Friday, 4 October 2013
Where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves including those here. Perhaps the scrolls were a library hidden at about the same time as the last Jewish resistance was being wiped out leading up to the Masada suicide and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. Nobody can be quite sure.
The first discoveries were in caves on the left of this picture. Nobody can be sure whether the community which owned them actually lived here in rare green habitable spots like those on the right, or whether these were abandoned sites by then; pottery stored or shelved here appears to have been destroyed in an earthquake in 31 BC.
The Dead Sea itself is in the near distance in this picture. As well as sectarian writings, most of the books of the Old Testament were among the scrolls. In most cases these copies were hundreds of years older than the previously oldest copies, and usually the text was the same indicating how careful generations of scribes had been making their copies.
There were other people there when we visited. Psalm 145 is an acrostic poem and there is clearly a 'missing' verse in the mainstream Hebrew text, although ancient Greek and Syrian translators clearly knew the verse because they included it. The verse was found here in Hebrew for the first time. If verse 13 in your Bible is twice as long as the other verses, then the second half is the 'missing' verse now included in many modern translations.