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A Day At Qmran. The Dead Sea Sect and it’s Scrolls. Introduction. 2000-year-old scrolls discovered in 1947 Near Dead Sea at Qumran Jewish Sect lived there Many scholars think they were Essenes. Jewish Society Second Temple Period 167 BCE – 70 CE. Many Judaisms Pharisees Saducees

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a day at qmran

A Day At Qmran

The Dead Sea Sect and it’s Scrolls

  • 2000-year-old scrolls discovered in 1947
  • Near Dead Sea at Qumran
  • Jewish Sect lived there
  • Many scholars think they were Essenes
jewish society second temple period 167 bce 70 ce
Jewish SocietySecond Temple Period167 BCE – 70 CE
  • Many Judaisms
  • Pharisees
  • Saducees
  • Essenes
  • Early Christians
  • Other sects
how do we know sources
How do we know?Sources:
  • Flavius Josephus –Jewish Historian
  • Philo of Alexandria
  • Information from Scrolls themselves
  • Archaeological data
sectarians way of life
Sectarians Way of Life
  • Concept of Separation – they lived apart
  • Disapproved of Temple Priesthood
  • “The body is corruptible and its constituent matter impermanent, but the soul is immortal and imperishable
why did they separate
Why did they separate?
  • Disapproved of Temple priesthood
  • Maccabees (Jonathan) usurped priesthood from Zadoc priestly family
  • Jewish rulers kings as well as high priests
  • Protesters eliminated – sometimes crucified
new sects in protest
New Sects in Protest
  • New sects sprang up
  • Thought they were the true worshipers of God
  • Prayed for Messiah who would restore purity to temple
  • Essenes were such a sect
concept of time
Concept of Time
  • Believed God revealed calendar to them
  • We know this from the scrolls, sundial
  • Solar Calendar – 364 day year
  • Other Jews – till today use the Lunar Calendar
  • Celebrated festivals on different days from other Jews
  • Festivals always fell on same day of week
beliefs that differed
Beliefs that differed
  • Predestination rather than choice
  • Dualism
  • Sons of Light and Sons of Darkness
  • Main building at Qmran not a dwelling
  • Center of activities during day
  • Inhabitants slept nearby in caves, tents, huts
  • Combs, mezuzot, oil lamps, pottery found
  • Network of paths
  • Nails from sandals on path between caves and main building
  • Lived in desert
  • Desert a symbol of Purity
  • Cut off from rest of world
  • Believed the End of Days was near
  • They would then go to Jerusalem and get the Temple back from the Wicked Priest
morning prayer
Morning Prayer
  • Rise, wash, dress in linen – go to main center
  • Observe together mitzvah of daily prayer
  • Wore tefillin – oldest were found on site
  • Similar to today’s though some content different – e.g. Ten Commandments added
  • Weekdays all members work
  • Functioned as a self-sufficient unit
  • Most members young unmarried men
  • Used areas natural resources to live
farming and animal husbandry
Farming and Animal Husbandry
  • Ran a farm near Ain Feshka - 1mile away
  • Ain Feshka an abundant source of water
  • Grew date palms
  • Farming implements found
  • Grew grain – mainly barley
  • Hunted gazelle possibly bred fish and kept herds
  • Crafts and industries
  • Probably prepared own parchment
  • Made pottery – workshop and kiln, pots found
  • Evidence of textiles and weaving
  • Some products sold in markets nearby
first kibbutz
First Kibbutz?
  • Communal property and labor
  • Hoard of silver coins found
  • Money given to bursar by sects new members?
  • Ostracon found –a deed of gift
  • Transfer of ownership of new member’s property to sect
  • Before noon stopped work for purification
  • Ritual immersion necessary before communal meal
  • Elaborate water system – 3 cisterns, mikvaot
  • Mikvaot created near refectory
  • Not uncommon then but sect had different rules
ritual immersion
Ritual Immersion
  • Only permitted to members of the sect to immerse
  • Just like priests immersed before serving in sanctuary at Temple in Jerusalem
  • Sect replaced temple rituals of sacrifice
  • Sign of repentance and spiritual purity – like John the Baptist
communal meal
Communal Meal
  • Ate communal meal in large refectory
  • More than 1000 utensils found most intact
  • Ate on mats
  • Diet – bread, dates, honey, olives, pomegranites, dairy products, some meat
community replaced temple
Community replaced Temple
  • Daily communal meals spiritual substitute for sacrifices
  • Would explain mikvah before each meal
  • Only full members of sect participated
  • Women, children not allowed into Qmran
  • Returned to tasks after meal
  • Some studied sacred texts – Torah and Prophets
  • New members brought scrolls with them
  • Some were copied in the “scriptorium” or written by sectarians themselves
scriptorium and library
Scriptorium and Library
  • Scriptorium perhaps on upper floor
  • Inkwells found
  • Mainly written on parchment – a few papyrus
  • Reading room (benches along walls)
  • Perhaps library also upstairs
  • Scrolls – parchment sheaths sewn together
  • Scribe would mark columns and lines with sharp instrument
  • Wrote with sharpened reeds or metal
  • Used black ink – soot, resin, oil, water
  • Pottery shards to practice writing
  • About 900 scrolls found
  • Mostly written in Hebrew
  • Some in Aramaic – a very few in Greek
  • Some written in cryptographic script – not all decoded yet
  • Purification repeated in evening after chores
  • Another communal meal
  • Nights used for
      • Rest
      • Study
      • Judgement of members
      • Communal Prayer
  • Devoted entirely to worship study and prayer
  • Very strict
  • People punished if they yawned or spat
  • Thought their shabat songs were also sung by angels while they sang
  • Websites on the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • http://www.abc.net.au/religion/features/scrolls/more.htm
  • http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9707/26/dead.sea.scrolls/Good overview article with some excellent related sites
  • http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/index.htmlExcellent site of the Orion Centre for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature, at Hebrew University, replete with cave tour. Excellent links to latest research.
  • http://www.judaica.org/deadsea/index.htmlProject Judaica Foundation together with the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Library of Congress - a description of the issues involved in exhibiting the Scrolls at the Library.
  • http://www.judaica.org/deadsea/index.htmlDiscussion board about the scholarly disagreements and alignments in Scrolls research.
  • http://home.flash.net/~hoselton/deadsea/profile.htmSome thumbnail descriptions of principal figures (historical and otherwise) who come up in DeadSeaScroll research. Not complete.