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Posts Tagged ‘Qumran’

In the south of the Holy Land, on the barren and other-worldly banks of the Salt Sea (Dead Sea), we can find the remains of a community of pious Jews many believe were the Essenes. It is this community of ultra devout Jews, seeking purity and piety for God that is believed to be the source of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea scrolls are ancient “books” which were written on parchment and stored in clay jars in the caves surrounding and located near the Dead Sea. These scrolls were discovered initially by shepherds who tended flocks in the area between the Dead Sea and Bethlehem. The story of the discovery and sale of the scrolls is interesting and you should explore it, but for the purposes of this post, suffice it to say that the discovery of the scrolls gives further convincing evidence for the reliability of the Bible.

The scrolls included information beyond the actual scriptures, including information regarding the daily life and conduct of those living in the community. They also reflect a focus among the authors on the coming Messiah. This is all very helpful to understanding the time period into which Messiah Yeshua was born and ministered in the late 2nd-Temple era.

Qumran, as an archaeological site, is notably a place to observe the collection and use of water in antiquity in what is a very dry region with few natural potable water sources. The site has several cisterns for water collection, a water canal which carried water to various parts of the site and from the mountains above the site. It is also marked by a several mikvaot (Jewish immersion pools), evidencing the focus on piety and purity of those living there.

See also Qumran (The Dead Sea Scrolls)

Cave near Qumran
Mikveh – Ritual immersion pool at Qumran
Water canal at Qumran
Huge cistern at Qumran
View looking east toward the Dead Sea and Transjordan from Qumran

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In the tall cliffs above the Salt Sea (aka the Dead Sea) there are openings in the cliffs barely visible from the road passing below. The openings lead to caves. In the caves, the members of an ancient Jewish community, hid scrolls on which were written portions of the Hebrew Bible as well as extensive writings about the life in the religious community.

The scrolls, the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible, were discovered in the 1940’s right around the time Israel was being established and Jews were returning to Israel from all over the world. The discovery of the scrolls at this time was more than mere coincidence. The writings reinforce the claims of legitimacy of the Jewish people in the land. The writings further confirm the authenticity of scripture for Christians as well as Jews.

The photos above give you an idea of the geography of Qumran. These photos are taken in the wetter part of the year, and yet there is little greenery. The only fresh water in this area comes from the ravines which bring water from the north of Israel after the rains. The openings in the rocks evident in some of the photos are caves similar to and in which the scrolls were found.

The photos above are from the excavations of the Jewish community near the base of the cliffs where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. They appear to have been a religious group. This conclusion is based on the finding of several Mikva’ot (plural of Mikveh). The Mikva’ot are used for bathing, part of the Jewish practice of ritual purification. The occurrence of several in a community speaks of the important of ritual purity to the group. In addition to the Mikva’ot, remains of very large cisterns, used to collect and store water for the long periods without rain-water run off, have been excavated.

In the photos above, you can also see part of the water system which has been discovered which provides further support for the importance of water to their religious practices as well as their experience with collecting and storing water because of the geography and lack of nearby fresh water sources.

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