In 1947, young Bedouin shepherds, searching for a stray goat in the Judean Desert near Wadi Qumran on the
northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, entered a long-untouched cave and found jars filled with ancient scrolls. That initial
discovery by the Bedouins yielded seven scrolls and began a search that lasted nearly a decade and, besides the seven
complete scrolls, produced thousands of scroll fragments from eleven caves. They date from the 2nd century B.C.E.
through the 1st century C.E. and constitute about 800 different documents. The Dead Sea Scrolls are Hebrew, Aramaic,
and Greek manuscript books containing Jewish religious literature; biblical material that had been rewritten, imitated,
and expanded into stories; and thematic collections of biblical texts, commentaries, hymns, psalms, blessings, prayers,
exhortations to wisdom, and elaborations of biblical law. The Scrolls also contained non-biblical Jewish literature,
including the Community Rule, the War Scroll, and the Temple Scroll. Complete documents were relatively few. Other
than the seven intact scrolls in the initial discovery, the remaining Dead Sea “Scrolls” are actually thousands of scroll
fragments, most very small. The fragments had to be pieced together, identified, and interpreted, a process that required
decades to accomplish, and which continues today.
Please CLICK on an image for an ENLARGED version.
A sheet of stamps issued by Jordan on 23 September 1965 (Scott #522a-d). The 4 values
depict (a) the Dead Sea, (b) the Qumran Caves overlooking the Dead Sea, (c) another
view of the Dead Sea, and (d) a Dead Sea Scroll, possibly the Isaiah Scroll. Two storage
jars in which intact scrolls were found are also shown.
This stamp (Jordan, Scott #522d) shows a close-up view of the Dead Sea Scroll described
Issued on 29 May 1997 in connection with Pacific '97, this souvenir sheet from Israel
(Scott #1306) commemorates both the 100th anniversary of the Discovery of the Cairo
Geniza and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Cairo
Geniza is an accumulation of almost 200,000 Jewish manuscripts that were found in the
genizah (a box in a synagogue where unusable holy objects are discarded) of the Ben Ezra
Synagogue in Fustat (now Old Cairo), Egypt, the Basatin Cemetery east of Old Cairo, and
several old documents that were bought in Cairo in the later 19th century. The 2-shekel
value on the sheet shows Ben Ezra Synagogue. The 3-shekel value depicts the cliffs
overlooking the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, as well as Eleazar Lipa
Sukenik examining one of the scrolls. The jar to the left of the sheet is one of the vessels
in which entire scrolls were stored in the caves at Qumran.