2 - Religious Belief And Practice

It is, I hope, no distortion of Old Testament religion to say that it rests on three fundamental ideas, the concepts of election, covenant, and salvation. God chose Israel. Faithful to His promise to Abraham, He singled out the patriarch's descendants to be His own people, His elect. On Mount Sinai He revealed to them the Way, the Law of Moses, and ratified His unique relationship with them by means of a Covenant. The essence of biblical religion is adherence to that Covenant -to both the spirit and the letter of the Law- firm trust in God, and the confident expectation that ultimately He will reign triumphantly over the whole world.

It is also an integral part of Jewish faith that the Covenant is an eternal one. The sins of the great mass of the people will never affect it because God, not permitting His promise to be thwarted, provides that in every age at least a handful of just Israelites, a 'remnant', hold fast to their faith and heed the divine message; the Covenant remains valid for their sake. They are a 'remnant' in another sense too, in that by their fidelity they escape the manifestations of divine anger Visited on the wicked of the world.

At the time of the Qumran sect, in the period known as 'inter-Testamental' (roughly between 150 B.C. and A.D. 70) these basic concepts gave rise to a great deal of controversy among the various parties of Palestinian Judaism. The Pharisees, Sadducees, the Community of the Scrolls, etc., all engaged in a process of doctrinal interpretation, and although the emerging syntheses never departed from their biblical foundations, each showed a distinct individuality. Of the first two, no detailed contemporary evidence has been handed down; Sadducee teaching is mainly known through its critics, the Pharisees, and for Pharisaic doctrine we are mainly dependent on documents compiled after A.D. 200.

By contrast, in the Qumran library we are confronted with the beliefs of a sect recorded by its living members, and we are in consequence indebted to them not only for information about their own Views and aspirations, but also, indirectly, for a fuller appreciation of the stand taken by those who dissented from their teaching, namely, the parties already mentioned and the Judeo-Christians of the primitive Church.


The New Covenant

It was, as I have said, the profound conviction of the Community of the Scrolls that they were the faithful 'remnant' of their time, and indeed the final 'remnant' of all time. It governed their whole religious outlook. God had chosen to reveal knowledge and understanding of His purpose and will to their Teacher of Righteousness and to those of the Teacher's followers who trod the path laid down by him, the Way of Holiness. Only the Teacher was able to decipher the mysteries concealed in the Scriptures; consequently, only those who accepted his interpretation of the written word of God could be sure of living in conformity with His desire.

From this consciousness of having been chosen by God it followed that the Community regarded themselves as true heirs to the eternal Covenant between God and Israel; the first obligation of those entering the sect was to commit themselves to it anew. As in the New Testament, the phrase 'New Covenant' even became part of the idiom of the sect, 'men of the Community' and 'men of the New Covenant' being employed in their writings as synonyms.

The obligations imposed by the New Covenant were materially the same as those implicit in the Old; namely, perfect obedience to the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. The members of the Community pledged themselves to 'seek God with a whole heart and soul, and do what is good and right before Him as He commanded by the hand of Moses and all His servants the Prophets' (CR I). But to this they added the, for them, necessary stipulation that the 'return to the Law of Moses' required of those entering the sect must be 'in accordance with all that has been revealed of it to the sons of Zadok' (CR V).

As far as the Law itself was concerned, the revelations granted to these sons of Zadok, the sect's priestly hierarchy, added fresh severity and rigour to a legal code already strict in itself. Their marriage laws are an example. Whereas it is written in Leviticus XVIII, 13, 'You shall not approach your mother's sister, she is your near kin', in the Damascus Rule (V) this precept is extended to include a man and his niece within the degrees of forbidden kinship, with the comment:

'Although the laws against incest are written for men, they also apply to women', i.e., if a nephew is forbidden to marry his aunt, so is a niece prohibited from marrying her uncle. No doubt those Jews who did not subscribe to the Community's teaching argued against this that if Moses had wished to forbid the uncle-niece relationship in marriage he would have said so.

Similarly, according to the Damascus Rule (IV-V), those who live in polygamy fail to understand the true teaching of Moses and in 'taking a second wife while the first is alive' commit the sin of fornication. The principle laid down by God since the time of the creation is one of monogamy: 'Male and female created He them' (Gen. 1:27). This principle was observed by those who were saved at the time of the Flood; according to Genesis 7:9, Noah and his sons had only one wife each and entered the ark 'two by two'. Moreover, Moses forbade even the king to 'multiply wives to himself' (Deut. 17:17).

For the ignorant this might seem to imply that the king must not imitate Solomon whose harem amounted to seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3) but must restrict the number of his wives to a more modest figure (eighteen according to the Mishnah). In the Community, however, to 'multiply wives' meant to be married to more than one wife, and if the king was to be bound by such a law, so must every commoner. In parenthesis, it may be of interest to note that the same text, 'Male and female created He them', is introduced into the New Testament as an argument for the prohibition of divorce followed by remarriage (Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6) and may underlie the early Christian dislike for the remarriage of widows and widowers (cf 1 Tim 3:2,12: v,9; Titus 1:6).

In addition to its increased severity, the Community's interpretation of the Law was distinguished by its claim to infallibility. Whereas traditional Judaism allowed for some elasticity within orthodoxy itself (Rabbi X declaring lawful an action forbidden by Rabbi Y), no such latitude was apparent in the sect. The true meaning of the Law had been revealed to them by God and since there is only one God and one truth, there can only be one interpretation of that truth.

Besides the Law, the Community also interpreted the Books of the Prophets in such a way as to bring them into harmony with their own convictions. They believed everything foretold there, but held that the words of the Prophets were concealed in a mystery to which only their Teacher had been granted the key. It was the Teacher of Righteousness ' to whom God made known all the mysteries of His servants the Prophets' (CHab VII) and who discovered that the end of time was at hand, and that all the prophecies alluding to the final age referred to the Community of the Covenant and either had been, or were about to be, fulfilled.

Their attitude may perhaps best be seen in a passage in the Commentary on Habakkuk (2:14). 'The righteous shall live by his faith' is interpreted to refer to 'all those who observe the Law in the House of Judah (the Community), whom God will deliver from the House of judgement because of their suffering and because of their faith in the Teacher of Righteousness' (CHab VIII).

In short, this Chosen People of the New Covenant, with its claims to infallible truth, believed that it was to be a 'refuge' for seekers of righteousness during the age of final wickedness. It was to be a 'sure House', a 'House of truth', 'that tried wall, that precious corner-stone, whose foundations shall neither rock nor sway in their place' (CR VIII). The same metaphor appears in the Hymns, where the psalmist writes of a House of God built on rock against which the powers of evil would never prevail.

But I shall be as one who enters a fortified city,
as one who seeks refuge behind a high wall
until deliverance comes;
I will lean on Thy truth, O my God.
For Thou wilt set the foundation on rock
and the framework by the measuring-cord of justice;
and the tried stones Thou wilt lay
by the plumb-line of truth,
to build a mighty wall which shall not sway;
and no man entering there shall stagger.

For no enemy shall ever invade it
since its doors shall be doors of protection
through which no man shall pass;
and its bars shall be firm
and no man shall break them.

(Hymn 10)

The Holy Life

For every Jew, consciousness of belonging to a chosen people is the cause of wonder and thankfulness; but for the members of the Community it meant something special. Israel's election is that of a nation. The divine promise of blessing given to Abraham concerns all his posterity, the Covenant made on Sinai affects the whole Jewish race. On the eighth day after his birth, every male Israelite enters the Covenant through the rite of circumcision, shedding his own blood as the blood of a covenantal sacrifice.

But he shares the exalted destiny of his people as a birthright; even though he may remain pious and faithful till death, he does not and cannot experience the personal commitment to God which was, perhaps, the distinctive hallmark of the Community's spirituality.

For the sectary, election was not an accident of birth, an inherited privilege. Every individual, even those born into the Community, was required to take the oath of the Covenant of his own free will because he had, as a person, been chosen by God from all eternity to become one of His elect.

In preference to thousands of his fellow Jews, he had been loved by God from before creation. Whereas the man outside the sect had been destined to walk in the ways of darkness and to be ruled by the spirit of falsehood, he, God's elect, had been destined by Him to walk in the ways of light under the guidance of the spirit of truth.

'From the God of Knowledge comes all that is and shall be' we read in the Community Rule (III). 'Before ever they existed He established their whole design, and when, as ordained for them, they come into being, it is in accord with His glorious design that they fulfil their work ... He has created man to govern the world and has appointed for him two spirits in which to walk until the time of His Visitation: the spirits of truth and falsehood ... All the children of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of Light and walk in the ways of light; but all the children of falsehood are ruled by the Angel of Darkness and walk in the ways of darkness' (CR III).

A deep realization of God's personal benevolence towards every member of the Community, and of the all-pervading reality of His grace, was accompanied by an equally profound awareness of human frailty, unworthiness, and nothingness. No note of self-righteousness sounds in the Qumran writings; on the contrary, the sectary is amazed by the blessings showered on him and expresses himself in the Hymns in tones of self-abasement.

Behold, I was taken from dust
and fashioned out of clay
as a source of uncleanness,
and a shameful nakedness,
a heap of dust,
and a kneading with water ...
a creature of clay returning to dust.

(Hymn 19)

On the other hand, he knew that he had been saved from human misery and sinfulness, and that his final destiny was to be one with that of the heavenly spirits who stand in the presence of God for ever.

For the sake of Thy glory
Thou hast purified man of sin
that he may be made holy for Thee
with no abominable uncleanness
and no guilty wickedness;
that he may be one with the children of Thy truth
and partake of the lot of Thy Holy Ones;
that bodies gnawed by worms may be raised from dust
to the counsel of Thy truth,
and that the perverse spirit (may be lifted)
to the understanding which. comes from Thee;
that he may stand before Thee
with the everlasting host
and with Thy Spirits of Holiness,
to be renewed together with all the living
and to rejoice together with them that know.

(Hymn 17)

With this awareness of blessing and salvation, and balancing any tendency towards arrogance, comes the constant reminder that all goodness and truth proceed from God and that no act of Virtue can be accomplished without His help.

As for me,
I belong to wicked mankind,
to the company of ungodly flesh ...
For mankind has no way
and man is unable to establish his steps
since justification is with God
and perfection of way is out of His hand...
He will draw me near by His grace,
and by His mercy will He bring my justification.


Any strictly organized religious society where the boundaries between right and wrong are rigidly defined exposes its members to the danger of feeling pleased with themselves for having conformed to the rules, of presuming themselves justified by their 'works', and to have acquired merit thereby in the sight of God. Providing for this pitfall, the sect taught that even the correct observance of the Rule was an act of divine grace.

Besides, since the Rule itself was known only through the gift of revelation granted to the Community, its members were doubly beholden for their salvation; they were indebted to God for their knowledge, the infinitely valuable gift of gnosis, and also for the divine succour which permits a man with an inborn tendency to evil to cling faithfully and unceasingly to truth and justice. This is emphasized in the final hymn of the Community Rule.

From the source of His righteousness
is my justification,
and from His marvellous mysteries
is the light in my heart.
My eyes have gazed
on that which is eternal,
on wisdom concealed from men,
on knowledge and wise design
(hidden) from the sons of men ...
God has given them to His chosen ones
as an eternal possession,
and has caused them to inherit
the lot of the Holy Ones.
He has joined their assembly
to the Sons of Heaven
to be a Council of the Community,
a foundation of the Building of Holiness,
an eternal Plantation throughout all ages to come.


Grace and knowledge were the twin foundations of the sect's spirituality. Knowledge, it taught, proceeding from the God of knowledge through the mediation of the spirits of 'truth' and 'light', directs a man into the Way he must follow and illuminates the mysteries of God's purpose for mankind; it penetrates the secrets of the heavenly world and divines the nature and ministry of the spirits.

Even the abode of the Creator Himself was thought to have been manifested in Visions such as that of the Divine Throne-Chariot. By means of knowledge and grace the aim of the Rule was realized. Its rigorous separation from the world of the wicked and its call for meticulous personal holiness enabled the Community to withstand the ravages of the devil and his allies, and so to be part, even in this life, of the fellowship of the Sons of Heaven.



According to the Bible, the first duty of the heavenly beings - the Seraphim of Isaiah, the Cherubim of Ezekiel, and the angels of Psalm 148 -is the praise and worship of God; and so it was for the followers of the Teacher of Righteousness. They were to join their voices to those of the Angels of the Presence raised in prayer and blessing in the celestial Temple.

Broadly speaking, the sectaries' whole life was one of uninterrupted adoration. More precisely, however, their Rule required them to worship God in the correct manner and at set times, these set times conforming to the eternal and unchanging laws affecting the rhythm of time itself (the rhythm of day and night, the seasons, the years, etc.). The moments fixed for daily prayer - 'at the beginning of the dominion of light' and 'at the beginning of the dominion of darkness' (CR X) -coincided with the daily sacrifice at dusk and dawn of the burnt offerings in the Temple (Exod. 29:39 Num. 28:4) But the other 'appointed times' are more complex and affect the whole question of the liturgical calendar.

In Judaism, the reckoning of months and years was governed by the moon, but because of the absence of correlation between the lunar year (354 days) and the solar seasons of solstice and equinox, the orthodox calendar effected a compromise between the two; after every three-yearly period of thirty-six lunar months it inserted one supplementary month.

To the Community this was an abomination of the Gentiles and directly counter to the 'certain law from the mouth of God (H 19). It had itself inherited, probably from priestly circles a solar calendar based on 'the laws of the Great Light of heaven' (H 19) in which the year was divided into fifty-two weeks exactly: into, that is to say, four seasons of thirteen weeks. Each season consisted of three months thirty days long, and a day was added to every season as a link between one season and the next.

This solar calendar, which figures also in the Book of Jubilees and in the First Book of Enoch, recommended itself to the sect because of its belief in the unchanging order of God in the universe. As a French scholar, Mlle Annie Jaubert, has pointed out, its strict periodic regularity ensured that the year always began on a Wednesday, the fourth day of the Jewish week, and thus remained in perfect conformity with the work of God who created the sun on the fourth day. Furthermore, not only did the year begin on a Wednesday, but so also did every season of thirteen weeks. In fact, any date during the year fell on exactly the same day of the week in every other year.

For instance, Passover, the fifteenth day of the first month, (*) fell always on a Wednesday, and the Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, always on a Friday, etc. Of course, this method of reckoning presents difficulties also, the astronomical year consisting of 365 1/4 days not 364: but we are not told how, if at all, the Community dealt with them.


[*} Strictly speaking I am unsure if G. Vermes made a mistake (or my own studies are in error) since it should fall on the 14th day and not the 15th if one follows the cycle of the moon, in particular the new moon etc.

- Salmun


The practical result of the adoption of this calendar was that the Community feast days were celebrated differently from the rest of Judaism. It is for this reason that the Damascus Rule (VI), for example, orders that 'the feast and the Day of Fasting' must be kept 'according to the finding of the members of the New Covenant'. It also explains how the Wicked Priest was able to disturb the celebration by the Teacher of Righteousness and his disciples of the Day of Atonement (CHab IX); for him it was not a holy day.

It is not as yet possible to write in any detail about the peculiarities of the Qumran liturgical calendar because material from cave iv giving a list of the sect's feasts and of its priestly families is still unpublished. I can only repeat the scanty information divulged by J.T. Milik, the person responsible for editing these texts, namely, that the yearly cycle included seven principal feasts, each following the other at intervals of seven weeks.

The most important of their festivals was the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of the Renewal of the Covenant. Its ritual is described at the beginning of the Community Rule and in an unpublished section of the Damascus Rule. Opening the ceremony, the Priests and Levites offer blessings to God and those entering the Covenant with them reply 'Amen, Amen'. The Priests go on to recall the past favours of God and the Levites follow them with a recital of Israel's transgressions.

This culminates in a public confession, 'We have strayed! We have disobeyed!' etc., after which the penitents are blessed by the Priests. Then the Levites pronounce a long -curse on the 'lot of Satan', and with the Priests they solemnly adjure all those whose repentance is incomplete not to enter the Covenant. 'Cursed be the man', they say, 'who enters this Covenant while walking among the idols of his heart ... He shall be cut off from the midst of the Sons of Light and ... his lot shall be among them that are cursed for ever' (CR I-II).

Besides public prayer, Jewish worship included other rites and ceremonies such as circumcision, purification, and the cult of offerings and sacrifice with, sometimes, a subsequent sacrificial meal. Studying the Community's attitude towards these liturgical customs, it seems strange to find no mention of circumcision in the Scrolls, although it appears more than once in its figurative sense with respect to circumcision of the tongue and lips. Doubtless this fundamental Jewish rite commanded by the Law of Moses was taken for granted.

Ritual bathing was practised in the Community. The Damascus Rule (XI) devotes a section to purification by water, and the War Rule (XIV) foresees that the Victorious Sons of Light will so cleanse themselves after battle before attending the final ceremony of thanksgiving. The Community Rule Iii. v) refers also to a purificatory rite in connexion with entry into the Covenant. This seems to have been a peculiar and solemn act similar to Christian baptism, and to have symbolized purification by the 'spirit of holiness'.

'For it is through the spirit of true counsel concerning the ways of man that all his sins shall be expiated that he may contemplate the light of life. He shall be cleansed from all his sins by the spirit of holiness ... And when his flesh is sprinkled with purifying water and sanctified by cleansing water, it shall be made clean by the humble submission of his soul to all the precepts of God' (CR III).

From the same Rule it may be deduced that this 'baptism' was to take place in 'seas and rivers' (III), like the' baptism of John and Jesus, and that true conversion was the absolute condition for the efficacy of the sacrament (V). It may be of interest to note that the nearest Jewish parallel to this rite was the baptism administered to proselytes; in the case of women it was the only ceremony of entry into the Covenant of Israel.

As regards the offering of sacrifice, Jewish law held that this essential form of worship was valid only in the Temple of Jerusalem. But the Scrolls demonstrate that the Community regarded the Priests officiating in the sanctuary as wicked, the Temple itself profaned by uncleanness, and the orthodox liturgical calendar unlawful. The sect was consequently faced with a dilemma which they appear to have solved in the following way:

(1) Sacrificial worship as such was not to be condemned despite the abuses of the wicked priesthood, but the Community's Priests and Levites must in no circumstances actively participate in Temple services (DR VI). The sectaries were nevertheless able to send their offerings to Jerusalem provided they were carried there by a person in a state of ritual purity, and that they were not placed on the altar on the Sabbath day (DR XI).


(2) As soon as the Community conquered Jerusalem, Temple worship would be reorganized in conformity with the divine statutes relating to it. This event was expected to take place in the seventh year of the final forty years' war of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness (WR11).


(3) In the meantime, the Council of the Community represented and fulfilled the role of sanctuary. Atonement was to be made by means of prayer, through the 'offering of the lips', 'perfection of way', and acceptance of suffering (CR VIII-IX; Midrash on the Last Days I).

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this transformation of sacrificial worship into an inward spirituality was the way the Community attributed a sacrificial value to the exercise of Virtue and to suffering. The pre-exilic Prophets had emphasized the emptiness of sacrifice without right moral behaviour, but the sect went further. It taught that, even without the performance of sacrificial rites, a holy life was endowed with expiatory and sanctifying value.

For them, 'perfection of way' was the true remedy against the disease of sin and guilt, and mortification (poverty, purity, and self-abnegation) the vehicle of healing and life. They would, in fact, have found no quarrel with the words of St Paul appealing to the Christians of Rome to offer spiritual worship by presenting their bodies ' as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God' (Rom. 12:1).

The last phenomenon to be discussed in this section on worship is the sacred Meal. Its holiness is reflected in the high degree of purity and perfection demanded of the participants who, as I have said, seem to have been restricted to members of the Council of the Community. We are told that the Meal followed the Council meeting, but there is no indication as to how often it was celebrated: Josephus, writing of the Essenes, refers to a daily repast, whereas Philo relates of the Therapeutae, or contemplative Essenes, that they gathered for their supper only on Sabbaths and great festivals.

The most detailed account of the common Meal, together with an allusion to its doctrinal significance, appears in the Messianic Rule (II). Following a description of a Council meeting to be attended by the Priest-Messiah and the King Messiah, we read:

And when they shall gather for the common table, to eat and to drink new wine, when the common table shall be set for eating and the new wine poured for drinking, let no man extend his hand over the first-fruits of bread and wine before the Priest; for it is he who shall bless the first-fruits of bread and wine, and shall be the first to extend his hand over the bread. Thereafter, the Messiah of Israel shall extend his hand over the bread, and all the congregation of the Community shall utter a blessing, each man in the order of his dignity.

It is according to this statute that they shall proceed at every meal at which at least ten men are gathered together.

It may be assumed from the similarity between the Meal and the Messianic Banquet that the former was believed to be a ritual anticipation of the latter. This being so, the Meal was a liturgical drama expressing the participants' ardent hope of sharing in the great Communion Supper of the Messianic triumph. Such a banquet is foretold in the Book of Isaiah (25:6) and is alluded to in the New Testament when, during the Last Supper, Jesus tells the apostles that he will not drink wine again 'until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father's house' (Matt. 26:29).


Messianic Expectation

It was the belief in ancient Judaism, as it is in the New Testament concerning the glorious return of Christ, that the coming of the Messiah would be preceded by an age of tribulation and war during which Satan would do his utmost to lead astray the chosen of God. It was also traditional from biblical times to represent final salvation as a new exodus. The sect inherited both these common Jewish teachings and fabricated out of them a highly original and somewhat complex Messianic synthesis.

According to the Damascus Rule (B II) the Community expected the Messianic age to begin forty years after the death of the-Teacher-of Righteousness. At first, this figure must have been accepted as a real one, but with the passage of time it doubtless came merely to symbolize the forty years of wandering in the wilderness before Israel entered the Promised Land. It is apparent in the Messianic Rule (I) that the sectaries envisaged a large-scale conversion to the Community on the eve of this new age, but after that moment there would be 'no more joining the House of Judah', to quote the Damascus Rule (IV).

All the elect would be safely within the fold under the command of the Prince of Light, and the rest of sinful mankind, Jews as well as Gentiles, would be irrevocably committed to the party of the Sons of Darkness under the rule of the Angel of Darkness. For another forty years a bloody and terrible struggle would be fought between them, but finally all wickedness would be wiped from the face of the earth and, with the help of the mighty hand of God, goodness and truth would triumph for ever. The world would be renewed; the elect would inherit the glory of Adam', 'every blessing and eternal joy in life without end, a crown of glory and a garment of majesty in unending light' (CR IV)

All this is quite straightforward and clear; but the same cannot be said of the various Messianic characters themselves. The Community Rule, in a passage already quoted, effects them to be three in number: the Prophet. the Messiah of Aaron and the Messiah of Israel (CR IX) The Prophet is mentioned nowhere else in the Qumran writings (except, perhaps, indirectly in the Messianic Anthology), but the two Messiahs, one a Priest and the other a King, appear in many other Dead sea texts.

The Messianic Rule introduces the Priest and the Messiah of Israel. The Book of Blessings writes of two individuals blessed by the Master, one of them the Prince of the Congregation, described as the final ruler. Because of lacunae in the manuscript the identity of the other cannot be determined with absolute certainty, but he seems to be the priestly companion of the King Messiah. The latter is referred to in the Midrash on the Last Days as the 'Shoot of David' whose coming is to coincide with the appearance of the Interpreter of the Law.

It is the Damascus Rule that introduces confusion into the It is in the Damascus Rule that introduces confusion into the issue. In several passages it alludes one Messiah, the Messiah of Aaron and Israeli, and it seems that this singular is no accident since it appears in the still unpublished fragments of the Damascus Rule found in cave iv. However, the same Damascus Rule (VII) writes of the Interpreter of the Law, and of the Sceptre, the 'Prince of all the Congregation'.

In short, despite a variance in terminology, this document too presents the sect's general Messianic belief that the final leadership of the chosen of God would rest in the hands of the Priest and the Layman. The King-Messiah was to be the Prince of the Congregation, and the Priestly Anointed, the Messiah of Aaron and Israel, was to be the Interpreter of the Law, and probably also the character described as 'he ... who shall teach righteousness at the end of days' (DR VI)

The respective tasks of the two Messiahs can be determined with relative ease. The Davidic Prince was to lead the people to triumph, to defeat the Gentiles, and bring into being the Kingdom of God. In matters of doctrine he was to obey the Priests; the first Commentary on Isaiah states expressly that 'as they teach him, so shall he judge'. At the Banquet, also, he was to follow after the Priest.

The Messiah of Aaron, on the other hand, is represented as the High Priest of the Kingdom. He was to conduct the liturgy during, the battle against the ultimate foe, and as the final interpreter of the Law he was to reveal the significance of the Scriptures and their relevance to events of the Messianic age and to the endless time of eternal bliss.

It is not so simple to define the role of the mysterious Prophet since he is named only once and his duties are not given. But if I have understood it correctly, the functions ascribed to the person alluded to in the Community Rule (IV) as geber, 'Man', correspond to those of the expected Prophet: geber was to 'instruct the upright in the knowledge of the Most High' at the end of time, and ' to teach the wisdom of the Sons of Heaven to the perfect of way'.

Geber, however, seems to have been identified with the Teacher of Righteousness. In the Commentary on Psalm 37, the verse 'The steps of geber are confirmed by the Lord' is interpreted: "This concerns the Priest, the Teacher of Righteousness, whom He established to build for Himself the congregation of..."

Are we justified in concluding that the Prophet, geber, and the Teacher of Righteousness are all one and the same person? If so, it would seem to lead to the hypothesis that after a certain moment in its history all mention of the expected Prophet, or geber, vanished from the sect's writings because it had come to believe that he had already appeared in the person of the Teacher of Righteousness.

Although the Messianic beliefs of the sect may at first sight appear foreign to both Judaism and Christianity, closer examination reveals that this is not entirely so. The figure of the Prophet probably evolved from two biblical sources, the first being Deuteronomy (18:18-19) where Moses announces the coming of a Prophet similar to himself (this text is included in the Messianic Anthology from cave IV), and the ,second being Malachi 4:5, where it is prophesied that Elijah will return before the coming of the day of the Lord.

From these texts, and more precisely from the latter, Judaism derived the doctrine of the return of Elijah as the forerunner of the Messiah - a doctrine absorbed into the New Testament where Elijah redivivus is identified with John the Baptist the forerunner of Jesus: "He is Elijah who is to come" (Matt. 11:14)

As regards the Messiah himself, both Judaism and Christianity invest one person with all the Messianic attributes. Rabbinic sources may refer to the Messiah of the House of Joseph, but the Messiah is to be a son of David. Similarly, in Christianity Jesus combines in his person the role of royal, prophetic, and priestly Messiah. Nevertheless, it can be said that even here the doctrine peculiar to the Community was constructed with traditional Jewish material.

In an ancient text very little affected by doctrinal changes (the Palestinian Targum on Exodus 12:42) we read that on the day of final salvation, at the Feast of Passover, the King,-Messiah will appear in the company of Moses: "On the fourth night the world shall reach its end to be delivered. The bonds of wickedness shall be destroyed and the iron yokes broken. Moses shall come out from the wilderness and the King; Messiah from Rome."

This seems to be an exact parallel to the expectation of the coming of the "Shoot of David" in the company of the Interpreter of the Law. Incidentally, the same tradition underlies the association of Jesus with Moses and Elijah in the New Testament account of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30).

The doctrine of resurrection does not seem to have been a major preoccupation in the Community. It may be reflected in a few passages such as the following:

Hoist a banner,
O you who lie in the dust!
O bodies gnawed by worms raise up an ensign ...

(Hymn 10)

But it is not impossible that the phraseology is metaphorical. On the other hand, considering the beliefs and expectations of the sect as a whole, it is difficult to conceive that the members would have denied their dead brethren and the saints of the past a full share in the eternal joys of the Messianic Kingdom.

Viewed in the perspective of its hopes and ideals, the common life of the sect takes on significance and value. Bearing in mind the history of religion in general and the customary gulf between belief and conduct, it is not impossible that their convictions gave rise to rigidity, bigotry, and hatred. But by intention they were a company of poor and humble men constantly attentive to the word of God and grateful for His favours.

The severity of their judgement of the wicked was more dogmatic than practical, as appears from their insistence that vengeance is for God alone. As in all religious bodies which embrace the doctrine of eternal predestination, their minds were absorbed by the election of the holy rather than by the rejection and damnation of the unjust. Besides, those who refused to join the Community were personally responsible for their failure to repent.

The apparent contradiction between predestination and free will was never directly envisaged; in their eyes it was a divine mystery of which no man has the right to demand an explanation.

It remains now to search for clues to the history of these 'men of holiness'. The Qumran literature is not lacking in innuendoes concerning persons and events connected with the Community's origins and ordeals, but as will be seen, they have to be deciphered.


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