This scroll describes an eschatological war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness.
An excerpt from the beginning of the War Scroll – A book of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
For the In[structor, the Rule of] the War.
The first attack of the Sons of Light shall be undertaken against the forces of the Sons of Darkness, the army of Belial: the troops of Edom, Moab, the sons of Ammon, the [Amalekites], Philistia, and the troops of the Kittim of Asshur. Supporting them are those who have violated the covenant. The sons of Levi, the sons of Judah, and the sons of Benjamin, those exiled to the wilderness, shall fight against them with […] against all their troops, when the exiles of the Sons of Light return from the Wilderness of the Peoples to camp in the Wilderness of Jerusalem. Then after the battle they shall go up from that place a[nd tile king of; the Kittim [shall enter] into Egypt. In his time he shall go forth with great wrath to do battle against the kings of the north, and in his anger he shall set out to destroy and eliminate the strength of I[srael. Then the]re shall be a time of salvation for the People of God, and a time of dominion for all the men of His forces, and eternal annihilation for all the forces of Belial. There shall be g[reat] panic [among] the sons of Japheth, Assyria shall fall with no one to come to his aid, and the supremacy of the Kittim shall cease that wickedness be overcome without a remnant. There shall be no survivors of [all the Sons of] Darkness. Then [the Sons of Rig]hteousness shall shine to all ends of the world continuing to shine forth until end of the appointed seasons of darkness. Then at the time appointed by God, His great excellence shall shine for all the times of e[ternity;] for peace and blessing, glory and joy, and long life for all Sons of Light. On the day when the Kittim fall there shall be a battle and horrible carnage before the God of Israel, for it is a day appointed by Him from ancient times as a battle of annihilation for the Sons of Darkness. On that day the congregation of the gods and the congregation of men shall engage one another, resulting in great carnage.The Sons of Light and the forces of Darkness shall fight together to show the strength of God with the roar of a great multitude and the shout of gods and men; a day of disaster. It is a time of distress fo[r al]l the people who are redeemed by God. In all their afflictions none exists that is like it, hastening to its completion as an eternal redemption. On the day of their battle against the Kittim, they shall g[o forth for] carnage in battle. In three lots the Sons of Light shall stand firm so as to strike a blow at wickedness, and in three the army of Belial shall strengthen themselves so as to force the retreat of the forces [of Light. And when the] banners of the infantry cause their hearts to melt, then the strength of God will strengthen the he[arts of the Sons of Light.] In the seventh lot : the great hand of God shall overcome [Belial and al]l the angels of his dominion, and all the men of [his forces shall be destroyed forever].The annihilation of the Sons of Darkness and service to God during the war years. [,…] the holy ones shall shine forth in support of […] the truth for the annihilation of the Sons of Darkness. Then […] […] a great [r]oar […] they took hold of the implement[s of war.] […] [… chiefs of the tribes … and the priests, [the Levites, the chiefs of the tribes, the fathers of the congregation … the priests and thus for the Levites and the courses of the heads of] the congregation’s clans, fifty-two. They shall rank the chiefs of the priests after the Chief Priest and his deputy; twelve chief priests to serve in the regular offering before God. The chiefs of the courses, twenty-six, shall serve in their courses. After them the chiefs of the Levites serve continually, twelve in all, one to a tribe. The chiefs of their courses shall serve each man in his office. The chiefs of the tribes and fathers of the congregation shall support them, taking their stand continually at the gates of the sanctuary. The chiefs of their courses, from the age of fifty upwards, shall take their stand with their commissioners on their festivals, new moons and Sabbaths, and on every day of the year. These shall take their stand at the burnt offerings and sacrifices, to arrange the sweet smelling incense according to the will of God, to atone for all His congregation, and to satisfy themselves before Him continually at the table of glory. All of these they shall arrange at the time of the year of remission. During the remaining thirty-three years of the war the men of renown, those called of the Congregation, and all the heads of the congregation’s clans shall choose for themselves men of war for all the lands of the nations. From all tribes of Israel they shall prepare capable men for themselves to go out for battle according to the summons of the war, year by year. But during the years of remission they shall not ready men to go out for battle, for it is a Sabbath of rest for Israel. During the thirty-five years of service the war shall be waged. For six years the whole congregation shall wage it together, and a war of divisions shall be waged during the twenty-nine remaining years. In the first year they shall fight against Mesopotamia, in the second against the sons of Lud, in the third they shall fight against the rest of the sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Togar, and Mesha, who are beyond the Euphrates. In the fourth and fifth they shall fight against the sons of Arpachshad, in the sixth and seventh they shall fight against all the sons of Assyria and Persia and the easterners up to the Great Desert. In the eighth year they shall fight against the sons of Elam, in the ninth year they shall fight against the sons of Ishmael and Keturah, and during the following ten years the war shall be divided against all the sons of Ham according to [their] c[lans and] their [terri]tories. During the remaining ten years the war shall be divided against all [sons of Japhe]th according to their territories.The description of the trumpets.
[The Rule of the Trumpets: the trumpets] of alarm for all their service for the […] for their commissioned men, [by tens of thousands and thousands and hundreds and fifties] and tens. Upon the t[rumpets …] […] […] […] [… they shall write … the trumpets of] the battle formations, and the trumpets for assembling them when the gates of the war are opened so that the infantry might advance, the trumpets for the signal of the slain, the trumpets of the ambush, the trumpets of pursuit when the enemy is defeated, and the trumpets of reassembly when the battle returns. On the trumpets for the assembly of the congregation they shall write, “The called of God.”
On the trumpets for the assembly of the chiefs they shall write, “The princes of God.”
On the trumpets of the formations they shall write, “The rule of God.”
On the trumpets of the men of renown [they shall write], “The heads of the congregation’s clans.”
Then when they are assembled at the house of meeting, they shall write, “The testimonies of God for a holy congregation.”
On the trumpets of the camps they shall write, “The peace of God in the camps of His saints.”
On the trumpets for their campaigns they shall write, “The mighty deeds of God to scatter the enemy and to put all those who hate justice to flight and a withdrawal of mercy from all who hate God.”
On the trumpets of the battle formations they shall write, “Formations of the divisions of God to avenge His anger on all Sons of Darkness.”
On the trumpets for assembling the infantry when the gates of war open that they might go out against the battle line of the enemy, they shall write, “A remembrance of requital at the appointed time of God.”
On the trumpets of the slain they shall write, “The hand of the might of God in battle so as to bring down all the slain because of unfaithfulness.”
On the trumpets of ambush they shall write, “Mysteries of God to wipe out wickedness.”
On the trumpets of pursuit they shall write, “God has struck all Sons of Darkness, He shall not abate His anger until they are annihilated.”
When they return from battle to enter the formation, they shall write on the trumpets of retreat, “God has gathered.”
On the trumpets for the way of return from battle with the enemy to enter the congregation in Jerusalem, they shall write, “Rejoicings of God in a peaceful return.”
The description of the banners.
Rule of the banners of the whole congregation according to their formations. On the grand banner which is at the head of all the people they shall write, “People of God,” the names “Israel” and “Aaron,” and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel according to their order of birth.
On the banners of the heads of the “camps” of three tribes they shall write, “the Spirit [of God,” and the names of three tribes. O]n the banner of each tribe they shall write, “Standard of God“; and the name of the leader of the t[ribe] of its clans. [… and] the name of the leader of the ten thousand and the names of the chief[s of …] […] his hundreds.
On the banner […] […] […] […]. On the banner of Merari they shall write, “The Offering of God,” and the name of the leader of Merari and the names of the chiefs of his thousands. On the banner of the tho[us]and they shall write, “The Anger of God is loosed against Belial and all the men of his forces without remnant,” and the name of the chief of the thousand and the names of the chiefs of his hundreds.
And on the banner of the hundred they shall write, “Hundred of God, the power of war against a sinful flesh,” arid the name of the chief of the hundred and the names of the chiefs of his tens.
And on the banner of the fifty they shall write, “Ended is the stand of the wicked [by] the might of God,” and the name of the chief of the fifty and the names of the chiefs of his tens.
And on the banner of the ten they shall write, “Songs of joy for God on the ten-stringed harp,” and the name of the chief of the ten and the names of the nine men in his command.
When they go to battle they shall write on their banners, “The truth of God,” “The righteousness of God,” “The glory of God,” “The justice of God,” and after these the list of their names in full.
When they draw near for battle they shall write on their banners, “The right hand of God,” “The appointed time of God,” “The tumult of God,” “The slain of God“; after these their names in full.
When they return from battle they shall write on their banners, “The exaltation of God,” “The greatness of God,” “The praise of God,” “The glory of God,” with their names in full.
The Rule of the banners of the congregation:
When they set out to battle they shall write on the first banner, “The congregation of God,” on the second banner, “The camps of God,” on the third, “The tribes of God,” on the fourth, “The clans of God,” on the fifth, “The divisions of God,” on the sixth, “The congregation of God,” on the seventh, “Those called by God,” and on the eighth, “The army of God.” They shall write their names in full with all their order. When they draw near for battle they shall write on their banners,
“The battle of God,”
“The recompense of God,”
“The cause of God,”
“The reprisal of God,”
“The power of God,”
“The retribution of God,”
“The might of God,”
“The annihilation by God of all the vainglorious nations.” And their names in full they shall write upon them.
When they return from battle they shall write on their banners,
“The deliverance of God,”
“The victory of God,”
“The help of God,”
“The support of God,”
“The joy of God,”
“The thanksgivings of God,”
“The praise of God,” and
“The peace of God.”