Close observation shows that there is every reason for concluding that certain parts of the Qumran buildings contained the original substitute sanctuary and its attached vestry. When the earthquake of 31 BC so damaged the buildings that they could no longer be treated as holy, the sanctuary was transferred to Mird-Hyrcania inland. Qumran itself remained in use as a monastery, and the vestry where the sacred loaves of the Presence had always been eaten continued in use.
The open courtyard, Loc 111, that had been the substitute sanctuary, had developed over time as an observatory for the astronomical studies of the Pythagorean Essenes. As an act of worship they studied from there the movements of the sun, moon and stars. Combining it with their practice of offering prayers to heaven as an alternative for animal sacrifices, they registered every significant point of time with a prayer. It was because these prayers were determined by the movements of the heavenly bodies, laid down by heaven, that one of their obligations was “never to be either early or late for the appointed times” (1QS 1:14-15).
The same practices were observed in the monastery when only the vestry was retained. In order to continue offering prayers to heaven a platform was built above the north end of the vestry, Loc 101. It was reached by a set of steps outside the north wall. Here, under the open sky, all divisions of time were marked by a set prayer uttered by a priest or levite. This room was that in which the Last Supper was held.
Following the exile of Essenes to Qumran in 141 BC (see the Political Pre-History for the dates) there was a great expansion of the existing simple buildings on the plateau.
The Jerusalem temple was now staffed by Hasmoneans using a purely lunar calendar, which the exiles believed to be contrary to the will of heaven. It was necessary, they believed, to continue true worship according to the solar calendar, which placed the great feasts on different days. Drawing on platonic theory, they maintained that the true temple and its liturgy belonged only in heaven, and all earthly temples were simply reproductions of the heavenly pattern. That theory could justify the substitute sanctuary that they now built at Qumran as a parallel reproduction. Legal worship would be conducted there until such time as they regained the Jerusalem temple.
Although the archeologists clearing the site assumed that the buildings on the west side near the round well (loc 110) were workshops, the detail requires a different interpretation. At the beginning of their exile the priests found the deep round well that had been there since the 8th century BC. It was filled by an aqueduct leading from the wady that tumbled down the nearby cliffs in the winter rainy season. The priests employed the worker acolytes who accompanied them to repair the aqueduct and begin the construction of buildings for shelter. The first of these were rooms near the well, which the priests jealously guarded as the supply of drinking water. The west side became the area for priestly activity, while the subsequent larger and more regular building on the east side of the central corridor was for the numerous acolytes, becoming eventually a monastery where they were housed and educated.
Loc 111 constructed in the next phase after their arrival was in the form of a long courtyard, unroofed, running approximately north-south, on the west side of the round well. Its dimensions and internal features indicate that it was intended to correspond to the wilderness tabernacle, suitably to the nomad state that the Essenes felt themselves to be in during their exile. Measuring from the north end, excluding the north wall, to the outside of the 2 cubit thick south wall, it is 30 cubits long. Inside the walls, it is 10 cubits wide.
It has a line of embedded stones across the upper third, reflecting the division of the wilderness tabernacle into a one-third Holy of Holies and a two-thirds outside it. Thus it reproduced both the dimensions and shape of the tabernacle, as described in Exodus 26.
That the 18 inch cubit was used at Qumran is indicated by the circular carved pillar bases found on the site in loc. 100. Their carefully carved shape is unique in the surroundings of rough stones. The flat top of each circular base has a diameter of exactly 18 inches ( just under 46 centimeters). Although the size of cubits could vary, 18 inches was more commonly found. The diameter of the tops of the pillar bases may be understood as a measuring instrument, their standard.
Around three sides of the courtyard, but not at the south end, there were sets of roofed compartments sharing walls with the courtyard, locs. 120-123 on its north and west sides, 114-116 on its east side. These rooms correspond, in simpler form, to the side- chambers of Solomon’s temple. The one behind the northern end of the courtyard, loc 120, was 10 cubits north-south counting both its walls. A door led from it into the northern third of the courtyard, for the priest to enter the Holy of Holies without coming through the lower two-thirds.
In each of the side walls adjoining the northern third, the remains of a large window are still to be seen. (See Photo AAA above) Their position suggests that activity at the center could be observed by witnesses standing in the window space on either side. This is consistent with the use of the upper third of the courtyard as a Holy of Holies. Although it would breach the rule if non-priests entered the Holy of Holies, the fact that the atonement was made only once a year, (Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7 )and that it was central to Qumran practice, meant that it should be certain that the rite had been properly performed, so that those benefiting from the atonement could be confident of its efficacy. The witnesses in the windows each side, east and west, would look across at the rite being performed by the high priest and be able to vouch for its correctness.
In the lower part of the eastern wall of the courtyard a door opens into a passageway immediately below the round well. (LOC 113 ). In the corner just south of the door, outside it, a quarter-circle of stones marked a significant position for someone to stand. (See Photo BBB above) The eastern door and the quarter-circle of stones are readily understood as supporting the interpretation of the courtyard as the sanctuary. In Ezekiel 46:1-3 the Zadokite prescriptions for their temple included the gate facing east, which was normally shut, but opened on the sabbath day and the day of the new moon, until evening. On these days the prince was to “take his stand by the post of the gate”. “He shall worship at the threshold of the gate”. Together with him “the people of the land shall worship at the entrance of that gate before the Lord on the sabbaths and on the new moons.” Although their substitute sanctuary ran north-south, the exiled priests at Qumran still needed an eastern door for this custom to be observed. Its position ensured that the sun shone through it when it was opened for the ceremony. They built an eastern door and the quarter-circle outside it for the man corresponding to the prince, who would receive here representatives of the village class when they came on holy days.The 40 cubits, 7 steps and the vault An intriguing sentence in the Copper Scroll may be understood to support very well this interpretation. The Copper Scroll records the location of deposits of very large amounts of money, the first group of them at Sekaka, the ancient name for Qumran. In the light of the history of the 1st century BC the copper plaque may be understood as coming from the period after the earthquake of 31 BC, when the sanctuary was defiled and the vestry was equipped with a platform. The added platform was reached by a set of seven steps.The steps are clearly visible in early photos (Humbert and Chambon, Fouilles de Khirbet Qumran, photo 236; R. de Vaux, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Plate Va). They were removed by the first archeologists, leaving only their sloping stone support. (See Photo BBB above) At the same time as the steps were added, a heart-shaped recess was opened up between the steps and the sanctuary wall. Its beginning lay in line with the end of the south wall of the courtyard, on its cubit 30. (See Photo CCC above.)
“The ruin in the valley of Achor” is readily understood as referring to Qumran, using the biblical name for the area just west of the Jordan, in the vicinity of Jericho (Joshua 7:24-26; Joshua 15:7; Hosea 2:15). The first translator of the Copper Scroll, J.T. Milik, in Discoveries in the Judean Desert III, assumed that the 40 cubits must be the depth below which the silver lay, and supplied the word “dig”. That meant that a hole of 20 yards, 60 feet had to be dug – an incredible depth. Subsequent translators do not supply “dig”, but G.Vermes translates “under the stairs which go eastwards 40 cubits” – apparently meaning an extraordinarily long flight of steps, 60 feet.
Rather, the 40 cubits may be understood to refer to the sanctuary measurements and to confirm the interpretation of the courtyard. When the 10 cubit depth of the northern chamber, loc.120, is added to the 30 cubit length of the courtyard, then the recess begins at cubit 40 measured from the very northern limit of the whole.
It would then be the case that the sentence is referring to the recess at the 40 cubit mark, and to the steps beside it. They are called “the steps going up on the east” because they were beside the ritually significant eastern door of the sanctuary. The recess, where there was a chest of silver, would be the first listed vault from the phase after the earthquake when Qumran was being used for the storing of the huge sums of money named in the Copper Scroll. The deposits of money needed guards, for whom the steps up to the platform over the adjoining room would have been built at first so that they could oversee the vaults.
Before the earthquake, Loc 101 had had a door at the north end of its west wall, giving easy passage along a short path to and from the south door of the courtyard-sanctuary Loc 111. According to biblical rules (Exodus 25:30) the 12 loaves of the Presence were offered to God on a table in the sanctuary. They would then have been taken into the adjoining room through the communicating doors and eaten by the priests at a table in Loc 101. It was in this same room that the priests changed in and out of the white robes that they wore in the sanctuary, according to the rule for Zadokites in Ezekiel 44:19. The room was therefore a vestry, used for the more physical duties of priests. Because of its association with bodily appearances, it lent itself to the concept of the the Heavenly Man, described in Section 3 of this site.
As is shown in Figure 2 above, at the time the communicating door was in use before the earthquake, the north part of the vestry had had a triangular shape. Outside its north wall was a space below the path running just south of the round well, leading in to the east door of the sanctuary. When the earthquake caused the abandonment of the sanctuary and the use of the vestry alone following the re-occupation, the platform open to the sky above the north end of the room came to be used for continuing prayers, reached by the set of steps built in what had been the triangular north part of the room.
A new wall across was then erected, filling in what had been the communicating door with the sanctuary in the west wall. Beside the steps, in what had been the north-west corner of the triangle, there was room for the large heart-shaped recess that the Copper Scroll indicates was a vault for storing money. Next to the new stone wall enclosing the steps and vault stood a large circular furnace, the remains of which are still to be seen.
The fire, which figures in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial, would have served such a purpose as cooking the loaves of the Presence that had to be baked fresh every day. Beside it a door opened to the north, leading from a corridor on the east side of the room.
Once these structures had been added, the rest of the room was in a rectangular shape. Enough of its side walls still remain standing for its measurements to be ascertained. Within its side walls, it measured 10 cubits east-west. The walls themselves were made of rough stones like all Qumran structures, but are readily understood as intended to occupy a space of 1 cubit, so that the total width of the room was 12 cubits, the same as the courtyard-sanctuary.
From outside the new wall containing the vault and steps there were 12 cubits down to the end of a plastered area.
Projecting beyond it was a further step, making the length of the room 13 cubits. The step was supported by a wall of small stones.
Allowing for the eroded soil originally covering the small stones, it is apparent that the north vestry lay one cubit above the south vestry (loc 102), so that it was like a raised dais. There are few remains of the south vestry, but its south wall may be seen in PHOTO FFF above.
From detail of the pesher it becomes apparent that every cubit of the north vestry was numbered, and that two tables for eating the bread of the Presence were placed in such a way as to correspond to the parts of the Heavenly Man. The rows could be named in terms of his body, such as “the bosom” on row 10, or the “entrails” on row 12. Twelve men, constituting the supreme leadership of the ascetic community resident at Qumran, occupied the two tables, at noon and again in the evening. Each table was 6 cubits long and 2 cubits wide, standing 2 cubits (3 feet) high. The men sat on wooden benches on either side, each having only a cubit space (18 inches)as was appropriate to ascetics. Their close proximity would have added to the ideal of fellowship illustrated in their writings. A corridor 2 cubits wide on either side of the tables, enabling movement, filled the remainder of the 10 cubit width of the room inside the walls.
Of the twelve men, two were supreme, as is shown in the descriptions of the meal in 1QS 6 and 1QS a 2. When the ascetic community of exiles regained the power they had lost in the Jerusalem temple, one would be the Zadokite high priest , the Messiah of Aaron, and the other would be the king, the heir of the Davids, the Messiah of Israel. Their current representatives or equivalents sat beside each other on the north side of the table, at both noon and in the evening. The Priest sat east of center, the superior direction, the King as subordinate to him sat west of center.
On the opposite side of the table sat men in the status of their servants in the strict hierarchy. It was for this reason that the tables were 2 cubits wide. As shown in Josephus’ account of the Essenes (Josephus, Jewish War 2, 150), a superior in status had to keep physically distant from an inferior. Literally, the servant had to keep at arm’s length. The standard male human arm, from which the fixed units of measurement were derived , was defined as the forearm, the “cubit” of 18 inches, and the upper arm of the same length. A full arm thus separated master and servant.
The Priest and King sat in the company of their own fellows on the north side, with the same distinctions observed. Subordinate to the Priest in grade was the Levite, sitting east beside him, and subordinate to the King was the crown Prince, beside him on the west. Further out at the end of the table sat guests, at the east and west according to their status. Servants of each of these men sat opposite.
This arrangement was the basic one setting the pattern of tables and loaves. Of the 12 loaves of the Presence, 6 were more holy and were eaten by monastics at their noon meal, which was the superior one for solarists. Another 6 were less holy and were eaten at the evening meal. 12 men ate 6 loaves at a single meal because a principle of sharing was in operation, derived from the early days of poverty of the exiles.
For the noon meal, the holy table was placed on the cubit rows 8 and 9 in the room, with the superiors sitting on row 7 and servants on row 10. For the less holy evening meal, the table was placed on rows 11 and 12, with the superiors on row 10 and their servants on the lowest row, numbered 13, the one on the projecting step of the dais. In the anatomy of the Heavenly Man this was the place of the “seed”, an image that was given significance as the concepts developed.
This basic vestry pattern was preserved when the Christian church developed out of the Jewish ascetic community. A holy table for the Eucharist was placed further back in the sanctuary, as was the case in the Catholic tradition. For the more egalitarian Protestant tradition – in the days when these differences were live issues – the evening table was treated as a common table for communion, and placed forward.
During the Thursday night Peter came to “the court (aulē) of the Chief Priest” and there heard the trial of Jesus, periodically making his denials to the female doorkeepers. He warmed himself at a fire while he was there, and others did also. The fire was lit by men near it during that time.
In Revelation 11:1 the seer is given a measuring rod (kalamos)and told to measure holy places, “but do not measure the court (aulē) ….leave that out, for it is given over to Gentiles .” The same word for measuring rod is used for the stick that brought the cup up to Jesus’ lips at the crucifixion. The measurements of the gibbet indicate that it was 2 cubits long. At the north end of the vestry loc 101 stand the remains of the large circular furnace , 2 cubits in diameter.
It would have given off smoke, so the platform that had been erected above would not have begun close to it. These features fit the narrative. At the north end of the vestry, the first 2 cubits from the added wall were left open to the sky, with the platform above beginning on cubit 3, reached by a gangway from the steps. The first 2 cubits, which the seer was to leave out, formed the court. It was given over to Gentiles because they were equal to wrongdoers who were tried there in a legal court. Such a place was needed in a temple or substitute sanctuary because justice required places of refuge to which criminals or those wrongfully accused could flee, to be given a fair trial by priests according to law. The open 2 cubits at the north of the vestry were the Qumran substitute for such a place. The furnace placed there was necessary for cooking the holy loaves and was constantly smouldering, so lent itself to the additional imagery of the unquenchable fire of judgement into which sinners would be thrown. If the verdict against them included a beating, it was inflicted near the fire.
The wooden platform above was supported by beams from the side walls. It came down to row 7, and on this row it was supported by additional pillars, because row 7 took extra weight. The remains of the pillars, made of the usual rough stones mortared together, were found by the archeologists collapsed on the floor. In order to keep the side corridors clear they were erected in the spaces for guest seats in row 7, so that the two guests had to move in to row 6 beside the priest and levite. That was the reason why at the Last Supper the two subordinate Herods, Thomas and Antipas, important guests, sat on row 6. On the platform above the pillars certain other leaders could stand or sit, as is shown in the description of Revelation 4. The term “pillars” for leaders came from this practice.
Two doors led into the northern part, the east door on cubits 5 and 6, entered by priests coming up from the north base beside the aqueduct, and on the north a door that led in from the passageway running under the round well. It was inside this door that the doorkeepers stood, to open it ceremonially for the judges to come in to the court. Peter as the male doorkeeper stood in the inner corridor, and the place for a female doorkeeper was beside him in the outer corridor. The judges took their places at the center of row 1, a superior eastern judge on east center, his subordinate west. The defendant stood in front of him.
As the Photo EEE above shows , the space in front of the furnace and north wall was marked off by a ring of embedded stones, still to be seen there. Outside them the rest of the room had been paved. The ring of stones, extending to 3 cubits down from the wall, was for the judges and defendant. The third cubit lay under the platform beginning on row 3, and was used as the prison to which the defendant was sent when condemned. He was now appropriately under judgement from above.
In loc 100 of the Qumran ruins, the open triangular area bounded by the aqueduct, there are still to be seen the remains of two pillar bases.
They are in marked contrast with the rough stones used for walls everywhere else on the site, being carved in the style of the bases of Greek columns. When found by the archeologists they were moved so as to be not in their original places, although in the same general area within the aqueduct. Close study of the text shows exactly where they originally stood, and accounts for their quite different appearance from the rough stones used everywhere else.
In the same area, near the aqueduct, stood a mill for grinding flour. (Plate XX de Vaux, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls). The two carved pillar bases were made so as to be able to stand on top of one another, their broader faces meeting. This indicates that they represented millstones, but were so elaborately carved that they were not for practical use. Placed near to the actual mill, they had come to represent a stylized mill. When it is observed that the diameter of the circular top of the upper one is exactly 18 inches (just under 46 centimeters), the more commonly used size of the cubit, it becomes apparent that it was their standard of measurement for all cubits, and that the objects had great significance.
A set of large stones lay in an approximate semicircle opposite the door leading from the south vestry, on its cubit-rows 17 and 18. (Photo above). Further down stood a stone bench, still the most striking structure in the area. It is 4 cubits long and 1 ½ cubits wide, and behind it was originally the wall that extended cubit-row 24 of the south vestry, leading east towards the back gate. A boundary of stones runs up from the east end of the bench towards the outer stones of the semi-circle.
Once their significance is understood, the principle of the “arm’s length”, the 2 cubits that lay between a master and servant, is found to apply to the placement of the pillar bases and another object. Each lay on a numbered line beginning with an extension of row 12 of the north vestry, down through lines 15 and 18, all 3 cubits apart. The north base, with its 1 cubit circular top uppermost, stood on the row 12 extension, with the south base on the extension of row 15. On the extension of row 18, in line with the door, stood another object that has naturally not survived as it was made of wood. The text indicates a stand called the bēma, (Acts 7:5; Acts 18:12). It was associated with activities regarded as “unclean” by the celibates, one of them the performance of the weddings of dynasts. The officiant stood on the bēma, with the couple before him on the extension of row 19.
The north base functioned as the destination spot for pilgrims. For that reason its primary name was “Jerusalem” in the plural form (Hierosolyma) , the name used by the exiled Essenes for Qumran as their New Jerusalem. On this base stood a Chief Priest or a person of equal status, to receive and teach those who arrived at the base. At the trials by Pilate, the governor himself stood on this base, suitably elevated to express his importance. Since he did not understand Hebrew, his translator Antipas Herod stood behind him.
Small as they were, the circular pillar bases were understood as a microcosm of the world, a miniature map. An X with superimposed + were imagined on them, the + pointing to E,W,N and S, the X to NE, SE, NW, SW.
The geographical significance was not the only added one. When pilgrims made their monthly visits, they brought with them the money they had saved according to the principle of tithing for welfare that is set out in the Damascus Document 14:12-15. From their earnings of three days a month, one-tenth of the month of 30 days, they set aside two days’ income, one day for the class of indigents called the Poor; the other day for the class categorized as the Crippled. A bishop received the Poor tithe, and a Judge received the Crippled tithe. A token coin was placed on a spot on the north base, for the bishop in the NE sector, and for the Judge in the NW. There was, moreover, another tax, the temple tax of a half-shekel paid annually according to Exodus 30:15. This was also given to the bishop as the superior, and laid on the same spot. Consequently that spot was called the “temple”, hieron. When the narrative speaks of actions in the “temple”, its pesher concerns actions at the north base, at either Qumran or its counterpart in Jerusalem.
The spot at the NW for the judge’s tithe was called the “treasury”, for a layman - a judge not a priest – who was in charge of this class of money. A teacher on the north base, standing on its single cubit, could then be said to be teaching “in the temple, in the treasury”. This was the place where Jesus taught in John 8:20.
On the south base, separated by 2 cubits from the leader on the north base, stood a man who was associated with sin. Sin included the lusts of the flesh leading to marriage. The flesh was a prison – a common concept in Greek thought. The base was for a man in this regrettable condition, and for his guards. When the Roman, Pilate, stood on the north base, the “prison” at the south base was called the praetorium, the Roman term.
In the space of 2 cubits between the elevated bases stood the Chief Pilgrim in two possible grades. He was either an initiate of grade 7, standing immediately in front of the north base, or a novice of grade 8, standing in the next cubit down. The three kinds of food tithes that the pilgrims brought to the exiled priests were called, in Old Testament terms corn, wine and oil (Hosea 2:8). The corn, ground into flour in this area, gave them their sacred bread, and wine was given at initiation. Bread and wine were associated with the initiate on the row 13 extension, and oil with the novice on row 14. Oil was made from olives. When the south base, associated with the flesh and sin, was called the Mount, referring to the literal Jerusalem as the place of doctrinal error, then the rule for genitives of grades meant that the Mount of Olives lay on both the south base row 15 and row 14. When events at Qumran took place at the Mount of Olives, as after the Last Supper, the exact spot was at the south base.
The long east-west outer hall, loc 77, is the most impressive feature of the ruins, looking out over the fine view to the Dead Sea. It was built outside the old Israelite wall that enclosed the original buildings and monastery. Tourists are told that it was the monastic dining-room, as would seem to be indicated by the stacks of eating bowls in the adjoining annexe loc 86, labeled the “pantry”, But the enclosed life of a monatery would not have lent itself to dining outside the walls. The north-south long room inside, loc 30, was suitable for that purpose.
Rather, loc 77 was the hall in which pilgrims dined when they came to Qumran to bring the food tithes to the exiled priests. After their long journey they were permitted to stay for a month and given some elementary education by the priests in gratitude for their help. They came in batches of 120 at a time, as is reflected in Acts 1:15, sitting along the hall in four rows of 30. Their fees paid in silver to the levite were the 30 pieces of silver of Judas.
The priests who came into the hall to educate them were not as totally enclosed as permanent monastics. They and the dynasts who taught with them were permitted contact with the outside world. They formed an institution that was intermediate between the monastery and the village, the abbey. The outer hall was an example of the schools that Therapeuts had developed, men who could live like hermits but whose more ambitious members wanted the values of a monastic education. They lived in for study, but did not take a permanent vow, did not surrender all their property, and were free to leave and marry if they chose. The priest in charge was called in Hebrew Abba, meaning Father, giving the word abbot. He was a Sadducee priest, of the liberal and well educated class.
Pilgrims were received by abbey ministers in their hall, taking part in the liturgy of Therapeuts. On a stone podium just inside the door to the “pantry” – still to be seen there (PHOTO LL above and Loc 77) – the priest and his dynast assistant stood to receive them, giving them a drink of water on their arrival. While the main body of pilgrims had to sleep in tents on the esplanade, their leaders were permitted to sleep or spend night vigils in the annexe loc 86.
It did contain their eating bowls, but it was not a pantry. It is better called the congregation annexe.
Pilgrims were normally married men, and celibates expressed their view of marriage by treating each cubit row of the congregation as expressing levels of “uncleanness” that went with marriage. They corresponded to the grades and to the ages that normally went with the grades. They were imposed on the image of the Heavenly Man which was also used in the abbeys.
The highest row, which was a row 13 for the full north-south length of hall and annexe, was for villagers who had been granted the privilege of initiation at grade 7. They were “saved” in the terms of one of the images. Below them there was nothing but descent into temptation, sin, marriage and the serious kinds of sin.
It was in the abbeys that Gentiles were accepted, beginning with the chief proselyte in the inferior row 18 and going down to the uncircumcised as the lowest of all.
That was at the outset in the 1st century BC, but in the course of that century and up to the time of Jesus they advanced further and further. They could come up to initiation grade 7 and even to a deacon grade 6. At grade 7 their leader sat on row 13, which was that of the genitals of the Heavenly Man. The seed imagery was consequently drawn on. The schools for celibate Gentiles led by John Mark were called an “Eden”, or “the garden”. His seat on row 13 center east was the “garden” at Qumran to which all went after the Last Supper. It did have a relationship to Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, because that was the house of Antipas who received pilgrims before they started their journey. But Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives is not the one in which the events of Thursday night took place.
The other kind of Gentile, men of Asher who could be married, belonged in the “field” on center west of the same row, likened to wheat and barley. It stood for the part outside Eden to which Adam was sent as a worker. James Niceta was one who could sit in this place, and it was also used by others classed as equal to him.
The pesher further indicates that on rows 6, 7, and 8 was placed a portable wooden structure representing the “chariot” of Ezekiel, the image used for Diaspora mission because it stood for the fact that the Jewish God could travel on a moving throne. It included a movable altar for the elements of the communion, together with a box representing the ark, itself a portable object during Israel’s nomad days. The ark had been 2 ½ cubits broad and 1 ½ cubits wide. Its contents, described in Hebrews 9:4 – coming from the mission’s version – were the manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tables of the Law. These latter, for the Law, were placed on the line of row 7, with the “manna”, the communion bread on row 8 because it corresponded to the first row of the holy table in the vestry.
Hebrews 9:4 includes the altar of incense with the ark in the Holy of Holies. As the description in Exodus 30:1-10 shows, the 1x 1 cubit altar of incense on which the atonement was made stood at the more northerly point, with the ark, 1 ½ cubits wide, in front of it. It may be seen that the two together filled a space of 3 cubits, with a half cubit space for the high priest to stand between the altar and the ark. The portable structure brought to an abbey occupied cubit-rows 6, 7 and 8, on the head and shoulders of the Heavenly Man.
In the chariot image, the 1 x 1 ½ cubits for the altar and the priest’s place corresponded to the space for the horses pulling the chariot, towards the north as the preferred direction of the ascetics. The Book of Revelation presents four horses, in the colors of the seasons and compass points, green (spring, east ), red (autumn, west), black (winter, north) and white (summer, south). The “horses” were the priests of the mission going out to bring the atonement to the four corners of the world.
Pilate finished his trials at the true 9 am. The condemned men were led out to the southern esplanade outside the back gate. The area was defined as “unclean” because the exclusion cistern loc 91 for defiled monastics stood there, as well as the line of cubicles for priests’ latrines, erroneously called “stables” by the archeologists.
Before the earthquake of 31 BC had caused the abandonment of the sanctuary in loc 111, it had been convenient for priests serving all day in the sanctuary to come out through its south door, down beside the west wall of the vestry, to use the cubicles. The esplanade area was also used for the tents of the visiting pilgrims, married men who were also “unclean” from the point of view of celibates. Since the pilgrims were not bound by the toilet regulations requiring lay celibates, distinct from priests, to walk an hour away twice a day, the pilgrims were permitted to use the lower portions of the row of cubicles.
The Qumran grounds were divided into east-west segments of 12 cubits each. For the resident monastics walking about the grounds, a prayer was said at a fixed time on each of the main lines and on lesser lines within the segment. On the main division lines, the prayers for 6 am and 6 pm were said, these being the start and end of the day in Jewish practice. In the center of the segment, those for noon and midnight were said. At the lesser times of 9 am and 9 pm and 3 am and 3 pm, the quarter division lines were used.
It was the case, however, that the structures erected on the plateau from the second century BC did not follow the exact east-west and north-south lines of the compass points. The walls sloped from north-west to south-east, in such a way that a 12 cubit line following the walls began at the 9 am prayer point and finished at the noon prayer point. There was a slope of just 12 cubits at one spot between the exclusion cistern and the latrines. It was this line that was chosen for the row of gibbets, each taking up a width of 4 cubits.
The segment lines being the primary ones marked stages of purity. Each was a Row 12, a row with significance in all structures. It was on this line, running due east-west, that the leaders stood during the crucifixions. The western gibbet stood on the 9 am line 3 cubits down, the equivalent of a row 15. It was on this line at the latrines that a skull hung, to show the division of the cubicles between those for the priests and those for the “unclean” visiting pilgrims. Another cubit down, on row 16, the name Golgotha was used, a Hebrew word for Skull. The word “place” topos was always used for an “unclean” row. Thus, since a genitive relationship Y of X meant that Y was a grade or cubit below X, the “place of the Skull” meant that topos-Golgotha was on row 4 of the segment and the Greek Skull on row 3.
The three positions along row 12 stood for the three main divisions governing all systems of place, West, Center and East. The leaders standing there represented the three classes of leaders, Priest for the center, Prophet or levite for the east, King for the west. They were the rivals for office of the three men being hung.
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