The Dead Sea Scrolls frequently refer to a mysterious figure called the “Teacher of Righteousness” (Moreh ha-Tsedek in Hebrew). According to the most widely held view, the Teacher of Righteousness founded the Dead Sea Scroll sect (the sect is usually identified with the Essenes). In this common view, the Teacher of Righteousness organized the Community (the Yahad) and composed many of its most important works.
The nemesis of the Teacher of Righteousness is another shadowy figure called the Wicked Priest (ha-Kohen ha-Rasha). He is also known by a number of other epithets, including the Lion of Wrath, the Liar, the Spreader of Lies and the Man of Scoffing.
Still following the standard interpretation, the Wicked Priest and the Teacher of Righteousness are thought to be historical figures. But that is where the consensus ends. There is no agreement over who they were.
The conjectures over their identities began long before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered near Qumran in 1947. What some call the first Dead Sea Scroll was found half a century earlier, in 1896, not near the Dead Sea, but in a storeroom for worn-out texts (called a genizah) of the Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo.a The Cairo Genizah, as it is known, contained 200,000 pages of Hebrew manuscripts, two of which were medieval copies of what appeared to be a much older document. They were published in 1910 by the man primarily responsible for recovering the Cairo Genizah, Solomon Schechter.b In 1896 Schechter was affiliated with Cambridge University in England, where most of the documents still reside. He speculated that the two medieval documents were late copies of a work that originated with a Jewish sect whose members lived before the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. He called this work a Zadokite Work; it subsequently became known as the Damascus Document or (the Cairo Document).
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