The whole world of biblical scholarship changed in 1947 when the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found at Qumran. Before these 2,000 year old texts of Scripture were found, the oldest Hebrew Bible texts scholars had dated to only around 1,000 AD. Yet God miraculously preserved these texts for the world to see and study them.
Between 1947 and 1956, 11 caves were found in this area of Qumran. Between 750 – 950 texts (depending on how you count them) were found. About 25% of the texts of copies of Hebrew Scriptures, all 39 books of the OT except for Esther. About 27% of the scrolls were common Judaism texts. About 38% were sectarian documents of the community of Essene community. And about 11% of the scrolls were too fragmentary to place in a category.
Seven scrolls were found in Cave 1 – Two Isaiah Scrolls, the Thanksgiving Scroll, the War Scroll, the text of the Community Rules, and a commentary on Habakkuk (the Pesher Habakkuk). I always provide an option to hike to this famous “Cave 1” on all the trip I lead.
However, it was just announced that a twelfth cave was just found. This “Cave 12” is located high on the western cliffs overlooking the archaeological site of Qumran. This is quite exciting!
Inside this cave, pieces of six 2000 year-old jars were found. Also small fragments of parchment and papyrus were discovered as well as at least one linen used for wrapping scrolls. The jars are identical to those found in other caves. Apparently the cave was looted in the 1950s, with pick-axe heads found inside the cave.
Dr. Randall Price, professor at Liberty University, is one of a few who led this latest expedition. Another archaeologist who was part of the dig was Oren Gutfield of Hebrew University. His comments reflect the significance of this discovery, “This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave.”
Several articles were written about this latest discovery of Cave 12. Stay tuned…. more to come I’m sure!