2000-Year-Old Scroll from Leviticus Found-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

A 2,000-year-old scroll from the Book of Leviticus was found in Israel, and its percent identical to the version that has been in use for centuries.

The Truth:

An ancient scroll of the Book of Leviticus was found in the Holy Ark of the synagogue at Ein Gedi in 1970. In 2016, technology finally became available to read the brittle, charred scroll without unfurling, and scholars say it’s “100 percent identical” to the Book of Leviticus found in the Hebrew Bible.

The parchment scroll was unearthed in 1970 excavations of the remains of the ancient synagogue at Ein Gedi headed by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The scroll was badly damaged in a fire that destroyed the entire settlement, but archaeologists found that the Dead Sea region’s arid climate helped preserve the Ein Gedi Scroll’s remains.

ancient scroll
An ancient scroll dating back to the 6th century contains the opening verses of the Book of Leviticus.

Researchers believe the scroll dates back to the late 6th century, which would make it roughly 1,500 years old, not 2,000. It’s possible that media reports about the Ein Gedi Scroll from 2016 confused the age of the Hebrew Bible (2,000 years) with the estimated age of the Ein Gedi Scroll (roughly 1,500 years). Regardless, it’s a critical find because it’s the oldest scroll from the five books of the Hebrew Bible unearthed since the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority reports:

The Israel Antiquities Authority has been cooperating with scientists from Israel and abroad to preserve and digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls. About a year ago Merkel Technologies, Ltd. Israel, offered their professional assistance in performing high resolution 3D scanning of some Dead Sea Scrolls fragments and phylactery (tefillin) cases by means of the Bruker Skyscan model 1176 Micro-CT scanner. The fragment of the Ein Gedi scroll was scanned along with the phylacteries and phylactery cases. The Israel Antiquities Authority then sent the outcome of these scans to Professor Brent Seales of the University of Kentucky who developed a digital imaging software which allows to virtually unroll the scroll and visualize the text. Thus, the great surprise and excitement when the first 8 verses of the Book of Leviticus suddenly became legible.

Dr. Sefi Porath, one of the researchers who unearthed the Ein Gedi Scroll in 1970 explained that Ein Gedi was a Jewish village that existed from the 4th to 7th century during the Byzantine period and had “a synagogue with an exquisite mosaic floor and Holy Ark” before the entire settlement was destroyed by fire:

The settlement was completely burnt to the ground, and none of its inhabitants ever returned to reside there again, or to pick through the ruins in order to salvage valuable property. In the archaeological excavations of the burnt synagogue, we found in addition to the charred scroll fragments, a bronze seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), the community’s money box containing c. 3,500 coins, glass and ceramic oil lamps, and vessels that held perfume. We have no information regarding the cause of the fire, but speculation about the destruction ranges from Bedouin raiders from the region east of the Dead Sea to conflicts with the Byzantine government.”

Given all that, it’s clear that claims about an ancient scroll containing the Book of Leviticus being found are true, despite some questions about the exact age of the scroll.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 08/11/2017