You might not recognize the place we visited yesterday. The name is not found in the Bible and the most important aspect of this place occurred long after the end of Bible times.
Yet, Qumran is one of the most important places for the study of the Bible.
Qumran is located at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea. Qumran and most of the area around the Dead Sea is a rough, forsaken area. As we visited yesterday, we saw almost no green vegetation (or any other vegetation). The temperature was hot and the terrain difficult, but I was thrilled to be there.
In 1947, a shepherd looking for sheep or goats threw a rock into a cave and heard an unusual sound. As he explored the cave, he discovered pots containing ancient writings. He certainly did not know what he found. He discovered one of the most important archaeological finds in history–certainly in Biblical archaeology.
By the time experts examined the entire area, they found thousands of documents. Many of the documents had to do with the strange Jewish sect of Qumran, but included in the documents were copies of the every book of the Old Testament except Esther.
What made this such an important find?
First, the discovery gave us documents 1000 years older than many copies of Old Testament books. The manuscripts came from the time of Christ.
Second, the discovery proves what we knew from the New Testament–that the Old Testament as we know it and in the form we know was in use in the time of Jesus.
Third, the discovery answers the question of whether the books of the Bible which we read (books which have been copied over and over) are the same as the originals. The answer–they are. This is an amazing deduction, proven scientifically.
The first cave discovered at Qumran contained a complete scroll of Isaiah–all 66 chapters. When scholars compared the two scrolls (the one which we have been reading and studying all these years and the one 1000 years older), the scholars found twelve minor changes–none of which changed theology or belief. The changes were similar to mistaking the number one and the number seven. Do you think you could copy 66 chapters of Isaiah and accomplish something so amazing?
You don’t experience many things that impress you more the longer you know them. But, that is exactly what I say about my study of the Bible. The more I know about it–both from scientific study such as archaeology and study of the text itself, the more it contains “the ring of truth.”
“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).