Shalom! Continuing our journey in Israel, if you missed my earlier posts, check out Shalom! Israel
We left Galilee and started our journey to the Dead Sea. Our first stop at Dead Sea was to Qumran National Park. Qumran is located west of the Kaliah-Sedom road on the north-western shore of the Dead Sea. It had a Jewish population as far back as the 8th century BC.
Quarum is where the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by the Essenes, were found. In the summer of 1947, a young shepherd of the Bedouin tribe of the Taamira was pasturing his flocks near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. While looking for a goat that had wandered off into the cliffs, he came across a rock crevice. The shepherd, together with his friend, crawled inside and saw large whole jars standing on the floor. Inside the jars, they found folded pieces of leather, some of which were wrapped in cloth.
The Essenes, a break-away sect, lived and studied Qumran for two centuries from the end of the Hashmonean period, through the great revolt of the Jews against the Romans. The Essenes were ascetics who had paid great attention to ritual bathing and purity. They lived a communal life in a settlement with assembly halls, a central dining room, in which ceremonial meals were eaten, a kitchen, ritual baths, a laundry room, a watch tower, a stable and a pottery workshop. The Scriptorium (writing room) with its desks and inkstands, where the Essenes scribes probably wrote most of the scrolls. The desks also had recipients for water, used by the scribe to purify his fingers every time he came across the word YHWH (God) in the text he was copying. Once finished, the scrolls were sealed, individually wrapped in linen wrappings and put inside clay amphoras.
Ritual Bath – As mentioned earlier, Essenes were ascetics who were strict in their observance of the laws of ritual purity and maintained seven ritual baths, located mostly in the vicinity of the refectory. The picture below is where the ritual baths were conducted. The water would filled the lower tier where the members of the sects would observe the law of ritual bath.
“…they labour with great diligence till the fifth hour after which they assemble themselves into one place; and when they have clothed themselves into one place; and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they bath their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they meet together in an apartment of their own…while they go in a pure manner, into the dining room; as into a certain holy temple…” – Josephus Flavius, The War of The Jews 2:8:5
The Refectory – The members of the sect assembled in this room for communal meals and doctrinal deliberations.
“They shall eat in common and bless in common…and when the table has been prepared for eating and the new wine for drinking the priest shall be the first to stretch out his hand to bless the first provie of the break [or new wine}.” – Community Rule VI, 2-5
Pottery Storeroom – The things that were found in this area were either destroyed by forces of nature like earthquake or by people like the Roman soldiers.
For more information on Qumran, check out Israel Nature & Parks Authority.
For more on my Israel trip, check out Shalom! Israel
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