Karin is an award-winning writer, editor and publisher of Christian and secular works in Europe and the USA.
What and Where Is the Shrine of the Book of the Scrolls?
The Dead Sea Scrolls have to go down as one of the most incredible and exciting discoveries in the last 2000 years! Carefully written by the Essenes—a Jewish sect who lived at Qumran—and possibly priests from Jerusalem, the scrolls were discovered around the 1940s–1950s stored in caves in Qumran, near the Dead Sea.
The arid conditions of the desert combined with cool conditions within the jars in the caves proved perfect conditions for preserving these delicate and important writings.
The Shrine of the Book Museum
The exterior shape, layout, and interior contours of the Shrine of the Book Museum somehow make you believe you are in a scroll—a unique experience and definitely on the 'must see' list!
Inside you will be confronted by a series of exhibits that are uniquely and wonderfully displayed, each precious and important. As you continue on your way, you feel you have just walked through a series of caves, and the walls are embellished with reflections of the caves of Qumran—it is extraordinarily creative and beautiful.
The Great Isaiah Scroll
One of the most popular books in the Bible is the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah was one of the great prophets of Israel and his beautiful, poetic, prophetic writings describe in great detail many things, including the return of the Messiah. The words contained within the Book of Isaiah have withstood the test of time and history and have been a well of spiritual strength and inspiration for centuries.
Therefore, the discovery of this scroll in 1947—which is the book almost in its entirety—makes this probably one of the most important archaeological finds in the last 2000 years. It is the oldest scroll ever discovered, over 1000 years older than any other discovered to date, including subsequent copies that were later found in and around the area of Qumran.
Who Were the Essenes?
The Essenes were a group or sect that flourished throughout Judea during the time of the Second Temple. The sect had in essence (no pun intended), separated itself from the mainstream Jews at the time. They have through time become synonymous with the Dead Sea Scrolls and this discovery in itself has acknowledged their important contribution to the preservation of the Word of God.
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Their existence is verified not only by the discovery of the scrolls but through the writings of Pliny The Elder, a Roman writer who states that they lived at Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea. In fact, it is widely believed that the Essences inhabited most towns and cities.
However, the sect (or group) at Qumran have prompted the curiosity of most of us and their link to the Scrolls conjures up the idea that they were an extremely holy, observant group and had a great knowledge of how to store and preserve the writings in sealed clay jars in caves. In fact, the conditions within the jars in caves have had to be replicated in the modern world to ensure the continued existence and preservation of the scrolls.
Many artifacts of the Essenes and their way of life have been determined through the discovery of clothing and fragments of food which are also on display in the Shrine of the Book and Qumran is available to visit on your way to the Dead Sea. There is now a suggestion that Jesus could have visited the Essenes during his lifetime; though this is not confirmed, it is an interesting thought all the same.
There is always something to see and/or visit in Jerusalem!
- Make a day of it: If walking from a hotel, check out the area for safety, pickpockets, etc. If in doubt taxis and buses are readily available. If you spend a little more you can go on a great excursion that will take in a lot of sights.
- Always wear a hat: Or have one with you in the spring/summer months and plenty of water.
- Bring a shirt/blouse: The Book of the Shrine can be quite cool inside to keep the temperature the same as the desert for preserving artifacts.
- Always check if you can use your camera/video inside: If not you can purchase great photos/postcards in the lobby shop.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Karin McBride-Chenoweth