Tuesday 5 November 2013

ABC Wednesday, Q for Qumran

With thanks to Denise Nesbitt, who created ABC, and thanks to Roger. For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar. This week we are looking for words beginning with Q.

Drenthe or Drente is the green part in the north.

In the last week of September I stayed in Assen  with a relative. Assen is the capital of the  small province of Drenthe, in the north of the Netherlands. We were going to an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the local museum.

Caves in Qumran

Qumran cave

You can find important extra information  on Dina's blog. She lives in Israel and has been there in Qumran. Her blog is: Jerusalem Hills daily photo. And her post about Qumran is written on November 5th, 2013.

Since the discovery of these Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947-1956, extensive excavations have taken place in Qumran. Nearly 900 scrolls were discovered. Most were written on parchment and some on papyrus.

The best-known texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls are the ancient religious writings found in eleven caves near the site of Qumran. Discoveries from additional sites yielded mostly documents and letters, especially papyri that had been hidden in caves by refugees from wars. Some of these writings survived as nearly intact scrolls.

Many scholars believe the location was home to a Jewish sect, probably the Essenes. Others propose non-sectarian interpretations, some of these starting with the notion that it was a Hasmonean fort that was later transformed into a villa for a wealthy family, or a production center, perhaps a pottery factory or something similar.

A large cemetery was discovered to the east of the site. While most of the graves contain the remains of males, some females were also discovered, though some burials may be from medieval times. Only a small portion of the graves were excavated, as excavating cemeteries is forbidden under Jewish law. Over a thousand bodies are buried at Qumran cemetery. One theory is that bodies were those of generations of sectarians, while another is that they were brought to Qumran because burial was easier there than in rockier surrounding areas.

The scrolls were found in a series of eleven caves around the settlement, some accessible only through the settlement. Some scholars have claimed that the caves were the permanent libraries of the sect, due to the presence of the remains of a shelving system. Other scholars believe that some caves also served as domestic shelters for those living in the area. Many of the texts found in the caves appear to represent widely accepted Jewish beliefs and practices, while other texts appear to speak of divergent, unique, or minority interpretations and practices. Some scholars believe that some of these texts describe the beliefs of the inhabitants of Qumran, which, may have been the Essenes, or the asylum for supporters of the traditional priestly family of the Zadokites against the Hasmonean priest/kings. A literary epistle published in the 1990s expresses reasons for creating a community, some of which resemble Sadducean arguments in the Talmud. Most of the scrolls seem to have been hidden in the caves during the turmoil of the First Jewish Revolt, though some of them may have been deposited earlier.

The entrance of Qumran Cave 11.

The entrance of Qumran Cave 11

Photo courtesy of:
Alexander Schick

While Hebrew is the most frequently used language in the Scrolls, about 15% were written in Aramaic and several in Greek. The Scrolls’ materials are made up mainly of parchment, although some are papyrus, and the text of one Scroll is engraved on copper.

Biblical ManuscriptsAbout 230 manuscripts are referred to as “biblical Scrolls”. These are copies of works that are now part of the Hebrew Bible.

TPAM 43.784 11Q5 Psalmsa
PAM 43.784

A primary common factor among the selection of compositions found in the Qumran caves is the fundamental importance of religion.

Khirbet Qumran

Many of the 'sectarian' scrolls found in the Qumran caves emphasize spiritual purity and ritual purification through immersion in a ritual bath or 'mikveh' like the one shown here from Khirbet Qumran

Tsila Sagiv

Among the finds in Qumran were these coins.

Silver Tetradrachm
Silver tetradrachm from the Te'omim Cave, 134-135 CE Obv.: Façade of the Jerusalem Temple. Inscription: "Shim'on" Rev.: Bundle of Lulav and Etrog. Inscription: "For the Freedom of Jerusalem"
Clara Amit
The Bar Kokhba Refuge CavesThe "Bar Kokhba refuge caves" preserved numerous documents including financial, military, legal, administrative, and personal records, as well as some religious texts including biblical Scrolls, brought to the caves by refugees seeking haven .


Sylvia K said...

A fascinating post as always, Wil! Such wonderful photos and information! Thank you for sharing!! Hope you have a great week!

Vagabonde said...

Vraiment un post très intéressant. Quand ces manuscrits ont été découverts cela a dû être une immense joie pour les chercheurs.

Roger Owen Green said...

A most important find!

Indrani said...

That is a great take on "Q", so informative too.

Ercotravels said...

Sounds a great place! thanks for sharing lot information..

Dina said...

Thanks for the idea and the inspiration, Wil. Maybe I will try to do a post about the Dead Sea scrolls too.

Leslie: said...

Wow! Wouldn't it be great to be able to visit Qumrum.

abcw team

MERYL JAFFE, PhD - parent, psychologist, teacher, author... said...

WoW! What an impressive and informative post. Loved reading through it and those images are wonderful.

Thank you!

mrsnesbitt said...

We have been to Assen twice for various motorcycle events. 2008 and 2006. Fun times all the way.
Denise ABC Team.

Hildred said...

Such an interesting post, Wil, - thank you for sharing all this information and history. Love your header!

photowannabe said...

One of the highlights of my life was visiting Israel in 2001 and going to Qumran.
It was truly amazing to walk among ancient history and then go and see parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
It is something I will never forget.

lotusleaf said...

very interesting.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Denise, thank you for your comment. Yes I know that you were in Assen. We even were speaking on the phone the first time you were there. But we couldn't meet.
I answer your comment here for I cannot reach your blog. I have no access.
Have a great week.
Wil, ABCW Team

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Wil with great pics! Wonder if this is the same exhibit we once saw in San Diego.

Arkansas Patti said...

So fascinating to read of this history. I often wondered just what went through the minds of the first to discover these treasures.
I really got goosebumps seeing the entrance to the cave.
Thank you for this interesting post.

ChrisJ said...

I have known about Qumran for a long time. We have studied about the scrolls and know of the many views as to what they really are and why they were there. Because I teach both the Old and the New Testaments I have had to keep up with the various publications and interpretations. I find the fact that a scroll was found containing almost the whole of the book of Isaiah, with very few variations from today's translation, to be absolutely mind boggling. It surely was copied from the Septuagint or even earlier. We owe so much to the Jewish tradition of scrupulous copying that it certainly gives us much confidence in the accuracy of the scrolls that have been handed down to us through the centuries. I believe there are still more scrolls that have yet to be translated. What a treasure trove!

Such a great post. An absolutely fascinating subject.

Lea said...

Really fascinating information!

Rajesh said...

Interesting information about the wonderful discoveries.

MaR said...

Thank you for such an educative and interesting post for Q!

Obsessivemom said...

Very informative post. And the pictures brought the site to life.

Gattina said...

Wow ! what an interesting post !

RachelD said...

Ah, Reader Wil,

I happened upon a comment from you this morning---way back in October of 2011---you'd visited my blog, and I yours. Since then, I've tried and tried to remember your name and blog title, and now Here it IS!!

I'm delighted to have found you again, and look forward to delving into all these delicious archives I've missed.

I hope you have been well, and that you have (had) a wonderful celebration on your special birthday this year!!

Rachel at LAWN TEA

Powell River Books said...

Very interesting. The land looks to be devoid of any plant life. - Margy

Ann said...

What a joy to be able to see these in person!!!!What an incredible discovery for our time.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Great information so beautifully presented. What a great exhibit that must have been.

K V V S MURTHY said...

Very interesting post!

Hazel said...

An exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls - how grand! It amazes me how the scrolls survived intact. I really like the scholars' claim that the caves were 'permanent libraries of the sect.' Remains of a shelving system? Now isn't that charming?!


The Weaver of Grass said...

Fascinating stuff Wil and wonderful photographs.

Kay said...

Thank you for this interesting post, Wil. What an incredibly historical area. It's just amazing that it survived deterioration after all these years.

Barbara Martin said...

Wil, an exceptional post. I very much enjoyed reading about the caves and the historical information. Thank you.