The Dead Sea
Calendars, Liturgies, and Prayers
Calendars of Priestly Courses
The Calendars of Priestly Courses Scroll contains fragments of
eleven manuscripts of the ‘solar’ calendars of the community of
Qumran. The poorly preserved fragments record names of Jewish and
Roman political figures, dated historical facts, and the dates of
festivals and Sabbaths.
Calendric Signs (Otot)
This manuscript depicts a
system based on a weekly rotation of the 24 priestly courses. The
priestly courses were of a six-year period and were constructed into
six Jubilees consecutively.
Horoscope or Astrological
One Hebrew document and two
Aramaic documents found in Cave 4 at Qumran contain fragments of
‘horoscopes’ that claim a relationship between the features and
destiny of an individual and the position of the stars on the day of
his birth. These fragments date probably to the end of the 1st
Phases of the Moon
The phases of the moon are
contained in this fragmented text from Cave 4. Twenty-six fragments
of the scroll were found.
A Zodiacal Calendar with a
This fragmented calendar shows
the passage of the moon through the signs of the Zodiac during the
year, beginning with the month of Nisan and ending with Adar. The
fragments found begin in the month of Tevet, continue through
Tishri, and end with Adar.
At the end of the text, a brontologion (a prediction of ill-omens
interpretated by the sound of thunder on a certain day of the month)
tells of a famine and an invasion by a foreign army.
Order of Divine Office
Five fragments of a liturgical
work were discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran. The fragments consist of a
list of songs and words of praise that were to be sung during the
night and day on consecutive days of a month.
The Words of the Heavenly Lights
The Words of the Heavenly
Lights text contains three fragments of a manuscript. They are
collective prayers for days of the week. The date of mid-2nd Century
BCE is contested.
The fragments of the
Liturgical Prayer, found in Cave 1, are parts of a collection of
Jewish festival prayers. It is possible that the fragments are a
part of the Pentecostal Liturgy.
Prayers for Festivals
These fragments from Cave 4 relate partly to the Liturgical Prayer
scroll. Two of the prayers are directly associated with the Day of
Firstfruits and the Day of Atonement. They are dated to the
beginning of the 1st Century CE.
Evening and morning benedictions for each day of the month are
contained in the 225 papyrus fragments of the Daily Prayers
manuscript found in Qumran Cave 4. The calendar seems to be a lunar
calendar and the date of the writing is thought to be the first
quarter of the 1st Century BCE.
Prayer or Hymn Celebrating the
Morning and the Evening
This collection of prayers, discovered in Cave 4, was written around
100 BCE. The fragments are of a collection of liturgical prayers
that can only be translated in part due to their poor condition.
These fragments of a scroll that were originally part of a
manuscript that contains the Community Rule and Messianic Rule, were
found in Cave 1 at Qumran. They are blessings for the members of the
covenant, the priestly head of the community, the sons of Zadok, the
Priest, and the Prince of the congregation (The Messiah of Israel).
These fragments are dated to about 100 BCE.
In Cave 4 at Qumran there was found five fragments of a manuscript
consisting of liturgical blessings and curses. They correspond with
Community Rule II and War Rule XIII. Fragment 4Q286I corresponds
with the Songs of the Holocaust for the Sabbath.
These fragments of text found in Cave 4 are a communal confession of
sins. They are all written in the 1st person and in the language
style of Psalm LI, Jeremiah, Deuteronomy, the prayers of Ezra, and
These papyrus fragments (badly worn) from Cave 4 consist of prayers
for purification from different types of ritual uncleanness. They
were most possibly written in the early 1st Century BCE.
A Liturgical Work
Found in Cave 4 at Qumran, A Liturgical Work very much resembles the
language of the Thanksgiving Hymns.
Apocalyptic Chronology of Apocryphal Weeks
This fragmented manuscript found in Cave 4 consists of only seven
lines that are badly mutilated. It has been dated to the 1st Century
BCE. The content seems to belong to an apocalyptic world history
account and is divided into weeks of years. It could possibly be
focused on the Temple of Jerusalem.
Conquest of Egypt and Jerusalem or
Acts of a Greek King
Containing only broken lines, this fragment of ten lines calls to
mind the account in Daniel XI concerning the “King of the North”.
The fragment was found at Qumran in Cave 4.
The Triumph of Righteousness or
The fragments of this manuscript deal with the theme of the struggle
between good and evil. They were found in Caves 1 and 4 and the
fragments of Cave 4 are in very poor condition.
A Messianic Apocalypse
Often referred to as the “Resurrection Fragment”, this manuscript
consists of eleven fragments and six smaller pieces. The fragments,
found in Cave 4, are dated to the beginning of the 1st Century BCE
and they are like poetry of the late biblical period. In A Messianic
Apocalypse, resurrection and healing are connected to the Kingdom of
In Cave 4 at Qumran a fairly
well preserved, long text was found. The manuscript is a warning of
the danger of false doctrines. It uses the allegory of a harlot to
expound that point. The scroll is dated to the 1st Century BCE, but
could possibly be much older.
Exhortation to Seek Wisdom
A text dated from the first
half of the 1st Century BCE was discovered in Cave 4. The large
fragment tells of a teacher encouraging the people to search for
Parable of the Tree
In Cave 4 a badly preserved
fragment of this text was found. The opening lines are the only
articulate lines in the manuscript. They appear to be about a giant
‘good’ tree which produces thorns.
A Sapiential Work (i)
The first four lines from a
column of a Wisdom text are the only fragments of this work that
have been preserved.
A Sapiential Work (ii)
A Sapiential Work (ii) is a Wisdom manuscript that has survived in
six fragments, one from Cave 1 and five from Cave 4. They are ll
dated 30-1 BCE except for scroll 423 which is dated to the first
half of the 1st Century CE. The scrolls’ language is much like the
Community Rule, the Damascus Document, and the Thanksgiving Hymns.
Some of the subjects contained in the work are God as provider to
all his creatures, God as a permanent judge of the wicked, a modest
life, and a warning that God will try man.
A Sapiential Work (iii)
This Wisdom scroll, consisting of two badly fragment copies, was
discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran. It tells of a righteous man in
universal terms. It could be classed as sectarian because of its
relationship to the Community Rule scroll.
A Sapiential Work (iv)
This scroll, found in Cave 4, is instructions to a just man on the
way to gaining wisdom.
Bless My Soul
The five manuscripts found in Cave 4 is a composition in poetic
form. A sixth scroll (4Q439) is thought to be related to the Bless
My Soul Scroll.
Songs of the Sage
Small portions of a manuscript found in Cave 4 at Qumran deals with
Sapiential psalms and exorcism poems. This scroll is thought to have
been written at the end of the 1st Century BCE. An interesting
feature of the first fragment is a list of the names of demons.
This scroll found in Cave 4 recalls the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 in
the New Testament.
“The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls In
On-line Study Resources on the
Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls
Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea
Dead Sea Scrolls - Qumran Library
Dead Sea Scrolls Web Page of the University of
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