Using Cutting-Edge Technology, Scientists Make an Ancient Torah Scroll Readable

In 1970, Israeli archaeologists discovered an ancient synagogue in the oasis of Ein-Gedi in the Negev. Its ark contained charred lumps that had once been Torah scrolls, destroyed in a long-ago fire, which are the oldest extant manuscripts of the Pentateuch besides the Dead Sea Scrolls. Since even touching the scrolls would cause them to disintegrate, they have remained a mystery until recently, when a team of researchers used “virtual-unwrapping” technology to produce a legible scan of the texts. Nicholas Wade writes:

The scroll’s content, the first two chapters of the book of Leviticus, has consonants—early Hebrew texts didn’t specify vowels—that are identical to those of the Masoretic text, the authoritative version of the Hebrew Bible and the one often used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles.

The Dead Sea Scrolls . . . contain versions quite similar to the Masoretic text but with many small differences. The text in the scroll found at the Ein-Gedi excavation site . . . has none, according to Emanuel Tov, an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“We have never found something as striking as this,” Tov said. “This is the earliest evidence of the exact form of the [Masoretic] text.”

The date of the Ein-Gedi scroll is the subject of conflicting evidence. A carbon-14 measurement indicates that the scroll was copied around 300 CE. But the style of the ancient script suggests a date nearer to 100 CE. “We may safely date this scroll” to between 50 and 100 CE, wrote Ada Yardeni, an expert on Hebrew paleography. . . . Dr. Tov [also] said he was “inclined toward a 1st-century date.”

Read more at New York Times

More about: Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, History & Ideas, Masoretes, Synagogues, Torah

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion