Letting Cave 11Q speak for itself . . .

Cave 11 (11Q) (map ref. 1936.1295)

Excavation: early February 1956. Report: de Vaux, RB 63 (1956) 573-74.

This cave was discovered by Bedouin in January 1956 who noticed a bat fly from a small opening in the lower cliffs. Soon after, its partially blocked entrance was opened and it was cleared of manuscripts. These manuscripts were sold to the PAM at the beginning of February (PAM 42.171-180; 43.448, 731-732, 742-745, 750, 772-824, 43.975-44.013, 44.113-117; IAA 190420-437; 204598; SHR 5002-5066, 6001-6067, 6106-6165, 6300-6386; JWS 26-59, 62-96). De Vaux and his team excavated the cave shortly after the purchase, prior to their fifth season of excavation at Qumran (which began on Feb. 18). The greatest concentration of finds were found in the backfill from the clandestine rummaging of the Bedouin treasure seekers. Aside from this, the stratified deposits were concentrated around the front of the cave and diminished as the workers excavated further away from the entrance. From the excavation, a number of objects were discovered ranging in date from the Chalcholithic period, the Early Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the first century CE. A type III “Herodian” lamp with a narrow bordered filling hole was found in the debris, indicating that cave was last visited in the later part of the first century presumably during the period of the First Revolt when many late Herodian scrolls were deposited in this cave for safe keeping. Among the epigraphic finds actually recovered by the deVaux and his team was a clump several small fragments of 11QpaleoLeva (PAM 44.086) and an unidentified, blackened, cigar-shaped document. Broken pottery of the Qumran type had been recently scattered over the floor of the cave bearing witness to the wreckless pilfering of the cave. Although no restorable cylindrical jars were found, a lid for such a jar was found in the debris near the entrance. The patterns of deterioration on certain of the scrolls (especially 11Q Psalms a) suggest that some of the scrolls, at least, in this cave were stored standing on end in jars similar to the well preserved scrolls cave 1Q. As in cave 1, dozens of fragments of untinted linen cloth were discovered with indigo lines. However unlike those which were used to cover the scrolls in cave 1 which were made of unbleached linen, nearly all of the the linen cloth fragments of cave 11 were artificially bleached white. (see KQAF II …)

Whose library?

The group that best suits this library: Should be a sufficiently large group with a strong ideology. Not likely the Sicarii since after 66 they were limited to Masada. Not John of Gischala since he and his followers were limited to Jerusalem after his arrival there in 67 CE.

Best candidates are the Zealots 1) although they were limited to Jerusalem until 70 many of the scrolls are from the period leading up to the destruction of jerusalem and they are understood to pass close by as they fled Jerusalem (on their way to the Jungle of the Jordan where they were finally prusued and desimated by Roman legionaries), 2) priestly character since the protection of the temple and its purity was high on the priority list (three copies of the Temple Scroll), 3) the bleached white textiles presuppose a priestly core or hierarchy of the group, 4) Targum of Job (connected in the Rabbinic Literature with the temple but, 5) the lack of legendary texts generally considered popular and an encouragement among lay people since these texts often are written to praise lay people who were recipients of Divine revelation and who faithfully and courageously participated in the carrying out of the Divine will. This likely indicates the a non lay group at the core and the founding traditions. Hierocracy 6) not likely Essene/Yahad sectarians since no such scrolls are found there with any certitude (also Ben Sira, lacking in other Yahad caves, is quoted in 11Q Psalms a) 7) not likely Shimon bar Giora’s group since 11Q has a priestly character.

Objects of the cave 11Q.

Gr 11Q-1: lid. Gr 11Q-2: fragment of an iron blade. Gr 11Q-3: copper buckle. Gr 11Q-4: iron chisel. Gr 11Q-5: lamp. Gr 11Q-6: iron pick. Gr 11Q-7: juglet. Gr 11Q-8: lamp. Gr 11Q-9: two fragments of hide (skin). Gr 11Q-10: iron rod. Gr 11Q-11: iron key. Gr 11Q-12: glass bead. Gr 11Q-13: part of small jar. Textiles: Many; akin to textiles from “8Q” (actually survey cave Q8 =3Q). Dissimilar to those of Cave 1Q. KQAF II pp. 265f.

From the Bedouin, 9 biblical manuscripts (including 11QpaleoLeva), 1 targum, 2 apocryphal or pseudepigraphic texts, and 8 sectarian documents were received.


11Q Manuscripts: 31 Mss – 10 Biblical (incl. 2 paleoHebrew: Leviticus & unidentified text; 1 targum of Job), 0 phylactery, 1 Jub, 0 Giants, 1 New Jerusalem, 1 Song of the Sabbath Sacrifice; 2 Yahad/Sectarian? M?, S?. Others, 0 apocryphons, 1 apocryphal Psalms, 0 Calendar, 2 Hymns; 1 cryptic text; Melchizedek (9 poorly defined); [NB, all parchment; SOS, Melchizedek, 3 Temple Scrolls, (Sefer) HaMilhamah]. Zealot? Period IIb

Priestly teachers kit: Lev, Temple, Melchizedek, Jub, NJ, M (priests in battle); Song of the Sabbath Sacrifice: liturgy, angels behind the events in battle formation.

Again, like Cave 3 the manuscripts are quite late, primarily from the first century C.E. The material culture of cave 3, cave 11, ( and the surrounding non-scroll caves confine the latest deposition of manuscripts to the late, leaning toward the second half of the first century C.E. The non-Essene but priestly nature of the material from cave 11 can argueably connect this northern cluster of caves with the fleeing Zealots from Jerusalem in the year 70.

It is the largest of all of the caves from the cliffs of Qumran. The scrolls were evidently stashed in a limited area not far from the entrance.

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