Glimpses of Israel - Qumran

Famous for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran is located 38km east of Jerusalem, on a small plateau some 50 metres above the Dead Sea shore. It was here that the Essenes, a separatist Jewish community, had lived since 2nd century BC. They followed a simple communal lifestyle governed by strict religious observances.

Not much is known of the Essenes, and at this point in time archaeological findings have only added to the debate of unresolved issues. Nevertheless, it is accepted that the Essene community was responsible for writing, copying and storing the Scriptures, and that the caves were used to hide and preserve the Scriptures from the destructive invading Roman army.

The Essene community was destroyed in AD 68 as the Roman army endeavoured to crush the Jewish insurrections throughout the Land. Rome had had enough of its rebel Jewish subjects and had engaged in a vindictive policy that showed little or no mercy toward Jewish people or culture. Qumran was levelled and in its place a Roman army outpost established.

In spite of Rome's efforts the Scrolls and scroll fragments recovered at Qumran have been restored, and are the subject of intense study today. They are without doubt the greatest manuscript find in modern times. Some believe that there is much more to be revealed by these sacred writings. They believe the Scrolls' discovery in 1947 at the same time as the reestablishment of the State of Israel was no accident, and that their preservation after twenty centuries and "chance" finding by a Bedouin, was indeed miraculous. Time will tell.