Prayer and Identity in Varying Contexts: The Case of the Words of the Luminaries

Esther G. Chazon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article examines the ways in which a single liturgical text, the Words of the Luminaries, would be read by two diachronically and ideologically different audiences: the implied audience of the pre-Qumranic author and the actual audience of the Yahad community at Qumran, which preserved this text. The text's first person plural rhetorical stance invites the implied audience to identify with its "we, Israel" voice and with the fundamental beliefs, ideas, and values encoded in the "we" discourse. These major ideological themes conjoined with the pan-Israelite rhetorical stance convey messages about identity and ideology that are dissonant with the Yahad's deterministic, dualistic ideology and sectarian identity as the elect "Congregation of God." Nonetheless, the common past, foundational narratives, and shared values, especially regarding the Torah, would facilitate the Yahad's reception of this originally non-Qumranic text and enable it to be read through the lens of the Yahad's sectarian identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-511
Number of pages28
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Qumran
  • Words of the Luminaries
  • identity
  • prayer

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Dead Sea scrolls -- 4Q504 -- Criticism, interpretation, etc
  • Dead Sea scrolls -- 4Q504 -- Appreciation
  • Prayer in post-biblical literature
  • Qumran community
  • Rhetoric -- In post-biblical literature
  • Jews -- Identity -- History


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