This article tries to demonstrate that the unique regulations of the Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) sect are derived from its social character as a sect, not from scriptural exegesis or Hellenistic influence. In order to achieve this goal, the article introduces practices that are typical of introversionist sects, and shows that they can also be found in Qumran. Thus the evidence from Qumran contributes to the understanding of the sectarian practices and organization in general. The article compares the regulations from Qumran to those of the Shakers, the Hutterites, the Mennonites and the Amish and also makes inferences concerning the practices of these different sects. The comparison pertains to the procedures of joining the sect, admission to adulthood, annual or semi-annual ceremonial communions, sanctions and punishments, confessions, economical organization and organizational patterns, especially the tendency of keeping the local community small, as well as gender relations and social hierarchy within the sect.
Reading Josephus between the lines reveals the rebels’ claim of Roman desecration of the Jewish religion, and specifically of the Jerusalem Temple cult, as well as the rebels’ actions during the Great Revolt to liberate the Temple. In the following article, the rebels’ ideology will be evaluated in light of the Romanization of the cult throughout the Empire, and of the politicization of the Jerusalem Temple in particular. It will be shown that, like other cult-based native revolts against Rome, the rebels were not primarily bothered by direct violations of the Jewish law, such as the alleged deification of the emperor; rather, their ire was directed toward the more implicit Roman intervention in the Temple cult. Finally, I will argue that for the rebels, the Roman governor Florus’ passive support for pagan violation of Jewish ritual rites in Caesarea as well as his plundering of the Temple treasury in 66 C.E., finally proved the last straw.