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SCROLLS FROM THE WILDERNESS OF THE DEAD SEA - April 02, 1975
PRESENTED TO: ROYAL LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 453 BY THUNDER BAY LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 618
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO
What are they and where are they located? In 19L47 seven old rolls of inscribed sheepskin were found by shepherds in a cave of the Wilderness of Judea near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the vicinity of Khirbet Qumran. This discovery set off a series of manuscript finds which are without precedent in the history of modern archaeology. In these caves alone subsequent discoveries have raised the number of documents to over five hundred. Eleven caves in all have been found radiating out from Qumran and have produced manuscripts or fragments of manuscripts. In Cave I were discovered the great Isaiah Scroll and a commentary on Habakkuk.
Cave II, located in February 1952, contained only a small deposit of fragments, but they did stimulate a further search of the caves in the district. Cave III, was discovered in March 1952 by archaeologists, its most famous document being the so-called Copper Scroll, a list of Temple treasures and their hiding places. Cave IV was found in the summer of 1952, where some 400 documents were located, many of them in a very poor state of preservation. They include biblical manuscripts - about one hundred, all the books of the Hebrew canon, except Esther, and a mass of sectarian works. Of this great hoard from Cave IV little has yet been published. Caves V and VI were discovered in the late summer of 1952, and Caves VII - X were located in 1955. Virtually all of these finds were fragmentary in nature and were published in 1962. Cave XI, the latest of the discoveries, was located and excavated in 1956. It proved to contain several well-preserved documents including a. large Psalms Scroll, a Targum of Job, and a copy of Leviticus in Hebrew script. The Psalms Scroll is scheduled for publication late in 1965.
The documents from Qumran date from the third century B.C. to A.D. 68, the date of the fall of the community centre to the Romans.
To attempt to read all of the documents found in the caves would take far more time to explain to you this evening than what we have time, but I would like to read to you a comparison of one of the translations to the King James version of Deuteronomy Chapter 5 Verses 6:21. I am sure you will all recognize this, as no doubt you read it yourselves on numerous occasions.
I would like W. Bro. Arne Simonsen to read the King James Version paragraph by paragraph and I’ll read the translation of this particular Dead Sea Scroll.
It is very interesting to note in closing that on January 23, 1969, an article appeared in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle dealing with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which reads as follows:
Should any of the brethren wish to have a look at this booklet, please do so.
Brethren, I assure you that the pleasure has been mostly mine to be able to share with you this evening some of the findings of the caves of the Wilderness of Judea, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thank you.
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
Like the gradual unfolding of a mystery story, fragmentary hints and clues today are being accumulated from musty manuscripts of the past to illuminate the times of Jesus.
“A steady stream of material is increasing our knowledge of that period.” says Rev. Robert Northup of New York Theological Seminary. “We can expect a tide of a material soon.”
The painstakingly slow but dramatic process has been going on for about 20 years now, since the big finds of ancient documents in the dunes of Egypt in 1946 and in caves beside the Dead Sea in 1947.
However, less than half of them have been deciphered and published so far, and work is nearing completion on the rest.
Despite premature assumptions that the contents might undermine Christian views of’ Jesus, scholars say that instead the results have given new weight to the New Testament accounts.
“It has helped to make even clearer the special value and authenticity to the gospel records,” said Dr. Northup, professor of New Testament literature and a research specialist on ancient writings of that era.
For instance, some gospel phraseology, especially in the Book of John, previously had caused many scholars to date it about a century after Jesus’ death, but the usages now are found to have been common in his own day, indicating an earlier origin.
Consequently, there now is new, objective ground for considering all the gospel accounts, including John, as having been produced within the span of the lifetimes of the apostles.
Of the seven leather-bound codex’s or books found in Egypt, containing 49 tractates of writings, the dating of which varies in opinion from the 1st to the 4th century, only five of the writings have been generally published so far, containing mostly abstract material.
Of the Dead Sea scrolls, dated between 200 B.C. and 70 A.D, four volumes have been published so far, with six others still to be issued, which is expected within the next four years.
Besides detailed records about a separatist Jewish community, the Essenes, which lived in isolation beside the Dead Sea through Jesus’ time, the documents also include all or parts of every Old Testament book except Esther, providing 1,000 years older than any available before.
PICTURE NOW CLEARER
“We have a much more complete picture of the conditions both at the time Jesus lived and in the early period afterward,” Dr. Northup said. “But the material also raises new questions and possibilities.”
Among those questions, he noted, is whether the immediate forerunner of’ Jesus, John the Baptist, or even Jesus Himself, were at some point associated with the Qumran community, the Essenes, who left the scrolls.
He noted that Jesus, in His sharp criticisms of various religious parties and sects in His day, never mentioned the Essenes, possibly “because, even though differing from them, He may have felt they were searching similar points of faith.”
Excerpt from Port Arthur News-Chronicle Thursday January 23, 1969
Places where the scroll has variant readings arc italicized; places where the scroll leaves out a word are indicated.
12. ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. ‘You shall have no
2. other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image at any
3. likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on earth beneath, or that
4. is in the water under the earth; ‘you shall not bow down to them or serve them;
5. for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon
6. the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, ‘showing steadfast love to thousands
7. of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God
8. in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
9. “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.
10. ‘Six days you shall labour and do all your work;
11. ‘but on the seventh day, the Sabbath to the Lord your God, you shall do no work in it,
12. you, your son,  your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant,  your ox, or your ass,
1. or your cattle, the sojourners who are within your gates, that your manservant and your maidservant may rest
2. as well as you. ‘You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God
3. brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm;
4. therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day
5. to keep it holy; for in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth,
6. the sea and all that is in them; and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed
7. the Sabbath day to make it holy. “Honour your father and mother as
8. the Lord your God commanded you that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well
9. with you, in the land which the Lord your God gives you. “You shall not kill. You
10. shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not covet
11. your neighbours wife; you shall not covet your neighbour’s house, his field, his man-servant, his maidservant,
12. his ox, his ass, or anything that is your neighbour’s.
Presented by W. Bro. Allan I. Suni