QUMRAN Site of the Monastary inhabited by the Essenes where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. Destroyed in 67 CE by the Romans, some of its inhabitants became Judeo-Christians (Ebionites).
The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls was of greatest interest to all the peoples of the world. Not only a wonderful archaeological find of immeasurable importance, it also was of theological and historical importance to all Biblical scholars of the three great religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
The "People of the Scrolls", known as the Essenes, were the followers of a man referred to in the scrolls as "the Righteous Teacher", who revolted against the Maccabean priesthood of that time in Jerusalem, claiming that these were "the wicked priests" that defiled Judaism. The Essenes, therefore, withdrew from the major cities and founded communities of their own, among which Qumran seems to have been their capital and was called "Salt".
Entering into the sect of the Essenes required several years' probation and once admitted the neophite was made to swear terrible oaths, including an oath never to divulge the secrets of the order. Members shared all their worldly possessions, renounced pleasures of the flesh, practiced humility, lived with brotherly love and followed the teachings of Moses.
Khirbet Qumran was also a strong-hold against the marauding enemies and the attacks of Roman Legions. The excavations have shown that the city was surrounded by a wall, watch-tower and contained a bathhouse, a hall for the congregation, a potters' work-shop, a pantry, a refectory, a communal kitchen and, most important of all, the scriptorium, in which scrolls were laboriously handwritten on leather, papyrus, and on the famous copper scroll (treasure scroll). One can also see the remains of a water aqueduct and conduits leading the water from the cliffs to the cisterns inside their settlement. They studied, copied, commented on the Scriptures, lived a secular life until one day they saw the end coming, gathered up their precious manuscripts,wrapped them in materials and placed them inside jars and hid them away from tbeir settlement in the barren mountain caves. Other scrolls were just heaped hurriedly on the floor of the caves, others were thrown into hollowed out chambers.
In 1947 a shepherd was grazing his sheep in the desert near the Dead Sea. He was watching one of his goats straying up a steep track, in search of food; he called to it, but the goat went on climbing, and he finally picked himself and followed it. The hot sun drove him to take shelter for a few minutes under a rock and he looked across and saw a cliff with a cave entrance. Like any good Bedouin, in endless search for treasure, he picked up a stone and threw it into the cave.... and his stone crashed into pottery. The lad pulled himself up to the cave and he saw ranged against the side of the cave, jars, some broken and some intact. After calling another companion they entered the cave together... but instead of gold and silver they found old leather, old bundles of evil smelling rags. Disappointment was great, but they thought these leather pieces would come in, useful to resole their shoes, and on the weekly market day they went to Bethlehem to their usual cobbler who took them off their hands. To make a long story short, these scrolls, and many thereafter, found their way into the hands of scholars... and are what we call the "Dead Sea Scrolls". The Bedouins soon got wise of the fantastic value of their find and were selling them at $7.50 per sq. inch.
The finds include the Treasure Scroll,Commentaries on the Book of Nahum, the Habakkuk, the Psalms, the Rules of the Congregation, the Thanksgiving Scroll etc. A team of world scholars have been spending years trying to put these scrolls together, deciphering and transcribing them. Scholars have and are still using several rooms lent to them by the Palestine Archaeological Museum, Jerusalem, where many of the scrolls as well as other exhibits found in Qumran, as the tables and ink wells found in the scriptorium are on view.
A visit to Qumran has now become of primordial importance to the tourist of the Holy Land. It is also in Jerusalem, at the museum of the Department of Antiquities or at the Palestine Archaeological Museum that the majority of the finds of Khirbet Qumran are now partly exhibited and partly still under study for, new finds and acquisitions are always adding to the bulk of the material.
Excerps From The Scrolls
A. To all the Congregations of Israel: This is the rule for all the congregations of Israel till the end of time, when they will all join together to live and obey the precepts of the priests, sons of Saddouq and the men of their alliance who renounced the evil path of the people. It is them, the men of His will, those who had stayed within His Alliance, in the midst of unholiness in order to expiate for the country. When this will happen, they will group together all the followers, from children to women, they will proclaim in their ears all the precepts of the alliance, they will instruct them in all the rules of their ordinance lest they would get lost among the forsaken.
B. The Stages of access to responsibilities: This is the rule for all the members of the congregation, for every citizen of Israel. From his earliest youth, let every one be instructed in the book of meditation, and in accordance with his age, let him be taught the precepts of the alliance, so that he may be educated during the first ten years in conformity with the ordinance and progress..........................at the age of twenty he will be registered in the census in order that he may take part in the fate of his family within the Holy Congregation. He will not approach a woman for the purpose of sexual relations until the age of twenty when he shall distinguish between good and evil. And then his chosen woman will qualify to bring testimony against him in relation to the commandments of the law and to attend to the promulgation of the decisions. At that stage of completion, it is for................. at the age of twenty five, he will take his seat among the founders of the Holy Congregation and will devote himself to the service of the congregation. At the age of thirty he will present himself to defend a plea or propose a verdict thus proving his right for a seat among the chiefs of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the leaders of fifties or of tens, or to take his place among the judges or the executives of his tribe, a position adequate to the rank of his family. He will then exercise his functions and obey the priests, sons of Aaron and the chiefs of the elders of the congregation who are appointed to preside over the services and guide the congregation. As such and to the measure of his intelligence and merits, let every one stand ready to acquit himself of his responsibilities towards a group more or less important of his brothers. It is as such also that a higher or lower grade of dignity will be attributed to the one or the other. And when the man will reach an advanced age, his strength would determine his responsibility in the service of the Congregation. Let no simple minded take part in exercising authority over the Congregation, or defend a cause or lead the Congregation, or be vested with a military responsibility in times of war against nations. He will limit his duties to the registration of the members of his family among the active ones, and it is within his appointed responsibility that he will accomplish his duties to the best of his capabilities. As to the sons of Levi, they should stand ready to obey the sons of Aaron. Their duty will be to police the Congregation, to see that all members accomplish their duties, and that the elders of the congregation are obeyed, that they accomplish their functions of commanders, judges or executives of each numerical division, obeying the priests sons of Saddouq and the chiefs of the elders of the congregation.
C. Conditions of admission to the assembly: When a convocation takes place for an assembly, whether for a judgement, a debate in common, or a military mobilisation, the members will sanctify during three days in order to be ready for the fixed date. Those are the men who, above the age of twenty, will qualify to attend ...............All the wise men of the congregation, those who have proved their intelligence and education, the notables as well as the chiefs of tribes, the judges and executives, the chiefs of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the leaders of fifties and of tens and the levites. Those are the men of renown to be invited to attend and take part in the deliberations of Israel under the presidence of the sons of Saddouq. But none of those contaminated by any of the impurities that can touch man, may have access to the assembly of God. And whoever is contaminated by these impurities, rendering him unable to occupy a post within the congregation, as well as he, who is contaminated in his flesh, scarred in the feet or the hands, limping, blind, deaf, dumb, or contaminated by a physical defect in his sight, or also, an aged man too weak to stand straight among the elders; let none of these present themselves for the assembly, for the Holy Angels are present in the congregation. Yet if any member of these categories of contaminated ones has something to say, he will be interrogated in private, but let him not have access to the midst of the Holy Meeting for he is impure.
D. Order of seniority and participation to the banquet: This is the order of seniority of the men of renown who are invited to attend the common debates if God should grant the presence of the Messiah among them: Let the Priest take the place of Chief of the entire congregation of Israel. He will preside over the elders of the priests sons of Aaron who will take their places in accordance with their dignitary rank. Then will come the Messiah of Israel, presiding over the chiefs of thousands, each of them taking his place in accordance with the dignitary rank he occupied among his men. The chiefs of the Elders of the congregation will then take their places, presiding over the wise men of the Holy Congregation in keeping with everyone's dignitary rank. When united around a common table or to drink the wine, let no man lay his hand on bread or wine before the Priest, for he should be the first to bless the bread and the wine.........................This procedure will have to be adopted for any meal where ten or more men will be united.