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Decoding the Dead Sea Facts

The Essenes practice religious purification through bathing.

The Essenes practice religious purification through bathing.

  • Within 10 years of the first discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, over 800 manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek would be discovered in 11 caves around the Qumran settlement.

  • Four of the Dead Sea Scrolls were sold in the classifieds of the Wall Street Journal in June of 1954.

  • There was very little atmospheric control in the “scrollery” that was set up to decipher the 2000 year old scroll fragment: clear adhesive tape was used to keep pieces together, windows were left open around the scrolls and the scholars are often photographed smoking over the fragments.

  • Although the scrolls are written in three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, the most common script among all of them is known as the “Assyrian” or “Square” script.

  • Most of the mistakes made in copying the biblical texts were aural rather than visual. Therefore, scholars believe, that the texts were dictated to a group of scribes so that many copies could be made at the same time.

  • Fifty years passed between the discovery of the scrolls and the first publication in their entirety.

  • The “Copper Scroll” was the only manuscript found that was written on something other than parchment or papyrus.

  • The Copper Scroll appears to be a treasure map to riches calculating up to 100 tons of gold and silver combined.

  • The Essenes purification practices were unique amongst Jewish tradition in two ways: 1) they required complete bodily immersion however, it was permitted only to those who had gone through one year of intense studies, 2) Sect members submerged themselves before each communal meal in order to ensure the purity of all the members eating.

  • One of the clearest accounts that we have of the Essene sect is from Josepheus, a Jewish leader who was captured by the Romans but whose life was spared. He was given Roman citizenship and became a friend of Titus and Vespasian.

  • Although they are of the same period, evidence shows that the Essenes rejected the predominant style of reclining while dining and instead sat quietly, upright, while eating. This fact is supported by the distinct lack of couches found in the dining room area at Qumran.

  • The Essenes were a pious Jewish sect that lived during the time of Jesus. They were contemptuous of wealth and made it mandatory that all members give up their material goods for the greater good of the group.

  •  Members of the Essene sect were not allowed to take any action without asking their supervisors permission, making exceptions for only two things: personal aid and charity; they were allowed to help any deserving person in need or supply the hungry with food. 

  • According to scholarly hypothesis, the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden in the Qumran caves about 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus.

  • The largest Scroll found to-date is the Temple Scroll, which is 26 feet long and written on 19 separate sheets of parchment.