Who was the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The Teacher of Righteousness is supposedly the person who replicated the God-like figure by his words, beliefs and actions. Who was he? Was he Jesus?
The Teacher of Righteousness is a figure discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. The details about the Teacher of Righteousness were most prominently highlighted in the Damascus document. It is said that the Teacher of Righteousness was the one who anticipated Jesus’s resurrection and Crucifixion. Hence, this is the fact that has attained much notice in the press.
The people who have made these claims, are not just competent but are distinguished scholars in their respective fields. The Teacher in the text is said to have had an in-depth understanding of the Torah and was also qualified in accurate instruction. It is said that he was the one with whom God was willing to reveal the hidden things of Israel to the Jewish community.
The exact identity of the Teacher is still unknown! But as per the Community Rule Scroll, the teachers have the identity of Kohens or priests. It is said that they were the Kohens of Zadok’s patrilineal progeny. The Teacher mentioned within the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran is the first high priest who served in Solomon’s Temple.
Hence, this led the scholars to assume that this Teacher was the Kohen of Tzadokite lineage as well. There is more to learn about this Teacher of Righteousness for the general audience.
Some scholars have claimed that the Teacher of Righteousness was a Sadducee, a socio-religious sect of Jewish people who were active in Judea during the Second Temple period. A Sadducee, illustrated in the 15th-century Nuremberg Chronicle. (Hartmann Schedel / Public domain )
The Teacher of Righteousness Was A High Priest
The Teacher of Righteousness depicted in the Dead Sea scrolls belonged to the House of Israel. As per the Dead Sea scrolls , he was born without a father. The time of his birth was the era when Christianity was about to begin. It is said that the mother of this Teacher dedicated his life to God. As a result, the Teacher of Righteousness grew up with a belief in the absolute Unity of God.
Following that, he claimed to people that God sent him as a Messiah for the Jews. His claims also mentioned that the Holy Spirit and almighty were helping him. He is said to have interpreted Torah with guidance from God but was opposed by other Jewish priests. As per the scrolls, one chief priest within the Jewish community strongly opposed the Teacher. He is named as the “Wicked Priest” in the scrolls!
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The Teacher of Righteousness was seriously persecuted, and some even tried to kill him. But as the scroll proceeds, it is said that God saved the life of his best teacher! Later, he was forced by the wicked priest to migrate to some distant land, where his claims and words could be accepted. Before leaving the country, he made a prophecy for all those who were against him.
He said that God should punish all who oppose the truth for the wrong decisions they made and the iniquities. He also said that the people who followed and believed in him would always prevail over those who rejected his words, beliefs, and claims.
Could the Teacher of Righteousness be Jesus, who is pictured here in The Christ Pantocrator of Saint Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai, 6th century AD? ( Public domain )
Could the Teacher of Righteousness be Jesus?
The true identity of this Teacher is still a mystery, but there has been a debate on whether the Teacher of Righteousness could be Jesus! This was suspected because he was given a very high status in the community scrolls. The writings offered by him were added to the collection of scrolls as well.
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Both Jesus and this Teacher of Righteousness preached poverty, humility, repentance, and love of innocence. Both also claimed to be the Messiah of God who took birth in this world to right the wrongs of humanity. Therefore, it was a strong point to make that the Teacher could be Jesus himself, mentioned in the scrolls.
But all of these facts are just assumptions and similarities. Therefore, the true identity of the Teacher is still considered unknown.
Another potential person who could have been the Teacher of Righteousness is John Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, who was a Jewish high priest in the 1st century BC. He was also briefly King of Judea. (Guillaume Rouille / Public domain )
The Religious Beliefs of the Teacher of Righteousness
The Christians, Jews and mainstream Muslims found it difficult to believe that the Teacher was none other than Jesus. Everyone thought that he couldn't survive the Crucifixion and travel to lost Israelite tribes.
But in the year 1981, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community got the Arabic revelation that Jesus, the Messenger of Allah, died and the Teacher came as his spirit, just like he promised. The revelation also said that Allah’s promises are always fulfilled!
It was truly surprising how the Teacher’s story within the scrolls was discovered after 40 years of the death of the known and promised Messiah, Jesus. The thoughts and beliefs of this Teacher of Righteousness are very similar to those of Jesus. Hence, today people believe that the Teacher was Jesus in a different body.
He came to this world again in a different body to convey the message that was left untold!
This brief account proves that the Teacher of Righteousness was a leading religious figure in the 2nd century BC. And there are reports that another Teacher of Righteousness led the sect in the 1st century BC, and finally, there was another who emerged in 1st century AD. This was all part of God’s plan for the world to realize his presence. People who have neglected their faith and belief in God have suffered the warned consequences.
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People who believed in the Teacher of Righteousness thrived by avoiding all the possible conflicts and problems. Hence, this is why Christianity believes in Jesus and his presence to date. The Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls is perhaps then just one face of God, who tried to guide humanity in the right direction.
Top image: Left, a Sedducee, who some scholars claim the Teacher of Righteousness is based on. Right, A fragment of the Damascus Scroll in which the Teacher is most mentioned. Source: Left; Hartmann Schedel / Public Domain , Right; CC0
By Bipin Dimri
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