Glimpses of Israel - The Shrine of The Book

by Joseph Hunting

During the reign of John Hyrcanus in the 2nd century B.C. unknown hands carefully placed the scroll of the book of Isaiah, together with other books of the Bible, into earthenware jars and then hid them deep in caves by the shores of the Dead Sea.

This community of desert dwellers called the Essenes lived in a kind of collective settlement far from the religious and political turmoil in Judaea during that period.

More than 2,000 years were to pass over the caves at Qumran during which time the sect of the Essenes were dispersed by the Romans and their communal settlement all but disappeared as wind and sand swept over it. In the process of time waves of foreign invaders took possession of the Holy Land but the caves at Qumran held their secret until 1947 when a Bedouin lad accidently stumbled upon the world's most treasured literary prize, now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Highly skilled scientists and archaeologists have pieced together the fragments of various books which are now housed in the famous Shrine of the Book located close to the Museum in parklands in modern Jerusalem. The unusual dome-like structure which is the roof of the underground Shrine is shaped like the lid of the stone jar which housed the Isaiah scroll for more than 2,000 years.

Today, visitors can read this beautifully preserved scroll in exactly the same form as this matchless treasure of Divine truth was read before the birth of the Messiah it foretells.