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Dead Sea Scrolls

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Dead Sea Scrolls
Psalms Scroll.jpg
The Psalms Scroll (11Q5), one of the 981 texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with a partial Hebrew transcription.
MaterialPapyrus, parchment and bronze
WritingMostly Hebrew; Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean-Aramaic
CreatedEst. 408 BCE to 318 CE
Present locationVarious

The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts that were found in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert, near Ein Feshkha on the northern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank; the last scrolls discovered were found in the Cave of Horror in Israel.[1][2] The texts have great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. Almost all of the scrolls are held by the state of Israel in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum, but ownership of the scrolls is disputed by Jordan and Palestine.[3]

Many thousands of written fragments have been discovered in the Dead Sea area. They represent the remnants of larger manuscripts damaged by natural causes or through human interference, with the vast majority holding only small scraps of text. However, a small number of well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts have survived – fewer than a dozen among those from the Qumran Caves.[4] Researchers have assembled a collection of 981 different manuscripts – discovered in 1946/47 and in 1956 – from 11 caves.[5] The 11 Qumran Caves lie in the immediate vicinity of the Hellenistic-period Jewish settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the eastern Judaean Desert, in the West Bank.[6] The caves are located about one mile (1.6 kilometres) west of the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, whence they derive their name. Archaeologists have long associated the scrolls with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this connection and argue that priests in Jerusalem, or Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups wrote the scrolls.[7][8]

Most of the texts use Hebrew, with some written in Aramaic (for example the Son of God Text; in different regional dialects, including Nabataean), and a few in Greek.[9] Discoveries from the Judaean Desert add Latin (from Masada) and Arabic (from Khirbet al-Mird) texts.[10] Most of the texts are written on parchment, some on papyrus, and one on copper.[11] Scholarly consensus dates the scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE,[4][12] though manuscripts from associated Judaean Desert sites are dated as early as the 8th century BCE and as late as the 11th century CE.[13] Scholarly consensus dates the Qumran Caves Scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE.[4] Bronze coins found at the same sites form a series beginning with John Hyrcanus (in office 135–104 BCE) and continuing until the period of the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), supporting the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls.[14] Two silver scroll-shaped amulets dated c. 600 BCE and containing portions of the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers were excavated in Jerusalem at Ketef Hinnom; some scholars also include the controversial Shapira Scroll.

Owing to the poor condition of some of the scrolls, scholars have not identified all of their texts. The identified texts fall into three general groups:

  1. About 40% are copies of texts from the Hebrew Scriptures.
  2. Approximately another 30% are texts from the Second Temple period which ultimately were not canonized in the Hebrew Bible, like the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Tobit, the Wisdom of Sirach, Psalms 152–155, etc.
  3. The remainder (roughly 30%) are sectarian manuscripts of previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group (sect) or groups within greater Judaism, like the Community Rule, the War Scroll, the Pesher on Habakkuk, and The Rule of the Blessing.[15][need quotation to verify]


Caves at Qumran
Caves at Qumran
Qumran cave 4, where ninety percent of the scrolls were found
Qumran cave 4, where ninety percent of the scrolls were found

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a series of twelve caves around the site originally known as the "Ein Feshkha Caves" near the Dead Sea in the West Bank (then part of Jordan) between 1946 and 1956 by Bedouin shepherds and a team of archeologists.[16] The practice of storing worn-out sacred manuscripts in earthenware vessels buried in the earth or within caves is related to the ancient Jewish custom of Genizah.

Initial discovery (1946–1947)

The initial discovery by Bedouin shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum'a Muhammed, and Khalil Musa, took place between November 1946 and February 1947.[17][18] The shepherds discovered seven scrolls (see Scrolls and fragments) housed in jars in a cave near what is now known as the Qumran site. John C. Trever reconstructed the story of the scrolls from several interviews with the Bedouin. Edh-Dhib's cousin noticed the caves, but edh-Dhib himself was the first to actually fall into one (the cave now called Cave 1). He retrieved a handful of scrolls, which Trever identifies as the Isaiah Scroll, Habakkuk Commentary, and the Community Rule, and took them back to the camp to show to his family. None of the scrolls were destroyed in this process.[19] The Bedouin kept the scrolls hanging on a tent pole while they figured out what to do with them, periodically taking them out to show to their people. At some point during this time, the Community Rule was split in two. The Bedouin first took the scrolls to a dealer named Ibrahim 'Ijha in Bethlehem. 'Ijha returned them, saying they were worthless, after being warned that they might have been stolen from a synagogue. Undaunted, the Bedouin went to a nearby market, where a Syrian Christian offered to buy them. A sheikh joined their conversation and suggested they take the scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, "Kando", a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer. The Bedouin and the dealers returned to the site, leaving one scroll with Kando and selling three others to a dealer for 7 Jordanian pounds (approximately $28, or $325 in 2020 dollars).[19][20] The original scrolls continued to change hands after the Bedouin left them in the possession of a third party until a sale could be arranged. (see Ownership.)

In 1947 the original seven scrolls caught the attention of John C. Trever, of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), who compared the script in the scrolls to that of the Nash Papyrus, the oldest biblical manuscript then known, and found similarities between them. In March the 1948 Arab–Israeli War prompted the move of some of the scrolls to Beirut, Lebanon, for safekeeping. On 11 April 1948, Millar Burrows, head of the ASOR, announced the discovery of the scrolls in a general press release.

Search for the Qumran caves (1948–1949)

Early in September 1948, Metropolitan bishop Mar Samuel brought some additional scroll fragments that he had acquired to Professor Ovid R. Sellers, the new Director of ASOR. By the end of 1948, nearly two years after their discovery, scholars had yet to locate the original cave where the fragments had been found. With unrest in the country at that time, no large-scale search could be undertaken safely. Sellers tried to get the Syrians to assist in the search for the cave, but he was unable to pay their price. In early 1949, the government of Jordan gave permission to the Arab Legion to search the area where the original Qumran cave was thought to be. Consequently, Cave 1 was rediscovered on 28 January 1949, by Belgian United Nations observer Captain Phillipe Lippens and Arab Legion Captain Akkash el-Zebn.[21]

Qumran caves rediscovery and new scroll discoveries (1949–1951)

A view of the Dead Sea from a cave at Qumran in which some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
A view of the Dead Sea from a cave at Qumran in which some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

The rediscovery of what became known as "Cave 1" at Qumran prompted the initial excavation of the site from 15 February to 5 March 1949 by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities led by Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux.[22] The Cave 1 site yielded discoveries of additional Dead Sea Scroll fragments, linen cloth, jars, and other artifacts.[23]

Excavations of Qumran and new cave discoveries (1951–1956, 2017, 2021)

In November 1951, Roland de Vaux and his team from the ASOR began a full excavation of Qumran.[24] By February 1952, the Bedouin had discovered 30 fragments in what was to be designated Cave 2.[25] The discovery of a second cave eventually yielded 300 fragments from 33 manuscripts, including fragments of Jubilees and the Wisdom of Sirach written in Hebrew.[23][24] The following month, on 14 March 1952, the ASOR team discovered a third cave with fragments of Jubilees and the Copper Scroll.[25] Between September and December 1952 the fragments and scrolls of Caves 4, 5, and 6 were subsequently discovered by the ASOR teams.[24]

With the monetary value of the scrolls rising as their historical significance was made more public, the Bedouins and the ASOR archaeologists accelerated their search for the scrolls separately in the same general area of Qumran, which was over 1 kilometer in length. Between 1953 and 1956, Roland de Vaux led four more archaeological expeditions in the area to uncover scrolls and artifacts.[23] Cave 11 was discovered in 1956 and yielded the last fragments to be found in the vicinity of Qumran.[26]

Caves 4–10 are clustered in an area lying in relative proximity 160 yards (150 metres) from Khirbet Qumran, while caves 1, 2, 3 and 11 are located 1 mile (1–2 kilometres) North, with Cave 3 being the most remote.[27][28]

In February 2017, Hebrew University archaeologists announced the discovery of a new, 12th cave.[29] There was one blank parchment found in a jar; however, broken and empty scroll jars and pickaxes suggest that the cave was looted in the 1950s.[30]

In March 2021, Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of dozens of fragments bearing biblical text, written in Greek from the books of Zechariah and Nahum. This particular group of findings are believed to have been hidden in a cave between 132 and 136 CE during the Bar Kokhba revolt.[31] However, a 10,500-year-old basket made of woven reeds was also discovered in the Muraba'at caves in the Nahal Darga Reserve. Other discoveries included the remains of a child wrapped in cloth dated to around 6,000 years ago, and a cache of coins from the days of the Bar Kochba revolt.[32]

Scrolls and fragments

The Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) contains almost the whole Book of Isaiah.
The Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) contains almost the whole Book of Isaiah.

The 972 manuscripts found at Qumran were found primarily in two separate formats: as scrolls and as fragments of previous scrolls and texts. In the fourth cave the fragments were torn into up to 15,000 pieces. These small fragments created somewhat of a problem for scholars. G.L. Harding, director of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, began working on piecing the fragments together but did not finish this before his death in 1979.[33]

Cave 1

The original seven scrolls from Cave 1 at Qumran are the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa), a second copy of Isaiah (1QIsab), the Community Rule Scroll (1QS), the Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab), the War Scroll (1QM), the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QH), and the Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen).[34]

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 1

1QIsaa Great Isaiah Scroll Isaiah 1:1–31; 2:1–22; 3:1–5:30; 6:1–13; 7:1–25; 8:1–23; 9:1–20; 10:1–34; 11:1–45:25; 46:1–66:24 Hebrew 356–103 BCE/150–100 BCE Contains all 66 chapters with occasional lacunae and some missing words at the bottom of some columns [35][36]
1QIsab Isaiah cf. 1Q8 The Book of Isaiah Hebrew Hasmonean/Herodian A second copy of portions of the Book of Isaiah [37][38]
1QS Serekh ha-Yahad or "Community Rule" Hebrew cf. 4QSa-j = 4Q255–64, 5Q11 [39]
1QpHab Pesher on Habakkuk Habakkuk 1 -2 Hebrew Later half of the 1st century BC Commentary on Habakkuk 1:2–17; 2:1–20 [40][41]
1QM Milhamah or War Scroll Hebrew cf. 4Q491, 4Q493; 11Q14?
1QHa Hodayot or Thanksgiving Hymns Hebrew Some parts are also preserved in 1QHb and 4QHa-f [42]
1QapGen Genesis Apocryphon Genesis 12:18–15:4 Aramaic 25 BCE–50 CE [43]
CTLevi Cairo Geniza or Testament of Levi Aramaic
1QGen Genesis 1Q1 Genesis 1:18–21; 3:11–14; 22:13–15; 23:17–19; 24:22–24 Hebrew Herodian [44][45]
1QExod Exodus 1Q2 Exodus 16:12–16; 19:24–20:2, 20:5–6; 20:25–21:1; 21:4–5 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][46]
1QpaleoLev LeviticusNumbers 1Q3 Leviticus 11:10–11; 19:30–34; 20:20–24; 21:24–22:6; 23:4–8 and Numbers 1:48–50 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman; Palaeo-Hebrew script [44][47]
1QDeuta Deuteronomy 1Q4 Deuteronomy 1:22–25; 4:47–49; 8:18–19; 9:27–28; 11:27–30; 13:1–6, 13–14; 14:21, 24–25; 16:4, 6–7 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][48][49]
1QDeutb 1Q5 Deuteronomy 1:9–13; 8:8–9; 9:10; 11:30–31; 15:14–15; 17:16; 21:8–9; 24:10–16; 25:13–18; 28:44–48; 29:9–20; 30:19–20; 31:1–10, 12–13; 32:17–29; 33:12–24 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][48][50]
1QJudg Judges 1Q6 Judges 6:20–22; 8:1(?); 9:2–6, 28–31, 40–43, 48–49 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][51]
1QSam Samuel 1Q7 2 Samuel 18:17–18; 2 Samuel 20:6–10; 21:16–18; 23:9–12 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][52]
1QIsab Isaiah Parts of 1QIsab as 1Q8 Isaiah 7:22–25; 8:1; 10:17–19; 12:3–6; 13:1–8, 16–19; 15:3–9; 16:1–2, 7–11; 19:7–17, 20–25; 20:1; 22:11–18, 24–25; 23:1–4; 24:18–23; 25:1–8; 26:1–5; 28:15–20; 29:1–8; 30:10–14, 21–26; 35:4–5; 37:8–12; 38:12–22; 39:1–8; 40:2–3; 41:3–23; 43:1–13, 23–27; 44:21–28; 45:1–13; 46:3–13; 47:1–14; 48:17–22; 49:1–15; 50:7–11; 51:1–10; 52:7–15; 53:1–12; 54:1–6; 55:2–13; 56:1–12; 57:1–4, 17–21; 58:1–14; 59:1–8, 20–21; 60:1–22; 61:1–2; 62:2–12; 63:1–19; 64:1, 6–8; 65:17–25; 66:1–24 Hebrew Herodian [37][44]
1QEzek Ezekiel Parts of 1QIsab as 1Q9 Ezekiel 4:16–17; 5:1 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][53]
1QPsa Psalms 1Q10 Psalm 86:5–8; 92:12–14; 94:16; 95:11–96:2; 119:31–34, 43–48, 77–79 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][54]
1QPsb 1Q11 Psalm 126:6; 127:1–5; 128:3 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [44][55]
1QPsc 1Q12 Psalm 44:3–5, 7, 9, 23–25 Hebrew Herodian [44][56]
1QPhyl Phylactery 1Q13 Deuteronomy 5:23–27; 11:8–11 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman 58 fragments from a Phylactery [48][57][58]
1QpMic Pesher on Micah 1Q14 Hebrew Herodian [57][59]
1QpZeph Pesher on Zephaniah 1Q15 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [57][60]
1QpPs Pesher on Psalms 1Q16 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [57][61]
1QJuba Jubilees 1Q17 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Jubilees [57][62]
1QJubb 1Q18 Hebrew Hasmonean Jubilees [57][63]
1QNoah Book of Noah 1Q19 Hebrew Herodian Parts of the lost Book of Noah [57][64]
1QapGen Fragments of the "Genesis Apocryphon" 1Q20 Aramaic Herodian [65][66]
1QTLevi / 1QALD Testament of Levi 1Q21 Aramaic Hasmonean Aramaic Levi Document [67][68]
1QDM "Dibrê Moshe" or "Words of Moses" 1Q22 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [67][69]
1QEnGiantsa Book of Giants 1Q23 Aramaic Hasmonean Enoch [70][71]
1QEnGiantsb Book of Giants 1Q24 Aramaic Hellenistic-Roman Enoch [70][72]
1Q Apocr.Prophecy "Apocryphal Prophecy" 1Q25 Hebrew Herodian [73][74]
1Q Instruction "Instruction" 1Q26 Hebrew Hasmonean [73][75]
1QMyst "The Book of Mysteries" 1Q27 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [73][76]
1QS or 1QSa "Rule of the Congregation" 1Q28 (1Q28a) Hebrew Hasmonean Fragment from "Community Rule" [73][77]
1QSb "Rule of the Blessing" or "Rule of the Benedictions" 1Q28b Hebrew Hasmonean [73][78]
1QapocrMoses B Apocryphon of Moses 1Q29 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman "Liturgy of the Three Tongues of Fire" [73][79]
1Q Liturgical Text(?) A "Liturgical Text 1" 1Q30 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [73][80]
1Q Liturgical Text(?) B "Liturgical Text 2" 1Q31 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [73][81]
1QNJ(?) "New Jerusalem" 1Q32 Aramaic Herodian cf. 11Q18 [82][83]
1QM Fragment of the 1QM or "War Scroll" or "Milhamah" 1Q33 Deuteronomy 20:2–5; Numbers 10:9, 24:17–19; Isaiah 31:8 Hebrew 30–1 BCE

Early Herodian

1QPrFetes / 1QLitPr "Liturgical Prayers" or "Festival Prayers" 1Q34 Hebrew Herodian [82][84]
1QHb "Hodayot" or "Thanksgiving Hymns" 1Q35 Hebrew Herodian [82][85]
1Q Hymns "Hymns" 1Q36 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [82][86]
1Q Hymnic Composition(?) "Hymnic Composition" 1Q37 Hebrew Herodian [82][87]
1Q Hymnic Composition(?) "Hymnic Composition" 1Q38 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [82][88]
1Q Hymnic Composition(?) "Hymnic Composition" 1Q39 Hebrew Herodian [82][89]
1Q Hymnic Composition(?) "Hymnic Composition" 1Q40 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [82][90]
1Q41–70 1Q41–70 Hebrew Unclassified Fragments [91]
1QDana Daniel 1Q71 Daniel 1:10–17; 2:2–6 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [92]
1QDanb 1Q72 Daniel 3:22–30 Aramaic Hellenistic-Roman [93]

Cave 2

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 2

2QGen Genesis 2Q1 Genesis 19:27–28; 36:6, 35–37 Hebrew Herodian [94][95]
2QExoda Exodus 2Q2 Exodus 1:11–14; 7:1–4; 9:27–29; 11:3–7; 12:32–41; 21:18–20(?); 26:11–13; 30:21(?), 23–25; 32:32–34 [94][96]
2QExodb 2Q3 Exodus 4:31; 12:26–27(?); 18:21–22; 21:37–22:2, 15–19; 27:17–19; 31:16–17; 19:9; 34:10 [94][97]
2QExodc 2Q4 Exodus 5:3–5 Hellenistic-Roman [94][98]
2QpaleoLev Leviticus 2Q5 Leviticus 11:22-29 Hasmonean; Palaeo-Hebrew script [94][99]
2QNuma Numbers 2Q6 Numbers 3:38–41, 51– 4:3 Hebrew Herodian [94][100]
2QNumb 2Q7 Numbers 33:47–53 [94][101]
2QNumc 2Q8 Numbers 7:88 [94][102]
2QNumd? 2Q9 Numbers 18:8–9 Hellenistic-Roman This fragment may belong to 2Q7; possibly = Leviticus 23:1–3 [94][103]
2QDeuta Deuteronomy 2Q10 Deuteronomy 1:7–9 Hebrew 50–25 BCE

Late Hasmonean or Early Herodian

2QDeutb 2Q11 Deuteronomy 17:12–15 Hebrew 30 BCE – 68 CE


2QDeutc 2Q12 Deuteronomy 10:8–12 Hebrew 1–68 CE

Late Herodian

2QJer Jeremiah 2Q13 Jeremiah 42:7–11, 14; 43:8–11; 44:1–3, 12–14; 46:27–47:7; 48:7, 25–39, 43–45; 49:10 Hebrew Herodian Doubtfully identified fragments: 13:22; 32:24–25; 48:2–4, 41–42 [104][105]
2QPs Psalms 2Q14 Psalm 103:2–11; 104:6–11 [104][106]
2QJob Job 2Q15 Job 33:28–30 [104][107]
2QRutha Ruth 2Q16 Ruth 2:13–23; 3:1–8; 4:3–4 Hebrew Herodian [104][108]
2QRuthb 2Q17 Ruth 3:13–18 Hasmonean [104][109]
2QSir "Wisdom of Sirach" or "Ecclesiasticus" 2Q18 Sir 6:14–15 (or 1:19–20); 6:20–31 Hebrew Herodian Ben Sira [104][110]
2QJuba Book of Jubilees 2Q19 Genesis 25:7–9 Hebrew Herodian Jub 23:7–8 [104][111]
2QJubb Book of Jubilees 2Q20 Exodus 1:7; Genesis 50:26, 22 (different order) Jub 46:1–3 [112]
2QapMoses /2QapocrMoses(?) "Apocryphon of Moses" 2Q21 Hebrew Herodian Apocryphal writing about Moses [104][113]
2QapDavid /2QapocrDavid "Apocryphon of David" 2Q22 Hebrew Herodian Apocryphal writing about David [114][115]
2QapProph /2Qapocr.Prophecy "Apocryphal Prophecy" 2Q23 Hebrew Herodian Apocryphal prophetic text in six tiny fragments. [116][117]
2QNJ "New Jerusalem" 2Q24 Aramaic Herodian Description of the New Jerusalem. cf. 1Q32 ar, 11Q18 ar [116][118]
2Q Juridical Text "Juridical Text" 2Q25 Hebrew Herodian A juridical text [116][119]
2QEnGiants "Book of Giants" from "Enoch" 2Q26 Aramaic Herodian Now known as part of the "Book of Giants". cf. 6Q8 [120]

2Q28 2Q29

2Q30 2Q31

2Q32 2Q33


2Q28 2Q29

2Q30 2Q31

2Q32 2Q33

Unidentified Texts [91][116]
2QX1 2QX1 Debris in a box [116]

Cave 3

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 3

3QEzek Ezekiel 3Q1 Ezekiel 16:31–33 Hebrew Herodian [116][121]
3QPs Psalms 3Q2 Psalm 2:6–7 Hebrew [122][123]
3QLam Lamentations 3Q3 Lamentations 1:10–12; 3:53–62 Hebrew [122][124]
3QpIsa Pesher on Isaiah 3Q4 Isaiah 1:1 Hebrew Herodian [122][125]
3QJub Jubilees 3Q5 Hebrew Herodian Jubilees 23:6–7, 12–13, 23 [122][126]
3QHymn Unidentified Hymn 3Q6 Hebrew Herodian Hymn of Praise [122][127]
3QTJud(?) Testament of Judah(?) 3Q7 Hebrew Herodian cf. 4Q484, 4Q538 [122][128]
3Q Text Mentioning Angel of Peace 3Q8 Hebrew Herodian Text about an Angel of Peace [122][129]
3QSectarian text 3Q9 Hebrew Herodian Possible unidentified Sectarian text [122][130]
3QUnc Unidentified 3Q10


Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Unclassified fragments [122]
3QUncA-B Unclassified fragments 3Q12


Aramaic Hellenistic-Roman Unclassified fragments [131]
3QUncC Unidentified 3Q14 Hebrew? Hellenistic-Roman 21 unclassified fragments [132][133]
3QCopScr The Copper Scroll 3Q15 Hebrew Roman Copper plaque mentioning buried treasures [132][134]

Caves 4a and 4b

The Damascus Document Scroll, 4Q271Df, found in Cave 4
The Damascus Document Scroll, 4Q271Df, found in Cave 4
4Q7, a fragment of the book of Genesis found in Cave 4
4Q7, a fragment of the book of Genesis found in Cave 4

Cave 4 was discovered in August 1952, and was excavated on 22–29 September 1952 by Gerald Lankester Harding, Roland de Vaux, and Józef Milik.[25][135] Cave 4 is actually two hand-cut caves (4a and 4b), but since the fragments were mixed, they are labeled as 4Q. Cave 4 is the most famous of Qumran caves both because of its visibility from the Qumran plateau and its productivity. It is visible from the plateau to the south of the Qumran settlement. It is by far the most productive of all Qumran caves, producing ninety percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls and scroll fragments (approx. 15,000 fragments from 500 different texts), including 9–10 copies of Jubilees, along with 21 tefillin and 7 mezuzot.

Cave 5

Cave 5 was discovered alongside Cave 6 in 1952, shortly after the discovery of Cave 4. Cave 5 produced approximately 25 manuscripts.[25]

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 5

5QDeut Deuteronomy 5Q1 Deuteronomy 7:15–24; 8:5–9:2 Hebrew Early Hellenistic [48][364][365]
5QKgs Kings 5Q2 1 Kings 1:1,16–17,27–37 Hebrew Hasmonean [366][367]
5QIsa Isaiah 5Q3 Isaiah 40:16,18–19 Hebrew Herodian [366][368]
5QAmos Amos 5Q4 Amos 1:2–5 Hebrew [366]
5QPs Psalms 5Q5 Psalm 119:99–101,104,113–20,138–42 Hebrew Herodian [366][369]
5QLama Lamentations 5Q6 Lamentations 4:5–8,11–16,19–22; 5:1–13,16–17 Hebrew Herodian [366][370]
5QLamb 5Q7 Lamentations 4:17–20 Hebrew Herodian [366][371]
5QPhyl Phylactery 5Q8 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Phylactery in its unopened case [366][372]
5QapocrJosh or 5QToponyms Toponyms 5Q9 Hebrew Herodian Seven fragments with names of places [366][373]
5QapocrMal Apocryphon of Malachi 5Q10 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Apocryphon of Malachi [366][374]
5QS Rule of Community (Serek ha-Yahad) 5Q11 Hebrew Herodian [366][375]
5QD Damascus Document 5Q12 Hebrew Herodian Damascus Document [366][376]
5QRule or 5QRégle Rule of Community 5Q13 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Fragments related to 1QS [377][378]
5QCurses Curses 5Q14 Hebrew Herodian Liturgical compositions with curses [377][379]
5QNJ New Jerusalem Scroll 5Q15 Aramaic Hellenistic-Roman Description of the New Jerusalem [377][380]
5QUnid Unidentified 5Q16–5Q24 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Unidentified fragments [377]
5QUnc Unclassified 5Q25 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Unclassified fragments [377][381]

Cave 6

Cave 6 was discovered alongside Cave 5 in 1952, shortly after the discovery of Cave 4. Cave 6 contained fragments of about 31 manuscripts.[25]

List of groups of fragments collected from Wadi Qumran Cave 6:[382][383]

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 6

6QpaleoGen Genesis 6Q1 Genesis 6:13–21 Hebrew Early Hellenistic; Palaeo-Hebrew script [384][385]
6QpaleoLev Leviticus 6Q2 Leviticus 8:12–13 Hebrew Early Hellenistic; Palaeo-Hebrew script [384][386]
pap6QDeut or 6QpapDeut(?) Deuteronomy 6Q3 Deuteronomy 26:19 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman A few letters of Deuteronomy 26:19 on papyrus [384][48][387]
6QpapKgs Kings 6Q4 [1 Kings 3]]:12–14; 12:28–31; 22:28–31; 2 Kings 5:26; 6:32; 7:8–10,20; 8:1–5; 9:1–2; 10:19–21 Hebrew Hasmonean Made up of 94 Fragments. [384][388]
pap6QPs or 6QpapPs(?) Psalms 6Q5 Psalm 78:36–37 Hebrew Herodian [389][390]
6QCant Song of Songs 6Q6 Song of Songs 1:1–7 Hebrew Herodian [389][391]
6QpapDan Daniel 6Q7 Daniel 8:20–21; 10:8–16; 11:33–36,38; 8:16–17 Hebrew Herodian 13 papyrus fragments. [389][392]
6QpapGiants or pap6QEnGiants Book of Giants from Enoch 6Q8 Aramaic Herodian Part of the "Book of Giants" [389][393]
6Qpap apocrSam-Kgs or pap6QapocrSam/Kgs Apocryphon on SamuelKings 6Q9 Hebrew Hasmonean Samuel–Kings apocryphon. Written on papyrus. [389][394]
6QpapaProph or pap6QProph Unidentified prophetic fragment 6Q10 Hebrew Hasmonean Prophetic text. Written in papyrus [389][395]
6QAllegory Allegory of the Vine 6Q11 Hebrew Herodian Fragment containing an Allegory mentioning a vine [389][396]
6QapProph An apocryphal prophecy 6Q12 Herodian [389][397]
6QPriestProph Priestly Prophecy 6Q13 Herodian A priestly prophecy [389][398]
6Q Apocalypse Apocalyptic text 6Q14 Aramaic Herodian Two fragments with apocalyptic text [389][399]
6QD Damascus Document 6Q15 Hebrew Herodian Damascus Document 4:19–21; 5:13–14,18–21; 6:1–2,20–21; 7:1 [389][400]
6QpapBened or pap6QBen papBenediction 6Q16 Herodian Blessings related 1QSb. On papyrus [401][402]
6QCalDoc Calendrical Document 6Q17 Herodian Calendric fragment [401][403]
pap6QHymn Hymn 6Q18 Herodian Fragment of a hymn, related to 1QM [401][404]
6Q Text Related to Genesis Genesis 6Q19 Possibly from Genesis Aramaic Herodian Related to Genesis 10:6,20 [401][405]
6QDeut(?) Deuteronomy 6Q20 Possibly from Deuteronomy Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman Related to Deuteronomy 11:10 [401][406]
6QfrgProph or 6Q Prophetic Text Possibly prophetic text 6Q21 Hebrew Herodian Prophetic fragment containing 5 words. [401][407]
pap6QUnidA Unclassified fragments 6Q22 Hebrew Herodian [401][408]
pap6QUnidA ar Unclassified fragments 6Q23 Aramaic Herodian Related to "Words of the Book of Michael" [401][409]
6QUnidB Unclassified fragments 6Q24 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [401][410]
6QUnidB Unclassified fragments 6Q25 Aramaic Herodian [401][411]
6QUnidB or 6QpapAccount or Contract Accounts or contracts 6Q26 Aramaic Hellenistic-Roman [401][412]
6QUnidB Unclassified fragments 6Q27–6Q28 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [401]
6QpapProv Proverbs 6Q30 Proverbs 11:4b–7a,10b Hebrew Roman Single six-line fragment [401][413]
6QUnidB Unclassified fragments 6Q31 Aramaic Herodian [401][414]

Cave 7

Dead Sea Scroll fragments 7Q4, 7Q5, and 7Q8 from Cave 7 in Qumran, written on papyrus.
Dead Sea Scroll fragments 7Q4, 7Q5, and 7Q8 from Cave 7 in Qumran, written on papyrus.

Cave 7 yielded fewer than 20 fragments of Greek documents, including 7Q2 (the "Letter of Jeremiah" = Baruch 6), 7Q5 (which became the subject of much speculation in later decades), and a Greek copy of a scroll of Enoch.[415][416][417] Cave 7 also produced several inscribed potsherds and jars.[418]

Lists of groups of fragments collected from Wadi Qumran Cave 7:[382][383]

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 7

7QpapLXXExod Exodus 7Q1 Exodus 28:4–7 Greek Hasmonean Greek fragment of Exodus [419]
7QpapEpJer Letter of Jeremiah 7Q2 Letter of Jeremiah verses 43–44 Greek Hasmonean Epistle of Jeremiah. On papyrus. [420]
7Q3 Unidentified 7Q3 Greek Herodian Unknown biblical text [421]
7Q4 Unidentified 7Q4 Greek Hasmonean Unknown biblical text [422]
7Q5 Unidentified 7Q5 Greek Herodian Unknown biblical text. Believed by some to be Mark 6:52–53 [423]
7Q6–18 Unidentified 7Q6–18 Greek Hellenistic-Roman; Herodian Very tiny unidentified fragments written on papyrus [91]
7Q papImprint Unidentified 7Q19 Greek Herodian Unidentified papyrus imprint. Very tiny fragments written on papyrus [424]

Cave 8

Cave 8, along with caves 7 and 9, was one of the only caves that are accessible by passing through the settlement at Qumran. Carved into the southern end of the Qumran plateau, cave 8 was excavated by archaeologists in 1957.

Cave 8 produced five fragments: Genesis (8QGen), Psalms (8QPs), a tefillin fragment (8QPhyl), a mezuzah (8QMez), and a hymn (8QHymn).[425] Cave 8 also produced several tefillin cases, a box of leather objects, tons of lamps, jars, and the sole of a leather shoe.[418]

List of groups of fragments collected from Wadi Qumran Cave 8:[382][383]

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 8

8QGen Genesis 8Q1 Genesis 17:12–13, 15, 18–19; 18:20–22, 24–25 Hebrew Herodian [91]
8QPs Psalms 8Q2 Psalm 17:5–9, 14; 18:5–12 Hebrew Herodian [91]
8QPhyl Phylacteries 8Q3 Exodus 13:1–16; 12:43–51; 20:11

Deuteronomy 6:4–5; 6:1–3; 10:20–22; 10:12–19; 5:1–14; 10:13; 11:2–3; 10:21–22; 11:1; 11:6–12

Hebrew 1–100 CE


Fragments from a "Phylactery" [48]
8QMez Mezuzah 8Q4 Deuteronomy 10:1–11:21 Hebrew 30 BCE–68 CE


8QHymn Unidentified hymn 8Q5 Hebrew Herodian Non-biblical composition. [91]

Cave 9

Cave 9, along with caves 7 and 8, was one of the only caves that are accessible by passing through the settlement at Qumran. Carved into the southern end of the Qumran plateau, Cave 9 was excavated by archaeologists in 1957. There was only one fragment found in Cave 9.

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 9

9Qpap Unidentified 9Q1 Hebrew Roman Written on papyrus. [426]

Cave 10

In Cave 10 archaeologists found two ostraca with writing on them, along with an unknown symbol on a grey stone slab.

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 10

10QOstracon Ostracon 10Q1 Hebrew Two letters written on a piece of pottery. [18]

Cave 11

A view of part of the Temple Scroll that was found in Qumran Cave 11.
A view of part of the Temple Scroll that was found in Qumran Cave 11.

Cave 11 was discovered in 1956 and yielded 21 texts, some of which were quite long. The Temple Scroll, so called because more than half of it pertains to the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem, was found in Cave 11, and is by far the longest scroll. It is now 26.7 feet (8.15 m) long. Its original length may have been over 28 feet (8.75 m). The Temple Scroll was regarded by Yigael Yadin as "The Torah According to the Essenes". On the other hand, Hartmut Stegemann, a contemporary and friend of Yadin, believed the scroll was not to be regarded as such, but was a document without exceptional significance. Stegemann notes that it is not mentioned or cited in any known Essene writing.[427]

Also in Cave 11, an eschatological fragment about the biblical figure Melchizedek (11Q13) was found. Cave 11 also produced a copy of Jubilees, and a proto-Masoteric text of the Torah scroll (only a fragment of the Book of Leviticus surviving), known as the Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll.

According to former chief editor of the Dead Sea Scroll editorial team John Strugnell, there are at least four privately owned scrolls from Cave 11, that have not yet been made available for scholars. Among them is a complete Aramaic manuscript of the Book of Enoch.[428]

List of groups of fragments collected from Wadi Qumran Cave 11:

Fragment or Scroll Identifier Fragment or Scroll Name Alternative Identifier English Bible Association Language Date/Script Description Reference

Qumran Cave 11

11QpaleoLeva Paleo-Leviticusa 11Q1 Leviticus 4:24–26; 10:4–7; 11:27–32; 13:3–9; 13:39–43; 14:16–21; 14:52–15:5; 16:2–4; 16:34–17:5; 18:27–19:4; 20:1–6; 21:6–11; 22:21–27; 23:22–29; 24:9–14; 25:28–36; 26:17–26; 27:11–19 Hebrew Herodian/palaeo-Hebrew script [91]
11QLevb Leviticusb 11Q2 Leviticus Hebrew Herodian/palaeo-Hebrew script [91]
11QDeut Deuteronomy 11Q3 Deuteronomy 1:4–5; 2:28–30 Hebrew 50 CE

Late Herodian

11QEzek Ezekiel 11Q4 Ezekiel Hebrew Herodian [429][430]
11QPs The Great Psalms Scroll 11Q5 Psalms Hebrew Herodian A unique Psalms scroll with only about a quarter of the Masoretic psalms (in atypical order), three Syriac psalms, one from Ben Sira, and the only known copies of three more unique psalms—Plea for Deliverance, Apostrophe to Zion, and Hymn to the Creator—all of which are unattested by other sources, as well as the short text of David's Compositions. [91]
11QPsa Psalms 11Q5 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QPsb 11Q6 Psalm 77:18–21; 78:1; 109:3–4; 118:1; 118:15–16; 119:163–165; 133:1–3; 141:10; 144:1–2 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QPsc 11Q7 Psalm 2:1–8; 9:3–7; 12:5–9; 13:1–6; 14:1–6; 17:9–15; 18:1–12; 19:4–8; 25:2–7 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QPsd 11Q8 Psalm 6:2–4; 9:3–6; 18:26–29; 18:39–42; 36:13; 37:1–4; 39:13–14; 40:1; 43:1–3; 45:6–8; 59:5–8; 68:1–5; 68:14–18; 78:5–12; 81:4–9; 86:11–14; 115:16–18; 116:1 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QPse 11Q9 Psalm 50:3–7 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QtgJob Targum Job 11Q10 Job Aramaic Herodian A unique Aramaic translation of the Book of Job; presents Job somewhat more favourably. [91]
11QapocrPs Apocryphal Psalms 11Q11 Psalm 91 Hebrew Herodian Apocryphal paraphrase of Psalms 91 [91]
11QJub Jubilees 11Q12 Hebrew Herodian Ethiopic text of Jubilees 4:6–11; 4:13–14; 4:16–17; 4:29–31; 5:1–2; 12:15–17; 12:28–29 [91]
11QMelch Melchizedek 11Q13 Contains Pesher/commentary on Leviticus 25:13; Deuteronomy 15:2; Psalm 7:8–9; 82:2; Isaiah 52:7; Daniel 9:25; Leviticus 25:9 Hebrew 50–25 BCE or 75–50 BCE

Late Hasmonean or Early Herodian

Describes a tenth jubilee and portrays Melchizedek as a messianic agent of salvation, using similar language to that used for Jesus in Hebrews, such as "Heavenly Prince Melchizedek" [91][48]
11Q Sefer ha-Milhamah Sefer ha-Milhamah ("The Book of War") 11Q14 Hebrew Herodian An account of the final eschatological battle of the Israelites and the Kittim (Romans), including a messianic figure named the "Prince of the Congregation." [91]
11QHymnsa Hymns 11Q15 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QHymnsb 11Q16 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QShirShabb Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice 11Q17 Hebrew Herodian Collection of 13 hymns describing a heavenly temple service. [91]
11QNJ New Jerusalem 11Q18 Aramaic Herodian Appears to be an apocalyptic vision, including some architectural details of a very large city (cf. Ezekiel and Revelation) [91]
11QTa Temple Scroll 11Q19 Hebrew Herodian Rephrases the Pentateuch laws in the spirit of Deuteronomy, seeks to resolve biblical legal conflicts and expand ritual laws. [91]
11QTb Temple Scroll 11Q20 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11QTc 11Q21 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11Q Unidentified Unidentified 11Q22 Hebrew Hasmonean Unidentified fragments. [91]
11Q23 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [91]
11Q24 Aramaic Hasmonean [91]
11Q25 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11Q26 Hebrew Herodian [91]
11Q27 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [91]
11Q28 Hebrew Hellenistic-Roman [91]
11Q29 Serekh ha-Yahad related
11Q Unidentified Unidentified 11Q30 Hebrew Herodian Unidentified fragments. [91]
11Q Unidentified Unidentified 11Q31 Unidentified fragment [431]
11Q9999 Unidentified Hellenistic-Roman [91]

Cave 12

Cave 12 was discovered in February 2017 on cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.[29] Archaeological examination found pickaxes and empty broken scroll jars, indicating that the cave had been discovered and looted in the 1950s. One of the joint Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Liberty University of Virginia project's lead researchers, Dr. Oren Gutfeld, stated, "Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we 'only' found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen."[30]

Fragments with unknown provenance

Some fragments of scrolls have neither significant archaeological provenance nor records that reveal in which designated Qumran cave area they were found. They are believed to have come from Wadi Qumran caves, but are just as likely to have come from other archaeological sites in the Judaean Desert area.[432] These fragments have therefore been designated to the temporary "X" series.

Fragment/Scroll # Fragment/Scroll Name KJV Bible Association Description
XQ1-3 "Tefillin from Qumran" Deuteronomy 5:1 – 6:3; 10:12 – 11:12.[432] First published in 1969; Phylacteries
XQ4 "Tefillin from Qumran" Phylacteries
XQ5a Jubilees 7:4–5
XQ5b Hymn
XQ6 Offering Small fragment with only one word in Aramaic.
XQ7 Unidentified fragment Strong possibility that it is part of 4QInstruction.
XQpapEn Book of Enoch 9:1 One small fragment written in Hebrew. = XQ8



There has been much debate about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The dominant theory remains that the scrolls were produced by the Essenes, a sect of Jews living at nearby Qumran, but this theory has come to be challenged by several modern scholars.[433]

Qumran–Essene theory

The view among scholars, almost universally held until the 1990s, is the "Qumran–Essene" hypothesis originally posited by Roland Guérin de Vaux[434] and Józef Tadeusz Milik,[435] though independently both Eliezer Sukenik and Butrus Sowmy of St Mark's Monastery connected scrolls with the Essenes well before any excavations at Qumran.[436] The Qumran–Essene theory holds that the scrolls were written by the Essenes, or by another Jewish sectarian group, residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed the scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt sometime between 66 and 68 CE. The site of Qumran was destroyed and the scrolls never recovered. A number of arguments are used to support this theory.

  • There are striking similarities between the description of an initiation ceremony of new members in the Community Rule and descriptions of the Essene initiation ceremony mentioned in the works of Flavius Josephus – a Jewish–Roman historian of the Second Temple period.
  • Josephus mentions the Essenes as sharing property among the members of the community, as does the Community Rule.
  • During the excavation of Khirbet Qumran, two inkwells and plastered elements thought to be tables were found, offering evidence that some form of writing was done there. More inkwells were discovered nearby. De Vaux called this area the "scriptorium" based upon this discovery.
  • Several Jewish ritual baths (Hebrew: מקוה‎, miqvah) were discovered at Qumran, offering evidence of an observant Jewish presence at the site.
  • Pliny the Elder (a geographer writing after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE) describes a group of Essenes living in a desert community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea near the ruined town of 'Ein Gedi.

Qumran–Sectarian theory

Qumran–Sectarian theories are variations on the Qumran–Essene theory. The main point of departure from the Qumran–Essene theory is hesitation to link the Dead Sea Scrolls specifically with the Essenes. Most proponents of the Qumran–Sectarian theory understand a group of Jews living in or near Qumran to be responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls, but do not necessarily conclude that the sectarians are Essenes.

A specific variation on the Qumran–Sectarian theory that has gained much recent popularity is the work of Lawrence H. Schiffman, who proposes that the community was led by a group of Zadokite priests (Sadducees).[437] The most important document in support of this view is the "Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah" (4QMMT), which cites purity laws (such as the transfer of impurities) identical to those attributed in rabbinic writings to the Sadducees. 4QMMT also reproduces a festival calendar that follows Sadducee principles for the dating of certain festival days.

Christian origin theory

Spanish Jesuit José O'Callaghan Martínez argued in the 1960s that one fragment (7Q5) preserves a portion of text from the New Testament Gospel of Mark 6:52–53.[438] This theory was scrutinized in the year 2000 by paleographic analysis of the particular fragment. However, this faced some contention, and O'Callaghan's theory remains an area of great dispute. Later analyses in 2004 and 2018, have lent credence to O'Callaghan's original assertion.

Robert Eisenman has advanced the theory that some scrolls describe the early Christian community. Eisenman also argued that the careers of James the Just and Paul the Apostle correspond to events recorded in some of these documents.[439]

Jerusalem origin theory

Some scholars have argued that the scrolls were the product of Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.[440] Karl Heinrich Rengstorf first proposed that the Dead Sea Scrolls originated at the library of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.[441] Later, Norman Golb suggested that the scrolls were the product of multiple libraries in Jerusalem, and not necessarily the Jerusalem Temple library.[442][443] Proponents of the Jerusalem origin theory point to the diversity of thought and handwriting among the scrolls as evidence against a Qumran origin of the scrolls. Several archaeologists have also accepted an origin of the scrolls other than Qumran, including Yizhar Hirschfeld[444] and more recently Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg,[445] who all understand the remains of Qumran to be those of a Hasmonean fort that was reused during later periods.

Physical characteristics

Fragments 1 and 2 of '7Q6' from Cave 7 are written on papyrus.
Fragments 1 and 2 of '7Q6' from Cave 7 are written on papyrus.

Radiocarbon dating

Parchment from a number of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been carbon dated. The initial test performed in 1950 was on a piece of linen from one of the caves. This test gave an indicative dating of 33 CE plus or minus 200 years, eliminating early hypotheses relating the scrolls to the medieval period.[446] Since then two large series of tests have been performed on the scrolls themselves. The results were summarized by VanderKam and Flint, who said the tests give "strong reason for thinking that most of the Qumran manuscripts belong to the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE."[20]: 32 

Paleographic dating

Analysis of letter forms, or palaeography, was applied to the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls by a variety of scholars in the field. Major linguistic analysis by Cross and Avigad dates fragments from 225 BCE to 50 CE.[447] These dates were determined by examining the size, variability, and style of the text.[448] The same fragments were later analyzed using radiocarbon dating and were dated to an estimated range of 385 BCE to 82 CE with a 68% accuracy rate.[447]

Ink and parchment

The scrolls were analyzed using a cyclotron at the University of California, Davis, where it was found that all black ink was carbon black.[449] The red ink on the scrolls was found to be made with cinnabar (HgS, mercury sulfide).[450] There are only four uses of this red ink in the entire collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments.[450] The black inks found on the scrolls are mostly made of carbon soot from olive oil lamps.[451] Honey, oil, vinegar, and water were often added to the mixture to thin the ink to a proper consistency for writing.[451] Galls were sometimes added to the ink to make it more resilient.[451] In order to apply the ink to the scrolls, its writers used reed pens.[452]

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written on parchment made of processed animal hide known as vellum (approximately 85.5–90.5% of the scrolls), papyrus (estimated at 8.0–13.0% of the scrolls), and sheets of bronze composed of about 99.0% copper and 1.0% tin (approximately 1.5% of the scrolls).[452][453] For those scrolls written on animal hides, scholars with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, by use of DNA testing for assembly purposes, believe that there may be a hierarchy in the religious importance of the texts based on which type of animal was used to create the hide. Scrolls written on goat and calf hides are considered by scholars to be more significant in nature, while those written on gazelle or ibex are considered to be less religiously significant in nature.[454]

In addition, tests by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Sicily, Italy, have suggested that the origin of parchment of select Dead Sea Scroll fragments is from the Qumran area itself, by using X-ray and Particle-induced X-ray emission testing of the water used to make the parchment that were compared with the water from the area around the Qumran site.[455]


Two of the pottery jars that held some of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran.
Two of the pottery jars that held some of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran.
Two Dead Sea Scrolls jars at the Jordan Museum, Amman
Two Dead Sea Scrolls jars at the Jordan Museum, Amman

The Dead Sea Scrolls that were found were originally preserved by the dry, arid, and low humidity conditions present within the Qumran area adjoining the Dead Sea.[456] In addition, the lack of the use of tanning materials on the parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the very low airflow in the Qumran caves also contributed significantly to their preservation.[457] Some of the scrolls were found stored in clay jars within the Qumran caves, further helping to preserve them from deterioration. The original handling of the scrolls by archaeologists and scholars was done inappropriately, and, along with their storage in an uncontrolled environment, they began a process of more rapid deterioration than they had experienced at Qumran.[458] During the first few years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, adhesive tape used to join fragments and seal cracks caused significant damage to the documents.[458] The government of Jordan had recognized the urgency of protecting the scrolls from deterioration and the presence of the deterioration among the scrolls.[459] However, the government did not have adequate funds to purchase all the scrolls for their protection and agreed to have foreign institutions purchase the scrolls and have them held at their museum in Jerusalem until they could be "adequately studied".[459]

In early 1953, they were moved to the Palestine Archaeological Museum (commonly called the Rockefeller Museum)[460] in East Jerusalem and through their transportation suffered more deterioration and damage.[20]: 63–65  The museum was underfunded and had limited resources with which to examine the scrolls, and, as a result, conditions of the "scrollery" and storage area were left relatively uncontrolled by modern standards.[20] The museum had left most of the fragments and scrolls lying between window glass, trapping the moisture in with them, causing an acceleration in the deterioration process. During a portion of the conflict during the 1956 war waged by Israel, Britain and France against Egypt, the scrolls collection of the Palestine Archaeological Museum was stored in the vault of the Ottoman Bank in Amman, Jordan.[461] Damp conditions from temporary storage of the scrolls in the Ottoman Bank vault from 1956 to the Spring of 1957 led to a more rapid rate of deterioration of the scrolls. The conditions caused mildew to develop on the scrolls and fragments, and some fragments were partially destroyed or made illegible by the glue and paper of the manila envelopes in which they were stored while in the vault.[461] By 1958 it was noted that up to 5% of some of the scrolls had completely deteriorated.[459] Many of the texts had become illegible and many of the parchments had darkened considerably.[20][458]

Until the 1970s, the scrolls continued to deteriorate because of poor storage arrangements, exposure to different adhesives, and being trapped in moist environments.[458] Fragments written on parchment (rather than papyrus or bronze) in the hands of private collectors and scholars suffered an even worse fate than those in the hands of the museum, with large portions of fragments being reported to have disappeared by 1966.[462] In the late 1960s, the deterioration was becoming a major concern with scholars and museum officials alike. Scholars John Allegro and Sir Francis Frank were among the first to strongly advocate for better preservation techniques.[20] Early attempts made by both the British and Israel Museums to remove the adhesive tape ended up exposing the parchment to an array of chemicals, including "British Leather Dressing," and darkening some of them significantly.[20] In the 1970s and 1980s, other preservation attempts were made that included removing the glass plates and replacing them with cardboard and removing pressure against the plates that held the scrolls in storage; however, the fragments and scrolls continued to rapidly deteriorate during this time.[458]

In 1991, the Israeli Antiquities Authority established a temperature-controlled laboratory for the storage and preservation of the scrolls. The actions and preservation methods of Rockefeller Museum staff were concentrated on the removal of tape, oils, metals, salt, and other contaminants.[458] The fragments and scrolls are preserved using acid-free cardboard and stored in solander boxes in the climate-controlled storage area.[458]

Nine tiny phylactery slips were rediscovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 2014, after they had been stored unopened for six decades following their excavation in 1952. The IAA is preparing to unroll the phylacteries or tefillin once a safe procedure has been decided upon.[463][464]

Photography and assembly

Since the Dead Sea Scrolls were initially held by different parties during and after the excavation process, they were not all photographed by the same organization.

First photographs by the American Schools of Oriental Research (1948)

The first individual person to photograph a portion of the collection was John C. Trever (1916–2006), a biblical scholar and archaeologist, who was a resident for the American Schools of Oriental Research.[20]: 68  He photographed three of the scrolls discovered in Cave 1 on 21 February 1948, both on black-and-white and standard color film.[20]: 26 [465][466] Although an amateur photographer, the quality of his photographs often exceeded the visibility of the scrolls themselves as, over the years, the ink of the texts quickly deteriorated after they were removed from their linen wrappings.

Infrared photography and plate assembly by the Palestine Archaeological Museum (1952–1967)

A majority of the collection from the Qumran caves was acquired by the Palestine Archaeological Museum. The museum had the scrolls photographed by Najib Albina, a local Arab photographer trained by Lewis Larsson of the American Colony in Jerusalem,[467] Between 1952 and 1967, Albina documented the five-stage process of the sorting and assembly of the scrolls, done by the curator and staff of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, using infrared photography. Using a process known today as broadband fluorescence infrared photography, or NIR photography, Najib and the team at the museum produced over 1,750 photographic plates of the scrolls and fragments.[20]: 68 [468][469][470] The photographs were taken with the scrolls laid out on animal skin, using large format film, which caused the text to stand out, making the plates especially useful for assembling fragments.[20]: 68  These are the earliest photographs of the museum's collection, which was the most complete in the world at the time, and they recorded the fragments and scrolls before their further decay in storage, so they are often considered the best recorded copies of the scrolls.[471]

Israel Antiquities Authority and NASA digital infrared imaging (1993–2012)

A previously unreadable fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls photographed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory using digital infrared technology. Translated into English it reads: "He wrote the words of Noah."
A previously unreadable fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls photographed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory using digital infrared technology. Translated into English it reads: "He wrote the words of Noah."

Beginning in 1993, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration used digital infrared imaging technology to produce photographs of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments.[472] In partnership with the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center and West Semitic Research, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully worked to expand on the use of infrared photography previously used to evaluate ancient manuscripts by expanding the range of spectra at which images are photographed.[473] NASA used this multi-spectral imaging technique, adapted from its remote sensing and planetary probes, in order to reveal previously illegible text on fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.[473] The process uses a liquid crystal tunable filter in order to photograph the scrolls at specific wavelengths of light and, as a result, image distortion is significantly diminished.[472] This method was used with select fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls to reveal text and details that cameras that take photographs using a larger light spectrum could not reveal.[472] The camera and digital imaging assembly was developed specifically for the purpose of photographing illegible ancient texts.[474]

On 18 December 2012[475] the first output of this project was launched together with Google on the dedicated site[476] The site contains both digitizations of old images taken in the 1950s and about 1000 new images taken with the new NASA technology.[477]

Israel Antiquities Authority and DNA scroll assembly (2006–2020)

Scientists with the Israeli Antiquities Authority have used DNA from the parchment on which the Dead Sea Scrolls fragments were written, in concert with infrared digital photography, to assist in the reassembly of the scrolls. For scrolls written on parchment made from animal hide and papyrus, scientists with the museum are using DNA code to associate fragments with different scrolls and to help scholars determine which scrolls may hold greater significance based on the type of material that was used.[454] In a paper published in 2020 in the journal Cell, researchers from Tel Aviv University have shown that ancient DNA extracted from the ancient scrolls can be used to sort different scroll fragments not only based on the animal species but also based on variations in the nuclear genome of individual fragments. This effort enabled the researchers to match different fragments to each other based on their genetics and separate fragments which were falsely connected in the past.[478][479]

Israel Museum of Jerusalem and Google digitization project (2011–2016)

In partnership with Google, the Museum of Jerusalem is working to photograph the Dead Sea Scrolls and make them available to the public digitally, although not placing the images in the public domain.[480] The lead photographer of the project, Ardon Bar-Hama, and his team are utilizing the Alpa 12 MAX camera accompanied with a Leaf Aptus-II back in order to produce ultra-high resolution digital images of the scrolls and fragments.[481] With photos taken at 1,200 megapixels, the results are digital images that can be used to distinguish details that are invisible to the naked eye. In order to minimize damage to the scrolls and fragments, photographers are using a 1/4000th of a second exposure time and UV-protected flash tubes.[480] The digital photography project was estimated in 2011 to cost approximately 3.5 million U.S. dollars.[481]

Scholarly examination

Eleazar Sukenik examining one of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1951.
Eleazar Sukenik examining one of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1951.

After most of the scrolls and fragments were moved to the Palestine Archaeological Museum in 1953, scholars began to assemble them and log them for translation and study in a room that became known as the "scrollery".[482]

The text of the Dead Sea Scrolls is written in four different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean.

Language Script Percentage of Documents Centuries of Known Use
Hebrew Assyrian block script[483] Estimated 76.0–79.0% 3rd century BCE to present
Hebrew Cryptic scripts "A" "B" and "C"[484][485][486] Estimated 0.9–1.0%[487] Unknown
Biblical Hebrew Paleo-Hebrew script[488] Estimated 1.0–1.5%[486] 10th century BCE to the 2nd century CE
Biblical Hebrew Paleo-Hebrew scribal script[488]
Aramaic Aramaic square script Estimated 16.0–17.0%[489] 8th century BCE to present
Greek Greek uncial script[488] Estimated 3.0%[486] 3rd century BCE to 8th century CE
Nabataean Nabataean script[490] Estimated 0.2%[490] 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE


Physical publication and controversy

Scholars assembling Dead Sea Scrolls fragments at the Rockefeller Museum (formerly the Palestine Archaeological Museum).
Scholars assembling Dead Sea Scrolls fragments at the Rockefeller Museum (formerly the Palestine Archaeological Museum).

Some of the fragments and scrolls were published early. Most of the longer, more complete scrolls were published soon after their discovery. All the writings in Cave 1 appeared in print between 1950 and 1956; those from eight other caves were released in 1963; and 1965 saw the publication of the Psalms Scroll from Cave 11. Their translations into English soon followed.


Publication of the scrolls has taken many decades, and delays have been a source of academic controversy. The scrolls were controlled by a small group of scholars headed by John Strugnell, while a majority of scholars had access neither to the scrolls nor even to photographs of the text. Scholars such as Norman Golb, publishers and writers such as Hershel Shanks, and many others argued for decades for publishing the texts, so that they become available to researchers. This controversy only ended in 1991, when the Biblical Archaeology Society was able to publish the "Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls", after an intervention of the Israeli government and the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA).[491] In 1991 Emanuel Tov was appointed as the chairman of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, and publication of the scrolls followed in the same year.

Physical description

The majority of the scrolls consist of tiny, brittle fragments, which were published at a pace considered by many to be excessively slow. During early assembly and translation work by scholars through the Rockefeller Museum from the 1950s through the 1960s, access to the unpublished documents was limited to the editorial committee.[citation needed]

Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (1955–2009)

The content of the scrolls was published in a 40-volume series by Oxford University Press between 1955 and 2009 known as Discoveries in the Judaean Desert.[492] In 1952 the Jordanian Department of Antiquities assembled a team of scholars to begin examining, assembling, and translating the scrolls with the intent of publishing them.[493] The initial publication, assembled by Dominique Barthélemy and Józef Milik, was published as Qumran Cave 1 in 1955.[492] After a series of other publications in the late 1980s and early 1990s and with the appointment of the respected Dutch-Israeli textual scholar Emanuel Tov as editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project in 1990 publication of the scrolls accelerated. Tov's team had published five volumes covering the Cave 4 documents by 1995. Between 1990 and 2009, Tov helped the team produce 32 volumes. The final volume, Volume XL, was published in 2009.

A Preliminary Edition of the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls (1991)

In 1991, researchers at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ben Zion Wacholder and Martin Abegg, announced the creation of a computer program that used previously published scrolls to reconstruct the unpublished texts.[494] Officials at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, led by Head Librarian William Andrew Moffett, announced that they would allow researchers unrestricted access to the library's complete set of photographs of the scrolls. In the fall of that year, Wacholder published 17 documents that had been reconstructed in 1988 from a concordance and had come into the hands of scholars outside of the International Team; in the same month, there occurred the discovery and publication of a complete set of facsimiles of the Cave 4 materials at the Huntington Library. Thereafter, the officials of the Israel Antiquities Authority agreed to lift their long-standing restrictions on the use of the scrolls.[495]

A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1991)

After further delays, attorney William John Cox undertook representation of an "undisclosed client", who had provided a complete set of the unpublished photographs, and contracted for their publication. Professors Robert Eisenman and James Robinson indexed the photographs and wrote an introduction to A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which was published by the Biblical Archaeology Society in 1991.[496] Following the publication of the Facsimile Edition, Professor Elisha Qimron sued Hershel Shanks, Eisenman, Robinson and the Biblical Archaeology Society for copyright infringement for publishing, without authorization or attribution, his decipherment of one of the scrolls, MMT. The District Court of Jerusalem found in favor of Qimron in September 1993.[497] The Court issued a restraining order, which prohibited the publication of the deciphered text, and ordered defendants to pay Qimron NIS 100,000 for infringing his copyright and the right of attribution. Defendants appealed the Supreme Court of Israel, which approved the District Court's decision, in August 2000. The Supreme Court further ordered that the defendants hand over to Qimron all the infringing copies.[498] The decision met Israeli and international criticism from copyright law scholars.[499][500][501][502][503]

The Facsimile Edition by Facsimile Editions Ltd, London, England (2007–2008)

In November 2007 the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation commissioned the London publisher, Facsimile Editions Limited, to produce a facsimile edition of The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa), The Order of the Community (1QS), and The Pesher to Habakkuk (1QpHab).[504][505] The facsimile was produced from 1948 photographs, and so more faithfully represents the condition of the Isaiah Scroll at the time of its discovery than does the current condition of the real Isaiah Scroll.[504]

Of the first three facsimile sets, one was exhibited at the Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in Seoul, South Korea, and a second set was purchased by the British Library in London. A further 46 sets including facsimiles of three fragments from Cave 4 (now in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Amman, Jordan) Testimonia (4Q175), Pesher Isaiahb (4Q162) and Qohelet (4Q109) were announced in May 2009. The edition is strictly limited to 49 numbered sets of these reproductions on either specially prepared parchment paper or real parchment. The complete facsimile set (three scrolls including the Isaiah Scroll and the three Jordanian fragments) can be purchased for $60,000.[504]

The facsimiles have since been exhibited in Qumrân. Le secret des manuscrits de la mer Morte at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France (2010)[506] and Verbum Domini at the Vatican, Rome, Italy (2012).[507]

Digital publication

Olive Tree Bible Software (2000–2011)

The text of nearly all of the non-biblical scrolls has been recorded and tagged for morphology by Dr. Martin Abegg, Jr., the Ben Zion Wacholder Professor of Dead Sea Scroll Studies at Trinity Western University located in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.[508] It is available on handheld devices through Olive Tree Bible Software - BibleReader, on Macs and Windows via emulator through Accordance with a comprehensive set of cross references, and on Windows through Logos Bible Software and BibleWorks.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader (2005)

The text of almost all of the non-biblical texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls was released on CD-ROM by publisher E.J. Brill in 2005.[509] The 2,400 page, 6-volume series, was assembled by an editorial team led by Donald W. Parry and Emanuel Tov.[510] Unlike the text translations in the physical publication, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, the texts are sorted by genres that include religious law, parabiblical texts, calendrical and sapiental texts, and poetic and liturgical works.[509]

Israel Antiquities Authority and Google digitization project (2010–2016)

High-resolution images, including infrared photographs, of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are now available online on two dedicated websites.

On 19 October 2010, it was announced[511] that Israeli Antiquities Authority would scan the documents using multi-spectral imaging technology developed by NASA to produce high-resolution images of the texts, and then, through a partnership with Google, make them available online free of charge,[512] on a searchable database and complemented by translation and other scholarly tools. The project is scheduled for completion within five years.

On 25 September 2011 the Israel Museum Digital Dead Sea Scrolls site went online.[513][514] It gives users access to searchable, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. As of May 2012, five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project and are now accessible online: the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll.

Biblical significance

Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew-language manuscripts of the Bible were Masoretic texts dating to the 10th century CE, such as the Aleppo Codex.[515] Today, the oldest known extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the 9th century. The biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls push that date back a full thousand years, to the 2nd century BCE.[516] This was a significant discovery for Old Testament scholars who anticipated that the Dead Sea Scrolls would either affirm or repudiate the reliability of textual transmission from the original texts to the oldest Masoretic texts at hand. The discovery demonstrated the unusual accuracy of transmission over a thousand-year period, rendering it reasonable to believe that current Old Testament texts are reliable copies of the original works.

According to The Dead Sea Scrolls by Hebrew scholar Millar Burrows,

Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only seventeen letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word "light," which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly.[517]

It is important to note that differences were found among fragments of texts. According to The Oxford Companion to Archaeology:

While some of the Qumran biblical manuscripts are nearly identical to the Masoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text of the Old Testament, some manuscripts of the books of Exodus and Samuel found in Cave Four exhibit dramatic differences in both language and content. In their astonishing range of textual variants, the Qumran biblical discoveries have prompted scholars to reconsider the once-accepted theories of the development of the modern biblical text from only three manuscript families: of the Masoretic text, of the Hebrew original of the Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100.[518]

Biblical books found

There are 225 biblical texts included in the Dead Sea Scroll documents, or around 22% of the total, and with deuterocanonical books the number increases to 235.[519][520] The Dead Sea Scrolls contain parts of all but one of the books of the Tanakh of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament protocanon. They also include four of the deuterocanonical books included in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles: Tobit, Sirach, Baruch 6 (also known as the Letter or Epistle of Jeremiah), and Psalm 151.[519] The Book of Esther has not yet been found and scholars believe Esther is missing because, as a Jew, her marriage to a Persian king may have been looked down upon by the inhabitants of Qumran,[521] or because the book has the Purim festival which is not included in the Qumran calendar.[20]: 180  Listed below are the most represented books, along with the deuterocanonicals, of the Bible found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the number of translatable Dead Sea texts that represent a copy of scripture from each biblical book:[522][523]

Book Number found
Psalms 39
Deuteronomy 33
1 Enoch 25
Genesis 24
Isaiah 22
Jubilees 21
Exodus 18
Leviticus 17
Numbers 11
Minor Prophets 10[note 1]
Daniel 8
Jeremiah 6
Ezekiel 6
Job 6
Tobit 5[note 2]
Kings 4
Samuel 4
Judges 4[526]
Song of Songs (Canticles) 4
Ruth 4
Lamentations 4
Sirach 3
Ecclesiastes 2
Joshua 2

Non-biblical books

The majority of the texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls are non-biblical in nature and were thought to be insignificant for understanding the composition or canonization of the biblical books, but a different consensus has emerged which sees many of these works as being collected by the Essene community instead of being composed by them.[527] Scholars now recognize that some of these works were composed earlier than the Essene period, when some of the biblical books were still being written or redacted into their final form.[527]

Museum exhibitions and displays

Visitors examining Dead Sea Scrolls displayed at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.
Visitors examining Dead Sea Scrolls displayed at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.
Strip of the Copper Scroll from Qumran Cave 3 written in the Hebrew Mishnaic dialect, on display at the Jordan Museum, Amman
Strip of the Copper Scroll from Qumran Cave 3 written in the Hebrew Mishnaic dialect, on display at the Jordan Museum, Amman

Small portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls collections have been put on temporary display in exhibitions at museums and public venues around the world. The majority of these exhibitions took place in 1965 in the United States and the United Kingdom and from 1993 to 2011 in locations around the world. Many of the exhibitions were co-sponsored by either the Jordanian government (pre-1967) or the Israeli government (post-1967). Exhibitions were discontinued after 1965 due to the Six-Day War conflicts and have slowed down in post-2011 as the Israeli Antiquities Authority works to digitize the scrolls and place them in permanent cold storage.

The majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection was moved to Jerusalem's Shrine of the Book (a part of the Israel Museum) after the building's completion in April 1965.[528] The museum falls under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority, an official agency of the Israeli government. The permanent Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the museum features a reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, surrounded by reproductions of other famous fragments that include Community Rule, the War Scroll, and the Thanksgiving Psalms Scroll.[529][530]

Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection held by the Jordanian government prior to 1967 was stored in Amman rather than at the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem. As a consequence, that part of the collection remained in Jordanian hands under their Department of Antiquities. In 2013 parts of this collection have been put on display at The Jordan Museum in Amman, to which they were moved from the Jordan Archaeological Museum.[531] Among the display items are artifacts from the Qumran site and the Copper Scroll.[532]


Past ownership

Advertisement in The Wall Street Journal dated 1 June 1954 for four of the "Dead Sea Scrolls"
Advertisement in The Wall Street Journal dated 1 June 1954 for four of the "Dead Sea Scrolls"

Arrangements with the Bedouin left the scrolls in the hands of a third party until a profitable sale of them could be negotiated. That third party, George Isha'ya, was a member of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who soon contacted St Mark's Monastery in the hope of getting an appraisal of the nature of the texts. News of the find then reached Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, better known as Mar Samuel. After examining the scrolls and suspecting their antiquity, Mar Samuel expressed an interest in purchasing them. Four scrolls found their way into his hands: the now famous Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa), the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher (a commentary on the book of Habakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon. More scrolls soon surfaced in the antiquities market, and Professor Eleazer Sukenik and Professor Benjamin Mazar, archaeologists at Hebrew University, soon found themselves in possession of three, The War Scroll, Thanksgiving Hymns, and another, more fragmented, Isaiah Scroll (1QIsab).

Four of the Dead Sea Scrolls eventually went up for sale in an advertisement on 1 June 1954, The Wall Street Journal.[533] On 1 July 1954, the scrolls, after delicate negotiations and accompanied by three people including the Metropolitan, arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. They were purchased by Professor Mazar and the son of Professor Sukenik, Yigael Yadin, for $250,000 (approximately $2,400,000 in 2020 dollars[534]), and brought to Jerusalem.[535] Since 2002, forgeries of Dead Sea Scrolls have appeared on black markets.[536]

Current ownership

Israel claims ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection currently housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum. This claimed ownership is contested by both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.[537]

A list of known ownership of Dead Sea Scroll fragments:

Claimed Owner Year Acquired Number of Fragments/Scrolls Owned
Azusa Pacific University[538] 2009 5
Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago[539] 1956 1
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary[540] 2009; 2010; 2012 8
Rockefeller Museum – Government of Israel[541][542] 1967 > 15,000
The Schøyen Collection owned by Martin Schøyen[543] 1980; 1994; 1995 115[544]
The Jordan Museum – Government of Jordan[531] 1947–1956 > 25
Syrian Orthodox Church's eastern U.S. archdiocese[545] 1
Ashland Theological Seminary[545] 1
Lanier Theological Library[545] 1
Pasadena Private Collection[545] 1


Ownership disputes

The official ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls is disputed among Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority. The debate over the Dead Sea Scrolls stems from a more general Israeli–Palestinian conflict over land and state recognition.

Parties involved Party role Explanation of role
Jordan Disputant; minority owner Alleges that the Dead Sea Scrolls were stolen from the Palestine Archaeological Museum (now the Rockefeller Museum) operated by Jordan from 1966 until the Six-Day War when advancing Israeli forces took control of the museum, and that therefore they fall under the rules of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.[549] Jordan regularly demands their return and petitions third-party countries that host the scrolls to return them to Jordan instead of to Israel, claiming they have legal documents that prove Jordanian ownership of the scrolls.[550]
Israel Disputant; current majority owner After the Six-Day War Israel seized the scrolls and moved them to the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum. Israel disputes Jordan's claim and states that Jordan never lawfully possessed the scrolls since it was an unlawful occupier of the museum and region.[551][552][553]
Palestinian Authority Disputant The Palestinian Authority also has a claim to the scrolls.[554]
Canada Neutral exhibition host In 2009, a part of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection held by the Israeli Antiquities Authority was moved and displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. Both the Palestinian Authority and Jordan petitioned the international community, including the United Nations,[555] for the scrolls to be seized under disputed international law. Ottawa dismissed the demands and the exhibit continued, with the scrolls returning to Israel upon its conclusion.[556]

A planned exhibition in Germany was cancelled, as the German government could not guarantee a return of the scrolls to Israel.[557]

Copyright disputes

There are three types of documents relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls in which copyright status can be considered ambiguous; the documents themselves, images taken of the documents, and reproductions of the documents. This ambiguity arises from differences in copyright law across different countries and the variable interpretation of such law.

In 1992 a copyright case Qimron v. Shanks was brought before the Israeli District court by scholar Elisha Qimron against Hershel Shanks of the Biblical Archaeology Society for violations of United States copyright law regarding his publishing of reconstructions of Dead Sea Scroll texts done by Qimron in A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls which were included without his permission. Qimron's suit against the Biblical Archaeology Society was done on the grounds that the research they had published was his intellectual property as he had reconstructed about 40% of the published text. In 1993, the district court Judge Dalia Dorner ruled for the plaintiff, Elisha Qimron, in context of both United States and Israeli copyright law and granted the highest compensation allowed by law for aggravation in compensation against Hershel Shanks and others.[558] In an appeal in 2000 in front of Judge Aharon Barak, the verdict was upheld in Israeli Supreme Court in Qimron's favor.[559] The court case established the two main principles from which facsimiles are examined under copyright law of the United States and Israel: authorship and originality.

The court's ruling not only affirms that the "deciphered text" of the scrolls can fall under copyright of individuals or groups, but makes it clear that the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves do not fall under this copyright law and scholars have a degree of, in the words of U.S. copyright law professor David Nimmer, "freedom" in access. Nimmer has shown how this freedom was in the theory of law applicable, but how it did not exist in reality as the Israeli Antiquities Authority tightly controlled access to the scrolls and photographs of the scrolls.[558]

See also


  1. ^ 10 Scrolls containing fragments of all 12 of the "Minor Prophets" were found in Cave 4, although no fragment contains portions of more than three prophets.[524]
  2. ^ There are four Aramaic fragmentary texts of Tobit, and one Hebrew text.[525]



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  3. ^ Lyons, Martyn (2011). Books: a living history. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum. pp. 51–53.
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  10. ^ "Languages and Scripts". Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
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  47. ^ 1Q3 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  49. ^ 1Q4 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  50. ^ 1Q5 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  51. ^ 1Q6 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  52. ^ 1Q7 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  53. ^ 1Q9 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  54. ^ 1Q10 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  55. ^ 1Q11 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  56. ^ 1Q12 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  57. ^ a b c d e f g Fitzmyer 2008, p. 20.
  58. ^ 1Q13 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  59. ^ 1Q14 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  60. ^ 1Q15 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  61. ^ 1Q16 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  62. ^ 1Q17 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  63. ^ 1Q18 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  64. ^ 1Q19 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  66. ^ 1Q20 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  68. ^ 1Q21 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  69. ^ 1Q22 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  71. ^ 1Q23 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  72. ^ 1Q24 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  74. ^ 1Q25 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  75. ^ 1Q26 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  76. ^ 1Q27 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  77. ^ 1Q28 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  78. ^ 1Q28 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  79. ^ 1Q29 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  80. ^ 1Q30 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  81. ^ 1Q31 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  83. ^ 1Q32 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  84. ^ 1Q34 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  85. ^ 1Q35 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  86. ^ 1Q36 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  87. ^ 1Q37 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  88. ^ 1Q38 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  89. ^ 1Q39 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  90. ^ 1Q40 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  93. ^ 1Q72 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  95. ^ 2Q1 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  96. ^ 2Q2 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  97. ^ 2Q3 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  98. ^ 2Q4 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  99. ^ 2Q5 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  100. ^ 2Q6 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  101. ^ 2Q7 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  102. ^ 2Q8 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  103. ^ 2Q9 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  107. ^ 2Q15 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  108. ^ 2Q16 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  109. ^ 2Q17 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  110. ^ 2Q18 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  111. ^ 2Q19 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  115. ^ 2Q22 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  123. ^ 3Q2 at Leon Levy Collection
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  127. ^ 3Q6 at Leon Levy Collection
  128. ^ 3Q7 at Leon Levy Collection
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  130. ^ 3Q9 at Leon Levy Collection
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  146. ^ 4Q8 4QGen h-para at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  148. ^ 4Q9 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  149. ^ 4Q10 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  150. ^ 4Q11 at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
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  • Abegg, Jr., Martin, Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English, San Francisco: Harper, 2002. ISBN 0-06-060064-0, (contains the biblical portion of the scrolls)
  • Abegg, Jr. Martin, James E. Bowley, Edward M. Cook, Emanuel Tov. The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Vol 1. "The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Volume 1". 2007. Archived from the original on 5 November 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2010. Brill Publishing 2003. ISBN 90-04-12521-3.
  • Allegro, John Marco, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (ISBN 0-7153-7680-2), Westbridge Books, UK, 1979.
  • Berg, Simon. Insights into the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Beginner's Guide, BookSurge Publishing, 2009.
  • Boccaccini, Gabriele. Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
  • Burrows, Millar (1955). The Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-5176-2535-0.
  • Burrows, Millar (1958). More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls; New Scrolls and New Interpretations, with Translations of Important Recent Discoveries. New York: Viking.
  • Charlesworth, James H. "The Theologies of the Dead Sea Scrolls." pp. xv–xxi in The Faith of Qumran: Theology of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Edited by H. Ringgren. New York: Crossroad, 1995.
  • Chernoivanenko, Vitaly. "The Jerusalem Theory of the Dead Sea Scrolls Authorship: Origins, Evolution, and Discussions," in Ukrainian Orientalistics: Special Issue on Jewish Studies, Кyiv: NaUKMA Omeljan Pritsak Center for Oriental Studies, 2011: 9–29.
  • Collins, John J., Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls, New York: Routledge, 1997.
  • Collins, John J., and Craig A. Evans. Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.
  • Cook, Edward M. (1994). Solving the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls: New Light on the Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Cross, Frank Moore (1995). The Ancient Library of Qumran, 3rd ed., Minneapolis: Fortress Press. ISBN 0-8006-2807-1
  • Davies, A. Powell (1956). The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Signet.
  • Davies, Philip R., George J. Brooke, and Phillip R. Callaway (2002). The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls, London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05111-9
  • de Vaux, Roland, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schweich Lectures of the British Academy, 1959). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.
  • Dimant, Devorah, and Uriel Rappaport (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research, Leiden and Jerusalem: E.J. Brill, Magnes Press, Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1992.
  • Eisenman, Robert H., The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians, Shaftesbury: Element, 1996.
  • Eisenman, Robert H., and Michael O. Wise. The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered: The First Complete Translation and Interpretation of 50 Key Documents Withheld for Over 35 Years, Shaftesbury: Element, 1992.
  • Eisenman, Robert H. and James Robinson, A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls 2 vol., Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1991.
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph A., Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Paulist Press 1992, ISBN 0-8091-3348-2
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph A. (2008). A Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 9780802862419. Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  • Galor, Katharina, Jean-Baptiste Humbert, and Jürgen Zangenberg. Qumran: The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates: Proceedings of a Conference held at Brown University, 17–19 November 2002, Edited by Florentino García Martínez, Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57. Leiden: Brill, 2006.
  • García-Martinez, Florentino, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, (Translated from Spanish into English by Wilfred G. E. Watson) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994).
  • García Martínez Florentino, Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar, Editors, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, Brill, 1999
  • Gaster, Theodor H., The Dead Sea Scriptures, Peter Smith Pub Inc., 1976. ISBN 0-8446-6702-1
  • Golb, Norman, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Search for the Secret of Qumran, New York: Scribner, 1995.
  • Golb, Norman, On the Jerusalem Origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls Archived 10 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine, University of Chicago Oriental Institute, 5 June 2009.
  • Heline, Theodore, Dead Sea Scrolls, New Age Bible & Philosophy Center, 1957, Reprint edition 1987, ISBN 0-933963-16-5
  • Hirschfeld, Yizhar, Qumran in Context: Reassessing the Archaeological Evidence, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.
  • Israeli, Raphael, [1] Piracy in Qumran: The Battle over the Scrolls of the Pre-Christ Era], Transaction Publishers: 2008 ISBN 978-1-4128-0703-6
  • Khabbaz, C., "Les manuscrits de la mer Morte et le secret de leurs auteurs", Beirut, 2006. (Ce livre identifie les auteurs des fameux manuscrits de la mer Morte et dévoile leur secret).
  • Magen, Yizhak, and Yuval Peleg, The Qumran Excavations 1993–2004: Preliminary Report, JSP 6 (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 2007) Download Archived 28 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  • Magen, Yizhak, and Yuval Peleg, "Back to Qumran: Ten years of Excavations and Research, 1993–2004," in The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57), Brill, 2006 (pp. 55–116).
  • Magness, Jodi, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
  • Maier, Johann, The Temple Scroll, [German edition was 1978], (Sheffield:JSOT Press [Supplement 34], 1985).
  • Milik, Józef Tadeusz, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judea, London: SCM, 1959.
  • Muro, E. A., "The Greek Fragments of Enoch from Qumran Cave 7 (7Q4, 7Q8, &7Q12 = 7QEn gr = Enoch 103:3–4, 7–8)." Revue de Qumran 18, no. 70 (1997): 307, 12, pl. 1.
  • O'Callaghan-Martínez, Josep, Cartas Cristianas Griegas del Siglo V, Barcelona: E. Balmes, 1963.
  • Qimron, Elisha, The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Harvard Semitic Studies, 1986. (This is a serious discussion of the Hebrew language of the scrolls.)
  • Rengstorf, Karl Heinrich, Hirbet Qumran und die Bibliothek vom Toten Meer, Translated by J. R. Wilkie. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1960.
  • Roitman, Adolfo, ed. A Day at Qumran: The Dead Sea Sect and Its Scrolls. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1998.
  • Sanders, James A., ed. Dead Sea scrolls: The Psalms scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (11QPsa), (1965) Oxford, Clarendon Press.
  • Schiffman, Lawrence H., Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: their True Meaning for Judaism and Christianity, Anchor Bible Reference Library (Doubleday) 1995, ISBN 0-385-48121-7, (Schiffman has suggested two plausible theories of origin and identity – a Sadducean splinter group, or perhaps an Essene group with Sadducean roots.) Excerpts of this book can be read at COJS: Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • Schiffman, Lawrence H., and James C. VanderKam, eds. Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Shanks, Hershel, The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Vintage Press 1999, ISBN 0-679-78089-0 (recommended introduction to their discovery and history of their scholarship)
  • Stegemann, Hartmut. "The Qumran Essenes: Local Members of the Main Jewish Union in Late Second Temple Times." pp. 83–166 in The Madrid Qumran Congress: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid, 18–21 March 1991, Edited by J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Mountainer. Vol. 11 of Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah. Leiden: Brill, 1992.
  • Thiede, Carsten Peter, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity, Palgrave 2000, ISBN 0-312-29361-5
  • Thiering, Barbara, Jesus the Man, New York: Atria, 2006.
  • Thiering, Barbara, Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ISBN 0-06-067782-1), New York: Harper Collins, 1992
  • VanderKam, James C., The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.
  • Vermes, Geza, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, London: Penguin, 1998. ISBN 0-14-024501-4 (good translation, but complete only in the sense that he includes translations of complete texts, but neglects fragmentary scrolls and more especially does not include biblical texts.) (7th ed. 2011 ISBN 978-0-14-119731-9)
  • Wise, Michael O., Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, (1996), Harper San Francisco paperback 1999, ISBN 0-06-069201-4, (contains the non-biblical portion of the scrolls, including fragments)
  • Yadin, Yigael. The Temple Scroll: The Hidden Law of the Dead Sea Sect, New York: Random House, 1985.
Other sources

Further reading

  • Harrison, R.K., The Dead Sea Scrolls: an Introduction, in series, The Cloister Library, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961.

External links

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