The Baptism of John

Flow State Training Program

Meditation Mastery Secrets

Get Instant Access

The many connections between John the Baptist's movement and the Dead Sea Scroll sect have been noticed by many. Some of these are the proximity of time and place,100 the utilization of Isaiah 40:3,101 the belief in the destruction of the wicked by fire,102 the indictment of the Jewish nation,103 the priestly ties,104 and the expectation of a messianic personage (i.e., a King).105 However, because of certain alleged differences (especially the difference between John's baptism and the sectarian ritual ablutions), the conclusion usually reached is one similar to that of Miller Burrows:

...John the Baptist probably had some knowledge of the Qumran covenanters and some sympathy with their ideas, though he also differed from them at important points; in some of his ideas and attitudes he may have been influenced by them; he may have visited their settlement, or even possibly have been a member of the sect for a while, though there is no good reason to think so; in any case, in his public ministry ... he was entirely independent of them and was sharply opposed to some of their most characteristic tenets.106

100. According to Miller Burrows, "the place where John baptized penitents in the Jordan River was not much more than ten miles from the Qumran settlement " Miller Burrows, More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls (London: Secker & Warburg, 1958), 57.

101. Mk. 1:2-4, Mt. 3:1-3, Lk. 3:4-6, Jn. 1:23; 1QS 8:14, 9:19. Is 40:3: "A voice cries: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'"

102. 1QH 3:28-36, 17:3-4, 1QS 4:11-3, Mt. 3:10=Lk. 3:9, Mt. 3:12=Lk. 3:17.

103. 1QS 9:16-7, 21-3, 10:19-20, CD 8:16, 19:29 (general indictment), 4QMMT (indictment of priesthood), 4QTest (indictment of Herodian family), Mt. 3:7-9=Lk. 3:7-8.

104. 1QS 2:19-23, 1QSa 1:1-3, CD 14:3-6, 11QT, Lk. 1:5-13.

105. 4Q174 (Florilegium), 3:11; 4QpIsa, frags. 7-10, 3:22; 4Q252 (Pesher on Genesis), 5:1-7, 1QS 9:11, Mt. 3:11, Mk. 1:7-8, Lk. 3:15-6, Jn. 1:26-7.

Significant differences are usually noted between the baptism of John the Baptist and the ritual ablutions referred to in 1QS and CD.107 John's baptism was given to everyone who came to him and was administered by him, presumably only once. The ritual ablutions of 1QS and CD were restricted to the community itself, were self-administered, and were performed daily. However, have scholars been looking in the right place for evidence of John's baptism, as opposed to the ritual ablutions? I think not. Although the ritual ablutions in 1QS and CD took place within the sect, John's baptism outside the sect is nevertheless alluded to in the scrolls!

The Council of the Community, which was the lay-levitical sector, and the priestly sector were the main parts of the sect's organization structure.108 The former was probably synonymous with the group of members called the "Many."109 Both sectors came together as separate small groups or as one large group at various times:

1. At evening meetings where there were ten men present.110 A priest always had to be present at these meetings,111 as well as "a man interpreting the Torah day and night."112 The latter was probably a levite.113 At these meetings, which took place every night, they would first share in a special Meal, then recite prayers, and finally discuss various topics.

2. As one body on certain occasions:

And when the order is given to (gather) the whole Assembly (together) for dispensing justice, or for the Council of the Community,114 or for a convocation

106. Burrows, More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls, 63.

107. Ritual ablutions are mentioned in 1QS 3:4-9, 4:18-22, 5:13; CD 10:10-3. For John's baptism see Mt. 3:1-17, Mk. 1:2-11; Lk. 3:1-20; Jn. 1:19-34, 3:22-4; Acts 10:37, 13:24; Ant. XVIII, 117; Josephus, Bk. III, Appendix, pp. 644-5.

108. B. Thiering, Redating the Teacher of Righteousness (Sydney: Theological Explorations, 1979), 1313, 139-40.

109. A. Dupont-Sommer, The Essene Writings from Qumran, trans. G. Vermes (Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1973), 85, note 1.

113. B. Thiering, Redating the Teacher of Righteousness, 134-5. In the version of the evening meeting found in CD 13:2-4, which was written in AD 65-6, a priest had to be present where there were ten men. However, if there was no priest knowledgeable in the "Book of Meditation" (called simply the "Book" in 1QS 6:7), a knowledgeable Levite could take the place of the priest. A priest and a Levite (literally "a man interpreting the Torah day and night," 1QS 6:6) were not required, as in 1QS.

of war, they shall sanctify them for three days so that every member may be rea[dy].115

Members could become ritually unclean on occasion. Under no circumstances were they allowed to attend these meetings.116

3. At the annual census:117

This is what they shall do, year by year, during all the time of the dominion of Belial. The priests shall pass first, in order, according to (the degree of the excellence of) their spirits, one after another, and the Levites shall pass after them; and thirdly, all the people shall pass, in order, one after another, by Thousands and Hundreds and Fifties and Tens, that every man of Israel may know the place he must occupy in the Community of God according to the eternal plan.118

The initiation process utilized by the conventional Essenes was accepted by the New Covenant as well. A comparison of 1QS 6:13-23 with Josephus' description of the conventional Essenes in the War,119 shows this to be the case. The anti-establishment Essenes brought this practice into the New Covenant when they joined it. Let me quote 1QS 6:13-23 below:

[1st level — Postulant] And every man from Israel who freely volunteers to join the Council of the Community, he shall be examined on his intelligence and his deeds by the man who is the overseer at the head of the Many; and if he is suited to the discipline, he will bring him into the Covenant that he may be converted to the truth and turn away from all perversity: he shall instruct him in all the ordinances of the Community.

[2nd level — First Year Novice] And when he later comes to present himself to the Many, they shall all consider his case, and according to whatever fate decrees, following the decision of the Many he shall either approach or depart. And when he approaches the Council of the Community, he shall not touch the pure food of the Many until he has been examined concerning his spirit and

114. We must differentiate between the nominal and verbal usage of the term "Council of the Community." Here it refers to the actual gathering (verbal usage) as opposed to the organization structure (nominal usage). This explains why the "whole Assembly" is mentioned in the passage. Although the Council of the Community was only the lay-levitical sector, at the actual gathering the priests were also present (1QSa 2:3, 2:12-4).

118. 1QS 2:19-23, cf. CD 14:3-6. CD has the "sons of Israel" instead of "all the people," and adds the "proselytes, as a fourth group. Also, the "Thousands and Hundreds and Fifties and Tens" are not mentioned.

deeds, and until he has completed one full year. Also, let him not mingle his property with that of the Many.

[3rd level — 2nd Year Novice] Then when he has completed one year in the midst of the Community, the Many shall consider his case concerning his intelligence and deeds with regard to the Law, and if fate decrees that he approach the Company of the Community, following the decision of the priests and the majority of the members of their Covenant, his property and also his wages shall be handed over to the overseer of the revenues of the Many; but it shall be inscribed to his credit, and shall not be spent to the profit of the Many.

[4 th level — Professed Member] He shall not touch the drink of the Many until he has completed a second year in the midst of the members of the Community. When he has completed the second year, they shall examine him. According to the decision of the Many, and if fate decrees that he approach the Community, he shall be regularly inscribed in his rank in the midst of his brethren in whatever concerns the Law and justice and purity and the mingling of his property; and he may giv e his opinion to the Community together with his judgment.

The usual interpretation of the above passage is that there were four levels of initiation into the Council of the Community. First, "every man from Israel"120 or "every man born in Israel,"121 who wanted to begin the initiation process, was examined by the "overseer at the head of the Many" in order to determine if he was capable of being instructed. If he was found to be capable, the overseer brought him into the Covenant, which included the taking of an oath.122 He was then instructed "in all the ordinances of the Community." At this level, he was still not a member of the Council of the Community. Then, one year later,123 the postulant went before the Many. If he was found to be qualified, he became a first-year novice and was enrolled into the Council of the Community by having his name inscribed in a register that was updated yearly.124 He still could not "touch the pure food of the Many" nor "mingle his property with that of the Many." A year later, he was examined by the Many a second time; and if he was qualified, he became a second-year novice. At this level, his property and wages were "handed over to the overseer of the revenues of the Many," but they could not yet be utilized for the benefit of the sect. Also, he could "not touch the drink

122. 1QS 5:7-9. See 1QS 1:16-2:18 for the ceremony of entry into the Covenant.

123. When Josephus is describing the conventional Essene initiation process that was identical to this one, he states that "a candidate anxious to join their sect is not immediately admitted. For one year... he remains outside the fraternity ... (War II, 137, italics mine).

of the Many." Finally, one year later, he was examined by the Many a third time; and if he was qualified, he was made a professed member of the sect. He could now do all the things that a fully initiated member of the sect could do. The entire process of initiation from the level of a postulant to a professed member took three years.

Of great significance for us here, is the precise meaning of the phrases "every man from Israel" and "every man born in Israel," which are designations given to those individuals who were allowed to begin the initiation process into the Council of the Community. It has been assumed that these phrases refer to those individuals who were Jews by birth. However, is this the correct meaning of these phrases? Who was an Israelite (i.e., a Jew) in the view of the New Covenant anyway?

According to the gospels,125 John the Baptist is recorded to have made the following statement to those who came to him for baptism:

You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father"; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children of Abraham. Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.126

Robert Eisler made the following interesting point regarding John's statement:

.the most remarkable feature in this sermon to 'the multitudes' is the fact that the preacher refuses to recognize the crowds who stream to him for baptism and purification as children of Abraham, i.e. as Israelites or Jews, but vilifies them as 'sons of vipers' and requires them to undergo a bath of purification like heathen proselytes.127

There were four requirements for a Gentile to convert to Judaism. The convert must accept the Torah, be circumcised if a male, be immersed in a ritual bath, and offer a sacrifice in the temple (not required after the temple was destroyed). With regard to immersion, which would correspond to John's

125. Mt. 3:7-10=Lk. 3:7-9. According to Mt. 3:7, those who came to be baptized by John were "many of the Pharisees and Sadducees," but according to Lk. 3:7, it was the "multitudes."

126. The last line is an allusion to the universal conflagration, which will occur on the Day of Judgment. Cf. Mt. 3:12=Lk. 3:17. See pp. 98-100.

127. Robert Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, ed. by A. H. Krappe (London: Methuen & Co., 1931), 268.

baptism, it has been stated that "the immersion should be seen as an initiatory rite in which the convert is cleansed of his transgressions and impurities and emerges from the bath as a new person, starting a new life."128 Through immersion, a former Gentile was reborn a Jew. G. R. S. Mead further describes proselyte baptism as follows:

A proselyte or a 'new-comer' ... who would join the church or ecclesia of Israel, had to submit to a baptismal rite, the pre-Christian origin of which is no longer disputed. It was a bath not only of purification but also of regeneration in the presence of legal witnesses. The candidate stood in the water and listened to a short discourse consisting of commandments from the Law. Thereon the gentile convert dipped completely under the water, signifying the drowning of his previous impious and idolatrous self. Thereafter he arose reborn a true Israelite. And this birth was taken in a very literal sense, for after the rite the neophyte, or 'new-born babe,' could no longer inherit from his former gentile relatives; not only so, but according to Rabbinic casuistry he could not even commit incest with one of them.129

John understood the purpose of his baptism in the following manner:

.the Jews were no more a privileged people; they had forfeited their birthright; Israel itself was now no better than the heathen. physical kinship with Abraham could no longer be considered a guarantee against the Wrath to come. To escape the trials and terrors of that Day the only way for them was to repent, and so become members of the new spiritual Israel by submitting to a rite similar to that which they arrogantly imposed on the gentiles. What greater humiliation than this could there be to the racial pride of the Jew? But things were so desperate, that it required even this act of humiliation as an earnest of truly sincere repentance and contrition. Unrepentant they were no better than heathen idolaters.130

By not properly observing the Torah in all its aspects according to John's strict interpretation (i.e., the only true interpretation in his view), the people coming to him for baptism and taking pride in their supposed Jewish ancestry had actually lost their identity as descendants of Abraham. A true son or daughter of Abraham must "bear fruit that befits repentance," i.e., observe the

128. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Who Was aJew? , 26 (italics mine).

129. G. R. S. Mead, The Gnostic John theBaptizer (London: John M. Watkins, 1924), 11-2.

130. Mead, The Gnostic John the Baptizer, 12-3.

Torah in all its details. Therefore, John required "them to undergo a bath of purification like heathen proselytes" in order to be included in the new Israel.

One major precept of the Torah that was being violated was the "royalty law":

When you come to the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and dwell in it, and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me'; you may indeed set as king over you him whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.131

By accepting the corrupt rule of the non-Jewish king Herod and his sons, as well as their Roman masters, the people were violating this law. Since Jewish tradition declares that the determination of whether the offspring of a married couple is Jewish follows the mother's ancestry,132 Herod the Great (37-4 BC) could not be considered Jewish, because his mother Cypros was of a noble Nabatean (i.e., Arabian) family.133 After Herod's death in 4 BC, his kingdom was divided into three territories ruled by his sons, Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Philip. Malthace, the Samaritan, was the mother of Archelaus (4 BC-AD 6) and Herod Antipas (4 BC-AD 39).134 Only Philip (4 BC-AD 33/4) may have been Jewish, since his mother, Cleopatra, was "a native of Jerusalem."135

By accepting John's baptism, the people were as a consequence denying the legitimacy of the Romans and Herod and his descendants to rule the nation. As a result of proving their faithfulness to the Torah, God would send them a Messiah of Israel (i.e., a rightful King). He would take back their country from the corrupt ruling establishment and in due time would become the ruler of the world.

John's baptism did not merely consist of John dipping the people one by one into the Jordan River. First, they must have publicly confessed their sins before God.136 As a consequence of the whole experience (i.e., penitence followed by baptism), their past sins were forgiven. G. R. S. Mead aptly describes this solemn gathering as follows:

132. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Who Was aJew? (Hoboken: KTAV Publishing House, 1985), 9-14.

136. Mk. 1:5, Mt. 3:6. Dan 9:4-19 and Neh. 9:6-37 may represent two examples of what this confessing of sins consisted of. See Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, 267-70.

Deeply stirred by the strenuous exhortations of the teacher and the extraordinary power of a proclaimer so utterly convinced of the near coming of the terrible Day, little wonder that the people, just as in evangelical revivals of our own day, were filled with an agony of penitence which would find relief only in a public confession of their sins. Thereafter they were plunged in the Jordan, signifying no external washing, but a very drowning as it were of the old body of sin..137

We can see then that John's baptism outside the sect agrees with Josephus' description below:

For baptism would only appear acceptable to God if practiced, not for the purification of the body, but for the expiation of sins, after the soul had been thoroughly cleansed by righteousness.138

The daily ritual ablutions inside the sect were of a different caliber altogether. They only removed ritual impurity, which could arise from infringements of the purity laws or from inner sin.139

On the basis of the above evidence, the phrases "every man from Israel" and "every man born in Israel," take on new meanings. These individuals were men who were certainly circumcised, but also baptized by John or one of his successors. Although most of them had traditional Jewish ancestry, this fact no longer counted for anything. All those "from Israel" or "born in Israel" consisted "wholly of newly reclaimed converts, dying to heathenism through the baptism of proselytes and rising regenerated from the water."140 Once John baptized a man (i.e., once he entered the Covenant of Abraham and became an Israelite), he could then take the next step,141 which was to go to the "overseer at the head of the Many." If he was found to be capable of instruction, the overseer brought

137. Mead, The GnosticJohn the Baptizer, 10-1.

138. This sentence is part of Robert Eisler's restoration of the Antiquities passage about John (Ant. XVIII, 116-9). See the chapter titled John the Baptist. Thiering is of the opinion that the sentence in its actual form is in agreement with the sect's understanding of its ritual ablutions (Thiering, Redating the Teacher of Righteousness, 65-6). Indeed, the actual reading does appear to agree with the ritual ablutions inside the sect (see 1QS 2:25-3:12). However, I have tried to show that John's baptism outside the sect is a different rite than the ritual ablutions inside it.

139. "The washing ... remains an ablution for the removal of ritual impurity. What is new [in the scrolls] is that the inward sin is held to defile the flesh, that is, make it ritually impure" (Thiering, Redating the Teacher of Righteousness, 66).

140. Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, 269.

141. This next step and the subsequent ones were for laymen only. The priests and Levites had there own process of initiation, which unfortunately is not described in the scrolls.

him into the Covenant (i.e., the Covenant of Moses) by administering an oath to him and by giving him instruction in the Community laws. At the end of one year, he then went before the Many; and if they accepted him, they enrolled him into the Council of the Community and he became a first-year novice. He could now participate in the daily ritual ablutions.142 The first ritual washing was probably celebrated as a special rite to commemorate the individual's entrance into the Council of the Community.143 At the end of another year and an evaluation, he became a second-year novice, and finally at the end of one more year and another evaluation, he became a professed member. It turns out that there were actually five levels of initiation into the Community not four.144

It should be noted here that the designation "Judah"145 (i.e., Jews) has the same meaning as "from Israel," "born in Israel," or simply "Israel," except when it refers to the tribe of Judah,146 the land of Judah,147 or the first ones of the Dead Sea Scroll sect.148

1QS149 mentions "those who join them for community, lawsuit and judgment" in addition to those in Aaron and Israel. This phrase is probably referring to proselytes. In CD,150 proselytes are the fourth group in the sect, preceded by the priests, levites, and the sons of Israel. On the basis of the evidence above, these proselytes were probably uncircumcised Gentiles, who were nevertheless baptized by John. Until they were circumcised, they were outside Israel.

142. According to Josephus, the ritual ablutions that the three highest levels of the conventional Essenes participated in were considered to be the "purer kind of holy water" (War II, 138), implying that the postulant level had its ritual washings as well.

143. Thiering understands the first ritual washing of a first-year novice as "a special water-washing ... giving [it] the character of an initiation rite" (Thiering, Redating theTeacher of Righteousness, 95).

144. James the Righteous was the leader and high priest of the New Covenant after John (see p. 55). The statement by Hegessippus that James "did not go to the baths" (Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 2 Vols., trans. by Kirsopp Lake (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975, Vol. I, 171 (II, 23.4-6) might at first reflection present a problem, since John's baptism and the self-administered ritual ablutions were an important part of the sect's practices. However, Robert Eisenman has offered the interesting suggestion that Hegesippus meant hot water Roman style baths and not the cold water ritual ablutions of the sect. These Roman style baths could include anointing oneself with oil and according to Hegesippus, James "did not anoint himself with oil" (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I, 171 (II, 23.4-6).

145. 1QpHab 8:1,12:4; 4QpPsa 2:14; CD 4:11, 8:3, 19:15.

147. E.g., 1QpHab 12:9; CD 4:3, 6:5, 20:26; 4QTest, line 27.

Rabbinical discussions of the late first and second centuries AD endeavored to determine at what point in the conversion process a proselyte became a Jew. Was a Gentile who went through immersion, but was not circumcised, a Jew; or was a circumcised Gentile a Jew, even through he did not go through immersion?151 In the view of the New Covenant, the proselyte had to go through both immersion (i.e., baptism) and circumcision before he was considered a Jew. Nevertheless, they were considered to be righteous Gentiles, they could associate with the Congregation of Israel, and they would be included in the New World to come. However, their number was probably not very large and their eventual circumcision was encouraged.

The group called the "simple"152 were all those individuals who had been baptized by John, but could not or did not want to be initiated into the Council of the Community. This group included women; children at least ten years old; physically and/or mentally handicapped persons; circumcised and baptized men, who, for whatever reason, did not take the oath of the Covenant (this standing was probably discouraged); and baptized, but uncircumcised Gentiles (i.e., proselytes). Only the proselytes were not considered to be in the Congregation of Israel.

Children received appropriate instruction in the "Book of Meditation,"153 the "precepts of the Covenant" and the "ordinances" from the age of ten, which was the age of baptism.154 Circumcised and baptized men could take the oath of entry into the Covenant at the age of nineteen and then enroll into the Council of the Community at the age of twenty.155 Also, men could marry at the age of twenty.156

There is an interesting passage in CD. I quote it below:

Now those who heed Him [God] are the poor of the flock; they will escape at the period of the Visitation. But those who are left will be delivered up to the

152. 1QpHab. 12:3-5; 1QSa 1:4-6, 19-22, 2:4-10; CD 15:10-11, 15-7. Thiering also understands the designation "Simple" as including others besides only mentally and physically handicapped persons (Thiering, Redating the Teacher of Righteousness, 97-100). However, my view of who should be concluded in the Simple defers from Thiering's view.

153. This book was probably for men only. See 1QSa 1:4-5, which shows that instruction in the "Book of Meditation" was not part of the overall instruction when women and children are included along with men.

154. 1QSa 1:6-8. However, from this verse, only male children seem to be mentioned, but I believe it is reasonable to conclude that female children were baptized at age ten as well.

sword ... as came to pass at the period of the first Visitation; as He [God] said by the hand of Ezekiel, A mark shall be put on the forehead of those who sigh and groan;157 but those who were left were delivered up to the avenging sword, the avenger of the Covenant.158

The Ezekiel verse that is quoted in the CD passage above reads more fully as follows:

And the LORD said to him, "Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it." And to the others he said in my hearing, "Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary."

The "poor of the flock" are all those who were baptized (i.e., Israel and the Gentile proselytes) and were loyal to the New Covenant. After John baptized them, the passage seems to say that they were allowed to wear the mark X on their foreheads160 and, as a consequence of wearing it, they would be rewarded "at the period of the Visitation," i.e., the time of God's punishment for all the wicked. In all likelihood, the schismatics would have removed the mark, making their doom a certainty.

The New Covenant hesitated to actually call the unbaptized "Jews" heathen, but this was not the case for the Sicarii. It was another difference of opinion between them. Josephus states the following:

160. "The mark was the Hebrew letter 'tau,' made like an X.." The New Oxford Annotated Bible, eds. Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), 1008, note 4 for 9:1-11. Depending on how it is written, the letter could resemble a Christian cross. See Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, 234-5, 255. CD 19:9-13 implies by the phrase "as came to pass at the period of the first Visitation" that the first ones who withdrew to the land of Damascus before the attack by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and later supported Mattathias and Judas Maccabeus also wore the X on their foreheads. It is interesting that Judas' surname "Maccabeus" probably means "Hammer." See Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, vols. I, II, III.1, III.2, rev. and ed. by Geza Vermes, et al. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973/87), Vol. I, 158, note 49. Since the X could also resemble a hammer, is it possible that Judas' wearing of this mark was the true origin of his surname?

For in those days [the days of Judas the Galilean] the Sicarii clubbed together against those who consented to submit to Rome and in every way treated them as enemies, plundering their property, rounding up their cattle, and setting fire to their habitations; protesting that such persons were no other than aliens, who so ignobly sacrificed the hard-won liberty of the Jews and admitted their preferences for the Roman yoke.161

The New Covenant preferred to call them "Ephraim and/or Manasseh,"162 i.e., Samaritans!163 The Jews despised the Samaritans in the first century AD. Jeremias describes the reason for this attitude as follows:

The Samaritans ... attached great importance to the fact that they were descended from the Jewish patriarchs. This claim was contested: they were 'Cutheans', descendants of the Median and Persian colonists, foreigners [planted in Samaria by the Assyrians in the eighth century BC]. Such was the Jewish view current in the first century AD. , in order to refute any Samaritan claim to blood affinity with Judaism.. Even their recognition of the Mosaic Law [that only the Pentateuch was accepted as binding] and their meticulous observation of its prescriptions did nothing to alter their exclusion from the community of Israel, because they were suspected of an idolatrous cult from their veneration of Mount Gerizim as a holy mountain. The fundamental reason for their exclusion, however, was their origin and not the cult of Gerizim..164

In the view of the New Covenant, the unbaptized "Jews," who were referred to as "Ephraim and/or Manasseh," were only making pretenses to be Jews and were excluded from the Congregation of the true Israel. It should be noted here that authentic Samaritans, who were baptized by John, were no longer Samaritans, but Israelites!

Another derogatory designation used by the New Covenant was the "Seekers-After-Smooth-Things."165 This designation included "Ephraim and/or Manasseh" and schismatics from the New Covenant. They thought of schismatics as still Israelites, because they had been baptized by John; but they

162. Ephraim: 4QpHosb 2:3; 4QpNah, frags. 3-4, 1:12, 2:2, 8, 3:5, 4:5; 4QpPsa 1:24. CD 7:13 refers to the priestly establishment at the time of the founders (see pp. 31-5). Manasseh: 4QpNah, frags. 3-4, 3:9, 4:1, 3, 6. Ephraim and Manasseh: 4QpPsa 2:18. Ephraim in 4QTest, line 27 refers to the land areas in the north, representing the northern kingdom during the divided monarchy in the Old Testament.

163. Theodor H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures, 3rd ed. (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1976), 341, note 23.

164. Joachim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1969), 355-6.

165. 4QpNah, frag. 3-4, 1:2, 7, 2:2, 4, 3:3, 6-7; 4QIsac, frag. 23, 2:10.

were presently sinners, who chose not to associate with the New Covenant (i.e., the true Israel). They could return to the sect, but if they did, they would be punished according to the sect's penal code. However, a member who had been in the Council of the Community for more then ten years, but who departed from it, could never return under any circumstances.166

After AD 62,167 there was another means of entry into the sect. There were no longer five levels of initiation, but only two. When baptized and circumcised men reached twenty years of age, they simply went to the "overseer of the Many," and were enrolled into the Covenant by taking the oath and having their names inscribed in a register.168 Also, the oath was no longer voluntary, as it had been;169 but mandatory. 170 Let me quote CD 15:7-17:171

On the day on which he speaks with the overseer of the Many, he shall enroll him with the oath of the Covenant which Moses concluded with Israel, the Covenant to rev[ert to] the law of Moses with the whole heart and [with] the who[le] soul to whatever of it is to be done during al[l the per]iod [of wickedness]. And let not the ordinances be made known to him until he has presented himself before the overseer, in case he should be judged simple by the overseer when he examines him. But when he has imposed upon him the oath to return to the law of Moses with all his heart and all his soul, they will [exact re]venge from him if he should become unfaithful. Everything that is revealed from the Law for the multitude of the camp, and which he is capable, the overseer should tell him and command him to study for one full year; and then according to his knowledge he may draw near. The stupid, the mad, the foolish, the demented, the blind, the lame, the crippled, [the deaf], minors: none [of] these [shall enter] in the midst of the Congregation, for the ho[ly] angels [are in the midst of it].

Below is a diagram illustrating how the composition of Israel changed under John the Baptist:

167. This was the period when Symeon, the son of Clopas, was the leader of the New Covenant and when CD was written (AD 65-6).

168. CD 15:5-6, 7-9. According to CD 14:3-6, after AD 62 the proselytes were also enrolled by having their name inscribed in a register. They took part in the annual census also. However, they did not take the oath because they were outside Israel.

171. Also see the cave 4 fragment of CD, 4Q266, frag. 8, col. 1, which fills in some of the lacunas in this passage. Florentino Garcia Martinez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, eds., 2 vols., The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (Leiden: Brill, 1997), Vol. 1, 591-3.

Israel before John: Israel after John:

Israel before John: Israel after John:


The Five Steps of Initiation

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Meditation Mastery Breath Watching

Meditation Mastery Breath Watching

Discover How Breath Watching Meditation Turned My Mind From Cluttered To Laser Focus. You Can Get More Things Done When You’re Focus And Aware Of Your Mind.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment