Biblical Archaeology Society

“The People” or “The Community”? The tinted area above highlights a partially preserved word in MMT. It occurs at the end of the phrase, “and we separated ourselves from the majority of … ” Scholars agree on the first two letters of the next word: a heh and an ayin (only the curved portion of the latter remains, on the very edge of the fragment). The letter that followed remains open to debate. Some have suggested that it was a mem, making the word “the people.” According to this interpretation, the author of MMT was explaining why his group had split from the wider community. Martin Abegg notes, however, that the word could just as well have been ha‘etsah (the council) or ha‘edah (the congregation). By this reading, MMT concerns a split among sectarians—an intra-communal dispute.