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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Finds

The story of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the mid‐20th century needs no retelling. What is significant are the large numbers of biblical and especially Torah books preserved in the Judean Desert. The bulk of these mainly fragmentarily preserved biblical scrolls come from caves located near Qumran, a site occupied from ca. 150 BCE to 68 CE. Smaller numbers of scrolls were found elsewhere in the Judean Desert: at Masada, Naḥal Ḥever, and Wadi Murabbaʿat. Of a total of 900 separate scrolls found at Qumran, 200 are biblical. At Masada, seven of the fifteen literary texts found, that is, nearly half, are biblical. Within the biblical corpus itself, proportionally more copies of Torah books were found: at Qumran they comprised 43.5 percent of the biblical corpus, and at other sites in the Judean Desert a full 64 percent of the biblical scrolls. Paleographical analysis shows that the script of the Qumran scrolls dates from 250 BCE (the earliest scroll is 4QExod f ) to the mid‐1st century CE, with most of the manuscripts dating from the 1st century BCE to the 1st century CE. In addition, two types of Hebrew scripts were found at Qumran: Thirteen texts were written in paleo‐Hebrew (“archaic” Hebrew, used mainly in the First Temple period and on Second Temple coins), but the overwhelming majority of the texts were written in square script (also called Assyrian or Jewish, borrowed during the Babylonianexile; used from the Second Temple period on). The non‐Qumran Judean Desert scrolls were written exclusively in square script and date to the 1st and 2nd centuries CE.

The table on p. 1922 summarizes the data for the numbers of biblical scrolls found in the Judean Desert. A brief glance at the table not only reveals the prominence of Torah books in general, but also the greater popularity of specific biblical books, as evidenced, for example, by the relatively large number of copies of Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah. These latter works are also the ones most often cited in sectarian compositions at Qumran as well as in the New Testament and later rabbinic literature.

A small number of the scrolls found at Qumran contained more than a single book; thus two scrolls from Cave 4 contained Genesis and Exodus, one combined Exodus and Leviticus, and another Leviticus and Numbers. This perhaps suggests the writing of the books of the Torah on one scroll, but there is too little evidence to prove it. On the other hand, essential to any consideration of the Judean Desert finds is the rarity of a fully preserved text of any biblical work; fragmentary preservation is the rule. Most of the 200 biblical scrolls from the eleven Qumran caves contain no more than one‐tenth of a biblical book; the complete Isaiah scroll (1QIsa a ) is the exception.

The table also indicates that, excluding Esther (but see discussion below), all the books of what was to become the Hebrew canon are represented in the Judean Desert corpus. Direct evidence for Nehemiah is also missing; however, as Ezra‐Nehemiah was perceived as a single book in antiquity, scholars posit its presence at Qumran indirectly, from the Ezra scroll from Qumran Cave 4.

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