Rewriting the Bible at Qumran

Among the Dead Sea scrolls are numerous texts of biblical books, which often differ in small—and sometimes large—ways from the standard version of the Hebrew Bible. Some of these differences are products of scribal errors; many scholars believe some Dead Sea versions to be the more accurate. In other instances, however, it seems that the scribes of Qumran (the community to which the scrolls belonged) deliberately interpolated their ideas into the texts, as Shani Tzoref writes:

For example . . . a copy of the book of Samuel contains some text that is not preserved in the Masoretic text [i.e., the standard Jewish version] of Samuel or in other biblical versions. The beginning of 1 Samuel 11 describes how the Ammonite king Nahash set brutal terms of surrender upon the men of Jabesh Gilead—demanding that the right eye of every man be gouged out. The Qumran manuscript provides some context for this demand, with an account of Nahash’s prior suppression of a rebellion by the tribes of Reuben and Gad, in which he gouged the eyes of the rebels as punishment. Though some scholars view the absence of this account in the Masoretic text as a copyist’s mistake, others have explained the extra material . . . as an ancient interpretive expansion.

In some cases of extensive revision or rearrangement of the biblical text, scholars have even debated whether to consider certain [Dead Sea] compositions to be scriptural works. For instance, the Psalms Scroll from cave 11 contains 41 psalms that are found in the Masoretic text but in a different order, as well as an additional seven psalms and a prose passage about King David’s prodigious poetic output—according to this passage, David composed not only the psalms now in the Bible but also more than 4,000 others!

Read more at Bible Odyssey

More about: Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, History & Ideas, Masoretes, Qumran, Samuel

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan