Dead Sea Scrolls

by Avery Foley on May 26, 2017

Did you know one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 1900s was made because someone threw a rock? When a shepherd tossed a rock into a cave and heard pottery smash, he decided to investigate. Inside this dry cave, along the shore of the Dead Sea in the Middle East, he found jars filled with ancient scrolls. These scrolls are now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Cave at Qumran

By Grauesel, via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in these caves at Qumran, in Israel.

Over 200 of these scrolls were portions of the Old Testament. Some of these dated back to several hundred years before Jesus was born! Every Old Testament book was represented, except the book of Esther, but Isaiah was the only complete book found. This was an amazing discovery because these scrolls were over 1,000 years older than the oldest Hebrew-language copies of the Old Testament that scholars had at the time, and about 600 years older than the earliest Greek-language copies.

Clay Pot

By Dale Gillard, via Wikimedia Commons

Clay pot from the caves at Qumran, with a copper scroll in the background.

Copper Scroll

Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The writing on this portion of scroll is inscribed in copper.

So why do we care about a bunch of old scrolls from a cave? Well, many scholars have attacked the Bible and said that it was created by men centuries after the events recorded in the Bible or that the copies we have now aren’t accurate. But these scrolls showed that those copies were accurate. They closely matched the Hebrew (and Aramaic) Old Testament texts that our Bibles were based upon! They also showed that the Old Testament was written much earlier than many people believed.

These scrolls confirmed that God has taken care to make sure the Bible we have today is the same Bible he authored and wanted us to have. We can trust God’s Word from the very beginning.

Isaiah 53

Photography by Ardon Bar Hama, Website of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Great Isaiah Scroll contains the entire book of Isaiah, written in Hebrew, and is the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. This photo shows the Isaiah 53 portion of that scroll.

Related Downloads

AWKH Volume 120: Why Were the Dead Sea Scrolls Important?

Audio Download