A decade of discovery between 1946 and 1956 at a series of cave complexes at Qumran near the Dead Sea rocked both the archeology and theology worlds.
Intact scrolls dated to the time period just before Christ walked the Earth proved that the passages of scripture in the Old Testament remained largely unchanged in the 2,000 years since.
This discovery shattered accusations by atheist and Muslim scholars that the Bible had been changed so much over the years that the validity of the text could no longer be trusted.
Now, the discovery of new caves in this same region of Qumran could mean the discovery of new scrolls to prove the validity of even more of the Old Testament.
Two new caves in particular are intriguing archeologists as they excavate the sites.
According to The Times of Israel, “though no new manuscripts have yet been unearthed in the newly discovered caves at Qumran, archaeologists have discovered a number of objects indicating scrolls were stored there, among them jars, wrappings, and possible scroll fragments.”
Excavation of the caves is currently ongoing and new scrolls could be discovered at any time.
“This cave was robbed by Bedouins maybe 40 years ago,” said archaeologist Randall Price, a professor at Liberty University who is leading the dig operation.
“Fortunately for us, they didn’t dig very deep. Our hope is that if we keep digging, we hit the mother lode.”
In addition to the artifacts that indicate the presence of additional scrolls, Price and his team have found a bronze cooking pot dating to the first century BC, a nearly intact oil lamp from the Hellenistic-Hasmonean period, and several pieces of pottery such as storage vessels, cups, and cooking pots, as well as pieces of textiles, braided ropes, and string.
In total, 900 manuscripts and up to 50,000 fragments were uncovered in the first 11 caves.
They are believed to have been written by a religiously extremist Jewish cult known as the Essenes, which had strict ascetic beliefs that required them to retreat from mainstream Jewish culture at the time.
They set up an isolated community at Qumran in the harsh desert near the Dead Sea and lived a life of ritualistic piety that involved the instead study and copying of Jewish scripture, as well as elaborate cleansing rituals involving baths.
The Essenes are also described as an apocalyptic cult who believed the end times were near and that the Messiah would come back leading an army of angels to liberate the Jewish people from Roman occupation.
In the years leading up to 70 A.D., when the Romans conquered the Jewish revolt and ultimately destroyed the Temple leaving behind only the Wailing Wall we’re familiar with today, the Essenes believed this would be the final battle of all time.
They joined in the battle to stop the invading the Roman legion, believing the Messiah would come to arm them and aid them with his army of angels.
That did not happen and the completely unprepared Essenes were slaughtered by the Roman army and the settlement at Qumran was burned to the ground.
However, before riding out to battle, the Essenes hid countless artifacts among a series of nearby caves where they remain untouched and preserved for nearly 2,000 years.
The dry desert climate created the perfect environment for the preservation of these scrolls making these discoveries priceless in their value to scholars seeking to understand the ancient Jewish world into which Christ and Christianity was born.
It is truly amazing that the more archeologists and historians discover, the more the truth of the Bible is revealed. Praise God that the truth of His Word is being proclaimed all over the world!