Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bonus 73 - Dead Sea Scrolls

This reconstruction drawing shows the settlement of Qumran, which is strongly associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is generally thought that the scrolls that were found during the previous century in the cliff caves above the settlement belonging to the Qumran Library. The inhabitants stored the scrolls in caves for safe keeping in view of the coming Roman conquest of the area. © Ritmeyer Archaeological Design.

Beginning in 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), a collection of 931 manuscripts, were discovered in caves near the NW shores of the Dead Sea. Up until the discovery of the DSS no substantial copies of any of the Hebrew Scriptures were known from before the tenth cent. AD (MT, Aharon Ben Asher Leningrad Codex AD 1008).1.  With the historic discovery of the DSS, copies of all of the Hebrew Bible except Esther were found. Portions of approximately 931 manuscripts were recovered dating from approximately 300 BC to AD 40 with the majority of them identified as Zealot correspondence from the Second Jewish Revolt.2.  The dates have been confirmed by archaeology, paleography, and radiocarbon dating.3.

Fig 22 Dead Sea Scroll reproduction
Fig 24 Dead Sea Scroll Messianic Testimony (4Q175) 
Fig 21 Dead Sea storage jar

Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
In the winter of 1946 or 1947 Muhammad edh-Dhib, a Ta’amireh Bedouin boy, was tending his flocks near the NW shore of the Dead Sea. He threw a stone into a cave to scare out his wandering goats and heard pottery shatter. Fig 23 Qumran Cave number 4

Cave number 4
Upon entering the cave he found broken pottery and seven scrolls.

They were initially sold to two separate Arab antiquities dealers in Bethlehem. Then he sold three of the scrolls to Eleazar L. Sukenik of Hebrew University while the other four were sold to Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, a Syrian Orthodox priest at St. Marks Monastery in Jerusalem who took them to the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem where three of the scrolls were photographed. Due to the Arab-Isareli War the scrolls were moved to Syria and then in 1949 they were moved to the United States where they were placed in a New York bank for several years.

Then on June 1, 1954 Yigael Yadin, the famous Israeli archaeologist, was lecturing in the United States and noticed an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal. It read
The Four Dead Sea Scrolls’ biblical manuscripts, dating back to at least 200 BC, are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group.4.
He proceeded to negotiate for the State of Israel and in 1955 purchased the scrolls for $250,000.5.  Today the scrolls from cave 1, including the Great Isaiah scroll, are housed in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem while the non-biblical scrolls from cave 4 have been housed in the Hebrew University since 2003. The Copper Scroll (3Q15), a mysterious scroll with random Greek letters placed throughout the text that some believe is a lost treasure map, is displayed in the new Amman Museum in Jordan.

There were twenty-one scroll fragments from Isaiah recovered. The most famous, The Great Isaiah Scroll (1Q Isaiah a, col. XI-XIII), is the only recovered intact OT book. It was written on 17 sheets of leather stitched together, and measured 7.16 m (23.5 feet) long with 54 columns which orthographers date to between 125 and 100 BC.6.  The scrolls of Isaiah were over 1000 years older than any previous copy (MT AD 1008)7.  and confirm the scrolls as the oldest example of Hebrew writing on papyrus. This scroll strongly confirmed the accuracy of the copies. The text of the scroll differs very little (1%) from the newer Masoretic (Textus Receptus) Hebrew text. Vanderkam and Fink point out one very interesting variant:
found in Isa. 53:11. Here a difficult reading in the traditional [Masoretic] text (“He shall see of the travail of his soul”) is transformed by an additional word in three Isaiah scrolls [1QIsaa, 1QIsab, and 4QIsad] (“Out of the suffering of his soul he will see light”).8.
They observe that this early reading of “light” is also found in the Septuagint and “shows that the early Hebrew text used by the Septuagint translators actually contained the word light, and provides a new reading for exegesis of the passage.”8.

  • 1. J. Randall Price, The Dead Sea Scrolls Pamphlet: The Discovery Heard around the World (Torrance, Calif.: Rose, 2005), 8. 
  • 2. Price, The Dead Sea Scrolls Pamphlet, 2.
  • 3. James C. Vanderkam and Peter W. Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 2002), 27–32; Georges Bonani et al., “Radiocarbon Dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Tigot 20 (1991): 27–32; Georges Bonani et al., “Radiocarbon Dating of Fourteen Dead Sea Scrolls,” Radiocarbon 34, no. 3 (June 13, 2006): 843–849; G. Doudna, “Dating the Scrolls on the Basis of Radiocarbon Analysis,” in Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifity Years, ed. Peter W. Flint and James C. VanderKam, vol. 1 (Leiden: Brill Academic, 1999), 1:430–71. 
  • 4. Vanderkam and Flint, Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 14; James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 12. 
  • 5. Price, The Dead Sea Scrolls Pamphlet, 5.
  • 6. Vanderkam and Flint, Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 131; R. K. Harrison and Martin G. Abegg, Jr., “Dead Sea Scrolls,” ed. Merrill C. Tenney and Moises Silva, ZPEB (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 2:64.
  • 7. Price, Dead Sea Scrolls Pamphlet, 8. 
  • 8. Vanderkam and Flint, Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 133.
This bonus information was quoted from

David E. Graves, Key Themes of the Old Testament: A Survey of Major Theological Themes (Moncton, N.B.: Graves, 2013), 45-48.

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