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The Bedouin shepherd heard a squeak from the cave and climbed in from the mouth of the cave to investigate what was causing the squeal. In the cave, the boy found a sealed pottery pot, which he opened with his curiosity. Inside were 7 rolls of parchment, the boy thought good leather that was worth recovering for the shoemaker. The Bethlehem shoemaker exchanged the parchments for sandals, but examined the leather more closely before reusing it and noticed the text on it.

The shoemaker called to Jerusalem and knowledge of the parchments found reached Sukenik, a professor of archeology and the Bible. Sukenik got to examine the scrolls and he immediately bought three of them. The rest of the shoemaker sold it to a Syrian monastery, whose metropolitan took the scrolls to the United States for sale.  

1955 The state of Israel bought the scrolls from the United States with funds donated by a local Jew, $ 250,000, back to Israel, where they are now in Jerusalem at the Book Shrine with other discoveries.

As knowledge of the value of wrappers spread among the Bedouins in the early 1950s, a race for possible new discoveries between Bedouins and archaeologists began. In 1952, archaeologists began systematic excavations in the Qumran area, when more than 700 scrolls and tens of thousands of smaller pieces were found. Excavations also revealed the ruins of a monastery complex of Essenes (a religious Jewish sect in the time of Jesus).

Why was the discovery a sensation?

Never before had scholars had access to such old Old Testament texts. The finds contained parts of all the books of the Old Testament except the book of Esther. Most of the texts are in Hebrew, a few in Aramaic and Greek. They are mainly from around 100 BC The book of Samuel is the oldest, dating back to 400 BC The best preserved entity is the book of Isaiah. It is 2100 years old. Now it was possible for biblical scholars to compare the Old Testament of our time with that of Jesus. Overall, the text changes have been very minor. The scriptures and ruins found give a new picture of the diversity of Judaism in Jesus ’day, that is, the background of Christianity. . Thanks to the discoveries, we now also know much more about the society, economy and politics of that time, the development of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages.

Ruin area

The main building has had a tower, a meeting room, a writing room where the ink bottle found at the time of discovery still contained ink, a kitchen, a dining room, water tanks to which water had been drawn from the mountains. The whole area was protected from attackers by a wall, from which there are still remnants. A pottery workshop with ovens and a potter's wheel were also found nearby.

The community cemetery is 50 meters  east of the buildings. There are about 1,100 graves here. The pictures show the remains of pools for ritual baths. The stairs are divided into two parts: One side was used when descending into the water and the other clean when ascending.

The Essenes

Until now, not much was known about the sect of the Essenes. It is never mentioned in the New Testament. The Jewish historian Josefus Flavius and a few other contemporaries mention it in their accounts.

The Essene community sighed when King Hyrcanus I of Hashmoni appointed himself high priest in the temple in Jerusalem. A number of Jews could not accept this, for they said this would have led to the victory of Greek culture. This set left  under the leadership of a high-ranking priest to the Qumran area and they established their own monastic community there.

The highest authority in the community was the "Teacher of Righteousness." They themselves called themselves "poor." They had common property and decisions about the community were made democratically.

By doctrine they were pious about the law, where they passed even the Pharisees.

Like the Pharisees, they believed in the resurrection of the night and considered themselves true Israel, children of light. They waited for both the spiritual and worldly Messiah. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." They also had our Father's prayer taught by Jesus. There is also a resemblance in their writings to, for example, the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  They had both a water dew and a joint meal of a blessed bread and bowl. They strictly adhered to the rules of purification of Judaism. The clean-up took place in a Community basin. Purification meant more spiritual than physical purity.

The life of the Essenes in Qumran ended with the destruction of the community during the Jewish War, which ended in 70 AD. To the destruction of Jerusalem.

Perhaps the coming destruction was palpable and that is why the community carefully hid its writings in pots in the caves of Qumran.

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