We left Jerusalem and headed toward the Dead Sea. The terrain changed from mountainous to flat desert. The photo above is my first glimpse of the sea that day. It was overcast, but still beautiful. The land on the other shore is Jordan.
We visited Qumran, which is the site where many Biblical scrolls were discovered in the 1940's. Qumran was a community of men who were dedicated to recording and preserving G-d's Word. The area shows the ruins of many buildings, including ritual baths, meeting halls, a kitchen and water cisterns,
According to local hearsay, the first scrolls were found by a shepherd boy chasing a wayward goat. He threw a rock up into a cave, thinking the goat was there. Instead of hearing the bleating of the goat, he heard the sound of breaking pottery. The photos below show the first cave discovered.
|The Qumran Cave|
The shepherd boy climbed up to the cave and found clay jars filled with seven scrolls. The museum on the site shows how the scrolls appeared when found:
The photo below shows the size and appearance of the scrolls.
Other caves were discovered during later archaeological excavations of the area. A total of 931 documents have been found and preserved. They contain portions of every book of the Bible, except Esther. There are also commentaries on the Bible, rules for community and religious life, contracts, deeds of sale, calendars, and more. These scrolls are over 2000 years old and are said to be the greatest literary and archaeological discovery of our time.
Seven of the scrolls are on display at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. I visited there in 1996, and it is one of my most vivid experiences. I remember standing at the display case, staring at a 2000 year old copy of the Bible I have loved since I was a little girl. Awe filled me, chills covered me, and I praised G-d for His precious Holy Word. I felt awe, too, as I stood in the place where those scrolls were discovered.
What impressed me the most is that these 2000 year old scrolls of the Bible are the same when compared to the oldest copies found prior to that time. This is very important, and something everyone who loves the Bible should thank the Jews for. They take very seriously guarding and preserving the Scriptures. If not for them, we would not have these Holy instructions from ADONAI.
Every week, when my husband leads our service, I thank G-d, once again, for preserving His Word. I think about how privileged we are to hold His instructions in our hands. Imagine how many thousands of years people did not have that. Think of the people who had to have a teacher read it to them because the only copy was at a church or synagogue. We are accountable, Gail-Friends. To whom much has been given, much is expected.
Once again, I implore you to read the Book from cover to cover. Don't ever think the Old Testament is not relevant to today. Don't let any preacher or teacher tell you to disobey what His Holy Word says. Those same preachers will take one scripture out (that serves their purpose) and tell you to disregard the rest. They will face G-d one day for that.
You have it in your hands...even on the Internet in dozens of different translations. Read it in a translation as close to the Hebrew as you can...and obey it. It disturbs me when I see modern translations omit important words and ideas. The Message translation is a perfect example, and yet it is quite popular, all the while leading people astray.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a testament to the blessed truth that He preserved His Word for our good and for our blessing. He wants us to be guided by it and to be blessed by obeying it.