Way Back in the Promised Land

Beltane                                                                               Sumi-e Moon

Into Denver yesterday, saw Jerusalem, the I-MAX 3-D show. (see below)

Qumran, Cave 4 By Effi Schweizer - Own work, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org w index.php curid 3089552
Qumran, Cave 4 By Effi Schweizer – Own work,

When it finished, I left Kate on the museum’s third floor at the entrance to the Dead Sea Scrolls show and went down to find the other members of Beth Evergreen, 25 in all, who had signed up for this adult education event. Russ Arnold, Rabbi Jamie’s brother, came along and answered questions, offered commentary as we toured the exhibit.

The exhibit has actual physical artifacts from a tw0-thousand year span of time that includes Romans, very early Israelites, Christians and several other civilizations like Assyria, Persia, Tyre. In addition to scroll fragments and painstakingly reconstructed earthenware jars, among them actual jars in which scrolls were found, there were Roman mosaic floors, Tyreian silver coins, glass vessels, oil lamps, an altar fragment from an early Israeli home altar, and ossuary caskets like the one found a few years ago with the name Jesus written on it.

scroll exhibit case
scroll exhibit case

It was, unfortunately, a Sunday afternoon and the exhibit overflowed with visitors, making staying with any one object or group of objects a challenge. A very large circular case, maybe thirty feet across. housed the main attraction, the fragments themselves. All of these fragments were from Cave 4. They were tiny, some only a few square inches, and the Hebrew was also tiny. They must have used very small writing implements and had very good eye sight.

The fragmentary nature of these scrolls are the result, Russ said, of the lending library, circulating library purpose of Cave 4. The speculation is that these scrolls were on wooden shelving, there are brackets in the wall though the wood is long gone. When the wood decayed, the scrolls fell to the floor where they were covered in bat guano and layers of dust. Though this did serve to preserve them, it also meant they suffered from more decay and deterioration than the scrolls found in the earthenware jars.

Dead_Sea_Scrolls_013-1Some of the more complete scrolls may have been the equivalent of library reserve. They could also have been retired scrolls which, like Buddha statues in Southeast Asia, are never destroyed. This visit left me wanting to know more, to return to the show before it leaves during the week for a quieter and lengthier visit.

While we were there, Kate got a phone call from Hal Stein wondering if one or both of us would like to be put up for election as board members for upcoming terms. Since I’ve already agreed to develop a curriculum for the religious school, sixth and seventh graders, I told Kate I wasn’t interested, but I hoped she would be. “You’re smart, have management skills. You’d be perfect.” She called Hal later and told him to put her name in.

Afterward we picked up Ruth from her mother’s. She’s out of school now, two weeks ahead of Gabe and a week ahead of her mom and dad. On Wednesday she heads up to Estes Park for a YMCA camp.

A long but satisfying day.


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