The Silver Scrolls
Courtesy of the
Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
The Oldest-Known Fragments of the Bible
A Silver "Amulet"
In 1979 two small rolled pieces of silver were discovered in a burial cave in Jerusalem, Israel. When the little scrolls were carefully unrolled, researchers found words from the Book of Numbers inscribed into the silver, written in characters from an ancient Hebrew script.
The scrolls contain the text of the Priestly Benediction, which appears in Chapter 6 of Numbers, and which is still recited today by Jews in synagogue prayer throughout the world.
When the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, stood in Jerusalem, the priests - kohanim would ascend a platform (the "duchan") and recite the "Priestly Benediction" each day, delivering the threefold biblical blessings of G-d to the Jewish People. On these occasions, traditiion has it that the Divine Presence of G-d would rest on the hands of the kohanim, spread out in the prescribed method.
22 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23 "Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, 'Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:
24 The LORD bless you, and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.'
27 "So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them."
Yevarech'cha Y-H-V-H veyishmerecha
Ya'er Y-H-V-H panav eleicha vichunecha
Yissa Y-H-V-H panav eleicha veyasem lecha shalom
Numbers. 6:24-26 (BaMidbar 6:24-26)
The dating of the silver scrolls is based on new laboratory techniques. The results were very recently published in a scientific journal in the United States. Tests carried out in NASA laboratories confirm that these words were written around 600 B.C.E., in the days when Solomon's Temple still stood on the Jerusalem mountain.
"Archaeologist Gabi Barkai of Bar Ilan University, who discovered the amulets during a salvage excavation on the slopes overlooking the Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem, said that additional fragments of texts on the amulets have been deciphered and one identified as a verse from the book of Deuteronomy."
Jewish tradition tells us that the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomony) was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. But, scholars have debated the origins of these writings, proposing that it is instead made up of separate strands of religious writings woven together sometime after the Second Temple was destroyed in 587 B.C.E. One of these sources, they hypothesize, was written by Priests long after the Jews returned from Babylon - in the time of the Second Temple.
The silver scrolls contain words from the Book of Numbers and possibly from the Book of Deuteronomy - all on material that is older than the destruction of the First Temple!!
This post has been edited by vacant: 24 July 2008 - 06:34 PM