Israel Antiquities Authority

The Community rule lists the laws governing membership and the responsibilities of the group that copied and composed many of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It also details punishments for misconduct: Undermining the leadership’s authority or blaspheming will result in banishment; sleeping during a Community meeting leads to 10 days of punishment; spitting or laughing inappropriately, 30 days.

This particular fragment, known as 4QSd (4Q for its discovery in Cave No. 4 found near Qumran; S for Serekh ha-Yahdad, Hebrew for the “Community Rule”; and d for the fourth very fragmentary copy of this document found in that cave), outlines the responsibilities of the Community’s leader: “He shall instruct them in the mysteries of marvel and truth among the men of the Community (Yahad) that they may walk in perfection.” According to Cross and Eshel, the term Yahad (highlighted in yellow), used by the scroll authors to refer to themselves, also appears in a recently discovered inscription from the Qumran settlement. If their decipherment is correct, the new inscription offers the first definite textual link between the scrolls found in the caves and the nearby settlement.