Shortly after Judas' successful battle to win control of Jerusalem, Antiochus IV died in Persia and his son, Antiochus Eupator, took his place. Like his father, the new King Antiochus struggled to gain control of Judea and continued to battle Judas' troops. Control over Jerusalem went back and forth.  In an effort to increase support among the populace, Antiochus took the advice of one of his generals and killed Meneleus around 161 BC, replacing him with Alcimus who was a Jew who Josephus states was not from the priestly stock. The king was hoping his actions would calm down the rebellion, but it had the opposite effect.

     Josephus tells us that the new high priest was assigned the duty of hunting down and killing Judas. For four years, Alcimus, using his office of high priest, caused some of the population to side with the Greeks against Judas. Judas and his men were forced out of Jerusalem. Ultimately, Judas regained control of Jerusalem, but before doing so, the new High Priest Alcimus decided to tear down the walls of the temple.  It was during this attempt that Josephus said Alcimus suffered a stroke and died. The fourteenth chapter of the book of II Maccabees tells us that before he died, Alcimus recognized Judas Maccabeus as the leader of the Hasideans; and, he accused them of keeping up war, stirring up sedition, and creating instability in the kingdom.

     It’s unclear who, from this point, acted as high priest during this time period. Josephus' descriptions of these events differ from the books of I and II Maccabees. According to Josephus, the people declared Judas as their high priest, while the Maccabees books indicate that no one acted as high priest during this time. One thing is certain, from this point onward the Maccabee family began to control the temple-related worship. This included the high priesthood which was passed on to Jonathan Maccabeus and successive family members for decades.  The biblical books of I and II Maccabees, and Josephus’ writings tell many stories about how Judas and his brothers miraculously defeated the Greeks, even though they were greatly outnumbered. From this point forward, Judas assumed the role of leader of the Jews.


    Was Judas or one of his brothers the righteous priest-king foretold in the scrolls? Remember, the scrolls called for the coming of two Messiahs, one out of the House of Aaron and Zadok, and one from the House of Israel who would lead the righteous in a war against the wicked Sons of Darkness. This priest-king would exact vengeance on the wicked for all they had done. He would reestablish the authority of the a righteous high priest from the line of Zadok over the Jewish temple and its services.  Was Jason the first Messiah, and Judas the second?

    On the surface, Judas, or one of the brothers who succeeded him, fulfilled much of the prophetic vision stated in the Teacher of Righteousness’ scrolls. They fit what the scroll disciples were looking for. If the Hasidean scribes were the former followers of the Teacher of Righteousness, and they joined forces with Judas Maccabeus, it is easy to conclude that Judas and his family successors used the scroll prophecies to validate their own right to rule. The Maccabees’ zeal for the law and success in fighting the Sons of Darkness won Israel’s independence for a short time period.

     Overall, the Maccabees were so successful that later kings of both Egypt and Greece curried their favors by recognizing their claim to the high priesthood. Josephus tells us that Antiochus' son Alexander sent a formal letter to Jonathan Maccabeus ordaining him as high priest; a position which he had already been holding. By recognizing their right to hold the high priesthood, the foreign rulers could still maintain their claim of being king over them. This game of semantics between the Maccabees and their foreign kings helped maintain the Maccabees' practical power over the territory. These practices, however, clearly violated the heart of the doctrines of the War Scroll.

    It is believed that many of the Hasideans deserted the Maccabees when it became clear they would not appoint a Zadok family member as high priest. They were further antagonized by the alliances they formed with the Roman government that helped them keep their shaky freedom from Greek and Egyptian rulers. The Romans declared it was against their law for anyone to wage war against the Jews.

    The Maccabees dominated the Temple and the Judean people from the beginning of their revolt in 167 BC to the time of Herod the Great, who ruled from 37 BC to around 4 BC. This 130-year time period became known as the Hasmonean Dynasty, which ended in 37 BC when Antigonus served as the last of the family to hold the high priesthood.


     Apparently, Meneleus aided the wicked king in his destructive rage.  Antiochus then ordered all the country to start participating in the religious ceremonies of the Greeks and put to death all who were practicing Judaism.  He sent enforcers across Israel to make sure the citizens were following his orders.  On one such occasion, Antiochus' men went into the Galilean city of Modin and attempted to force the residents into a pagan sacrifice.  During this ceremony, a Levite priest named Mattathias refused to participate. He was so enraged at those Jews who did, he killed the king's men and those Jews who took part in the pagan ritual. 

   Mattathias and his five sons - John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judas escaped into the Judean desert and started a guerilla war against the Greeks in 167 BC.  This revolt, led by Mattathias' priestly family, became known as the Maccabean Revolution.

     Shortly after Mattathias started the rebellion, he died and his son Judas (aka Maccabeus) assumed the role as leader of the family and the rebellion.  Judas and his brothers retreated into the desert and lived in caves with about one thousand followers.  Time after time, this army of guerilla warriors defeated the Greeks soldiers and ultimately captured Jerusalem.

    The second chapter of book of I Maccabees records this incident and states that a group of very religious men, known as the Hasideans, joined with Judas Maccabee to help defeat the evil gentiles. The record in I Maccabees calls the Hasideans “mighty warriors of Israel” and later describes them as a “company of scribes.” It is important to note here that a scribe’s job is to write. It is equally important to note that the definition of the word “Hasidim” (singular) in Hebrew is “pious.” Obviously, these men who joined with Judas were very religious warrior scribes -- people who kept and wrote religious scrolls. We need to remember that the followers of the Teacher of Righteousness were looking for a warrior-king priest to lead the “Sons of Light” in the War Scroll’s ultimate battle to defeat all Israel’s enemies. The bold actions of Judas Maccabee against the Greeks and the wicked high priests must have looked like the beginnings of the War Scroll’s prophecies. Remember the Damascus Document stated the end of the Teacher of Righteousness started the beginning of the forty year war of the Sons of Light verses the Sons of Darkness. If Jason was the Teacher of Righteousness and he died in 169 BC, his followers expected the foretold warrior-priest king to immediately show up on the scene (see Timeline B).

     From 167 to 164 BC, Judas' troops won battles against the Greeks.  In 164 BC, after capturing Jerusalem, Judas ordered the temple area cleaned out; and, reestablished Levitical worship there with daily sacrifices. At that time, Judas declared a celebration for the restoration of sacrifices at the Temple for a full eight days. This celebration is called the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah. It seems very reasonable to conclude that it was during the reestablishment of Temple services that Judas’ supporters, who were also the Teacher of Righteousness’ followers, brought the scroll library they had taken when they were deposed by Menelaus back to the Temple. It is probable that along with the sacred writings were the scrolls composed by the Teacher and his followers. This fits the story told in 2 Maccabees 2:14 that states Judas ordered the regathering of the sacred writings that had been scattered because of the war.


Timeline A

     In order to understand the impact of the scrolls, we must first look at the known history of the time period in which they were composed. The clear beginnings of this period start at 196 BC, the date the sect was founded, and continued with the arrival of the Teacher of Righteousness in 176 BC.  The final composition period more than likely ended between 63 BC to 29 BC,  as seen below in the Timeline A diagram.

   With these dates in mind, let’s examine the known historical figures of this same time period. According to the historian Josephus, Judea had been the focus of a series of wars between the kings of Egypt and Syria during this same time period.  In 198 BC, the Syrian King Antiochus III (also know as Antiochus the Great) had a decisive victory over the Egyptian general Scopus, which gave the Greeks control over Judea. At lease part of the Jewish populace was joyous with the victory and opened the gates of Jerusalem to the conquering Antiochus. Josephus tells us the victorious Syrians were met with a warm welcoming that included food and provisions for both the army and their animals. The Jews in Jerusalem assisted Antiochus in his siege on the garrison at the citadel, which was one of the Egyptians last strongholds in the city. The king was grateful. Not long after his victories in Celesyria and Jerusalem, Antiochus issued a three-part proclamation to his generals concerning the Jews. First, he agreed to supply the priests with food, oil, wine, and animals for the Temple sacrifices. He also provided large sums of money for wood and other materials to be used to restore the Temple, which had suffered under Egyptian occupation. Next, Antiochus issued the edict that the Jews could worship as they see fit, under their own country’s laws. In this edict, he proclaimed that members of the Jewish Senate, priests, sacred singers, and scribes of the Temple would be exempt from taxes. Other inhabitants of the city were granted a three-year tax exemption. He also told his generals that any Jewish person that was a slave should be immediately set free.

     It is important to point out here that Antiochus’ edict regarding these freedoms for Jewish priests in Jerusalem, happened in the same time period that the Damascus Document states the Dead Sea Scroll sect entered into a new covenant. Was their new covenant with a benevolent king whose heart G-d had softened? The Damascus Document also tells us in 196 BC, G-d remembered his covenant promise, and caused a root of Israel and Aaron to inherit His land, and prosper on the good things of His earth. Could free food, wine, olive oil, and large sums of money to fix the Temple be considered “prospering on the good things of His earth?” Certainly not having to pay taxes after a lifetime of crushing Egyptian taxes would fit this description. Antiochus issued a royal command that no unclean animal should be allowed in Jerusalem, and that no foreigner be allowed within the limits of the Temple that the priest determined. Anyone who violated this decree would have to pay a huge fine to the priests. These royal decrees, in effect gave, control of the holy city back to the High Priest and the Levitical priesthood. The honeymoon would not last very long. In 187 BC, Antiochus the Great died and his son Seleucus IV became the new ruler of the Seleucid Empire. Seleucus struggled with huge financial troubles due in large part to heavy war debts the Romans were demanding.  The Greek king squeezed all his subjects in the empire with heavy taxes, including the Jews in Jerusalem.


The Teacher of Righteousness appeared 176 BC

175 BC to 167 BC

The Wicked

Priest appears

160 BC to 86 BC

Nahum Com.



198 BC Antiochus III defeats

Egyptian general Scopus, & Greeks takes control of Judea from Egypt

Group Formed In 196 BC

175 BC to 160 BC

Damascus Document, Community Rule Scroll, & Habakkuk Scroll Written

63 BC to 29 BC

Calendar Scrolls Written


176 BC High Priest. Onias Dies

169 BC Jason Dies

167 BC Macabean Revolt Begins

161 BC Menelaus Killed Replaced by Alcimus

160 BC Judas Maccabeus Killed And Is Replaced By Brother Jonathan as HP

104 BC John Hyrcanus Dies, Son Aristobulus  Becomes High Priest

103 BC Aristobulus Dies,

His Brother Alexander Jannæus Becomes HP

40 BC Antigonus

Becomes High Priest


175 BC Antiochus IV

Appoints Jason HP

172 BC Antiochus Makes 

Menelaus High Priest

164 BC Judas Takes The Temple-First Hanukkah

159 BC  Alcimus Died

143 BC HP Jonathan Maccabeus Dies, Brother Simon Becomes HP

135 BC Simon Maccabeus Dies, Son John Hyrcanus Becomes High Priest

76 BC Alexander Jannæus

Dies, Son Hyrcanus II Becomes High Priest

66 BC Aristobulus II, Hyrcanus’ Brother Takes High Priesthood By Force

63 BC Hyrcanus II Restored To High Priest


Timeline B


Side by Side Examination Of The

Dead Sea Scrolls Events & Known Historical Events


Dead Sea Scrolls History

Group Formed 196 BC

The Teacher of R. Appeared 176 BC

175 to 167 BC Rise of Wicked Priest

175 to 160 BC Damacus Document, Community Rule, & Habakkuk Comm. Scrolls all written during this time

160 BC to 86 BC Nahum Com. written

63 to 29 BC Calendar Scrolls written


Known Historical Events

198 BC Antiochus the Great defeats

Eqypt and takes control of Judea

176 BC Onias Dies/Deposed

175 BC Antiochus IV Appoints Jason HP

172 BC Antiochus Makes  Menelaus H.P

169 BC Deposed High Priest Jason Dies

167 BC Maccabean Revolt Begins

164 BC Judas Takes The Temple-

161 BC Menelaus Killed/Replaced by Alcimus

160 BC Judas killed/Jonathan Mac. High Priest

159 BC Alcimus Died Trying To Destroy  The Temple

143 BC HP Jonathan Maccabeus Dies, Brother Simon Becomes HP

135 BC Simon Macc. Dies, Son John Hyrcanus Becomes High Priest

104 BC Jonathan Dies/Aristobulus HP

103 Aristobulus dies Alexander Jannaeus HP

76 BC Alexander Jannæus Dies, Son Hyrcanus II Becomes High Priest

66 BC Aristobulus II, Hyrcanus’ Brother Takes High Priesthood By Force

63 BC Hyrcanus II Restored To High Priest

40 BC Antigonus Becomes High Priest


*The books of Maccabees has a different account of how and why the high priest Onias was replaced by Jason. Josephus says he died in office, Maccabees claim he was deposed by Jason and later killed by Menelaus. Either way the outcome was the same-- he was no longer the High Priest.


     Around 175 BC, the ruthless Syrian Greek King Antiochus IV was ruling over Jerusalem. At this time, the Jewish high priesthood was vacant due to the death of the high priest Onias,* whose son was too young to take over the high priest duties. The wicked king appointed Onias' brother Jason to take his place after he paid the king a tribute. Three years later, in 172 BC, Jason sent his brother, Menelaus, to King Antiochus with tax payments. Menelaus told King Antiochus that if he were the high priest he would provide a much greater tribute. Antiochus decided that Menelaus was more deserving of the high priesthood and replaced Jason with him.  Here is one of the first clear actions which might fit the Damascus Document Scroll history.  A high priest is deposed by trickery and bribery. The very brother of the high priest steals away the holy position.  This action caused the deposed high priest, Jason, to lead a revolt against his brother, Menelaus, and the Greek king.

   The new high priest Menelaus retreated to Antiochus for protection.  Menelaus told the king that if he helped establish him as high priest, he would make the people follow the Grecian way of living, including giving up Jewish customs like circumcision. He also said he would build a Greek gymnasium in Jerusalem.  King Antiochus took the bribe and Jason and his followers were banished from Jerusalem by the Greek forces. 

    It is interesting to note that Menelaus’ actions here could certainly fit the Damascus Document Scroll's description of how the Scoffer, by deceit, led the people astray from the ways of righteousness and taught the people the ways of the wicked Greek kings.  Shortly after this, Antiochus decided to wage war against King Philometer of Egypt. During this war, the emerging power of the day, the Romans, sent word to Antiochus to stop fighting the Egyptians or face their wrath.  Antiochus very angrily retreated from Egypt and decided to take out his anger on the rebellious Jews in Jerusalem.

    The biblical books of the Maccabees state that the deposed high priest Jason had wrongly heard that Antiochus had been killed in Egypt. Jason went back to Jerusalem to depose his brother Menelaus and take the high priesthood back. Second Maccabees describes this event as Jason’s downfall. Jason and his troops killed many of the Jewish population who he felt had sided with his brother against him. Second Maccabees says this was to his shame.  

    The coup attempt proved to be a horrible mistake for Jason and the residents of Jerusalem. The angry King Antiochus heard of the revolt and drove out Jason and his troops; massacring  even more of the population.  Jason was forced out of Judea altogether and died an unmourned death in the land of the Spartans.

    Up until this point, the deposed high priest Jason looked like he might be a candidate for the Damascus Rule Scroll’s teacher of righteousness, in spite of the fact that the books of Maccabees describe him as the one who first bribed King Antiochus for the job.  Consider the facts: Jason was from the priestly tribe of Levites, mentioned in the Damascus Document scroll.  He was legitimately named high priest by King Antiochus in Damascus. He headed a group of deposed priests in a war against an unjust "scoffer" or a wicked high priest who led the people astray in the ways of the defiled Greek kings. Jason was forced out of Jerusalem at a time when the services and the temple were impure in the eyes of any faithful Jew.  His enemies had to appear to be the wicked Sons of Darkness.

     Jason was first appointed high priest around 175 BC, the very same time period that the Damascus Document states that G-d appointed a Teacher of Righteousness.  His death occurred sometime after 169 BC. We are told in the biblical books of the Maccabees that Jason spent the last days of his life running from one place to another in the land of the Amorites, Egypt, and finally in the land of the Spartans where he was hunted down, killed, and left unburied.

     Two years after his first campaign to defeat Jason and his supporters, Antiochus returned to Jerusalem in a demonic rage and slaughtered over forty thousand of its inhabitants in one of the bloodiest campaigns ever conducted on Judaean soil. The biblical books of first and second Maccabees describe this massacre in frightening detail.  Women who had allowed their male children to be circumcised were made to watch as Antiochus' soldiers killed their babies and then forced them to wear the dead children’s bodies tied around their necks for days. Antiochus stripped the temple of all its valuables and outlawed all forms of Jewish religious ceremonies.  Then, the king set up an altar to Zeus in the Temple and sacrificed a pig on it. A pig, the most defiled of all animals to the Jews--- the ultimate insult.