For years now the Assembly of Called-Out Believers has taught classes on the Dead Sea Scrolls and we have received much positive feedback that we wanted to share a little overview for others to learn about the Dead Sea Scrolls as you will find below. The scrolls are a collection of 972 documents copied by the Essenes 2000 years ago, that were discovered in caves, near Qumran in 1947.
It is our belief that the Essenes who where copying and preserving the ancient scriptures were the true Zadok priests (the temple’s first High Priest) who were in hiding from the Greeks and Romans. This was also the secret family heritage of Yochanan (John the Baptist) and his father Zachariah the priest and why Yochanan and Yeshua spent so much time with the Essenes.
Although the Essenes lived in various cities, they congregated to live a communal monastic lifestyle that had strict membership requirements, rules, and rituals. They dedicated themselves to living an ascetic life that included voluntary poverty and abstaining from worldly pleasures. The Essenes were also known for their purity and holiness! Josephus records:
“Now there was one of these (one of the Essenes) . . . whose name was Manahem . . . he not only conducted his life after an excellent manner, but had the foreknowledge of future events given him by God.
Below is a short description of each of the sepher (scrolls) that were found:
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.
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.
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 Physiognomies
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 Century BCE.
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 Brontologion
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 Daniel.
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 Mysteries
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 God.
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 wisdom.
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 Targum of Job
This small scroll found in Cave 11 has a large portion, in Aramaic, of the last seven chapters of the Book of Job. Twenty-seven small fragments deal with parts of Job 17:14 to 36:33. It represents, along with the small fragments of Leviticus and another scroll of Job also found in Cave 4, the oldest existing text of the Hebrew Bible.
The Targum of Leviticus
This small portion of the Targum of Leviticus was discovered in Cave 4. Along with the Targum of Job, it is one of the oldest existing text of the Hebrew Bible. Appendix:
Greek Bible Translations
Greek documents found in Cave 4 and 7 are few. Those associated with the Pentateuch are the fragments of two scrolls of Leviticus, one of Numbers, and one of Deuteronomy, all which were found in Cave 4 and dated to the 2nd or 1st Century BCE. The two fragments from Cave 7 are fragments of exodus 28 and the Letter of Jeremiah. Both fragments are dated to around 100 BCE.
Other Greek Fragments
The other two Greek fragments from Cave 4 are dated around the turn of the era. One cannot be identified and the other is possibly an apocryphal account of Israel during their time in Egypt or a paraphrase of Exodus. There are 19 minute fragments of Greek papyrus found in Cave 7. The fragments are considered to be unidentifiable by the editors.
The Reworked Pentateuch
In Cave 4, 5 badly preserved scrolls were found. They are classed as re-workings of the Pentateuch. The Reworked Pentateuch was possibly the largest of all the scrolls judging from the fragments found at Qumran. The 5 scrolls are dated to the 1st Century BCE.
A Paraphrase of Genesis and Exodus
Nine fragments of a paraphrase of Genesis 1-4 and 6-9 were discovered in Cave 4. The text is written in Hasmonaean characters. Other unidentified fragments were also found in Cave 4.
The Genesis Apocryphon
The Genesis Apocryphon manuscript was found in Cave 1 at Qumran. It is incomplete with 22 columns of Aramaic text. Another column “The Genesis Apocryphon Column XII was also found. It appears that the beginning 16 sheets are missing. Only the end of sheet 16 survived. The theme of the scroll seems to be the creation, Adam and Eve, and creation up until Enoch, Noah’s birth,
Abraham’s journey to Egypt and the divine promise to Abraham of a divine son.
This manuscript is dated to the late 1st Century BCE or the first half of the 1st Century CE. The dating of the composition itself is the 2nd Century BCE.
The fragments of Genesis Commentaries were found in Cave 4 at Qumran. They speak of the biblical flood in respect to the solar calendar of the Qumran community, the cursing of Canaan by Noah, the blessing of Judah, and the royal power forever belonging to the line of David. It is considered to have been composed in the first half of the 1st Century BCE. Only four small fragments are extant.
Commentaries on Isaiah
Fragments of five commentaries on Isaiah were found in Cave 4. Four of those five were translatable. The fifth is much to mutilated to be translated into English. The first fragments deals with the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 11. Fragments two and three speak of Jewish opponents of the Qumran sect. Fragment four deals with the community as the New Jerusalem (Isaiah 55). The fifth small fragment is a commentary on Isaiah, but is not continuous. All the fragments originated in the 1st Century BCE.
Commentaries on Hosea
In cave 4, two fragments of a commentary on Hosea were found. It contains references to the “unfaithful wife”, “the furious young lion”, and “the last Priest who shall strike Ephraim”.
Commentary on Micah
The very small fragments of a commentary on Micah were found in Caves 1 and 4. Some of the fragments are possibly biblical. The Qumran speaker relates Judah and Jerusalem to the Teacher of Righteousness and the community and connects Samaria to the “Spouter of Lies”.
Commentary on Nahum
Large remnants of the Commentary on Nahum scroll were discovered in Cave 4. The commentary deals with Chapters 1 and 2 and the first 14 verses of Chapter 3 of the biblical book of Nahum. The scroll is dated to the 2nd half of the 1st Century BCE.
Commentary on Habakkuk
This scroll, found in Cave 1 at Qumran, is very well preserved. It deals with the first two chapters of the Book of Habakkuk. The scroll has been carbon dated to 30-1 BCE and by radio carbon testing to the date of 120-5 BCE. The Commentary on Habakkuk is an essential tool for studying the origins of Qumran and community’s theology of prophecy.
Commentary on Zephaniah
One badly preserved fragment of the scroll was found in Cave 1 and two other small pieces were discovered in Cave 4. They deal with the biblical Zephaniah.
Commentary on Psalms
A few fragments of Psalms 57 and 58 were found in Cave 1. They are mostly all too small for translation, but fragments 9-10 speak of Kittim. Two other fragments from Cave 4 relate to Psalms, mainly Psalms 37. Parts of Psalms 65 and 127 also survive.
Commentary on an Unidentifiable Text
The fragments of a biblical commentary were recovered from Cave 4. Only fragment two is preserved well enough to translate.
Florilegium or Midrash of the Last Days
This collection of texts gleaned from 2nd Samuel, the Psalter, and other scriptures make up a manuscript of sectarian doctrine. The subjects of the scroll are the coming of the two Messiahs, the “Branch of David” and “Interpreter of the Law”. It is thought to be of the late 1st Century BCE.
Testimonia or Messianic Anthology
Dating to the early 1st Century BCE, this short scroll consisting of five quotations contains two text from Deuteronomy, an extract from a prophecy of Balaam concerning the Royal Messiah, a blessing of the Levites and the Priest-Messiah, and a verse from Jousha. The scroll was discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran.
Ordinances or Commentaries on Biblical Law
Three scrolls found in Cave 4 are dated possibly to the turn of the era. The text deals with provisions for the poor in the field and on the threshing floor, the half-shekel tax for the upkeep of the site of worship, a prohibition against selling an Israelite into slavery, forbidding an exchange of garments between the sexes, which cases would be judged by 12 magistrates, and the accusations of a man against his wife concerning her virginity at the time of their marriage.
The Heavenly Prince Melchizedek
The 1st Century BCE scroll, The Heavenly Prince Melchizedek, consists of 13 fragments found in Cave 11. The text describes Melchizedek as being identical Michael, the Archangel. He is also spoken of as “Elohim” and “El”. Melchizedek is shown presiding over the condemnation and judgment of Belial (Satan). This scroll gives us insight into the Epistle of the Hebrews Chapter 7 where it speaks of Melchizedek and also into the New Testament concept of the Messiah.
Consolations or Tanhumim
Divine consolation is the theme of these small fragments discovered in Cave 4. They deal with verses in Isaiah, Psalms, and Zechariah.
Catenae or Interpretation of Biblical Texts on the Last Days
Over 30 fragments make up the two documents of the Interpretation. Badly fragmented, the text is not coherent. The quotations that are deciphered are from Psalms, The Book of the Law, The Book of Ezekiel, and The Book of Jeremiah. The overall theme is eschatology, “the end of days”.
Biblically Based Apocryphal Works
Jubilees were know prior to the discovery of small fragments of the text in Hebrew found at Qumran. These fragments were found in Caves 1, 2, 3, 4, and 11. There were known copies of a complete Ethiopic text and partial Greek, Syriac, and Latin manuscripts. Jubilees is a retelling of the Genesis story and the first part of the Exodus. It takes the form of a revelation to Moses delivered by angels. Some of the Qumran fragments are large and can be translated into English. The 4Q216 scroll is possibly the earliest manuscript of Jubilees and is dated to the last quarter of the 2nd Century BCE. 4Q225 is considered to have been written at the turn of the era, 4Q226 to the 2nd half of the 1st Century BCE, and 4Q227 to the final decades of the 1st Century BCE. A badly preserved scroll (fragment 2 of 4Q227) is focused on Enoch, the angels, and the Watchers. It also speaks of Enoch’s astronomical writings.
The Prayer of Enosh and Enoch
A manuscript consisting of ten fragments (including three large fragments) was found in Cave 4. These fragments appear to be a recording of prayers. The first fragment seems to be linked to Enosh (line 10 in fragment 1, column 1 mentions Enoch).
The Book of Enoch and The Book of Giants
The original Aramaic texts of the Book of Enoch have been found in Caves 1, 2, and 4 at Qumran. There is a complete Ethiopic translation and various chapters exist in Greek. In Cave 4, seven copies much like the Ethiopic Enoch and four copies of the Book of Giants were found. They are all dated between 200 BCE and the end of the pre-Christian era. Most of the fragments are too small for translation. There are some differences between the Ethiopic text and the scrolls of Qumran; the Book of Parables is missing in the Qumran text and the section on astronomy is much more developed in the text from Qumran. The Book of Giants is not present in the Ethiopic text. Themes of the Qumran text fragments are the names of the twenty leaders of the fallen angels and the amazing birth of Noah.
An Admonition Associated with the Flood
This text, discovered in Cave 4, is based on Genesis Chapters 6-9. Only two fragments have survived, and of the two, only one is translatable. It is dated to the first half of the 1st Century BCE, but the composition of the Admonition is thought to be pre-Qumran.
The Ages of Creation
This scroll deals with the fallen angels and the daughters of men. The manuscript from Cave 4 is in a bad state of preservation.
The Book of Noah
The remains of what seems to be a Book of Noah were discovered in Caves 1, 4, and 6. This book of Noah is mentioned in Chapters 10:13 and 21:10 of Jubilees and in the Aramaic text of the Genesis Apocryphon and Enoch. The Cave 1 and 4 fragments tell of the miraculous birth of Noah. The Cave 1 fragments also tell of the state of mankind before the flood. The Cave 6 fragments speak of Noah’s birth.
Words of the Archangel Michael
In the scroll text found in Caves 4 and 6, Michael the Archangel speaks to the angels (Gabriel in particular). He relates a vision which is possibly concerning the building of the tower of Babel. The Aramaic text fragments are in very poor shape.
The Testament of Levi
Found in Cave 4, a damaged section of two columns of text contain parts of Levi’s prayer. The same text in Greek exist at Mt Athos and dates to the 11th Century.
Testaments of the Patriarchs:
The Testament of Levi
The Testament of Levi scroll was found in Cave 4 and consist of numerous fragments. The Testament is most likely that of Jacob, Levi’s father. The scroll is dated to the end of the 2nd Century BCE and contains information about a priestly figure that encounters opposition because of the wickedness prevalent in his generation. Other small fragments found are classes as belonging to a Testament of Judah and a Testament of Joseph.
The Testament of Naphtali
Dating to the turn of the era, two fairly intact fragments of the Hebrew text of The Testament of Naphtali were found in Cave 4. The theme of fragment 2 is a blessed end time and is possible part of a sectarian text.
A Joseph Apocryphon
The two fragments of A Joseph Apocryphon were found in Cave 4. The texts, extremely fragmented, are dated to the second half of the 1st Century BCE.
The Testament of Qahat
Two fragments in Aramaic, one complete and one in a bad stat of preservation, of the Testament of Qahat were discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran. The text is “death-bed” literature; a moralizing manuscript. It is dated by Carbon 14 testing to probably 388-353 BCE or 303-325 BCE. The text is non-sectarian.
The Testament of Amram
The five or six fragmented copies of The Testament of Amram were found in Cave 4 at Qumran. The theme of the text is an admonition by Amram to his children. Some of the text is borrowed from the book of Exodus. Part of the text deals with a vision in which Amram sees Melkiresha’, the Chief Angel of Darkness. He also speaks to the Chief of the Army of Light (Possibly Melchizedek).
The Words of Moses
A farewell speech by Moses is the theme of the Words of Moses scroll. Found in Cave 1, the text of the four columns is badly preserved. The text relies on different scriptures from Deuteronomy.
Sermon on the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan
Of the 16 fragments of this scroll found in Cave 4, only one is large enough for a coherent translation. The scroll tells of the Exodus and the occupation of Canaan.
A Moses Apocryphon (a)
A Moses Apocryphon (a) scroll is much like the Pentateuch. It gives instructions on how a person claiming to be a prophet should be treated. In column 11 there is a sacrificial ritual. The fragments were located in Cave 4 at Qumran.
A Moses Apocryphon (b)
This text is a re-working of exodus 28:9-12. It deals with the subject of the two stones in the shoulder pieces of the High Priests’ garment. Also, the secular head of the community is discussed. These fragments were found in Cave 4.
Moses Apocryphon (c)
Found in Cave 4 at Qumran, this text tells of Eliab, an elder who curses the Jews who do not observe the Law while Moses was on the mountain with God.
Pseudo-Moses (e) is undoubtedly related to Jubilees and also, possibly, to the Damascus Document. The text is said to be a divine speech addressed to Moses. The date of this work is possibly 2nd Century BCE, no later than 134-104 BCE.
A Moses (or David) Apocryphon
The three small fragments of A Moses (or David) Apocryphon found in Cave 4 deal with a historical rendition of an unknown speaker. Og, King of Bashan is the only actual name mentioned in the text.
Divine Plan for the Conquest of the Holy Land
In Caves 4 and 5 at Qumran, two badly preserved columns and several small fragments of this scroll were found. The narrative seems to tell of the future conquest and the division of the Holy Land. The manuscript appears related to Joshua because of a list of areas, several which appear in Joshua 15-21. The Conquest of Zion by David and the building of the Temple are also included in the text.
A Joshua Apocryphon (i) or Psalms of Joshua
A poorly preserved scroll sometimes erroneously designated as The Psalms of Joshua was discovered in Cave 4. The text is a re-written account of Joshua. The manuscript is fragmented into 27 very small pieces and 41 other small pieces of 4Q379. The text appears to be a farewell speech by Joshua along with admonitions, prayers, and curses. Also contained in the text are songs of praise and a prayer listing the 12 Tribes of Israel.
A Joshua Apocryphon
Two fragments that are at the end of the Book of Joshua were discovered at Masada. The fragments are dated at the turn of the era.
The Samuel Apocryphon
The Samuel Apocryphon scroll fragments found in Cave 4 relate to the book of Samuel. They include a prayer, a discussion between Eli and Samuel, a narrative, and an autobiographical speech.
A Paraphrase on Kings
The 154 papyrus fragments, dated to the first half of the 1st Century BCE, are a type of paraphrase of the Books of Kings. They were found in Cave 4.
An Elisha Apocryphon
The Elisha Apocryphon consists of three tiny fragments of the Hebrew text of 2nd Kings 2:14-16 with paraphrase. They were discovered in Cave 4.
A Zedekiah Apocryphon
The three poorly preserved fragments of A Zedekiah Apocryphon, an early Herodian missive, speak of King Zedekiah talking with Michael the Archangel and the covenant Michael promises to make with the King. This text speaks kindly of King Zedekiah. This scroll was discovered at Qumran in Cave 4.
A Historico-theological Narrative based on Genesis and Exodus
This scroll is a historical account related from a theological viewpoint. The theme of the text is that God is to remember Jerusalem after much humiliation and oppression. 4Q462 contains two joined fragments which are dated to the mid 1st Century BCE. The fragments are badly preserved.
Tobit is an apocryphal book found in a short and long Greek text. In Cave 4 at Qumran, four Aramaic and one Hebrew scrolls were discovered. Two of those manuscripts had many extracts of the Book of Tobit from the Semitic original. The first three scrolls are dated to the 1st Century BCE, the 2 remaining scrolls to 30 BCE-20CE.
A Jeremiah Apocryphon
These two columns of a scroll found in Cave 4 give an apocryphal account of Jeremiah’s life. These fragments are thought to be part of an Ezekiel Apocryphon. It is believed the manuscript dates to the end of the 1st Century BCE.
The New Jerusalem
In Caves 1,2,4,5, and 11, fragments of the New Jerusalem scroll were found. The fragments were in Hebrew and Aramaic and describe the New Jerusalem. Ezekiel 60-68 and Revelation 21 inspired the manuscript. The theme of the scroll is the measuring and detailing of the New Jerusalem. An angel measures and details everything about the city; dimensions of rooms, size of the blocks of the houses, streets, stairs, windows and rooms. The measurements used by the angel are “reeds” of seven “cubits”. This scroll is dated to around the turn of the era.
The fragments of the apocryphal Second Ezekiel were found in Cave 4 at Qumran. The subject of the text is a discussion between God and Ezekiel. It also tells of Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones and the Chariot. The fragments of the scroll are dated to approximately mid-1st Century BCE.
The Prayer of Nabonidus
This fragmented scroll found in Cave 4 is a narrative concerning the illness and miraculous recovery of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon. It is similar to the story of King Nebuchadnezzar found in the Book of Daniel. The manuscript was probably written in the late 2nd Century or early 1st Century BCE.
More fragments much like the Book of Daniel were discovered in Cave 4. Daniel’s name appears three times in the text. The fragments are too small for coherent translation.
The Four Kingdoms
The poorly preserved Aramaic fragments found in Cave 4 refer to the tale of the four empires in the Book of Daniel, but use four trees as a metaphor for the empires.
An Aramaic Apocalypse
An Aramaic Apocalypse, also known as The Son of God fragment was discovered at Qumran in Cave 4. There is much controversy about the identity of the “Son of God” spoken of in the text. The manuscript fragment is much like the apocalyptic section in the Book of Daniel.
Dated to the second half of the 1st Century BCE, these badly damaged text fragments recall the biblical story of Esther. The Aramaic text fragments were found in Cave 4.
The Copper Scroll
In 1952, in Cave 3 at Qumran, archaeologists discovered The Copper Scroll. So badly oxidized, the scroll could not be unfolded. In 1956 it was sent to Manchester College of Science and Technology where Professor H. Wright Baker carefully took the scroll and divided it into longitudinal strips. It was then returned to Jordan. The scroll is like a treasure map listing 64 hiding places in Jerusalem and some of the districts of Palestine where the Temple treasures are supposed to be hidden. From the list of treasures spoken of in the scroll, the fortune could possible be up to 65 tons of silver and 26 tons of gold. Some believe the scroll to be a work of fiction penned about 100 CE. Others believe the scroll to be genuine. Their thinking on the matter is this: If the text of the scroll was not a true story, why engrave it on a valuable metal instead of papyrus or leather? This is still a point of discrepancy among scholars.
List of False Prophets
Dated to the Herodian period, these Aramaic fragments of a short list of false prophets was discovered in Cave 4. The first six false prophets named are biblical.
List of Netinim
The very poorly preserved fragments of a list of netinim (temple servants) was found in Cave 4. The temple servants are spoken of in 1st Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. The text is dated to the first half of the 1st Century BCE.
Entry Into The Covenant
This very small fragment of a document which describes the entry into the covenant comes from Cave 4. The entry is also known from Community Rule. It speaks of the Feast of Weeks of Pentecost.
Four Classes of the Community
From Cave 4, this tiny fragment of a manuscript shows the division of the community into four separate classes.
The Two Ways
This fragmented text takes its inspiration from Deuteronomy 11:26-28. It was found in Cave 4.
This two-sided fragment found in Cave 4 has the beginning of Community Rule on one side and a poem akin to the Qumran Hymns on the other.
Two Qumran Ostraca
In 1996 these two Hebrew Ostraca (pot shards) were found at the base of the eastern wall which separates the cemetery from the community center at Qumran. They are dated to the 1st Century CE. Fragment one speaks of a gift of a slave, an estate, and produce.
We hope this overview of the Dead Sea Scrolls blesses you in your spiritual understanding and growth!
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2021 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.