25 NEW "DEAD SEA SCROLLS" REVEALED
More than 25 previously unpublished "Dead Sea Scroll" fragments, dating back 2,000 years and holding text from the Hebrew Bible, have been brought to light, their contents detailed in two new books.
The various scroll fragments record parts of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Ruth, Kings, Micah, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Joshua, Judges, Proverbs, Numbers, Psalms, Ezekiel and Jonah. The Qumran caves ― where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered ― had yet to yield any fragments from the Book of Nehemiah; if this newly revealed fragment is authenticated it would be the first.
Scholars have expressed concerns that some of the fragments are forgeries.
These 25 newly published fragments are just the tip of the iceberg. A scholar told Live Science that around 70 newly discovered fragments have appeared on the antiquities market since 2002. Additionally, the cabinet minister in charge of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), along with a number of scholars, believes that there are undiscovered scrolls that are being found by looters in caves in the Judean Desert. The IAA is sponsoring a new series of scientific surveys and excavations to find these scrolls before looters do.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in a series of 11 caves by the archaeological site of Qumran in the Judean Desert, near the Dead Sea. During that time, archaeologists and local Bedouins unearthed thousands of fragments from nearly 900 manuscripts.
Some of the Bedouin sold their scrolls in Bethlehem through an antiquities dealer named Khalil Iskander Shahin, who went by the name "Kando." Shahin died in 1993 and his son William Kando now runs his business and estate.
Although the term Dead Sea Scrolls usually refers to the scrolls found at Qumran, there have been scrolls found in caves at other sites in the Judean Desert that are considered Dead Sea Scrolls.
A highlight from the newly published Museum of the Bible collection is a fragment from the Book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah:2:13-16). The fragment tells of a man named Nehemiah who lived during the fifth century B.C., at a time after Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Persian Empire had taken over Babylon's territory and the Jews, who had been forced to leave Israel by the Babylonians, were allowed to return home.
The fragment records Nehemiah's visit to a ruined Jerusalem, finding that its gates had been "consumed by fire." According to the fragment text, he inspects the remains of the walls before starting work on rebuilding them. Scholars have noted in previous studies that archaeologists hadn't found any copies of the Book of Nehemiah in the Qumran caves. How this fragment came to America is unknown, and scholars say they can't be sure it's from Qumran.
"It is assumed to come from Cave 4 [at Qumran], but in the final analysis it must be said that the provenance of the fragment remains unknown," wrote Martin G. Abegg Jr., a professor at Trinity Western University who led the team that analyzed the fragment, in the book "Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection."
(Janus, "25 New 'Dead Sea Scrolls' Revealed," LiveScience Online, 10/10/16).