The Qumran Community
“Before the sun is up they utter no word on mundane matters, but offer to him [= the sun] certain prayers, which have been handed down from their forefathers, as though entreating him to rise” (Josephus, Jewish War II, viii, 5)
Daily activities at Qumran began and ended with prayers and benedictions. Immediately upon rising, the sectarians hurried down the paths from their living quarters to the central building, where they recited the morning prayers as a community. They apparently wore phylacteries (tefillin) on their heads and arms while praying; some of them may, in fact, have worn them all day long, as a mark of special piety. The phylacteries discovered at Qumran are the oldest ever found.
Among the scrolls were copies of approximately one hundred biblical psalms, two hundred non-biblical prayers (mostly otherwise unknown), and many other liturgical works. Together, they attest to the crucial place of prayer in the sectarian experience. The prayers were probably regarded as a substitute for the sacrifices offered at the Temple in Jerusalem, as we read in the Community Rule (IX, 5): “And prayer rightly offered shall be as an acceptable fragrance of righteousness, and perfection of way as a delectable free-will offering.”