Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Isaiah Scroll and the Priestly Benediction...

By Todd Lockwood

Thanks to the technological advances of modern time, I was able to get a taste of what it would be like to visit the Israel Museum via the Google Art Project online. The Israel Museum was founded in 1965 and is one of the leading art and archaeology museums in the world.[1] Its reputation attracted even President Obama, who visited the museum in March of this year to get a glimpse of its collection of biblical manuscripts.[2] The museum’s collection of biblical manuscripts is impressive and the virtual journey allowed me to discover two of its most prized collections. First, the Isaiah Scroll which is part of a group of manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Secondly, the Priestly Benediction which may be the oldest copy of biblical text. These and many other collections are what make the Israel Museum stand out among the museums of the world. Though I couldn't go there physically, the Google Art Project’s great pictures and descriptions of the manuscripts, allows anyone to gain knowledge of them without having to traveling to Israel. 
It was in 1947 when the Isaiah Scroll was discovered in a cave in Qumran, Israel along with six other manuscripts that together make up the Dead Sea Scrolls.[3] The first amazing fact about the Isaiah Scroll is that it is the largest and best preserved biblical scroll ever found.[4] It is also the only book of the bible that has survived as a scroll in its entirety.[5] Though it is not the oldest manuscript of the Dead Sea Scrolls, its age establishes a fact that is amazing.[6] It contains prophecy concerning Jesus Christ that predates Him by about 100 years. The Isaiah Scroll is no doubt a great historical discovery with much to appreciate.
The other biblical artifact of interest, the Priestly Benediction, can be found on two very small silver amulets.[7] An amulet is the equivalent of a modern day charm bracelet. These two silver amulets are possibly the oldest copies of biblical texts known today.[8] Their age is about five hundred years older than the previously discussed manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls.[9] Similar to how the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the amulets were discovered in a burial cave in Jerusalem.[10] They were wrapped up like tiny scrolls.[11] Though they are not in the best condition, decipherers were able to recognize the inscription.[12] The two silver amulets contain the passage Numbers 6:24-26.[13] In Jewish liturgy this passage is known as the Priestly Benediction.[14]
"The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them." 
Numbers 6:24-26
           If these two artifacts don't build up your faith, I don't know what will. Whenever you have a chance, take a look at these artifacts and others at the Israel Museum and Google Art online. They have more enough to keep you busy. Feel free to share any knowledge or thoughts that you would like to share!

[1] Israel Museum. “About the Israel Museum.” 2013.                           page_1465?c0=14896&bsp=14393 (accessed July 20, 2013).

[2] Israel Museum. “President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu tour the Israel Museum.” 2013. (accessed July 20, 2013).

[3] Google. "The Great Isaiah Scroll: Google Cultural Institute." 2013. culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/the-great-isaiah-scroll-ms-a-1qisa/NAEMzlf5AD5y OQ?hl =en&projectId=art-project (accessed July 20, 2013).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Google. "Priestly Benediction: Google Cultural Institute." 2013. http://www. (accessed July 20, 2013).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.