The discovery of The Dead Sea Scrolls was the most important archeological discovery in history, and the single most important biblical find ever. The term Dead Sea Scrolls refers to the 850+ documents, most left in fragments from the wear of time, that were discovered in the Judean desert, around Qumran. Two teenage boys one a 15-year-old Bedouin shepherd first discovered the documents. The boys were surprised to hear the sound of breaking pottery upon throwing rocks down a hole they discovered while chasing a lost sheep. They dug at the crack opening it just enough for one boy to slip in. He was lowered in, where he discovered a few of the scrolls. They informed their village of their discovery, but it wasn’t until other people got involved that the true value of their discovery was understood. This cave became known as cave one and by 1956, eleven caves were discovered. Along with those caves and their documents came the most important biblical documents of all time.
(The Jordanian Antiquities Authority gave permission to Lankester Harding and Father Roland de Vaus to excavate Cave 1. De Vaux concludes that the scrolls were the products of the Essenes, a monastic-like group of ultra-orthodox Jewish celibates that lived in Qumran.) De Vaux and his team reassembled and translated the scrolls. The scrolls stayed under Jordanian control in Rockefeller Museum, until the war caused power in the area to shift over into the hands of the Israelis. Slowly the translation of the documents progressed. (Only a few privileged scholars had seen the DDS until the 1980’s, when public pressure led to the removal of the head of the scroll team and the ushering in of a new larger more diverse team. Then during the 1990’s the scrolls were made public to anyone interested in studying them.)
The Library is made up of documents written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The scrolls have parts of biblical books, pseudopigraphical and apocryphal books, and sectarian books. The debate about how the scrolls arrived in the caves still lives on. Two of my sources contradict each other with their opinions on this. (“The scrolls came to the desert through the dramatic destruction of Jerusalem”(p.139)) This theory suggests that the Scrolls were written in Jerusalem and transported out of the city during the attack from Rome under emperor Nero. Josephus tells the story in “Wars of the Jews” (6.5.1):
While the holy house was on fire, every thing was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity, but children, and old men, and profane persons, and priests were all slain in the same manner; so that this war went round all sorts of men, and brought them to destruction, and as well those that made supplication for their lives, as those that defended themselves by fighting. The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that...