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These scrolls contain an apocalyptic prophecy of a war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. The war is described in two distinct parts, first (the War against the Kittim) described as a battle between the Sons of Light, consisting of the sons of Levi, the sons of Judah, and the sons of Benjamin, and the exiled of the desert, against Edom, Moab, the sons of Ammon, the Amalekites, and Philistia and their allies the Kittim of Asshur (referred to collectively as the army of Belial), and [those who assist them from among the wicked] who "violate the covenant". The second part of the war (the War of Divisions) is described as the Sons of Light, now the united twelve tribes of Israel, conquering the "nations of vanity."  In the end, all of Darkness is to be destroyed and Light will live in peace for all eternity. The text goes on to detail inscriptions for trumpets and banners for the war and liturgies for the priests during the conflict.
There are many key differences in the way the War against the Kittim and the War of Divisions are described. The War against the Kittim is referred to as a day of battle with seven stages, with the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness each winning three of the first six before final victory for the Sons of Light by divine intervention in the seventh. While it is unclear if this is meant as a literal 24-hour period, it does not seem to describe a protracted battle. After the War against the Kittim there is a six-year period of preparation culminating in the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem. The beginning of the description of the War of Divisions says that there are 33 years of war remaining of the total 40 years of the war. In the War against the Kittim each side will fight alongside angelic hosts and supernatural beings and final victory is achieved for the Sons of Light directly by the hand of God. In the War of Divisions, on the other hand, there is no mention of angels or supernatural allies fighting alongside either the tribes of Israel or the Nations. Another distinction is that in the War against the Kittim the Sons of Light face defeat three times before victory, but in the War of Divisions there is not mention of defeat or setbacks of any kind.
Yigael Yadin and Géza Vermes have argued that the descriptions of the armament, equipment and formation of the Sons of Light suggest a basis in Roman methods of warfare
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