By Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr
The Dead Sea Scrolls were written by a sect of Jews who separated from Jerusalem to live in the area of Qumran sometime around 100 BC They wrote many documents regarding their reasons for leaving Jerusalem and the temple system. They hoped for the overthrow of the current high-priestly aristocracy. Their writings scathingly revile Jeru-salem, the temple and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Were these devout Jews anti-Semitic? Consider their writings:
In 4QpNah the Qumranians “accommodated the whole text of Nahum to Jerusalem (‘Nineveh’), indicating the way in which even texts that did not originally concern faithless Israel could be read as if they did.” There they even declared of their fellow Jews that Jerusalem was the “dwelling place” of the wicked of the nations.
Commenting on Hab 2:8 they wrote: “Interpreted this concerns the last priests of Jerusalem, who shall amass money and wealth by plundering the peoples. But in the last days, their riches and booty shall be delivered in to the hands of the army of the Kittim [i.e., Romans]” (1Qp Hab 9). Here we see a pre-justification of Jerusalem’s destruction by Rome that is similar to the preterist analysis, yet these are devout Jews.
The Qumranians scorned the temple priests. The high priest “robbed God and amassed the riches of the men of violence who rebelled against God, and the took the wealth of the peoples, heaping sinful iniquity upon himself” (1Qp Hab 8:11–12). 1QpHab 7 speaks of the “Wicked Priest” so that when he “ruled over Israel his heart became proud, and he forsook God, and betrayed the precepts for the sake of riches. He robbed and amassed the riches of men of violence who rebelled against God, and he took the wealth of the peoples, heaping sinful iniquity upon himself.”
They write: “The city is Jerusalem where the Wicked Priest committed abominable deeds and defiled the temple of God. The violence done to the land: these are the cities of Judah where he robbed the poor of their possession” (1QpHab 12). In the Tosefta (t. Men. 13:22) we find the reason for the destruction of the first century temple: “On what account did they go into exile? Because they love money and hate one another.”
The Qumranians withdrew from Jerusalem partly due to Jerusalem’s leaders being “the Spouter of Lies who led many astray that he might build his city of vanity with blood and raise a congregation on deceit” (1QpHab 10:12). The separatist Qumran community deemed Jerusalem “a place of vanity built with blood” (CDC 12:2), a “fortress of wickedness” (4QTestimonia).
Johnson well observes: “Anyone who has read the Dead Sea Scrolls knows that the community that wrote them had an extreme hostility to all outsiders.” They called Jews outside of their community “sons of the pit” (1QS 9:16; CD 6:15; 13:14), who are ruled by the angel of darkness (1Q3: 19–21; 5:2, 10), and are “the ungodly of the covenant” (1QM 1:2). Of those Jews they write in 1QS 2:4–10: “Be cursed of all your guilty wickedness! May he deliver you up to torture at the hands of all the wreakers of revenge.”
Thus, the Qumran community deemed Jerusalem as defiled and worthy of divine curse (CDC 1:3; 4:18; 5:6; 6:16; 12:1–2), as did much of the apocalyptic literature beginning in 200 BC, as we see in 1 Enoch 83–89; The Apocalypse of Weeks; T. Levi 17:10; and Jubilees 23:21.