An Examination of 11QMelchizedek
One of the more extraordinary fragments from Qumran was found in cave 11 and is known as 11Q13 or the Melchizedek Document. It can be dated to circa 100 BC, written in Hebrew, and ties Melchizedek to the year of Jubilee, when “every creditor shall release that which he has lent to his neighbor.” It has five direct references to Melchizedek, the king of righteousness and king of peace according to Hebrews 7:2. When reviewing its contents, it is clear that Melchizedek is a reference to Jesus Christ, God incarnate, and the new covenant believer’s Jubilee!
And concerning that which He said, in [this] year of Jubilee [each of you shall return to his property (Leviticus 25:13); and likewise, and this is the manner of release:] every creditor shall release that which he has lent [to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother], for God's release [has been proclaimed] (Deuteronomy.15:2). [And it will be proclaimed at] the end of days concerning the captives as [He said, to proclaim liberty to the captives (Isaiah 61:1). Its interpretation is that He] will assign them to the Sons of Heaven and to the inheritance of Melchizedek; f[or He will cast] their [lot] amid the portions of Melchize]dek, who will return them there and will proclaim to them liberty, forgiving them [the wrong-doings] of all their iniquities. And this thing will [occur] in the first week of the Jubilee that follows the nine Jubilees. Melchizedek Document, Column 2
It should be noted that Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2 while speaking at the synagogue in Nazareth as related in Luke 4:16-21. Afterward, He sat down and proclaimed, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." As stated above, He will assign them to the Sons of Heaven and to the inheritance of Melchizedek; for He will cast their lot amid the portions of Melchizedek, who will return them there and will proclaim to them liberty, forgiving them [the wrong-doings] of all their iniquities. In Ephesians 1:18-20, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might, which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. The inheritance of Melchizedek is that of Christ, who forgave them their iniquities.
A Solar Calendar
To discern the meaning of the first week of the Jubilee that follows the nine Jubilees, it is essential to recognize how time was accounted for, as referenced in many of these ancient Jewish writings. The heart of the Jewish calendar is the seven-day week, as found in Genesis 1 and many other places. It has remained unchanged to this day. The Essenes, as supported by multiple ancient Jewish scrolls found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, recognized a solar calendar as 364 days long, evenly divided into fifty-two weeks. Since each year is 365.24 days, they accommodated a 24-hour day by recognizing a leap week, realized once every five or six years. This system maintained the purity of the 7-day week and was in place from Adam until Israel was forced to use the Seleucid Greek calendar when under foreign rule, later to be modified by the Pharisees.
The modern Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar based on a 354-day year and then a leap month (Adar II) added every three to five years to keep somewhat in sync with the four seasons. The difference in the solar versus the lunar calendar has created a difference in the year since creation. The Jews (lunar calendar) maintain that we are in year 5784, while the solar calendar calculates it to be 5948.
Sundials were found in Qumran. They are round and have a gnomon in the center to cast a shadow. There are seven circles embossed on the sundial. The circles recognize equinoxes, solstices, and months. The year's divisions are grouped into four seasons, starting with spring and finishing with winter. The Dead Sea Scroll calendar, also called the Zadok calendar, maps out time from the Creation (in Genesis) to the Creation of a New Heavens and a New Earth (in Revelation). The scrolls teach that between these two events spans seven thousand years. This seven-thousand-year period is broken down into ages of 2,000 years each, with the fourth age being 1,000 years, as follows:
Years from Creation
Age 1 – Creation 1 – 2000 AM 3925 BC – 1925 BC
Age 2 – Torah 2001 – 4000 AM 1925 BC – 75 AD
Age 3 – Grace 4001 – 6000 AM 75 AD – 2075 AD
Age 4 – Kingdom 6001 – 7000 AM 2076 AD – 3075 AD
Each age is represented by four 500-year periods called onah’s, and each onah includes ten jubilees of 50 years each. The Ancient Book of Jubilees and other ancient Jewish documents reference time in light of the jubilee it represented. This is true of the Melchizedek Document, where the first week of the jubilee that follows the nine Jubilees is a reference to 32 AD (the 10th jubilee is 75 AD, so the ninth would be 25 AD and the week after, seven years after would be 32 AD). Daniel’s 70-week prophecy places the death of Christ as April 6, 32 AD.
To understand the meaning of the document, it is essential to review the political/religious environment in Israel in the 200 or so years preceding Christ’s appearance. During the period known as the 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and New Testament, when there were no prophets, Judaism was broken down into sects: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the sons of Zadok (Essenes). The Sadducees were the Jews who followed the high priest even when he contradicted the Torah. They avoided confrontation with their foreign overseers. Those committed to following the Torah refused to follow the Sadducees and became known as the Pharisees (dissenters). They instituted a new method of Torah interpretation called "Derush," meaning that oral tradition would be enforced and binding on all, just as the written Torah had been. They were governed by oral tradition, the tradition of the elders, and imposed it on the people in response to the Babylonian captivity. This was the religious and political environment at the time the Messiah appeared.
On the other hand, the Essenes were committed to a purity of religious life and an unreserved dedication to the truth. Josephus recognized them as committed to a strict observance of the Sabbath, eating together after prayer, devoting themselves to charity and benevolence, forbidding the expression of anger, studying the books of the elders, preserving secrets, and were very mindful of the names of the angels kept in their sacred writings. In addition, they saw themselves as dedicated priests and prepared their members accordingly, with great emphasis on personal study of Scripture and other ancient works as well as purity of life, as Josephus relates in “The Jewish War.” The Essenes became the keeper of the libraries, which included many ancient Jewish scrolls beyond the Scriptures.
The Lord instructed the Essenes to move to Egypt, resettle there for a season, and build a Zadok temple close to Alexandria. (This Temple existed until 73 AD, according to Josephus’s War of the Jews). This protected them from the horrors of Antiochus Epiphanies, who ruled over Israel from 175 to 165 BC. They returned to Israel only after the Romans had established control and a pseudo-peace over Israel in the latter part of the first century BC. They set their headquarters in Qumran, on the northwest side of the Dead Sea, and named it New Damascus. They led a revival among the Jews, many of whom began rejecting the doctrines of the Sadducees and Pharisees and embraced the teachings of a coming Messiah who would die for the sins of humanity. When it was anticipated that the Romans would attack them, they found a safe haven for these libraries in the caves above Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain many more fragments and documents than just Scripture, including the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.
An Oppressive Leadership
And the Day of Atonement is the e[nd of the] tenth [Ju]bilee, when all the Sons of [Light] and the men of the lot of Mel[chi]zedek will be atoned for. [And] a statute concerns them [to prov]ide them with their rewards. For this is the moment of the Year of Grace for Melchizedek. [And h]e will, by his strength, judge the holy ones of God, executing judgment as it is written concerning him in the Songs of David, who said, ELOHIM has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment (Psalm 82:1). And it was concerning him that he said, (Let the assembly of the peoples) return to the height above them; EL (God) will judge the peoples (Psalm 7:7-8). As for that which he s[aid, How long will you] judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah (Psalm 82:2), its interpretation concerns Belial and the spirits of his lot [who] rebelled by turning away from the precepts of God to ... And Melchizedek will avenge the vengeance of the judgments of God... and he will drag [them from the hand of] Belial and from the hand of all the sp[irits of] his [lot]. And all the 'gods [of Justice'] will come to his aid [to] attend to the de[struction] of Belial. And the height is ... all the sons of God... this ...
The end of the tenth jubilee is 75 AD when all the Sons of [Light] and the men of the lot of Melchizedek will be atoned for. This date references a significant event known as the Council of Yavneh. It occurred to finalize the development of the canon of the Hebrew Bible in response to Christianity. It was purported to be the occasion when the Jewish authorities decided to exclude believers in Jesus as the Messiah from synagogue attendance. At the same time, they made a decision that although the Jerusalem temple had been destroyed (by Titus in 70 AD), they would not rebuild it and reinstitute animal sacrifices. Good deeds would replace the requirement of animal sacrifices. The Essene temple, located near Alexandria, Egypt, was voluntarily shut down in 73 AD.
Asaph wrote Psalm 82 and evidently composed it at a time when there was much that was unjust and oppressive in the administration of justice, when the magistrates were corrupt when they could be bribed, when they were forgetful of their obligation to defend the poor and the fatherless—the afflicted and the needy; etc. The particular application is to the corruption of the Sadducees and Pharisees. Its interpretation concerns Belial [the devil] and the spirits of his lot [who] rebelled by turning away from the precepts of God. God would bring judgment on these remaining Jewish factions, and this took place after the Council of Yavneh. The remaining Essenes would embrace Christianity since they had read and studied many prophecies that Jesus clearly was the Messiah/Melchizedek.
Your Elohim Reigns
This is the Day of [Peace/Salvation] concerning which [God] spoke [through Isa]iah the prophet, who said, [How] beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who proclaims peace, who brings good news, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion: Your ELOHIM [reigns] (Isaiah 52:7). Its interpretation: the mountains are the prophets... and the messenger is the Anointed one of the spirit, concerning whom Dan[iel] said, [until an anointed one, a prince (Daniel 9:25)] ... [And he who brings] good [news], who proclaims [salvation]: it is concerning him that it is written... [To comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion] (Isaiah 61: 2-3). To comfort [those who mourn: its interpretation], to make them understand all the ages of t[ime] ... In truth ... will turn away from Belial... by the judgment[s] of God, as it is written concerning him, [who says to Zion]; your ELOHIM reigns.
Document, Column 2, continue
We see in this document, the Year of Grace and the Day of Peace, explicit references to the new Age of Grace, the church age ushered in by the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Paul introduces many of his letters with Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:2). The writer of the Document uses three Scriptures, all quoted in the New Testament, as a reference to Jesus Christ and His fulfillment of prophecies of Messiah. Paul quotes Isaiah 52:7 in Romans 10:14-15 to apply this verse to the preacher, the one who declares the good news of Jesus as Messiah. Daniel 9:25 refers to the 69 weeks of years that point to Calvary. And Isaiah 61:2 was referenced in Luke 4:18 when Jesus quoted the passage to the Nazarites in the synagogue. As explained, the interpretation speaks of an understanding that, in time, the Messiah will deliver His people from the grips of Belial (Satan).
Elohim is Melchizedek
Zion is ..., those who uphold the Covenant, who turn from walking [in] the way of the people. And your ELOHIM is [Melchizedek, who will save them from] the hand of Belial. As for that which He said, Then you shall send abroad the trump[et in] all the land (Leviticus 25:9) ...
Melchizedek Document, Column 2, continuedThe final passage speaks of the (new) covenant, that those who walk in the truth of that covenant will be saved from the hand of Satan. He then references Leviticus 25:9 and the trumpet blowing on the Day of Atonement. It would appear that this Day of Atonement is the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ. Within this Document, we see a reference to both His First and Second Comings.