QMMT: New Perspectives on Qumran Law and History (1996); E. Qimron and J. Strugnell, Qumran Cave 4: V, Miqsat Ma‘Ase Ha-Tora (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 10) (1994); L. Schiffman, “Miqsat Ma‘asê Ha-Tôrah (4QMMT) and the Temple Scroll,” RevQ 14 (1990) 435-57; id., “The New Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) and the Origins of the Dead Sea Sect,” BA 55 (1990) 64-73; id., “Pharisaic and Sadducean Halakhah in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” DSD 1 (1994) 285-99);

6.3.1. Introduction

Portions of six fragmentary copies (4Q394–99) of what is known as Some of the Works of the Torah or the Halakhic Letter have been found in cave four. A composite text, consisting of comprised of three sections and 135 lines, can be produced from these fragments. The editors of 4QMMT estimate that the reconstructed text represents about two-thirds of the original document. The purpose of the letter is to convince its readers of the correctness of the senders’ views on certain legal issues (halaka); it is clear that these issues have divided the author and his community from the intended reader, so that acceptance of the positions stated in letter would effect a hoped-for reconciliation between the two. Several issues related to halaka are discussed in what remains of the letter. From the contents of the letter, there is a two-fold concern: gifts offered at the Temple and ritual purity, especially relating to the priesthood. Towards the end of the composite text, the community’s eschatological views come to expression.

      There are some clues as to the conditions of the production of the Halakhic Letter in the text itself. The author writes on behalf of a community, as indicated by the fact that he uses the first person plural. When discussing halakic issues, he uses the second person plural in addressing his intended readers, who are probably the priestly authorities controlling the cultic functions of the Temple. In Part C, the so-called Exhortation, he uses the second person singular (see C. 7–11, 26–31); the addressee is said to have “a people” (C. 27), which implies that he occupies a position of authority. The author explains to this man, “We have written to you (sing.) concerning some of the works of the Law which we think are beneficial to you and your people” (C 26–27). This admonition implies that the intended reader has the authority to make the halakic changes recom-mended, so that this person could only be the High Priest, the leader of the Jews. The author also says that his intended reader already knows that the community that he represents has separated from “the majority of the people” (C. 7–10). It is probable that the intended reader is likewise one of the majority of the people and the leader of this group, so that “your people” (C. 27) is synonymous with “the majority of the people.” It is generally recognized that the halakic views that the author opposes in MMT B are Pharisaic (or proto-Pharisaic at least), so that “the majority of the people” are Pharisees or supporters of the Pharisees, as is the intended reader. The author contrasts the views of his community (“we”) with the views of the Pharisees (“they”). He hopes to win over the intended reader to his halakic views; the acceptance of these would effect a hoped-for reconciliation. Moreover, the fact that he writes at all, hoping to convince his intended reader of his error, implies that relations between him and the community represented by the author were at least mutually respectful at this time. Beyond this scant historical outline, however, nothing can be said with absolute certainty.

     It is tempting to identify the author of the Halakhic Letter with the Teacher of Righteousness. From what is said in the Psalms Pesher, in an effort to in-struct him in “the statutes and the Law,” the Teacher of Righteousness sent a letter to the man who would eventually be referred to as the Wicked Priest, but the latter both rejected his interpretation of the Law, and even tried to have the Teacher killed (4Q171 4.8–9). The Halakhic Letter is probably this letter that the Teacher of Righteousness wrote to the man who would become known as the Wicked Priest. The Wicked Priest in all likelihood was the Hasmonean High Priest Jonathan. If so, this would place the composition of the letter to c. 150 BCE, after Jonathan had assumed the position of High Priest. (This is consis-tent with the orthographic evidence.) If this hypothesis is correct, then the Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) fills in some gaps in the understanding of the nature of the community’s quarrel with Jonathan and his supporters. The text lays bare the specific areas of disagreement between the Essenes and the pro-Pharisaic Hasmoneans.

L. Schiffman claims that the letter was written "by the collective leadership of the sect" in the twenty years before the appearance of the Teacher of Righteousness. This explains, according to Schiffman, why there are no references to the Teacher in the letter (Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, 86-87). It seems more likely, however, that such a letter was written only after the community ceased "to grope in its blindness" (CD 1.9). It is improbable that the community during this twenty-year period before the Teacher's appearance would have views to set down in a letter. The Teacher of Righteousness claimed to have the proper of understanding of the Torah, being the one through whom God would reveal to the community "the hidden things in which Israel had gone astray" (CD 3.12-15). He also claimed to be an inspired interpreter of the prophets, as the one "to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of His servants the Prophets" (1QpHab 7.5); in other words, the Teacher claimed to find inspired new applications of prophecy for the final generation before the eschaton. Both types of assertions are made in the letter. Thus the most likely candidate for authorship of the letter is the Teacher who writes as a representative of the community.

     If this hypothesis is correct, then 4QMMT fills in some gaps in the understanding of the nature of community’s quarrel with Jonathan and his supporters. It is known from Damascus Document that the Teacher dissented from the halakic views of the High Priest and that Jonathan refused to recognize the authority of the Teacher. Thus, 4QMMT may reveal those specific areas of disagreement. It also indicates that Jonathan supported the Pharisees and their halakic views, as did “the majority of the people,” which is consistent with Josephus’ account. At this early date in the history of the community, however, separation between Jonathan and the author and his community was not inevitable; rather the, former’s decision to withdraw from participation in the Temple came only after at least one attempt at reconciliation was thwarted. Moreover, it follows that 4Q448 (4QApocryphal Psalm and Prayer), if indeed it refers to this Jonathan, must have been composed before the falling out between the Teacher of Righteousness and Jonathan. In fact, the statement in 1QpHab 8.8–11 “Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest, who was called by the name of truth when he began his service, but when he ruled in Israel, he became arrogant, his heart became proud, he abandoned God and was unfaithful with respect to the statutes because of wealth” implies that initially the community and the Teacher of Righteousness supported this man, but then turned against him, presumably when he would not recognize the Teacher as a religious authority (see also 1QpHab 2.5–6). Thus, the letter reflects the earlier stages of the Essene movement. Probably, this group at the beginning did not see itself as the only true members of the covenant and did not hope for the destruction of all Jews outside of their ranks; these developments occurred after all hope of reconciliation had been abandoned and a sectarian mindset took hold.

 6.3.2. Outline of Some of the Works of the Torah (4QMMT)

On the assumption that most of the original letter has been reconstructed from the fragments of its six copies, the letter can be divided into three parts. The first part sets out the religious calendar that should be followed; the sabbath days and the festivals are set out for the entire year. The second part deals with legal or halakic disputes; the author aims to convince his reader of the rightness of the  interpretation of the Torah presented in the letter. Fittingly, this section begins as follows, "These are some of our teachings." The final section contains the author's concluding exhortation to his reader; he warns that the curses of the Torah will come upon those who do not obey its precepts correctly.

A . Calendar (4QMMT A 1.1-5.11)

1. The second month

2. The third month
    a. Sabbaths

    b. Feast of Weeks

    c. Sabbaths

    d. Days added

3. The fourth month
    a. Day of Memorial

    b. Sabbaths

4. The fifth month
    a. Sabbath

    b. Feast of Wine

    c. Sabbaths

5. The sixth month
    a. Sabbaths

    b. Feast of Oil

    c. Offering of Wood

6. The twelfth month
    a. Sabbath

    b. Days added

    c. End of  year

B . Teachings (4QMMT B 1.1-1.82)

1. Questioning the purity of gentiles’ offerings (4QMMT B 1.1-1.9a)
    a. The wheat offering (4QMMT B 1.1-1.5a)

    b. The vessel in which the sacrifice is cooked (4QMMT B 1.5b-1.8a)

    c. Sacrifice of a gentile is impure (4QMMT B 1.8b-1.9a)

2. Peace offerings to be eaten on the day offered (4QMMT B 1.9b-1.13a)

3. Questioning the purity of the heifer sin offering (4QMMT B 1.13b-1.17)
    a. All who participate to be pure (4QMMT B 1.13b-1.15)

    b. The water sprinkled is to be pure (4QMMT B 1.16-1.17)

4. Uncleanness resulting from animal bones or skins (4QMMT B1.18-1.27a)
    a. Animal skins not allowed in the Temple (4QMMT B 1.18-1.20)

    b. Skins and bones of unclean animals not to be used (4QMMT B 1.21-1.22a)

    c. Priests to be responsible for preventing ritual uncleanness (4QMMT B 1.22b-1.23)

5. Guidelines for sacrifices (4QMMT B 1.27b-1.38)
    a. The correct place to sacrifice (4QMMT B 1.27b-1.35)

    b. Prohibition against sacrificing pregnant animals (4QMMT B 1.36)

    c. Eating the unborn (4QMMT B 1.37-1.38)

6. List of those not allowed in Sanctuary (4QMMT B 1.39-1.49a)

7. The blind and deaf not allowed in Sanctuary (4QMMT B 1.49b-1.54)

8. Impurity of poured liquids (4QMMT B 1.55-1.58a)

9. Dogs not allowed in camp (4QMMT B 1.58b-1.62a)

10. First fruits and tithe of cattle for priests (4QMMT B 1.62b-1.64a)

11. Impurity of Leprosy (4QMMT B 1.64b-1.68)

12. Intentional sins (4QMMT B 1.69-1.72a)

13. Contact with the dead (4QMMT B 1.72b-1.74)

14. Keeping Israel pure (4QMMT B 1.75-1.82)
    a. Unlawful sexual relations (4QMMT B 1.75-1.76a)

    b. Prohibition against crossbreeding animals (4QMMT B 1.76b-1.77a)

    c. Clothes should not to be mixed. (4QMMT B 1.77b-1.79)

    d. Priests are forbidden to intermarry. (4QMMT B 1.80-1.82)

C . Encouragement to Return to the Right Way (4QMMT C 1.1-1.32)

1. Warning that sin brings destruction (4QMMT C 1.1-1.7a)

2. Reason why writers have separated (4QMMT C 1.7b-1.9)

3. The Scriptures demonstrate blessings and curses (4QMMT C 1.10-1.26a)
    a. Warning to repent to avoid punishment (4QMMT C 1.10-1.17)

    b. Positive example of Solomon (4QMMT C 1.18a)

    c. Negative example of Jeroboam (4QMMT C 1.18b-1.21a)

    d. The last days (4QMMT C 1.21b-1.23)

    e. Forgiveness possible for those who fear the law (4QMMT C 1.24-1.25a)

    f. Forgiveness of David was forgiven (4QMMT C 1.25b-26a)

4. Warning to Repent (4QMMT C 1.26b-32)
    a. Exhortation to look to the law (4QMMT C 1.26b-1.28a)

    b. Exhortation to keep away from Belial (4QMMT C 1.28b-1.29)

    c. Assurance that in the end reader will be declared righteous (4QMMT 1.30-1.32)

6.4. The Temple Scroll

G. J. Brooke, ed., Temple Scroll Studies (1989); J. Maier, The Temple Scroll (1985); E. Qimron, The Temple Scroll: A Critical Edition (1996); L. Schiffman, "Temple Scroll," ABD 6.348-50; D. D. Swanson, The Temple Scroll and the Bible. The Methodology of 11QT (1995); Y. Yadin. ed., The Temple Scroll, 3 vols (1977-83); id., Y. Yadin, The Temple Scroll: The Hidden Law of the Dead Sea Sect (1985); M. O. Wise, A Critical Study of the Temple Scroll from Qumran Cave 11 (1990).

6.4.1. Introduction

The text known as the Temple Scroll is one of the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It measures 28.5 feet or 8.75 meters in length and consists of nineteen leather sheets ten inches high and about eighteen inches wide. There are sixty-seven columns of text, with most columns having twenty-two lines. Although the text was was discovered in 1956 in Cave 11 at Qumran, the Temple Scroll was not made public until after the "Six Day War" in 1967, when Yigael Yadin confiscated it from an antiquities dealer. Yadin published the text  in 1977 and in an English translation in 1983. The text is a rewriting of the Torah beginning at Exod 34 (Actually the first column of the scroll is missing); the sequence of topics covered roughly follows the order in the Torah, but the material has been re-organized, systematized and augmented; in addition, all of the narrative elements from Exodus 34 onward have been omitted, leaving only legal material. The method followed in the Temple Scroll is that, when a topic is first introduced, material from elsewhere in the Torah related to that topic is assimilated to it. In other words, the author gathers together what in the Torah is disparate material. Significantly, the first person is used to give the impression that the entire text is directly revealed by God; passages from the Torah in which Moses addresses the Israelites are rewritten so that now what is said becomes a direct revelation from God rather than from Moses. This literary device should be taken as an implicit claim to the divine inspiration of the Temple Scroll.

The manuscript has been dated to the middle and late Herodian periods (The scroll contains the work of two different scribes) based on paleographical evidence. There are fragments of other copies the Temple Scroll found in caves 4 and 11 that paleographically are older than the Herodian period, from the mid-first century BCE. Scholars have attempted to find evidence from the text itself of its date of composition, but none is fully convincing. The text may date from the second century BCE, in which case it would have served as a foundational document of the community. Although some have argued for a pre-Qumran or a non-Qumran origin for the Temple Scroll, on the whole, the evidence points in favor of  its sectarian origin.

6.4.2. Outline of Contents

A. Summary

As indicated, the Temple Scroll is a revision of the Torah beginning at Exodus 34. The following is a description of the contents of the text.

1. Cols. 1?-2:  Description of Covenant Made between God and Israel

2. Col. 3:  General Outline of Temple and its Furniture

3. Cols. 4-7:  More Detailed Description of  the Temple:  Sanctuary, Holy of Holies, Upper Chamber, Porticos

4. Cols. 11-12:  Laws relating to the Sacrifices and Description of the Altar

5. Cols. 13-18:  Tamid Sacrifices, Sabbath Sacrifices, Passover, Festival of Unleavened Bread, and Festival of the Sheaf

6. Cols. 18-23:  Festival of First Fruits of Wheat, Festival of Wine and Festival of Oil

7. Cols. 23-25:  Festival of Wood Offering and its Sacrifices

8. Cols 25-29:  Day of Memorial, Day of Atonement and Festival of Tabernacles

9. Cols. 29-30:  Sacrifices to be Offered until the Eschatological Temple

10. Cols. 30-35:  Description of Buildings of the Temple Court:  House of Winding Staircase, House of Laver, House of the Vessels, House of Slaughter and Procedure for Slaughtering the Whole Offerings,  Need to Maintain Sanctity of Temple Court and portico for keeping priests' sin-offerings and guilt-offerings

11. Cols. 35-46:  Description of the Three Courts of the Temple

12. Cols. 46-47:  Means to Protect Sanctuary of Temple and List of Clean and Unclean Animals

13. Cols. 48-51:  Numerous Purity Laws

14. Cols. 51-52:  Judicial System

15. Cols. 52-53:  Laws Relating to Animals and their Slaughter

16. Cols. 54-55:  Vows and Pledges

17. Cols. 56-59:  Priest, Levites and Judges; Regulations for the King

18. Cols.  60-61:  Priestly and Levitical Dues, Ban on Idolatry, Witnesses

19. Cols. 62-63:   War

20. Cols. 64:  Rebellious Son

21. Cols. 65:  Bird's Nest, Roof Parapet

22. Cols. 65-66:  Adultery and Rape

23. Cols. 66:  Sexual Regulations

B. The Temple

Inspired by the descriptions of the tabernacle and of the Israelite camp in the Torah, the author of the Temple Scroll produced a plan for the pre-eschatological Temple (29:2-10 = eschatological Temple).  The Temple should consist of three courts, one within the other and each with a degree of holiness increasing as one moves to the inner court (see m. Kelim 1.6-9). In Col. 12, the altar is described, which then leads to a consideration of the sacrifices and the festivals during which these sacrifices are to be offered.  Seven cubits to the northwest of the sanctuary, is located a square building housing a winding staircase that leads to the upper story or roof of the sanctuary; the entire structure is to be overlaid with gold (Cols. 30-31). To the southeast of the sanctuary, fifty cubits from the altar is situated the House of the Laver, overlaid with gold and having gates on the north, east and west. On the inside there are to be recesses where priestly garments are to be deposited; along the inside of the wall is a trench to drain off underground water that is mixed with blood (Cols. 31-33). Seven cubits to the east of the House of the Laver is located the House of the Vessels, the purpose of which is to store the vessels used in sacrifice.  It is to have two gates, one to the east and one to the west (Col 33). To the north of the altar is situated the place where animals were slaughtered; there are to be twelve columns supporting beams, which were used to slaughter animals (34-35). There are devices there for the slaughtering of animals:  apparently the heads of the animals were placed in rings and the hind legs were elevated. To the west of the sanctuary (i.e., behind it) is situated a colonnade of pillars used to separate the sin-offerings and guilt-offerings of the priests and the laity.  A stoa around the inner court is mentioned also (Cols. 34-35, 37). The inner court is to be surrounded by walls, through which one enters by four gates, one one each side (Cols. 36-37).  In the four corners of the inner are to be found facilities for the cooking of sacrificial offerings (Col. 37). Only ritually-pure priests who are properly attired are allowed admittance into the inner court (Col. 35).

     A middle court is to encompass the inner court (Cols. 38-40); this court is to be 480 cubits square, and have twelve gates with gate houses, four on each side, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Only ritually-pure Israelite men over twenty years old could enter the middle court. Enclosing the middle and inner courts is the outer court 1,600 cubits square; this court also has twelve gates with gate houses named for the twelve tribes of Israel. Along the inner walls of the outer court is to be built a three-storied stoa on all sides; access to the upper  two stories and the roof will be by winding staircases situated near each gate house. Along the inner walls of the outer court between the gates and on all three stories are to be built rooms to be assigned to the twelve tribes and to the priestly and Levitical groups. On the roof of the stoa, there will be columns and beams that are to be used for the setting up of tabernacle on the Festival of Tabernacles. The sanctuary of the whole Temple complex will be preserved by building a terrace of twelve steps around each of the gates and a ditch around the outer court to prevent people from unthinkingly entering into the Temple in a state of ritual impurity.  In addition spikes will be placed on the top of the outer to prevent birds from defiling the Temple. Beyond the Temple complex there are to be located latrines, roofed structures with pits; this will be prevent the defilement of the Temple (Cols. 40-46).

6.5. Thanksgiving Hymns (Hodayot)

F. F. Bruce, The Teacher of Righteousness in the Qumran Texts (1957); M. Delcor, Les Hymnes de Qumran (Hodayot) (1962); S. Holm-Nielson, Hodayot, Psalms from Qumran (1960); B. Kittel, The Hymns of Qumran (1981); M. Mansoor, The Thanksgiving Hymns (1961); B. Nitzan, Qumran Prayer and Religious Poetry (1994).

A copy of what has been called the Thanksgiving Hymns (or Hodayot) (1QH-a) was discovered in cave one at Qumran in a state of relatively good preservation as compared to copies of the text from cave four, for example; what has survived of this text consists of eighteen columns of text. Unfortunately, the fragmentary state of the work makes it difficult at times to know where one composition ends and the next begins. Most of the hymns begin with “I thank you, O Lord” or “Blessed are you, O Lord,” so that one can say with certainty that there are at least thirteen hymns. But the many lacunae in 1QH-a make it certain that the beginnings of other hymns have been lost. Seven more, very fragmentary copies of the Thanksgiving Hymnsturned up in cave four (4Q427-33). The oldest surviving manuscript is 4QH-b (4Q428), which paleographically is to be dated at the beginning of the first century BCE. The Thanksgiving Hymns are heavily influenced by biblical terminology. The purpose or Stiz-im-Leben has been debated, but probably the Thanksgiving Hymns did not have a cultic or liturgical function, but were the expressions of personal experience and didactic compositions intended to set forth the community’s particular religious self-understanding. It is generally accepted that the founder of the community, probably the Teacher of Righteousness, composed some of the hymns in this collection; these tend to be intensely personal, theological reflections on his experiences at the time of the inception of the community. G. Jeremias claims that the following derive from the founder, whom he identifies as the Teacher of Righteous: 1QH-a 10.1–19; 10.31–39; 11.1–18; 12.5–13.4; 13.5–19; 13.20–15.5; 15.6–25; 16.4–40 (Der Lehrer der Gerechtigkeit (1963) 168–267, esp. 171). This must be taken into consideration when interpreting the Hodayot. Yet, it must be stressed that, in many cases, the community would have adopted the views of its founder, so that it matters little whether these hymns derive from the Teacher or not, since, surely, the community would have identified with the confessions of its founder. Thus, in many instances, the “I” in the Teacher’s Hodayot probably became gnomic as the community identified with its founder’s experience. Because of the large number of hymns, the many untimely lacunae and the similarity of content from one hymn to another, rather than considering each hymn individually, it is preferable to organize the material in the Hodayot thematically. There is remarkable theological homogeneity found within these hymns, even though some derive from the founder whereas others are community hymns.

6.6. The Habakkuk Pesher

O. Betz, Offenbarung und Schriftforschung in der Qumransekte (1960); G. J. Brooke, "The Pesharim and the Origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls," Methods of Investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Khirbet Qumran Site: Present Realities and Future Prospects (ed. Michael O. Wise, et al.) (1994) 339-53; W. H. Brownlee, The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk; K. Elliger, Studien zum Habakuk-Kommentar vom Toten Meer; M. P. Horgan, Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books (1979)

The text known as the Habakkuk Pesher (1QpHab) consists of twelve and a half columns of text in a state of good preservation compared to other texts.  The Habakkuk pesher is an interpretation of Book of Habakkuk in light of events contemporary with the interpreter. What remains of this Essene commentary begins with Hab. 1:16 and ends with Hab 2:20. Since the Essene community viewed itself as the object of God's eschatological mercy, this hermeneutical method, known as pesher, means that a prophetic text is interpreted as predicting events relating to the history of the community, especially in relation to the Teacher of Righteousness and his opponents. Little of the commentary on this minor prophet is what could be described as literal and historical. As already indicated, it was believed that God had given the Teacher of Righteousness insight into the second or eschatological meaning of the Hebrew prophetic texts (see 1QpHab 2.6-10; 7.1-5).  This ability seems to have been passed on to other sages of the community after the death of the Teacher. There are other pesher-type texts found at Qumran.

     The theological and hermeneutical outlook of this commentary on Habakkuk is encapsulated by three seminal assumptions concerning divine revelation. The first assumption is that the biblical prophets prophesied of the eschaton, but they themselves understood little of what they wrote down. Second, it is assumed that the time of the appearance of the Teacher and the formation of the community coincides with the beginning of the eschaton. The third assumption is that the Teacher and other sages of the community have been granted insight into the meaning of eschatological prophecies of past centuries. These inspired interpretations are most often atomistic: a given passage is broken up into smaller units and interpreted with little regard for the original context. This understanding of the two stages of divine revelation is most explicit in Habakkuk Pesher. The interpreter explains that God instructed the prophet to write down what was to happen to the last generation, which means the generation that will witness eschatological judgment (1QpHab 2.6-10). God did not reveal to Habakkuk, however, the full meaning of what he wrote down. What he and all the other prophets recorded about the eschaton was to remain "mysteries of the words of his servants, the prophets," until the appearance of the Teacher of Righteousness, to whom these mysteries were much later revealed (7.4–5; see also 2.6–10).

     On internal and historical grounds, Habakkuk Pesher should be date to just prior to the Roman conquest of Palestine, c. 84-63 BCE, for the interpreter refers to the imminent conquest of the Hasmoneans, descendents of the Wicked Priest, by the Romans (kittim) as God's judgment on them. 

6.7. Barkhi Nafshi (Bless, Oh My Soul)

G. J. Brooke, “Body Parts in Barkhi Nafshi and the Qualifications for Membership of the Worshipping Community,” Sapiential, Liturgical and Poetical Texts from Qumran (ed. D. Falk, F. Garcia Martinez and E. Schuller (2000) 79-94; D. Seely, “4Q437: A First Look at an Unpublished Barki Nafshi Text,” The Provo International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls (1999) 146-60; D. Seely, “The Barkhi Nafshi Texts (4Q434-439),” Current Research and Technological Developments on the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. D. Parry and S. Ricks) (1996) 194-214; id., “Implanting Pious Qualities as a Theme in the Barki Nafshi Hymns,” The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years after Their Discovery (ed. L. Schiffman, E. Tov, J. VanderKam) (2000) 322-31; M. Weinfeld and D. Seely, “Barkhi Nafshi,” Qumran Cave 4.XX: Poetic and Liturgical Texts, Part 2 (ed. E. Chazon et. al.; Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 29) (1999) 255-334

Five collections of fragments of a work that has been given the name Barkhi Nafshi (Bless, Oh My Soul) (4Q434-438) were discovered in cave four at Qumran. This name was chosen because the opening line of 4Q434, which probably represents the beginning of the text, begins “Bless, O my soul, the Lord." The author was probably imitating Pss 103, 104, which also begin in this manner, but use the tetragrammaton rather than “my Lord.” The five collections are each from a different scribal hand, but each of the five copies contains text that is parallel to text in at least one other copy, indicating that each collection of fragments is of the same document. Fragments of 4Q434 contain text found in 4Q435 and 4Q437, and 4Q435 has textual parallels to 4Q435, 4Q436 and 4Q437. The fragments of 4Q436 contain text that is also found in 4Q435, and 4Q437 has parallels to 4Q434, 4Q435 and 4Q438. Finally, 4Q438 has text in common with 4Q437. It is probable that each of the five collections represents only a small portion of a much larger document, which may explain why what remains of it has such little literary unity. The earliest of the five texts is 4Q438, which has been dated to the late Hasmonean or early Herodian period. The other four copies derive from a later period. Although the five copies of it are very fragmentary, the Barkhi Nafshi document could be described generally as hymns of thanksgiving for deliverance and benefits received from God.

     The Barkhi Nafshi document is probably of sectarian origin. The paleography indicates that these texts are from the late Hasmonean or early Herodian and the late Herodian periods, which is consistent with their being sectarian texts. The orthography of 4Q436 and 4Q437 has been classified as consistent with the distinct scribal school at Qumran. Finally, although none of the uniquely sectarian terminology occurs, the terminology and ideas found in the Barkhi Nafshi document point to a sectarian origin. Key terminology such as “heart,” “soul,” “way,” “spirit,” “bless,” “nations,” “to deliver,” and “light and darkness” (4Q434 frg. 1, col. 1.9) are consistent with Qumran sectarian texts, especially the Thanksgiving Hymns. Another indicator of a sectarian origin is that 4Q434 refers to group delivered by God as the “poor” and the “meek” (frg. 1. col. 1.1). The term “poor” is a self-designation of members of the Qumran community, being used in the singular (see 1QHa 10[2].32; 11[3].35; 13[5].18) and the plural (1QHa 13[5].22; 1QM 11.9, 13; 13.14; 1QpHab 12.3, 6, 10). In the clearly sectarian text 4Q171 (Psalms Pesher), the technical term “community of the poor” occurs as a collective self-designation (4Q171 col. 2.9; col. 3.10). The term “meek” also occurs as a self-designation for members of the Qumran community in the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QHa 9[1].36; 10[2].34; 13[5].13, 14). Although not definitive, the evidence supports the hypothesis of the sectarian origin of the Barkhi Nafshi document.

6.8. 4Q180–181 (The Ages of Creation)

Fragments of two copies of a text called The Ages of Creation have been found in cave four; this text seems to describe human history comprehensively from the creation until the eschaton. Naturally, the focus of this text is on the biblical narrative. It is affirmed in what appears to be the opening line of the composition that the entire course of human affairs is predetermined according to God’s sovereign design; this is engraved on heavenly tablets (4Q180 frg. 1.1–3; see also frgs. 2-4, col. 10). The reference to “seventy weeks” (4Q181 frg. 2.3) and ten (generations?) suggest that history is divided into eras, perhaps each with some salvation-historical significance (see 1 Enoch 10.11–12; 93.9–10; 91.11–17 (Apocalypse of Weeks); 83–90 (Dream Visions) Dan 9:24–27; Book of Jubilees). Since it is so fragmentary, it is difficult to say for sure that The Ages of Creation is of sectarian origin. Although, in general, it mirrors the conceptual world of the Qumran community, what remains of the text lacks the telltale sectarian terminology. Nevertheless, since its genre is a type of pesher (“Pesher on…”) (4Q180 frg. 1.1), the composition is probably sectarian since this genre seems to be unique to the Qumran community. Moreover, since 4Q181 frg. 1.2 seems to be a description of the founding of the community, similar to descriptions in other clearly sectarian texts, it is probable that this text is sectarian in origin.

     4Q181 frg. 1.2 describes how in compassion God chose from sinful humanity a remnant of mercy. Presumably, parallel to the Damascus Document and 1QS, this event is appended to a summary of biblical history, following immediately upon the Babylonian exile. In other words, what is described is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to restore eschatologically the nation after its chastisement for disobedience. In this case, however, the nation is reduced to a remnant within it, the community. God’s act in bringing the community into existence was independent of all merit and initiative on the part its members. Unlike Lev 26, which specifies that only on the condition of repentance would God restore the exiles to the land, it is affirmed “Corresponding to the compassions of God according to his goodness and the wonder of his glory, he brought near some of the sons of the world” (4Q181 frg. 1, col. 2.3). Consistent with deterministic thrust of the text, God alone is responsible for the existence of this community; it is a manifestation of his mercy. From the massa perdita of Israel, God chose a remnant to be reckoned with the community of angels, to be a holy community appointed for eternal life (4Q181 1.2.4, 6). It seems that each individual is chosen to eternal life according to his lot, which seems to mean according to God’s foreordination.


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