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


Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security