Tag Archives: West Bank

2,000 year old Bible fragments found

In 1947 at the harsh and remote site in the West Bank, known as Qumran, several scrolls were found. It was the most important religious texts in the Western world.

The Dead Sea Scrolls comprised more than 800 documents made of animal skin, papyrus and even forged copper and not only could give us an idea how those sacred texts were also preserved by oral tradition. We namely could see how translations made until then were very much in line with what then was found.

Among the texts found were parts of every book of the Hebrew canon or Old Testament — except the book of Esther. The scrolls then found also contained a collection of previously unknown hymns, prayers, commentaries, mystical formulas and the earliest version of the Ten Commandments. Most were written between 200 B.C. E. and the period prior to the failed Jewish revolt to gain political and religious independence from Rome that lasted from C.E. 66 to 70 — predating by 8 to 11 centuries the oldest previously known Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible.

Yesterday the news spread that the attempt of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in cooperation with the Civil Administration’s Archaeology Department managed to survey all the caves which were considered a safe haven as the war between the Roman Empire and the Judean rebels led by Shimon Bar Kokhba raged around 130 CE.

Some fragments of OT minor prophets written in Greek, but have God’s Name in Hebrew.

“This was probably a way to show the importance of the name of God,”

Dr. Oren Ableman from the IAA Dead Sea Scroll Unit said.

“Based on the script, we dated them to the end of the first century BCE, which means that by the time it was brought to the cave, the scroll was already a century old.”

Beatriz Riestra of the IAA Dead Sea Scrolls Unit said, referring to the earliest Greek translation of the Bible from the third century BCE:

“In this manuscript, we can see the effort of the translators to remain closer to the original Hebrew compared to what happened with the Septuagint,”

A rare cache from the Bar Kokhba period. Photo: Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority

Rare cache from the Bar Kokhba period. Photo: Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority

Together with the manuscript, the archaeologists found several coins minted by the Jewish rebels under Bar Kokhba’s leadership, carrying the writing:

“Year 1 for the redemption of Israel.”
Donald T. Ariel, head of the IAA’s Coin Department, said:
“Coins are an expression of sovereignty. Minting coins meant to be free.”

They were found at the same location where a 6,000 year old skeleton was found (a young child carefully buried in a blanket) and a 10,000 year old basket.

The basket as found in Muraba‘at Cave. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The basket as found in Muraba‘at Cave. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

“By moving two flat stones, we discovered a shallow pit intentionally dug beneath them, containing a skeleton of a child placed in a fetal position,”

IAA prehistorian Ronit Lupu said in a press release.

“It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket.”

Hananya Hizmi, head staff officer of the Civil Administration’s Archaeology Department in Judea and Samaria, said:
“As early as the late 1940s, we became aware of the cultural heritage remains of the ancient population of the Land of Israel, with the first discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, in this national operation, which continues the work of previous projects, new finds and evidence have been discovered and unearthed that shed even more light on the different periods and cultures of the region.”
“The finds attest to a rich, diverse and complex way of life, as well as to the harsh climatic conditions that prevailed in the region hundreds and thousands of years ago,”
he said.

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  7. Dead Sea Scrolls available at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls digitization project
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