What is the significance of the Nash Papyrus?

Author: BibleAsk Team

The Nash Papyrus

The Nash Papyrus of the 1st century B.C. is the oldest existing Hebrew manuscript of any part of the Old Testament. Archeologists found the Papyrus before the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls. The papyrus is of unknown origin, although it is said that it was discovered in the city of Fayyum, Egypt. The Nash Papyrus is a group of four papyrus remains. They include a single sheet in the form of a scroll. And it is made of four long lines with a few letters missing at each side.

W.L. Nash, the secretary of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, discovered the papyrus in Egypt in 1898. Then, he offered the Papyrus to Cambridge University Library in 1903. The text was first reported by Stanley A. Cook in 1903. Though dated by Cook to the 2nd century CE, following reappraisals have dated of the fragments back to about 150–100 BCE.

The Ten Commandments

The papyrus contained the Ten Commandments in Hebrew and a short middle text with twenty-four lines long, with a few letters missing at each edge. The fact that the papyrus emitted the phrase “house of bondage,” referring to Egypt, suggests where it was written. Some of the papyrus’ exchanges from Deuteronomy, are found in the version of Exodus. This portion, known as the Septuagint, is a Greek translation of the Pentateuch from the 3rd-2nd centuries BC, written in Alexandria.

In addition, the Nash Papyrus contained the daily worship of a devout Egyptian Jew that lived in the 2nd century BC. According to the Talmud, it was the habit to read the Ten Commandments before saying the Shema prayer which starts with: Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.

For more information on the Ten Commandments, check out the following answer: What are the Ten Commandments? Should Christians today keep them?

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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