Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls

Our next stop was Qumran.  This area is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.  Now, I knew the Dead Sea Scrolls were important, but when we visited this site, I understood how incredibly significant they are for Biblical scholarship.  I can't remember the exact years, but when this discovery began in 1947, it revealed the oldest manuscripts of Scripture ever found.  It is fascinating how they were discovered, too.  A shepherd was wandering through the caves, looking for a lost sheep, so he threw a rock into a cave, hoping to draw out the sheep, but instead of hearing a thud on the cave floor, he heard a strange clink noise.  Thinking this was an unusual sound, he investigated and found clay jars in which were stored the Dead Sea Scrolls, fragments of Scripture copied down by the Essenes, who lived in this area during Roman occupation.  The Essenes were a Jewish sect that lived in a similar way to monks.  They lived off in this deserted area and feared that the Romans would destroy their Scripture if found, so they stored them in these earthen vessels and hid them in caves.  The wonderful thing about the arid climate of this area is that the dry weather preserved the scrolls!!  I can't remember how many Old Testament books are represented from the findings at Qumran, but there are many!  It is a discovery like this that reminds me once again how faithful our God is!  What a blessing to have these scrolls preserved for so many years.

This image shows replicas of what the clay jars storing the Dead Sea Scrolls looked like.

Before touring the ruins of the Essene community, we watched a video and looked through a museum to learn more about this group.

This is a replica of what a ritual bath may have looked like.  At the bottom of the photo you may be able to see a step to go into the bath.  In a minute, you will see photos of the actual remains of the ritual bath area.
This image talks about the importance of gathering together for meals for this community.


Gathering together was important.

The quotations on this image and the previous ones are taken from a book of rules the Essenes maintained that has been discovered.  It helps to give us insight to this community.

These are some replicas of what the scrolls looked like.

The actual scrolls are housed in Jerusalem.

These are relics discovered in the area, including the remains of a sandal, a measuring cup, and a comb among other things.

Then, we were able to tour around outside.

Here is another image of the ritual bath.

And the actual ruins. 
This gives a better picture of the steps going down into the bath.
This area was where the potter did his work.  Again, the Bible comes to life with the imagery used in Scripture about the potter and the clay.

These images give an overview of the terrain and show several different caves.  The Scrolls were found in multiple caves throughout this area.

This picture describes the rooms beyond and pictured below as belonging to the financial person in charge.  When one joined this group, all of his belongings were given to the community.

Here is another ritual bath.

I believe these images are of the kiln that the potter would have used.

The stone walls contained the pen for the sheep and goats.

The sign describes the Reflectory where the community took meals together.

And this is the remnants of that area.

The kitchen

Pottery storeroom sign

Image of the kitchen area

In this image you can see shrouded in fog Mount Nebo, which is the traditional site of the place where Moses died.  In the foreground is the Dead Sea.  I continued to be overwhelmed at the nearness of all these sites to each other.

Information about the Scrolls Cave

And last but not least, the actual cave that started it all.
Experiencing the area of this great discovery was powerful.  It was also so convicting to learn about a group of people who held their Scripture so dearly that they went to great lengths to preserve it for future generations.  I am so thankful!

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! Thank you Carroll for your attention to detail and chronicling this for us. I love it.


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