Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The War Scrolls - The War Between the Sons of Dark and the Sons of Light

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The War Scrolls - The War Between the Sons of Dark and the Sons of Light

The War Scroll is a nine & a half foot scroll with as many as 19 columns, found in cave 1 at Qumran. It seems to be written as a sequel or expository to the eschatological war described in Dan 11-12. The author gives detailed instructions for a ritualized battle in which the "sons of light," led by Michael, destroy the Kittim, or the "sons of darkness," led by Satan. Many scholars identify the Kittim as an allusion to the Roman Empire.

The War Scroll, 1QM, was one of the original seven scrolls found in cave one by the Bedouin in 1947. The scroll has also been called "The War Rule" and "The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness." It was first published by E.L. Sukenik in 1954 and was re-edited as The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University at Jerusalem: Hebrew University and Magnes Press, 1955.

The War Scroll contains nineteen columns and is written on five sheets. The end of the scroll is missing, but its beginning seems to be intact. At the bottom of the scroll there is damage and wear. The total length of the scroll in its present state is 9 feet, 8 inches. Since pieces of the scroll are worn away or missing, there are places within the translation where words are assumed to fit the flow of the sentence structure. These “best guess” words are noted by parentheses. If there are too many words missing or the meaning cannot be ascertained so that a “best guess” cannot be provided the missing words are denoted with the symbols (…).

The scroll is a mixture of apocalyptic and legal discussion. The scroll's main theological significance lies in the fact that this is a battle against the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. Although most scholars believe the story is about good and evil, this in itself could allude to a struggle between the forces of life and death. In the end, God will intervene, conquer, and save his people. There are parallels to the books of Revelation and Daniel in the scroll and it is assumed that the author borrowed from Daniel as well as other material of the day, according to the date of the text’s creation. All three books, Daniel, Revelations, and the War Scroll, share the common theme of life and light being victorious over evil and death. All point to fact that the outcome is already known, however, man must participate and is thus held culpable in the outcome.

There is controversy over the date of the scroll. Some say that the scroll was written between 50 B.C. and 50 A.D. because this is after the Roman Conquest around 63 B.C. but before the end of Herod’s reign (4 B.C.). Another view is that the scroll was written after 70 A.D. and possibly as late as 135 A.D. However, most agree the date must be some time after the Roman Conquest, because the author of the scroll describes the weapons and battle tactics of the Roman army.

The War Scroll

The Master Rule of War.
The first attack of the Sons of Light will be initiated against the forces of the Sons of Darkness, which is the army of Belial. The troops are from Edom, Moab, the sons of Ammon, the Amalekites, Philistia, and the troops of the Kittim of Asshur. Supporting them are those who have violated the covenant.

The sons of Levi, the sons of Judah, and the sons of Benjamin, and those exiled to the wilderness, will fight against them with (?) against all their troops, when the exiles of the Sons of Light return from the Wilderness of the Peoples to camp in the Wilderness of Jerusalem.

Then after the battle they will go up from that place and battle the king of the Kittim and he shall enter into Egypt. In his time he will go out with great anger to do battle against the kings of the north, and in his anger he shall set out to destroy and eliminate the strength of Israel.

Then there will be a time of salvation for the People of God, and a time of the dominion of all the men of His forces, and a time of eternal destruction for all the forces of Belial. There shall be great panic among the sons of Japheth, and Assyria shall fall with no one to come to his aid, and the supremacy of the Kittim shall cease their wickedness and will be overcome without a single survivor. There shall be no survivors of all the Sons of Darkness.

Then the Sons of Righteousness shall shine into all ends of the world and continuing to shine forth until end of the appointed seasons of darkness. Then at the time appointed by God, His great brilliance will shine for all of eternity for the peace and blessing, glory and joy, and long life of all Sons of Light. On the day when the Kittim falls there will be a battle and horrible carnage before the God of Israel, for it is a day appointed by Him from ancient times as a battle of destruction for the Sons of Darkness.

On that day the congregation of the gods and the congregation of men shall engage one another and the outcome will be great carnage. The Sons of Light and the forces of Darkness shall fight one another to show the strength of God with the roar of a great multitude and the shout of gods and men. It will be a day of disaster. It is a time of distress for all the people who are redeemed by God. Compared to all their afflictions, no day exists like this and it is hastening to its completion as an eternal redemption. On the day of their battle against the Kittim, they shall go out to kill in battle.

In three groups the Sons of Light will stand firm to strike a blow at wickedness, and in three (parts) the army of Belial shall strengthen themselves to force the retreat of the forces of Light.

And when the banners of the infantry cause their hearts to melt, then the power of God will strengthen the hearts of the Sons of Light.
In the seventh section, the great hand of God will overcome Belial and all the angels under his control, and all the men of his forces shall be destroyed forever. And this is the total destruction of the Sons of Darkness and service to God during the years of war.