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Qumran

Qumran, Israel.
Travel & Tour
Pictures, Photos, & Information.

Audrey DeLange
November 1999.

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Send E-Mail to: George DeLange: geo.delange@gmail.com

Qumran or Khirbet Qumran, is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank, just next to the Israeli Kibbutz of Kalia.

Qumran was probably constructed during or before the reign of John Hyrcanus, 134 - 104 B. C. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A. D., Titus and his X Fretensis destroyed it. Qumran is best known as the settlement nearest to the location of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves located in the sheer desert cliffs.

The site of the Qumran ruins (Khirbet Qumran) has been occupied for centuries. The remains of walls and pottery from Iron Age II (8th - 7th centuries B.C.) have been found here. Some think this place was the City of Salt described in the Bible as "Ir ha-Melah".

There is evidence that the manuscripts discovered in the Qumran caves belonged in the library of the occupants of this community referred to as the Dead Sea Sect .

In 1947 two Bedouin shepherds accidentally came across a clay jar in a cave near Khirbet Qumran that contained seven parchment scrolls. The scrolls aroused intense interest throughout the world and considerable controversy, especially with regard to their dating. The seven scrolls are known as the Manual of Discipline, War of Sons of Light, Thanksgiving Scroll, Isaiah A and B, Genesis Apocryphon and the Habakkuk Commentary.

The scrolls were sold to dealers in antiquities who offered them to scholars. The first scholar to recognize their antiquity was E. L. Sukenik, who acquired three scrolls for the Hebrew University. Then between 1948 and 1950 Sukenik published specimens of the scrolls, appearing posthumously in 1955.

The other four scrolls were smuggled into the United States, where three of them were published between 1950-51. Later they were offered for sale. Yigael Yadin, who was the son of E. L. Sukenik and also an archaeologist, succeeded in buying them and bringing back into Israel.

In 1965 the Israel Museum in Jerusalem opened the Shrine of the Book to exhibit the scrolls.

A group of scholars under the leadership of R. de Vaux began to search and excavate the cave known as Cave 1, where the first scrolls were found, as well as about 40 other caves in its vicinity. Many scrolls and thousands of pieces were found in 11 caves. Due to difficulties in deciphering, the scrolls they was published very slowly. Most of the manuscripts were sent to the Rockfeller Museum in Jerusalem, and became available to to Israel scholars after the Six-Day War in Jerusalem.

The Qumran manuscripts were mostly written on parchment, some on papyrus. They date at the closing period of the Second Temple and are assumed to be a part of a library belonging to a community from Qumran, known also as a "Dead Sea Sect" . In some caves the manuscripts were carefully placed in covered cylindrical jars, and in other caves they appear to have been dumped in great haste. Cave4 yielded the greatest amount of documents, but its' storage conditions were the worst, and the manuscripts disintegrated into thousands of fragments, which had to be slowly pieced together with great care.

The documents found contain over 100 copies of the various books of the Hebrew Bible, most survived only as fragments. All books, except the Book of Ester are represented. Fragments of the Septuagint text have been also identified.

Several apocryphal documents in Hebrew and Aramaic were also found, some of them previously unknown.

The community called the "Dead Sea Sect" to which the Dead Sea Scrolls apparently belonged occupied Qumran about 130 B. C. to 70 A. D..

The Dead Sea Sect was an extreme offshot of the Jewish apocalyptic movement, whose basic doctrine was the expectation that the world would soon end. When the world would end, the wicked would be destroyed, and Israel freed from the power of other nations. Before this would happen, God would raise for Himself a community of elect who would be saved from the divine visitation, and who would become the society of the future.

They believed that God had decreed not only the end of the world but also the division of mankind into two antagonistic groups called "the sons of light" and "the sons of darkness", to be led lead by a godlike "prince of light" and an "angel of darkness". Reference is also made to "the spirit of truth" and "the spirit of perverseness" which are given to mankind. Of these, each person receives his portion, in accordance with which he is either righteous or wicked. Between these two categories God has set "eternal enmity" which would cease only in the end of all days, with the destruction of the spirit of perversion and the purification of the righteous from the spirit of perversions influence. Then "the sons of the spirit of truth" would receive their just reward.

The bulk of mankind was immersed in evil ways and liable to suffer from the divine visitation. To avoid this destiny, members of the Dead Sea Sect chose to go into the wilderness and to live a strict way of life in a zealous preparation for their future reward. The members of the sect regarded themselves as "an eternal planting", and waited for the beginning of the end of days, when God would raise up for Himself the future Human society, in which they would be "leaders and princes".

The members of the sect probably had several forms of organization. Two forms are described in documents known as the Manual of Discipline and the Damascus Document. The Manual of Discipline called for a full communal life. The community was presumably a celibate male one. The members of the sect joined of their own free will.

However, another form of organization also existed, allowing private property, women and children.

The history of the Dead Sea Sect is unknown. However, some details about its founder are known. He was known as "the teacher of Righteousness".

The ruins of Qumran are now the Qumran National Park. Go west of Road 90 along the Dead Sea. The turn to the Qumran National Park is about 7 km south from the Beit Haarava junction.

The easy way to get to Qumran, is to fly into the Ben Gurion International Airport. The airport is close to Jerusalem, which is about 5 miles away.

The Ben Gurion International Airport, (IATA: TLV, ICAO: LLBG), also referred to by its Hebrew acronym Natbag, is the largest and busiest international airport in Israel. It was named the best airport in the Middle East by the ACI organisation.[ The airport is located near the city of Lod, 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv. It is operated by the Israel Airports Authority, a government-owned corporation that manages all public airports and border crossings in the State of Israel. The Ben Gurion International Airport is considered one of the world's most secure airports, with a security force that includes both police officers and IDF soldiers.

There are several hotels in or near Jerusalem.

There are several Guided Tour Agencies offering standard city, and historical tours of Jerusalem, Israel and the surrounding areas.

After arranging your flight we would suggest getting your hotel and then letting them arrange tours of the area for you. If you call the hotels Concierge Services ahead of your arrival, all of this can be pre-arranged for you.

I do this all the time. It is safe and it works!!! I have never experienced a problem doing it this way!

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