Monday, October 22, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls Day

There are 12 to 15 fires burning in Southern California. But fortunately the area where we live is fine. Keep the firefighters and people in threatened areas in your prayers.

It was 80 degrees with clear blue skies in San Diego on Saturday, the day Carole and I went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. After seeing the scrolls, we left the area Saturday afternoon and traveled north toward home. Apparently some fires broke out the next day affecting some of the areas we drove through.

So how were the Dead Sea Scrolls? Amazing!

There were no parking places left at the San Diego Museum of Natural History at 10:15 a.m. I had to park waaaaaay down the street. Do you see the plane in the picture?

After passing through an outdoor security check point, we were able to enter the museum. Notice the black "Dead Sea Scrolls" sign on the left.

The first room held large breathtaking photographs of Israel. portraying beautiful shorelines, rugged deserts, miles of fertile fields, canyons, and wheat colored hills strewn with oak fact it looked a lot like Southern California. And it looked BIG. I always think of Israel as tiny, but not anymore. I mean...even the Dead Sea (which looks like a drop of water on the map) was gigantic!

This picture (above) was intriguing.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were in a cool dimly lit room. They were under glass. Actually framed in small glass frames (that they traveled in). These small frames were placed into large 4 feet by 4 feet glass tables--one table for each scroll. But the display only consisted of fragments. There were no complete scrolls. I suppose it would be hard to display, for instance, the entire scroll of Isaiah. It would take several rooms to do that!

Here is a list of some of the scrolls we saw. I am using the old dating method because its easier to understand. But the exhibit used the designations BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era)

Paleo-Leviticus (comprised of the last six chapters of Leviticus) 1—50 A.D.
Deuteronomy (3:14-28 and 5:1—6:1 and part of chapter 8) 125—75 B.C.
Isaiah (5:15-28) 75—1 B.C.
2 Samuel (various parts) 50—1 B.C.
Zephaniah 3:9—Haggai 1:2--They believe this scroll fragment is part of a complete scroll of the twelve minor prophets. 150—125 B.C.
Genesis (7:10—8:13) 50—1 B.C. Includes excerpts from the flood.

Psalms had the biggest most readable fragments. When I stepped over to see it, I was surprised that my eyes misted over. Psalms has meant so much to so many 'pilgrims'. A sign on the wall notated that the book of Psalms has been passed down with incredible accuracy. As I looked at the first century A.D. Hebrew writing, I thanked God for his gift of the discovery of these scrolls. He knew these would be an encouragement to us—knowing that our old testament scriptures are the same today as they were 2000 years ago.

The scrolls were much smaller than I had imagined. They were only about 7 or 8 inches from top to bottom. The writing was very small. One of the visitors looking over my shoulder mentioned that animal skin can shrink over the years. All of the scrolls were parchment (animal skin) except for one papyrus scroll, a linen scroll, and a copper scroll (letters etched into copper). This is the first time the copper scroll had ever been displayed. The Copper scroll is non-Biblical and cites some 64 locations where over 100 tons of gold, silver, scrolls and priestly items were supposedly hidden. (25—75 A.D.)

We weren't allowed to take pictures. In order to keep the scrolls from deteriorating, the scrolls can only be exhibited for 3 months. They just removed the scrolls that were exhibited during the summer, and put in different ones for the months of October, November, December. The room must be cool and the light must be dim. The animal skin has yellowed and darkened, making it hard to see the black writing. But the text is still clearly legible.

It was hard to leave. I just wanted to stand in their presence a little longer. But Carole was freezing cold, and I was tired. I didn't mention that they let TOO MANY people into the exhibit at one time and it took a lot of patience to wade your way up to a glass table to see a scroll. Before we left I quickly turned and threaded my way back to the Psalms scroll, squeezed through some people and stared at it one more time, etching the moment into my memory.

Then Carole and I stepped out into the warm sunshine. We snagged a security guard to take our photo.
There's Carole (left) and myself (right) happily thawing out.


Janey Loree said...

Hi Cousin! I was telling Gatekeeper in an email as your comment came in, that I needed to come check on you! You had a question about the blog carnival that I am hosting on our Twiglet the Little Christmas Tree blog. The carnival is November 5 with the deadline for submissions on the 2nd. All the particulars are on the top post on the blog replete with banners!

Now with business (fun really) out of the way...this is awesome! Even though I understand about the scrolls being damaged by flash, I still would loved to have seen pictures!!!

JAM said...

I know it's hard to fight your way in and to get a good look at them but I'm glad you went. That's one of those once in a lifetime events.

jan said...

What an exciting adventure for you to see something that we've all heard about all our lives. Beautiful description.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I had a chance to come by today. I had read your post about going and was eager to hear (read) more.

How interesting about the animal skin shrinking and the flash being damaging.

What an incredible feeling to have been in the presence of the Dead Sea Scrolls; you described it so beautifully.

Becky Wolfe said...

Wow - that sounds so amazing. Like you, I probably would have shed a tear looking at the Psalms too. The book means so much to me - joy, sorrow, comfort, wisdom, praise, laughter, fear etc - all in one book!
Truly amazing to see such an artifact!
Thanks for sharing your experience my friend!