The Library at Qumran

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In the middle of the last century two Bedouin shepherds of the Ta’amra tribe found the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their discovery created an exciting new area of biblical research.

While searching up a hill for a strayed goat, Mohammed edh Dhib and Ahmed Mohammed noticed a small hole in the rock face. Their curiosity was particularly aroused when one of them threw a rock into the hole and heard it smash into a pottery jar inside. Returning the next day, they crawled into the cave and discovered eight large jars lining the walls. All but two of the jars were empty—one was filled with earth while the other contained one large scroll and two smaller ones.

A view from the ancient settlement of Qumran of the cliffs above and to the west of the settlement. Illustration by Margaret Dickinson.

What Mohammed and Ahmed found was the now famous complete Isaiah Scroll, the Manual of Discipline and the Habakkuk Commentary. The shepherds took the three scrolls back to their camp southeast of Bethlehem, where the manuscripts were kept in a bag hanging from a tent pole for at least three months.

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  • David Pileggi

    David Pileggi

    David Pileggi lives in Jerusalem with his wife Carol and their three adult children where he is the rector of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. They have lived in Israel for 33 years where David has worked as a journalist/researcher and for…
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