What is the greatest archeological find of the 20th Century? By far, it is the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery!
A shepherd boy named Abu Dahoud tossed a stone into a cave, hoping to find one of his sheep, when he heard the sound of pottery smashing. The year was 1947. The place was Qumran, on the Northwest corner of the Dead Sea.
(Dead Sea Scroll Jar)
This find turned archeology on its ear. Many liberal scholars believed the Bible to be unreliable (not paying mind to the wealth of evidence already available). The claim was that the Hebrew Masoretic text surely would have changed down through the years as it was transcribed over time.
There was a sect of Jews called the “Essenes” who apparently were a monastic order of some sort. This sect hid many ancient scrolls in the Qumran caves about the year 68AD as Rome was invading Judea.
So far, eleven caves containing 28 complete scrolls and nearly 100,000 fragments of another 900 scrolls have been found and translated.
(Great Isaiah Scroll)
These Hebrew scrolls date as far back as 200BC and contain almost all of Isaiah and portions of every other book of the Old Testament except for Esther.
When comparing Isaiah in the Masoretic text with the Isaiah Scroll found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, it is 95% identical. The remaining 5% difference is attributable to:
- Pronunciation helps in the Masoretic text (scribes on occasion would use three Hebrew letters: “waw”, “yod”, and “aleph” to assist readers when reading aloud).
- Spelling changes occurred over time due to the influence of Aramaic on Hebrew.
- Scribal “slips of the pen”.
When comparing the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Masoretic Text and the rest of the manuscripts that serve as the basis for Bible translations today, they are virtually identical!