Qumran, memory of faithful Jews
Posted on 05 December 2012 by Noa Naor
Shalom, dear children!
When you drive to the South alongside the Dead Sea, you pass the remains of a place in the mountains that is called Qumran, about 20 kilometres to the east of Jerushalayim. At that spot a Bedouin boy found bible scrolls in 1947. Therefore these scrolls are also called the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’. Amazingly, they have been preserved by the dry climate and the darkness of the caves in which they were found, even for 1900 years! This Bedouin boy had his goats graze in that area. One goat strayed off.
The boy went looking for the little goat. He threw a stone into a dark cave to see whether it might be in there. Then he heard something break and went inside. The boy saw several jars of clay in which were pieces of old parchment – animal skin that the people in ancient times used to write bible scrolls upon. These very ols texts were wrapped in linen cloths.
This boy had discovered an enormous treasure! These were the scrolls that the Essenes, a Jewish group, had copied. They also made their own texts. This group also called themselves ‘Jachad’ (‘Together’) . They had lived there from the first and second century before the common era.
They thought the Temple service corrupt and hypocritical: in that time you could even become a high priest if you payed a lot of money! Anyway, the Essenes wanted it to be different. They lived in a far and lonely place in the desert to stude the Tenach (the ‘Old Testament’), copy Bible scrolls ans to immerse themselves in the mikvah (bath). Their goal was: to prepare themselves for the Temple service and be pure for Adonai.
Only the men lived in Qumran. The women and children lived near ‘Ein Fashcha’, a spring in the desert. Today in Qumran you can still see the gutters to collect rain. The women and children also brought water to de place where the men lived. The ‘Jachad’ was a closed group. If you wanted to become one of them, you had to participate with them for almost a year and then you had to do a test. So choosing to become one of the group was a very serious thing to do.
In the time of the Essenes also John the Baptist lived. Just like the Essenes he had only few possessions, he eagerly awaited the coming of the Messiah and he lived completely for Adonai. He also lived mostly in the desert, to be alone. Some people say that he knew the Essenes and even may have lived with them, but there is no proof for that.
In Qumran there are no Essenes anymore, because the Romans killed them and many other Jews after they destroyed the Tempel in the year 70. If the ‘Jachad’ had not hid the bible scrolls so well, then the Romans would have destroyed them too. Only one complete scroll has been found: the book of Isaiah. The Bedouin boy found that one just after the Second World War. Since Israels 60th birthday this scroll is to be seen in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.Noa Naor, Jerusalem
Verse to remember: Sing to Adonai, for He has done great things; let this be told throughout all the earth. (Isaiah 12:5)