War Scroll

            The War Scroll found in Cave 1 is one of the most fascinating eschatological texts. It describes the eschatological war, or final battle, between the forces of good and evil. The first part of the War Scroll briefly describes a period of forty years, during which a battle will be fought between God’s “company,” called “the Sons of Light” (identified with the authors) and the “company of Belial,” the “Sons of Darkness.” It is quite apparent from the text that the battle is not an ordinary war; it is to be a final conflict, for the end times:

            This shall be a time of salvation for the people of God, an age of dominion for all the members of His company, and of everlasting destruction for all the company of Belial… The confusion of the sons of Japheth shall be [great] and Assyria shall fall unsuccoured. The dominion of the Kittim shall come to an end and iniquity shall be vanquished, leaving no remnant; [for the sons] of darkness there shall be no escape. [The sons of righteous]ness shall shine over all the ends of the earth; they shall go on shining until all the seasons of darkness are consumed and, at the season appointed by God, his exalted greatness shall shine eternally to the peace, blessing, glory, joy, and long life of all the Sons of Light. (1QM 1:5-9)

            The War Scroll describes the Sons of Light as fighting alongside angels, and the war as a battle taking place in several stages. The evil side will win three phases of the battle and the good side will win three phases. When the two sides are tied “…the mighty hand of God shall bring down [the army of Belial, and all] the angels of his kingdom, and all the members [of his company in everlasting destruction] …” (1QM 1:14-15).

            The scroll provides a detailed account of the type of battle gear the warriors will wear, and also the battle formation of the tribes. There is a description of the mottoes and battle cries to be inscribed on the trumpets, standards, shields, and arrows. There are rules concerning the age of those who will participate, the condition the warriors must be in and even the type of personality or nature the unit should have.

  • Further Reading:
    Yigael Yadin, The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. Translated by Batya and Chaim Rabin (London: Oxford University Press, 1962)
  • Davies, Philip R. IQM, the War Scroll from Qumran: Its Structure and History. (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1977).