Old Testament Authentication – Dead Sea Scrolls

What is the greatest archeological find of the 20th Century? The Dead Sea Scrolls! A shepherd boy named Abu Dahoud tossed a stone in a cave hoping to find one of his sheep – the year was 1947; the place was Qumran, on the Northeast corner of the Dead Sea (1300 feet below sea level) – he heard the sound of pottery smashing.

This find turned archeology on its ear.  See, many liberal scholars believed the Bible to be unreliable (not paying mind to the wealth of evidence we’ve already looked at).  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.  These folks hid many ancient scrolls in the Qumran caves around 68AD as Rome was invading Judea.

So far, eleven (maybe twelve) caves containing 28 complete scrolls and nearly 100,000 fragments of another maybe 870 scrolls have been found. Some 220 of the scrolls are of Scripture, including 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms, 7 copies of Samuel. Frankly, every book in the Old Testament has been recovered except for Esther and very little of Nehemiah. About 75% of the scrolls are written in Hebrew, with the remaining being written in Aramaic and Koine Greek (language of the New Testament)

Did You Know?

The “Copper Scroll”, found in Cave 3, has a list of 64 underground hiding places throughout the land of Israel. The deposits are to contain gold, silver, aromatics, and manuscripts taken from the Temple ahead of Jerusalem’s fall to Rome (68 thru 70AD).

The “Temple Scroll”, found in Cave 11, is the longest scroll. Its present total length is 26.7 feet

The Comparison

When comparing Isaiah in the Masoretic text with the Isaiah Scroll found in the Dead Sea Scrolls it is 95% identical with remaining 5% being attributable to:

  • Pronunciation helps in Masoretic text (scribes 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 as it were