In a remarkable feat of daring and skill, the Israeli team were determined to find what lay inside the “Cave of Horror”. Accessible only by rope, the Nahal Hever cave lies tucked beneath a clifftop in the Judean desert, where explorers in the 1960s encountered multiple skeletons waiting for them inside… hence the rather ominous nickname. But our intrepid excavation team, led by Israel Antiquities Authority Director Israel Hasson, was undeterred.
And it was worth it. They discovered ancient scrolls of biblical texts that have been carbon dated to be 1900 years old! The parchments are believed to have been stashed safely away in the cave during the Jewish Revolt against Rome some 100 years after Jesus.
The texts are written in Greek but the name of God is written in paleo Hebrew letters. The newly discovered fragments include the minor prophets Nahum and Zechariah, and are thought to belong to a larger scroll of all the twelve minor prophets found in the 1950s. It’s one of the most significants find since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the Qumran cave some 60 years ago. Hasson, who headed up the operation, was delighted with the results:
“The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind.”1
The Times of Israel reports that the fragments “were discovered in clumps and rolled up” in the cave.
“The conservation and study of the fragments was conducted by the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit under Tanya Bitler, Dr. Oren Ableman and Beatriz Riestra. The team has so far reconstructed 11 lines of Greek text that was translated from Zechariah 8:16–17, as well as verses from Nahum 1:5–6.”2
Very fitting words for our time! As the Israel Antiques Authority works hard to find the treasures hidden throughout Judea before looters get to them, and in a time of rampant fake news, God’s word is as refreshing as ever. It does not age, even after 2000 years stashed away in a cave.
These are the things that you are to do: speak the truth one to another; administer the judgment of truth and shalom in your gates;3 do not let any of you devise evil in your hearts against your neighbor; and do not love false oaths, for I hate all these things,”—it is a declaration of Adonai. (Zechariah 8:16–17)
Mountains quaked because of Him,
and the hills have melted.
The earth has heaved up at His presence—
yes, the world and everything dwelling in it.
Before His indignation who can stand?
Who can withstand His burning anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
and cliffs break down before Him. (Nahum 1:5-6)
- Israel Antiques Authority press release
- Times of Israel, Bible scroll fragments among dazzling artifacts found in Dead Sea Cave of Horror, 16 March 2021
- In the newly discovered fragment, the word “gates” is rendered as “streets” – shalom in your streets. Dr. Oren Ableman from the IAA Dead Sea Scroll Unit said, “we had never seen this before”.
Jerusalem Post, New Dead Sea Scroll fragments, world’s oldest basket found in desert cave, Rossella Tercatin, March 17, 2021