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Christians, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the United Nations

Updated on December 23, 2009
Caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran, near the Dead Sea)
Caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran, near the Dead Sea)

In 1947, the same year the UN approved the Partition Plan, the Dead Sea scrolls were found by a young, Bedouin shepherd boy. Why is this so significant? Read on...

The shepherd boy was near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea chasing after one of his animals that had scurried up into a hole in the rocky hillside that led into a cave.

As the boy attempted to throw rocks in order to startle the animal back out of the cave, he heard a crashing sound, like that of glass breaking. He drew closer in order to enter the cave. Once inside, he discovered several jars with lids.

The Bedouin boy, edh-Dhib, opened them and retrieved what appeared to him to be several very old scrolls. He took them back to his tent.

Later, the boy first took the scrolls to a dealer in Bethlehem. The dealer had told him that they were worthless after he had been warned that they may have been stolen from a synagogue.

Undaunted, the Bedouin boy went to a nearby market where a Syrian Christian offered to buy them. It was suggested that he take the scrolls to a nearby, part-time antiques dealer.

As the boy's story unfolded, the Bedouin boy managed to sell three scrolls to a dealer for £7 GBP (approx. $29 1947 US dollars).

The Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The significance of the scrolls relates in a large part to the field of textual criticism. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible were Masoretic texts dating to 9th century. The biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls push that date back to the 2nd century BCE.

Before this discovery, the earliest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament were in Greek in manuscripts such as Codex Vaticananus Graecus 1209 and Codex Sinaiticus. About 35% of the DSS biblical manuscripts belong to the Masoretic tradition, 5% to the Septuagint family, and 5% to the Samaritan, with the remainder unaligned.

The non-aligned fall into two categories, those inconsistent in agreeing with other known types, and those that diverge significantly from all other known readings. The DSS thus form a significant witness to the mutability of biblical texts at this period. The sectarian texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, most of which were previously unknown, offer new light on one form of Judaism practiced during the Second Temple period.

This new information forces a serious Christian to take a second look at the evolution of Christianity as well as the following connection of the UN Partition Plan (aka Oslo Accords).

The UN, Great Britain, Israel and Palestine

After 1945 the United Kingdom became embroiled in an increasingly violent conflict with the Jews and in 1947, the British government withdrew from commitment to the Mandate of Palistine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews.

The newly created United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, dividing the country into two states, one Arab and one Jewish.

Jerusalem was to be designated an international city and administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status. The Jewish community accepted the plan, but the Arab League and Arab Higher Committee rejected it.

On December 1, 1947 the Arab Higher Committee proclaimed a three-day strike, and Arab bands began attacking Jewish targets. Civil war began with the Jews initially on the defensive but gradually moving into offence. The Palestinian-Arab economy collapsed and 250,000 Palestinian-Arabs fled or were expelled.

Israel Museum, Shrine of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Israel Museum, Shrine of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls in the Museum
Dead Sea Scrolls in the Museum

On May 14, 1948, the day before the end of the British Mandate, the Jewish Agency proclaimed independence, naming the country Israel. The following day the armies of five Arab countries — Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq — attacked Israel, launching the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Morocco, Sudan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia also sent troops to assist the 'invaders'. After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders, known as the Green Line were established. Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. On May 11, 1949, Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations.

During this same period of time the Dead Sea Scrolls had their own controversial issues for many religious reasons as well the reasons of land and territory. The display of the scrolls has at times attracted a great deal of controversy, with disputes yet today.

In 2009, when the Israeli Antiquities Authority displayed the scrolls at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Palistinian Authority protested, claiming they were illegally obtained by Israel.

This then, should force every religious scholar, every Christian, and every Jew that has an interest in the validity as well as the fulfillment of the entire body of scriptures, to take another look at what significance that these two incidents have in common, as well as the real connection the Christians have with the Jews.


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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Outstanding article. I have seen part of these scrolls and am quite familiar with the history of that region. I visited those caves at Qumran recently as well. You told the story very well including the founding of Israel section. I enjoyed reading your fine work here. Thank you.

    • kaloomba profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Wisdom abounds in your words Gicky as we each continue to equip ourselves with the deeper knowledge and understanding of Jesus, the 'Alef Tav' of the Torah, and spreading this truth throughout the world!

    • Gicky Soriano profile image

      Gicky Soriano 

      10 years ago from California

      kaloomba, we are on the same page in terms of how we should view our Hebrew brothers and sisters. They have not been rejected, but momentarily set aside that the Gentiles may be grafted into the holy branch. And yes, it behooves us to tap into the wealth of information that they have made available to us. I certainly have! In regard to Israel, I don't believe for one moment in throwing the baby with the bath water. The physical descendants of Abraham are still an integral part of God's plan in that they enjoin us through the inward circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:25-29) to become "the spiritual children of Abraham." Together we can bring and bless the nations with salvation. I am simply tying this to what you said, "this is the real connection the Christians have with the Jews." We share an uncommon message and mission that addresses the battle that wars in and for people's souls.

      In keeping to what you said, my further point is that Christians equipped with this knowledge, Israel's history, culture, and language, we must move on beyond their borders with the commission of Christ (Mt 28:19-20). Today, there's more to the Holy Land than meets the eye. This God given holiness must not simply be contained in Israel, but should contaminate the entire world. All the more reason why Jesus taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt 6:10).

      Whatever noble measures is made to establish peace in the Middle East, we know that the children of Ishmael and Israel will always be at war until the parousia, the return of the King. That being said, it should in no way negate or excuse us from walking on the other side of the road. After all, we are peacemakers called to minister on both sides of the middle eastern fence. How will we unpack this truth? May God give us the wisdom. What we do know is that in this interim period, we ought to nurse our neighbor and love our enemy until a lasting peace will come at long last.

      Your hub has allowed me to process the hotbed issues Christians face today in light of what's happening halfway across the world. Though things appear to be hopeless as peacekeeping efforts come and go, I still pray peace in the Holy Land.

    • kaloomba profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Check out my article called 'Jesus was Only Sent to the Lost House of Israel, Not to the Gentiles' for an understanding of Jesus' first mission and the importance of learning more about the Christian's Hebrew heritage.

    • kaloomba profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Great link HOOWANTSTONO. Thanks for your comment.

      Gicky.. I appreciate your comments because I believe we both have the same mission - that of Disciples of the Messiah!

      However, as we read in the letter of Paul (a Jew) to the Romans (see 11:1-15) God has not rejected His people nor did they fall, 'But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them (the Jews) jealous.'(vs. 11)

      So, it is important for all of us Christians to understand that our Hebrew brothers have not been rejected, but hold for us a wealth of information because they carry the many secrets of God through their rich history, culture and language!

    • Gicky Soriano profile image

      Gicky Soriano 

      10 years ago from California

      Indeed the Dead Sea Scrolls is still considered as the greatest archaeological find of the 20th Century. I had the recent opportunity to view these sacred, fragile and antiquated writings on display in a museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. These discovered document should certainly cause us to see the faithful accuracy of the scribes in preserving the word of God as it is written in the Bibles we possess today.

      Regarding the partition plan of the Israel by the United Nations, I believe that the Holy Land was set apart and blessed by God for a specific purpose then, but today the Holy Land as we know it is the whole world. In the past, God called and commissioned Israel to be a light among the Gentile world. Their light eventually flickered and failed in accomplishing this purposeful mission. Jesus, God's Son, representing Israel, came into the world and accomplished what the nation failed to do. He was the light of the world who taught us to pray to the Father, "Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." God's kingdom has indeed come. It isn't confined within the tiny borders of Palestine, but covers the entire earth. God so loved the world. His glory fills the earth.

      Today, we have our commission in Christ to go into this world and make disciples of all nations. Until Jesus comes again, he empowered us with the Holy Spirit that we may be the light of the world. May our lights shine ever so brightly until he returns.

      Thank God we have the Dead Sea Scrolls as a testament that God's word, after its first transmission many centuries hence, is God's word still. Thank you. I enjoyed interacting with your hub. Great reading!

    • HOOWANTSTONO profile image


      10 years ago

      I wonder how they will change the fact that Mount Sinai and the altar also belong to the Israelites.

      Go well


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