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

Text Type Classification

Although higher concentrations of biblical texts were found in Qumran Caves 4 and 11, almost without exception the finds in the caves are not homogeneous; thus no one cave contained the “biblical library shelf” at Qumran. Nor does it necessarily follow that a text found at Qumran was written or copied there; it is now widely held that many of the texts found at Qumran were imported from elsewhere. Thus, these finds have important implications for our general understanding of the biblical text and the canon in the late Second Temple period.

Even prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars were aware of the existence of more than one biblical text type. Scholarly division of biblical texts according to three main types—the Masoretic Text (MT) as reflected in medieval manuscripts; the Septuagint (LXX), the ancient Greek translation of the Bible; and the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP), that is, the version preserved by the Samaritan community—received confirmation from Qumran finds. Ancient Hebrew exemplars of each of these three later text types were found at Qumran. As they predate the above‐mentioned exemplars, in speaking of these text types at Qumran, they are more aptly labeled proto‐Masoretic, proto‐Septuagintal, and pre‐Samaritan (or harmonistic; see below). The Qumran biblical texts shed light on the formation and the relationship between these types. They do not, however, represent the full variety of texts discovered at Qumran. A quarter of all of the biblical texts discovered there cannot be assigned to a type and are best referred to as independent or nonaligned texts, raising questions about the earlier scholarly tripartite division. Some Qumran texts display distinctive orthography (spelling), morphology (grammatical word formation), and scribal practices, and it has been suggested that they represent particular scribal habits or even a scribal school of the Qumran community itself.

Proto‐Masoretic Scrolls

The largest group of biblical scrolls at Qumran, about 40 percent, resembles the consonantal text in medieval Masoretic manuscripts, as documented in some of the earliest medieval codices; for example, in Codex

Biblical Books from Judean Desert Finds

Biblical Book (some scrolls contain two books) Scripts at Qumran Other Judean Desert Sites
Qumran “Square” Paleo‐Hebrew
Genesis 19 16 3 4
Exodus 15 13 2 1
Leviticus 12 8 4 2
Numbers 5 4 1 4
Deuteronomy 30 28 2 3
Joshua 2 2 1
Judges 3 3 1
1–2 Samuel 4 4
1–2 Kings 3 3
Isaiah 21 21 1
Jeremiah 6 6
Ezekiel 6 6 1
Minor Prophets 8 8 1
Psalms 36 36 3
Proverbs 2 2
Job 4 3 1
Ruth 4 4
Lamentations 4 4
Ecclesiastes 2 2
Esther 0 0
Daniel 8 8
Ezra‐Nehemiah 1 1
Chronicles 1 1
Total 200 187 13 22
Leningrad (dated 1009) and the 10th‐century Aleppo Codex. (Both of these codices are authoritative copies of the Bible with vocalization and cantillation traditions; all Qumran texts lack these signs, which developed in the late first millennium CE.) Some scholars prefer the label “proto‐rabbinic” for this category. The high proportion of texts belonging to this type at Qumran, as opposed to the lesser representation of other text types there, evidently reflects their dominant, though not exclusive, status. The proportionate predominance of this text type perhaps reflects a crucial stage in the process that resulted in its emergence as the authoritative text (see below). Among the Qumran texts the ones that bear the most remarkable affinity to medieval ones are 4QGen b and 1QIs b . Other closely related texts are 4QJer a and 4QJer c .

Proto‐Septuagintal Texts

A significant legacy of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is related to their attestation to the reliability of ancient translations. It is no longer possible to argue that differences from the MT preserved in the ancient translations all reflect intentional changes introduced by the translator rather than a different underlying text (Vorlage); it is clear that multiple text types circulated at the same time. One small group of texts found at Qumran, four in number, includes scrolls closely resemblingthe presumed Hebrew parent (Vorlage) of the Septuagint translation. Of the texts found at Qumran, 4QJer b and 4QJer d are closest to LXX, resembling both its shorter text and its verse arrangement. Other texts exhibiting close affinities to LXX are 4QDeut q and 4QSam a . Readings from the ancient translations hitherto regarded as questionable have now been shown to preserve authentic Hebrew ones.

Harmonistic Editing

A few texts are often called pre‐Samaritan, since they share certain features of the Samaritan text, but lack the distinctive ideology of the Samaritans (references to Mount Gerizim, for example). This small group of five texts from Qumran—4QPaleoExod m , 4QPaleoExod‐Lev f , 4QNum b , 4QDeut n and 4Q364 (Reworked Pentateuch b ; see below)—is better characterized by a different feature: the presence of harmonizing alterations, that is, changes or additions that create concord between two separate but parallel Torah texts. The two texts undergoing harmonization can be contextually close, such as the addition to Exod. 7.8 based on 7.15–18 , or remote, such as the two versions of the Decalogue (Exod. ch 20 and Deut ch 5 ). Alterations can be of different kinds: additions of a “source” for a quotation, mostly insertions from Deuteronomy to the parallel sections in the earlier books of the Torah, or provision of a missing command or its fulfillment. Harmonistic editing is also found in some nonbiblical texts from Qumran, including quotations in Reworked Pentateuch, excerpts cited for liturgical purposes, phylacteries, and mezuzot.

As compared to some of the later Qumran biblical scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) itself reflects a limited degree of harmonization, a fact that has bearing on the question of its dating. SP includes, in addition to harmonizing alterations, particularistic changes introduced by the Samaritans—related mainly to the sanctity of Mount Gerizim—before the destruction of the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim in 111 BCE. On this basis, it appears that the specifically sectarian changes and additions now found in the SP were introduced during the 2nd century BCE to pre‐Hasmonean Jewish harmonizing texts of the Torah. Although biblical texts continued to undergo harmonistic editing at Qumran, the Samaritans did not continue to update their texts with the more extensive changes attested in Qumran texts from the final two centuries of the Second Temple period.

Nonaligned Texts

The remaining texts, about 25 percent of the biblical corpus, may combine readings belonging to one or more traditional categories alongside independent variants; they are not easily assigned to a particular text type and are therefore classified as independent or nonaligned. To this group also belong the so‐called vulgar (in the sense of popular) texts, exemplified by 1QIs a , which exhibit a freer approach to the text. The scribal changes introduced into vocabulary and grammar reflect, on the whole, an attempt either to simplify the difficult biblical text, or to remove grammatical and contextual difficulties.

In addition, also related to this group are some texts of doubtful biblical nature, among them the so‐called Reworked Pentateuch. This group is composed of six Hebrew manuscripts, in which a running biblical text is reworked by scribal intervention, characterized by omissions of, additions to, and rearrangements of biblical passages, and, in some cases, the introduction of nonbiblical passages as well. We must also bear in mind that no external features or headings distinguish between biblical and nonbiblical texts at Qumran. Scholars debate these texts' classification: Some assign them to the biblical corpus, others define them as Reworked Pentateuch, whereas still others view them as nonbiblical. These texts stand on the boundary between text and interpretation.


Also of notable importance as witnesses to the development of the biblical text during thelate Second Temple period are the Greek and Aramaic translations of the Bible. Among the Qumran scrolls Greek translations were found: two scrolls of Leviticus and one scroll each of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These texts are reliable witnesses to an early stage of the transmission of LXX, preceding the one in which revisions bringing LXX into line with MT are attested. In addition, a Greek copy of the Minor Prophets was found in Naḥal Ḥever (8ḤevXII); it belongs however to the latter type, being the earliest extant revision bringing LXX into line with MT (mid‐1st century BCE). Aramaic Targumim, of lesser importance than LXX as witnesses to an early stage of the Hebrew biblical text, were also found at Qumran. The oldest extant Targum texts (to Lev, 4QtgLev; and Job, 4QtgJob and 11QtgJob) are extremely literal in contrast to the exegetical expansions characteristic of later Targumim.

Quotation and Use of Scriptures

Other biblically related texts found at Qumran, which will not be discussed at length here, are excerpted and abbreviated texts probably used for liturgical purposes, such as phylacteries (tefillin) and mezuzot. (There is a significant amount of variation in the texts found in these, and many do not agree with the later rabbinic prescriptions concerning their content.) Texts such as 4QExod d which contains Exod. 13.15–16 and 15.1, and 4QDeut n where Deut. ch 8 precedes Deut chs 5–6, also belong to this category. Also found in Qumran texts, both sectarian and nonsectarian, are free quotations of and allusions to biblical texts. Another genre found at Qumran, pesher, also incorporates biblical quotations. The works in question take selected biblical texts and apply them to the contemporary sectarian setting. From the formal viewpoint they resemble later medieval commentaries; the basic structure includes citation of a biblical text (the lemma), an introductory formula containing the word pesher (actualized interpretation), and the interpretation, which is an application of the text to a contemporary reality typically unrelated to its original context. Thus the lemmata of the pesharim also serve as witnesses to the biblical text of the mainly prophetic books they interpret. In some cases, more than one text to the same verse seems to be interpreted. In other cases, the biblical lemma may have been changed to fit the pesher interpretation. In addition to these obvious uses of biblical texts, there are, scattered throughout the sectarian writings of the Qumran community, many allusions to and citations of biblical verses or parts of verses. The Qumran community was “Bible‐centric”; its literature was saturated with biblical phrases.

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