The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Rules

The Community Rule
The Community Rule scroll was discovered in Cave 1 at Qumran and was published in 1951 by M. Burrows. (“The Manual of Discipline” (“The Dead Sea Scrolls of St Mark’s Monastery”) II, New Haven, M. Burrows) Ten other manuscript fragments of The Community Rule were discovered in Cave 4. Thought to have originated sometime around 100 BCE, it is possibly one of the oldest scrolls found. The manuscript deals with liturgical ceremonies, truth and falsehood, a penal code, initiation into the sect, and a section on religious duties and sacred seasons.

Community Rule Manuscripts from Cave 4
Found in Cave 4, these manuscript fragments are the best preserved of the ten. Fragments found are the beginning of The Community Rule scroll.

The Damascus Document
The Damascus Document fragments were discovered in three of the caves at Qumran: 4Q, 5Q, and 6Q. There are also two incomplete copies found in 1896-1897. These two copies were found in a storage room in a Cairo synagogue. They were published in 1910 by S Schechter (“Fragments of a Zadokite Work”, Cambridge) and reprinted as “The Zadokite Documents”, Oxford 1954. The Cairo documents date from the 10th and 12th centuries. The Qumran documents suggest that the manuscripts were written around 100 BCE. The Damascus Document contains two sections: an Exhortation and a list of Statutes.

The Messianic Rule
The Messianic Rule scroll was originally included in the Community Rule. Although complete, the bad state of preservation makes the translation of manuscript extremely hard. The scroll was originally published by D. Barthelemy in 1955 as “The Rule of the Congregation”. It is thought to have been written in the mid-first century BCE.

The War Scroll
In 1955, the War Scroll was published as “The Dead Sea Scrolls by the Hebrew University” (Jerusalem). Found in Cave 1 at Qumran, the 19 columns of the scroll were badly mutilated. Other fragments were found in Cave 4. The War Scroll is thought to have been written sometime after the mid-first century BCE to the beginning of the 1st Century CE. The author of the manuscript made use of the Book of Daniel. The War Scroll contains rules for the military, religious preparations, and how the fighting was to be conducted.

The Rule of War
The Rule of War fragments found in Caves 4 and 11 are the missing end sections of the War Scroll.

The Temple Scroll
The Temple Scroll, measuring 28 feet, is the longest of the Qumran manuscripts. It was discovered in Cave 11 in 1954, but did not emerge until the Six Day War in 1967. The scroll deals with the Temple buildings and furnishings, sacrifices on the Sabbath, and the different feast. The laws found in the work depend on Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. It has been dated to mid-first century BCE.

MMT (Some Observances of the Law)
Found in Cave 4, the six fragments of the MMT, when combined, make up 120 lines of fragmented text. The manuscript contains a sectarian calendar, a series of special rules, and ends with an exhortation. Although often referred to as an epistle, the scroll is more of a legal treatise. It is important as a source of ancient legal discussions.

The Wicked and the Holy
The Wicked and the Holy fragmented manuscript was discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran. The document details the destinies of the wicked and the holy.

4Q Tohorot (Purities) A
Ten manuscripts, found in Cave 4, define purity matters. 4QA deals with issues of blood, bodily fluxes and their removal.

4Q Tohorot B-C
4Q B-C, found in Cave 4, deal with the “red Heifer” purification laws. Numbers 19 is often quoted in the text.

4Q Torohorot G (Leget)
4QG is a mid-first century manuscript that deals with unclean fruits. It, too, was discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran.

Exhortations by the Master Addressed to the Sons of Dawn
This manuscript, found at Qumran in Cave 4, is written in a cryptic alphabet. The eight fragments deal with the opening of the Damascus Document. It is thought to have been written in the second half of the 1st Century BCE.

Register of Rebukes
The only Scroll discovered at Qumran that reveals names of the community members, fragmented columns of the Register of Rebukes were found in Cave 4. It contains a list of members that were rebuked for various infractions of the community law.

A small fragment of a manuscript found in Cave 4 reveals reproofs, in the context of war, to a group of wicked Jews.

Hymns and Poems

The Thanksgiving Hymns
Because of the deterioration of the Hymns Scroll, found in Cave 4, it is hard to determine the beginnings and endings of each of the poems. The physical condition of the Scroll also made it extremely hard for the translator to make sense of them. Similar to the Psalms of the Bible, they are hymns of individual prayers and thanksgiving. They are rich in doctrine and spiritual detail. Salvation and knowledge are the primary themes of the hymns. The Hymns Scroll was published in 1954 by E. L. Sukenik. (“The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University”, Jerusalem)

Apocryphal Psalms (I)
The Psalms Scroll from Cave 11 is an incomplete manuscript. It contains seven non-canonical poems, Ps 151, and four others that have been preserved in a Syriac translation, and a portion from the Hebrew text of Sirach. It is believed that the psalms were written in the 2nd Century BCE, or possibly 3rd Century BCE.

Apocryphal Psalms (II)
In Cave 4, a fragmented Psalms Scroll containing three of the Apocryphal Psalms was found.

Apocryphal Psalms (III)
The Apocryphal Psalms III, a badly fragmented and worn scroll, discovered in Cave 11, deals partly with exorcism. It is almost impossible to coherently read the manuscript due to its poor condition.

Non-canonical Psalms
Two manuscripts, both in very poor condition, were discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran. The first consisted of seven fragments, the second 110. These fragments contained text much like the biblical Psalms. Due to the poor condition of the manuscripts, not one full line has remained intact. Very few lines could be translated. Three of the Psalms are named; “Psalms of Obadiah”, “Hymn of the Man of God”, and “Prayer of Manasseh, King of Judah when the King of Assyria Imprisoned Him”. (For further information see “Non-Canonical Psalms from Qumran: A Pseudepigraphic Collection” by Eileen Schuller, Harvard Semitic Studies 28, Scholar Press, Atlanta, 1986).

In Cave 4 were found several fragments of a poem that seems to be inspired by the biblical Book of Lamentations. In poor condition, only fragment 2 is long enough for translation. The fragments are dated to the second half of the 1st Century BCE.

Songs for the Holocaust of the Sabbath
Containing eight manuscripts from Cave 4, small fragments from Cave 11, and a large fragment found at Masada, The Songs for the Holocaust of the Sabbath are manuscripts containing angelic praises of God dealing with the first 13 Sabbaths (the 1st quarter of the solar year). The poems portray the simultaneous heavenly and earthly worship, the celestial sanctuary, the throne chariot, the various groups of angels engaged in the liturgy, and the words of the song of the seven archangels. The content of the scroll finds its inspiration in the Book of Ezekiel (especially chapters 1 and 10). It is probable that that the manuscript was written in the 1st Century BCE.

Poetic Fragments on Jerusalem and ‘King’ Jonathan
The beginning part of the fragment of this scroll (Column A) is an unknown Halleluiah Psalms; the last three lines belong to Psalm 154 found in the Psalms Scroll. At the end of the fragment, it speaks of God’s presence in Zion-Jerusalem. Column B, a complete fragment, has as its theme a blessing of God’s name and kingdom in behalf of the people of Israel. Column C speaks of Israel, God’s name and kingdom, and the ‘day of war’. There is some contention that the Poetic Fragments scroll is not a sectarian work.

Part 2

“The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls In English”

Links to On-line Study Resources on the Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls
Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls - Qumran Library

Dead Sea Scrolls Web Page of the University of St Andrews

at Books for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, Robert Eisenman & Michael Wise, Penguin Books, 1992
The Dead Sea Scriptures, Theodor H. Gaster, Peter Smith Publishing, 1976
The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, Florentino Garcia Martinez, William B. Eerdmans, 1996
Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr. & Edward Cook, Harper, 1996