What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? And why are they important?

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The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between the years 1947 and 1956. The area is 13 miles east of Jerusalem and is 1300 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found to contain tens of thousands of scroll fragments dating from the third century B.C. to A.D. 68.

Scholars have identified the remains of about 825 to 870 separate scrolls. The Scrolls appear to be the library of a Jewish sect. The Dead Sea Scrolls were most likely written by the Essenes. The Essenes are mentioned by Josephus and in a few other sources. The library was hidden away in caves around the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70) as the Roman army advanced against the rebel Jews. The Scrolls are for the most part, written in Hebrew and also Aramaic and Greek. They are made of animal skins, papyrus and copper.

The Scrolls can be divided into two categories—biblical and non-biblical. Fragments of every book of the Hebrew canon (Old Testament) have been discovered except for the book of Esther. There are now identified among the scrolls, 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms. The Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact, is 1000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah. In fact, the scrolls are the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found.

The Dead Sea Scrolls make up one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all times. Jews and Christians often point to these scrolls as evidence for the integrity of the Old Testament text. Prior to 1947, the earliest known Old Testament manuscripts only went back to about A.D. 1000. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Bible scholars have been able to compare the present day text with the text from more than 2,000 years ago. What they have found are copies of Old Testament books separated in time by more than a millennium that are amazingly similar. The Dead Sea Scrolls give us confidence in the reliability of the Old Testament manuscripts. God has amazingly preserved His Word through the ages and protected it from extinction and error.

In His service,

The BibleAsk Team

 

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