Qumran Self-Identity: "Israel" or "Judah"?

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
John BergsmaFranciscan University of Steubenville

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A careful analysis of the Qumran "sectarian" texts reveals a consistent preference for self-identification as "Israel" rather than "Judah." In fact, they contain no unambiguous identifications of the community as "Judah" or its members as "Judeans". Like most biblical texts and unlike Josephus and the authors of 1–2 Maccabees, the Qumran community does not equate Israelite with Judean. They regard themselves as the vanguard of the eschatological restoration of the twelve tribes; for them, the Judean state is not the sole heir of biblical Israel.

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