Analysis of The Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls
“The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God stands forever” Isaiah 40.8
“Mohammed Dib, a Bedouin shepherd of the T’Amireh tribe” (Keller, 1957, 401) could not have known that he would be the person who, in 1947, would bring to bear the words of Isaiah 40.8
This shepherd boy had been clambering around the clefts and gullies of a rock face on Wadi Qumran, north of the Dead Sea hoping to find one of his lost lambs. Thinking that it could have taken refuge in a cave he threw stones at the opening. He heard a jar break, became fearful and ran to fetch his fellow tribesmen. What they discovered were written scrolls of ancient papyrus, stuffed in jars and wrapped in linen. The Bedouins thought that they could make money on the black market in Bethlehem so sold them for a few shekels. A bundle of four of these scrolls was purchased by “the Orthodox Archbishop of Jerusalem, Yeshue Samuel who then stored them in St. Marks Monastery”. (Albright, 1954, 403)
From this point in time interest in the scrolls escalated and in “1949 the Oriental Institute in Chicago invited Yeshue Samuel to submit the scrolls for examination. The Dead Sea Scrolls were given extensive and exhaustive examinations including carbon testing which indicated that “ because
the linen they were wrapped in was made from flax which had been harvested in the time of Christ that the scrolls were seen to have been copied around 100 B.C.” (Albright, 1954, 404).
From the time of the initial discovery there was also an upsurge in archeological expeditions to the area. One such expedition was in 1949 when Father Roland de Vaux, Dominican Director of the French Ecole Biblique et Archeologique at Jerusalem and Professor Lankester Harding the British Director of the Department of Antiquities in Amran arrived in Qumran. After the initial disappointment of finding no complete scrolls or jars they “ literally examined the floor of the cave with their fingernails. What they found allowed them to come to some astonishing conclusions” (“they found fragments and potsherds relating to Graeco-Roman times, dating from 30 B.C. to A.D. 70. Six hundred tiny scraps of leather and papyrus made it possible to recognize Hebrew transcriptions from Genesis, Deuteronomy, and the book of Judges, pieces of linen fabric which had served to wrap up the scrolls completed the meager spoils.” (Keller,406-407)
Professor Lankester Harding stated in a journal article for the Society of Oriental Research in 1956 that
These unexpected discoveries are perhaps the most sensational archeological event
of our time. There have been 400 manuscripts including 100 Biblical manuscripts
discovered. These include every book in the Old Testament with the exception of
Esther. The best known is the complete book of Isaiah. The scrolls and fragments
Which come from Qumran date from 200...