was one of two priests who served David at the Jerusalem shrine (2 Sm. 15.24–29). Solomon banished Abiathar, David's other priest, to Anathoth (1 Kgs. 2.26–27), leaving Zadok and his descendants with a monopoly on the priesthood until the exile. They apparently resumed control in the postexilic period (Ezek. 44.9–31).

In the Dead Sea Scrolls the name appears most often in the expression the sons of Zadok. While it would be natural to assume that Zadok is the priest of David and Solomon, other theories have been advanced. Ben Zion Wacholder suggests that the Zadok of the scrolls, the Zadok who was a friend of Boethus and pupil of Antigonus of Socho (mentioned in Avot de Rabbi Natan 5 and al-Qirqisani's Book of Lights and Watchtower), and the Teacher of Righteousness were one figure, the founder of the Qumran community. Wacholder further posits that this Zadok was the author of the Temple Scroll and the “discoverer” of that work as the “sealed book of the law” (CD v.2), which became the basis for other works found at Qumran (e.g., the Damascus Document, the Rule of the Community, the War Scroll).

Another theory, held by G. R. Driver and Cecil Roth, suggests that the Zadok of the scrolls was an assimilation of the ancient priest of David with Zadok the Pharisee who, with Judah the Galilean, is said by Josephus to have founded the first-century CE Fourth Philosophy (Jewish Antiquities 18.4–10, 23). The obvious difficulty with this view is the requirement that one ignore scrolls containing references to the Sons of Zadok that date much before the rise of Josephus's first-century CE Fourth Philosophy.

The scant evidence in the scrolls for the community's view on Zadok's identity supports the traditional view. Zadok appears as a proper name in the Damascus Document v.2–5, and he is the priest who opened the second law, which revealed the illegality of polygamy too late for David (but apparently not too late to condemn Solomon; thus the biblical judgment on his polygamy). From this it is reasonable to assume that Zadok refers to the priest of David and Solomon; he must be the figure whom the Qumran residents took as their namesake. Moreover, the Copper Scroll (3Q15 xi) suggests the author's veneration of Zadok's tomb. Assuming Qumran authorship of the scroll, it is most probable that Qumran residents would have honored the ancient priest's tomb, and much less likely that they revered the burial site of one of the later Zadoks who have been suggested for the role.

The thornier issue here is determining what it means that the residents considered themselves descendants of the priest Zadok. Did they consider themselves to be Sadducees (if this term is derived from Zadokites)? Or was their self-designation only a semantic expression of their conviction that they were the proper heirs to the high priestly office? In spite of recent work in this area (Schiffman and Baumgarten), the late date and ambiguity of our sources regarding the Sadducees limit us to mere speculation about the correspondence between them and the keepers of the scrolls.

[See also Sadducees; Zadok, Sons of.]


  • Baumgarten, Joseph M. Studies in Qumran Law. Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, 24. Leiden, 1977.
  • Driver, G. R. The Judaean Scrolls: The Problem and a Solution. Oxford, 1965.
  • Roth, Cecil. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Historical Approach. New York, 1965.
  • Schiffman, Lawrence H. Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran. Philadelphia and Jerusalem, 1994.
  • Wacholder, Ben Zion. The Dawn of Qumran: The Sectarian Torah and the Teacher of Righteousness. Cincinnati, 1983.

Robert A. Kugler