Today we are leaving Jerusalem for a bus trip through the wilderness of Judea to Qumran and Masada. I know that this is a very hazy picture, but if you look closely you can see a ridge of mountains. It was this mountain on which Satan tempted Jesus. The city of Jericho lies at the base of the mountain. Jericho was also the place where Jesus healed the blind man. Luke 18:35-43
This is a clearer picture of Jericho and the mountain from the south that I borrowed from the internet.
In 1947 a shepherd boy came across a cave while looking for his goats. The story goes that he was throwing rocks at the cave, when he heard a crack. He went in to investigate and found a pottery jar in which there was a scroll. He left the cave and returned later with a friend. They found several jars containing rolls of aged leather manuscripts. The scrolls came into the hands of dealers in antiquities who offered them to scholars. The first scholar to recognize their antiquity was E.L. Sukenik, who succeeded in acquiring three of them for the Hebrew University. Later they were offered for sale in the United States (in a usual newspaper ad, five lines long, under "Miscellaneous" for sale). Yigael Yadin, the son of E.L. Sukenik and also an outstanding archaeologist, succeeded in buying them and bringing them back to Israel. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem constructed a special site for exhibiting the scrolls - the Shrine of the Book – which we will see later in the week. Strict atmospheric conditions are observed there to minimize the possible damage to the scrolls.
In the meantime, a group of scholars under the leadership of R. deVaux began to search and excavate the cave where the first scrolls were found, as well as some 40 caves in its vicinity. Many scrolls and thousands of fragments were found in 11 caves.
The scrolls were dated about 100 B.C. Later they were dated to be 1900 years old. Before 1947, scrolls had been found dating back only to the ninth century A.D. None are as old as the ones that the young Bedouins found at Qumran.
There are numerous caves in the hills and it is expected that there may still be some treasures to be found.
Kenny is explaining about the life of the sect, the Essenes, who lived here and laboriously copied the scrolls. Each scroll had to be perfect. If there was a mistake, you started over.
This is the tower.
Another one of the caves…
This is an elaborate mikvah – a ritual purity bath - that the Essenes used for ceremonial cleansing. They practiced immersion twice daily.
This is the room in which the scrolls were copied.
The refectory, or dining hall, was used for communal meals. Three rows of tables were apparently in place where the Essenes ate in silence.
In the next room over, more than 1000 complete vessels were found including 708 cups, 210 plates and 108 salad bowls. All of these were serving vessels as they were never fired.
All of this area, of course, is part of the Judean wilderness.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. Luke 4:1
Judea is also the land of John the Baptist. In fact, some have speculated that John was an Essene, but that is all speculation because there is no proof.
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the LORD, make His paths straight!’” Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. Matthew 3:1-6
This is the cave in which the Bedouin boy found the scrolls.
I purchased this hat in Boulder at Easter. It served me well in Israel. I thought about leaving it behind to make more room in my luggage, but couldn’t do it. It was getting a little bedraggled (along with its wearer)!
The scrolls prove that the Hebrew Scriptures have not been substantially altered during centuries of copy. For example, the Hebrew Isaiah manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls (100 B.C.) and the Massoretic Text (A.D. 900), spread across nearly 1000 years, are extremely close, containing stylistic differences as minor as spelling (e.g. “honor” v. “honour” in English) and the presence or absence of conjunctions (neither which changes the meaning). Every book of the Old Testament except Esther was found.
There were people that were actually climbing up trails into the caves. More power to them!! Ha!
The potter’s workshop…
After we left Qumran, we traveled alongside the Dead Sea. This morning in Jerusalem we were at 2500 feet above sea level. We are now 1200 feet below sea level. There was some ear popping as we drove down to the sea. It is really a desolate area.
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17