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Differences between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the books of Moses


On Wikipedia, I read that the texts from Exodus in the Dead Sea scrolls contain some differences from the canonical version. However, I couldn't find them online. Can someone give me a few examples?


Asking for references is off topic.

There are substantial differences in ancient manuscripts and modern received texts of the Pentateuch. It is not a question of one or two "passages". There are different competing readings throughout all the books and they are extensive. I have examined photostatic fragments of some of the scrolls and minor differences from the received text are present in virtually every stanza.

In most cases the differences are just spelling and grammar variants, but in some cases the meaning may be different in some way. The questions of differences in readings can be quite problematic for the non-specialist. Politically there is self-censorship and few scholars are willing to publish readings that vary from the accepted meanings. The problem is complex because in many cases spellings can be exact but the meaning is different according to vowel pronunciations which may or may not be present as diacritics.

As just one example of this, a complete and intact text of the Book of Enoch was discovered at Qumran and in addition there is a very old Greek papyrus fragment of Enoch (Oxyrhynchus 2069), yet no published work dares to provide readings from these manuscripts.

An easy way to get a sense for the differences is to read the Samaritan Pentateuch which is published in English and is closer to the Qumran texts than the Masoretic text. As just one example from the Ten Commandments, Exodus 34:20,

Samaritan Text:

You shall redeem the blood of all your first-born sons.

Masoretic Text (and Septuagint):

You shall redeem all your first-born sons. [The word ADM (blood) is missing]

Originally, the blood was the sacrificial commodity, being drained from the body of the person or animal being sacrificed. In the Masoretic text, the word "blood" was deleted to try to hide this fact, but in the Samaritan text the word was never removed.


The Qumran Caves Scrolls contain significant religious literature. They consist of two types: “biblical” manuscripts—books found in today’s Hebrew Bible, and “non-biblical” manuscripts—other religious writings circulating during the Second Temple era, often related to the texts now in the Hebrew Bible. Of this second category, some are considered “sectarian” in nature, since they appear to describe the religious beliefs and practices of a specific religious community.

Scroll dates range from the third century bce (mid–Second Temple period) to the first century of the Common Era, before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 ce . While Hebrew is the most frequently used language in the Scrolls, about 15 % were written in Aramaic and several in Greek. The Scrolls’ materials are made up mainly of parchment, although some are papyrus, and the text of one Scroll is engraved on copper.

Biblical Manuscripts

About 230 manuscripts are referred to as “biblical Scrolls”. These are copies of works that are now part of the Hebrew Bible. They already held a special status in the Second Temple period, and were considered to be vessels of divine communication. Evidence suggests that the Scrolls' contemporary communities did not have a unified conception of an authoritative collection of scriptural works. The idea of a closed biblical “canon” only emerged later in the history of these sacred writings.

Among the Scrolls are partial or complete copies of every book in the Hebrew Bible (except the book of Esther). About a dozen copies of some of these holy books were written in ancient paleo-Hebrew (the script of the First Temple era, not the standard script of the time).

Many biblical manuscripts closely resemble the Masoretic Text, the accepted text of the Hebrew Bible from the second half of the first millennium ce until today. This similarity is quite remarkable, considering that the Qumran Scrolls are over a thousand years older than previously identified biblical manuscripts.

Strikingly, some biblical manuscripts feature differences from the standard Masoretic biblical language and spelling. Additions and deletions in certain texts imply that the writers felt free to modify texts they were copying.

Non-Biblical Manuscripts

The Qumran Caves Scrolls preserve a large range of Jewish religious writings from the Second Temple period, including parabiblical texts, exegetical texts, hymns and prayers, wisdom texts, apocalyptic texts, calendrical texts, and others. Some of the works discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls were known previously, having been preserved in translation since Second Temple times. The term "Pseudepigrapha" was used for these works, such as the book of Jubilees which was known in Ethiopic and Greek versions before being found in Hebrew in the Qumran caves. Many other non-biblical works were previously unknown.

A primary common factor among the selection of compositions found in the Qumran caves is the fundamental importance of religion.

Scholars agree that some of this literature was valued by large segments of the Jewish population, while other works reflect the beliefs of specific sub-groups. There is disagreement, however, about many other aspects of these texts, including which communities are represented and how those communities may have interacted with one another.

Sectarian Manuscripts

A quarter of these non-biblical manuscripts are labeled “sectarian,” and are composed of material that seems to reflect the life and philosophy of a specific community. These core texts consist of eschatological biblical commentaries, apocalyptic and liturgical works, and regulations that govern community life. In the early days of Scrolls research, scholars attributed all of the Qumran scrolls to the Essene community, one of three main Jewish sects described in ancient sources. In recent years, however, this consensus has been challenged and modified, though many scholars still maintain a link between the Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls.


Ancient Jewish History: The Dead Sea Sect

The Dead Sea Sect (also called Qumran Sect or Qumran Community). The name refers strictly to a Jewish community which lived in the Second Temple period and which adopted a strict and separatist way of life. It is so called because the main source of knowledge about it derives from the discovery of a settlement at Khirbat Qumran , near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, where it is believed to have lived, and where remnants, apparently of its library, were found in neighboring caves. The pottery and coins found there constitute the main external sources for establishing the date of the sect. From these, as well as from the fact that the library contains no work later than the Second Temple period, it appears that the settlement was inhabited (on the ruins of a much older settlement), from the beginning of the second century B.C.E. until its destruction by the Romans shortly after the fall of the Second Temple, around 70 C.E. The sect believed to have lived at Qumran called itself the ya� (or "Union"), and the Qumran scrolls describe its beliefs and organization. They also describe a related movement that lived in communities elsewhere. Although it has been suggested that these were offshoots of the Qumran community, the consensus is now that they represent a parent movement, from which the ya� split off, for reasons that are still debated. How much earlier that parent movement began is uncertain, though probably not more than a few decades. The occasional historical clues that the texts offer cannot be used with great confidence to describe the origins or growth of either the parent movement or the ya�, though it is possible to trace some outlines. In recent years, the suggestion has also been made that the scrolls are unconnected with the Qumran settlement, and that the site was not inhabited by a religious sect but the circumstantial evidence linking the scrolls and the settlement is powerful if not conclusive. It has come to be realized, however, that many or even most of the scrolls were not, as once assumed, actually written at Qumran.

Its Views

The Qumran sect, like the broader Jewish movement from which it sprang, took a critical view of the established orthodoxy of its time, believing Israel to be under divine judgment, regarding itself as the true remnant of Israel and awaiting its imminent vindication at the "end of days." According to this worldview, the course of history and its epochs had been preordained by God. "… all the ages of God will come at the right time, as he established for them in the mysteries of his prudence" (Pesher Habakkuk 7:13�). With its advent, evil would cease, the wicked would be destroyed, and the righteous would live under divine blessing. There is a strong predestinarian tone to many of the texts, which see the movement as an elect community, an "eternal [or righteous] planting," chosen and raised up by God. These views were carried to an extreme within the ya� (see also Eschatology ), which maintained that God had created mankind in two antagonistic camps of light and darkness, or truth and falsehood each "lot" was under the dominion of an angelic figure: the "prince of light" and the "angel of darkness" (the latter also known as "Belial") respectively. Between these two, God had set "eternal enmity," which would cease only in the end of days with the destruction of the spirit of perversion and the purification of the righteous from its influence. Then the "children" of the "spirit of truth" would receive their reward. But although these "lots" are at first described as mutually exclusive, they are subsequently said to be apportioned differently among individuals: each person receives his portion, in accordance with which he is either righteous or wicked. Horoscope texts among the scrolls show that these proportions were also believed to correspond to physiological features. The dualistic teaching is contained in the Manual of Discipline (or Community Rule ), from which the main evidence for the organization and doctrine of the ya� is drawn.

In the Thanksgiving Psalms (Hodayoth) a different and more personal perspective is brought to the sect's anthropology. Here the emphasis is on the absolute iniquity and degradation of even one of the "elect of God." The author of these hymns describes humanity (including himself) as "a structure of dust shaped with water, his base is the guilt of sin, vile unseemliness, source of impurity, over which a spirit of degeneracy rules" but God has chosen him, rescued his soul from the grave, purged his spirit from a great transgression, and granted him mercy that he might "take his place with the host of the holy ones" (the angels), given him a superior wisdom, and revealed to him "deep mysterious things." The basic feeling is one of the insignificance and lowliness of humanity, of its dependence on the loving-kindness of God, without which "the way of humanity is not established." Aversion from, and despair of, the human condition oscillate between sorrow at sin and joy at election.

According to the Community Rule, members of the ya� underwent a "covenant" (probably renewed annually) to observe the "law of Moses," but they also embraced the esoteric doctrines and practices of the sect concerning the maintenance of strict holiness and communion with angels, the latter expressed in the form of worship in the "heavenly Temple" alongside celestial beings (according to the contents of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice). The parent movement, which is basically described in the Damascus (also known as "Zadokite") Document (see Covenant of Damascus ), also held to a predestinarian (though not dualistic) doctrine, constituted itself by a covenant and enforced strict obedience to the laws of Moses as it interpreted them, believing itself to be living in an age of divine wrath from which its strict adherence to God's will would earn it deliverance in the coming judgment. But it also seems to have lacked the mystical tendencies that the ya� exhibits.

Although it is commonly claimed that the community, and its parent, represented a reaction against the contemporary Hellenizing culture and, later, Roman political sovereignty, its writings are more concerned with the corruption of the Jerusalem priesthood and the abandonment by God of all Israelites outside its ranks. Hence relations between the ya� and the Temple were entirely cut off, though the parent movement maintained a minimum of participation in the Temple cult. Dealings with other Jews were also minimal in both cases, since these did not live as the law of God, according to the sect, required. The Halakhic Letter, which many regard as a key to the origins of the sectarian movement as a whole, specifies a number of differences between the Jewish religious leaders and the sect on matters of purity. It is possible that these differences, which may go back to opposing priestly traditions, provide the immediate cause for the formation of the sectarian movement as a whole, whether through voluntary segregation or through expulsion by the religious authorities.

Though the sect and its parent movement lived under an intense eschatological expectation, it is unclear how exactly they envisaged the future. The Community Rule with its strong dualistic and predestinarian doctrine suggests that the "children of darkness" will be punished by fire and then annihilated by angels. However, it also hints at a process of divine purification of the "children of light." The War Scroll describes a 40-year battle, fought by a combination of angelic and human forces. In a mixture of dualistic and nationalistic perspectives, the war is both between "Israel" and the "nations" and between the forces of light and darkness, with the enemy including the "Kittim" (probably the Romans). This scenario seems to suggest a future restoration of Israel (including a restored Temple) and not merely of the sect, though the end of the document is missing. The "Rule of the Congregation" (1QSa) also seems to envisage a restored nation. But how a small, celibate and segregated group living in a condition of extreme purity would become the restored Israel is unclear. In the Rule of the Congregation the leadership of Israel is in the hands of two "messiahs," one priestly and one lay. In some other Qumran texts the lay messiah is referred to as the "Prince of the Congregation" and seems to be a Davidic figure. Both "messiahs" may possibly correspond to functions within the sect, or perhaps the parent movement. However, the Community Rule neither describes nor implies such figures, and other Qumran texts present other redeemer figures or even none: in the Melchizedek Fragments the "messianic" role is assumed by a heavenly high priest who will atone for the sins of Israel on the Day of Atonement at the end of days. There are also elsewhere echoes of the more prevalent apocalyptic concept of a revolution in the manifestations of nature itself, an earthquake and a flood of fire in the entire universe (Thanksgiving Psalms 3:26ff.). There is therefore no unanimity of views in the various writings of the sect about the nature of future redemption.

Modes of Life and Organization

The worldview of the sect formed the theoretical basis of its way of life, for from it proceeded the duty to be prepared for the coming of the end of days, which demanded a punctilious observance of the mitzvot, a separation from ordinary society, and maximum social cohesion. The members of the ya� (as described in the Community Rule) were to eat communally, bless communally, and take counsel communally. The ya� strictly observed the laws of ritual purity, regarded all non-members as ritually unclean, and insisted on a discipline which imposed on all members the obligation "that they show obedience of the lower to the higher." For this purpose members were listed according to their gradings. These were drawn up anew every year and laid down the order of their participation in ceremonies and assemblies. The leading places were, according to some copies of the Community Rule, reserved for "the priests the sons of Zadok." The "council of the community" (or "community of God" and other similar designations) may have constituted, perhaps at one phase of its history, an authoritative body within the sect, but in some places the term is apparently synonymous with the sect itself. However, in charge of instruction and of the daily conduct of affairs was the maskil. In the parent movement, as described in the Damascus Document, it was the mebaqqer, or "overseer" who took charge of discipline. The principal decisions in the ya� were made by the community of the members ("the many"). It was an exclusively celibate male community, forming a single social unit, and maintained entirely by the influx of new members (as in Pliny's account of the Essenes by the Dead Sea). When "volunteers" joined the community, they had to undergo a preliminary examination and then passed two successive stages of candidature, at the completion of each of which they ascended in the degree of purification. Only on the conclusion of their candidature were their possessions put into the communal pool. Offenses against internal discipline were punished in accordance with a disciplinary code (adapted from that of the parent movement),and sanctions included reduction of rations and temporary, or even permanent, exclusion from the "purity of the many," meaning they no longer belonged to the holy "body" that the sect constituted through its intensely communal life, and especially in sharing its meals. The organization described in the Damascus Document, on the other hand, contained both married and celibate settlements (called "camps"). The latter, at least, had a less monolithic social structure, being more like a "town" inhabited by households, allowing for private property, women, and children, as also for a child's reaching adolescence in the community. The organization as a whole was looser. There are no indications of whether these settlements were subject to any higher authority: Jerusalem, according to the Halakhic Letter, was a "chief camp," but perhaps only because of the city's sanctity. The ya� apparently followed the halakhah of its parent movement, i.e., it interpreted according to its own tradition the mitzvot accepted by the Jewish people as a whole, namely the "Law of Moses" these are found in the Damascus Document, Halakhic Letter, and several other texts. Such Halakhot and halakhic Midrashim similar in character to those of rabbinic Judaism, but there seems to be some specific opposition in these to the teaching of the Pharisees (and thus, later, the rabbis). A major point of halakhic dispute is the sect's adoption of a calendar of 364 days (see Calendar , Dead Sea Sect). How it was adjusted to a 365-day year we do not know, but it is probably both realistic and ancient (it can be detected within Genesis 6𠄹). This calendar is known from the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch, and thus offers an important clue to the social and ideological background of the sect.

The Teacher of Righteousness

While the history of the ya� and its parent, and the development of their ideas, are unclear, some details are extant about the founder of the sect (or one of its first leaders), who was given the title " teacher of righteousness ," chiefly in the Damascus Document and the Habakkuk Pesher. Attempts to identify him with a known historical person remain debatable. The Damascus Document uses the title of a future, perhaps messianic figure, but also applies it to an individual who arose some time after the foundation of the movement itself. Apparently, he led a group of followers to form the ya�, while the remainder of the movement perhaps rejected him his death is also noted. In the Pesher literature he is presented more as a founder figure who directly clashed with an opponent called the "wicked priest," who has been identified with a number of historical personages, all Hasmoneans, but who is completely absent from the Damascus Document. Some of the biographical details of the Teacher in the Pesharim reflect allusions in the Thanksgiving Hymns, which some scholars believe to have been written by the Teacher. But these details might simply have been borrowed from the Hymns by the authors of the Pesharim.

The Identification of the Sect with the Essenes

It is widely held that the wider parent movement, as well as the ya�, should be identified with the Essenes described by Josephus (War I. 78� 2,119�), Philo (Quod omnis probus, 75�) and the elder Pliny (Natural History 5.17, 4). While Pliny locates Essenes specifically near the Dead Sea, according to Josephus and Philo they lived throughout Judea. On the manner of initiation, attitudes to women and to the Temple there are strong similarities between Essenes and the larger sectarian movement, but opinion on the identification is not unanimous. In the light of a few halakhic parallels with details preserved in the Talmud, it has recently been suggested that the sect may have been related to the Sadducees. The identification with Zealots , once proposed, is now largely rejected, though the sect probably sympathized with Jews who fought against Rome and may have joined them.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.


The Dead Sea Scrolls

The 1QS scroll was found in a desert cave at Qumran in 1948. It contains the rules for a religious community that occupied the site from around the late second century BCE to the middle of the first century CE. The CD is a scroll found in the late nineteenth century in a synagogue in Cairo and is a medieval copy of scrolls also found at the Qumran site. The two texts show remarkable similarities in their intent but appear quite different in the theological method and the lifestyle of the two communities that they describe. It will be argued that the two texts have fundamental similarities which show that the CD was a prior document written in a time of persecution and that the 1QS was the later document that showed how the sect evolved to cope with the circumstances of its isolation.

In investigating the similarities between each text, three fundamental similarities appear. Firstly, both texts stress their community’s separation from the mainstream community. Secondly, both texts anticipate the arrival of a Messiah. Finally, both texts show a similarity between terms. In particular, they emphasise reliance upon the Law of Moses but as it is interpreted through a received divine Covenant. In this way, they show their roots in mainstream Judaism. However, both texts diverge from Judaism in the use of a solar calendar through which they must keep firmly ‘to the elect of the time’ and uphold ‘the seasons of Jubilee[1] in which the holy Sabbaths have been revealed by God[2]. The term ‘sons of zadok’[3] is applied to the authorities of both texts which shows that at some point in their history they recognised the authority of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, that officiated the change of religious authority from king to priest. Yet, in keeping to the original solar calendar, they seem not to recognise the change to the lunar calendar wrought after Babylonian exile. Therefore, both texts refer to a Hebraic priestly community that uses a prior system of keeping Sabbaths and festivals.

Separation from mainstream Judaism is stressed in both texts and results in an emphasis on perfection, which is asserted by the people of the community[4]. This emphasis on perfection reveals that both texts are based upon hierarchical communities where one’s position is determined by the leader[5]. The concept of hierarchical perfection may allude to the plant metaphor used to describe the community in both texts, where the root of the plant comes ‘from Israel and Aaron’[6] and will become the ‘Everlasting Plantation’. It is inferred in both texts that this hierarchical perfection will allow the community to survive an age of wrath under the dominion of ‘Belial’[7]. Therefore, it seems that the similarities between the two documents point to a description of a similar, if not the same, community in two different periods of time.

The similarities that point to different time periods also show the crucial differences between the texts. The CD contains a history that relates the origins of the community which is not contained within the 1QS. In contrast, the 1QS scroll is composed as a set of community rules with a prayer at the end that is based upon the structure of a psalm[8]. The time stated within the CD text is 390 years after the capturing of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar[9]. There is also a reference to the ‘visitation’, in which the community was saved while ‘the apostates’ were given up to the sword and their ‘destruction was by the hand of Belial’[10]. Shortly after, the text refers to the ‘head of the asps [who] is the chief of the kings of Greece who came to wreak vengeance upon them’[11]. So perhaps it refers to the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, who violently suppressed a Jewish revolt in 168 BCE[12]. This would date the document’s origins in approximately the mid-second century BCE when there began a power struggle between different factions within the Jewish community in Judea[13]. The CD also relies upon the mainstream Hebrew texts as the scroll has fifty-one references to the books of the Old Testament, whereas the 1QS only has four. This implies reliance by the CD on the mainstream religious authorities while the 1QS has little reference to these authorities.

This reliance upon mainstream texts is reflected in the references to Temple worship found in the CD which are not found in the 1QS. In the CD, the three main sins cited are fornication, riches and the profanation of the Temple[14]. This stands in contrast to the concept of the Temple found in the 1QS, which sees the Council as the Temple[15]. The attainment of perfection in the 1QS is stated as being atonement for rebellion and unfaithfulness ‘so that they may obtain loving-kindness for the Land without the flesh of holocausts or the fat of sacrifice[16]. Further, it is stated in 1QS that the divine offering will be a blessing from the lips, which seems to be reliance upon the offering of prayers that uphold the seasons of Jubilee, rather than animal sacrifice[17]. This difference could imply that the community of the CD lived in a settlement that had already had a temple cult while the 1QS needed to find other methods of religious worship that suited their location in the desert.

This difference in the concept of the Temple is also borne out in the concept of the community. While the CD has rules for marriage and children[18] the 1QS makes no mention of women or children. The CD also excludes people from their community if they are found to be physically or mentally defective[19] and only allows men of a certain age to be in authority, while the 1QS is a semi-monastical community that shares its possessions and meals and makes no mention of exclusion through age or disability[20]. Both texts share the concept of a special Covenant with God but the CD advocates a New Covenant -‘a pact’- that will be (or has been in some parts of the text) declared in the land of Damascus[21]. The Covenant for the 1QS has a strict set of rules that governs every aspect of one’s life[22] whereas the CD demands a more generalised strict adherence to the ‘Laws of Moses’[23]. Therefore, there are quite distinct religiously conceptual differences between the two texts.

The historian, Eyal Regev, uses these theological differences to explain the divergences between the two texts and asserts that each text is based upon a different sect[24]. For Regev, the difference lies in the descriptions of each text’s social structures. Firstly, Regev points out that the CD was run by overseers who had exclusive authority[25], whereas the IQS was less hierarchical with the overseer not having religious authority[26]. Regev also points to theological differences such as concepts of divine revelation and the total separation from Israel that is stipulated by IQS[27]. However, the similarity in the texts requiring ten men of the Council needing one priest among them[28], their reliance upon the two prophesied messiahs from the houses of Aaron and Israel[29], and the endorsement of the solar calendar show that both texts had fundamental conceptual roots. The differences in divine revelation and total separation from the mainstream religion could infer that the sect evolved over a period of time into a much smaller and more intense community than the original sect.

This is also asserted by the historian, Charlotte Hempel, who uses the literary differences between the texts to map out their evolution[30]. Hempel states that the CD and the 1QS are more inter-textual than the other Qumran texts, with a particular reference to the perfection and holiness with which each text’s community describes itself[31]. This leads to Hempel’s conclusion that the texts originated independently of their place[32]. However, although they use similar vocabulary, one text appears to be a text that advocated a similar type of temple cult that was fundamental to the mainstream, while the 1QS became a more particular type of document that saw itself as the Temple. Therefore, textuality does not seem to be a completely effective method of explaining the two texts divergence and it could be inferred that each text shows its place through either the conformity to the temple cult of CD or the semi-monastic lifestyle of 1QS.

The historian, Phillip Davies, posits that the 1QS is based upon the older CD and that this text legitimised the community of 1QS[33]. For Davies, the CD is a description of a point of origin from Babylonian departure onwards, and rejects notions of the CD being a document from the religious strife in Judea during the mid-second century BCE. However, the CD is written in the historical genre and relates to itself as living in an age of wrath, with particular mention of the Greek kings. If one critically analyses the text, as Davies asserts one must[34], then it appears that the CD was the one of the original texts of the Dead Sea Sectarians that gives its history as a splinter group formed around the middle of the second century BCE during a time of persecution and religious strife.

The CD and the 1QS had a fundamental similarity and that was their belief that they had a special covenant based upon a more ancient law than the one advocated by Ezra and Nehemiah after the Babylonian exile. The sectarians considered themselves true believers that would be redeemed through their pursuit of perfection and strict adherence to ancient laws based upon the older, solar calendar. They suffered persecution for their beliefs, trying to remain separate themselves from the mainstream religion, and subsequently took refuge in camps in the desert. As time passed, this led to their semi-monastic isolation at Qumran, with the CD text being the one of the sect’s initial documents written while they were still in the mainstream community, and that evolved into the Community Rules of the 1QS. So, rather than a sect that splinters and dissipates into the mainstream, as Regev suggests, the Dead Sea Sectarians appear to be a splinter group of mainstream Judaism that became more isolated, intense and idiosyncratic over time.


Differences between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the books of Moses - History

My proposed term for the extraordinary concurrence of events in 1947, including the invention of the holograph, the creation of the CIA and Operation Majestic, and the famous wave of UFO sightings including the alleged crash in Roswell, New Mexico.

To introduce the 1947 Nexus, I invite readers to consider these two concurrent events:

  • In December 1945, an Arab peasant discovered the Nag Hammadi codices concealed in a jar in a cave in Upper Egypt, near Thebes (Luxor), but it was not until June 1947 that a French scholar, Jean Doresse, recognized what the documents were.

  • In the same summer of 1947, a Bedouin shepherd discovered the first of a massive cache of parchments and scrolls in the cave at Khirbet Qumran, overlooking the Dead Sea, about 30 miles south of Jerusalem.

  • Primary chronological nexus: the Nag Hammadi Codices (NHC) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) emerged from two thousand years of obscurity in the same historical moment.

But wait, there's more. Much, much more.

In the fall of 1947, the world was shocked by the announcement of the formation of the sovereign state of Israel. Israeli scholars and soldiers alike were inspired by the realization that a modern state in the "Promised Land" was being established at the very moment the Dead Sea Scrolls resurfaced - no mere coincidence, perhaps, since the Scrolls were evidence of a nationalist and messianic movement in Palestine, headed by an extremist apocalyptic sect whose stated aim was to invoke the intervention of supernatural powers to establish Israel as a sovereign realm: the Zaddikim .

If not, hang on, because we're just beginning to roll into the Nexus: Scholars on the scene in Jerusalem in 1947 present first-hand testimony that agents from the newly formed CIA were present in their midst, and even took microfiche photos of the parchments.

This happened on the rooftop of the American Embassy (as described by a source I will cite the next time I lay my hands on that book. I believe that Baigent mentions the incident in The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception ).

So far the Nexus shapes up like this: NHC - DSS - CIA - UFO, and the links are intricately convoluted. For instance, we are not merely looking at a temporal coincidence between, say, the Kenneth Arnold sightings, the alleged Roswell crash, and the discovery of the DSS, for there is actually a textual coincidence as well. Some passages in the DSS describe the appearance of shining wheels, the circular vehicles of the Kenoshim, the "Heavenly Host" worshipped by the Qumranic sect as supernatural overlords who come and go in sky chariots.

I challenge the most sober of readers: Can you distinguish the religious language of the "Song of the Holocaust" from a modern description of a UFO sighting?

As they rise, a whispered divine voice [is heard], and there is a roar of praise. When they drop their wings, there is a [whispere]d divine voice. The cherubim bless the image of the throne-chariot above the firmament, [and] they praise the majesty of the luminous firmament beneath his Seat of glory. When the wheels advance angels of holiness come and go.

From between His glorious wheels there is as it were a fiery vision of most holy spirits. About them, the appearance of rivulets of fire in the likeness of gleaming brass. The spirits of the living 'gods' move perpetually with the glory of the marvelous chariots. The whispered voice of blessing accompanies the roar of their advance. When the ascend, they ascend marvelously, and when they settle they stand still.

This is from 4Q405, fragment 405 found in Cave 4 at Qumran, translated in The Dead Sea Scrolls in English by Geza Vermes, p. 261-2. Other translations are more explicit in describing "shining wheels."

The celestial chariots or merkaba of the Kenoshim behave in a way that matches the sudden shifts and accelerations of UFOs in modern sightings. Their awesome movements are accompanied by roaring and hushing sounds, also consistent with modern technological vehicles. To answer my own question, just posed: Yes, it is possible to distinguish the religious language in this passage from the language used by modern witnesses and contactees, but the imagery, and the impression of awe felt in the presence of a divine or supernatural entities, is identical.


UFO-like sightings were by no means unusual in antiquity. The inventory usually starts with the report from the court of Thutmose III, an Egyptian pharoah who lived around 1350 BCE. (See Kerner, The Song of the Greys, p. 5, and Jacques Vallee - Passport to Magonia , for an extensive inventory of sighting in antiquity.)

At the shift from the Arien to the Piscean Age, circa 120 BCE, radical and apocalyptic movements were sharply on the rise in ancient Palestine. The emergence of the Zaddikim of Qumran was timed to the revolt of the Macabees described in the two apocryphal books. For nearly 200 years, from 120 BCE to 70 AD when Titus destroyed the Temple of Solomon and exiled all Jews from Jerusalem, there was extreme violence, intersectarian conflict, and social unrest all across Palestine, and this destabilization was accompanied by many, many UFO sightings.

I maintain that it is not at all improbable that the Zaddikim were a UFO contact cult who embraced an apocalyptic agenda so violent and alienating they had to retreat to the caves above the Dead Sea. They perished, along with many other ordinary Jews who we as shocked about the Zaddakite belief-system as we are today, but their agenda survived, and was revived in the program of Christian salvationism.

Primary phenomenological nexus: In the year of the post-WW II UFO flap and the alleged Roswell crash , events that made extraterrestrials a worldwide obsession, ancient religious documents surface in Palestine indicating what appears to have been a UFO contact cult that existed on the Dead Sea from around 150 BCE, though its origins go much further back into the history of the ancient Hebrews.

As I have shown elsewhere in this site (in Armageddon Politics, for instance), the Dead Sea sectarians, an ultra-radical cult called the Zaddikim, produced the salvationist ideology that later emerged in Christian doctrines of the "divine redeemer," the very one who tucks George W. Bush into bed every night. Zaddikite ideology, recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls, is the seminal form of fundamentalist Christian religion.

Or, to put it the other way around, Christian religion is the full-blown, pandemic virus that mutated from a minute dose (in biological terms, a "vector") incubated in the rabid, hate-driven, apocalyptic visions of the Zaddikim.

Not wild enough yet?

Well, consider this: Because scholars who specialize in the Dead Sea material do not dabble with the Nag Hammadi texts, and vice versa, it has escaped the attention of the experts that the " War Scroll " of the Zaddikim cites at the top of its "hit list" of arch-enemies (and the Zaddikim had plenty of enemies!).

Directly linked to the "Star and Sceptre" prophecy, the keynote vision of Jewish apocalypticism, the text 1QM (4Q491-496) announces:

"There shall come forth a star out of Jacob, a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall crush the forehead of Moab and tear town all the sons of Sheth."

(The War Scroll, Column 11, in The Dead Sea Scrolls - A New Translation, by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, and Edward Cook, p. 160. The "Sons of Sheth" was a code name used by Gnostics to describe the secret transmission of spiritual knowledge via a succession of Illuminators. Kerner interprets "Star" and "Sceptre" as direct allusions to disk- and cigar-shaped UFOs. )

Likewise, it has escaped notice that a Gnostic text ( The First Apocalypse of James ) warning that "Jerusalem is the dwelling of many Archons ," is a direct reference to the fanatics of the Zaddikim cult. Hence, the Egyptian codices of the Gnostics and the sectarian Scrolls from the Dead Sea present evidence of two cultic groups in conflict, and most probably in contact, as well. It could be said that the secret conflict between the Zaddikim and the Gnostics who attempted to expose them decided the fate of the religious life of humanity.

Primary intertextual nexus: The Deads Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hamadi Codices, both discovered in 1947, present textual evidence of a spiritual conflict between two groups, Zaddikim and Gnostics, who most certainly had physical contact.

In the introduction of The Gnostic Scriptures, Bentley Layton presents a map of ancient Palestine (Map 1, "The Gnostic Sect and its Opponents") that shows clear archeological evidence of Gnostics who called themselves "Archontics," encamped on the West bank of the Dead Sea, just below Qumran Khirbet.

The name "Archontics" was adopted by this particular group because it was their special mission to observe the activity of the Archons in the religious life of ancient Palestine.

They were, in effect, agents of Archontic counter-intelligence. As such, they detected a wave of Archontic religious mania among the Palestinian Jews and especially in the cult of the Zaddikim .

Until the surfacing of the Nag Hammadi codices, it was impossible to reconstruct the Gnostic expose of Archontic mania - a socio-religions phenomenon known to scholars as "Jewish apocalyptism," which is misleading, because these extremist views were firmly repudiated by mainstream Jews and even by the more orthodox religious authorities in the Jewhish communities of the time.

Ignoring the sectarian conflict with Gnostics, scholarship on the Zaddikim has been pursued in an adequate and inaccurate manner.

With the benefit of cross-textual comparison today, we can understand that Gnostics detected in Judeo-Christian salvationism an alien implant, an ideological virus infecting the human mind. In this view, Christianity is the outgrowth of a UFO contact cult, the Zaddikim. It is truly an extraterrestrial religion whose spurious tenets and supernatural suppositions are alien to human life on Earth.

Such, in any case, was and is the Gnostic analysis.

I propose developing a data base of events that occurred in 1947 that can be seen as clustering around these primary two nodes, DSS and NHC, both of which imply UFO and CIA, etc.


Dead Sea history in ancient times

During the Biblical period, different sects of Jews used to live in caves near the Dead Sea, most notably the Essesnes, who left the impressive Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of Qumran. Sodom and Gomorrah, the famous cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis, are believed to have been on its southeastern shore. Ein Gedi, now a nature reserve near the Dead Sea, is mentioned in the Bible as the place where King David hid from Saul.

The ancient history of the Dead Sea encompasses many of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean peoples of the time. The Nabateans, for example, used to harvest the sea’s natural asphalt, and in all probability, the Egyptians bought it from them. The Romans, too, referred to the Dead Sea as “Palus Asphaltites” (Asphalt Lake).

But perhaps the best-known moment in Dead Sea history in ancient times was when a small group of Jewish zealots fled to Masada (a fortress built by King Herod the Great on a hill overlooking the Dead Sea) following the destruction of the Second Temple, in the year 70 AD. In 73 AD they were sieged there by the Roman X Legion, and rather than surrender, they chose to die by mass suicide.

During the Byzantine period, Greek Orthodox monks also came to this area for refuge. They built several monasteries in the vicinity of the Dead Sea: the Saint George Monastery in Wadi Kelt is one of them.


The Dead Sea Scrolls

Worship at the sacred Jerusalem Temple had become corrupt, with seemingly little hope for reform. A group of devoted Jews removed themselves from the mainstream and began a monastic life in the Judean desert. Their studies of the Old Testament Scriptures led them to believe that God's judgment upon Jerusalem was imminent and that the anointed one would return to restore the nation of Israel and purify their worship. Anticipating this moment, the Essenes retreated into the Qumran desert to await the return of their Messiah. This community, which began in the third century B.C., devoted their days to the study and copying of sacred Scripture as well as theological and sectarian works.

As tensions between the Jews and Romans increased, the community hid their valuable scrolls in caves along the Dead Sea to protect them from the invading armies. Their hope was that one day the scrolls would be retrieved and restored to the nation of Israel. In A.D. 70, the Roman general Titus invaded Israel and destroyed the city of Jerusalem along with its treasured Temple. It is at this time that the Qumran community was overrun and occupied by the Roman army. The scrolls remained hidden for the next two thousand years.

In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd named Muhammad (Ahmed el-Dhib) was searching for his lost goat and came upon a small opening of a cave. Thinking that his goat may have fallen into the cave, he threw rocks into the opening. Instead of hearing a startled goat, he heard the shattering of clay pottery. Lowering himself into the cave, he discovered several sealed jars. He opened them hoping to find treasure. To his disappointment, he found them to contain leather scrolls. He collected seven of the best scrolls and left the other fragments scattered on the ground.

Muhammad eventually brought some of the scrolls to a cobbler and antiquities dealer in Bethlehem named Khando. Khando, thinking the scrolls were written in Syriac, brought them to a Syrian Orthodox Archbishop named Mar (Athanasius) Samuel. Mar Samuel recognized that the scrolls were written in Hebrew and suspected they may be very ancient and valuable. He eventually had the scrolls examined by John Trevor at the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR). Trevor contacted the world's foremost tt.

After the initial discovery, archaeologists searched other nearby caves between 1952 and 1956. They found ten other caves that contained thousands of ancient documents as well. One of the greatest treasures of ancient manuscripts had been discovered: the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Date and Contents of the Scrolls

Scholars were anxious to confirm that these Dead Sea Scrolls were the most ancient of all Old Testament manuscripts in the Hebrew language. Three types of dating tools were used: tools from archaeology, from the study of ancient languages, called paleography and orthography, and the carbon-14 dating method. Each can derive accurate results. When all the methods arrive at the same conclusion, there is an increased reliability in the dating.

Archaeologists studied the pottery, coins, graves, and garments at Khirbet Qumran, where the Essenes lived. They arrived at a date ranging from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D. Paleographers studied the style of writing and arrived at dates raging from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. Scientists, using the radiocarbon dating method, dated the scrolls to range from the fourth century B.C. to the first century A.D. Since all the methods came to a similar conclusion, scholars are very confident in their assigned date for the texts. The scrolls date as early as the third century B.C. to the first century A.D.

Eleven caves were discovered containing nearly 1,100 ancient documents which included several scrolls and more than 100,000 fragments. 2 Fragments from every Old Testament book except for the book of Esther were discovered. Other works included apocryphal books, commentaries, manuals of discipline for the Qumran community, and theological texts. The majority of the texts were written in the Hebrew language, but there were also manuscripts written in Aramaic and Greek. 3

Among the eleven caves, Cave 1, which was excavated in 1949, and Cave 4, excavated in 1952, proved to be the most productive caves. One of the most significant discoveries was a well-preserved scroll of the entire book of Isaiah.

The famous Copper Scrolls were discovered in Cave 3 in 1952. Unlike most of the scrolls that were written on leather or parchment, these were written on copper and provided directions to sixty-four sites around Jerusalem that were said to contain hidden treasure. So far, no treasure has been found at the sites that have been investigated.

The oldest known piece of biblical Hebrew is a fragment from the book of Samuel discovered in Cave 4, and is dated from the third century B.C. 4 The War Scroll found in Caves 1 and 4 is an eschatological text describing a forty-year war between the Sons of Light and the evil Sons of Darkness. The Temple Scroll discovered in Cave 11 is the largest and describes a future Temple in Jerusalem that will be built at the end of the age.

Indeed, these were the most ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament ever found, and their contents would yield valuable insights to our understanding of Judaism and early Christianity.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic Text

The Dead Sea Scrolls play a crucial role in assessing the accurate preservation of the Old Testament. With its hundreds of manuscripts from every book except Esther, detailed comparisons can be made with more recent texts.

The Old Testament that we use today is translated from what is called the Masoretic Text. The Masoretes were Jewish scholars who between A.D. 500 and 950 gave the Old Testament the form that we use today. Until the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947, the oldest Hebrew text of the Old Testament was the Masoretic Aleppo Codex which dates to A.D. 935. 5

With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now had manuscripts that predated the Masoretic Text by about one thousand years. Scholars were anxious to see how the Dead Sea documents would match up with the Masoretic Text. If a significant amount of differences were found, we could conclude that our Old Testament Text had not been well preserved. Critics, along with religious groups such as Muslims and Mormons, often make the claim that the present day Old Testament has been corrupted and is not well preserved. According to these religious groups, this would explain the contradictions between the Old Testament and their religious teachings.

After years of careful study, it has been concluded that the Dead Sea Scrolls give substantial confirmation that our Old Testament has been accurately preserved. The scrolls were found to be almost identical with the Masoretic text. Hebrew Scholar Millar Burrows writes, "It is a matter of wonder that through something like one thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, ‘Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition.'" 6

A significant comparison study was conducted with the Isaiah Scroll written around 100 B.C. that was found among the Dead Sea documents and the book of Isaiah found in the Masoretic text. After much research, scholars found that the two texts were practically identical. Most variants were minor spelling differences, and none affected the meaning of the text.

One of the most respected Old Testament scholars, the late Gleason Archer, examined the two Isaiah scrolls found in Cave 1 and wrote, "Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The five percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling." 7

Despite the thousand year gap, scholars found the Masoretic Text and Dead Sea Scrolls to be nearly identical. The Dead Sea Scrolls provide valuable evidence that the Old Testament had been accurately and carefully preserved.

The Messianic Prophecies and the Scrolls

One of the evidences used in defending the deity of the Christ is the testimony of prophecy. There are over one hundred prophecies regarding Christ in the Old Testament. 8 These prophecies were made centuries before the birth of Christ and were quite specific in their detail. Skeptics questioned the date of the prophecies and some even charged that they were not recorded until after or at the time of Jesus, and therefore discounted their prophetic nature.

There is strong evidence that the Old Testament canon was completed by 450 B.C. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, is dated about two hundred fifty years before Christ. The translation process occurred during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus who ruled from 285 to 246 B.C. 9 It can be argued that a complete Hebrew text from which this Greek translation would be derived must have existed prior to the third century B.C.

The Dead Sea Scrolls provided further proof that the Old Testament canon existed prior to the third century B.C. Thousands of manuscript fragments from all the Old Testament books except Esther were found predating Christ's birth, and some date as early as the third century B.C. For example, portions from the book of Samuel date that early, and fragments from Daniel date to the second century B.C. 10 Portions from the twelve Minor Prophets date from 150 B.C to 25 B.C. 11 Since the documents were found to be identical with our Masoretic Text, we can be reasonably sure that our Old Testament is the same one that the Essenes were studying and working from.

One of the most important Dead Sea documents is the Isaiah Scroll. This twenty-four foot long scroll is well preserved and contains the complete book of Isaiah. The scroll is dated 100 B.C. and contains one of the clearest and most detailed prophecies of the Messiah in chapter fifty-three, called the "Suffering Servant." Although some Jewish scholars teach that this refers to Israel, a careful reading shows that this prophecy can only refer to Christ.

Here are just a few reasons. The suffering servant is called sinless (53:9), he dies and rises from the dead (53:8-10), and he suffers and dies for the sins of the people (53:4-6). These characteristics are not true of the nation of Israel. The Isaiah Scroll gives us a manuscript that predates the birth of Christ by a century and contains many of the most important messianic prophecies about Jesus. Skeptics could no longer contend that portions of the book were written after Christ or that first century insertions were added to the text.

Thus, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide further proof that the Old Testament canon was completed by the third century B.C., and that the prophecies foretold of Christ in the Old Testament predated the birth of Christ.

The Messiah and the Scrolls

What kind of Messiah was expected by first century Jews? Critical scholars allege that the idea of a personal Messiah was a later interpretation made by Christians. Instead, they believe that the Messiah was to be the nation of Israel and represented Jewish nationalism.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, written by Old Testament Jews, reveal the messianic expectations of Jews during the time of Christ. Studies have uncovered several parallels to the messianic hope revealed in the New Testament as well as some significant differences. First, they were expecting a personal Messiah rather than a nation or a sense of nationalism. Second, the Messiah would be a descendant of King David. Third, the Messiah would confirm His claims by performing miracles including the resurrection of the dead. Finally, He would be human and yet possess divine attributes.

A manuscript found in Cave 4 entitled the Messianic Apocalypse, copied in the first century B.C., describes the anticipated ministry of the Messiah:

For He will honor the pious upon the throne of His eternal kingdom, release the captives, open the eyes of the blind, lifting up those who are oppressed… For He shall heal the critically wounded, He shall raise the dead, He shall bring good news to the poor.

This passage sounds very similar to the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. In Luke chapter 7:21-22, John the Baptist's disciples come to Jesus and ask him if He is the Messiah. Jesus responds, "Go tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news brought to them."

But, with the similarities there are also differences. Christians have always taught that there is one Messiah while the Essene community believed in two, one an Aaronic or priestly Messiah and the other a Davidic or royal Messiah who leads a war to end the evil age. 12

The Essenes were also strict on matters of ceremonial purity while Jesus criticized these laws. He socialized with tax collectors and lepers which was considered defiling by the Jews. Jesus taught us to love one's enemies while the Essenes taught hatred towards theirs. They were strict Sabbatarians, and Jesus often violated this important aspect of the law. The Qumran community rejected the inclusion of women, Gentiles, and sinners, while Christ reached out to these very groups.

The many differences show that the Essenes were not the source of early Christianity as some scholars propose. Rather, Christianity derived its teachings from the Old Testament and the ministry of Jesus.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have proven to be a significant discovery, confirming the accurate preservation of our Old Testament text, the messianic prophecies of Christ, and valuable insight into first century Judaism.

Two Major Prophets and the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been an asset in the debate regarding two major and well disputed books of the Old Testament, Daniel and Isaiah. Conservative scholars maintained that Daniel was written in the sixth century B.C. as the author declares in the first chapter. The New Testament writers treated Daniel as a prophetic book with predictive prophecies. Liberal scholars began teaching in the eighteenth century that it was written in the Maccabean Period or the second century B.C. If they are correct, Daniel would not be a prophetic book that predicted the rise of Persia, Greece, and Rome.

Before the discovery of the scrolls, critical scholars argued that the Aramaic language used in Daniel was from a time no earlier than 167 B.C. during the Maccabean period. Other scholars, such as well-respected archaeologist Kenneth Kitchen, studied Daniel and found that ninety percent of Daniel's Aramaic vocabulary was used in documents from the fifth century B.C. or earlier. 13 The Dead Sea Scrolls revealed that Kitchen's conclusion was well founded. The Aramaic language used in the Dead Sea Scrolls proved to be very different from that found in the book of Daniel. Old Testament scholars have concluded that the Aramaic in Daniel is closer to the form used in the fourth and fifth century B.C. than to the second century B.C.

Critical scholars challenged the view that Isaiah was written by a single author. Many contended that the first thirty-nine chapters were written by one author in the eighth century B.C., and the final twenty-six chapters were written in the post-Exilic period. The reason for this is that there are some significant differences in the style and content between the two sections. If this were true, Isaiah's prophecies of Babylon in the later chapters would not have been predictive prophecies but written after the events occurred.

With the discovery of the Isaiah Scroll at Qumran, scholars on both sides were eager to see if the evidence would favor their position. The Isaiah Scroll revealed no break or demarcation between the two major sections of Isaiah. The scribe was not aware of any change in authorship or division of the book. 14 Ben Sira (second century B.C.), Josephus, and the New Testament writers regarded Isaiah as written by a single author and containing predictive prophecy. 15 The Dead Sea Scrolls added to the case for the unity and prophetic character of Isaiah.

Inventory of the Scrolls

The following is a brief inventory provided by Dr. Gleason Archer of the discoveries made in each of the Dead Sea caves. 16

Cave 1 was the first cave discovered and excavated in 1949. Among the discoveries was found the Isaiah Scroll containing a well-preserved scroll of the entire book of Isaiah. Fragments were found from the other Old Testament books which included Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, Samuel, Ezekiel, and Psalms. Non-biblical books included the Book of Enoch, Sayings of Moses, Book of Jubilee, Book of Noah, Testament of Levi and the Wisdom of Solomon. Fragments from commentaries on Psalms, Micah, and Zephaniah were also discovered.

Cave 2 was excavated in 1952. Hundreds of fragments were discovered, including remains from the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Job, Psalms and Ruth.

Cave 3 was excavated in 1952. Here archaeologists found the famous Copper Scrolls. These scrolls contained directions to sixty-four sites containing hidden treasures located around Jerusalem. So far, no treasure has been found at the sites investigated.

Cave 4, excavated in 1952, proved to be one of the most productive. Thousands of fragments were recovered from nearly four hundred manuscripts. Hundreds of fragments from every Old Testament book were discovered with the exception of the Book of Esther. The fragment from Samuel labeled 4Qsam 17 is believed to be the oldest known piece of biblical Hebrew, dating from the third century B.C. Also found were fragments of commentaries on the Psalms, Isaiah, and Nahum. The entire collection of Cave 4 is believed to represent the scope of the Essene library.

Cave 5 was excavated in 1952 and fragments from some Old Testament books along with the book of Tobit were found.

Cave 6 excavated in 1952 uncovered papyrus fragments of Daniel, 1 and 2 Kings and some other Essene literature.

Caves 7-10 yielded finds of interest for archaeologists but had little relevance for biblical studies.

Cave 11 was excavated in 1956. It exposed well-preserved copies from some of the Psalms, including the apocryphal Psalm 151. In addition, a well-preserved scroll of part of Leviticus was found, and fragments of an Apocalypse of the New Jerusalem, an Aramaic Targum or paraphrase of Job, was also discovered.

Indeed these were the most ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament ever found, and their contents would soon reveal insights that would impact Judaism and Christianity.

1. James Vanderkam and Peter Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls (San Francisco, CA.: Harper Collins Publishers, 2002), 20-32.
2. Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out (Eugene, OR.: Harvest House Publishers, 1997), 278.
3. Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL.: Moody Press, 1985), 513-517.
4. Vanderkam and Flint, 115.
5. Price, 280.
6. Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking Press, 1955), 304, quoted in Norman Geisler and William Nix, General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 367.
7. Archer, 25.
8. J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books, 1984), 665-670.
9. Geisler and Nix, 503-504.
10. Ibid., 137.
11. Ibid., 138-139.
12. Vanderkam and Flint, 265-266.
13. Randall Price, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Eugene, OR.: Harvest House, 1996), 162.
14. Ibid., 154-155.
15. Ibid., 156-157.
16. Archer, 513-517.
17. Price, 162.

Archer, Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1985.

Geisler, Norman and William Nix. General Introduction to the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986.

Payne, J. Barton. Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy. Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books, 1984.

Price, Randall Price, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Eugene, OR.: Harvest House, 1996.

Scanlin, Harold. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Modern Translations of the Old Testament. Wheaton, IL.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993.

Vanderkam, James and Peter Flint. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls. San Francisco, CA.: Harper Collins Publishers, 2002.


'The Lost Book of Moses' is a mystery of biblical proportions

Decades before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, did a Jerusalem antiquities dealer really find a first draft of the Bible?

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 by Bedouin shepherds catalyzed a new era of religious scholarship. The leather documents, wrapped in linen and black with age, were early, if not first drafts of the Bible.

But nearly 70 years before that remarkable find, a Jerusalem antiquities dealer, the aptly named Moses Wilhelm Shapira, had acquired strikingly similar manuscripts, which, he maintained, comprised an ancient version of Deuteronomy – the fifth book of Moses.

Estimated to be older by a millennium than previously discovered Biblical or Torah texts, Shapira’s trove could be termed something of an abridged word of God. It was considerably shorter than the widely accepted version of Deuteronomy. There were other differences, too. For example, rather than Ten Commandments there were but nine divine admonitions.

The question that was raised about Shapira’s scrolls in 1883 is the same one addressed in The Lost Book Of Moses: The Hunt for the World’s Oldest Bible by Chanan Tigay: To wit, was this purported godsend the real deal or an ambitious and erudite fraud?

It is, in effect, the $250-million question. That was the amount (in today’s value) that Shapira was seeking from the British Museum for his supposedly glorious artifact.

Inheritance, fairness, and the billionaire class

Said salesman was no fly-by-night, street-corner vendor: He had been supplying historical manuscripts to the museum and other distinguished European clients for a decade. A self-taught scholar, Shapira could translate the Hebrew text on the blackened leather strips, and even raised issues with his latest and greatest document that he was offering at such a dear price.

To reach a final verdict on the man and his controversial find, Tigay went in search of the seven lost strips of ancient text, which the British scholars concluded, after careful examination, were forgeries, most artfully done to be sure, but fakes all the same. The scrolls had disappeared into thin air in 1887, three years after Shapira, ruined and despondent, committed suicide.

This is a quest of near Biblical proportions, taking the author, an American journalist and professor who was born in Jerusalem, to England, Holland, Germany, France, Jordan, Israel, and Australia, among other places.

The fact that the Tigay’s’s father is a rabbi and scholar who has written a book on Deuteronomy helps to explain this ambitious – make that compulsive – four-year odyssey. Indeed, the author first heard the story of Moses W. Shapira from his father.

Tigay’s fascination with this obscure mystery is infectious, and his writing is crisp and lively. He is a serious scholarly sleuth who doesn’t take himself too seriously. The chapters go back and forth between the times of Moses, Shapira, and today. It is not so much a “Who done it?” as it is a “Did he do it?”

And if he didn’t do it, if the Brits got it wrong in 1883, then the world of Biblical scholarship would be turned on its ear again. Tigay keeps the reader in suspense until the very end.

Early on Tigay makes a strong case that whether Shapira’s find is divine or duplicitous is beside the point, that either way it is a hell of a tale and well worth the telling. He writes: “If [the scrolls] were real, they would reveal so much about how the Bible developed – how it was written, rewritten, and revised over the course of centuries. And if they were a forgery, whoever created this manuscript was some kind of genius – clever, creative, and profoundly learned. In conjuring a wild version of Deuteronomy, they had somehow managed to predict the Dead Sea Scrolls decades before their discovery. Who had the chops to pull off a fraud this brilliant?”

Indeed, John Le Carré would be hard pressed to devise such a tantalizing mystery or a more complex leading man. Shapira was a Polish Jew who ended up as a German citizen and a Christian living in Jerusalem, where he sold religious memorabilia to pilgrims before branching out into books, ancient (and not so ancient) pottery, and rare manuscripts. During the second half of the 19th century, religious tourism and the fledgling practice of archeology were growth industries in the Holy Land. On his card Shapira listed himself as an “Agent of the British Museum.”

Tigay describes this man who was equally comfortable with British prime ministers and cutthroat Bedouins as “a little bit Indiana Jones and a little Jay Gatsby.” On a four-month excursion to gather antiquities in Yemen, then largely unchartered and dangerous territory, Shapira was briefly kidnapped by a local Sultan and somehow succeeded in getting Jewish communities there to part with some of their holy scrolls. In his account of the expedition, Shapira never explains how he managed this feat, and Tigay raises the possibility that subterfuge, if not outright theft, may have played a part.

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Almost as gripping as his subject’s adventures is the author’s historical treasure hunt. Tigay does battle with the fog of time and comes to question many assumptions posing as settled historical fact. Along the way he encounters other “Shapiramaniacs,” including one Yoram Sabo (there could hardly be more than one), a filmmaker who had already been on the case for 30 years.

This may not be the greatest story ever told, but it's a pretty darned good one.


The Dead Sea Scrolls Version of Isaiah(and Jeremiah)

Rumor has it that the Dead Sea Scrolls contained a copy of Isaiah exactly matching the Isaiah found in our modern Bibles.

My books and those Christian-history.org has published get great reviews. Synopses are at my Rebuilding the Foundations site. They are available wherever books are sold!

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The Isaiah Scroll Is Still Interesting!

This is the real thing! A fragment of the Isaiah scroll

Note: I got this information from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia , perhaps the most well-respected Bible encyclopedia there is.

It's true that there was a report in 1947 that the Qumran (the caves where the scrolls were found) text of Isaiah matched the Masoretic text. It was retracted, however, in 1948. That means we've been circulating a false rumor for over six decades. Ouch.

The scroll of Isaiah found at Qumran is a third text-type, matching neither the Septuagint (LXX) nor the Masoretic text. The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made over the course of a couple centuries just before the time of Christ.

All of this is not that significant. All three text-types differ only slightly.

It's Jeremiah that ought to catch our attention.

Qumran Caves, where the scrolls were found! Image from Wikimedia Commons by Grauesel and subject to this license

The Jeremiah Scroll

Among the Qumran texts was a scroll of Jeremiah. This is very significant because the LXX version of Jeremiah is seven chapters shorter than the Masoretic, and what remains is in a different order!

The Dead Sea Scrolls backs up the LXX version, not our Masoretic Bibles.

We western Christians may worry about that, but eastern Christians won't. Most Orthodox Christians use the LXX for their Old Testament.


How do I find a list of the differences between the Septuagint, the Samaritan and the Masoretic texts?

I have a question concerning the three texts of Torah. I searched in the internet to know the 6000 differences between the three, and found that supposedly 1900 of them where the Septuagint agrees with the Samaritan [editor’s note: the questioner is referring here to the Samaritan Pentateuch], but I found nothing. Do you know a webpage or a book on the internet where I can found these differences?

Answer:

You can find lists of differences between the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Masoretic Texts because both are in Hebrew, but to enumerate differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic is difficult if not impossible, simply because the Septuagint is in Greek and the Masoretic is in Hebrew. Technically, they cannot “differ” because one is a translation. If you had a word in an English translation and a word in an Egyptian translation, how could you know if one reflected a different original Greek source? This might be difficult. Of course, some textual differences can be detected, despite the language difference, as certain Hebrew words in the Masoretic would be at such odds with the Septuagint and certain Greek words in the Septuagint would be at such odds with the Hebrew Masoretic that a scholar could declare clearly there is a “difference.” You can occasionally detect this in the margin notes of your Bibles as it may say in the margin things like “Septuagint: xxxxx” or “Masoretic: xxxxx” or “Dead Sea Scrolls: xxxxx”. Another point is that in the DSS, there are some Hebrew texts which are more similar to the Septuagint than to the Masoretic. This also can help to find “differences” between the Septuagint and the Masoretic, but, again, to enumerate is difficult.

So, I believe your request for a site that enumerates or lists all differences between the Masoretic and the Septuagint will not be met. What you can do, and what will be more helpful anyway, is when you are studying a particular passage in the Old Testament, look at the Masoretic, the DSS and the Septuagint and take every case one at a time. For example, you could look at the Masoretic, the Dead Sea Scroll and the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 7:14. This is the famous one about the virgin being with child. You can compare the three and decide for yourself what the original was, as well as its likely meaning, given the Septuagint translation.

Bear in mind, however, that this article makes it appear as if the differences between the text types is greater than it actually is. The vast majority of these 6000 differences involve very minor differences of spelling and word order.