After all of the heavy happenings of the previous day, The Israel Museum was a breath of fresh air. Our focus was to be on the Shrine of the Book which is where the Dead Sea Scrolls are located. I found this to be particularly fascinating since I have had two terms of Biblical Hebrew. While I quickly came to the conclusion last year that languages are not my forte’, I did manage to learn enough that I can recognize the letters and even sometimes sound them out. For me, there was something magical about looking at those ancient texts and recognizing the letters. I wondered about the person who formed the letters. What were they thinking at the time? I felt somehow connected to that individual because of my ability to make out the letters. Maybe that sounds a little strange, but that’s how it went down.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts. They consist of the Old Testament as well as other biblical documents. The texts are highly significant because they are the oldest known surviving documents of the bible. They date from 150 BCE to 70 CE. They are attributed to an ancient Jewish sect known as the Essenes who lived a communal life of asceticism in the desert near the Dead Sea. The Essenes are believed to have inhabited the settlement at Qumran, a plateau in the Judean desert along the Dead Sea. Qumran is where the caves are located that the scrolls were found in. All of this is up for debate, and it is in fact heavily debated among scholars. However, the key things to remember are that the scrolls are the oldest copies of the Old Testament that we have; they were not discovered until 1947, and they simultaneously substantiate much of the Old Testament that we have today as well as differ from it. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copies in existence of the Old Testament were from the 10th century CE which is a one thousand year difference!
After we visited the Shrine of the Book, we were allowed some time to wander on our own. At last! The opportunity I had been waiting for. I was not allowed to take pictures anywhere indoors while at the museum. That was probably a good thing because I would have tried to photograph everything and I would have missed out on the exquisite lighting that was going on outside. As it turned out, I found myself wandering the Billy Rose Art Garden, and I managed to capture some of the best photos that I have ever taken in my life! This was a very special moment for me…I hope that you enjoy the photos!
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|The Museum of Israel|