Community Rule  [1QS]

Hebrew: Serekh ha Yachad

Most important non-canonical ms. discovered in cave 1 at Qumran (1947). It was originally purchased by the Syrian Orthodox archbishop of Jerusalem but later acquired by the state of Israel (1954). It was first published in English as the Manual of Discipline (1951). Fragments of 10 other copies were later found in Cave 4 & another in Cave 5.

1QS is a six foot scroll [11 columns] of a communal handbook that was found almost intact [beginning & bottom edge missing], containing instructions for initiates into a hierarchical covenant community [yachad] of the "sons of light" led by Zadokite priests who separated from the "sons of darkness" to purify themselves in preparation for impending last judgment. It ends with a long hymn by a penitent celebrating the purification of the elect & their union with "the sons of Heaven." 

Parallels between the contents of this community rule & Josephus' descriptions of the Essenes are largely responsible for the modern scholarly consensus that the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were Essenes.

Other resources on line:

  • The Community Rule - images of fragments found in cave 4 [4Q258] in Library of Congress' on-line scrolls exhibit.

Other important Dead Sea Scrolls

Perspective on the World of Jesus

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