The Land of the Dead Sea
The Caves and Qumran
Evidence from Antiquity
The Dead Sea Scrolls – Moreh ha-Zedek
The Dead Sea Scrolls – Pesher
The Dead Sea Scrolls – Hymns of Thanksgiving
The Dead Sea Scrolls – The Damascus Document
The Dead Sea Scrolls – New Covenant in the Land of Damascus
The Dead Sea Scrolls – The Community Rule
The Two Messiahs
The War Scroll
The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness
Christianity – a religion of duality
The Temple Scroll
The Temple of Solomon
The Eternity of Truth
“Some day the gold and the silver threads of the Gospel story will be disentangled, and men will know the two interpretations which can be put upon the events and episodes in the career of Jesus the Christ. The underlying true events give us great steps and developments in the work of the Christ as He ‘enveloped humanity in the mantle of love, grasped the rod of initiation on behalf of His brothers, and faced the Lord of Life Himself, unattended, unafraid and in His Own right.’ The episodes refer to happenings in the life of Jesus.” (*R&I)
In the May 1994 issue of Share International, Benjamin Creme made
the following statement:
“The Dead Sea Scrolls are a more accurate account of the events surrounding the life of Jesus than are the Biblical texts. Their discovery in 1947 and those of the Nag Hammadi Scrolls in 1945 was inspired by the Master Jesus to shed a clearer light on the events of that time in preparation for the Christ’s return today.”
Further, he identified the spiritual leader in the scrolls, the “Teacher of Righteousness”, as Maitreya, and the “Pierced Messiah” as the Master Jesus.
He said the documents were written in the 2nd century AD, but that it is not possible to reveal their authors. They were written as records of historical events, and there are other scrolls still to be discovered.
These simple statements challenge nearly every popular assumption that now exists about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most scholars say they were written in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC, and that the latest possible date is 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Most say they were written by the Essenes, a group of Jewish mystics. And most deny that the Teacher of Righteousness had any connection to Jesus, but taught 150 years before His birth.
Later we will return to these questions and consider on what grounds the statements of Creme might be justified.
The first scholars who gazed on the Dead Sea Scrolls never imagined them to be coexistent with the days of Jesus; they never thought it possible. But when the scrolls were translated in the late 1940s their contents told a story that electrified the world. Here were books the present world had never seen, written by a group of desert ascetics describing their lives and the times in which they lived. Here were copies of the Bible 1,000 years older than any known before. Their era, 200 BC-200 AD, is shrouded in mystery to church historians.
Despite its being one of the most fertile periods for religious ideas that the world has ever seen, vast stores of both Jewish and Christian documents from this time were lost to history because of simple and total fear, the writers were condemned and their books consigned to the flames. Copies of over 800 manuscripts, and 10s of thousands of fragments, many still awaiting translation, were found in caves near the Dead Sea in 1947.
The majority of documents are biblical works. Every book of the Old Testament except Esther is represented. There are Apocryphal works of “hidden” wisdom, the Book of Enoch, Jubilees, Ecclesiasticus. Some of these had long been suppressed, known only through the existence of a few copies. Of most interest have been the “sectarian books”, those that tell of the life and beliefs of the scroll writers.
Totally new to our eyes, they were found in almost complete copies and have been available for study for the past 45 years. Three words are always used to describe them: eschatological, apocalyptic, and messianic.
Each has to do with the “final days”, the end of the present world order and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Their discovery was like opening a window directly into the shrouded past. These are the writings that we address in this article. The writers call themselves the Sons of Zadok (a hereditary line of Jewish priests established in the time of King David) and their great leader the Teacher of Righteousness.
Their documents tell the story of a community that had retreated from mainstream Judaism and constructed a way of life utterly devoted to God. They believed they lived in the “end times”, and were themselves both a witness to its cataclysms, and a voice that upheld eternal righteousness. They held their Teacher in deep reverence and maintained a faith in his mission against a Jerusalem priesthood which severely persecuted and apparently killed him.
Within the community there was also a large faction of dissent, led by a “Man of Lies”. These traitors denied the Righteous Teacher and caused many of His followers to go astray. Their books are written in a manner that does not come easy to the modern mind, the allegory and self-righteousness of Old Testament expression, and the clues they give are all too sparse and veiled in caution. Still, they are works of rare beauty and well worth any effort taken to enter into their spirit and thought.
They may give us our best glimpse so far of the fervour and devotion of a group that was absolutely dedicated to Jesus’ mission and the way of life that He inspired. In the following pages we shall examine the scrolls from two perspectives:
As teachings containing certain aspects of the Ageless Wisdom, initiation, the interplay of Hierarchy and humanity, good and evil, and the simple code of ethics underlying all human advancement.
(2) As historical documents with a number of clues about this much debated era of history. We will turn for background to the work of three esotericists – Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey and Benjamin Creme.
This perspective throws a brighter light on Jesus’ mission and answers questions that are rarely addressed in His own churches. We shall adopt the unique focus that Creme’s preceding statements cast on the subject. Our underlying theme concerns humanity’s endless quest for Eternal Truth. Through untold ages this truth has emerged, varying in expression though identical in essence. Blavatsky claims that there are countless manuscripts hidden away in secret places.
The colossal libraries that were burned in antiquity may have lost many writings, but the most priceless of these, the wisdom teachings, were spirited away by the initiates of the time.
Commenting on the “unexpected and almost miraculous manner” in which they are sometimes discovered, she says: “One of the most surprising facts that has come under our observation is that students of profound research should not couple the frequent recurrence of these … discoveries of important documents, at the most opportune moments, with a premeditated design. Is it so strange that the custodians of ‘Pagan’ lore, seeing that the proper moment had arrived, should cause the needed document, book, or relic to fall as if by accident in the right man’s way?” (IUII, p.26)
With these thoughts in mind let us now enter into the world of the scrolls and touch a time 2,000 years old. Though different in many ways, it can’t help but remind us of our own, hovering on the edge of climactic change and full of promise for those who would seek the way of God. Like today, the world was blessed by the presence of Holy Ones, who, from sheer love, chose to enter our lives and lighten our path into the future.
The Land of the Dead Sea
West of Jerusalem there stretches a long descending plateau, 14 miles in length. It ends in a sheer drop to the Great Rift Valley; at 1,300 feet below sea level, it is the lowest spot on earth. In this valley is an ancient lake bed where the Dead Sea is located. In ancient days it was called Lake Asphaltitus for the massive chunks of asphalt it disgorged. Here an industry grew that supplied the royalty of Egypt the asphalt it used for preservation in its royal mummeries. Emptying into its northernmost point is the Jordan River.
Sixty miles to the north of that lies the Sea of Galilee. This is the land that Jesus walked, with its stern contrasts of succulence and desolation. Jesus had known this land before and ministered to its people in earlier lifetimes. (See Initiation Human and Solar, Alice A.Bailey, p.56)
In 1300 BC as Joshua, Son of Nun, he was trained by Moses to carry on his work. At Gilgal just north of the Dead Sea, he had parted the waters of the Jordan and led his people into the promised land. It is thought that Jesus was baptized at this very spot. As Jeshua in 500 BC he was the son of Jehozadek, the high priest, whose people were taken captive to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. When freedom came Jeshua returned to Jerusalem as the priestly successor to his father. In Greek, both Joshua and Jeshua are translated as Jesus.
There is in this land an area called the “wilderness”, mentioned in Joshua’s time as part of his kingdom (Js.15:61). In Luke 1:80 we read that John the Baptist grew up in the wilderness. Jesus, before His ministry, “… was led by the Spirit into the wilderness”
(Lk.4:1) for His 40 days of temptation.
Legend says this particular strip of land, hemming the western edge of the Dead Sea, is the very place where both had done their wandering. When reading travelers’ descriptions of the area one is struck by their total shock – there is something about the land that consumes the senses.
Moses described the Sinai during his 40 years of wandering as “… this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst.” Equally can it be said of the Dead Sea wilderness. Yet there are some who are drawn by its stark magnificence – its huge silences, its monastic barrenness. And those who watch the deep and lifeless waters say they change in color through the day as the sun describes its endless arc.
Around the lake bed are high cliffs inhabited by goats and ground creatures and birds. The entire plateau is cut through by wadis – stream beds that carry winter rains to the sea. An occasional spring is the only constant source of water. The Bedouin have long inhabited this land. They know the cliffs, with their water-hewn and man-hewn caves. They make their living, as best they can, in the life-starved desert.
It is said that the family of Muhammad Adh-Dhib was on its way to Bethlehem to sell contraband on the black market when he found the scrolls. He was a boy of 14, scrambling the cliffs and chasing his stray goat. Throwing a rock into a cave he heard the metallic clink of pottery. When he returned with his friends, they helped him pull from the cave the first storage jars that housed the scrolls, wrapped in linen and carefully preserved. Thus it began – it was as simple as that.
The Caves and Qumran
The story of those early years (found in most introductory texts on the scrolls), the purchasing of the scrolls, the race between Bedouin and Jew and European to uncover more – all of it played out in the middle of the Israeli war of independence – reads like an adventure tale of international intrigue.
In the end there were found 11 caves that contained documents, and many more that bore signs of habitation – eating utensils, lamps, religious objects. All were within three miles of a ruin that had long been considered the remains of a Roman fort. It was called Khirbet (ruin) Qumran and excavation uncovered a large complex of walls and water storage tanks that measured 200 feet by 300 feet. Rather than a residence, it seemed to be a community building, with large areas for eating or assembly. In one room were over 1,000 dishes, still neatly stacked, and similar to dishes found in the nearby caves. Jars identical to Adh-Dhib’s first find also linked the ruin to the caves. In the ruin was a potter’s kiln, a forge, a kitchen area, and writing tables. Two ink pots were found, one containing the residue of an extremely durable ink of a carbon composition.
Towards the lake shore was a cemetery of 1,100 graves. The remains were predominantly male, with no ornamentation, and all were oriented north to south. The most striking feature of the installation was its water system. An aqueduct had been built to funnel water from the nearest stream bed – Wadi Qumran. The coins that were found in the ruins showed the period of occupation to be between 200 BC and 135 AD. In 1951 the first radiocarbon test examined the linen cloths in which the scrolls were wrapped. The date determined for the cutting of their flax was c.33 AD.
Evidence from Antiquity
When scholars began translating the scrolls, they soon realized that an historical record, though little noted until the modern discoveries, already existed on the scrolls’ authors. A reference from Pliny the Elder (Roman naturalist, c.23-79 AD) pointed directly to the Qumran site:
“On the west side of the Dead Sea, but out of range of the noxious exhalations of the coast, is the solitary tribe of the Essenes, which is remarkable beyond all the other tribes in the whole world, as it has no women and has renounced all sexual desire, has no money, and has only palm trees for company. Day by day the throng of refugees is recruited to an equal number by numerous accessions of persons tired of life and driven thither by the waves of fortune to adopt their manners … Lying below the Essenes was formerly the town of Engedi … next comes Masada.”
Josephus (Jewish historian, c.37-95 AD) described three Jewish sects – the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. Claiming himself to have been a member of the Essenes for three years, he gave a description of their beliefs and lifestyle that closely followed those in the scrolls.
Philo Judaeus (Platonic philosopher, c.20 BC-50 AD) wrote not only of the Essenes, but also of their closely related order in Egypt – the Therapeutae.
In Isis Unveiled-II Helena Blavatsky writes of the mission of Jesus in Palestine and His connection with the Essenes. She claims the Essenes belonged to a larger, more ancient line of adepts called the nazars, “those set apart to consecrate their lives to God”. They were the initiates of the time.
In Galilee, a group called the Nazarenes had originated long before the time of Moses. Historians, in fact, have failed to find a town called Nazareth in the days of Jesus. The term may have described, not His home, but his affiliation with this group of initiates.
In apostolic times there were groups scattered from Egypt to Arabia and north to Asia Minor and Greece. They called themselves by a variety of names – the Essenes, Ebionites, Dositheans, Therapeutae. Their moral code was similar, based on communal ethics and love. Often they had long hair and wore white linen garments. They had an exoteric teaching for the multitudes and a secret or esoteric one for the inner circle. Therefore, like Jesus, they often spoke in parable and allegory.
As students of the occult sciences they could read the stars, predict the future and heal. In this region of the world, they alone knew the secret of the duration of the astrological cycles. The Essene group originally had followed the ideas of Pythagoras but adopted Buddhist ideas from missionaries sent out by the Indian emperor Asoka in 250 BC. They reached their height at the turn of the Age but by the beginning of the 2nd century had faded into the ranks of the early Christian groups. Both Creme and Blavatsky say that John the Baptist and Jesus received their early training with the Essenes.
Both Jesus and John the Baptist led groups that had dissented from the main branch of the Essenes. John’s was radical but Jesus’ was even more so. Blavatsky calls His teaching “… a heresy within another heresy”. (IUII, p.132)
She claims that Jesus was the founder of a sect of new nazars, and that His religion of ethics was based on pure Buddhist principles. The real opposition to Jesus’ ministry lay in His use of magical powers. He was trained in the occult arts of Egypt and Israel and may have lived a long life had He kept them strictly secret. Instead He promised His disciples the power of doing greater works than He Himself had done.
His most fervent desire was to open to all some part of the arcane knowledge. In Palestine it was closely guarded by the Jewish priests and adepts who vigorously countered His attempts to teach it to the masses. This was His meaning when He said:
“Woe unto you lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering ye prevented.”
A similar passage in the scrolls says:
“… they have denied the drink of knowledge to the thirsty, in their thirst they have given them vinegar to drink …” (HT-XII)
The Gospels of the New Testament are often considered rather unusual documents in that they have been stripped of an historical setting. They show us figures interacting on an isolated stage with no backdrop and little scenery. The picture we have of Jesus is of a man inspired, but removed from an historical context. Little emphasis is placed on the political, cultural and social forces that stood against the message He taught.
The true situation was quite at odds with this simplistic portrayal. Historically the Jewish people had seen many divisions and occupations. They had been transported en masse and sold into slavery more than once. They were close enough to the Mediterranean to make them prey to many nations that sought their land as a trade route. Each of these nations left their imprint of culture and language. In the three centuries before Christ, Greek ideas, emphasizing
free thought and a liberal lifestyle, were the dominant cultural influence. Between 164 and 63 BC they achieved political and religious independence.
Jewish freedom fighters led by the five Maccabee brothers wrested control of Judaea (roughly the land between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, bordered by present day Gaza on the south and Tel Aviv on the north), and established the Hasmonean dynasty. This freedom, however, came with a price, because the Hasmonean rulers interrupted the ancient hereditary line of the Jewish Zadokite priesthood by declaring themselves the high priests of the temple. They changed temple practices and liberalized the moral code. This was a scandalous action to orthodox Jews.
It is thought that groups such as the Essenes separated from mainstream Judaism at this time because they could no longer participate in services and a way of life they considered blasphemous. Calling themselves the Sons of Zadok, the Essenes held faithful to the priestly (Zadokite) line of succession. They objected to slavery and Temple sacrifice and followed a solar calendar at odds with the normal lunar calendar of Judaism; this almost ensured separation,
for festivals and times of worship fell on completely different days. Living in small communities on the outskirts of villages and cities, in Judaea they numbered about 4,000. Hasmonean rule ended in 63 AD when the Roman general Pompey sacked Jerusalem.
From this time the Romans were the dominant political force in the area. Radical Jewish groups, the zealots and sicarii (assassins), urged armed rebellion against the Romans. In 66 AD the first Jewish revolt against Rome began. In 70 AD, after four years of fighting, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Jews. Smaller revolts ensued, but by 135 Judaea belonged to Rome.
In this milieu, with its competing factions and rivalries, Jesus fulfilled His ministry. Claims to Messiahship abounded in His day. His own life was little noted — historians gave Him scant attention for 300 years. His death was not seen at the time as the sacrificial atonement that some regard it as today. It was,
instead, the most degrading of punishments, a savage and bloody form of torture introduced by the Roman “barbarians.” Adherents of one so shamefully executed would have themselves been subject to intense scrutiny and derision. To claim, in addition, that the disgraced criminal was the Messiah was an act of rare courage.
Such conflicts were certain to lead to internal division. The pressures on Him and His followers were brutal and real. The Gospels may have been stripped of political intonation in order to ensure their very survival. These understandings make us aware of the priceless nature of the document finds of modern times. The “real Jesus” that was lost by history may be resurrecting once more from the secret caves of ancient times.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The following sections will discuss the six sectarian scrolls which are the unique hallmark of the community that followed the inspiration of the Teacher of Righteousness.
The first three – Pesher, the Hymns of Thanksgiving, and the Damascus Document – contain the main allusions to the Teacher of Righteousness.
The last three – Temple, Community Rule, and War Scroll – are statements that show the philosophical approach of a community which saw itself as an expression of the Kingdom of God manifest on earth. In direct quotes from the scrolls, parenthetical passages designate the reconstruction of a fragmentary text. The reference following a text denotes document and column number.
The Teacher of Righteousness is called in Hebrew Moreh ha-Zedek – one entrusted with the Law and sent by God to lead His people in the way of truth. The root word zedek is also found in “Melchizedek” – the King of Righteousness, and in “Sons of Zadok” – Righteous Priests.
In the spring of 1950 Andre Dupont-Sommer, Professor of Semitic Languages and Civilizations at the Sorbonne, presented to the academic community a paper about the Moreh ha-Zedek which caused a sensation. “Jesus,” he claimed, “appears in many respects as an astonishing reincarnation of the Teacher of Righteousness. Like the latter, He preached penitence, poverty, humility, love of one’s neighbor, chastity…. Like him, He was the Elect and the Messiah of God…. Like him, He was the object of the hostility of the priests…. Like him, He was condemned and put to death. Like him He pronounced judgment on Jerusalem, which was taken and destroyed by the Romans for having put Him to death…. Like him, He founded a Church whose adherents fervently awaited His glorious return…. All these similarities — and here I only touch upon the subject – taken together constitute a very impressive whole.” It must be emphasized that Dupont-Sommer never suggested the Teacher of Righteousness was Jesus, but called him a prototype. Yet even this guarded statement
raised numerous objections.
It seems the Christians feared a challenge to the “uniqueness” of their Christ as the only begotten Son of God. Jews were likewise skeptical. Ancient mutual antagonisms had made them cautious of any connections that brought their faith too close to Christianity. Since that day, only a few have ventured to compare the Teacher of Righteousness with Jesus Christ.
Benjamin Creme has made the following statements about the ministry of Jesus:
“Jesus gave His teaching for three years and at the end He was so unknown that one of His disciples, Judas, had to be bribed to point Him out to the authorities so that He could be arrested. Everyone believes that Jesus was greeted with open arms. He was not. The only time He was greeted with open arms was His last entry into Jerusalem, when they thought He was going to lead a revolution against the Romans.
Those who believed that the Messiah was coming believed that He would be a warrior king out of the House of David, who would free the Jews from the Romans. “He did nothing of the kind.
He said: ‘Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but render unto God that which is God’s’.
He did not come to free the Jews from the Romans at all, which is why they got rid of Him. He did not come as a warrior king but they presented Him to themselves as a warrior king, and to their way of thinking He could not, therefore, be the Messiah.” (MMII, pp.26-27)
In Alice Bailey we read:
“… when He came before, Palestine was held in the vicious grasp of the Jewish religious leaders, and the Pharisees and the Sadducees were to the people of that land what the potentates of the church are to the people in the world today….The priests … were not the ones who recognized Him when He came before. They feared Him”. (RC, p.17)
The scrolls grouped under the title of “Pesher” have been the most closely scrutinized of all for they contain the major references to events in the life of the Teacher of Righteousness.
Pesher is a term that refers to a reworking of a biblical passage. The scroll writer examines a book of the Bible, usually a prophetic work, and reinterprets it in terms of the events of his own time.
The prophets – Isaiah, Habakkuk, Nahum – were a logical choice, for their books were warnings for the Jewish leaders to return to the ways of God and prepare for a Messianic Age. Within the nation there are other forces – those called the “Seekers of Smooth Things”, or those who are looking for easy interpretations, “… who with their fraudulent teaching and lying tongue and perfidious lip misdirect many; kings, princes, priests and people together with the proselyte attached to them. Cities and clans will perish through his advice, nobles and le(aders) will fall (due to the fero)city of their tongues…. a mass of corpses will fall in their days; there will be no end to the tally of their wounded and they will even trip over their bodies of flesh because of his mistaken counsel”. (PN-II)
There is the “Scoffer” or the “Man of Lies”, a member of the Teacher’s own community. In Habakkuk 1:13 they had read: “O traitors, why do you look on and keep silence when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” Their pesher interpretation was: “The explanation of this concerns the House of Absalom and the members of their council who were silent at the time of the chastisement of the Teacher of Righteousness and gave him no help against the
Man of Lies who despised the Law in the midst of all their coun(cil)”. (PH-V)
The “House of Absalom” may be a general reference to “traitors”, as Absalom was the son of King David who rebelled and betrayed him.
There is the “Wicked Priest”, “… who was called by the name of truth at the beginning of his coming; but when he commanded over Israel, his heart rose up and he abandoned God and betrayed the precepts because of riches, …. and he followed the ways of a(bo)mination in every kind of unclean defilement”. (PH-VIII)
The phrase “swallow up” in the next passage usually means, in Hebrew, to do away with, or to kill. The implication in this passage is that the Wicked Priest captures the Teacher on the Day of Atonement and eventually sees him killed. It speaks of “… the Wicked Priest who persecuted the Teacher of Righteousness, swallowing him up in the anger of his fury in his place of exile. But at the time of the feast of rest of the Day of Atonement he appeared before
them to swallow them up and to cause them to stumble on the Day of Fasting, their Sabbath of rest”. (PH-XI)
Another phrase tells of “… the Wicked (Prie)st who la(id hands on the Priest, the Teacher of Righteousness,) to put him to death….
And God will not let (the Wicked Priest go) un(punished for the blood which) he has shed, but (God will) pay him his (re)ward by delivering him into the hands of the violent of the nations to execute (vengeance) upon him”. (PP 37-IV)
If one assumes that the Teacher is Maitreya/Jesus, then a logical choice for the “Wicked Priest” would be the Jewish high priest Caiaphas, or possibly Annas, his father-in-law who held the real power. One could conjecture that the “Man of Lies” was Judas. The Kittim are portrayed as a force of vengeance for those who persecute the Teacher and the community of the poor. Pesher Habakkuk speaks of “… the last Priests of Jerusalem who heap up riches and gain by plundering the peoples. But at the end of days, their riches, together with the fruit of their plundering, will be delivered into the hands of the army of the Kittim …” (PH-IX)
Hymns of Thanksgiving
If the Pesher documents convey an idea of the political and religious
opposition there was to the work of the Teacher of Righteousness,
the Hymn Scroll tells the even more poignant tale of opposition
and betrayal by those of His own community. Most scholars attribute
the Hymn Scroll to the Teacher Himself.
It is poetic and profoundly moving, and tells at all times a dual
story – the plight of a great man of God who is caught between
the eternal radiance of Heaven and the problem of shepherding
its manifestation on the dim pathways of a tiny planet.
The writer of the poems knows that He has been chosen by God: “…
to show your greatness /through me/ before the sons of man, You
did wonders with the poor, you placed him like gold in the crucible,
under the effect of fire like purified silver in the furnace of
the jeweler to be refined seven times.” (HT-XIII) And imbued by
God with marvelous wisdom: “And I, the Instructor, have known
you, my God, through the spirit which you gave to me, and I have
listened loyally to your wonderful secret through your holy spirit.
You have opened within me knowledge of the mystery of your wisdom,
the source of your power.” (HT-XX)
He knows that God is His only source of Being: “But I know that justice
does not belong to man nor the perfect path to the son of man.
To God Most High belong all the acts of justice, and the path
of man is not secure except by the spirit which God creates for
him to perfect the path of the sons of man …” (HT-XII)
The Damascus Document
The translators who first read the Damascus Document were amazed because
they realized it had already been published, in 1901, in a book
called Fragments of a Zadokite Work, by Simon Schechter of Cambridge
University. He had discovered it among a large cache of documents
in a Cairo synagogue. Estimating it was written about 1000 AD,
he called it a Zadokite work because its authors continually referred
to themselves as the “Sons of Zadok.”
In searching for clues to explain its presence in the synagogue,
one scholar recalled a letter, written in the 8th century AD by
Timotheus, a Jewish Patriarch. “We have learned,” he wrote, “…
that some books were found 10 years ago in a rock-dwelling near
Jericho. The story was that the dog of an Arab out hunting went
into a cave in pursuit of game and did not come out again; its
owner went in after it and found a chamber in the rock, in which
there were many books. The hunter went off to Jerusalem and told
his story to the Jews, who came out in great numbers and found
books of the Old Testament and others in the Hebrew script.”
This account is almost identical to our modern one of the scroll finds
at Qumran, and Jericho is close enough (nine miles north) to make
it possible the earlier finds were also connected with the ruin.
But the story does not stop here. It finds another connection
in Baghdad. In that city, also in the 8th century, emerged a sect
of heretical Jews which caused a schism in the church because
it rejected the Talmud (the book of Jewish law) and sought a more
direct contact with the Bible. Its members called themselves Karaites,
and their ritual, language, law and calendar were similar to that
of the Dead Sea scroll sect. Their literature is full of references
to “the Zadokite sect” and the “Magharites” (the Arabic word for
cave). They embraced a fervent Messianism and even buried their
dead positioned north to south. The Zadokite work that Schechter
had found in Cairo was with a group of other Karaite works. The
Dead Sea scroll writers may well have left their mark upon a century
long before our own.
New Covenant in the Land of Damascus
Of all the document finds, this is the one that is most impressive
for sheer scope. It covers ancient cosmology, biblical history,
the origin of the sect and God’s eternal covenant with humanity.
In its pages the writers speak of themselves as those who had “escaped
to the north” and formed a “New Covenant in the Land of Damascus”.
As Damascus is 135 miles northeast of Qumran, most scholars have
taken little note of this reference except to consider it merely
symbolic or indicative of an early migration of the sect, perhaps
before its occupation of Qumran. But if it is taken literally
and if one includes other historical references from the same
document, it may be a clue to the identity of the sect. It is
of note that many ‘obscure’ teachings and ‘lost’ manuscripts emerge
from the Syrian area, and that the “Land of Damascus” can also
mean the “Land of Syria” or Coele-Syria. It refers to a strip
of territory on the frontier between Syria and Arabia extending
from the city of Damascus south to the southern shores of the
Dead Sea. This strip was home to initiate groups such as the Nazarenes
and the Essenes.
In the chronicles of 4th century church historians Eusebius and
Epiphanius, there is mention of an unusual event that occurred
before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Epiphanius writes:
“When the city was about to be conquered by the Romans all the
disciples were warned by an angel to remove from the city which
was shortly to be destroyed. They became refugees and settled
in Pella, a town in Transjordan belonging to the Decapolis.” Pella
is 50 miles north of Qumran and Damascus is 85 miles beyond Pella.
In the Damascus Document we read of what could be the same occurrence.
It speaks of “… the converts of Israel, who left the land of
Judah and lived in the Land of Damascus all of whom God called
princes.” (DD-VI) It also tells of a faction opposed to the sect
who “… despised the covenant (of God) and the pact which they
established in the land of Damascus, which is the first covenant.
And neither for them nor their families shall there be a part
in the house of the law…. And from the day of the gathering
in (killing) of the Unique Teacher, until the destruction of all
the men of war who turned back with the man of lies, there shall
be about 40 years…. And in this age the wrath of God will be
kindled against Israel.” (DD-XX) Between the crucifixion of Jesus
and the destruction of Jerusalem there passed 40 years, the same
span of time as in the scroll passage.
After Jesus’ death the nascent Christian church was little more than
a sect of the Jewish faith. But in 70 AD a schism occurred that
permanently separated the two. It may well have been based on
what is implied in this passage – that there was a faction within
the early church that sympathized with the Jewish revolt, “turned
back” because they “despised the covenant”, and met destruction
when the Romans attacked. Those who “left the land of Judah” were
saved. This passage (and similar ones in other scrolls), though
it has obvious implications for the history of the sect, has been
largely ignored. We will return to these ideas in our concluding
thoughts when we speak of the dating and the possible authors
of the scrolls.
The next three documents give us a picture of the moral code and belief
system of the sectarians.
The Community Rule
The composition of the Community Rule scroll may date from the sect’s
early beginnings (150-200 BC), as it is the foundation rule for
the organization of their communal life and moral code. It is
addressed to the “community in Israel”, who “… are to be segregated
from within the dwelling of the men of sin to walk to the desert
in order to open there His path”. (CR-VIII)
Its laws are rigid and precise, imposing dignity, order, and strict
adherence to Mosaic tradition. There are rules of conduct between
members, and rules pertaining to the pooling of money, common
worship, and common meals. There are prescriptions for entry and
for progression through a three-year period of probation. Prayer
and the reading of the law were of prime importance: “… where
there are 10 men of the Community council, there should not be
a priest missing amongst them…. And in the place in which the
Ten assemble there should not be missing a man to interpret the
law day and night, always, each man relieving his fellow. And
the Many shall be on watch together for a third of each night
of the year in order to read the book, explain the regulation,
and bless together.” (CR-VI)
The group was hierarchical, and a yearly review would determine advancement.
“In the Community council (there shall be) 12 men and three priests,
perfect in everything that has been revealed about all the law
…” (CR-VIII) This mirrors what we know about the Ashrams of
the Masters. The inner ashram includes the Master and 12 disciples.
Three of these disciples are particularly beloved; they are “responsible
to the Master for all ashramic activity”. (DNAI, p.758)
Ritualpurity was important for the group. Like John the Baptist they
practised immersion. “And by the compliance of his soul with all
the laws of God his flesh is cleansed by being sprinkled with
cleansing waters and being made holy with the waters of repentance.”
The Two Messiahs
Scattered throughout the documents are several concepts which may refer
to the interrelation between Hierarchy and humanity – the way
the spiritual kingdom makes itself manifest in our own world of
form. One expression is the idea of God establishing His Kingdom
on earth by means of a “plant root” or “eternal plantation.”
The rule reads: “… the Community council shall be founded on truth
… like an everlasting plantation, a holy house for Israel and
the foundation of the holy of holies for Aaron … It will be
the tested rampart, the precious cornerstone …”. (CR-VIII)
The depiction of the Community council as “an everlasting plantation”
may refer to the energies of the Hierarchy, continually cultivating
and nurturing the human kingdom. In another metaphor expressing
the same concept, humanity is the foundation and “precious cornerstone”
for the earthly temple, the expression of God in form.
Judaism the terms Israel and Aaron are used as comparative concepts.
“Israel” refers to the earthly realm while “Aaron” refers to the
heavenly. In the above passage the “holy house for Israel” is
humanity, the kingdom of souls, being nurtured and cultivated
by the “holy of holies for Aaron” – the spiritual Hierarchy.
similar concept – that of “the two Messiahs” – has remained baffling
to most scholars. They are called the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel,
and are often depicted as one person residing over a heavenly
kingdom on earth. Some passages mention a future coming of the
two Messiahs, possibly a reference to the Second Coming. We read
at the end of a long list of rules: “And this is the exact interpretation
of the regulations by which (they shall be ruled until there arises
the Messiah) of Aaron and Israel. He shall atone for their sins.”
This concept may relate to the idea of overshadowing, whereby a great
adept uses the body of a disciple to “pour His energy and force
for the helping of the world”. (TCF, p.749) So did the Buddha
overshadow the disciple Gautama, and Maitreya the disciple Jesus.
The War Scroll
In the early years of the scroll discoveries the Qumran sectarians
were usually viewed as totally pacifist. But when Essene documents
were found in the fortress of Masada, opinions began to change
and documents like The War Scroll, which depicts an allegorical
battle between good and evil, began to be taken more literally.
Some writers have suggested that many of the radical war faction
of the period – the Zealots – came from Essene ranks.
One controversy that emerged in the popular press in recent years
was an argument over a highly fragmented text from a larger manuscript
called “The War Rule.” It referred to a Messiah who was either
“Pierced” or “Piercing.” Because of the difficulties in translating
ancient Hebrew no one could really be certain which adjective
was meant. The fragment was used to defend one side or the other,
depending on the point of view. Whatever the truth may be, it
is certain from all of their documents that the sectarians considered
themselves warriors of the spirit, fighting on the side of God
and His Angelic Hierarchy.
The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness
The document depicts a time when “… the sons of light and the lot
of darkness shall battle together for God’s might, between the
roar of a huge multitude and the shout of gods and of men, on
the day of the calamity. It will be a time of suffering fo(r al)l
the people redeemed by God”. (WS-I)
The language of the work is cast in Roman times, and it is a blend
of the mythological and the real. The enemy are the Kittim (the
Romans) and the accoutrement and battle plan follow Roman custom.
God is the divine commander and Belial (the devil) His foe.
Angelic hosts – Michael, Gabriel, Sariel, and Raphael – are called for
assistance. Mundane rules that could apply to any actual army
encampment are interspersed with the allegorical scenes. The writing
is replete with symbologies of seven. The war itself will be fought
in seven rounds. In three, the lot of Belial, will be strongest,
in another three the Sons of Light. “And in the seventh lot, God’s
great hand will subdue.” (WS-I)
The battalions are armed with swords and spears, encrusted with silver,
gold and precious stones. “They shall line up in seven lines …”
and “… will hurl against the enemy line seven javelins of war.”
(WS-V&VI) “Seven cavalry formations shall take up position….
700 cavalry on one flank and 700 on the second flank.” (WS-VI)
Directing the battle are the priests, “… seven priests of the
sons of Aaron” (WS-VII) carrying war trumpets. Following the priests
are seven levites (lesser priests) carrying seven ram’s horns.
Then proceeds the battle – the priests and levites blow their
horns in “… a deafening war alarm, to melt the heart of the
enemy”. (WS-VII) For seven rounds the trumpets continue while
the war javelins are thrown seven times until the enemy is routed
in “… God’s battle for eternal destruction.” (WS-IX)
Throughout the document are interspersed long poems of exhortation and praise
of God. As in these battle scenes, evolution is played out in
cycles of seven – in our bodies, our planet, our solar system
and the systems beyond. As each seven-round cycle of achievement
is completed a new one opens ahead. The “weapons” of evolutionary
progress through these cycles of creation and destruction are
the esoteric science of sound – represented here by the trumpets
and horns, and the “cutting sword” of discrimination – symbolized
by the spear and javelins.
Christianity – a religion of duality
The idea of a cosmic war between good and evil is mirrored in all
religions. It is the battleground of the spirit as it loosens
the shackles of materiality – Armageddon and the Kurukshetra of
the Bhagavad Gita. It operates at levels far beyond our present
comprehension. The Master DK says that: “Just as the planet called
earth is regarded as the turning point or the battle-ground between
Spirit and matter, … so our solar system holds an analogous
place in the cosmic scheme. The cosmic man, the solar Arjuna,
is wrestling for His individualized perfected self-consciousness,
and for freedom and liberation from the form…. So man on this
planet battles for similar ideals on his tiny scale”, so battle
in heaven Michael and His Angels … Whose problem is the same
on the higher scale.” (TCF, p.242)
Alice Bailey applies the concept to Christianity. “Modern thinkers would
do well to remember that Christianity is a bridging religion.
Herein lies its great importance. Christianity is the religion
of that transitional period which links the era of self-conscious
individualistic existence to a future group-conscious unified
world. It is outstandingly a religion of cleavage, demonstrating
to man his duality, and thus laying the foundation for his effort
to achieve unity or at-one-ment.
The realization of this duality is a most needed stage in man’s unfoldment,
and the purpose of Christianity has been to reveal this; also
to point out the warfare between the lower and the higher man,
between carnal man and spiritual man, united in one person, and
to emphasize the necessity for that lower man to be saved by the
higher.” (FBC, pp.17-18)
The Temple Scroll
“When Moses was close to death, he called to his side Joshua, the Son
of Nun, to bestow on him the succession of leadership and the
care of his most precious trust – the Books of Law, given by God
to His people in the wilderness.
This He told Joshua: ‘And receive thou this writing that thou mayest
know how to preserve the books which I shall deliver unto thee:
and thou shalt set these in order and anoint them with oil of
cedar, and put them away in earthen vessels … until … the
Lord will visit them in the consummation of the End of Days.'”
– Assumption of Moses, an Apocryphal work.
When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the Judaean wilderness, carefully
wrapped in linen and preserved in earthenware jars, these words
of Moses took on a brilliant new meaning. Among the Jewish people
there had always been the legend of a hidden law, too stringent
for most, but preserved in a secret tradition. In 2 Kings 22 we
read of King Josiah who ordered repairs to the Temple of Yahweh.
When the carpenters found a book of Law and it was read in the
King’s presence, he “tore his garments”, and said: “Great indeed
must be the anger of Yahweh blazing out against us because our
ancestors did not obey what this book says by practising everything
written in it”. Josiah went on to lead a great reform of the religion.
There was, as well, the legend of a lost Temple plan, given by God to
Moses and handed down through the rulers. So when the Temple Scroll
was found, with its plans for a temple in minute detail and elaborate
design, and with its laws and festivals covered nowhere else in
the Old Testament, it was of profound interest. The first Temple
of Jerusalem was built by Solomon in the 9th century BC, and at
that time temple worship centered in Jerusalem became the dominant
factor of Jewish spiritual ritual. Solomon’s temple was destroyed
during the Babylonian captivity in 586 BC but rebuilt by the high
priest Zerubbabel in 516 BC after the Jews were liberated and
returned to Jerusalem. Herod rebuilt this temple in Jesus’ day,
but only a few years after its completion, in 70 AD, it was destroyed
by the Romans. At this point temple worship ceased and Judaism
found other outlets for spiritual expression.
Measuring 30 feet, the Temple Scroll is the longest scroll of all, and is
also called “The Hidden Torah”. The text is of particular interest;
it is written in the first person, as though it were the hand
of God Himself, giving His law to humanity. Yigael Yadin, Israeli
scholar, wrote an insightful and beautifully illustrated book,
the Temple Scroll, which visually depicts the layout and construction
of the building. In the Temple plan there is a central courtyard
housing a temple and various buildings dedicated to the performance
of ritual sacrifice. Enclosing these central structures is a square
wall, 280 cubits to a side. (A cubit is about one-and-a-half feet.)
Each side contains a gate opening onto a middle courtyard which
is again surrounded by a square wall, 480 cubits to a side. This
middle wall has 12 gates, three on each side. The gates represent
the 12 tribes of Israel; each is named for a son of Jacob. The
middle courtyard gates open onto an outer court that is also surrounded
by a wall, 1,600 cubits to a side. It too contains 12 gates. Each
gate of the outer court is 70 cubits high and 50 deep. Built into
the walls are hundreds of enclosures to house the worshippers
who come. The outer wall is three stories high and contains over
800 rooms. The complex is completely surrounded by a moat.
The Temple of Solomon
In esoteric terms, as referenced in the work of Alice Bailey and
Helena Blavatsky, the Temple of Solomon symbolizes the causal
body or soul. It is built by knowledge and links the physical-plane
vehicle with the Monad (the spark of inspiration from the spiritual
The causal body was created in our race at the moment of individualization,
when animal man became thinking man. The temple of the causal
body, called the “city foursquare”, is built on the Lower Quaternary
or four aspects of the personality. These are the physical, astral,
mental, and etheric bodies. Here is expressed the “Son” aspect
of the Trinity – the “consciousness” that is produced when spirit
and matter unite. The temple plan represents the first four initiations.
The outer court is furthest from the temple and therefore the least
pure. It represents the first initiation, taken when the disciple
transcends the limitations of the physical vehicle.
The middle court is the second initiation, taken when the pull of
the astral vehicle is overcome.
The inner court is the third initiation, taken when the mental vehicle
The walls of these courts contain gates named for the sons of Jacob.
Each “son” has its correspondence on an astrological sign. The
enclosing wall with its 12 gates represents a person’s progression
through the zodiacal signs over the course of many incarnations.
The inner court with its four gates may be symbolic of the sacrifice
on the “cross of matter.” The central court houses the temple,
with its Holy of Holies, the innermost shrine of the Jewish temple,
and sacrificial altar. This depicts the 4th initiation, when the
causal body or soul, having transcended all experience in the
physical world, offers itself for consummation. On the altar of
sacrifice, the blood stands for life because it distributes the
energy of the soul throughout the physical body. When the blood
is spilled the thread of life is severed — the physical vehicle
dies. The Lower Quaternary of the personality — the temple building
— is then consumed by fire. It becomes the “burnt offering”.
This is the unification of the fire of the higher Self with that
of the lower, “… the two fires meet, and eventually the egoic
body disappears; the fire burns up entirely the Temple of Solomon;
the permanent atoms are destroyed, and all is reabsorbed into
The essence of the Personality, the faculties developed, the knowledge
gained, and the remembrance of all that has transpired becomes
part of the equipment of the Spirit and eventually finds its way
to the Spirit or Monad on its own plane.” (LOM, p.79)
At this point the initiate can truly echo the words of the Christ:
“I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.” (Jn.12:32)
To the side of the central building the scroll prescribes an edifice
called the “House of the Winding Stair”. It contains a spiral
staircase opening onto the temple roof and completely overlain
with gold. The disciple literally mounts the staircase into the
spiritual kingdom, his lower elements transmuted into pure Gold.
In just this way does evolution proceed – from creation to destruction
to creation again. Each edifice erected serves a purpose for the
extent of its life span. Eventually the physical form crumbles
and disappears, but its essence is gathered into the Universal
Consciousness. All of this is but the beginning groundwork for
“… the foundation of the future Temple of Truth where the light
of the Lord will be seen and which will prove adequate as an expression
of Reality”. (TWM, p.326)
Lastly we are left with the questions: “Who wrote the documents?”
and: “When were they deposited in the caves?”
It is important to understand that the date they were written does
not necessarily correspond to their date of composition, which
undoubtedly varied from scroll to scroll. The Biblical works were
composed many centuries before Christ and the sectarian documents
were probably composed over a number of centuries. Scrolls in
use wear out after a few years and must be continuously transcribed.
This transcription process may be Creme’s meaning when he speaks
about when they were written.
If they had been written before Christ, as most scholars say, the
answer is easy – they were written by the Qumran Essenes and probably
hidden in the nearby caves. But if they were written in the 2nd
century, as Creme says, it is a different matter because after
70 AD Judaea became increasingly off-limits to Jews. It is difficult
to imagine a very large community existing at Qumran given the
Roman occupation and their massive suppression of the Jews. It
seems likely that Qumran was destroyed at this time, apparently
by fire, as the excavators found a layer of ash covering this
stratum of excavation. A small part of the site was re-occupied
until 135 AD but there are no signs of occupation after this date.
In the scrolls, we can find several indicators. In an earlier
discussion of the Damascus Document we noted that the writers
speak of themselves as those who entered the “New Covenant in
the Land of Damascus”. In addition they often refer to themselves
as ebhyonim, meaning the “poor.”
Blavatsky claims that the first Christians were the Ebionites, from the
same Hebrew word ebhyonim, and that they were pupils and followers
of the early Nazarenes, the initiates of Jesus’ day. Ebionite
Christianity, she says “… had once been the purest form of primitive
Christianity …” and numbered “… among their sect all the surviving
relatives of Jesus”. (Isis Unveiled II — pp.180-181)
The Jewish author J.L.Teicher (who is one of the few who argues
that the Teacher of Righteousness is Jesus) writes in The Journal
of Jewish Studies, 1951, that he thinks the scroll writers were
Ebionites or Nazarenes and that they had migrated to the Damascus
area when Jerusalem was destroyed. He cites historical evidence,
again from Epiphanius, saying that both groups were “… started
after the destruction of Jerusalem … in consequence of Christ’s
injunction to leave the city and to emigrate in view of the impending
siege”. Eventually they settled in Coele-Syria, which could mean
“the Land of Damascus” mentioned so often in the scrolls. The
Essenes of Qumran, then, possibly fled to the north when their
Dead Sea existence was faced with destruction. They were not the
only ones, for there is evidence that Christian Jews from Jerusalem
and other areas left as well. There they reformed into various
groups, probably suffering the same divisions as were experienced
by religious groups throughout the land.
One of these newly formed groups may have been the Ebionites – a group
which viewed Jesus as a wise man and a prophet, not a god. They
saw him, not so much as a Messiah himself, but rather an early
manifestation of the future Messiah – a great leader who would
eventually come as a king and reign for 1,000 years.
If the scroll writers were indeed Ebionites then it is logical to
assign a 2nd-century date to their writings. They would undoubtedly
have continued their most sacred tradition – study of the Law
– in their new home. In addition they would have considered it
of primary importance to record the events they had seen – the
persecution of their sect, the death of their Teacher, the destruction
of Jerusalem, and the scattering of their own people. With their
understanding of the astrological period they were entering, they
may have returned to the Old Testament books for direction and
read again what the prophets had to say about the coming times.
These ideas and events are recorded in the Damascus Document and the
Pesher scrolls. How, then, did the scrolls return to Qumran? Teicher
again affords us a clue. He claims the Ebionites disappeared around
300 AD. He connects their demise with an edict of persecution
issued by the Roman emperor Diocletian in 303 AD. This edict contained
an order to seize all the sacred books of the Christians and to
burn them in public. Teicher suggests that the Ebionites collected
their scrolls and their storage jars and returned them to the
isolation of the Qumran caves where they would not easily be discovered.
It is a plausible assumption. Anyone who reads the Acts of the
Apostles knows that the Christian proselytes were neither sedentary
nor without imagination. Paul and his companions traveled throughout
the Mediterranean with little hesitation. The Ebionites would
have gone to great lengths to preserve their sacred books. They
understood well the great isolation of the Dead Sea area, and
would have been justified by history, for Qumran was never occupied
The Eternity of Truth
Throughout the eons of history, truth has followed a wayward path. From unknown
depths it surfaces to find an abode in our most brilliant minds.
From these few it spreads its embrace for a time, then inevitably
finds the resistance that begs its departure. The seers of the
ages have long understood this flow. Thus they watch and know
when to act, to remove their thoughts and words to silence. Buried
and quiescent they stay, a dormant witness, until opportunity
opens, another era is born, and humanity awakens – eager once
more for the counsels of the spirit.
In 1945 Maitreya announced His decision to re-enter our daily lives.
In 1945 the Nag-Hammadi library was found in Egypt. In 1947 the
Dead Sea Scrolls came to light. Its survival was a true surprise
for archeologists because the Jordan Valley had always been considered
too humid to preserve documents of such delicate nature for very
long. The scroll writers understood the ways of the world. That
is why they wrote in allegory and allusion. They had a way of
speech, an expression they used, when introducing a “hidden truth.”
They would say: “For the man of understanding …” warning the
reader of secret meaning below the surface.
It is so with all that is written. One can approach it on many levels. One can see what is not there. One can be blind to the
purely obvious. For the past 50 years the scrolls have been surrounded
by controversy and conflict. There were books to be published,
money to be made, and fame achieved. There was delay and exclusivity
and volumes written defending everything save truth. Sadly, their
pages have become the arguments of scholars, while their translations
gather dust on library shelves, ignored by a world that does not
know, that has been misled – not by duplicity – but by sheer blindness.
If the scrolls are a record of Christ’s time, then the fear denying
that possibility is depriving the world of a rightful heritage.
If a document such as the Hymn Scroll was written by Jesus/Maitreya
then we are missing a priceless record that could inspire many
lives. Until recent history the Gospels have been our only readily
available accounts of Jesus’ life. They are largely repetitious
and sadly incomplete. One longs for so much more. The writers
of the scrolls were alive with fervour for their vital mission
and shining with love for their Teacher from God. They recorded
their times in a uniquely poetic voice and left for us a priceless
store. Truths that are buried so long should not be lost in controversy
and denial. They are given to us all, the precious heritage from
another age – a heritage forged by our Elder Brother, Maitreya,
who guided our path through the wilderness of biblical times,
and returns again – today – to lead us onto an even more brilliant
path into tomorrow.
Scroll quotes are from the following documents:
CR — Community Rule;
DD — Damascus Document;
HT — Hymns of Thanksgiving;
PH — Pesher Habukkuk;
PN — Pesher Nahum;
PP — Pesher Psalms;
RC — Rule of the Congregation;
WS — War Scroll.
Remaining quotes are from the following sources:
MMII — Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two, Benjamin Creme;
SI — Share International magazine;
IUII — Isis Unveiled II, Helena Blavatsky From Alice Bailey;
DNAI — Discipleship in the New Age I;
EPII — Esoteric Psychology II;
FBC — From Bethlehem to Calvary;
LOM — Letters on Occult Meditation;
R&I — The Rays and the Initiations;
RC — The Reappearance of the Christ;
TCF — A Treatise on Cosmic Fire;
TWM — A Treatise on White Magic.
Scroll translations are from the following sources:
Dupont-Sommer, A. The Essene Writings From Qumran — the footnotes in this work
Gaster, Theodor. The Dead Sea Scriptures.
Martinez, Florentino Garcia. The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated.
Vermes, Geza. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English.
Ewing, Upton Clary. The Prophet of the Dead Sea Scrolls and The Essene
Jesus. Ewing believes The Teacher of Righteousness was Jesus.
Potter, Charles Francis. The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed. An
iconoclastic minister comments on “lost” manuscripts.
Wilson, Edmund. The Scrolls from the Dead Sea – The classic introductory
Josephus on the Essenes
“They despise wealth, and their socialism is remarkable. None among
them can be found richer than another. It is their law that all
who enter the sect must divide their property among the members
of the society, with the result that there is never seen among
them either abject poverty nor great wealth, for, since every
man’s possessions are put into the common treasury, they all have,
like brothers, one inheritance. “So peculiarly pious are they
that they never mention secular affairs before the sun rises,
but utter certain ancestral prayers, as if entreating it to rise.
Then they are dismissed by the overseers to the tasks in which
they are skilled, where they work hard until the fifth hour (about
11 am), when they once more assemble, put on linen aprons, and
bathe in cold water. After this rite of purification, they retire
to a private room from which strangers are excluded, and enter,
fully purified, into their dining-room as if it were a sacred
temple, and quietly take their seats. “The baker then places a
loaf of bread before each in turn, and the cook gives each a plate
of one kind of food. But no one may taste it until a priest says
grace, and after they have breakfasted, he returns thanks, for
both before and after eating they praise God the giver of life.
“Then they lay aside their white sacred garments, and go back
to work until evening, when they return to eat supper together
and with any visiting strangers. No noise or uproar is ever allowed
to profane the house, for whoever speaks must do so in turn. To
outsiders, the silence seems strange and mysterious to explain,
but it is due to their sobriety, which is the result of the fact
that they are all given just enough food and drink to satisfy
their needs, but no more.”
Philo on the Essenes
“Our Lawgiver (Moses) trained in community-living thousands of
disciples called Essenes, probably because of their holiness.
They live in large societies located in many Judean cities and
villages. “Their organization is not based on family kinship,
in which a man has no choice, but on zeal for virtue and love
of all men …They enjoy the only genuine liberty, as is proved
by their way of life. None of them is striving to get possession
of any private property … or anything to get rich by, for everything
is put into the common pool, which supplies the wants of all alike.
“Dwelling together in one place, they therefore study together,
eat together and associate with one another, expending all their
energies for the common good. There is division of labor, different
men to different kinds of work, but whatever may be their work,
they do it with vigor, patience, and good cheer, never excusing
themselves from labor on account of cold, heat, or changes of
weather. They are at work before sunrise and after the sun has
set, considering their work to be the best sort of gymnastic exercise,
pleasanter and of more advantage than mere athletics. “If any
man falls sick, whatever medical treatment or resources are available
are devoted to his cure, and his care and recovery are the concern
of the whole community. Old men, though they may be childless,
are thus assured of happiness and tender care in their old age,
just as if they were the fathers of children both numerous and
affectionate. Even more, they are honored and cared for from the
free good will of the many, rather than from the bounden duty
of blood-relatives…. “So enviable, then, is the Essene way of
life, that not only private citizens but also mighty kings are
filled with amazement and admiration at them, and have honored
the fraternity by lavishing praise and honor upon these respected
and venerated men.”
1290-1250 BC Moses leads the Jewish people out of Egypt.
1250-1225 BC Joshua leads the Jews into Canaan, the “Promised
1010-970 BC Reign of King David.
970-931 BC Reign of King Solomon, building of first Temple.
586-538 BC First fall of Jerusalem, destruction of Temple, and
538-516 BC Jews in Babylon are freed. Zerubbabel leads their return
and rebuilds the Temple. Jeshua officiates as High Priest.
334 BC Alexander the Great conquers the Near East. Hellenic (Greek)
influence permeates the cultural and social life of the occupied
200-150 BC Essenes begin break from mainstream Judaism to establish
200 BC-70 AD Usual timeline given for the writing of the Dead
63 BC Pompey sacks Jerusalem. Roman rule begins in Judea.
24 BC-9 AD Life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
70 AD Roman destruction of Second Temple.
135 AD Final Roman defeat of Jewish resistance in Palestine. Jews
lose status as a nation for 18 centuries.
100-200 AD Benjamin Creme’s timeline for the writing down of the
Dead Sea Scrolls which have so far come to light.
From the Hymns of Thanksgiving
“From the source of His righteousness is my justification, and
from His marvellous mysteries is the light in my heart.
My eyes have gazed on that which is eternal, on wisdom concealed
from men, on knowledge and wise design (hidden) from the sons
of men; on a fountain of righteousness and on a storehouse of
power, on a spring of glory (hidden) from the assembly of flesh.
God had given them to His chosen ones as an everlasting possession,
and has caused them to inherit the lot of the Holy Ones.
He has joined their assembly to the Sons of Heaven to be a Council
of the Community, a foundation of the Building of Holiness, an
eternal Plantation throughout all ages to come.” (HT-XI)
“Hab 2:1-2: ‘And God told Habakkuk to write what was going to
happen to the last generation, but He did not let him know the
end of the age … And as for what He says: “So that the one who
reads it may run …”
interpretation concerns the Teacher of Righteousness, to whom
God has disclosed all the mysteries of the words of His servants,
the prophets. Hab 2:3: ‘For the vision is yet for the appointed
time. Though it lags toward the moment, it will not be belied.’
This refers to the fact that the final moment may be protracted
beyond anything which the prophets have foretold, for the mysteries
of God are wonderful. ‘Though it tarry, yet await it; for it will
surely come, it will not delay.’ This is addressed to the men
of truth, the men who carry out the Law, who do not relax from
serving the Truth even though the final moment be long drawn out.
Assuredly, all the times appointed by God will come in due course,
even as He has determined in His inscrutable wisdom.” (PH-VII)
Reprinted with the kind permission of Share International Magazine.
Authors Details: Bette Stockbauer Bette Stockbauer is a free-lance writer whose philosophical background is Esoteric Christianity, as expressed through the teachings of Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, and Benjamin Creme.