The Profile and Character of Qumran Cave 4: The Community Rule Manuscripts as a Test Case

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This study complements the author's recent assessment of the learned, eclectic and occasionally esoteric character of the literary remains from Qumran Cave 4 by using the Community Rule (S) manuscripts as a test case. It is argued that the complex evidence of the S manuscripts from Cave 4 is compatible with several features that span across the nature of Cave 4 more widely. Moreover, of the ten Cave 4 manuscripts of the Rule 4QSe (4Q259) emerges as the most learned and ‘avant-garde’ exemplar of the Community Rule containing an anthology of calendrical data (4QOtot) as well as a number of words written in Cryptic A script. In several respects, 4QSe seems to be particularly representative of the distinctive aspects of Cave 4. Finally, the concept of a tiered system of access to knowledge is well attested in ancient Jewish texts including the book of Daniel where access to knowledge privileges those who have it, 4QInstruction, and 4 Ezra 14 to name but a few examples. In the Community Rule in particular the idea is explicit in passages such as those that admonish the Maskil to exercise discretion in his dealings with the people of the pit and the people of injustice, cf. 1QS 9:16b-17a // 4QSd 8:1b-2a // 4QSe 3:13b-15a. Moreover, a fundamental hierarchical principle laid out in the Rule permits access to deliberations only to full members, cf., e.g., 1QS 6:21b-23 // 4QSg 3:1. My suggestion is that in what was clearly a tiered system of access to knowledge Cave 4 was the place where a large proportion of – if not all – the most restricted material was stored.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Caves of Qumran
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference, Lugano 2014
EditorsMarcello Fidanzio
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2016

Publication series

ISSN (Print)0169-9962