The Judaism of the Dead Sea Scrolls

March 8 2017

From roughly 100 BCE to 68 CE, there was a Jewish settlement at Qumran, near the Dead Sea, that seems to have been populated by members of a particular sect. Most experts believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls—all found close by—include documents pertaining to the beliefs and practices of the Qumran sectarians. Jutta Jokiranta explains:

Part of the Qumran collection consists of sectarian documents that reveal a distinct socio-religious movement with unique features within this larger matrix of diversity. The members of this “Qumran movement” formed an association that kept property in common and had regulations concerning meals and consumption of food, marriages and sexual practices, purity practices, Temple rituals, Sabbath observance, the festival calendar, and education. Determinism and expectations of the end-time characterized the belief system of the movement.

We do not presently know if the archaeological site at Qumran, close to the caves where the scrolls were found, served the whole movement or only this particular community. It is very likely that the movement was not restricted to this desert location. Most probably the movement was the same as or similar to the one later known as the Essenes.

Some of this movement’s regulations opposed what we know of other Jewish teachings and practices from the period. For example, . . . according to the Qumran community’s regulations on the Sabbath, it was forbidden to help anyone out of a well with the aid of an instrument, whereas the rabbis allowed saving a human life. Such Qumran rules may represent the common norms and ideals of their time, whereas the rabbinic rules may reflect an evolution toward leniency.

But the Qumran collection testifies to other groups and authors who are not so easy to identify. Some of the texts may represent widespread Jewish customs or Temple practices (such as daily prayers); others may have their origins in groups similar to the Qumran movement interested in legal interpretations, the study of the Torah, the teaching of wisdom, and in revealing the course of history and divine plan for the elect.

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Read more at Bible Odyssey

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, Essenes, History & Ideas, Judaism

Nikki Haley Succeeded at the UN Because She Saw It for What It Is

Oct. 15 2018

Last week, Nikki Haley announced that she will be stepping down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year. When President Trump appointed her to the position, she had behind her a successful tenure as governor of South Carolina, but no prior experience in foreign policy. This, writes Seth Lispky, turned out to have been her greatest asset:

What a contrast [Haley provided] to the string of ambassadors who fell on their faces in the swamp of Turtle Bay. That’s particularly true of the two envoys under President Barack Obama. [The] “experienced” hands who came before her proceeded to fail. Their key misconception was the notion that the United Nations is part of the solution to the world’s thorniest problems. Its charter was a vast treaty designed by diplomats to achieve “peace,” “security,” and “harmony.”

What hogwash.

Haley, by contrast, may have come in without experience—but that meant she also lacked for illusions. What a difference when someone knows that they’re in a viper pit—that the UN is itself the problem. And has the gumption to say so.

This became apparent the instant Haley opened her first press conference, [in which she said of the UN’s obsessive fixation on condemning the Jewish state]: “I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. . . . I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

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Read more at New York Post

More about: Nikki Haley, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations, US-Israel relations