Excitement as Additional Qumran Cave is Discovered
THE FASCINATING SAGA OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS CONTINUES
The recent announcement by archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Hebrew University that a 12th cave had been found at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, raises hope that it may be possible to eventually recover additional texts from the Judean Desert.
Explorations by Bedouin and archaeologists between 1947 and 1956 led to the recovery of scrolls or manuscript fragments from 11 caves in the immediate vicinity of Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The new cave has been numbered Qumran Cave 12. All of the caves are adjacent to the ruins of an ancient sectarian settlement inhabited between about 100 BCE and 68 CE. This site was apparently the communal and ritual center for a group of sectarian Jews, identified by many scholars with the Essenes described by the first-century CE Jewish historian Josephus. This group lived a life of purity and religious devotion and gathered the more than 900 scrolls that in their present fragmentary condition constitute the collection we term the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls are divided more or less evenly between Biblical texts (including parts of every book of Tanach except Megillas Esther), apocryphal compositions (Sefarim Chitzoniyim—books about the Tanach or resembling the Tanach), and sectarian compositions including halachah, Biblical commentary, Targum, tefillah texts, poetry and wisdom texts.