Courses

B461 Apocalyptic Literature

4. Apocalyptic at Qumran

Following the reader will find a selection from the famous "War Scroll"- one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The significance of this scroll is its apocalyptic fervor and its description of the famous war to end all wars at the end of history. After reading it, we will discuss the apocalyptic ideas of the Qumranites.

Col. 1 For the Instructor, the Rule of the War. The first attack of the Sons of Light shall be undertaken against the forces of the Sons of Darkness, the army of Belial: the troops of Edom, Moab, the sons of Ammon, the [Amalekites], Philistia, and the troops of the Kittim of Asshur.

Supporting them are those who have violated the covenant. The sons of Levi, the sons of Judah, and the sons of Benjamin, those exiled to the wilderness, shall fight against them 3 with [ . . . ] against all their troops, when the exiles of the Sons of Light return from the Wilderness of the Peoples to camp in the Wilderness of Jerusalem. Then after the battle they shall go up from that place 4 a[nd tile king of; the Kittim [shall enter] into Egypt. In his time he shall go forth with great wrath to do battle against the kings of the north, and in his anger he shall set out to destroy and eliminate the strength of I[srael. Then the]re shall be a time of salvation for the People of God, and a time of dominion for all the men of His forces, and eternal annihilation for all the forces of Belial. There shall be g[reat] panic [among] the sons of Japheth, Assyria shall fall with no one to come to his aid, and the supremacy of the Kittim shall cease that wickedness be overcome without a< remnant. There shal1 be no survivors of [all the Sons of] Darkness. Then [the Sons of Rig]hteousness shall shine to all ends of the world continuing to shine forth until end of the appointed seasons of darkness. Then at the time appointed by God, His great excellence shall shine for all the times of e[ternity;] for peace and blessing, glory and joy, and long life for all Sons of Light. On the day when the Kittim fall there shall be a battle and horrible carnage before the God of Israel, for it is aient times as a battle of annihilation for the Sons of Darkness. On that day the congregation of the gods and the congregation of men shall engage one another, resulting in great carnage. The Sons of Light and the forces of Darkness shall fight together to show the strength of God with the roar of a great multitude and the shout of gods and men; a day of disaster. It is a time of distress fo[r al]1 the people who are redeemed by God. In all their afflictions none exists that is like it, hastening to its completion as an eternal redemption. On the day of their battle against the Kittim, they shall g[o forth for] carnage in battle. In three lots the Sons of Light shall stand firm so as to strike a blow at wickedness, and in three the army of Belial shall strengthen themselves so as to force the retreat of the forces 4[of Light. And when the] banners of the infantry cause their hearts to melt, then the strength of God will strengthen the he[arts of the Sons of Light.] In the seventh lot : the great hand of God shall overcome [Belial and al]l the angels of his dominion, and all the men of [his forces shall be destroyed forever].

The annihilation of the Sons of Darkness and service to God during the war years.

16[, . . ] the holy ones shall shine forth in support of [ . . . ] the truth for the annihilation of the Sons of Darkness. Then [ . . . ] 17[ . . . ] a great [r]oar [ . . . ] they took hold of the implement[s of war . ] 18[,, . ] 19[ . . . chiefs of the tribes . . . and the priests, 20[the Levites, the chiefs of the tribes, the fathers of the congregation . . . the priests and thus for the Levites and the courses of the heads of]

Col. 2 the o. They shall rank the chiefs of the priests after the Chief Priest and his deputy; twelve chief priests to serve in the regular offering before God. The chiefs of the courses, twenty-six, shall serve in their courses. After them the chiefs of the Levites serve continually, twelve in all, one to a tribe. The chiefs of their courses shall serve each man in his office. The chiefs of the tribes and fathers of the congregation shall support them, taking their stand continually at the gates of the sanctuary. The chiefs of their courses, from the age of fifty upwards, shall take their stand with their commissioners on their festivals, new moons and Sabbaths, and on every day of the year. These shall take their stand at the burnt offerings and sacrifices, to arrange the sweet smelling incense according to the will of God, to atone for all His congregation, and to satisfy themselves before Him continually 6at the table of glory. All of these they shall arrange at the time of the year of remission. During the remaining thirty-three years of the war the men of renown, those called of the Congregation, and all the heads of the congregation's clans shall choose for themselves men of war for all the lands of the nations. From ail tribes of IsraeI they shall prepare capable men for themselves to go out for battle according to the summons of the war, year by year. But during the years of remission they shall not ready men to go out for battle, for it is a Sabbath rest for Israel. During the thirty-five years of service the war shall be waged. For six years the whole congregation shall wage it together, and a war of divisions shall be waged during the twenty-nine remaining years. In the first year against Mesopotamia, in the second against the sons of Lud, in the third they shall fight against the rest of the sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Togar, and Mesha, who are beyond the Euphrates. In the fourth and fifth they shall fight against the sons of Arpachshad, in the sixth and seventh they shall fight against all the sons of Assyria and Persia and the easterners up to the Great Desert. In the eighth year they shall fight against the sons of Elam, in the ninth year they shall fight against the sons of Ishmael and Keturah, and during the following ten years the war shall be divided against all the sons of Ham 4 according to [their] c[lans and] their terri]tories. During the remaining ten years the war shall be divided against all [sons of Japhe]th according to their territories.

16[The Rule of the Trumpets: the trumpets] of alarm for all their service for the [ . . . ] for their commissioned men, 17 [by tens of thousands and thousands and hundreds and fifties] and tens.

Upon the t[rumpets . . . ] [ . . . ] 18[ . . . ] 19 [ . . . which ] 20 [,, . they shall write . . . the trumpets of

Col. 3 the battle formations, and the trumpets for assembling them when the gates of the war are opened so that the infantry might advance, the trumpets for the signal of the slain, the trumpets of the ambush, the trumpets of pursuit when the enemy is defeated, and the trumpets of reassembly when the battle returns.

On the trumpets for the assembly of the congregation they shall write, "The called of God." 30 the trumpets for the assembly of the chiefs they shall write, "The princes of God." On the trumpets of the formaons they shall write, "The rule of God." On renown [they shall write],"The heads of the congregation's clans." Then when they are assembled at the house of meeting, they shal1 write, "The testimonies of God for a holy congregation." On the trumpets of the camps they shall write, "The peace of God in the camps of His saints." On the trumpets for their campaigns they shall write, "The mighty deeds of God to scatter the enemy and to put all those who hate 6 justice to flight and a withdrawal of mercy from all who hate God." On the trumpets of the battle formations they shall write, "Formations of the -- divisions of God to avenge His anger on all Sons of Darkness." 7 the trumpets for assembling the infantry when the gates of war open that they might go out against the battle line of the enemy, they shall write, "A remembrance of requital at the appointed time 8 God." On the trumpets of the slain they shall write, "The hand of the might of God in battle so as to bring down all the slain because of unfaithfulness." On the trumpets of ambush they shall write, 9 "Mysteries of God to wipe out wickedness." On the trumpets of pursuit they shall write, "God has struck all Sons of Darkness, He shall not abate His anger until they are annihilated." When they return from battle to enter the formation, they shall write on the trumpets of retreat, "God has gathered."

On the trumpets for the way of return from battle with the enemy to enter the congregation in Jerusalem, they shall write, "Rejoicings of God in a peaceful return."

The Qumranites were nursed at the same apocalyptic nipple as the early Church. expectations for the "end of the world" were high at the end of the first century BCE when the "War Scroll"ic ideology manifested itself in three forms: literary, social and eschatological. The "War Scroll" and many of the other Qumran documents (as well as the New Testament) show evidence of all three of these aspects.

In particular, the "War Scroll" describes a 40 year campaign at the end of which God would destroy the enemies of His people. The angels Michael, Raphael, and Sariel will lead the armies of God while Belial would lead the army of evil.

Speaking theologically, the hallmarks of Qumran apocalypticism (and of apocalypticism in general) are determinism, an interest in angels, and the expectation of an end time Temple. Even today, these are the hallmarks of apocalyptic and messianic cults like that of David Koresh of Waco, Texas fame. The hope of the Qumran apocalypticists was that God would directly intervene in history. This hope, the reader will know, was also shared by the early Church and its later children. It is now to the early Church and its apocalyptic strand that we now turn.