Qumran – Israel

Along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea is found Qumran (meaning, “Two Moons”).  This location appears just briefly in Scripture. Known as the “City of Salt” (see Joshua 15: 62), it fell within the confines of territory allotted to the Tribe of Judah.

Qumran is the site of the greatest archeological find of the 20th Century – namely, the Dead Sea Scrolls!

In 1947, a shepherd boy named Abu Dahoud, tossed a stone into a cave hoping to find one of his sheep.  Instead, what he heard was the sound of pottery smashing:

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. The Dead Sea Scrolls resoundingly refuted such a notion.

Between 130 and 110 BC, a sect of Jews called the ‘Essenes’ built Qumran. This monastic order had a tremendous library of scrolls, which they had made, copied or acquired over time. This sect hid many of these ancient scrolls in the Qumran caves around 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.

Digging Deeper

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” as it were

What’s the Point?

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!