The Dead Sea Scrolls Essay, Research Paper
The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Complete Story On the western shore of the Dead Sea, about 8 miles south from Jericho, lies a complex of mines known as Khirbet Qumran. It occupies one of the lowest parts of the earth, on the fringe of the hot dried waste wilderness of the Judaea. Members of an ancient Jewish community, the Essenes, hurried out one day and in secrecy climbed the nearby cliffs in order to hide away their precious scrolls in 11 caves, now called The Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of over 800 manuscripts that date back to the time of Christ. Found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947 in caves along the Dead Sea, near an archeological find known as Khirbet Qumran. These manuscripts are from a library that consists of only three types of literature: Biblical, Sectarian, and Extra-Biblical. The Biblical manuscripts found at Qumran and are the oldest known copies of the Old Testament. The Sectarian literature found at Qumran is a collection of manuscripts that describes the foundation of teachings and rules of a specific group of Jews, who many believe, lived at the Qumran. The Extra-Biblical literature found at Qumran reflects the general literature of the period. Many scholars agree that the Dead Sea Scrolls are the lasts of a library that belonged to an ancient Jewish sect, the Essenes. The of discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and of the half a century of extreme research that followed, is in itself a fascinating as well as an exasperating story. (Vermes 1) Eastridge 2 Their discovery began in 1947. A boy by the name of Muhamad Adh-Dhib lost his goat, and climbed the hilly type rocks to retrieve him. Growing tired, he rested under an over hanging for some shade. As he rested he started looking around and saw a hole that looked as though it didn t belong. It appeared to be a cave entrance. So he grabbed a rock and threw it in to see what would happen. What he heard surprised him. He heard the sound of pottery breaking. Thinking it could not be true, he threw another, and again he heard pottery break. He lifted himself up to the hole opening and looked inside. He saw several wide-necked jars with broken pieces scattered all around them. Muhammad ran home thinking the cave must be a place for spirits because no man could fit into the entrance of the cave. But that night Muhammad told a friend what he saw. The boy thought that Muhammad was superstitious, and had to take him to the cave so he could see for himself. The next day the boys went to the cave. Once there, the boys were able to find a way into the cave. They saw jars lined up in rows, on all sides of the cave, and in the middle were broken pieces of the pottery. When they picked up the pots they found the first and second ones to be empty. It wasn t until they looked into the third jar that they discovered the rags that contained the scrolls. The boys were disappointed that the jars did not contain gold and wonderful treasures. However, they took the scrolls with them thinking that they could sell them at the market. The next day the boys took the scrolls to the market and showed them to a local merchant, he was not interested, and sent them to another merchant. The Eastridge 3 merchant known as Kando, was a member of the Syrian Jacobite Church. Kando at the time didn t know what they were, but thought there might be more scrolls to be found. So he along with another church member, Isaiah, went to the caves at Qumran. They found additional scrolls and fragments. Isaiah showed what he d found to the Syrian Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshua Samuel, head of the Syrian Jacobite Church in Jerusalem. Metropolitan Samuel wasn t real sure what the scrolls were either, but having a collection of ancient documents in his monastery, St. Mark, he knew that the scrolls were indeed important. In July 1947, Metropolitan Samuel asked Kando Isaiah to set up a meeting with the Bedouins, founders the original scrolls. He wanted to see just what they had, and examine them. The day of the meeting was not successful. Metropolitan Samuel forgot to tell the monks at St. Mark that he was expecting the Bedouins. So, when they showed up, the monk at the door seeing these unshaven people with crumbled and dirty documents sent them away. Angry at being treated this way, the Bedouins didn t want to have anything to do with Metropolitan Samuel. One of them refused to do any further business with Kando either, and went and sold his portion of the findings to a Muslim Sheik of Bethlehem. Kando did however buy up the remaining scrolls from the Bedouins and sold them to the Metropolitan. There were four scrolls. One of them was broken in two, and at first thought to be five. One of those scrolls was a well-preserved copy of the book Isaiah. This particular scroll was 24 feet long. The other three scrolls included: the Genesis Eastridge 4 Apocryphon, a commentary on the Book of Habakkak, and the Community Rules. Metropolitan Samuel sent a priest to go with Isaiah to the cave. Some time shortly after the failed meeting with the Bedouins. They found at least one additional jar and some fragments. They also apparently did some extensive excavations, because when the official research team went to the caves a year later, an entire section of the cliff-face has been removed. A few authors believe that Isaiah found a number of scrolls, some of which scholars have never seen. (Baigent 57) Miles Copeland of the CIA, arrived in Syria. While there an Egyptian merchant claimed to possess a great treasure, then proceed to reach into his dirty sack and took out a scroll which was already disintegrating, and pieces of it flew into the street. The merchant asked him what it was. Copeland, couldn t say what they were, but told the merchant if he left it with him, he d photograph it and have someone study it. In order to photograph it, Copeland and his colleagues took the scroll to the roof of the American Legation in Danascus and stretched it out. It was very windy and pieces of the scroll peeled off and flew away in to the streets, to be lost forever. The photographs were taken to a distinguished official there, a man skilled in ancient languages. The official declared the text to be part of the Old Testament Book of Daniel. Some of the writing he found to be written in Aramaic, and some in Hebrew. It was to be followed up after this point, and no one ever saw the Egyptian merchant Eastridge 5 with the scrolls again. The photographs were put in a drawer and lost. No one knows what happened to them. Metropolitan Samuel was still trying to determine the age of the scrolls. A Jewish doctor who visited his monastery put him in touch with scholars from Hebrew University. They directed him to Professor Sukenik, head of Hebrew University s archeology department. Nevertheless, before Professor Sukenik met with Metropolitan Samuel, he set up a secret meeting with an Armenian antique dealer. The Armenian showed Sukenik a fragment of a scroll that Sukenik recognized as Hebrew writing. The Armenian asked Sukenik if the scrolls were genuine and if the University would be willing to buy them. Sukenik requested a second meeting. On November 29,1947, Sukenik met with the Armenian in Bethlehem and looked at all of the fragmented pieces. He observed the three scrolls and the jars that contained them. He was allowed to take them home and was studying them when, at midnight dramatic news came over the radio. The news said that a majority of the United Nations had voted for the creation of the state of Israel. It was that moment Sukenik made the decision to buy the scrolls. He felt them to be kind of mysterious omen, a symbolic validation of the momentous historical events that had just been set in motion. Towards the end of January 1948, Sukenik arranged to see the scrolls held by Metropolitan Samuel. He was shown the Metropolitan s scrolls and allowed to borrow them for inspection. However, he was unable to raise the money to purchase them and gave the scrolls back. Sukenik tried to bring the price down and set up a meeting a week later with an agent representing the Metropolitan. By the end of the week Sukenik had Eastridge 6 raised the money required, but the Metropolitan was no longer interested. He s gotten a better offer from the United States. The scrolls were sent to Beirut for safekeeping. Later that year, January 1949, the first press release appeared. It wasn t entirely accurate. The paper said the scrolls were found at St. Marks because they didn t want swarms of people excavating Qumran. On Monday, April 12,1948, The Times ran an article about the scrolls. The article of this magnificent discovery appeared on page 4. By the page number being 4, the discovery wasn t considered real important at the time. Things like war criminals being hung in the streets and an outbreak of violence protesting Israel as an independent state seemed to be what was on everybody s mind.
In October 1951, members of the Ta amireh tribe arrived in Jerusalem with scroll fragments from a new site. The Bedouin spoke with the director of Rockefeller Museum, Joseph Saad. Saad demanded to be taken to the site, but the Bedouin went off to consult, and never returned. A letter of authority from the archaeological officer of the Arab Legion and some armed men drove to the first Ta amireh camp. Seeing one of the men that approached him the day before, they proceed to kidnap him. The Bedouin agreed to take him to the cave. Once there, Saad discovered four caves at Wadi Murabba at just over eleven miles south of Qumran and about two miles inland from the Dead Sea. The material found here was derived from the early second century AD from the revolt in Judaea, approved by Simeon bar Kochba, between 132AD and 135AD. It included two letters signed by Simeon himself and furnished new data on the logistics, Eastridge 7 economics and civil administration of the rebellion, which had come within a extent amount of success. Simeon actually captured Jerusalem from the Romans and held the city for some two years. According to Robert Eisenmen, this insurrection was a direct continuation of events dating from the pervious century-events that involved certain of the same families, many of the same underlying principles and perhaps Jesus himself. Shortly after the discovery of the caves at Murabba at, Father de Vaux began to excavate the site and the vicinity. In one of the caves they found a copper scroll broken in two parts. Because of oxidization, the scrolls could not be open because they were too brittle. It would three and a half years before they were sent to a laboratory and carefully sliced open. The scroll contained an inventory of treasure. Some researchers claim that such treasure never existed. However, some claim it does, but the location indicated by the scroll has changed courses over the last two millenniums. The treasure to this day has never been found, although many have searched for it. In September 1952, the Bedouin found a new scroll in a cave within 50 feet of the actual ruins of Qumran. However, it took some years before all the pieces of the material were put together. This was done at the Rockefeller Museum (Palestine Archaeological Museum). The Rockefeller Museum was an independently skillful institution for eighteen years. Until the Suez crisis of 1956, during the hostilities, they were removed from the museum and locked up in a bank in Amman. They were not returned to Jerusalem until March 1957. Eastridge 8 June 1, 1955, an Israeli journalist stationed in the United States telephoned Dr. Yadin, from the Hebrew University, who called the advertisement in the Wall Street Journal to his attention. The article 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. Box F 206. Dr. Yadin resolved this immediately to obtain the scrolls. On July 1, 1954, the four scrolls were removed from the Waldorf Astoria and taken to the Israeli Consulate in New York. Each scroll was then sent back to Israel separately. Israel now had possession of the four scrolls of Metropolitan Samuel, along with the three scrolls previously purchased by Sukenik, that are now in the shrine of the Book, which was established specifically to house them. By the end of 1954, there were two teams of people working on the scrolls. In west Jerusalem, the Israelis were working on the scrolls acquired by Sukenik and Yadin. In East Jerusalem, at the Rockefeller Museum, a team of international scholars studied the scrolls under the direction of de Vaux. In 1967, the Rockefeller was no longer an international institution, but a Jordanian one, it could pass into Israel hands as a sign of war. In an interview with David Pryce-Jones in 1968, Yadin recounted the events of 1967. He was aware, he said, that the scrolls were around, and that Kando knew where they were. He then sent other staff members, along with some officers to Kando s house Eastridge 9 in Bethlehem. He was taken to Tel Aviv and interrogated, he took the officers back to his home and produced a scroll he had hidden for six years, the Temple Scroll. Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, they have been the subjects of great scholarly and public interest. For scholars they represent an invaluable source for exploring the nature of post-biblical times and probing the sources of two the world s great religions. For the public, they are great artifacts of great significance, mystery and drama. Interests in scrolls have intensified in recent years. For example, media coverage has given fame to scholarly debates over the meaning of the scrolls, the Qumran ruin, as well as particular scroll fragments. These articles have raised questions determined to increase attention and augment the Dead Sea Scrolls mystery. Questions such as, Did the scrolls come from the library of the Second Temple or other libraries and were they hidden to prevent their destruction from the Romans? Was the Qumran site for a winter villa for a wealthy family or was it a Roman fortress? Was it a monastery not for the Essense but for a Saaucean sect? Does this mean we need to revise our view of Jewish beliefs during the last centuries of the Second Temple? Do the Dead Sea Scrolls provide clues for hidden treasures? Does the War Rule Scroll refer to a pierced or piercing messiah? Since the late 1980 s, there has been no controversy surrounding the access to the scrolls and the movement to increase their publication. The Biblical Archaeology Review also known as intellectual freedom and the right to scholarly access has had great results. In 1988, the Israel Antiquities Authority began to expand the number of scroll assignments. By 1992, they included more than fifty scholars. In 1991, the Biblical Eastridge 10 Archaeology Society published a computer-generated version as well as a two-volume edition of the scroll photographs. The Israel Antiquities Authorities announced that it too is issuing an authorized microfiche edition. (Library of Congress Exhibition) In decades to come, there will be a lot of controversy surrounding the scrolls. The different people working on the scrolls wanted to the contents a secret. The scrolls had much in common with both rabbinical Judaism, and it was emerging during the first century AD, and with the earliest forms of Christianity. There was great excitement when the scrolls were dated. They are thought to be from the pre-Christian, to the early Christian Period, this shed new insight into the world of scriptures. Scholars have pointed to similarities between beliefs and practices outlined in the Qumran literature and those of early Christians. These parallels contain comparable rituals of baptism, communal meals and property. A further example is the parallel organizational structures: the sectarians divided themselves into twelve chiefs, similar to the structure of the twelve apostles who, according to Jesus, would sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Many scholars believe that both the literature of early Christianity and Qumran teachings come from a common ground within Judaism and do not reflect a direct link between the Qumran community and the early Christians. (Library of Congress Exhibit) Before they were read, some thought surely the Old Testament would need to be changed, because the scrolls would prove that the translation during the years would be incorrect. However, quite the opposite happened. There was very little change, and that s one of the most fascinating aspects of the discovery. The scrolls have brought us into a Eastridge 11 world that we had never visited before. They have shed light on how the people of the time of Christ lived, and worshipped. The scrolls have shown the parallelism between Judaism and Christianity, and there is still so much yet to learn, once all of the pieces of this great puzzle are put together.