Category Archives: Old Testament

Where did Jeremiah go? Euphrates or En Prat?

The prophet Jeremiah is told to,

“Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” (Jeremiah 13:4 ESV)

Various English translations use waistband, shorts, sash, girdle, and underwear to describe the piece of clothing that Jeremiah had bought. Whatever, the indication is that the garment was relatively new. Now he must take it to the Euphrates and hide it in a cleft of the rock.

Remember that Jeremiah was was from the little town of Anathoth, on the NE side of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 1:1). We still lack certainty regarding the specific location of the town, but the name lives on today in the Arab town of Anata.

Where was the Euphrates? At first we think of this as an easy question to answer. But on second thought there is another possibility. Jeremiah may have been told to go to a place identified as En Prat (or Ein Prat) in modern Israel. This place is identified with Parah in Joshua 18:23, and is called Perath in English transliteration of the Hebrew word. The Hebrew word en means spring. It is sometimes spelled ein, and in Arabic we find it as ain.

I have seen the Euphrates in several locations in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. In Turkey the river is called the Firat Nehri.

The Firat Nehri (Euphrates River) in Birecik, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Firat Nehri (Euphrates River) in Birecik, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The translator notes in the NET Bible provide a helpful comment:

There has been a great deal of debate about whether the place referred to here is a place (Parah [= Perath] mentioned in Josh 18:23, modern Khirbet Farah, near a spring ’ain Farah) about three and a half miles from Anathoth which was Jeremiah’s home town or the Euphrates River. Elsewhere the word “Perath” always refers to the Euphrates but it is either preceded by the word “river of” or there is contextual indication that the Euphrates is being referred to. Because a journey to the Euphrates and back would involve a journey of more than 700 miles (1,100 km) and take some months, scholars both ancient and modern have questioned whether “Perath” refers to the Euphrates here and if it does whether a real journey was involved. Most of the attempts to identify the place with the Euphrates involve misguided assumptions that this action was a symbolic message to Israel about exile or the corrupting influence of Assyria and Babylon. However, unlike the other symbolic acts in Jeremiah (and in Isaiah and Ezekiel) the symbolism is not part of a message to the people but to Jeremiah; the message is explained to him (vv. 9–11) not the people. In keeping with some of the wordplays that are somewhat common in Jeremiah it is likely that the reference here is to a place, Parah, which was near Jeremiah’s hometown, but whose name would naturally suggest to Jeremiah later in the LORD’s explanation in vv. 9–11 Assyria-Babylon as a place connected with Judah’s corruption (see the notes on vv. 9–10). For further discussion the reader should consult the commentaries, especially W. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:396 and W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:285–92 who take opposite positions on this issue.

I have no fixed view on this subject, but the thought that Jeremiah went from Anathoth to Perath (= En Prat), a distance of 3 miles or so, is more sensible to me. Remember that Jeremiah had to make two trips to Perath, one to deposit his undergarment and another to retrieve it.

En Prat is located in the western edge of the wilderness of Judah at an elevation of 910 feet above sea level. You recall that Jerusalem is about 2400 feet above sea level. Here is a view as we approach En Prat. The elevation where I was standing is 1,060 feet above sea level.

In the wilderness on the way to En Prat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the wilderness on the way to En Prat. In the photo you see caves, some of which were used as sheepfolds in the past. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As Leon Mauldin and I reached En Prat this was the first photo of the area with a view to the west.

My first photograph of En Prat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

My first photograph of En Prat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I thought about places Jeremiah might have hidden his under garment.

Many rocks around En Prat suitable for hiding a garment. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Many rocks around En Prat suitable for hiding a garment. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here is a final photo with a view east. This stream, Nahal Prat, is also known as Wadi Kelt (or Qelt, or Qilt) and flows past Jericho to the Jordan Valley.

En Prat, view east toward the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

En Prat, view east toward the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The small map below will show the relation between Jerusalem and Anathoth and En Prat (Perath, Parah).

This map identifies Perath as possibly the site mentioned in Joshua 18:23. Map courtesty of BibleHub.com.

This map identifies Parah as possibly the site mentioned in Joshua 18:23. Map courtesty of BibleHub.com.

The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, sold by BiblePlaces.com, includes a fabulous selection of photos of En Prat and Wadi Qilt in Vol. 4 – Judah and the Dead Sea.

The Double and Triple Gates of the Temple Mount

In two previous posts I wrote about visiting the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque. You must know that I learn more from this blog than anyone. That is one of the reason I enjoy preparing it.

In the last post I stated that “There is good reason to believe that both Jesus and the Apostles used this entry to the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13; Acts 3:1).” Mark Hoffman, a professor who writes the helpful Biblical Studies and Technological Tools blog, after leaving nice comment about my post, said,

One question: I was under the impression that the typical pilgrim in Jesus’ time would enter by the triple gates to the right (east) and exit by the double gates to which you draw attention. Do you know if this is correct?

I’m trying to locate the rabbinic reference, but I believe that people who entered by the double gates were mourning or grieving, and by walking up the steps through the double gates, others were made aware of their sorrow.

I began to dig into the sources at hand to see if I could find an answer. Perhaps I had rushed past this information before, but I don’t remember it.

This morning Joseph I. Lauer, who provides so much helpful information that I use on the blog, provided an answer.

Mishnah Middot 1:3 states in part that “the two Huldah Gates in the south were used for entering and exiting.” Mishnah Middot 2:2 states in part that “All those entering the Temple Mount enter towards the right and circle and exit toward the left, except for one to whom something [adverse] occurred, for he would circle toward the left.” Circling toward the left would indicate to the others that he was a mourner or had been excommunicated.

Most of the Double Gate is covered by a later building, but a small portion of the eastern door jamb can be seen in the left of our photo. Herodian stone work has been found inside the gate. The lower part of a window in the Al Aksa Mosque is visible at the top of the photo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Most of the Double Gate is covered by a later building, but a small portion of the eastern door jamb can be seen in the left of our photo. Herodian stone work has been found inside the gate. The lower part of a window in the Al Aksa Mosque is visible at the top of the photo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

By this time I had already located that reference and other interpretations of the Mishnah quotation. One source that was helpful was John McRay’s Archaeology and the New Testament.

In the Mishnah it is said that temple worshippers entered on the right and exited on the left. [Middoth 2:2] This statement may relate to the purification process involved. At Qumran, for example, small partitions in the stairways of the ritual baths kept those purified from being defiled by those who were yet unclean. A Talmudic passage refers to Gamaliel (the teacher of the apostle Paul, Acts 22:3) and the elders standing on top of the stairs at the Temple Mount. [Tosepthta Sanhedrin 2:2] Thus, entrance to the Temple Mount may have been through the Double Gates and exit through the Triple Gates. [Middoth 1:3, etc.] (McRay, John. Archaeology and the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991: 107)

Jack Finegan, in The Archaeology of the New Testament, suggests that the Double Gate, on the west, was used both for the “entry and exit of pilgrims,” and that the Triple Gate (on the east) “was used by the priests.”

On the south side of the Temple enclosure may be seen two gates, which are about seventy meters apart and now walled up. They are known as the Double Gate and the Triple Gate. They are usually identified with the gates in the middle on the south side mentioned by Josephus, and with the two Huldah Gates mentioned in Middoth, and they are sometimes called the Western and Eastern Huldah Gates, with the supposition that pilgrims entered the Temple area by the western gate and departed by the eastern gate. An alternate theory supposes that the Double Gate itself provided for entry and exit of pilgrims and was thus itself the two Huldah Gates while the Triple Gate was used by the priests. (Finegan, Jack. The Archaeology of the New Testament. Rev. ed. Princeton: Princeton UP. 1992. 206-207.)

The Triple Gate in the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The gates you see here are much later, but an original Herodian stone is located to the left of the gates. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Triple Gate in the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The gates you see here are much later, but an original Herodian stone is located to the left of the gates. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I would also like to share one additional comment by Meir Ben-Dov. He begins by discussing why the entry to the Temple would be from the south.

Throughout the ages it was a standard practice to build temples in the highest spot in any given area, so that a visit to the holy site involved “ascent.” The slope to the south of the Temple Mount was the longest and steepest of all the gradients surrounding it; only there was it possible to manifest the idea that the approach to the Temple Mount would be both impressive and steep enough to create the feeling of ascent. This also explains the call in the Bible, “Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion” (Jeremiah 31:6), not in its modern “Zionist” sense but quite literally; for it was addressed to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, most of whom were then living in the City of David, south of and below the Ophel.

After that he proceeds to discuss the southern gates that are the subject of interest here.

The two gates in the southern wall are about 70 meters apart and served the pattern established for entry and exit: “Whoever it was that entered the Temple Mount came in on the right and went around and came out on the left, save any [who have suffered some tragedy], for he went round to the left. ‘What aileth thee that thou goest to the left?’ ‘Because I am a mourner.’ ‘May He that dwelleth in this House give thee comfort’” (Midot Tractate 2:2).

The picture that emerges from this description has the majority of the public entering the compound via the eastern Hulda Gate, walking around the Temple, and exiting through the western Hulda Gate} while a person in mourning that year would walk around the Temple in the opposite direction, entering through the western gate and leaving through the eastern one. This was a fitting custom, for if a visitor to the Temple met anyone walking in the opposite direction – even a perfect stranger he immediately understood that the man had suffered a tragedy, inquired about it, and comforted the mourner in his grief. In this way, a visit to the Temple was personalized and helped to cultivate a sense of national solidarity, which was not common to the temples of other peoples. (Ben-Dov, Meir. In the Shadow of the Temple. Trans. Ina Friedman. Jerusalem: Keter, 1982. 136.)

Thanks to the two gentlemen who stimulated this study. I now leave it to others who may have interest to do additional research and draw their own conclusions.

Visiting the Dome of the Rock

We begin today’s journey with an aerial view of the Temple Mount, the site believed to be the Mount Moriah of the Bible, the location of the Temple of Solomon and the location of the Temple built by Herod the Great. The area underwent a number of changes after the destruction of the temple by the Romans in A.D. 70

Since the late 7th century A.D. the site has been occupied by Moslem shrines, the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque.

Our aerial photo shows the enclosed Islamic sanctuary area that is commonly called the Haram es-Sherif. Benjamin Mazar says that this area is about 40 acres in size. He points out that Josephus and the Mishna give smaller dimensions, and says that they apparently refer to “the Soreg or sacred enclosure” (The Mountain of the Lord, 119-120). Other writers say the area is 36 acres in size. Certainly large enough for the crowds who came to Jerusalem for festivals such as the Passover and Pentecost.

Aerial view of the temple precinct from the time of Herod the Great. Today the area is occupied by Moslem shrines, Al Aksa Mosque and the Mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of the temple precinct from the time of Herod the Great. Today the area is occupied by Moslem shrines, Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In this precinct the events of Acts 2, including the first preaching of the Gospel by the apostles of Christ, took place on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus.

In A Brief Guide to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Haram Al-Sharif, published by the Supreme Awqaf Council (1966), it is stated that the entire area, also known as the Noble Sanctuary, “is the religious center of the Muslims of the Middle East and second only to Mecca in the Muslim World” (p.1). The claim is made that,

The Prophet himself spoke of Al-Aqsa, the original name for the place and, according to tradition, made a miraculous journey to it.

My first visit inside the Dome of the Rock was in April, 1967. It has been a number of years since I have been inside the Dome of the Rock. The beautiful building covers the rock upon which Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22), the site of some parts of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1), and the site of the Temple Jesus visited during his earthly ministry.

This rock was once the threshing floor of Araunah purchased by David as a site upon which he built an altar to the LORD (2 Samuel 24).

The beautiful building now standing in this place is commonly called the Dome of the Rock. Here is an exterior view.

Dome of the Rock exterior. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dome of the Rock exterior. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When one steps into the building he first sees a circular wall about six feet tall in the center. Drawing close, he peeks over the wall and sees a huge rock, the top of Mount Moriah. This is the centerpiece of the building.

The rock around which the Dome of the Rock is built. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The rock around which the Dome of the Rock is built. Lights and electrical cords are laid out on the Rock. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Leen Ritmeyer, one of the best experts on the Temple, believes that the rock is where Solomon built the Holy of Holies. See his Jerusalem The Temple Mount (published by Carta, 2015), pages 130-135, for details.

Over the rock is a beautiful dome. The interior is pictured here.

The ceiling of the Dome of the Rock. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The ceiling of the Dome of the Rock. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Next, we go to the cave underneath the rock. Ritmeyer says,

Walking round to the south, you reach an opening to an underground cave known as al-Maghara. This was a small natural cave, enlarged by the Crusaders and used to commemorate the angel’s announcement to Zacharias that he would have a son (Luke 1.1 3) . A hole is cut in the rocky ceiling to let the smoke from candles and incense escape (p. 132).

This photo shows the cave and a remnant of the structure built by the Crusaders.

The underground natural cave enlarged by the Crusaders for the construction of a church or chapel to commemorate the announcement to Zacharias (Luke 1:13). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The underground natural cave enlarged by the Crusaders for the construction of a church or chapel to commemorate the announcement to Zacharias (Luke 1:13). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is much modern history of interest, but I will leave that for your further, individual study.

In a future post we hope to share our visit to the Al Aska Mosque.

The Arch of Titus once had a golden menorah

Many who have visited the Roman Forum have seen the Arch of Titus at the southeast of the Forum. Mark Cartwright describes the Arch in the Ancient History Encycl0pedia here. There are many links within this quotation for those interested in following them.

The Arch of is a Roman Triumphal Arch which was erected by Domitian in c. 81 CE at the foot of the Palatine hill on the Via Sacra in the Forum Romanum, Rome. It commemorates the victories of his father Vespasian and brother Titus in the Jewish War in Judaea (70-71 CE) when the great city of Jerusalem was sacked and the vast riches of its temple plundered. The arch is also a political and religious statement expressing the divinity of the late emperor Titus.

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum commemorates the Roman victory of the Jews in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum commemorates the Roman victory over the Jews in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The original inscription on the opposite side reads,

SENATUS
POPOLUS QUE ROMANUS
DIVO TITO DIVI VESPASIANI F
VISPASIANO AUGUSTO

The inscription attributes divinity to both Vespasian and his son Titus.

One of the large panels inside the arch shows Roman soldiers parading items taken from the Temple in Jerusalem in triumph through the streets of Rome. You will see the table of showbread, and the Menorah. One of the placards carried by the soldiers mentions the laws of the Jews.

Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, provides a first person account of the procession in Jewish Wars.

… and for the other spoils, they were carried in great plenty. But for those who were taken in the temple of Jerusalem, {c} they made the greatest figure of them all; that is, the golden table of the weight of many talents; the lampstand [Menorah] also, that was made of gold, though its construction was now changed from that which we made use of;
149 for its middle shaft was fixed upon a basis, and the small branches were produced out of it to a great length, having the likeness of a trident in their position, and had everyone a socket made of brass for a lamp at the tops of them. These lamps were in number seven, and represented the dignity of the number seven among the Jews;
150 and the last of all the spoils was carried the Law of the Jews.
151 After these spoils passed by a great many men, carrying the images of Victory, whose structure was entirely either of ivory or of gold.
152 After which Vespasian marched in the first place, and Titus followed him; Domitian also rode along with them, and made a glorious appearance, and rode on a horse that was worthy of admiration. (JW 7:148-152)

Arch of Titus relief showing Roman soldiers carrying the items taken from the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Arch of Titus relief showing Roman soldiers carrying the items taken from the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It appears that the first soldier carrying the Menorah on his shoulder is also carrying a pigeon, perhaps for an offering.  <grin>

Live pigeon on head of Roman soldier. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Live pigeon on head of Roman soldier. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For many years Dr. Steven Fine of Yeshiva University has been pursuing his interest in the Menorah. This, of course, led him to the Arch of Titus in Rome where the Menorah is depicted. The most recent results of his study,

includes the Digital Restoration Project, which in 2012 discovered the original yellow polychromy of the Arch menorah; numerous studies of the Arch and its menorah by Professor Fine, an upcoming exhibition and international conference on the Arch organized by Yeshiva University Museum (Summer, 2017), a free online Coursera course, The Arch of Titus: Rome and the Menorah, a 2016 summer seminar in Rome under the auspices of the Schottenstein Honors Program, and courses taught in Revel, Yeshiva College and Stern College.

Take a look at the Arch of Titus in color based on the 3D scan of the reliefs here. You will find a neat video showing the spoils panel in color, and a lecture by Dr. Fine presented at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are also links to various articles about the project.

The emblem of the State of Israel is based on the Menorah depicted on the Arch of Titus.

The view from Mount Nebo

Our photo today was made on Mount Nebo in Jordan. The view is west across the northern end of the Dead Sea, the wilderness of Judea, and the central mountain ridge (or water-parting route).

View of the Dead Sea, the wilderness of Judea, and the central mountain range from Mount Nebo in the Transjordanian Plateau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of the Dead Sea, the wilderness of Judea, and the central mountain range from Mount Nebo in the Transjordanian Plateau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Mount Nebo is the place from which Moses viewed the land that the LORD had promised to Abraham’s seed (Deuteronomy 34:1-8).

In the next photo the northern tip of the Dead Sea is visible on the left of the photo. This photo looks NW from Mount Nebo across the Jordan Valley (the plain of Moab) and toward the highlands of the promised land.

View from Mount Nebo NW across the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View from Mount Nebo NW across the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Moses saw this and much more, and probably more clearly. Both of our photos are sized for use in PowerPoint presentations.

Dead Sea study reveals “epic” droughts

The Dead Sea has received much attention in the past few years due to the fact that it is the lowest body of water on earth, and that body of water is drying up. Melanie Lidman, writer for The Times of Israel, prepared a series of three articles about the Dead Sea drying up last month here, here, and here.

Sinkholes along the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sinkholes along the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Today Lidman writes about a study done by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and published in the past few days. For a period of 40 days and nights in 2010 scientists drilled 1500 feet into the floor of the Dead Sea. What they found was fascinating. Let Lidman tell the story:

Scientists who drilled 450 meters (1,500 feet) into the floor of the Dead Sea announced this week that the region may have been affected by “epic” centuries-long droughts, much worse than researchers previously believed.

The study, led by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and scientists from six countries, examined a geological sample revealing more than 200,000 years of climate history in the Dead Sea region.

The scientists studied the thickness of the salt layers, as well as liquid bubbles trapped in the layers of salt, to determine precipitation and runoff to the Dead Sea, uncovering some alarming trends.

According to the study, the region experienced two major drought periods when rainfall and runoff patterns were at some points less than 20% of the average rainfall for the 20th century.

You must go to the article here to see the photograph of a sample of the geological core from the Dead Sea. A report with the same photograph made be found on the page of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory here.

Last year we called attention here to a fabulous article by Nir Hasson in Haaretz.

Salt on the rocks along the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Salt on the rocks along the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

12th Dead Sea Scrolls Cave found, but the scrolls are gone

Early this morning, February 8, 2017, I received a press release from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Oren Gutfeld: “This is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries, and the most important in the last 60 years, in the caves of Qumran.”

Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12.

Fault cliff and entrance to Cave 12 (on left). Photos: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld.

Fault cliff and entrance to Cave 12 (on left). Photos: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld.

The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, with the help of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia USA.

The excavators are the first in over 60 years to discover a new scroll cave and to properly excavate it.

The excavation was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new “Operation Scroll” launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert.

Fragments of jars that contained scrolls. Photos: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld.

Fragments of jars that contained scrolls. Photos: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld.

Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.

Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).

“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. “Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”

Remnant of scroll found in Cave 12. Photo: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld.

Remnant of scroll found in Cave 12. Photo: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld.

The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll. The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.

Neolithic flint tools found in the cave. Photos: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld.

Neolithic flint tools found in the cave. Photos: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld.

This first excavation to take place in the northern part of the Judean Desert as part of “Operation Scroll” will open the door to further understanding the function of the caves with respect to the scrolls, with the potential of finding new scroll material. The material, when published, will provide important new evidence for scholars of the archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea caves.

“The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered,” said Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert.”

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