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The Essenes Studied Talmud at Qumran... Sort of....

The Essenes Studied Talmud at Qumran... Sort of....
James Scott Trimm

Obviously the Essenes did not study the Talmud as we know it because it had not been written yet.  However they certainly studied their own body of halachic legal findings that parallel the very type of material found in the Talmud, but from an Essene rather than a Pharisee body of legal findings.

The clue is to be found in the “Manual of Discipline” also known as the “Community Rule” document found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. (The copy found dates from 100 to 75 BCE).  In this document we read concerning the “Instructor”:

“He is to do the will of El in all the revelations from time to time and learn (ולמוד) all the wisdom of the findings (הנמצא) of previous times.”
(Col. 9 line 13)

“And he shall teach them all the findings (הנמצא) that they should do in that time.”
(Col. 9 line 20)

(The above is my literal translation from the original Hebrew.)

This word נמצא (nim’tza) is used in the Rabbinic literature to refer to halachic legal findings, especially when used in connection with the root (למד) which is also the root for the word “Talmud” (that which is learned/studied).  

This meaning is lost in many translations of the document, however The Dead Sea Scrolls, a New Translation by Wise, Abegg and Cook gets this word correct, paraphrasing it “legal finding(s).”

The following are a couple of uses of the word in the Talmud:

“The finding (נמצא) is that what if valid for slaughtering is invalid for wringing the neck, what is valid for wringing the neck is invalid for slaughtering.”
(m.Hullin 1:4)

“Now, what connection has a murderer with a betrothed maiden? This comes to be learned and the finding is learned  (זה בה ללמד ונמצא למד).  The murderer is compared to a betrothed maiden: just as a betrothed maiden must be saved [from dishonor] at the cost of his [her ravisher's] life, so [in the case of] a murderer, he [the victim] must be saved at the cost of his [the attacker's] life.”
(b.Pessahim 25b)

This statement in the “Manual of Discipline” is telling us that the Instructor among the Essenes had the obligation to study the halachic legal findings of times past and to teach these legal findings to the Assembly of the Yahad passing them from generation to generation.  This means the Essenes were very much like Pharisees, but with their own body of halachic legal findings which were generally much stricter than those of the Pharisees.  

Better understanding the Essenes in relation to the Pharisees is helpful in better understanding the ancient Nazarenes who had roots in both groups.

This ministry has had the courage to dare to be different. We proclaim that Yeshua came to be the Jewish Messiah of Judaism and we pick no bones about making no claims to being Christians. And this puts us in a much better and authentic position to reach Jewish people with Messiah.

For example I received an email from an Orthodox Jew who had read our free book Mashiach: Messiah from a True Jewish Perspective. He informed me that he now knew for certain that Yeshua is the Messiah. But now he had some doctrinal questions that he needed me to help him understand.

Fortunately this ministry is well equipped to answer these kinds of hard doctrinal questions from a truly Jewish perspective. And thanks to our supporters, the book was out there for him to read, and we are here to answer his questions, and help him better understand the Messiahship of Yeshua.

This ministry is bringing Messiah to Jewish people more successfully than any other. Even reaching Orthodox Jews with Messiah (few ministries even try to work in this area). I do not believe that any other ministry is better equipped to reach Orthodox Jews with Messiah than this one is.

Is this work worthy of your support? What other ministry provides this kind of teaching? We need you to chip in help us raise $1,500 in the first half of March (by March 15th).

What other ministry is reaching the Jewish people with Messiah and the world with Torah like this ministry is?

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