Here’s a little something about me: to me nothing is more mysterious than ancient religious secret scrolls. Hidden pages torn out for some reason, papyruses found in a lonely cave. Just the idea behind tales and prophecies hidden in a vase astounds me.
Israel and Palestine are two places where mysteries abound. Here is where many scrolls have been found. The most famous ones: the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls.
How it happened
Located a few kilometers south of Jericho, in 1947, a beduin had lost his goat so he decided to climb up the hilly landscape, following his goat trails. He finally reached a cave where he found dust-covered ceramic vessels. When he opened them he saw what is known today as the Dead Sea Scrolls, copies of all of the books of the Old Testament (except for the Scroll of Esther).
These papyruses are mainly written in Hebrew (image above, taken with my blackberry at the Israel Museum of Jerusalem), but there are many written in Aramaic. Aramaic was the common language of the Jews of Palestine for the last two centuries B.C. and of the first two centuries A.D. The discovery of the Scrolls has greatly enhanced our knowledge of these two languages. There are also a few texts written in Greek.
The most famous scroll depicts the entire book of Isaiah (1000 years-old). The interesting thing about Isaiah is how he wrote about things that came only later than him, like the birth of Jesus, that there would be a son called God, that Babylon would be overthrown forever, that the Messiah would be rejected and preceded by a messenger, and several other facts… It is still unknown though the author of Isaiah’scroll (to me the most interesting part of the Bible)…
The Dead Sea Scrolls enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity as they show the latter one to be rooted in Judaism. They represent a non-rabbinic form of Judaism and provide a wealth of comparative material for New Testament scholars, including many important parallels to the Jesus movement.
Even though Qumran existed during the time of Jesus, none of the Scrolls refer to him.
The scrolls contain previously unknown stories about biblical figures such as Enoch, Abraham, and Noah. The story of Abraham includes an explanation why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac.
These scrolls obviously have historical significance because are the first evidence of the Ten Commandments, the oldest laws of that region, in fact this particular scroll is the best preserved ancient Bible text in the world, which is pretty amazing.
The Dead Sea Scrolls not only provide religious writing but also practical teachings such as the Copper Scroll, which is made of 1-millimeter thick copper sheet, this particular text looks more like a hunting secret list, listing over 60 loot-filled locations in the area. It also mentioned a treasure, which hasn’t been found. I wonder what kind of treasure that would be.
The scrolls, found in Qumran, are currently kept under tight security in the Museum of Jerusalem. Photos were not allowed but I managed to steal the shot you see above.