The Psalm Scroll
Many of you may have seen the ads on TV promoting the Dead Sea Scroll exhibition. If you don’t think you will get to Israel anytime soon to see the Qumran archaeological site where these scrolls were found you should plan to go the exhibition at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The tickets are $25.00 each for an adult admission and can be purchased online at http://seethescrolls.com.
A picture of the cave where the first scrolls were found
Here’s a very interesting story about these scrolls: When the Bedouins found the first scrolls in the first cave in 1947, they were not sure what to do with them. They took them to one antiquities dealer who told them that they were worthless and that he thought they had been stolen from a synagogue. Undaunted, the Bedouins took them to a nearby market where a Syrian Christian offered to purchase them. An Arab joined the conversation and suggested that they take the scrolls to Kahlil Eskander Shahin, otherwise known as Kando, who was a cobbler and a part time antiques dealer. Kando initially purchased one scroll and helped the Bedouins sell three others for a pittance of what we now know of their worth. Kando, however, was honest and helpful to them and they continued to do business with him at his shop in Bethlehem. This shop is now owned by the son and grandson of Kando and it was in this shop that most of our group purchased our exquisite, handmade Jerusalem crosses and Olive wood figurines. The Kando family are Arabic Christians, otherwise known as Palestinians. Also in their shop is an original amorpha that held some of the scrolls and a few small scroll fragments on display. There are also many photographs displayed of Kando with political and religious leaders. These were mainly taken in his old age when his foresight into helping save the scrolls was more thoroughly acknowledged.
Something I didn’t know is that Southwestern owns the largest permanent collection of Dead Sea Scrolls in the United States. They have eight scrolls which Seminary President Paige Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, purchased directly from Kando. The elaborate display will include the Genesis 37-38 fragment, which is owned by the Kando family of Bethlehem and is considered to be the largest Dead Sea Scroll segment held by a private collector. Five other major fragments will also be on display, including Genesis 33, 1 Kings 13:22-22, Isaiah 28:23-29, Amos 7:17- 8:1 and Joel 3:9-10.
A view from inside one of the caves looking toward the Dead Sea
Our group also travelled to the Qumran site. They have a small museum where you sit and watch a film on the finding of the scrolls and where afterward you can meander through the museum then out into pathways through the “dig” itself. It was quite overcast, windy, cool and stark when we were there and I didn’t get many pictures and their quality isn’t the greatest ever, but I’ve included a picture of one of the caves where the scrolls were found..
The students at Southwest have put together a replica of the Qumran site and “stocked” it with actual antique pot sherds. As part of the tour you are invited to have your own “dig” and see what treasure you discover. If you just want to “dig” and not see the exhibit you can purchase a ticket for the dig only for $10.00.