This scroll fragment preserves parts of the Book of Leviticus, in which God promises to reward the people of Israel if they observe the Sabbath and obey the 10 commandments. (Photo: copyright The Schøyen Collection, Oslo and London, MS 4611.)

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. – Psalm 119:89-90 (ESV)

The first of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered nearly 70 years ago by a young Bedouin shepherd throwing rocks into a cave. The sound of breaking pottery drew his attention. Since then, nearly 900 scroll fragments, in a series of 11 caves, have been discovered in the area west of the Dead Sea; both from archeologists and recovered from antiquities dealers.

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. – Psalm 119:16 (ESV)

Qumran Caves (Photo: ©2008 Patterns of Evidence LLC. All rights reserved.)

It appears likely that more of these precious writings are waiting to be found, as biblical documents continue to surface. The latest discoveries of 25 new scroll fragments have been published in two new books. These discoveries shed more light on questions about the transmission of the biblical text and the people who lived more than 2,000 years ago. As noted on Live Science the new finds contain fragments from 18 books of the Hebrew bible; including portions of Nehemiah (if authenticated, it would be the first time Nehemiah has shown up in the Dead Sea Scrolls). The fragment records Nehemiah’s visit to a ruined Jerusalem, finding that its gates had been “consumed by fire.” According to the fragment text, he inspects the remains of the walls before starting work on rebuilding them.

Scholars have expressed concerns that some of the fragments are forgeries. It is important to note that the Christian Post reports that Michael Holmes, executive director of the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative, cautioned that scientists are still conducting tests on the fragments in question to make sure they are not forgeries.

Timothy Mahoney at Qumran (Photo: ©2008 Patterns of Evidence LLC. All rights reserved.)
Timothy interviewing Jodi Magness, professor of early Judaism at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, at Qumran. (Photo: ©2008 Patterns of Evidence LLC. All rights reserved.)
Scholars believe the Essenes, a devout communal Jewish sect who lived in Judea and had separated from the central Temple authority, may have written the scrolls and hid them during the time it was part of the Roman empire; possibly during the Jewish revolt around AD 70.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, heritage and cultural assets have been plundered from the Judean Desert caves. A great effort has been initiated recently to find and excavate all the scrolls that remain before they are illegally taken. They wish to preserve the scrolls and other antiquities for the people of Israel and the world.