Archaeologists have rediscovered nine Dead Sea Scrolls in an Israeli storeroom, that had been left unopened and forgotten for 60 years.
The find includes tiny fragments of text that were found inside phylacteries, miniature leather cases that contain verses from the Torah and are bound to the head of observant Jews during weekday morning prayers
The scrolls have been lying inside phylacteries or tefillin, leather cases containing the biblical passages from the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, for reportedly 2,000 years, and have never been photographed or even opened. Approximately two dozen of such scroll fragments were discovered in the 1950’s during excavations of limesetone caves near the Dead Sea at Qumran, all of which have since been examined, save for the forgotten nine.
Head of the Israel Antiquities Authorities’ Dead Sea Scrolls Projects, Pnina Shor, said “Either they didn’t realize that these were also scrolls, or they didn’t know how to open them,” of the newly rediscovered scrolls.
Yeshiva University’s Professor Lawrence Schiffman, an expert on Second Temple Judaism, explains that many of the texts from Qumran are similar to those we use today, but that many have additional passages and excerpts from the Torah, even from the Ten Commandments. He adds that noting the order in which the forgotten dead sea scrolls were placed is important, as rabbis methodologically placed such parchments to convey certain meanings.
“From my point of view, the most significant thing about all of this is that they actually have tefillin from 2,100 and plus years ago,” said Schiffman.
Professor Hindy Najman, of Yale University, notes that “we have to be prepared for surprises,” regarding what the parchments can hold. “On the one hand there’s tremendous continuity between what we have found among the Dead Sea Scrolls — liturgically, ritually and textually — and contemporaneous and later forms of Judaism. But there’s also tremendous possibility for variegated practices and a complex constellation of different practices, different influences, different ways of thinking about tefillin.”
The Israel Antiquities Authority has revealed that they will be delicate in handling the scrolls and uncovering what each one transcribes. We will keep you posted on any new developments.