From Israel Temple Scroll Soon to be Published -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 06:2 (Spring 1977)
Article: From Israel Temple Scroll Soon to be Published
Author: Anonymous

From Israel
Temple Scroll Soon to be Published

When Israeli troops occupied the West Bank of the Jordan in 1967, Israel’s leading archaeologist, Yigael Yadin, was able to fulfill a dream. (For a summary of Yadin’s work, see “A Jewish Archaeologist’s Finest Hours,” in the Winter 1975 issue of Bible and Spade.) Pulling strings with Premier Levi Eshkol, he got the army to assign an officer to visit a certain antiquities dealer in Bethlehem. Under pressure, the dealer opened a hiding place under the floor of his shop and surrendered an ancient, partially worm-eaten scroll.

Nearly a decade later, Yadin has finally completed his intricate work on the so-called Temple Scroll, the latest and quite possibly the last of the celebrated Dead Sea Scrolls. Later this year he will publish the full text in the original Hebrew and in an English translation, along with substantial explanatory material. Scholars, who have eagerly awaited the event, will be able to purchase the 900-page, three-volume set for $150.

Down Payment Vanishes

The Temple Scroll is the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls (28 ft. 3 in.) and perhaps the most important of the entire collection, Yadin says. He first heard about it in 1961 from an anonymous agent representing the dealer in Bethlehem, then inaccessible to Israeli scholars because it was part of Jordan. Even though Yadin did not know exactly what he was buying, he offered to pay $130,000, only to have the agent vanish — along with a down payment of $10,000. After the army officer obtained the scroll in 1967, Yadin negotiated a payment of $118,000 to the dealer.

Much work remained before the treasure could actually be read.

The parchment was fragile and wafer-thin (.0039 in.), and the top edge had disintegrated into a fudgelike mass. Yadin’s team froze the scroll to help unpeel it and used infra-red and reverse photography to reconstruct the damaged portions.

In the soon-to-be-published text, God generally speaks in the first person. The Temple Scroll also uses regular script to record the divine name YHWH, unlike other Dead Sea Scroll texts, which used a distinctive script to remind readers that the name was too sacred to be uttered. This means that the Temple Scroll must have been considered a direct revelation from God, on a level with the Bible itself.

Instructions for Building the Temple

The Dead Sea Scroll sect repudiated worship at the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem, which they considered corrupt, and scholars have long wondered whether they rejected all temple worship. The new scroll shows that temple worship was as central for them as for other Jews. Indeed, nearly half of the s...

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