The Jerusalem of the End of Days, Lawrence H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia 1994.


The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness, in describing the great cosmic battle to take place before the End of Days, outlines the tactics and rituals to be followed during the war.
The war will start-

… when the exiles of the Sons of Light return from the Wilderness of the Nations to encamp in the Wilderness of Jerusalem. (WAR SCROLL 1-3)

During the first phase of the war, the Qumran sectarians will be deployed somewhere in the Judaean wilderness close to Jerusalem. The scroll alludes to this base of operations, or perhaps to Jerusalem itself after its conquest, in a description of the battle trumpets that will signal-

the way of returning from battle with the enemy so as to come to the congregation at Jerusalem. (WAR SCROLL 3-10–11)

These trumpets were to be inscribed with the words “Rejoicings of God upon returning in peace.”
A similar motif appears in a chain of biblical verses about the messianic era that are given a sectarian interpretation. In a passage apparently referring to the victory of the Sons of Light in the eschatological battle, the text declares-

and they shall enter Zion with gladness and Jerusalem [with eternal joy]. (CATENA A 12–13 I 10)

The author is paraphrasing Isaiah 35-10 and 51-11. According to the sectarian view, the Sons of Light, after destroying Belial and the people of his lot, will all be gathered together, presumably in the holy city (Catena A 12–13 I 10–11).

Further on, in describing the purity rules for the military camp, the War Scroll specifies that “no young boy and no woman shall enter their encampments when they go forth from Jerusalem to go to battle” (War Scroll 7-3–4). The battle clearly starts from Jerusalem.

A beautiful poetic passage, actually a pastiche of biblical phrases, is found in the War Scroll (12-12–14). We have already discussed a section of this poem, but we present here the entire unit-

Zion, rejoice exceedingly,

and shine forth in songs of joy, O Jerusalem,

and be joyful, all (you) cities of Judah.

Open [your] gates forever,

to let enter into you the wealth of the nations,

and their kings shall serve you.

All who afflicted you shall bow down to you,

And the dust [of your feet they shall lick.]

In the End of Days Jerusalem will rejoice as its children triumph over their enemies. Those who afflicted Jerusalem will then be forced to pay tribute.

Very similar is the beautiful prayer termed Apostrophe to Zion, preserved in the Psalms Scroll (22-1–15), a pastiche of biblical phrases in the same style as the shorter poem from the War Scroll cited earlier-

I will remember you for a blessing, O Zion,

I have loved you with all my might;

may your memory be blessed for ever!

Great is your hope, O Zion,

that peace and your longed-for salvation will come.

Generation after generation will dwell in you,

and generations of the pious will be your glory.

Those who yearn for the day of your redemption,

that they may rejoice in your great glory.

They are nourished from the abundance of your glory,

and in your beautiful squares they walk.

You will remember the kindness of your prophets,

and in the deeds of your pious ones you will glory.

Purge violence from your midst,

falsehood and dishonesty should be eradicated from you.

Your children will rejoice in your midst,

and your friends will join together with you.

How many have hoped for your redemption,

and your pure ones have mourned for you.

Your hope, O Zion, shall not perish,

nor will your longing be forgotten.

Who is it who has ever perished in righteousness,

or who is it that has ever escaped in his iniquity?

A person is tested according to his way(s),

one will be requited according to his deeds.

All around your enemies are cut off, O Zion,

and all those who hate you have scattered.

Praise of you is pleasing, O Zion,

cherished throughout the world.

Many times will I remember you for a blessing,

with all my heart I will bless you.

May you attain everlasting justice,

and may you receive the blessings of magnates.

May you merit the fulfillment of the vision prophesied about you,

the dream of the prophets which was sought for you.

Be exalted and spread far and wide, O Zion,

praise the Most High, your Redeemer;

may my soul rejoice at (the revelation of) your glory!

It is difficult to add any comment to this stirring poem that so eloquently expresses the Jewish people’s dreams for the city of Jerusalem, from the time of King David until the present. The poem’s inclusion in the liturgically oriented Psalms Scroll demonstrates that the Qumran sect shared in the fundamental Jewish loyalty to the holy city.

Most important, Jerusalem is to be a spiritual center for the sect in the End of Days. Florilegium describes the rebuilding of the Temple by God himself, as well as the stricter purity standards for admission to this new Temple. Then the shoot of David, certainly a messianic figure (in accord with Amos 9- 11), will-

arise together with the Interpreter of the Law who [will rule] in Zi[on in] the End of Days. (FLORILEGIUM 1-11–12)

In the future age, Zion, that is, Jerusalem, will be the seat of the messianic king and a center of authoritative interpretation of the Torah.

A number of important Aramaic manuscripts, mostly very fragmentary, and one Hebrew fragment, together constitute the New Jerusalem texts, so-called because they describe a new Jerusalem, presumably in the End of Days. However, the name of the city never appears in these texts; the name has been derived based on a New Testament parallel (Revelations 21-1–22-5). Clearly eschatological in nature, the text does not specifically reflect the ideals of the sect, but neither does it contradict sectarian views in any way. Although this text most probably belongs to the literary heritage known to the sect in its early years, its composition cannot predate the Hellenistic period.
Written in the form of a guided tour under the direction of a heavenly figure, the New Jerusalem describes an ideal town plan for a rebuilt Jerusalem of gargantuan proportions. All measurements are minutely recorded. According to the substantial fragments from cave 5, the tour begins with the exterior walls that are fitted with gates bearing the names of the tribes of Israel, similar to the outer court of the Temple complex described in the Temple Scroll. The city gates are described in detail. This future Jerusalem is to be laid out in a symmetrical manner, like the Greek cities of late antiquity. Throughout the city run major and minor cross streets, creating large blocks of houses in the style of the later Roman apartment blocks, which included smaller houses within them. Led by the guide into one of these blocks, the visionary begins with a detailed account of the gate complex-

[And he showed me the measurements of the gates of the blocks, and their width] was two reeds which are fo[urte]en cubits…. [And he measured] the wid[th of every th]reshold, two reeds which are fourteen cubits. [And its lintel was one cubit …] [And he measured at every] threshold the do[or on] it. He measured inside the thr[esh]old. Its length was [thirteen] cubits [and its width ten cubits]. (NEW JERUSALEM D 1 I 15–17)

Winding staircases lead to the upper story of each house. Although the city is of great proportions, the houses are of normal size.

Following this description is an account of the Temple located within this ideal city. In the fragments from cave 11, the visionary reports seeing the sacrificial practices of the Temple being performed-

[And I watched until it was di]vided among the eighty-four priests [… Two (loaves of) bre]ad upon which was incense […. I kept watching until one of the two loaves] was given to the [high] priest … [and the other was given to the assistant (priest) who was stan]ding apart … (NEW JERUSALEM E VII 3–7)

The visionary observes a variety of sacrificial rites and animals. Obviously, the New Jerusalem texts expected the Temple to be a part of the future Jerusalem.

Despite their common themes, the Temple Scroll and the New Jerusalem do not really complement one another. But they share in common the aspiration that Jerusalem would fulfill the visions of the prophets and constitute a giant metropolis in the End of Days. God himself would build a new Temple in the midst of a well-planned city, a place of sacrificial perfection and ritual purity.
To the Dead Sea sect, the city of Jerusalem represented three things- the polluted society and sanctuary from which they had chosen to withdraw; the dwelling place of the divine presence, regulated by specific legal requirements regarding the Temple and its service; and the sect’s final destination in the End of Days, where a perfect Temple, built by God, would arise in the heart of a perfect city spreading out in all directions.

Pages 391-394

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