The Dead Sea Scrolls - Fifty Years Later
surveyed the remarkable--and very providential--discovery of the Dead
Sea scrolls and what happened to them afterward.
then, we have received a number of requests for additional information:
in the scrolls?
they compare with the Bible?
in any way, disprove the Biblical account?
the story behind the more recent controversy over the scrolls?
brief overview, we will attempt to provide you with some of this
information. We will begin with a brief review of the discovery:
THE DISCOVERIES BEGIN
On a winter
afternoon, fifty years ago this year, in early 1947, three shepherds (men,
not boys as so often claimed) from the modern village of Bethlehem had led
their sheep down to a creek near the Dead Sea for water. One of them had
been intent on finding ancient treasures, and did that day.
Two or three
days later, the youngest of them, Muhammed Edh-Dhib, came back to it and
scrambled up the cliff to a bigger cave in the side, just above a
smaller one. Entering it, he fell into the lower cave, and found, around
him, large pottery jars. Could these be the golden treasures his cousin
had always hoped to find?
But most of
the jars were empty and no gold was in sight. Yet in one was a roll of
leather and in the other a bundle wrapped in cloth. Taking the find to the
others, the three opened the cloth and found two more leather rolls.
rolls and the two jars back to Jerusalem, they stored them in a bag hung
in a tent for several weeks. Then they took the rolls and the two jars to
a shopkeeper friend in Jerusalem. At first no one was interested.
Then a Syrian
Orthodox Christian clothes-merchant saw them in Bethlehem and agreed to
try to sell them. But the shepherds did not trust him, so they took the
rolls to a local cobbler, Kando, and asked him to be their agent.
From that time
forward, this humble shoemaker became the go-between for sale after sale,
as more discoveries were made.
arranged for the scrolls to be sold for about 24 pounds (at that time just
under $100) to the head of his church.
rolls, brought out during a second visit to the same cave, were sold to an
antiquities dealer for 7 pounds ($28). In 1947, they were sold to the
the first set of two rolls were carried to America and finally sold to the
State of Israel in 1954, for a quarter of a million dollars. Those two
rolls, the priceless, fully complete Isaiah scroll, are now in a
building called the Shrine of the Book, on the campus of the Israel Museum
A LOOK AT THE SCROLLS
scroll consisted of two rolls (one would have been too large to easily
handle) which, together, formed a roll of leather 24 feet (7.34 m) long
and 10 inches (26 cm) high, made of 17 sheets, sewn end to end, and
covered with 54 columns of Hebrew writing.
were used in the Hebrew synagogues for public reading and personal study
by the priests and others who could read. But when they wore out, they
were buried. It was considered a sacrilege to burn them. Normally,
internment in the earth caused them to rot. For such reasons, the oldest
Hebrew scrolls only date back to about A.D. 1000.
newly discovered materials, preserved in dry caves, had been written a
thousand years earlier (about 100 B.C.). The Isaiah scroll we now have was
copied only a few hundred years after Isaiah wrote it!
centuries, copyists errors could creep in (see 1SM 16); yet we
know the Jews tried to be very careful to produce exact duplicates. What
is the result when we compare the Isaiah scroll with our 1,000-year-old
surprised to find that there was very little difference! Over the thousand
years, one or two words had been wrongly written here and there, and some
small changes had occurred. But, all in all, the Isaiah scroll proved
beyond doubt that the Hebrew Bible, on which all modern translations are
based, have hardly changed at all since the time of Jesus.
ACCURACY OF THE BIBLE
With all 66
chapters completely preserved, this version of Isaiah, though copied down
around 100 B.C. matches the A.D. 1000 Masoretic text, upon which all
modern Old Testament translations are based 99 percent of the time!
same level of accuracy is found in the other Biblical manuscripts found at
Are there any
significant differences? Hardly anything of note. Here are a few of the
most intriguing examples of the 1 percent which are different:
Masoretic text of Psalm 22:16 says Like a lion are my hands and
feet. Yet the Septuagint says They have pierced my feet. A Dead
Sea manuscript confirmed that the reading should, indeed, be They have
pierced my feet. (The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew
Old Testament, the earliest complete manuscript copies which dated back to
about the late third century A.D.)
Masoretic text, the number of Jacobs descendants who went down with him
into Egypt is 70 (Genesis 46:27), but 75 in 4QExod-a. The latter
number agrees with the number Stephen used in his Acts 7:14 sermon, as
well as the Septuagint. (Genesis 46:27 is not mentioned in the Spirit of
intriguing passage is Isaiah 61:1, as quoted in 4Q521 (written in
Hebrew about 30 B.C.). It includes the phrase, the dead are raised,
just as is found in Matthew 11:5 (cf. Luke 4:18 which omits the
phrase). Desire of Ages notes the types of healings which occurred
on the day that Jesus sent the message to John; no dead were raised that
the dead are raised, intensifies the Messianic application of that
passage in Isaiah 61.
as Bultmann, said that the Bible was inaccurate and worthless and that the
Gospel of John was Grecian (Gnostic) in its concepts. But, based on the
Dead Sea scroll findings, Edwin Yamauchi, of Miami University, declares
that it is now shown by the Qumran parallels to be the most Jewish of
It is a
staggering fact that, as the Isaiah scroll shows, in the course of a
thousand years of copying by hand, no errors have crept into the text
which in any way affect the Bibles underlying teachings. We can trust
our Bible! Thank God that this is so!
the new theology critics in our own ranks, the Bible is unerring in all
the teachings we so much need! The Spirit of Prophecy frequently declares
the Written Word of God to be unerring. And it is so.
It is true
that there have been some copyists mistakes over the centuries (1SM
16), but we now find that even they were very few and insignificant.
In the years
following the initial scroll discoveries, researchers combed through that
original cave (Cave 1) and
found pieces of more scrolls. They were not in good shape, since they had
not been kept in jars.
Taamirah Bedouin (Arabs living in Jerusalem) had not lost interest.
They now knew that there was money to be made if they found more scrolls!
Searching the cliffs, they found more caves where scrolls had been hidden.
The one with
the most manuscripts was Cave 4. This cave was close to some ancient ruins
near the Dead Sea. In this cave, they found an enormous quantity of
fragments. They took some, and then the archaeologists found where they
were working and posted guards. In this way, more careful research could
be carried on, with less trampling of the pieces.
manuscript pieces have come out of Cave 4, representing about 400 scrolls.
agreement was reached: Every piece of scroll that the Arabs brought
forward would receive 1 pound ($2.80) per square inch. In this way, the
Bedouin were less likely to be tempted to tear materials apart, in the
hope of making more on the pieces.
governments and private
institutions provided the money for these ongoing payments and the
research which followed.
archaeologists who explored the caves after the first discovery soon
turned their attention to a ruin just above the shore of the Dead Sea.
They were called Khirbat (Ruins of) Qumran. This site stood solitary and
desolate on a terrace overlooking the Dead Sea. Between 1951 to 1956 it
was excavated, and consisted of an odd-shaped building with many rooms. It
was not a fort, palace, or house. It was a place where all kinds of
activities were carried out by a small community.
and baked dishes, bowls, cups, and jars. Farm produce was stored in solos
and prepared in a kitchen. Weavers probably made wool, from sheep and
goats, into clothing; and there was a dyeing plant, to color it, and a
laundry, to wash it. The place was obviously quite self-contained.
In one room
the researchers found pieces of plastered brickwork which had fallen from
an upper floor. Among these were pieces which, when joined, formed three
benches. Two inkwells were also found. It was clear that this room was a
scriptorium; that is, a place where copies of manuscripts were made.
However, no scroll remnants were found there.
spring of fresh water was on the property, a canal had been dug, to divert
water from the nearby hills into large cisterns. It has been calculated
that these storage pools could provide the needs of 200 residents.
A large hall,
70 feet in length, seems to have been the dining room. In one corner lay
over 100 pottery vessels, perhaps ready for a meal when the end came.
A small room,
off to one side, contained over a thousand pieces of tableware, piled on
everyone ate together. Perhaps they slept in dormitories upstairs. Some
may have lived in the numerous caves in the nearby cliffs. Pottery found
in the caves is identical to that found in the ruins. In addition, jars,
just like those in Cave 1 (where the Isaiah scroll was found), were found
in the building.
To this day,
there is no certainty that it was an Essene community, but most are
generally agreed that <>it was. As you
may know, the Essenes were the class of Jews who held to the
strictest standards and tended to separate themselves from the rest of
conduct, as given in some of the scrolls, matched the teachings and
practices of the Essenes, as supplied by other writers.
sect flourished during the first century B.C. and the first century A.D.
Those are the dates when the building was in use.
B.C., the group withdrew to the desert and established Qumran, located
about 20 miles east of Jerusalem. They rallied around a man who seemed
able to predict a variety of things which were to take place, based on
Bible passages which he interpreted.
end came in A.D. 68 two years before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Although the Essenes were not fighting the Romans, when the legions swept
through the land to crush the Jewish revolt, they destroyed everything in
their path. In A.D. 68, the army advanced to Jericho and the Dead Sea.
All those in
the building were enslaved and taken to foreign lands or slain. This is
unfortunate; but, frankly, it has strong parallels to the experience of
the group at Waco. Later in this study, we will learn their leader had
predicted that eventually the Romans would come, accompanied by apostate
Jews, and the people of Qumran would destroy them all.
Houteff and David
Koresh made many predictions about how <>their
followers would destroy Adventists, and their enemies would be destroyed.
Coins found in
the ruins include Jewish ones of the year A.D. 68, but none later. The
Essenes would not have used Roman coins, some of which were found there,
with dates from A.D. 65 to 73. The Romans turned part of the building into
a legion outpost for several years.
The advance of
the troops came so quickly, that there was no time to gather any of the
manuscripts. Some were lost in the dampness or in landslides. But some
survived, for which we today are thankful.
remains of the Essene community at Qumran is a ruined stone building that
was their headquarters, plus part of their library stored in nearby caves.
WHAT WAS IN THE SCROLLS?
Over a period
of time, the sharp-eyed shepherds and the archaeologists found eleven
caves, close to the Dead Sea, which were caches for manuscripts.
jigsaw puzzle of 100,000
pieces of ancient Jewish religious texts were found, all that remained of
about 870 distinct scrolls. Written in varieties of Hebrew, Aramaic, and
Greek, 220 of these were Biblical scrolls.
As you might
expect of the Essenes, most of the books are religious. Over 100 are
copies of parts of the Old Testament. In addition to the first Isaiah
scroll, 16 more were found (none in as good condition as the first one).
In addition, over 24 copies of Deuteronomy were located. Those appear to
be the favorite books.
Two copies of
Joshua, one of Ezra, and something from every other book in the Old
Testament, with the exception of Esther (which the Jews, oddly enough,
considered to be more of a secular history bookeven though it contained
the story of a great deliverance of Gods people in ancient times).
Of the 870
scrolls, the remaining 650 non-Biblical texts contained an intriguing
assortment of religious prose and poetry.
religious book in the library depended upon the Old Testament as its basis
Some of these
non-Biblical books were commentaries. Habakkuk was a book especially
liked as one which commentaries could be written about. There were
commentaries on various Old Testament books, plus some of the Apocryphal
viewed themselves as the only remaining true Israel who were persecuted by
godless Jews and ruled by a foreign power.
were the rule books. These were for the people who lived there like monks
and nuns. There was strict order and organization. Anyone desirous of
uniting with the group was on probation for two years. Once accepted, all
his property must be turned over to the group and he must thereafter obey
every order from the leaders.
respected one man they called the teacher of righteousness. That may
sound quite Biblical; but, in their language, it just meant a very good
man. Apparently, he lived about 150 B.C.
teacher had set different dates for the various Jewish feasts, the Jews in
Jerusalem banished him from the city and told him he could no longer
observe those events on different dates. He then led his followers to the
Dead Sea and founded Qumran.
there is the wicked
priest. This man ruled like a tyrant in Jerusalem, and was the one who
persecuted the teacher of righteousness. The Essene books say that, as a judgment from God, that wicked man eventually died a fearful
death at the hands of his enemies. It was about the time of his death that
the good teacher led his followers to a place of refuge in the
In one book,
the War Scroll, the reader is told about a war between themselves,
the good people (called the sons of light) and some bad people
(called the sons of darkness). They were certain they would
ultimately win the war, with Gods help. The final battle would be
against the hated Romans and their puppet Jewish temple leaders. With
the help of a messiah, the Essenes would win the war, and this
would usher in the long-awaited redemption of Israel. (Again, note the
similarity to Waco.)
worship would be restored, for God would have sent two Messiahs. One would
be a great King; the other a great Priest. Those two would henceforth lead
the people in safe paths. (Both Koresh and Christ would reign in the
restored New Earth.)
Scroll was also discovered, which the experts had an extremely
difficult time unrolling. Inside, they found detailed directions to
treasure! Gold and silver was said to be buried in various locations
throughout Palestine. As you might imagine, this scroll caused some
excitement, yet no loot was ever recovered. In fact, many of the
measurements appeared to be mythical. The amount of stored gold is
astronomical in size.
were also found.
THE EARLY YEARS
a specialist in Jewish paleography who lived in Jerusalem, was the first
person to read any of the texts, and recognize their antiquity.
He made this
discovery on November 29, 1947, the very day that the United Nations voted
to partition Palestine in order to create a Jewish state.
But, like so
many others back then, Sukenik, had a difficult time making contact with
original documents, joined by others clandestinely excavated in that same
first cave, reached Jerusalem. There the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop, Mar
Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, purchased four of the scrolls directly from the
Bedouin. Professor Elazar L. Sukenik, of the Hebrew university, later
bought three from a middleman in Bethlehem.
experts had told Samuel that his scrolls were worthless; but, as noted in
an earlier tract study on this topic, when he took them to Dr. John C.
Trever and William Brownlee, at the American School of Oriental Research,
to examine, they were intrigued by the ancient form of Hebrew characters.
They sent photographs of sections of one scroll to Dr. William F. Albright
of Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore; and he wrote back, that they
had made the find of the century. Without hesitation, he dated the scrolls
to about 100 B.C. An absolutely incredible find, Albright
every test of science, including carbon-14 dating, has placed them at
least 1,900 years old. Prior to this discovery, only a few fragments were
THE SCROLL EDITORS
In 1952, the
first team of scroll editors was formed. Their assignment was to take the
thousands upon thousands of fragments, and fit them together. It was a
jigsaw puzzlers paradise.
worked in the Palestine Archaeological Museum in east Jerusalem. But, in
the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli soldiers captured it and gained possession
of the entire project and its collection of manuscripts and scrolls. The
building was renamed the Rockefeller Museum, and more researchers were
added to the editorial team.
THE ATTACK BY THE ATHEISTS
some of the team members were arrogant atheists, determined to use the
information in the manuscripts to destroy Christianity. John Allegro had
vowed that he would be the one to <>accomplish
the task singlehandedly.
In 1956, he
announced to the press that he had found a 100 B.C. manuscript which
contained an Essene story of a messiah who had been crucified and
resurrected. This proved, Allegro claimed, that Christianity and the
Gospels were nothing more than later adaptations of this earlier Essene
fairy tale. Jesus Christ, he said, was a fictional character who never
Allegro charged that the other team members were suppressing additional
evidence which would prove even more damaging to Christianity.
scholars denounced Allegros lies; even Jewish scholars (who had no love
for Christ) said Allegro was not telling the truth.
But, over the
years, these false charges continued to surface in books and articles.
Barbara Thiering, an Australian scholar, claimed in the 1980s that the
scrolls were encoded with secret messages which, when the Gospels were
read with these codes, revealed that Jesus was that wicked priest
mentioned in the Essene documents. She said Christ was crucified but kept
alive with snake poison, eventually married, etc.
Eisenman, a California historian, came forward with more wild claims.
Then, as late as 1991, in a book by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh,
called The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, more attacks were made on
But there was
a reason why the it was difficult to deny the false claims of the
THE SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY
was that only a few men had access to most of the Dead Sea scroll
material, and this situation had continued for decades!
for the release of the manuscripts, so they could be studied by everyone;
but the tightly knit group of team members refused to release them. They
must, themselves, have the honor of being the first to publish
them in a properly translated format.
year this continued, and the editorial team never quite got around to
publishing much of anything.
By the late
1980s, outside scholars were increasingly expressing their anger publicly
in various publications. One of the leading journals to enter the fray was
Hershel Shanks Biblical Archaeologist. Repeatedly, he roundly
denounced the official scroll editors who would not publish the materials
themselves, nor let anyone else even look at them.
literary publications were calling it the academic scandal of the
century. Men were increasingly determined to put a <>stop
to, what they termed, the scrolls cartel.
In the early
years, scroll editions had come out in a timely fashion; the editors
sensed the importance of the scrolls to the scholarly community.
in order to magnify their own positions, the editors decided to become
more literary. Instead of publishing the documents, they began writing
extensive commentaries on each little scrap.
ENTER MARTIN ABEGG
was a young graduate student working at Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. As he was preparing to leave for Hebrew Union University in
Cincinnati, in order to complete his doctoral work, Professor Tov gave him
As one of the
scroll editors, Tov had given Abegg and other students some of the
unpublished scroll material to work on. Now Tov told him, Do not show
this to any of your professors back in the States.
considered it strange that he, a masters student, could not show those
valuable materials to experienced scholars, far older than himself, who
had a lifetime experience in translation work.
Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeologist, published a very
short manuscript that was supposed to be kept secret, John Strugnell, at
that time chief editor of the editorial team, successfully took him to
court in Jerusalem and won the case. The court decided that Strugnell
could keep to himself manuscripts over 2,000 years old, as if he had a
copyright on them! This decision only intensified the feeling of scholars
Strugnell was reported in the press as calling outside scholars who wanted
access to the unpublished manuscripts a bunch of fleas who are in the
business of annoying us. He was fired soon after, when he told a
reporter for an Israeli newspaper that the Jewish faith was a horrible
chief editor, but was as implacable about not sharing materials as all the
editors before him.
back in Cincinnati, Abegg set to work. His major professor was Ben Zion
As early as
1988, there had been rumors that, in the 1950s, a concordance had been
prepared by the editorial teams, to help them in their work. Could it be
so? And how was it arranged?
Was it like a
dictionary, where a word in one language was explained by a phrase in
better yet, was it like
Cruden's or Strong's Concordances, which gave an
entire phrase for each entry?
publications, such as the Biblical Archaeology Review, flatly
denied that any concordance existed.
Abeggs professor, Wacholder, met Strugnell at a conference in Israel,
he learned that a concordance did in fact exist! Back in the 1950s, the
scroll editors had written notes on 3 x 5 cards, along with portions of
manuscripts. This helped them unravel the jigsaw puzzles and also kept the
materials from being handled too much.
quietly worked through connections, to obtain a copy of the concordance.
All the while Abegg still did not know what might be on those cards. Were
they just word lists or did they have key words in context, like Strongs?
At last, Abegg
had the concordance before him, and he found it was better than
Beside each word was a complete sentence. And, more, it would give the
first word in the next sentence! Thus all the cards were keyed to one
carefully, laboriously, typed one card after another into his word
processor. This required months of difficult work. When he was done, he
was able to reconstruct whole texts, manuscripts which had never before
When in 1991,
Hershel Shanks, who had been demanding release of the manuscripts for
nearly a decade, learned about Abeggs secret project, he begged him
for permission to publish the results. It was Shanks who had been
humiliated when he lost that lawsuit over a couple paragraphs of an
Martin Abegg to do? On one hand, it was unethical to publish someone
else's assigned research project. On the other, the material had been
available since the late 1950s and could have been published then. Why had
that not been done?
The texts were
published in September 1991 in a set of large, expensive, volumes by
Shanks Biblical Archaeology Society.
the prestigious Huntington Library in southern California, which had
obtained many photographs of the manuscripts, published them. Its action
was just as unethical as that of Abegg and Shanks. But the entire
scholarly world was on their side. A mammoth rebellion was in progress.
in later years Tov invited Abegg to join the official editorial staff. The
entire staff was en<>larged, and many
Protestants (nearly two dozen) were brought in. With the
publication of the materials, the clique had been broken. Apparently, the
editorial leaders decided they might as well let others in on the
project, because everyone had access to the scroll materials anyway and
could do it on their own.
Jews on the editorial team had focused on ritual purity, food laws, and
similar matters, the Protestants admitted to it were concerned with
evidences in the manuscripts that the Bible was reliable, how we got it,
and topics of special interest to Christians.
In 1962, the
Evangelical Free Church had opened a new school, called Trinity Western in
British Columbia. In 1995, Trinity Western University started an on-campus
research organization: the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute.
and Peter Flint joined the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute, to work with Craig
Evans. Today theirs is a leading scrolls research team, in defense of the
Bible. They dig up material defending Christianity; and Evans travels the
lecture circuit, challenging the critics to debates.
DEBUNKING THE CRITICS
everyone has access to the Dead Sea manuscripts, the foolish claims of the
atheists and assorted fanatics can be disproved.
Pinned to a
bulletin board outside Flints office at Trinity Western is a tabloid
sheet which proclaims Startling Revelations from Dead Sea Scrolls:
1997 Weather to be Worst Ever. Another says, Lost Prophecies
of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Christ Reborn, Woman in Idaho Will be New Virgin
Then there is
the so-called Jesus Seminar, a group of atheists out to disprove
Christianity. For years they had claimed that secret manuscripts,
from the Dead Sea, proved that Christianity was fraudulent. But it is
the Jesus Seminar which is fraudulent; yet only recently could researchers
get their hands on the manuscripts, to disprove the charges.
As for the
Jesus Seminar, it claims to have hundreds of members; but only about 35
are now active. Their leaders are Robert Funk and John Dominic Crossan.
years, the atheists have tended to drop out of the scroll research and
Bible-based Protestants have taken their place. The problem is that the
atheists cannot agree on which attack to focus their attention on, and
they wind up arguing among themselves.
discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, the atheists had declared that our
Bible was totally different than the originals, but today there are few to
make that claim. The Dead Sea scrolls changed everything.
Ernest Renan a radical French scholar declared, Christianity is a
sort of successful Essenism.
scrolls brought so much fresh knowledge of Essene beliefs to light, one of
Renan's successors in Paris, A. Dupont-Sommer, wrote this:
in the Jewish New Covenant (as found in the scrolls) heralds and prepares
the way for the Christian New Covenant. The master from Galilee, as the
New Testament writings present him to us, appears as an astonishing
reincarnation of the master of justice (the teacher of righteousness) in
many respects . . Like him, he was condemned and put to death. Like him,
he ascended to heaven, near to God . . Like him, he will be the supreme
judge at the end of time. Like him, he founded a church whose members
eagerly awaited his glorious return . .
then claimed that wherever there is a resemblance between the scrolls and
Christianity, the Christians had borrowed from the Essenes.
ammunition the critics could use. But historical facts and the contents of
the scrolls disprove Dupont-Sommers claims:
Essene's teacher had failed to bring his followers through; they all
perished. Christianity has continued, growing even stronger with the
passing of the centuries.
no indication that Jesus ever had any contact with the Essene community at
Qumran, nor with any other Essenes.
critics have said that John the Baptist was an Essene. Yet the Dead Sea
scrolls prove that John preached none of their teachings.
Dead Sea scrolls and the New Testament have their roots in the Old
Testament, so, at times, they share similar language. Yet the concepts and
beliefs in the two are vastly different.
similarities between the teacher and Jesus are not as close as Dupont-Sommer
would like us to think. His sensational assertions were based on something
supposedly written at the bottom of the Commentary on Habakkuk.
Although the scrolls are well-preserved, at the bottom of each column the
last lines are damaged or missing.
By filling in
a gap at the bottom with the words, he persecuted the teacher of
righteousness, Dupont-Sommer manufactured the claim that the teacher
was judged, condemned, and put to death.
now agree with that theory. They unanimously agree that it was the wicked
priest who was slain, not the teacher of righteousness. And that is
what the surrounding passages confirm.
no statement that the teacher will be a judge at some future time. It is
not even certain if he was expected to reappear in the future.
many other differences between the two:
teacher taught a detailed observance of rabbinic ritual laws, which, of
course, included many things not in the Old Testament. Jesus taught
obedience to the Ten Commandments.
teacher and his followers looked forward to the time when the <>Temple
services in Jerusalem would be restored and they could resume
offering sacrifices there. Jesus teachings were far different! He pre<>dicted
the destruction of the Temple. During His life, Jesus downplayed
obedience to the ritual laws.
concern to obey the ritual law drove the teacher and his followers out
into the desert, so they could become hermits. The concern to proclaim
justification and obedience by faith led the disciples to follow the
command of Christ and go into all the world and proclaim the Good News,
that we can become the children of God and, in Christ's strength,
teacher was waiting for God to send the Messiah, and he instructed his
followers to wait for that event. The teacher is not known to have ever
claimed to be the Messiah. But Christ was the Messiah, said so, and His
church is founded on that fact.
to Christ's teachings, His death would make atonement for the sins of
the whole world. That concept would have offended the teacher who believed
that only Essene Jews could be saved.
Essenes practiced baptism, but theirs was far different. It was routinely
repeated once each year, and was done to purify themselves from ritual
matters. Baptism, for them, was something they accomplished. It was
just another ritual work.
members ate meals together, and this has been likened to the communion
service. But they were merely joint cafeteria meals. There was nothing
thought sacred about them. They were looking forward to a meal with the
Messiah when He should appear. They were not eating together in
remembrance of their teacher of righteousness.
commentaries had the oddities of Old Testament interpretation given them
by their teacher, and lacked the certainty we find in the words of Jesus
and throughout the New Testament.
The Dead Sea
scrolls are especially important because no other Jewish writings from
immediately prior to the destruction of Jerusalem have survived. But we
must keep in mind that the Essene writings present only one aspect of
Jewish thought in the time of Christ.
The discoveries have been there, waiting for us for a
long time. But we were given advance notice seventeen centuries ago.
Origen, in the third century, reported discovery of a Hebrew book in a
jar near Jericho. And a letter, written about A.D. 800 by Timotheus I,
Patriarch of Seleucia, refers to books . . found ten years ago in a
rock dwelling near Jericho.
between Arabs and Jews, climaxed by all-out war in the spring of 1948,
archaeologists dared not go immediately out to the desert to see what was
But in 1949,
Pere Roland de Vaux, of Jerusalem's
Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francaise (French School of
Biblical Archaeology), and Gerald Lankester Harding, head of the Jordan
Department of Antiquities and acting curator of the Palestine
Archaeological Museum, went down to Cave 1. They had paid the Bedouin to
show them where it was.
interior of the cave was well-rifled, meticulous sifting of the debris
produced fragments of about 70 scrolls.
Just to the
south of them was the ruins of Qumran, so they made a perliminary
examination of it. But they decided that there was nothing more to be
learned, either at the cave or at Qumran. Apparently, whatever was to be
found was in that one cave.
Bedouin in Jerusalem did not give up. Their brief contact with the eager
scholars had alerted them to a new source of income. So they set to work
exploring the thousands of cracks and fissures which honeycomb the
Wilderness of Judaea.
1952, after hundreds of weary days of searching, they once again struck
what would become gold to them: more leather. When these latest finds were
offered for sale, and quickly sold at good prices, an
archaeological task force, drawn from the American Schools of Oriental
Research, the Ecole Biblique and the Palestine Museum hurried down to the
area and began exploring. Repeatedly, they would find nothing while the
Bedouin kept making discoveries.
In the third
cave was found two rolls of copper so oxidized that the scientists could
neither open nor decipher them. They remained unread for four years as
scientists sought a safe method to unroll them. Finally, H.W. Baker at the
University of Mancester, England, sliced them open with a specially
adapted saw used to slit pen nibs with a cut 6/1000ths of an inch thick.
To prevent shattering, he coated the surfaces with a plastic. So carefully
did he work that not a single letter was lost. When opened, the two rolls
were actually parts of a single one, and told of the treasures mentioned
earlier in this study, in 60 locations from Hebron to Nablus. Here are
three of the sixty, so the more adventurous of our readers can go search
cistern which is below the rampart, on the east side, in a place hollowed
out of rock 600 bars of silver.
below the southern corner of the portico, at Zadok's tomb, underneath
the pilaster in the exedra [meeting room]a vessel of incense in pine
wood, and a vessel of incense in cassia wood.
In the pit
near by, toward the north in a hole opening near the graves, there is a
copy of this document with explanations, measurements, and all details.
Well, now you
are ready! The total amount of listed treasure is itself phenomenally
large, indicating the whole thing was a hoax.
after discovering Cave 3, the tireless Taamirah uncovered Cave 4, the
best of them all. There, as mentioned elsewhere in this study, thousands
of manuscript portions were discovered.
In 1956, those
Taamirah Bedouin found Cave 11, which contained a number of virtually
intact leather scrolls, the first to be found since Muhammad Edh-Dhib
threw that stone into Cave 1 nine years before and heard something break.
excavation, Khirbat Qumran, the Essene community center, was found to have
been erected about 166 B.C., upon ruins of an Israelite settlement dating
from the 8th century B.C. The large building was actually a complex
of structures, and was 128 yards long by 80 yards wide. Many of the
members probably lived in tents or nearby caves rather than in the Qumran
complex. The Essene's called the place their house of exile, since
the Pharisees did not like them up at Jerusalem.
Dead Sea is 25 percent salt, the spring of Ayn Fashkhah, up on the hill,
provided fresher water, and they had conduits to it and other sources of
everyone gathered in the main assembly room. Seated on the floor, they
would eat their meals. When they were finished and had left, the floor was
cleaned. This was easily done, since it all sloped slightly downward
toward one end. At the opposite end, there was an opening where water
could be permitted in, flow over the floor, and run out again.
kick-wheels, just like those in use in Hebron today, were used to turn out
member turned over all his property to the group, and this provided the
funds to keep Qumran in good financial condition as they awaited the end
of time. It came unexpectedly.
Masoretic text, Goliaths height is 9 foot, 9 inches. In 4QSam-b
(the second, or b, manuscript of Samuel found in Cave 4 at Qumran),
Goliaths height is listed as 6 foot, 9 inches.
That manuscript dates to the middle of the third century B.C.
(about 250 B.C.).
How tall was Goliath?
For a moment,
let us compare these figures more closely with our knowledge of the cubit,
the span, and the what we are told in the Spirit of Prophecy. Several
facts stand out:
1 - The Spirit
of Prophecy (PP 646:2) quotes the 6 cubits and a span length
given in the KJV (1 Samuel 17:4).
2 - The Spirit
of Prophecy says that Goliath appeared to be
about twelve feet in height (2BC 1018/2:2; 1SP 370), and
had a massive form (PP 646:2).
3 - So, in Patriarchs
and Prophets, she wrote down the cubit/span length given in the Bible
(possibly without knowing what actual length that might be equivalent to
in feet and inches). But, in vision, she had seen that Goliath was about
12 feet tall.
4 - It is
well-known that our knowledge of the length of the cubit and span, as used
at that time, is not clearly understood.
5 - We cannot
know with certainty whether the Massoretic text or 4QSam-b is more
not mistake the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Vaticanus, Sianiticus, and other
Greek uncials! What we are discussing here has nothing to do with the
ongoing controversy over the Received Text vs. the Wescott and Hort-approved
manuscripts! We are instead discussing ancient Old Testament manuscript
copies which were made centuries before the Catholic Church and the
various New Testament manuscript families were formed, or the
autographs, the originals written by Matthew, Paul, etc. were
information, the exact length of the cubit at the time of Goliath is not
known. The Mesopotamian cubit was 19.6 inches long, and the Egyptian
cubit was 20.6 inches. The cubit in the time of Hezekiah may have been
17.5 inches. But 2 Chronicles 3:3 indicates that a first measure
(old standard, RSV) was used in former times. Because of historical
facts given in it, the book of Chronicles was probably written about the
5th century B.C.
was 10.3 inches if the Egyptian measure was used, or 8.75 inches if the
much later Hezekiah standard was used. (Hezekiah's standard assumes we
do know the ancient length of Hezekiah's conduit.)
of Prophecy mentioned the six cubits and a span measurement. Ellen
Whites pattern was to employ data available to her in the Bible, plus
broad pictures she was given while in vision. That is why she read history
books to ascertain where events she saw in vision as occurring in the Dark
Ages actually fitted into the overall timeline of history. We would expect
her to refer to the six cubits and a span measure. It was the only
information made available to her. But when she listed the height in our
measurement, she described what she saw in vision: about twelve
present writer does not have the cubit/span length, given in 4QSam-b.
Research papers available to him only convert it to 6 foot, 9
inches, as opposed to 9 foot, 9 inches, as formerly thought. But
very likely 4QSam-b had 4 cubits and a span, whereas the
Massoretic text had 6 cubits and a span. In order to track the
matter down further, one would need to obtain the 1991 book on the Dead
Sea Scrolls, containing the scroll data; but that publication costs
several hundred dollars and is written in ancient Hebrew.