The Essene Book of Discipline from the Dead Sea Scrolls, for reference

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation
by: Michael Wise Martin Abegg, Jr. Edward Cook
HarperSanFrancisco
1996

 

Book of Discipline

 

 

 

Col. 1

A text belonging to [the Instructor, who is to teach the Ho]ly Ones how to live according to the book of the Yahad’s Rule. He is to teach them to seek God with all their heart and with all their soul, to do that which is good and upright before Him, just as He commanded through Moses and all His servants the prophets. He is to teach them to love everything He chose and to hate everything He rejected, to distance themselves from all evil and to hold fast to all good deeds; to practice truth, justice, and righteousness in the land, and to walk no longer in a guilty, willful heart and lustful desires, wherein they did every evil thing. He is to induct all who volunteer to live by the laws of God into the Covenant of Mercy, so as to be joined to God’s society and walk faultless before Him, according to all that has been revealed for the times appointed them. He is to teach them both to love all the Children of Light–each commensurate with his rightful place in the council of God–and to hate all the Children of Darkness, each commensurate with his guilt stand the vengeance due him from God.

All who volunteer for His truth are to bring the full measure of their knowledge. strength, and wealth into the Yahad of God. Thus will they purify their knowledge in the verity of God’s laws, properly excercise their strength according to the perfection of His ways, and likewise their wealth by the canon of His righteous counsel. They are not to deviate in the smallest detail from any of God’s words as these apply to their own nme. They are neither to advance their holy times nor to postpone any of their prescribed festivals. They shall turn aside from His unerring laws neither to the right nor the left.

Rules for the conduct of the community. In the first section the rules are general and abstract.

Col. 5

This is the rule for the men of the Yahad who volunteer to repent from all evil and to hold test to all that He, by His good will, has commanded.

They are to separate from the congregation of perverse men. They are to come together as one with respect to Law and wealth. Their discussions shall be under the oversight of the Sons of Zadok–priests and preservers of the Covenant–and according to the majority rule of the men of the Yahad, who hold fast to the Covenant. These men shall guide all decisions on matters of Law, money, and judgment.

They are to practice truth together with humility, charity, justice, loving-kindness, and modesty in all their ways. Accordingly, none will continue in a willful heart and thus be seduced, not by his heart, neither by his eyes nor yet by his lower nature. Together they shall circumcise the foreskin of this nature, this stiff neck, and so establish a foundation of truth for Israel–that is to say, for the Yahad of the Eternal Covenant. They are to atone for all those in Aaron who volunteer for holiness, and for those in Israel who belong to truth, and for Gentile proselytes who join them in community. Both by trial and by verdict they are to condemn any who transgress a regulation.

General principles of organization intended to govern the various local chapters of the Community in their joint meals and study of the Bible.

By these rules they are to govern themselves wherever they dwell, in acccordance with each legal finding that bears upon communal life. Inferiors must obey their ranking superiors as regards work and wealth. They shall eat, pray, and deliberate communally.Wherever ten men belonging to the society of the Yahad are gathered, a priest must always be present. The men shall sit before the priest by rank, and in that manner their opinions will be sought on any matter.When the table has been set for eating or the new wine readied for drinking, it is the priest who shall stretch out his hand first, blessing the first portion of the bread or the new wine. In any place where is gathered the ten-man quorum, someone must always be engaged in study of the Law, day and night, continually, each one taking his turn. The general membership will be diligent together for the first third of every night of the year, reading aloud from the Book, interpreting Scripture, and praying together.

The purpose of tlie community, its manfesto, is reiterated. This statement ends by looking forward to the arrival of a prophet–perhaps the “prophet like Moses” predicted by the book of Dueteronomy, or perhaps a herald such as John the Baptist became for early Christians–and two messiahs, one priestly and one presumably in the royal line of David.

When, united by all these precepts, such men as these come to be a community in Israel, they shall establish eternal truth guided by the instruction of His holy spirit. They shall atone for the guilt of transgression and the rebellion of sin, becoming an acceptable sacrifice for the land through the flesh of burnt offerings. the fat of sacrificial portions, and prayer, becoming–as it were–justice itself, a sweet savor of righteousness and blameless behavior, a pleasing freewill offering. At that time the men of the Yahad shall withdraw, the holy house of Aaron uniting as a Holy of Holies, and the synagogue of Israel as those who walk blamelessly. The sons of Aaron alone shall have authority in judicial and financial matters. They shall decide on governing precepts tor the men of theYahad and on money matters for the holy men who walk blamelessly. Their wealth is not to be admired with that of rebellious men, who have failed to cleanse their path by separating from perversity and walking blamelessly. They shall deviate trom none of the teachings of the Law, whereby they would walk in their willful heart completely. They shall govern themselves using the original precepts by which the men of the Yahad began to be instructed, doing so until there come the Prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel.

The Dead Sea Scrolls a new translation. (c) 1996 by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook. Reprinted by arrangement with Harper San Francisco, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

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