With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), we now have a virtual first-century Hebrew Old Testament library available at the click of a twenty-first-century mouse. Not only that, but the DSS (c. 100 BC) predate the earliest extant Hebrew text—the Masoretic—by a full millennium. As such, everyone from scholar to schoolchild can determine whether the Old Testament Scriptures have been corrupted by men or miraculously preserved by God. S-I-G-N-S of their miraculous preservation can be found in the Samuel scroll, Isaiah scroll, Goliath stature, “N” verse, and Salem’s king.
SAMUEL SCROLL. Discovered in Cave 4 in September 1952, the Samuel Scroll not only demonstrates that the text of Samuel has been faithfully preserved over the span of a thousand years, but adds color commentary and corroboration concerning people and practices chronicled in the biblical text.
ISAIAH SCROLL. Like the Samuel Scroll, the Great Isaiah Scroll demonstrates that God has miraculously preserved His Word over time. Consider the brightest star in the constellation of Isaiah prophecies—Isaiah 53. When compared to the Masoretic text, there are seventeen differences. While at first blush that might sound significant, ten were differences in spelling, four a matter of style, and three involve the Hebrew letters for light. None alter the substance of the text.
GOLIATH STATURE. In most modern translations, following the extant Hebrew text, Goliath is said to be six cubits and a span, or over nine feet tall (1 Samuel 17:4). The Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), however, renders Goliath “four cubits and a span,” approximately six feet six inches tall. As a result of the DSS, it is now apparent that the exaggerated height of Goliath was the result of a corruption of the original account of 1 Samuel.
“N”VERSE. Discovery of the DSS solved a mystery that had long puzzled translators. Psalm 145, laid out as an alphabetical Hebrew acrostic poem, is missing a verse. In the Hebrew, all the letters in the acrostic are sequentially accounted for—except the letter N. Thus, the mystery: What happened to the N verse in the Hebrew acrostic? The mystery was solved when the Psalms Scroll was discovered in February 1956 in Cave 11, replete with the words “Ne’eman [faithful] is God in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.”
SALEM’S KING. From an earthly perspective, Abraham was the king of Salem (Jerusalem), the very region in which God called him to establish a righteous nation of kings and priests. However, from a heavenly perspective, it is Melchizedek who is Salem’s king. Scripture designates Melchizedek as “king of righteousness” and “king of peace” (Hebrews 7:2); tells us that he is “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginnings of days or end of life” (v. 3); and that “like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” (v. 3). Nonetheless, as noted by biblical scholar Dr. Craig Evans, this “was poorly understood until scholars discovered the DSS.” In the Melchizedek Scroll, Psalm 7 depicts Melchizedek ruling from on high as judge of the peoples; in Psalm 82:1, Melchizedek presides in the great assembly and makes judgment as the Almighty; and in Isaiah 61:2, “the year of the Lord’s favor” is “the year of Melchizedek’s favor,” thus equating Melchizedek with the Almighty.
In sum, the Dead Sea Scrolls powerfully underscore the miraculous reality that God has preserved His Word over time, provide significant insight into the text of the Old Testament, and add considerable clarity to the text of the New.
In part adapted from Has God Spoken?
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:8 NKJV
For further study, see Craig A. Evans, Holman QuickSource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls (Nashville: Holman Reference, 2010).
***Note the preceding text is adapted from a new Revised and Updated version of The Complete Bible Answer Book that is forthcoming in Fall 2023. When available for pre-order we will update this page with corresponding information. Until then you can still purchase or receive for your partnering gift the current version by clicking here for purchase or here for partnering gift. ***
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