Men of Qumran and the Messiah -- By: Will Varner
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Men of Qumran and the Messiah
[Ed. We will have more articles on the Dead Sea Scrolls in our magazine. We present this article to give our readers a general introduction to them.]
*Rev. Will Varner was pastor for many years in the Philadelphia area. lie is now on The Friends of Israel staff.
Discovery of the Scrolls
Juma was beginning to get nervous. Some of his goats were climbing too high up the cliffs. He decided to climb the face of the cliff himself to bring them back. Little did Juma realize as he began his climb on that January day in 1947 that those straying goats would eventually involve him in “the greatest archaeological discovery in the twentieth century.” Such thoughts were far from his mind when he saw two small openings to one of the thousands of caves that dot those barren cliffs overlooking the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. He threw a rock into one of the openings. The unexpected cracking sound surprised him — what else could be in those remote caves but treasure? He called to his cousins, Khalil and Muhammed, who climbed up and heard the exciting tale. But it was
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getting late, and the goats had to be gathered. Tomorrow they Would return - perhaps their days of following goats would come to an end once the treasure was uncovered!
The youngest of the three, Muhammed, rose the next day before his two “fellow treasure-seekers” and made his way to the cave. The cave floor was covered with debris, including broken pottery. Along the wall stood a number of narrow jars, some with their bowl-shaped covers still in place, Frantically Muhammed began to explore the inside of each Jar, hut no treasure of gold was to be found.., only a few bundles wrapped in cloth and greenish with age. Returning to his cousins, he related the sad news - no treasure. No treasure indeed! The scrolls those Bedouin boys removed from that dark cave that day and the days following would come to be recognized as the greatest manuscript treasure ever found - the first seven manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls!
Such was the discovery of a group of manuscripts which were a thousand years older than the then-oldest-known Hebrew texts of the Bible (manuscripts many of which were written more than 100 years before the birth of Jesus). These manuscripts would excite the archaeological world and provide a team of translators with a gigantic task that even to this day has not been completed.
The story of how those scrolls traveled from the hands of young Bedouin goatherders to be under the scrutinous eyes of international scholars is stranger than fiction. Although all the details of the next few years...
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