Researchers at the University of Haifa in Israel have
decoded one of the last two dead sea scrolls. Dr. Eshbal Ratson and Professor
Jonathan Ben-Dov of the Department of Bible studies at the University spent
nearly a year reassembling the scroll. The researchers meticulously pieced
together 60 sections that were written in code on parchment paper. Many of the
pieces were smaller than 1 sq. cm. 900.
The first dead sea scrolls were discovered by Bedouin(teenagers in 1947. The boys
were shepherds tending to their goats and sheep, near the ancient settlement of
Qumran. One of the boys threw a rock
into a cave and after hearing a shattering sound entered the cave to
investigate the noise. They found a collection of clay jars, some of which
contained leather and papyrus scrolls
The boys sold their
findings to a local antique dealer for a minuscule of sum of what they worth. After
noticing that the leather actually had writing on it , the dealer took to them to Syrian Orthodox
archbishop Athanasius Yeshue Samuel (.Samuel was able to identify the
writing as Aramaic, but could not decipher what would later prove to be religious
writing dating back to 200 B.C. He traveled to the United States intending to
sale the scrolls and help Palestinians who were victims of the Arab-Israeli War
of 1948. By 1954 he sold the scrolls in a private sale for $250,000. Unfortunately,
the trust he setup for the proceeds was not done correctly and most of the
money went to taxes.
PIC 2 Quram, Israel,
caves where Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
The Bishop’s inquiries
into the scrolls drew scholarly attention and eventually nearly 900 scrolls
were found in 11 local caves in the Qumran area. While it is not clear who the
authors are of the scrolls are, some scholars
have attributed the writings to an ascetic
desert sect called the Essenes
while others credit the scrolls to early
Christians and Jews who were fleeing the Roman while passing through Qumran.