The Scriptorium at the Qumran Community
Well, I guess I have to talk about the Essenes and the Qumran community in addition to talking about the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you missed the Dead Sea Scrolls Caves, you might want to also visit there to learn more about the scrolls.
It is generally believed that Essenes lived in this community, but there has been quite a bit of debate on that subject, especially of late. Some believe that the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls in the room on the left, called The Scriptorium. Several inkwells were found in the room when it was excavated. The Dead Sea is behind and to the left of the photograph. The Caves that the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in are in the mountains behind and to the right of the photograph. I believe that Ezra (the tour guide in the photograph) is pointing to the caves.
A logical question is: if this community was not an Essene community, what was it? Some believe it was a villa for the rich (but it isn't luxurious enough in many scholar's opinions). Others believe it was a fort, but it really isn't well fortified, though it does seem that the Zealots used it briefly as such before fleeing to Masada in about 70 AD.
And now to the next stop...oh, you want to know more about the Essenes and the scrolls. Very well. The Essenes were another party of Israelites at the time of Christ in addition to the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and the Herodians (supporters of Herod). The well known historian Josephus tells us that the Essenes were celibate and had very strict codes on purity. They separated from other Jews, who they felt were not keeping the law. If the Essenes did write the Dead Sea Scrolls (commonly abbreviated DSS), they were not very strict on the celibate part. Before recently, it was believed that the Essenes were a split from the Pharisees. However, the scrolls tend to indicate more of a split from the Sadducees (who were mostly temple priests). Your tour guide (Digger Doyle) tends to think that they were more like the Pharisees in some of their thinking about the need for holiness etc., but were originally priests that felt that most of the priests were not living up to their calling. Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls seem to have been written by them, but some are from the Zealots and others as they were fleeing to Masada from the Roman army in 70 AD.
Now, back to the tour. Jerusalem is located to the north of Dead Sea if you would like to continue your tour there.
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