(Dead Sea Scrolls)
As it starts out, it’s very intriguing. It sounds like a mystery or something like that. They have given us a translation or transliteration here. Item Number One: “In the fortress which is in the Vail of Akhar forty cubits under the steps entering to the east, a money chest and its contents, a weight of seventeen talents.” That’s a lot of money buried there. Here’s another one: “In the trough of the palace basin the tithe vessels consisting of the [see, they hid the sacred vessels too so the Romans wouldn’t get them] and for all the tithes stored for the seventh year produce. The second tithe from the mouths of the opening, the bottom of the water conduit six cubits from the north toward the hewn immersion pool.” They cleverly buried that under the swimming pool so that nobody would guess that that’s where it was, under the floor of the pool. These are very clever places where they hid this stuff. Of course, we don’t know how to locate them today. “In the underground passage which is in the court a wooden barrel inside a bath measure of untithed goods, seventy talents of silver.” That’s a lot too. It goes on and on like this. “In the cistern which is nineteen cubits in front of the eastern gateway are vessels and a hollow that in it has ten talents.” It has a Greek code writing on it. It goes on, but the ones that are most interesting, of course, are the ones where it tells us that there are records buried—that there are documents which they preserved just exactly as Lehi’s people were careful to preserve them.
Here’s more temple stuff: “In the court of blank, blank—nine cubits under the southern corner, gold and silver vessels for the tithe, sprinkling basins, cups, sacrificial bowls . . .” Remember the caves we looked at. (We might as well pass this thing around the way we do in school.) This is the one about Bar Kokhba. There’s a perfectly preserved bag, just the kind you get in Mexico today, with keys, vessels, and kitchen tools in it. You can look at the stuff there; just pass it around. We’re not going to spend any time on this. It’s just to show you what we have. It’s interesting that here is the way they were found originally, and they were kept on these copper rolls which were originally plates like this. Then they were riveted together and rolled up to be hidden with the other rolls. They were easier to handle that way.
Question: When we see brass in the Old Testament, are we supposed to read bronze? Answer: Well, you can read bronze. They did have brass, the alloy of copper and nickel, but, of course, copper and tin was much commoner. The word bronze doesn’t occur in the King James Bible at all because it wasn’t used until the 1880s. It wasn’t an English word at all; it was a French word. We use brass which means bronze. All you do is drop the n. But in the King James version when they know it means bronze,” they always say brass because the word bronze was not used, not only in the seventeenth century; it wasn’t used even until the middle of the nineteenth century. In Joseph Smith’s time they didn’t use the word bronze at all. That was a word for artists in Paris to use, and it was a new thing. Everything was brass. Brass or bronze is a copper alloy, and that’s what this is too. This is not pure copper. Here’s one of the figured coins. These were very well hidden. “The inner chamber of the platform of the double gate facing east, the northern entrance, buried three cubits deep. Hidden under it is a pitcher, in it one scroll and under it forty-two talents.” So they were hiding their documents too.
Question: How many of these things have they recovered? Answer: None of them. They don’t know where these things were. They have looked for some. They might blunder on some, but the scene has changed considerably. It’s like going into San Francisco now after the earthquake and trying to find something. Here’s another one. Where would you look for this? “In the drain pipe which is in the eastern path to the treasury which is beside the entrance, tithe jars and scrolls among the jars.” And another one: “In the stubble field of the Shaveh facing southwest in an underground passage looking north, buried at twenty-four cubits . . .” That’s way down there, you see; it’s thirty-six feet deep in a field. Well, you start looking for it and see if you can find it. Dig thirty-six feet here, there, and everywhere. And so it goes. “In the funnel [they don’t know what that is] in the water pipe that runs to the basin of the drain buried seven cubits under the toilet . . .” Well, there it is nicely hidden. The last place people wanted to mess around was inside these things. So much for the Copper Scroll here. We have to get on now with what we were talking about.
Now, that book Bar Kokhba that’s going around there is very important. The theme is “out of the dust.” It’s a Book of Mormon motif that’s very clear. This would mean a lot to the Jews, as far as this goes. Professor Yadin has been here a number of times. As I said, we spent some very fascinating evenings with him because he is a great talker. He was the commander in the 1948 war and told about the narrow escapes they had (quite a story). But he was the one in charge of that dig, and he said, “The Israeli scholars were understandably moved. We found that our emotions were a mixture of tension and awe yet astonishment and pride at being part of the reborn state of Israel after a diaspora of eighteen hundred years.” Remember, what the Lord tells us in chapter 24 of Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price: This is going to be the number one scattering of the Jews, worse than any persecution they’ve ever known before or after [paraphrased]. This was it: Eighteen hundred years of being nonpersons, having no privileges and no protection whatever, was a terrible time. That’s the way Professor Yadin put this, and this is the way Nephi put it: “And it shall be as if the fruit of thy loins had cried out unto them from the dust for I know their faith. They shall cry from the dust, even after many generations have gone by.”
See the pictures of the caves. They are in dust up to their ears there because these things were actually buried under the dust. They weren’t just left there casually. These documents were buried. That’s important—and still being able to read them on the spot. They were able to pick them up and read them right off. Nephi said, “For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust” (2 Nephi 26:16). That’s exactly the effect you have here. They were absolutely awed and overwhelmed when they could read these records of their own ancestors—open them and read them as if they had been written the day before. “These texts were deliberately buried. The people who left these records died soon after they buried them, and died on the spot, the victims of a savage religious war. And 2 Nephi 26:16 says, “For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground.”
What do these records contain? These records are from the Cave of Documents. [Documents from] the caves you find from 70 B.C., from the earlier destruction up north at Qumran and all around there, are doctrinal. They are full of doctrine, as we will see. But these are the accounts of their doings, their business records, etc., and there are a lot of them. Documents and military and civil correspondence are in the words of Mormon. “For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, . . . Wherefore, as those who have been destroyed have been destroyed speedily . . .” (2 Nephi 26:17–18). In one night they were wiped out. The Romans didn’t even bother to go in the caves. They didn’t bother to go over there at all. They knew the people couldn’t escape; they just died in the caves—terrible thing. “Not only all their letters and legal papers, but their household effects and their bones were left behind in the caves. As to the destroyers,” says Yadin, “nothing remains here today of the Romans save a heap of stones on the face of the desert. But here the descendants of the besieged are returning to salvage their ancestors’ precious belongings.” And again 2 Nephi 26:18 tells us: “And the multitude of their terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away.” The enemy just disappeared. That happened to the Romans, and so it goes.
We have the story here of the fighters under Bar Kokhba. Or in the Book of Mormon in turn between Lehi and the refugees in the desert, and Moroni, the hero, fighting against fearful odds to save his people. Bar Kokhba was, of course, the hero. We have letters actually signed by him from these caves—not just the story of Bar Kokhba that was preserved in Greek, passed down through the Middle Ages, and turned up in Warsaw somewhere in the ghetto in a printed version from the seventeenth century. That’s the way we usually get stuff, you know. But these are the original documents.
And, “The army’s mighty world-conquering powers determined to hold Palestine and subdue the Jews for that purpose.” From Lehi’s day we are told about the rich lady, Babata, and the metal objects. The practice of fleeing to these caves is far older than Lehi’s day. Of course, this comes seven centuries after Lehi’s day. But we know they were doing it three thousand years before—going to these same caves, bringing their household effects, storing their valuable temple vessels, etc., in these caves. It was the usual practice. So the Lord tells them, when the “abomination of desolation” comes, then flee to the mountains and don’t turn back. You stay there; it’s going to be worse than ever [paraphrased].
Then the autograph of Bar Kokhba himself. “Bar Kokhba’s people reissued Roman coins as slogans of liberty resembling those on the trumpets in the armies of the Battle Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Such devices are ‘year of redemption of Israel,’ ‘year of freedom of Israel,’ or ‘freedom of Jerusalem.’ ” Notice, they use the word “freedom” a great deal. That sounds modern, and some say, “Well, that’s Joseph Smith; he got it from his American background.” These people who fled from Jerusalem to save themselves, and Lehi among them, did it for freedom. Remember what they told Zoram? Come down to us where we are in the desert, and you shall be a free man. So it is here. And compare this with Moroni’s standard: “In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, our peace, our wives and children.” We’re talking about the Title of Liberty and the like in the Cave of Letters. We talked about Alma, son of Judah.
Here’s a very interesting thing. “This is a correspondence between Bar Kokhba and a general commanding up north,” he says. Bar Kokhba had to deal with just such characters as those Alma had to deal with, and he did it in the same way. “To the brothers [for he called them his brothers, as Moroni always called them his brothers when he wrote his letters] in the city of En-gedi [from the Cave of Letters that’s just a half-hour walk] he personally wrote a letter in Hebrew that survives to this day: ‘In comfort you sit eating and drinking from the property of the House of Israel and care nothing for your brothers.’ ” Thus Yadin says. Then we read in Alma 60:1, 7, “Behold I direct mine epistle to Pahoran in the city of Zarahemla . . . and also to all those who have been chosen by this people to govern and manage the affairs of this war. . . . Can you think to sit upon your thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor, while your enemies are spreading the work of death around you? Yea while they are murdering thousands of your brethren.” It’s the same situation, and the same answer too. The answer was that Moroni was wrong: Pahoran hadn’t betrayed, and he had actually been driven out himself. The crooked crowd had taken over the government, and he was in hiding himself. So it was misunderstood.
The same thing happens here exactly. He says, “Why haven’t you brought help to us.” Remember, Moroni accused Pahoran of withholding supplies. Another leader, Galgula, was called to task by Bar Kokhba for holding out supplies, including a cow. He wrote to his superiors, and here was his answer to Bar Kokhba. He said, “We haven’t been sitting on our thrones idle. Were it not for the Gentiles [meaning the Romans] who are near us, I would have gone up and satisfied you concerning this lest you say that it is out of contempt that I did not come to you.” Moroni ran into just such a situation with Pahoran, where he [Pahoran] said, “And it is those who have sought to take away the judgment-seat from me that have been the cause of this great iniquity. . . . They have withheld our provisions, and have daunted our freeman that they have not come unto you. . . . And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry” (Alma 61:4, 9). Well, they are almost too close. It would be a damning circumstance if these things had been found after the Book of Mormon came out; you would know where Joseph Smith got them all. They were found before. The explanation can be found with the Jewish people here.
Let’s get on to the situation here. Now this article by Golb that I put on reserve. Did I talk about this one? “Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?” Yes, we mentioned this and the picture he gives us. What do you have? The whole length of the Dead Sea here. There’s Lisān. That’s getting very shallow now; you can walk right across there in a dry year. Here’s the Jordan, here’s Qumran, and here’s En-gedi. Here’s the cave where they found the scrolls, etc. This is Masada thirty miles down here. These deposits were made in the year A.D. 70 when the Romans under Vespasian were besieging the city. The Jews were driven out, but they came back and settled. Then they revolted under Bar Kokhba. They were beaten finally and were banished from ever coming back to Israel again. They could never come back to Jerusalem again. After A.D. 130 it was a death sentence for a Jew to be found in Jerusalem. So the Jews were out there, and they moved to Pella up here a ways. It’s in Jordan now. They [archaeologists] are still excavating and have all sorts of stuff there. That’s where the earliest Jewish settlement was. This is what happened. They were moving out of Jerusalem, but they moved in a broad front. Here are the caves of Murabbaat. There are thousands of documents here—five to eight hundred different texts. They moved here and here, down to farms here, and down to the Nabataean country. They left documents all along here from the whole period. These aren’t the documents of some little sect, which, as Pliny says, was only four thousand people. These represented the prevailing Judaism at Jerusalem before the rabbis took over.
Now I’ll tell you the story of Johanan Ben Zakkai. In the time of Lehi, 587 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and took the Jews back to Babylonia. Well, what didn’t they have anymore? They didn’t have a temple anymore. But the doctors carried on; they had their own school. They didn’t have a temple, but most of the doctors were glad to see the temple gone because they didn’t hold any priesthood. They were just learned men. The Book of Mormon has marvelous comments on what they do. Remember, they were always “looking beyond the mark,”—too smart for their britches. They will argue in three volumes about one verse, etc. They love to do that—love to split hairs. They will cavil on a tenth part of a straw. So the doctors carried on in the School of Pumbeditha in Babylonia, and there were the masters of the two great schools there who presided over the prince of the captivity when the prince was inaugurated and crowned. They had their own prince there, etc. But the two schools dominated everything. When they came back to Jerusalem, they continued to function. They weren’t priests; they didn’t operate in the temple. But the temple, under Nehemiah, was rebuilt. During this time in Jerusalem there were these two bodies.
When Vespasian was besieging Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70, Ben Zakkai was head of the schools there—not of the temple, but of the schools. The Romans blockaded the city, and, as at Masada, there was a famine. The people were dying like flies, and Ben Zakkai wanted to rescue the people. He said, “If we go out and make a concession with the Romans, then they will let us go. We can make a deal with them and at least save our lives.” But the famous Zealots were led by Ben Zakkai’s own brother-in-law [nephew] who was called Abba Sikra (Sakkara). They were the Sicarii. At all times in the Roman Empire, there were the terrorists who were known as the Sicarii. A sicarius is a short knife, sikein in Semitic language. It is a short knife that you can keep hidden under your robe or shirt. The Sicarii went around with these knives in a crowd, and there were great crowds in those days. They could knock somebody off and slip away in the crowd and never be caught. They were an institution such as you find in the Book of Mormon, the Gadiantons. They got away with it. He was head of the Sicarii, and they were the Zealots. They had sworn that they would not allow anybody to make any concessions to the Romans at all. Anyone who did so would be a traitor. Well, he was the brother-in-law of Ben Zakkai who came to him and said, “What do we do? These people are dying. How can I get out of the city? If I could only talk with Vespasian, I could make a deal with him.” Abba Sikra said, “I’ll allow you to go this time. How are you going to get out of town?”
Well, they had a plan. Ben Zakkai’s students announced for several days that he was very ill and that he got sicker. Then it was announced that he was dead. So he climbed into a coffin, perfectly healthy. They were carrying him out of the gate, but the Sicarii were guarding the gate and wouldn’t allow anyone to leave at all. They would make no concessions and said, “You can’t go out and join the Romans. You can’t leave.” They said, “Who’s going there?” “It’s the head of the schools, the great Ben Zakkai,” was the reply. They said, “Well, we have to do the usual thing.” They always put a spear into people going out to make sure they were really dead and weren’t just trying to get out of the city. The students raised a uproar, “Do you mean to say that you will abuse the great prince of the schools here?” So they let him go out. As soon as he was out, he went to see the Emperor Vespasian. Ben Zakkai was introduced. He was quite famous, and Vespasian knew about him. Vespasian was a very shrewd, very honest, and quite a kind man—one of the best emperors they ever had. He [Ben Zakkai] went in to Vespasian and said, “Hail, Vespasian—king, emperor!”
Vespasian said, “You must be mistaken; I’m not a king or emperor.”
He said, “Today you will be emperor. Hail, Vespasian, emperor.” As they were talking, a messenger came in all out of breath and announced that Vitellius had died and that the Senate had chosen Vespasian to be emperor. So then he was willing to grant Ben Zakkai anything he wanted. He said, “What do you want; what can I grant you?” Well, he asked a very simple thing. He said, “Grant me that I and my students may leave the city and go over the Jordan and found a school at Jamnia.” So they founded the first rabbinical school. Jerusalem was destroyed, and the temple was destroyed and never rebuilt. The rabbis were glad to see it go; they were too much in competition. As I said, they had no priesthood, and they argued about the temple. So this became the rabbinical schools and normative Judaism. It’s the rabbis that have been deciding what’s Judaism and what isn’t.
But what were they teaching before A.D. 70? That’s what we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s very clear that it’s not just the teachings of some little sect in the desert. This represented, on this broad front, people retreating by the thousands and bringing these documents. They tell us what was really being taught by the Jews in the time before the fall of Jerusalem. Here’s where we check with the Book of Mormon because these writings have been very unpopular. (I notice I had some articles here that I attached to this one.) I said that Allegro lost his job at Oxford because he pointed out in 1960 that from 1950 to 1960 the scrolls were suppressed. And as I said, we had Joseph Fitzmeyer teaching here a few summers—the foremost scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Incidentally, my daughter is teaching along with him now as a teaching assistant at Catholic University, of all things. She’s a medievalist; she loves the Middle Ages. The only place you can get it is Catholic University, so there she is. Anyway, Joseph Fitzmeyer said that not five percent of them had been translated. They wouldn’t touch them with a forty-foot pole. I’ll have to show you some of these, but we’re not going to talk about them. Here are just some copies of scrolls; these are not the original scrolls, you understand.
Here is the Enoch Scroll that wasn’t published until 1976. It was published by Oxford, and Father Milik and Matthew Black were the ones involved. Matthew Black did the English version of Father Milik’s. Matthew Black was here for a week and had a great time. He was here at the very time this came out. He was completely bowled over by Joseph Smith’s book of Enoch. He always said, “Well, we’ll explain that someday. Someday something will turn up that explains it. He had some sort of source.” Of course, Joseph Smith didn’t. We can’t go into this, but this is the Enoch Scroll which is very valuable. But see, it was withheld for twenty years. Everybody was scared to death of it. Father Milik read it.
Here’s the Milhāmāh Scroll, the War Scroll. This is a transliteration of the text. Here you find the “order of battle” which you don’t find in the Bible. Of course, there are 114 pages of wars in the Book of Mormon. So you can check up on strategy, tactics, and all the rest of it there very nicely. Here’s the Zadokite Fragment, but we can’t go into this today. (We can get photographs of them.) These were found in Damascus and are called the Damascus covenant. They were found in a wall there, in a genizah where you can find these. The Zadokites were another group that ran off after they left Qumran. The Romans came and drove them out. Just as they drove Alma out of his wilderness place, the Romans drove the Jews out of Qumran. Then the Jews migrated on up to Damascus and carried on up there. So we have scrolls from Damascus too carried by the people of Jerusalem and spread all over the place. Then farther out in the desert at a place called Racine there was another settlement of them, which I visited and wrote up in the Revue de Qumran some years ago. So you find them all over the place here. That’s the Zadokite Fragment. These people really belonged down at Qumran.
Here’s the Hodayot Scroll (the Thanksgiving Scroll), the hymns of praise. They are biographical of certain prophets and teachers, and it’s the story of Alma and the story of Abinadi. They are matched up parallel right down the line, including their churches in the wilderness being driven out and the rules they made and all this sort of thing. Here’s the Genesis Apocryphon which was found in Cave One. It was the first one found. This was edited by Father Fitzmeyer himself. It’s the story of Abraham in Egypt that fills in all the blanks with things that aren’t found in the Bible. There are eleven chapters in the Bible about Abraham, but it doesn’t have these stories. But our book of Abraham has them—the story of Abraham and Sarah with Pharaoh, etc. So there we are again.
Here’s the most valuable of all. It didn’t come out until 1977, and it also was edited by Yigael Yadin. We were visited by various people—by Rabbi Milgrom from Berkeley and by Abraham Kaplan from Israel, the foremost authority on the temple. See, they [the Jews] are going to rebuild the temple, but they are scared to death of it. They are very good friends of ours. Milgrom is a rabbi and professor of Hebrew at Berkeley, and Kaplan is from Israel. They both tell us that they are very much frightened. In fact, three years ago I was invited (rather commanded) back to Washington, D.C., where they had a big powwow among the Christians and the Jews about the rebuilding of the temple. What are the Jews going to do about it? They were frightened because of two things. The first is who’s going to be in charge? This is the Temple Scroll here, and it’s a long one. Here’s the scroll; it’s the longest of all, about sixty-eight feet long. It goes on and on and on. Unfortunately, it was hidden under a floor in Kando’s Grocery Store up in Jerusalem. This part was rotted away by water. But there it is as plain as day. It describes what the Jews do in the temple, and it’s not the temple you find in the Old Testament. It’s very close to our temple. It’s not identical; you can well understand that. But the things that worried them were: Who’s going to be in charge? This says the Levites, not the Cohens, are in charge. That’s going to mean trouble. The other thing is, “When we get the thing built, what are we going to do with it?” They come to us to find out what you do in a temple.
Here’s the 4Q, the Cave Four Enoch. So it goes. These scrolls are really something all of a sudden. I think they are best of all for the Book of Mormon. Here’s something from Vermes, the foremost Roman Catholic scholar: “The impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls on Jewish studies during the last twenty-five years . . .” [ Brother Nibley forgot to finish this quotation.] That was in 1975–76 before this suppressed stuff came out, and at that time they were suppressing them. And here’s Rudolph Meyer writing the same thing in November 1976 in the Theologische Literaturzeitung. He says, “It’s clear by this time that interest has vanished in the scrolls.” How very interesting: they dropped them like a hot potato before they even looked very far in them. The Christians didn’t like them because they were too Jewish. The Jews didn’t like them because they were too Christian, and we will see why presently. He says, “It is clear that the high tide in the discussion of Qumran has long ago been withdrawing, and the tide has gone out again.” He says that there’s no loss there. He’s glad to see it go “because what we should do now is for a time engage in intensive studies on details which have been completely overlooked.” All people have been doing is generalizing and really gotten nowhere.
So we get these various people telling us these things. They did everything to suppress them and fought about them. I had the field all to myself in 1964 when the Palestine Museum, which was in Jordan not in Jerusalem at that time, was entirely deserted. I had Joseph Saad all to myself. He was the director of the whole operation. The Rockefeller Foundation supplied the funds, but they had to have committees of Protestants, Catholics, Greek Catholics, and Jews to interpret these. They farmed out the various scrolls to different groups to get them out. The Enoch Scroll and the Temple Scroll were delayed for as much as twenty-seven years. They refused to let them out. He had the scroll in his possession for twenty-seven years, and he didn’t want to let it out (Yadin had it, and so did Milik). They were worried about these things. But now we get them, so let’s see what they say. That’s about the best thing we can do now.
This is a very important one, the Sereh Scroll. It’s called “Cave One of Qumran, Serekh” (serekh meaning “the opening words are”). Doctrine and Covenants is what it is. The serekh is the order of the church, and this is the Serekh Scroll. This was called The Manual of Discipline when it was first found. Usually it’s MS just like the Damascus Fragment, but they call it the Serekh Scroll now because that’s what the Hebrews call it. Isn’t it lucky though? What a break! If we hadn’t found this, we would still be wondering to this day what this could all possibly be about. But in the very first cave they opened there were seven jars against the wall. In these seven jars were manuscripts. In this was the manuscript that is the explanation of what the whole thing is about. This tells us the order of the church, why these people are here, what their object is in coming out here, etc. And it’s not sectarian here. This is a very interesting thing why they have come out here. These records have been hidden, but they were written in Jerusalem–not written out here apparently, as Golb says. There wasn’t a scriptorian. They only had two desks and one ink bottle, and that was it. No pens or anything like that.
Question: When were these written? Answer: The scrolls run from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D., nothing later than A.D. 70. We can take these dates from the coins, etc., that were found around. The ones down south that were found in the dust come from about A.D. 132 because the Jews came back and tried to make a go of it again. But they didn’t have a temple then. It was all gone, and they were not going to get it back again. But this is what they were out doing. This came first of all, and it was quite exciting how they got it. The building where it was, St. Mark’s Monastery, was bombed and completely destroyed about an hour after it was taken out of there. Otherwise, we would never have known what was going on here. Miller Burrows is the one who gave it the title of “The Manual of Discipline,” and John C. Trevor and Brownlee. Trevor is at Claremont now, where I used to be. It was published in New Haven in 1951. This was just as they came out. It was discovered in 1947 by the boy. But then they [the scrolls] went from hand to hand. There were big arguments about who they belonged to—all sorts of fights and all sorts of funds put up trying to grab them. Millions of dollars were offered for them. Who was to get them, the Christians or the Jews? They were taken to the St. Mark’s Monastery first, and they were smuggled around.
The person you have to deal with to get anything in the scrolls is a sly Greek by the name of Kando who operates a drugstore in Bethlehem. He has an establishment in Jerusalem too, and the Temple Scroll was hidden under the floor of his place in Jerusalem where, unfortunately, it was exposed to ground water which destroyed the whole top half. It’s twenty-eight feet long, and it’s all about the temple. Well, this one is about the temple too and everything else. It starts by saying, “This is the Sefer Serekh.” It’s very clearly written; they copied it. They have obligingly transliterated on the other side (there’s no translation here.) We’re going to have to see what it says. “This is the Sefer Serekh [this is the Book of Rules, the book of ordinances, the Doctrine and Covenants] ha-yaḥad of the church midrash for the teaching of blank, blank, blank which shall be done by those who intend to do good and to return from evil before the face of God as has been commanded by the hand of Moses and by the hand of all the holy prophets.” That use “by the hand of” is a Book of Mormon use that, again, you won’t find in the Bible in this sense. The expression, “We have been rescued by the hand of . . .” made a lot of people laugh about the Book of Mormon. So this is what it is, and it starts out by telling us that this is the Book of the Rules.
There is a supplement to this called the First QSA. That’s this one here. This has the beginning complete that was damaged in the other ones, and it starts out by saying, “And this is the order of all the assembly of Israel in the latter days be-ăḥarît ha-yāmîm when they gather together to form a church.” Georg Mohlin wrote the first Catholic book on the Dead Sea Scrolls. This name yaḥad they call themselves by is usually translated “the unity” or “the community.” It means “the one.” It’s like “the oneness of Zion.” But he analyzed it and said, “The best word we can use for it is church.” We just had Mohlin here, and he said, “The best name we can call these people, is ‘Latter-day Saints.’ Unfortunately, this title has been preempted by a certain sect, so we can’t use it.” But if you wanted to know what the Dead Sea Scrolls people called themselves, it was “Latter-day Saints.” They did; this is what it says when it starts out here, “When they shall be gathered together in the last days to walk according to the ordinances [notice the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants sort of language] of the sons of Zadok.” Zadok is the same word as Melchizedek. Zadok is the priest, and it means “the righteous one.” Melchizedek means “the king of righteousness.” So they not only had the sons of Aaron, but in the last days they were also going to have the ordinances of benei-zadok, of the sons of Zadok. That’s why that one from Damascus is also called the Zadokite Fragment, because they called themselves Zadokites of the higher priesthood of Zadok. As I said, now we know that they came from Jerusalem too. They went over to the east and scattered everywhere. The Mandaeans, who are still going today, are descendants from these Dead Sea Scrolls people. We may return to this Serekh Scroll because it has a very interesting thing to say here.
It starts out here and says, “And when they come here they shall bring all their dacat, mind; all their koaḥ, physical strength; and all their hôn, property and give it to the Church of God.” That’s the yaḥad-ēl. They would do this for various reasons, etc. And then, “They are here for a testing.” Incidentally, in this part we are reading at the beginning here, they have a general meeting until a crowd has come. They assemble them together and read them this and make their covenants, etc. It’s just like the temple. They give them an introductory talk, and this is it. Then they have the ordinances and the covenants that go after. This is all very un-Jewish from the later times because the rabbis had nothing to do with the temple. A rabbi is simply a learned man and nothing else. They are without the temple and haven’t had it for a long time. But this all looks back to the temple. That’s why it sounds so unfamiliar. This quaint old sect. What were they doing out there? They weren’t quaint old sects; they were just the regular Jews.
Quoting from the scroll again: “They shall come here to be tried and be tested, and they shall not return again from following after the covenant from any fear, or any terror of persecution, or any testing of the fire in the government of Satan.” The memshelet-Belial means the government and rule of Satan. In other words they expect persecution. It says they have to covenant not to return from any fear or terror or dread of the fire under the prince of this world. Then after this is given, it says, “And all the people shall join together. All those that are here shall covenant and say, after the priests, ‘Amen, Amen.’ ” Then the priests read an account of the falling away of Israel and the sins of their fathers. First the priests read an account of all the blessings God has bestowed upon them. This is very much like “Coronation of Benjamin” talk, etc. Then the Levites read an account of how Israel has gone astray and fallen and “that’s why we’re here.” They are not restoring the Gospel; they are waiting for more light and knowledge and for the return of the Savior.
Well, the next one is just like the beginning of Luke. Remember, we are told about Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. They were priests. They were direct descendants of Aaron, both of them, and they walked perfectly (tāmîm) after the commandments. “Teleios, “it says. These were the very people to whom the angel came. The angel appeared to Zacharias in the temple, and he became the father of John the Baptist. It begins with him. And, of course, these people were baptists. They were baptizing in the desert very near where John the Baptist baptized. Some say he belonged to this sect, but it wasn’t a sect. He had a group of his own out there. “And the priest shall bless all the men who have accepted the gôrāl [this is something that you receive by lot, your portion, your inheritance; everyone has his own], all those men who have the gôrāl [the inheritance] of God and who walk perfectly in all his ways. And they shall say, ‘Blessed be all those who do righteously.’ ” So they bless those who are walking perfectly after the commandments of God. We are told that Elizabeth and her husband walked perfectly in the commandments. You don’t find that anywhere else except in the first chapter of Luke, and here it turns up in the Dead Sea Scrolls where the priest blesses all those who walk perfectly after the commandments and judgments of God.
Then what’s another one down here? This is the requirements, etc., the order of the first law. We’ll go back here and start reading: “And for the knowledge of every man in Israel every man shall keep himself [Doctrine and Covenants] in the office or position which he holds in the Church of God according to the eternal covenants. And no man shall be considered beneath his office, and no man shall place himself above his office, above the place to which he has been assigned.” But he says, “There is office, but there is no rank. Everyone shall be humble. They shall be equal in all things [there’s emphasis on equality in the Book of Mormon; we get this all the way through], for all are the same as one in the Church of Truth. And they shall be of proper humility and goodness and love and mercy and maḥshevet-tzedek—the thinking of righteous thoughts. For they shall be equal in these things, and these shall be the sons of an eternal foundation.”
So the Jews had pretty fancy ideas, and repentance is the theme. Again, you find that in the Book of Mormon; it’s not a Jewish thing necessarily. Here we are: “For in the spirit of the true cetzāh [plan] of God are all the ways of a man by which he atones for all his abominations.” So they are out to repent and atone. Then it talks about the way to perfection, etc. “And when he returns his soul again to all judgment and righteousness of God, his flesh shall be purified by a washing [this is a washing ordinance] in the waters of niddāh. This means a washing away of filth; there shall be a washing of baptism. At Qumran one of the striking things is their pools—baptism pools, we thought. The Christians who first went there and excavated these (Father De Vaux was in charge of the operation there) wouldn’t have that at all. They said these were just places for dying leather—tanks for leather processing because down at Ein Fashkhathere is an ancient leather plant. But as soon as the Jews took over in 1967 they put signs up everywhere. Now you go there and it says, “These are the places of baptism.” And, of course, that’s what they were. I remember going through with a doctor who wasn’t a member of the Church. He was so impressed by that experience that he got baptized himself. “That was the thing that did it,” he said. “You are right; they baptized out here. They did all the same things.”
Quoting again from the scroll: “And they shall be sanctified in the waters of dôkh. That’s a mysterious word, but it is cognate with our dunk. In the waters of dunking. Tengein means “to dunk,” “to put into the water.” Our word tint comes from that. You tint a thing by dyeing it. You dunk it into the dye and that’s what happens. Well, you wash them in the “blood of the Lamb” and that sort of thing. “These are the various steps by which they shall go on the way of perfection.” They actually use the word, perfection. “Lalekhet tāmîm, to walk perfectly in all the ways of God as he has commanded from dispensation to dispensation.” It has always been the same law, and it is a sort of restoration of the Gospel that they are talking about here. There are some very interesting things here.
“The purifying of a person in the government of tēbel.” Tēbel is the “world down below,” the world we are living on here. It is the lower world while we are here and while we are tempted. “And there are placed before everyone who comes into this world two spirits by which he must walk all the days of his life, and they are for his testing and for his trial.” Of course, they are the spirits that Moroni talks about in Moroni 7. Every man is tempted and enticed by the devil in one direction and tempted and enticed by God in the other direction. The pull is equal, and it is up to him to make the decision which way he will go. This is the “doctrine of the two ways,” it preaches. To every man that comes there are two spirits (and they accompany him all the days of his life) by which he is to be tested. “You obey him whom you list to obey.” So here are the two. And he says, “This is according to God’s plan which he set up from the beginning.”
Here’s what we’ve come out for. “And these are the councils of the spirit for the sons of truth while they are on the earth, and which will be the testing [pequddāh is a testing or a visitation; somebody comes and checks up on you, etc.] of all those who walk in this way. And it is for this: for healing, for increase of peace, for length of days, for the multiplication offspring [these were not celibates out here at all; men, women, and children were buried in the cemetery together] and all the blessings of eternity, and for eternal joy and lives [plural] of glory, [this is nētsaḥ, and it’s the same as the Latin word, nieo, meaning to shine, or to be glorious; nitein, shining, brilliant, the high glory], and for a crown of exaltation middat-hādar, with a garment of glory [hādar is white brilliance] in the light of the eternities.”
A rabbi will tell you, “Well, we don’t have eternal life. Heaven is a philosophical concept.” But this is the sort of language we use, isn’t it? This is not orthodox Judaism. You can see why they didn’t want it. It’s not orthodox Christianity either—this eternal progression thing and getting the crowns, and being tested while you are here. Then we get to the preexistence, the plan as it was made in the beginning.
We are going to go on with the text of the Book of Mormon next time. But this is important: “For they are the chosen of God for an eternal covenant, and to them is all the glory of Adam.” This has upset everybody. They say, “Well, it means man.” But it’s not hā-ādām; there’s no article. It’s a very interesting thing. When Jastrow translated it he wrote, “all the glory of man.” Then in a footnote in the back he said, “This reads ‘the glory of Adam,’ but, of course, we can’t accept that because Adam fell and he didn’t have any glory. He brought ‘death into the world and all our woes.’ ” They don’t like Adam. But when it says “theirs is all the glory of Adam,” you can see why they didn’t like to publish any more scrolls. They don’t want them, and they’ve not been published. You don’t read about them, and there isn’t much excitement about them. They haven’t translated even a fraction of them yet. They know what’s there. It’s amazing, but they don’t like it very much.
This is very important for the Book of Mormon. You can see that because this is the religion of the Book of Mormon. This is the language that Moroni and Nephi use. This was just the beginning. All of these documents use that particular literary genre, the revelations and the histories, etc. And it’s right out of Lehi’s people; yes, indeed.
You can get good paperbacks. You can get Vermes on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Vermes has translated the Dead Sea Scrolls. Just look in the bookstore; you’ll find some good paperback copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls there if you want to read them and see how much like the Book of Mormon they are.