10 - Bible Interpretation


Three types of biblical Commentary have been recovered from the Qumran caves.

The first, represented by Genesis Apocryphon, sets out to render the Bible story more intelligible 'and attractive by giving it more substance, by reconciling conflicting statements, and also by reinterpreting in the light of contemporary standards and beliefs any passages which might seem to give offence.

The second type of Commentary departs from the biblical text and, relying on one or several passages, creates a new story. The Words of Moses and the Prayer of Nabonidus, inspired by Deuteronomy and Daniel, come into this category.

The third and most characteristic form of exegesis applies prophetic texts to the past, present, and future of the sect. Normally the commentator expounds a biblical book verse by verse, but one work - A Midrash on the Last Days - follows the traditional Jewish example and assembles passages from different parts of Scripture in order to develop a common theme.


The following is a list of the Qumran Commentaries as originally published.

1. The Genesis Apocryphon: N. Avigad and Y. Yadin, A Genesis Apocryphon (Jerusalem, 1956).

2. The Blessings Of Jacob: J.M. Allegro, 'Further Messianic References in Qumran Literature' (journal of Biblical Literature, 1956), PP. 174-6.

3. The Words Of Moses: J.T. Milik, Qumran Carne 1 (Oxford, 1955) PP- 91-7.

4. Isaiah: J.M. Allegro, art. cit., pp. I 80-2.

5. The Prayer Of Nabonidus: J. T. Milik, 'Priere de Nabonide' (Revue Biblique, 1956), pp. 407-11.

6. Hosea: J.M. Allegro, 'A recently discovered Fragment of a Commentary on Hosea from Qumran's Fourth Cave' (journal of Biblical Literature, t 959) , PP. 142-7.

7. Micah: J.T. Milik, Qumran Cave 1 (Oxford, 1955) P. 78.

8. Nahum: J.M. Allegro, 'Further Light on the History of the Qumran Sect' (journal of Biblical Literature, 1956), pp. 87-93.

9. Habakkuk: M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls of St Mark's Monastery, 1 (New Haven, 1950).

10. Psalm 37: J. M. Allegro, 'A newly discovered Fragment of a Commentary on Psalm 37 from Qumran' (Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 1954), pp. 69-75; journal of Biblical Literature (1956), pp. 94-5.

11. A Midrash On The Last Days: J.M. Allegro, 'Fragments of a Qumran Scroll of Eschatological Midrasim' (journal of Biblical Literature, 1958), PP- 350-4.

12. A Messianic Anthology: J.M. Allegro, 'Further Messianic References' (journal of Biblical Literature, 1956), pp. 182-7.

13. Biblical Laws: J.M. Allegro, 'An unpublished Fragment of Essene Halakhah (4 Q Ordinances)' (journal of Semitic Studies, 1961), PP. 71-3.


The Genesis Apocryphon

The first section (col. II), refers to the miraculous birth of Noah.

His father, Lamech, suspects that his wife has consorted with one of the angels who descended from heaven and married the 'daughters of men' (Gen. VI, 1-4). Her emphatic denial does not convince him and he asks his father, Methuselah, to find his own father, the omniscient Enoch who lives at Parwain, the site of Paradise, in order to discover the truth from him. A story parallel to this appears in the Book of Enoch.

The second section (cols. XIX-XXII) develops Genesis (xii-xv) with its account of Abraham's journey to Egypt, his return to Canaan, the war against the Mesopotamian kings, and the renewal of the divine promise. This lively and delightful narrative, devoid of sectarian bias, throws valuable light on the Bible interpretation current in Palestine during the inter-Testamental period.

Although this Aramaic work was discovered in cave I fifteen years ago, so far only five of its twenty-two columns have been published, mainly because of its poor state of preservation.

... <<II>> Behold, I thought then within my heart that conception was (due) to the Watchers and the Holy Ones. .. and to the Giants ... and my heart was troubled within me because of this child. Then I, Lamech, approached Bath. enosh [my] wife in haste and said to her, '... by the Most High, the Great Lord, the King of all the worlds and Ruler of the Sons of Heaven, until you tell me all things truthfully, if ... Tell me [this truthfully] and not falsely ... by the King of all the worlds until you tell me truthfully and not falsely.'

Then Bathenosh my wife spoke to me with much heat [and] ... and said, 'O my brother, O my lord, remember my pleasure ... the lying together and my soul within its body. [And I tell you] all things truthfully.'

My heart was then greatly troubled within me, and when Bathenosh my wife saw that my countenance had changed ... Then she mastered her anger and spoke to me saying, 'O my lord, O my [brother, remember] my pleasure! I swear to you by the Holy Great One, the King of [the heavens] . .. that this seed is yours and that [this] conception is from you. This fruit was planted by you ... and by no stranger or Watcher or Son of Heaven ... [Why] is your countenance thus changed and dismayed, and why is your spirit thus distressed ... I speak to you truthfully.'

Then I, Lamech, ran to Methuselah my father, and [I told] him all these things. [And I asked him to go to Enoch] his father for he would surely learn all things from him. For he was beloved, and he shared the lot [of the angels], who taught him all things. And when Methuselah heard [my words ... he went to] Enoch his father to learn all things truthfully from him ... his will.

He went at once to Parwain and he found him there ... [and] he said to Enoch his father, 'O my father, O my lord, to whom I ... And I say to you, lest you be angry with me because I come here ...

<<XIX>> ... And I said, 'Thou art ...' ... '... until now you have not come to the Holy Mountain.'

And I departed ... and I traveled towards the south' ... until I came to Hebron [at the time when Hebron] was being built; and I dwelt there [two years].

Now there was famine in all this land, and hearing that there was prosperity in Egypt I went ... to the land of Egypt ... I [came to] the river Karmon, one of the branches of the River ... and I crossed the seven branches of the River ... We passed through our land and entered the land of the sons of Ham, into the land of Egypt.

And on the night of our entry into Egypt, I, Abram, dreamt a dream; [and behold], I saw in my dream a cedar tree and a palm tree ... men came and they sought .to cut down the cedar tree and to pull up its roots, leaving the palm tree (standing) alone. But the palm tree cried out saying, 'Do not cut down this cedar tree, for cursed be he who shall fell [it].' And the cedar tree was spared because of the palm tree and [was] not felled.

And during the night I woke from my dream, and I said to Sarai my wife, 'I have dreamt a dream ... [and I am] fearful [because of] this dream.' She said to me, 'Tell me your dream that I may know it.' So I began to tell her this dream .. . [the interpretation] of the dream ...' ... that they will seek to kill me, but will spare you ... [Say to them] of me, He is my brother, and because of you I shall live, and because of you my life shall be saved ...'

And Sarai wept that night on account of my words ... Then we journeyed towards Zoan, I and Sarai ... by her life that none should see her ...

And when those five years had passed, three men from among the princes of Egypt [came at the command] of Pharaoh of Zoan to inquire after [my] business and after my wife and they gave . .. goodness, wisdom, and truth. And I exclaimed before them ... because of the famine ... And they came to ascertain ... with much food and drink ... the wine ...

(During the party, the Egyptians must have seen Sarai, and on their return they praised her to the king.)

<<XX>> ... '... and beautiful is her face! How ... fine are the hairs of her head! How lovely are her eyes ! How desirable her nose and all the radiance of her countenance ... How fair are her breasts and how beautiful all her whiteness! How pleasing are her arms and how perfect her hands, and how [desirable] all the appearance of her hands! How fair are her palms and how long and slender are her fingers! How comely are her feet, how perfect her thighs ! No Virgin or bride led into the marriage chamber is more beautiful than she; she is fairer than all other women. Truly, her beauty is greater than theirs. Yet together with all this grace she possesses abundant wisdom, so that whatever she does is perfect (?).'

When the king heard the words of Harkenosh and his two companions, for all three spoke as with one voice, he desired her greatly and sent out at once to take her. And seeing her, he was amazed by all her beauty and took her to be his wife, but me he sought to kill. Sarai said to the king, 'He is my brother,' that I might benefit from her, and I, Abram, was spared because of her and I was not slain.

And I, Abram, wept aloud that night, I and my nephew Lot, because Sarai had been taken from me by force. I prayed that night and I begged and implored, and I said in my sorrow while my tears ran down: 'Blessed art Thou, O Most High God, Lord of all the worlds, Thou who art Lord and King of all things and who rulest over all the kings of the earth and judgest them all! I cry now before Thee, my Lord, against Pharaoh of Zoan the king of Egypt, because of my wife who has been taken from me by force. judge him for me that I may see Thy mighty hand raised against him and against all his household, and that he may not be able to defile my wife this night (separating her) from me, and that they may know Thee, my Lord, that Thou art Lord of all the kings of the earth.' And I wept and was sorrowful.

And during that night the Most High God sent a spirit to scourge him, an evil spirit to all his household; and it scourged him and all his household. And he was unable to approach her, and although he was with her for two years he knew her not.

At the end of those two years the scourges and afflictions grew greater and more grievous upon him and all his household, so he sent for all [the sages] of Egypt, for all the magicians, together with all the healers of Egypt, that they might heal him and all his household of this scourge. But not one healer or magician or sage could stay to cure him, for the spirit scourged them all and they fled.

Then Harkenosh came to me, beseeching me to go to the king and to pray for him and to lay my hands upon him that he might live, for the king had dreamt a dream ... But Lot said to him, 'Abram my uncle cannot pray for the king while Sarai his wife is with him. Go, therefore, and tell the king to restore his wife to her husband; then he will pray for him and he shall live.'

When Harkenosh had heard the words of Lot, he went to the king and said, 'All these scourges and afflictions with which my lord the king is scourged and afflicted are because of Sarai the wife of Abram. Let Sarai be restored to Abram her husband, and this scourge and the spirit of festering shall vanish from you.'

And he called me and said, 'What have you done to me with regard to [Sarai]? You said to me, She is my sister, whereas she is your wife; and I took her to be my wife.

Behold your wife who is with me; depart and go hence from all the land of Egypt! And now pray for me and my house that this evil spirit may be expelled from it.'

So I prayed [for him] ... and I laid my hands on his [head]; and the scourge departed from him and the evil [spirit] was expelled [from him], and he lived. And the king rose to tell me ... and the king swore an oath to me that ... and the king gave her much [silver and gold] and much raiment of fine linen and purple ... And Hagar also ... and he appointed men to lead [me] out [of all the land of Egypt]. And I, Abram, departed with very great flocks and with silver and gold, and I went up from [Egypt] together with my nephew [Lot]. Lot had great flocks also, and he took a wife for himself from among [the daughters of Egypt. I pitched my camp]

<<XXI>> [in] every place in which I had formerly camped until I came to Bethel, the place where I had built an altar. And I built a second altar and laid on it a sacrifice and an offering to the Most High God. And there I called on the name of the Lord of worlds and praised the Name of God and blessed God, and I gave thanks before God for all the riches and favours which He had bestowed on me. For He had dealt kindly towards me and had led me back in peace into this land.

After that day, Lot departed from me on account of the deeds of our shepherds. He went away and settled in the valley of the Jordan, together with all his flocks; and I myself added more to them. He kept his sheep and journeyed as far as Sodom, and he bought a house for himself in Sodom and dwelt in it. But I dwelt on the mountain of Bethel and it grieved me that my nephew Lot had departed from me.

And God appeared to me in a Vision at night and said to me, 'Go to Ramath Hazor which is north of Bethel, the place where you dwell, and lift up your eyes and look to the east and to the west and to the south and to the north; and behold all this land which I give to you and your seed for ever.'

The next morning, I went up to Ramath Hazor and from that high place I beheld the land from the River of Egypt to Lebanon and Senir, and from the Great Sea to Hauran, and all the land of Gebal as far as Kadesh, and all the Great Desert to the east of Hauran and Senir as far as Euphrates. And He said to me, 'I will give all this land to your seed and they shall possess it for ever. And I will multiply your seed like the dust of the earth which no man can number; neither shall any man number your seed. Rise and go! Behold the length and breadth of the land for it is yours; and after you, I will give it to your seed for ever.'

And I, Abram, departed to travel about and see the land. I began my journey at the river Gihon and traveled along the coast of the Sea until I came to the Mountain of the Bull (Taurus). Then I traveled from the coast of the Great Salt Sea and journeyed towards the east by the Mountain of the Bull, across the breadth of the land, until I came to the river Euphrates. I journeyed along the Euphrates until I came to the Red Sea (Persian Gulf) in the east, and I traveled along the coast of the Red Sea until I came to the tongue of the Sea of Reeds (the modern Red Sea) which flows out from the Red Sea.

Then I pursued my way in the south until I came to the river Gihon, and returning, I came to my house in peace and found all things prosperous there. I went to dwell at the Oaks of Mamre, which is at Hebron, north-east of Hebron; and I built an altar there, and laid on it a sacrifice and an oblation to the Most High God. I ate and drank there, I and all the men of my household, and I sent for Mamre, Ornam, and Eshkol, the three Amorite brothers, my friends, and they ate and drank with me.

Before these days, Kedorlaomer king of Elam had set out with Amrafel king of Babylon, Ariok king of Kaptok, and Tidal king of the nations which lie between the rivers; and they had waged war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemiabad king of Zeboim, and against the king of Bela. All these had made ready for battle in the valley of Siddim, and the king of Elam and the other kings with him had prevailed over the king of Sodom and his companions and had imposed a tribute upon them.

For twelve years they had paid their tribute to the king of Elam, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled against him. And in the fourteenth year, the king of Elam placed himself at the head of all his allies and went up by the Way of the Wilderness; and they smote and pillaged from the river Euphrates onward. They smote the Refaim who were at Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zumzamim who were at Ammon, the Emim [who were at] Shaveh ha-Keriyyoth, and the Horites who were in the mountains of Gebal, until they came to El Paran which is in the Wilderness. And they returned ... at Hazazon Tamar.

The king of Sodom went out to meet them, together with the king [of Gomorrah], the king of Admah, the king of Zeboim, and the king of Bela, [and they fought] a battle in the valley [of Siddim] against Kedorlaomer [king of Elam and the kings] who were with him. But the king of Sodom was vanquished and fled, and the king of Gomorrah fell into the pits ... [And] the king of Elam [carried off] all the riches of Sodom and [Gomorrah] ... and they took Lot the nephew

<<XXII>> of Abram who dwelt with them in Sodom, together with all his possessions.

Now one of the shepherds of the flocks which Abram had given to Lot escaped from captivity and came to Abram: at that time Abram dwelt in Hebron. He told him that Lot his nephew had been taken, together with all his possessions, and that he had not been slain, and that the kings had gone by the Way of the Great Valley (of the Jordan) in the direction of their land, taking captives and plundering and smiting and slaying, and that they were journeying towards the land of Damascus.

Abram wept because of Lot his nephew. Then he braced himself; he rose up and chose from among his servants three hundred and eighteen fighting men trained for war, and Ornam and Eshkol and Mamre went with him also.

He pursued them until he came to Dan, and came on them while they were camped in the valley of Dan. He fell on them at night from four sides and during the night he slew them; he crushed them and put them to flight, and all of them fled before him until they came to Helbon which is north of Damascus. He rescued from them all their captives, and all their booty and possessions. He also delivered Lot his nephew, together with all his possessions, and he brought back all the captives which they had taken.

When the king of Sodom learned that Abram had brought back all the captives and all the booty, he came out to meet him; and he went to Salem, which is Jerusalem.

Abram camped in the valley of Shaveh, which is the valley of the king, the valley of Beth-ha-Kerem; and Melchizedek king of Salem brought out food and drink to Abram and to all the men who were with him. He was the Priest of the Most High God. And he blessed Abram and said, 'Blessed be Abram by the Most High God, Lord of heaven and earth! And blessed be the Most High God who has delivered your enemies into your hand!' And Abram gave him the tithe of all the possessions of the king of Elam and his companions.

Then the king of Sodom approached and said to Abram, 'My lord Abram, give me the souls which are mine, which you have delivered from the king of Elam and taken captive, and you may have all the possessions.'

Then said Abram to the king of Sodom, 'I raise my hand this day to the Most High God, Lord of heaven and earth ! 1 will take nothing of yours, not even a shoe-lace or shoe strap, lest you say, Abram's riches come from my possessions! I will take nothing but that which the young men with me have eaten already, and the portion of the three men who have come with me. They shall decide whether they will give you their portion.' And Abram returned all the possessions and all the captives and gave them to the king of Sodom; he freed all the captives from this land who were with him, and sent them all back.

After these things, God appeared to Abram in a Vision and said to him, 'Behold, ten years have passed since you departed from Haran. For two years you dwelt here and you spent seven years in Egypt, and one year has passed since you returned from Egypt. And now examine and count all you have, and see how it has grown to be double that which came out with you from Haran.

And now do not fear, I am with you; I am your help and your strength. I am a shield above you and a mighty safeguard round about you. Your wealth and possessions shall multiply greatly.' But Abram said, 'My Lord God, I have great wealth and possessions but what good shall they do to me? I shall die naked, childless shall I go hence. A child from my household shall inherit from me. Eliezer son ... shall inherit from me.' And He said to him, 'He shall not be your heir, but one who shall spring [from your body shall inherit from you].' ...


The Blessings of Jacob

The subject of this interpretation is the blessing of Judah, i.e. of the tribe from which David was born. The commentator emphasizes that the royal power will belong for ever to the descendants of David, thereby implying that all non-Davidic rulers, such as the contemporary Hasmonean priest-kings, occupy the throne unlawfully.

The scepter shall not depart from the tribe of Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs. And the peoples shall be in obedience to him (Gen. XLIX, 10)

Whenever Israel rules there shall [not] fail to be a descendant of David upon the throne. For the ruler's staff is the Covenant of kingship, [and the clans] of Israel are the feet, until the Messiah of Righteousness comes, the Branch of David. For to him and to his seed was granted the Covenant of kingship over his people for everlasting generations ...


The Words of Moses

This farewell discourse takes its inspiration from various passages of Deuteronomy and is chiefly remarkable for the emphasis laid on the appointment of special teachers, or interpreters, of the Law (Levites and Priests).

[God spoke] to Moses in the [fortieth] year after [the children of] Israel had come [out of the land of] Egypt, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, saying:

'[Gather together] all the congregation and go up to [Mount Nebo] and stand [there], you and Eleazar son of Aaron. Inter[pret to the heads] of family of the Levites and to all the [Priests], and proclaim to the children of Israel the words of the Law which I proclaimed [to you] on Mount Sinai. Proclaim care[fully] into their ears all that I [require] of them. And [call] heaven and [earth to witness against] them; for they will not love what I have commanded [them to do], neither [they] nor their children, [during all] the days they shall [live upon the earth].

[For] I say that they will abandon [me, and will choose the abominations of the nations,] their horrors [and their idols. They will serve] false gods which shall be for them a snare and a pitfall. [They will sin against the] holy [days], and against the Sabbath and the Covenant, [and against the commandments] which I command you to keep this day.

[Therefore I will smite] them with a mighty [blow] in the midst of the land [which they] cross the Jordan [to possess]. And when all the curses come upon them and catch up with them to destroy them and [blot] them out, then shall they know that the truth has been [fulfilled] with regard to them.'

Then Moses called Eleazar son of [Aaron] and Joshua [son of Nun and said to them,] 'Speak [all these words to the people ...

[Be still] <<II>>

O Israel, and hear! This [day shall you become the people] of God, your [God. You shall keep m laws] and my testimonies [and my commandments which -I command you to [keep this] day. [And when you] cross the [Jordan so that I may give] you great [and good cities and houses filled with all [pleasant things, and Vines an, olives] which [you have not planted, and] wells which you: have not dug, [beware,] when you have eaten and are full that your hearts be not lifted up, and that [you do not forget what I have commanded you to do this day. For] it is this, that will bring you life and length of [days].'

And Moses [spoke to the children] of Israel [and said to them]

'[Behold,] forty [years have passed since] the day we came out of the land [of Egypt, and today has God], our God, [uttered these words] from out of His mouth: [all; His [precepts and] all [His] precepts.

'[But how shall I carry] your loads [and burdens ant disputes alone]? When I have [established] the Covenant and commanded [the way] in which you shall walk, [appoint wise men whose] work it shall be to expound [to you and your children] all these words of the Law. [Watch carefully] for your own sakes [that you keep them, lest] the wrath [of your God] kindle and burn against you, and He stop the heavens above from shedding rain [upon you], and [the water beneath the earth from] giving you [harvest].'

And Moses [spoke further] to the children of Israel.

'Behold the commandments [which God has] commanded you to keep ...'


Commentaries on Isaiah

Fragments I and IV are of particular interest. The former expounds the celebrated Messianic passage from chapter XI; the latter applies to the Community the prophetic Vision of the new Jerusalem. A similar bias appears in the New Testament (Rev. 21:9-27).


[And there shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse and a Branch shall grow out of its roots. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or pass sentence by what his ears hear; he shall judge the poor righteously and shall pass sentence justly on the humble of the earth] (11:1-3).

[Interpreted, this concerns the Branch] of David who shall arise at the end [of days] ... God will uphold him with [the spirit of might, and will give him] a throne of glory and a crown of [holiness] and many-coloured garments ... [He will put a scepter] in his hand and he shall rule over all the [nations]. And Magog ... and his sword shall judge [all] the peoples.

And as for that which He said, He shall not [judge by what his eyes see] or pass sentence by what his ears hear; interpreted, this means that ... [the Priests] ... As they teach him, so will he judge; and as they order, [so will he pass sentence]. One of the Priests of renown shall go out, and garments of ... shall be in his hands ...


[For ten acres of Vineyard shall produce only one bath, and an omer of seed shall yield but one ephah] (v,10).

Interpreted, this saying concerns the last days, the devastation of the land by sword and famine. At the time of the Visitation of the land there shall be Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after strong drink, to those who linger in the evening until wine inflames them. They have zither and harp and timbrel and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the work of the Lord or see the deeds of His hand. Therefore my people go into exile for want of knowledge, and their noblemen die of hunger and their multitude is parched with thirst. Therefore Hell has widened its gullet and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude go down, her tumult and he who rejoices in her (5:11-I4).

These are the Scoffers in Jerusalem who have despised the Law of the Lord and scorned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people. He stretched out His hand against them and smote them; the mountains trembled and their corpses were like sweepings in the middle of the streets. And [His wrath] has not relented for all these things [and His hand is stretched out still] (5:24-25).

This is the congregation of Scoffers in Jerusalem ...


Thus said the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, 'You shall be saved by returning and resting; your strength shall be in silence and trust.' But you would not. You [said], 'No. We will flee upon horses and will ride on swift steeds.' Therefore your pursuers shall be speedy also. A thousand shall flee [before] the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee [till] you are left like a flagstaff on top of a mountain and like a signal on top of a hill. Therefore the Lord waits to be [gracious to] you; therefore He exalts Himself to have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice. How blessed are all those who wait for Him! (30:15-18)

Referring to the last days, this saying concerns the congregation of those who seek smooth things in Jerusalem ... [who despise the] Law and do not [trust in God] ... As robbers lie in wait for a man ... they have despised [the words of] the Law ...

O people of Zion [who live in Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. At the sound of] your crying [He will be gracious to you; He will answer you] when He [hears it. Although the Lord give you bread of oppression and water of distress, your Teacher] shall be hidden [no more and your eyes shall see your Teacher] ... (30:19-20).


Behold, I will set your stones in antimony (LIV, 11b).

[Interpreted, this saying concerns] . .. all Israel sought Thee according to Thy command.

And I will lay your foundations with sapphires (LIV, 11C).

Interpreted, this concerns the Priests and the people who laid the foundations of the Council of the Community ... the congregation of His elect (shall sparkle) like a sapphire among stones.

[And I will make] all your pinnacles [of agate] (LIV, 12a).

Interpreted, this concerns the twelve [chief Priests] who shall enlighten by judgement of the Urim and Tummim ... which are absent from them, like the sun with all its light, and like the moon ...

[And all your gates of carbuncles] (LIV, 12b).

Interpreted, this concerns the chiefs of the tribes of Israel ...


The Prayer of Nabonidus

Whilst the book of Daniel (iv) writes of the miraculous recovery of Nebuchadnezzar after an illness which lasted seven years, this interesting composition tells a similar story about the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus. The principal difference between the two is that Nebuchadnezzar was cured by God Himself when he recognized His sovereignty, whereas a Jewish exorcist healed Nabonidus by teaching him the truth and forgiving his sins.

The words of the prayer uttered by Nabunai king of Babylon, [the great] king, [when he was afflicted] with an evil ulcer in Teiman by decree of the [Most High God].

I was afflicted [with an evil ulcer] for seven years ... and an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew from among the [children of the exile of Judah, and he said], 'Recount this in writing to [glorify and exalt] the Name of the, [Most High God'. And I wrote this]:

'I was afflicted with an [evil] ulcer in Teiman [by decree of the Most High God]. For seven years [I] prayed to the gods of silver and gold, [bronze and iron], wood and stone and clay, because [I believed] that they were gods ...'


Commentary on Hosea

In this interpretation, the unfaithful wife is the Jewish people, and her lovers are the Gentiles who have led the nation astray.

[She knew not that] it was I who gave her [the new wine and oil], who lavished [upon her silver] and gold which they [used for Baal] (2:8).

Interpreted, this means that [they ate and] were filled, but they forgot God who ... They cast His commandments behind them which He had sent [by the hand of] His servants the Prophets, and they listened to those who led them astray. They revered them, and in their blindness they feared them as though they were gods.

Therefore I will take back my corn in its time and my wine [in its season]. I will take away my wool and my flax lest they cover [her nakedness]. I will uncover her shame before the eyes of [her] lovers [and] no man shall deliver her from out of my hand (2:9-10).

Interpreted, this means that He smote them with hunger and nakedness that they might be shamed and disgraced in the sight of the nations on which they relied. They will not deliver them from their miseries.

I will put an end to her rejoicing, [her feasts], her [new] moons, her Sabbaths, and all her festivals (2:11).

Interpreted, this means that [they have rejected the ruling of the law, and have] followed the festivals of the nations. But [their rejoicing shall come to an end and] shall be changed into mourning.

I will ravage [her Vines and her fig trees], of which she said, 'They are my wage [which my lovers have given me'.] I will make of them a thicket and the [wild beasts] shall eat them ... (2:12).


Commentary on Micah

Although the prophet's words are intended to castigate Samaria and Jerusalem, the Qumran commentator interprets the final phrase favourably and relates it to the Teacher of Righteousness.

[All this is] for the transgression [of Jacob and for the sins of the House of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob?] Is it not [Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? I will make of Samaria a ruin in the fields, and of Jerusalem a plantation of Vines] (1:5-6).

Interpreted, this concerns the Spouter of Lies [who led the] Simple [astray].

And what is the high place of Judah? [Is it not Jerusalem?] (1:5)

[Interpreted, this concerns] the Teacher of Righteousness who [expounded the Law to] his [Council] and to all who freely pledged themselves to join the elect of [God to keep the Law] in the Council of the Community; who shall be saved on the Day [of judgement] ...


Commentary on Nahum

The historical significance of this fragment is discussed in Chapter 3.

For a correct understanding of the interpretation of Nahum 2:12, the reader should bear in mind the biblical order that only the corpses of executed criminals should be hanged (Deut. 21:21). Hanging men alive, i.e. crucifixion, was a sacrilegious novelty. Some translators consider the mutilated final sentence unfinished, and render it: 'For a man hanged alive on a tree shall be called ...' The version given here seems more reasonable.

[Where is the lions' den and the cave of the young lions?] (2:11). [Interpreted, this concerns] ... a dwelling-place for the ungodly of the nations.

Whither the lion goes, there is the lion's cub, [with none to disturb it] (2:11b).

[Interpreted, this concerns Deme]trius king of Greece who sought, on the counsel of those who seek smooth things, to enter Jerusalem. [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. But then she shall be trampled under their feet ...

The lion tears enough for its cubs and it chokes prey for its lionesses (2:12a).

[Interpreted, this] concerns the furious young lion who strikes by means of his great men, and by means of the men of his council.

[And chokes prey for its lionesses; and it fills] its caves [with prey] and its dens with Victims (2:12a-b).

Interpreted, this concerns the furious young lion [who executes revenge] on those who seek smooth things and hangs men alive, [a thing never done] formerly in Israel. Because of a man hanged alive on [the] tree, he, shall read, 'Behold 1 am against [you, says the Lord of Hosts'].

[I will burn up your multitude in smoke], and the sword shall devour your young lions. I will [cut off] your prey [from the earth]


[Interpreted] ... your multitudes are the bands of his army ... and his young lions are ... his prey is the wealth which [the Priests] of Jerusalem have [amassed], which ... Israel shall be delivered ...


Commentary on Habakkuk

The doctrinal and historical references contained in this detailed interpretation of Habakkuk are analysed in Chapters 2 and 3.

<<I>> [Oracle of Habakkuk the prophet. How long, 0 Lord, shall I cry] for help and Thou wilt not [hear]? (1:1-2).

[Interpreted, this concerns the beginning] of the [final] generation ...

[Or shout to Thee 'Violence', and Thou wilt not deliver?] (1:2b)


[Why dost Thou cause me to see iniquity and to look upon trouble? Desolation and Violence are before me] (1:3).

God with oppression and unfaithfulness ... they rob riches.

[There is quarrelling and contention] (1:3b).


So the law is weak [and justice never goes forth] (1:4a-b).

[Interpreted] this concerns those who have despised the Law of God ...

[For the wicked encompasses] the righteous (1:4c).

[The wicked is the Wicked Priest, and the righteous] is the Teacher of Righteousness ...

[So] justice goes forth [perverted] (1:4d).

[Behold the nations and see, marvel and be astonished; for I accomplish a deed in your days but you will not believe it when]

<<II>> told (1:5).

[Interpreted, 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. And it concerns the unfaithful of the New [Covenant] in that they have not believed in the Covenant of God [and have profaned] His holy Name. And likewise, this saying is to be interpreted [as concerning those who] will be unfaithful at the end of days. They, the men of Violence and the breakers of the Covenant, will not believe when they hear all that [is to happen to] the final generation from the Priest [in whose heart] God set [understanding] that he might interpret all the words of His servants the Prophets, through whom He foretold all that would happen to His people and [His land].

For behold, 1 rouse the Chaldeans, that [bitter and hasty] nation (1:6a).

Interpreted, this concerns the Kittim [who are] quick and valiant in war, causing many to perish. [All the world shall fall] under the dominion of the Kittim, and the [wicked ...] they shall not believe in the laws of [God ...]

[Who march through the breadth of the earth to take possession of dwellings which are not their own] (1:6b).

<<III>> they shall march across the plain, smiting and plundering the cities of the earth. For it is as He said, To take possession of dwellings which are not their own.

They are fearsome and terrible; their justice and grandeur proceed from themselves (1:7).

Interpreted, this concerns the Kittim who inspire all the nations with fear [and dread]. All their evil plotting is done with intention and they deal with all the nations in cunning and trickery.

Their horses are swifter than leopards and fleeter than evening wolves. Their horses step forward proudly and spread their wings; they fly from afar like an eagle avid to devour. All of them come for Violence; the look on their faces is like the east wind (1:8-9a).

[Interpreted, this] concerns the Kittim who trample the earth with their horses and beasts. They come from afar, from the islands of the sea, to devour all the peoples like an eagle which cannot be satisfied, and they address [all the peoples] with anger and [wrath and fury] and indignation. For it is as He said, The look on their faces is like the east wind.

[They heap up] captives [like sand] (1:9b).

<<IV>> They scoff [at kings], and princes are their laughing-stock (1:10a).

Interpreted, this means that they mock the great and despise the venerable; they ridicule kings and princes and scoff at the mighty host.

They laugh at every fortress; they pile up earth and take it (1:10b).

Interpreted, this concerns the commanders of the Kittim who despise the fortresses of the peoples and laugh at them in derision. To capture them, they encircle them with a mighty host, and out of fear and terror they deliver themselves into their hands. They destroy them because of the sins of their inhabitants.

The wind then sweeps on and passes; and they make of their strength their god (1:11).

Interpreted, [this concerns] the commanders of the Kittim who, on the counsel of [the] House of Guilt, pass one in front of the other; one after another [their] commanders come to lay waste the earth. [And they make] of their strength their god: interpreted, this concerns [... all] the peoples ...

[Art Thou not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We shall not die.] Thou hast ordained them, [O Lord], <<V>> for judgement; Thou hast established them, O Rock, for chastisement. Their eyes are too pure to behold evil; and Thou canst not look on distress (1:12-13a).

Interpreted, this saying means that God will not destroy His people by the hand of the nations; God will execute the judgement of the nations by the hand of His elect. And through their chastisement all the wicked of His people shall expiate their guilt who keep His commandments in their distress. For it is as He said, Too pure of eyes to behold evil: interpreted, this means that they have not lusted after their eyes during the age of wickedness.

O traitors, why do you stare and stay silent when the wicked swallows up one more righteous than he? (1:13b).

Interpreted, this concerns the House of Absalom and the members of its council who were dumb at the time of the chastisement of the Teacher of Righteousness and gave him no help against the Liar who flouted the Law in the midst of their whole [congregation].

Thou deal with men like the fish of the sea, like crawling creatures, to rule over them. They draw [them all up with a fishhook], and drag them out with their net, and gather them in [their seine. Therefore they sacrifice] to their net. Therefore they rejoice [and exult and burn incense to their seine; for by them] their portion is fat [and their sustenance rich] (1:14-16).

... <<VI>> the Kittim. And they shall gather in their riches, together with all their booty, like the fish of the sea. And as for that which He said, Therefore they sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their seine: interpreted, this means that they sacrifice to their standards and worship their weapons of war. For through them their portion is fat and their sustenance rich: interpreted, this means that they divide their yoke and their tribute - their sustenance - over all the peoples year by year, ravaging many lands.

Therefore their sword is ever drawn to massacre nations mercilessly (1:17).

Interpreted, this concerns the Kittim who cause many to perish by the sword - youths, grown men, the aged, women and children - and who even take no pity on the fruit of the womb.

I will take my stand to watch and will station myself upon my fortress. I will watch to see what He will say to me and how [He will answer] my complaint. And the Lord answered [and said to me, ' Write down the Vision and make it plain] upon the tablets, that [he who reads] may read it speedily (2:1-2) .

... <<VII>> and God told Habakkuk to write down that which would happen to the final generation, but He did not make known to him when time would come to an end. And as for that which He said, That he who reads may read it speedily, interpreted this concerns the Teacher of Righteousness, to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of His servants the Prophets.

For there shall be yet another Vision concerning the appointed time. It shall tell of the end and shall not lie (2:3a).

Interpreted, this means that the final age shall be prolonged, and shall exceed all that the Prophets have said; for the mysteries of God are astounding.

If it tarries, wait for it, for it shall surely come and shall not be late (2:3b).

Interpreted, this concerns the men of truth who keep the Law, whose hands shall not slacken in the service of truth when the final age is prolonged. For all the ages of God reach their appointed end as He determines for them in the mysteries of His wisdom.

Behold, [his soul] is puffed up and is not upright (2:4a).

Interpreted, this means that [the wicked] shall double their guilt upon themselves [and it shall not be forgiven] when they are judged ...

[But the righteous shall live by his faith] (2:4b).

<<VIII>> Interpreted, this concerns all those who observe the Law in the House of Judah, whom God will deliver from the House of judgement because of their suffering and because of their faith in the Teacher of Righteousness.

Moreover, the arrogant man seizes wealth without halting. He widens his gullet like Hell and like Death he has never enough. All the nations are gathered to him and all the peoples are assembled to him. Will they not all of them taunt him and jeer at him saying, 'Woe to him who amasses what does not belong to him! How long will he load himself up with pledges?' (2:5-6).

Interpreted, this concerns the Wicked Priest who was called by the name of truth when he first arose. But when he ruled over Israel his heart became proud, and he forsook God and betrayed the precepts for the sake of riches. He robbed and amassed the riches of the men of Violence who rebelled against God, and he took the wealth of the peoples, heaping sinful iniquity upon himself. And he lived in the ways of abominations amidst every unclean defilement.

Shall not your oppressors suddenly arise and your torturers awaken; and shall you not become their prey? Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you (2:7-8a).

[Interpreted, this concerns] the Priest who rebelled [and Violated] the precepts [of God ... to command] <<IX>> his chastisement by means of the judgements of wickedness. And they inflicted horrors of evil diseases and took vengeance upon his body of flesh. And as for that which He said, Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, interpreted this concerns the last Priests of Jerusalem, who shall amass money and wealth by plundering the peoples. But in the last days, their riches and booty shall be delivered into the hands of the army of the Kittim, for it is they who shall be the remnant of the peoples.

Because of the blood of men and the Violence done to the land, to the city, and to all its inhabitants (2:8b).

Interpreted, 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.

Woe to him who gets evil profit for his house; who perches his nest high to be safe from the hand of evil! You have devised shame to your house; by cutting off many peoples you have forfeited your own soul. For the [stone] cries out [from] the wall [and] the beam from the woodwork replies (2:9-11).

[Interpreted, this] concerns the [Priest] who ... <<X>> that its stones might be laid in oppression and the beam of its woodwork in robbery. And as for that which He said, By cutting of many peoples you have forfeited your own soul, interpreted this concerns the condemned House whose judgement God will pronounce in the midst of many peoples. He will bring him thence for judgement and will declare him guilty in the midst of them, and will chastise him with fire of brimstone.

Woe to him who builds a city with blood and founds a town upon falsehood! Behold, is it not from the Lord of Hosts that the peoples shall labour for fire and the nations shall strive for naught? (2:12-13).

Interpreted, this concerns the Spouter of Lies who led many astray that he might build his city of vanity with blood and raise a congregation on deceit, causing many thereby to perform a service of vanity for the sake of its glory, and to be pregnant with [works] of deceit, that their labour might be for nothing and that they might be punished with fire who Vilified and outraged the elect of God.

For as the waters cover the sea, so shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (2:14).

Interpreted, [this means that] when they return ... <<XI>> the lies. And afterwards, knowledge shall be revealed to them abundantly, like the waters of the sea.

Woe to him who causes his neighbours to drink; who pours out his venom to make them drunk that he may gaze on their feasts! (2:15).

Interpreted, this concerns the Wicked Priest who pursued the Teacher of Righteousness to the house of his exile that he might confuse him with his venomous fury. And at the time appointed for rest, for the Day of Atonement, he appeared before them to confuse them, and to cause them to stumble on the Day of Fasting, their Sabbath of repose.

You have filled yourself with ignominy more than with glory. Drink also, and stagger! The cup of the Lord's right hand shall come round to you and shame shall come on your glory (2:16).

Interpreted, this concerns the Priest whose ignominy was greater than his glory. For he did not circumcise the foreskin of his heart, and he walked in the ways of drunkenness that he might quench his thirst. But the cup of the wrath of God shall confuse him, multiplying his ... and the pain of ...

[For the Violence done to Lebanon shall overwhelm you, and the destruction of the beasts] <<XII>> shall terrify you, because of the blood of men and the Violence done to the land, the city, and all its inhabitants (2:17).

Interpreted, this saying concerns the Wicked Prier. inasmuch as he shall be paid the reward which he himself tendered to the Poor. For Lebanon is the Council of the Community; and the beasts are the Simple of Judah w1 keep the Law. As he himself plotted the destruction of the Poor, so will God condemn him to destruction. And as f that which He said, Because of the blood of the city and t Violence done to the land: interpreted, the city is Jerusalem: where the Wicked Priest committed abominable deeds and defiled the Temple of God. The Violence done to the land: the are the cities of Judah where he robbed the Poor of the possessions.

Of what use is an idol that its maker should shape it, a molt, image, a fading of lies? For the craftsman puts his trust in his oz( creation when he makes dumb idols (2:18).

Interpreted, this saying concerns all the idols of the nations which they make so that they may serve and worship them. But they shall not deliver them on the Day Judgement.

Woe [to him who says] to wood, 'Awake', and to dumb [stone 'Arise'! Can such a thing give guidance? Behold, it is covered with gold and silver but there is no spirit within it. But the Lord is in His holy Temple]: let all the earth be silent before Him! (2:19-20)

Interpreted, this concerns all the nations which sere. stone and wood. But on the Day of Judgement, God will destroy from the earth all idolatrous and wicked men.


Commentaries on Psalm 37

The Psalm's description of the destiny of the righteous and the wicked is applied to that of the sect and its enemies, and more particularly to the struggle of the Teacher of Righteousness against the Wicked Priest.

The author introduces an important change into the text of verse gob, rendering it 'those who love the Lord' instead of 'those who hate the Lord'. The artificiality of this alteration is evident from the broken context.


[Do not be angry against the man who prospers, against him who carries out evil devices] (7).
... they shall perish by the sword and famine and plague.

Relent from anger and abandon wrath. Do not be angry, it tends only to evil; for the wicked shall be cut off (8-9a).

Interpreted, this concerns all those who return to the Law, to those who do not refuse to turn away from their evil. For all those who are stubborn in turning away from their iniquity shall be cut off.

But those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land (9b).

Interpreted, this is the congregation of His elect who do His will.

A little while and the wicked shall be no more; 1 will look towards his place but he shall not be there (10).

Interpreted, this concerns all the wicked. At the end of the forty years they shall be blotted out and not an [evil man shall be found on the earth.

But the humble shall possess the land and delight in abundant peace (11).

Interpreted, this concerns [the congregation of the] Poor who shall accept the season of penance and shall be delivered from all the snares [of Satan ...]

[The Lord knows the days of the perfect and their portion shall be for ever. In evil times they shall not be shamed] (18-19a).

... to the penitents of the desert who shall live for a thousand generations ... [and to whom all the glory] of Adam [shall belong], as also to their seed for ever.

And in the days of famine they shall be [satisfied, but the wicked] shall perish (19b-20a).

Interpreted, this [means that] He will keep them alive during the famine and the time [of trial, whereas the wicked] shall perish from famine and plague, all those who have not departed [from the land of Judah].

And those who love the Lord shall be like the pride of pastures (20b).

Interpreted, [this concerns] the congregation of His elect, who shall be leaders and princes ... of the flock among their herds.

Like smoke they shall all of them vanish away (20c).

Interpreted, [this] concerns the princes [of wickedness] who have oppressed His holy people, and who shall perish like smoke [blown away by the wind].

The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous is generous and gives. Truly, those whom He [blesses shall possess] the land, but those whom He curses [shall be cut of] (21-22).

Interpreted, this concerns the congregation of the Poor, who [shall possess] the portion of all . . . They shall possess the High Mountain of Israel [for ever], and shall enjoy [everlasting] delights in His Sanctuary. [But those who] shall be cut of, they are the Violent [of the nations and] the wicked of Israel; they shall be cut off and blotted out for ever.

The steps of the Man are confirmed by the Lord and He delights in all his ways; though [he stumble, he shall not fall, for the Lord shall support his hand] (23-24).

Interpreted, this concerns the Priest, the Teacher of [Righteousness ... whom] He established to build for Himself the congregation of ...

The wicked watches out for the righteous and seeks [to slay him. The Lord will not abandon him into his hand or] let him be condemned when he is tried (32-33)

Interpreted, this concerns the Wicked [Priest] who [rose up against the Teacher of Righteousness] that he might put him to death [because he served the truth] and the Law, [for which reason] he laid hands upon him. But God will not abandon [him into his hand and will not let him be condemned when he is] tried. 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 [the judgements of wickedness].

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bow to bring down the poor and needy and to slay the upright of way. Their sword shall enter their own heart and their bows shall be broken (14-15).

Interpreted, this concerns the wicked of Ephraim and Manasseh, who shall seek to lay hands on the Priest and the men of his Council at the time of trial which shall come upon them. But God will redeem them from out of their hand. And afterwards, they shall be delivered into the hand of the Violent among the nations for judgement ...


A Midrash on the Last Days

This collection of texts assembled from 2 Samuel and the Psalter, and combined with other scriptural passages, serves to present the sectarian doctrine identifying the Community with the Temple, and to announce the coming of the two Messiahs, the 'Branch of David' and the 'Interpreter of the Law'.

<<I>> ... [I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them that they may dwell there and be troubled no more by their] enemies. No son of iniquity [shall afflict them again] as formerly, from the day that [I set judges] over my people Israel (2 Sam. 7:10).

This is the House which [He will build for them in the] last days, as it is written in the book of Moses, In the sanctuary which Thy hands have established, O Lord, the Lord shall reign for ever and ever (Exod. 15:17-18). This is the House into which [the unclean shall] never [enter, nor the uncircumcised,] nor the Ammonite, nor the Moabite, nor the half-breed, nor the foreigner, nor the stranger, ever;, for there shall My Holy Ones be. [Its glory shall endure] forever; it shall appear above it perpetually. And strangers shall lay it waste no more, as they formerly laid waste the Sanctuary of Israel because of its sin. He has commanded that a Sanctuary of men be built for Himself, that there they may send up, like the smoke of incense, the works of the Law.

And concerning His words to David, And I [will give] you [rest], from all your enemies (2 Sam. 7:2), this means that He will give them rest from all the children of Satan who cause them to stumble so that they may be destroyed [by their errors,] just as they came with a [devilish] plan to cause the [sons] of light to stumble and to devise against them a wicked plot, that [they might become subject] to Satan in their [wicked] straying.

The Lord declares to you that He will build you a House (2 Sam. 7:2c). 1 will raise up your seed after you (2 Sam. VII, 12).1 will establish the throne of his kingdom [for ever] (2 Sam. 7:13). I [will be] his father and he shall be my son (2 Sam. 7:14). He is the Branch of David who shall arise with the Interpreter of the Law [to rule] in Zion [at the end] of time. As it is written, 1 will raise up the tent of David that is fallen (Amos 9:2). That is to say, the fallen tent of David is he who shall arise to save Israel.

Explanation of How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked (Ps. 1:1). Interpreted, this saying [concerns] those who turn aside from the way [of the people]; as it is written in the book of Isaiah the Prophet concerning the last days, It came to pass that [the Lord turned me aside, as with a mighty hand, from walking in the way of] this people (Isa. 8:2). They are those of whom it is written in the book of Ezekiel the Prophet, The Levites [strayed far from me, following] their idols (Ezek. XLIV, 10). They are the sons of Zadok who [seek their own] counsel and follow [their own inclination] apart from the Council of the Community.

[Why] do the nations [rage] and the peoples meditate [vanity, the kings of the earth] rise up, [and the] princes take counsel together against the Lord and against [His Messiah]? (Ps. 2:1). Interpreted, this saying concerns [the kings of the nations] who shall [rage against] the elect of Israel in the last days.

<<II>> This shall be the time of the trial to come ...


Messianic Anthology

This short document, similar in literary style to the Christian Testimonia, or collection of Messianic proof-texts, includes five quotations arranged in four groups, the last being followed by particular interpretation.

The first group consists of two texts from Deuteronomy referring to the Prophet similar to Moses; the second is an extract from a prophecy of Balaam about the royal Messiah; the third is a blessing of the Levites and, implicitly, of the Priest-Messiah.

The last group opens with a verse from Joshua which is then. expounded by means of a quotation from the sectarian Psalms of Joshua. Most experts hold that the commentator, bearing in mind the biblical passage, is alluding to three characters, a father (' an. accursed man') and his two sons. However, the verb 'arose' in the second sentence is in the singular, and it would seem correct to interpret this text as referring to the two brothers only.

The Lord spoke to Moses saying:

You have heard the words which this people have spoken to you; all they have said is right. 0 that their heart were always like this, to fear me and to keep my commandments always, that it might be well with them and their children for ever! (Deut. 5:28-9). 1 will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren. I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all that I command him. And I will require a reckoning of whoever will no" listen to the words which the Prophet shall speak in my Name (Deut. 18:18-19).

He took up his discourse and said:

Oracle of Balaam son of Beor. Oracle of the man whose eye is penetrating. Oracle of him who has heard the words of God, who knows the wisdom of the Most High and sees the Vision of the Almighty, who falls and his eyes are opened. I see him but not now. I behold him but not near. A star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; he shall crush the temples of Moab and destroy all the children of Seth (Num. 24:15-17).

And of Levi he said:

Give Thy Tummim to Levi, and Thy Urim to Thy pious one whom Thou didst test at Massah, and with whom Thou didst quarrel at the waters of Meribah; who said to his father and mother, '1 know you not', and who did not acknowledge his brother, or know his sons. For they observed Thy word and kept Thy Covenant. They shall cause Thy precepts to shine before Jacob and Thy Law before Israel. They shall send up incense towards Thy nostrils and place a burnt offering upon Your altar. Bless his power, 0 Lord, and delight in the work of his hands. Smite the loins of his adversaries and let his enemies rise no more (Deut. 33:8-11).

When Joshua had finished offering praise and thanksgiving, he said:

Cursed be the man who rebuilds this city! May he lay its foundation on his first-born, and set its gate upon his youngest son (Josh. 6:26). Behold, an accursed man, a man of Satan, has risen to become a fowler's net to his people, and a cause of destruction to all his neighbours. And [his brother] arose [and ruled], both being instruments of Violence. They have rebuilt [Jerusalem and have set up] a wall and towers to make of it a stronghold of ungodliness ... in Israel, and a horror in Ephraim, and in Judah ... They have committed an abomination in the land, and a great blasphemy among the children [of Israel. They have shed blood] like water upon the ramparts of the daughter of Zion and within the precincts of Jerusalem.


Commentary on Biblical Laws

Although the general context of the document is not clear, two statutes can be recognized relating to Deuteronomy 23:25-6 and to Exodus 30:11-16 (38:25-6) respectively.

In the first, the Bible allows a man crossing another person's field to pluck the ears of corn and to eat them, but forbids him to cut the grain with his sickle. Applying this law to the case of a man who is destitute, the Qumran interpreter stipulates that although he may eat while in the field, nothing must be taken home. On the other hand, he may both eat and gather provisions for his family from the threshing floor.

The second statute refers to the tax of half a shekel to be contributed to the upkeep of the place of worship by every Israelite aged twenty. Later Jewish tradition interpreted this passage as instituting a yearly tax to be paid by every male Israelite (cf. Neh. 10:32; Matt. 17:24-7; see also the treatise Shekalim or Shekel Dues in the Mishnah). The Qumran ordinance, however, insists on one single payment, thereby complying with the scriptural rule and at the same time refusing regular support to the Temple of Jerusalem.

<<II>> ... Any destitute [Israelite] who goes into a threshing floor may eat there and gather for himself and for [his] hou[sehold. But should he walk among corn standing in] the field, he may eat but may not bring it to his house to store it.

Concerning ... the money of valuation that a man gives as ransom for his life, it shall be half [a shekel ...] He shall give it only once in his life. Twenty gerahs make one shekel according to [the shekel of the Temple (cf. Exod. 30:12-13) ...] For the 600,000, one hundred talents; for the 3,000, half a talent (= 30 minahs); [for the 500, five minahs;] and for the 50, half a minah, (which is) twenty-five shekels (cf. Exod. 38:25-6) ...


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