A Brief History of Christianity before Jesus Christ
Damascus Document Notes from the Damascus Document 1. The document opens by pointing out that during the time before the exile to Babylon when unfaithfulness was prevalent, causing God to bring about his wrath upon the people. 2. Then there came twenty years in which a remnant of the people knew their own guilt and tried to find a way to the path of righteousness, until God provided them with a “Teacher of Righteousness” who revealed the will of God. 3.
The teacher of righteousness was opposed by the Man of Mockery who brought about persecution to the group led some of them into all sorts of unrighteous acts and sinfulness. The Man of Mockery led some of the people to sin through the defilement of the temple and causing the people “to wonder in a pathless wilderness…abolishing the ways of righteousness…” 4.
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The teacher of righteousness was “passed away” at some point and the writer pointed out that the incident marked the beginning of the end of all the fighters who deserted to the Liar.
The writer also pointed out that period lasted about forty years. It seems as though the writer is saying that “passing away” of the teacher of righteousness (perhaps killed) by the Man of Mockery, was began the forty year long war which ended all wars. 5. The righteous members of the group became the “the Separatists” when they left the Holy City. 6. The writer of the document foretells the coming of two Messiahs out to the “House of Aaron and Israel. ” Perhaps this may have been a reference to the John the Baptist (House of Aaron) and to Jesus the Christ (House of Israel).
The exception to this theory is that technically Jesus was from the House of Judah, but collectively he Judah was Israel’s son, hence, the house of Israel would suffice. 7. The writer of the document explains the administrative hierarchy for members of the covenant. The one above all was the Overseer of the assembly. The document instructs that the Overseer shall teach the groups the ordinances of God and make decisions as to who can join the group and determine the rank that each will have. The Overseer “shall be from thirty to fifty years old and will have final say on all the group’s activities. The Overseer was the ultimate authority that settled disputes between members. 8. The Document also stated that congregation shall be divided into groups of ten and every group of ten members required a priest that rules the group of ten. Each group of ten was to be registered by name and the first one to be enrolled was the priest; followed by the Levites; and then came the regular Israelites with the proselytes being the last. The same order followed when members were settled during meals and assembly meetings. Each of the members was assigned a rank. 9.
From here the documents provides a long succession of rules that governed the members including: keeping the Sabbath (even a restriction from assisting an animal to give birth or pull it out of pit if the animal falls on the Sabbath); prohibitions against sleeping with a woman in the City of the Sanctuary; rules for bathing; restrictions against selling of clean animals or birds to gentiles in case they would offer them in sacrifices; rules to members with children that require them to force their children to take an oath to the covenant upon the age of enrollment; directives to the members to contribute two days of every month’s incomes to the poor and needy; rules demanding all new members to study for a full year under the Overseer before partial membership if granted; and rules prohibiting any membership for lunatics, the maimed, madmen, the deaf, the blind, simpletons, the lame, and the underage.