Reminiscences of the Early Days in the Discovery and Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Frank Moore Cross.


Frank Moore Cross

Frank Moore Cross. Courtesy of Jack1956 at the English language Wikipedia.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years After Their Discovery (ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Emanuel Tov and James C. VanderKam), Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem 2000, p. 932-943.

I have been asked to report memories and tell tales of the early days when we were young and engaged in the most exciting project imaginable, the identification, piecing together, and editing of the scrolls of Cave 4. Let me begin with my introduction to the Qumran scrolls.

One day in the spring of 1948, Noel Freedman and I were working in our carrels in the Johns Hopkins library when Professor William F. Albright, our teacher, came rushing into the library. He herded us into his study and whipped out glossy prints of manuscript columns received from John Trever in Jerusalem. The text was from Isaiah. He dated the Isaiah scroll before our eyes, explaining the typologically significant features of the script. With a few minutes study he was able to assign the manuscript to the second century BCE. It was a remarkable performance. But Albright was prepared. In 1937, he published his classic analysis of the Nash Papyrus, organizing the field in the process.1 By 1947, he had gathered a large amount of additional data bearing on the typology of the Aramaic and Jewish scripts of this era, planning an updating of his earlier paper.

G. R. Driver wrote in 1951 asking the question “. . . what is the date of these [scroll] copies? This is an exceedingly difficult question to answer . . . Professor Albright answered this question in an hour, Mr. Trever somewhat modestly spent two days over it!” Driver, after three years of study in 1951 dated the scrolls to the period between the Mishnah and the Talmud, “between AD 200 and AD 500.”2 After another fourteen years he had refined his dates to AD 70–73 for the Habakkuk Commentary, AD 73–81 for the Thanksgiving Hymns (a modest question mark is put here), and AD 96–132 for the Zadokite Document and the War Scroll.3

In fact, Albright’s date for the Isaiah Scroll, the second century BCE, stands. The great Israeli epigraphist, Nahman Avigad dated the manuscript to the second half of the second century. I have dated it to 125–100 BCE. A recent carbon14 dating yields the range 202–107 BCE. There have been many attempts to ignore palaeographical and carbon14 dating, most recently by scholars who wish to see the sectarian documents reflecting the events of early Christian history. The speculations of these scholars are implausible enough in themselves, but by ignoring hard scientific evidence they guarantee that their views, like those of older scholars who refused to take seriously archaeological and palaeographical data, will end up on the trash heap of the history of scholarship.

The organization of the old Palestine Archaeological Museum (now the Rockefeller Museum) is important to know for the understanding of the organization of the international committee to edit the scrolls of Qumran Cave 4. It was a private Museum endowed by Rockefeller. The Board of Trustees of the Museum consisted de facto, if not de jure, of diplomats of various Western countries having national schools of biblical and/or archaeological research in Jerusalem and of scholars representing each of the designated schools, normally the director. One diplomat, one scholar per school. When I went out to Jerusalem in May 1953 I actually sat on the Board of Trustees of the Museum as Acting Director of American Schools of Oriental Research and saw it in operation. The British School of Archaeology, the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Deutschen Evangelischen Institute für Altertumswissenschaft des Heiligen Landes, the École Biblique et Archéologique, at once the French national school and an institute run by the Dominican Convent of St. Stephen, and the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society, later the Israel Exploration Society—all officially had representatives on the board of Trustees. While the Jewish society formally held a position on the Board of Trustees, their representatives were unable to attend owing to the exclusion of Jews by the State of Jordan which held hegemony over Old Jerusalem in which the Museum was located. There were other national schools in Jerusalem, but these named were the only ones, so far as I know, legally recognized on the Museum Board.

With the discovery of Cave 4 in February 1952 a new team of scholars was required to undertake the “mother of all jigsaw puzzles.” The Museum proposed to conduct a campaign for funds to acquire Cave 4 fragments and for funds to support scholars at work in the scrollery of the Museum. Funds available from the Jordan Department of Antiquities were soon exhausted and the available money of the Museum, including a part of its endowment, was expended. At this time, Roland de Vaux was president of the Museum Board and G. Lankester Harding was curator of the Museum as well as Director of Antiquities of Jordan. Led by de Vaux with the official concurrence of the Department of Antiquities, the Board voted to assemble a team asking each national school to nominate one or two scholars competent to carry on the scholarly work, their appointment to be ratified by the Board of the Museum. At the same time, through the national schools, money was to be raised for purchase of documents and for support of the team. The largest gifts for the support of the research and photography came through the American Schools of Oriental Research thanks to the beneficence of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

I was the first of the Cave 4 team to arrive on the scene, starting to work in the scrollery in May, 1953. I was nominated by the American Schools. My task was to prepare and identify the fragments unearthed from Cave 4 by scholars after the ravages of the Ta‘âmireh Bedouin were halted. J. T. Milik, a Pole attached to the École Biblique and later to CNRS, arrived in September, 1953. Milik had done distinguished work in publishing the fragments of Cave 1 in the first volume of the series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, and with his arrival from Paris in the fall all of the materials from Cave 4 purchased to that date were brought out and combined with my much smaller group of excavated fragments. John Allegro, a junior colleague of H. H. Rowley at Manchester, nominated by the British School for the team at the recommendation of G. R. Driver, came next in late autumn 1953, and finally, in 1954, Jean Starcky of the CNRS, Patrick Skehan of the American School, John Strugnell of the British School, and Claus-Hunno Hunzinger of the German School. All of us worked on all genres of material. We were seven in the first years.4

Most of us were trained in epigraphy. Only Hunzinger had primary training in the history and literature of Second-Temple Judaism, and he soon resigned from the project. In the early stages of the work, however, training in epigraphy and palaeography was a primary requisite. Small fragments were identified and placed most often by their script, its typological features, as well as by its idiosyncratic traits. We got to know scribes, their rough dates, and their peculiarities.

I have discussed the story of the origin of the international team in some detail owing to the distorted accounts which have appeared in print, notably the claim that de Vaux appointed the team and drew its members from among his cronies, mostly Catholics, and an alternative, equally tendentious claim that Gerald Harding, the Director of Antiquities of Jordan, made the appointments. In fact, de Vaux was not acquainted with any of us save the French members of the team, and neither of these was a Dominican colleague. My first contact with him was when he came over to the American School in Jerusalem in May 1953 to take me to the Rockefeller Museum and introduce me to its scrollery. Official appointment was by the Board of the Museum of which de Vaux was president at that time, and the ratification by Harding was pro forma since he was ex officio secretary of the Board as curator of the Museum, in addition to being Director of Antiquities of Jordan.

The summer of 1953 was wonderful. I was alone in the scrollery working on the materials excavated by Harding and de Vaux after the plundering by the Ta‘âmireh Bedouin was halted. I had a cross section of Cave 4 manuscripts, eloquent evidence of the chaotic mix of fragments surviving in the cave. I remember coming on the calendrical documents, Mišmarot I called them, a designation which has stuck, and working for the first time in my life on technicalities of calendar. I identified and deciphered a papyrus copy of the Serek Hay-Yahad, the Order of the Community, written in an extreme cursive script. There were fragments inscribed in a minuscule Palaeo-Hebrew script, and an odd document written in what I called at that time a proto-Mishnaic dialect, which proved to be the Halakhic Epistle—unhappily labeled miqsat ma‘ase hat-torah in its principal publication.

The document which most seized my interest, however, consisted of some twenty-seven illegible fragments, some backed by papyrus. The leather was darkened and mostly covered in yellow crystals—evidently dried animal urine, but very old urine. The fragments were found under roughly a meter of deposit in Cave 4. I cleaned these with a camel’s hair brush and castor oil. The document seemed to have material concerning Samuel but it did not follow the Masoretic Text. Cleaning the fragments was tedious and unpleasant, so I laid the task aside after a while. From the few legible places on the fragments it appeared to be a biblical story book. Or, I dreamed, a source of the Deuteronomist. Later, I returned to the task and by whimsy opened the Brooke-McLean edition of the Greek Bible to Samuel. I had brought up the Larger Cambridge Septuagint from the library stacks in the basement of the museum to compare its readings with other biblical scrolls. Perusing the Greek text, I came upon certain readings in my manuscript. I suddenly realized with a shock that I had a manuscript of biblical Samuel but not the text preserved in the received Hebrew text.

To understand my surprise, shock, and excitement one must realize the state of Septuagint studies in 1953. Most western scholars who dealt with the problems of textual criticism, in the older generation Albright, my teacher, Ivan Engnell, Johannes Hempel, and Max Margolis, not to mention Israeli scholars, and in the younger generation John Wevers, Dominique Barthélemy, and P. A. H. De Boer, regarded the Masoretic Text with uncritical reverence and handled textual problems with extreme conservatism. Readings of the Greek Bible which differed from the Hebraica veritas were believed to be due to mistranslation, ignorance, bias, or willful correction. The late Henry Gehman tried to write a Septuagint lexicon on the proposition that the Greek text fitted in large measure one-to-one with the Hebrew text. This produced no end of new definitions of Greek words, not found elsewhere in Greek literature. Now I had evidence that the Greek translator was far more faithful to his underlying Hebrew text than anyone had supposed since the days of Thenius and Wellhausen. Having been trained myself in the conservative tradition, just short of Masoretic fundamentalism, I found myself forced into a new world requiring new critical thinking, new methods. Most extraordinary, I found myself for the first time interested in textual criticism. By fall I had prepared a preliminary report on the fragments I had cleaned and pieced together.

The responses to the publication of the fragments of the Samuel manuscript were extraordinary. Johannes Hempel, the former Nazi editor of the Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft suggested seriously that my document was a re-translation into Hebrew of the Greek Bible. Change comes with difficulty to veteran scholars.

In the spring of the year de Vaux invited Milik and me to take part in the dig at Khirbet Qumran. My conviction that the site of Qumran was a communal center of the Essene community was set by my stay there. Piecing together hundreds of dishes and flasks, place settings for the communal meal, focused my attention. We worked hard but there was some fun. De Vaux celebrated his fiftieth birthday at the dig and served each of us in rude tin cups some fine French cognac specially brought in for the occasion. The stuff tasted strong to me and I added some water—a sin which de Vaux never forgot—or forgave. At the peak of our boredom piecing pottery together, Milik and I decided on an outing, a trip up over the cliffs, through the Buqê‘ah, a little valley (as the word means in Arabic) at sea level to be identified with biblical ‘Emeq ‘Akor, the Valley of Trouble, to one day become, according to Hosea, the Door of Hope, Petah Tiqwah. Our goal was the famous ruin of Khirbet Mird. We each carried water, an onion, and an orange. The little valley proved to be our chief interest. There we found some one-period sites, all seventh century BCE, and all associated with irrigation works. Two years later Milik and I launched a little expedition to the Buqê‘ah, later followed up by the excavations of Lawrence Stager. The archaeological interlude ended and we went back to our fragments.

Initially, we all worked on all materials, specializing only when the team had to split up. We searched out and identified particularly the manuscripts which interested us, but we also all contributed to the manuscripts assigned to others. Often we passed over whole manuscripts to others. I got rid of the so-called “Reworked Pentateuch” fragments as soon as Strugnell agreed to take them.5 The lots remained somewhat fluid until 1956. In 1956, 330 manuscripts had been identified, on 420 glass plates; 80 plates of unidentified fragments remained. The more difficult or esoteric materials were distributed to scholars who could remain all year in the scrollery- Milik, Starcky, Strugnell, and later Baillet. Allegro had a small lot, mostly pešarim. Biblical materials went to me and I later divided them with Skehan. For a number of years scholars with teaching posts returned to the scrollery for three or four months each summer and during sabbatical leaves.

In this same year, 1956, there was a halt in the team’s work owing to the Sinai war. The scrolls were taken to Ottoman Bank in Amman—theoretically for safe keeping. In fact they mildewed, grew moss, dissolved, and generally deteriorated during their sojourn in the bank vault. In 1956 we also photographed a box of apparently blank scrolls—set aside as of no value—with infrared film to make sure we had not overlooked something. One red-black, decayed piece of leather proved to be inscribed. Decipherment was a nightmare, accomplished best by reading with a strong light shining through the leather from underneath. The manuscript proved to be an archaic copy of Exodus, now labeled 4QExod–Levf. Along with the old Samuel scroll, 4QSamb, it is the oldest of the manuscripts recovered from Qumran, dating back to the mid-third century BCE or earlier. This year I finally completed its editing, or rather gave up on advancing the decipherment further. I did succeed in proving that the manuscript included both Exodus and Leviticus, the only such exemplar at Qumran. We have Genesis–Exodus, Leviticus–Numbers, and now Exodus–Leviticus written on a single scroll.6

I should note that only in 1958 were the last lots of Cave 4 fragments purchased from Kando, a character I will return to presently. After five years the work of identification and piecing in the scrollery was still far from over.

In the summer of 1960 the Rockefeller funds ran out. This effectively exhausted money available for travel and upkeep of members of the team. Moreover, it brought to an end the support of Albina, our photographer, and funds for film and developing. De Vaux pressed the team to finish our jigsaw puzzles, our search for new manuscripts, and especially our attempts to identify the remaining unidentified fragments. We were not happy, feeling that this was an administrative decision rather than a scholarly decision. It is recorded that at this juncture 511 manuscripts had been identified, consisting of 620 glass plates. There were twenty-five plates of unidentified fragments left over.7 Such enumeration grossly distorted reality as we saw it. Most of the small fragments on the so-called identified plates were half-identified. That is, leather, lineation, and script suggested that they belonged with an identified manuscript but the fragments were not placed. And scribes sometimes copied more than one manuscript. A recent count enumerated 575 manuscripts from Cave 4; this number could increase.

We expended much energy in the early days raising money to acquire scroll materials and papyri in from the hands of bedouin and their middleman. A 1953 arrangement with the Jordan Government required that materials remain in the Rockefeller Museum until published, but then permitted scroll fragments to go to institutions who donated funds. Money for Cave 4 purchases came from the Jordan Government, from the Palestine Archaeological Museum, and from the Vatican Library, McGill University, Manchester University, the University of Heidelberg, Oxford University, McCormick Theological Seminary, and All Soul’s Unitarian Church. In 1958 the second McCormick gift and the All Soul’s gift were made with the understanding that the scrolls purchased would remain in the Rockefeller Museum and that only rights of publication would be granted to national schools or their designated editors. In making agreements without the earlier stipulation that the material ultimately go to the donor institution, we anticipated the decree of the Jordanian government on August 5, 1961 revoking all past agreements and claiming absolute ownership of the scrolls.

In 1956, and again in 1958, I was able to find gifts for the purchase of the final lots of the Cave 4 fragments. The procedure of purchase I learned from first hand experience.

In the summer of 1956, I advised G. Lankester Harding of the first of two McCormick gifts, about $6000. He sent word to a certain famous cobbler and antiquities dealer, Khalil Iskander Shahin—better known as Kando—that 2100 square cm of inscribed material of Cave 4 would be paid for by his office if brought to the Palestine Archaeological Museum. Kando had de facto immunity from prosecution for illicit possession of and sales of antiquities—so long as he sold to the Museum. This appeared to be a prudent, if not entirely legal, procedure to make sure that materials came into the Museum and were not scattered over the world, and that Kando would not resort to extreme measures to hide materials in his possession. One spring early in the game, after a season of being hounded by the authorities, Kando dug up a bushel basket of manuscript fragments buried over the winter and found them dissolved into glue; so he reported to us, and for once his claim was sufficiently horrible to be credible. In any case, by ten AM the following day Kando, claiming to be acting for his partner the sheikh of the Ta‘âmireh tribe, appeared with a lot of material, and after some argument and dickering and a bit of bakhsheesh for large pieces, we purchased a fine batch of large, legible pieces of Cave 4 fragments. Before the day was over they were photographed, and for the most part placed into known manuscripts thanks to their large size. In 1958, with the second, larger McCormick purchase and the All Soul’s purchase, the last of the Cave 4 manuscript pieces were brought into the scrollery. Again these last fragments were large and legible. Kando clearly kept the best for the last and expected the agreed price of about $2.80 (1 Jordanian dinar) per sq. cm to be raised considerably. Unhappily, we did raise it for what we regarded as the final purchase, and the new price set a precedent for future, unanticipated purchases.

It should be noted that funds for the team’s expenses, and especially for the purchase of fragments, were always in short supply. The team should have been expanded but money was more urgently needed for purchase of leather.

Meanwhile, the Bedouin had discovered Cave 11 in the early spring, 1956. In 1960, on behalf of the American Schools, I negotiated the purchase of the Cave 11 Psalms Scroll later edited by J. A. Sanders.8 A large purchase price was provided for by a gift from the late Mrs. Elizabeth Hay Bechtel; the former price of $2.80 per sq. cm price was not even a basis for negotiation. We paid out the full check we received from the Bechtels, $60,000. At roughly the same time the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences was acquiring the Job Targum from Cave 11, again for a pretty penny. Kando was now driven about Bethlehem and Jerusalem in a Mercedes sedan. In 1965 I attempted to negotiate the purchase of the 11Q paleo-Hebrew Leviticus on behalf of the American Schools. The scroll was available for JD 8,000 (about $23,000). However, this negotiation was suspended when the Museum was nationalized by the government of Jordan in 1966. In a generous gesture, the Israeli Department of Antiquities in 1967, after the unification of Jerusalem, honored the tentative arrangement to have the editor nominated by American Schools of Oriental Research, David Noel Freedman, proceed with the edition of the text.9

On May 11, 1962, Paul Lapp, the Director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem, wrote to me describing the discovery by Ta‘âmireh bedouin of Aramaic papyri, probably dating to the fourth century BCE. Paul Lapp even suggested the date of c. 375 for one piece on the basis of a quick examination—only about a quarter century early as it turned out. The papyrus was dated by Artaxerxes III (358–338 BCE). Kando was asking JD 25,000 ($70,000) for the papyri and bullae accompanying them. Earlier, the British Academy had put up some funds for buying Cave 4 scrolls. It was unexpended. De Vaux proposed to Kathleen Kenyon, Director of the British School, that the money be used to purchase the papyri. Kenyon arranged for G. R. Driver to come out to examine the material and he recommended that not more than 5,000 pounds be spent for the fragmentary papyri. Kando laughed. De Vaux then asked Paul to write to me about possible American sources of money for the papyri, suggesting that the lot should go for about 7,000 pounds, $20,000.

Acting again on behalf of the American Schools, I arrived in Jerusalem on November 14, 1962, with a check for $20,000 dollars in my pocket. On Saturday, November 17, I met with Kando and got the first glimpse of the material. There was a papyrus sealed with seven seals— obviously complete—so I wrongly thought. I found the name “Samaria” on a fragment or two. What really struck my eye in the first minutes was a sealing (bulla) on a roll of papyrus stamped in paleo-Hebrew script. I could read pahat šōmĕrōn, “governor of Samaria,” on the lower line of the seal, and before the title three letters of a patronymic blt. There was no problem in filling out the missing letters of the name- balātu was a well-known Babylonian verbal element, familiar from the biblical name Sanballat, properly Sin’uballat The bulla belonged to the governor of Samaria, the son of Sanballat. At this point I could not suppress my excitement, and the price of the papyri went up 4,000 pounds.

On Sunday afternoon the following day at 3 PM, Père de Vaux, Yusuf Sa‘ad, the secretary of the Museum, and I were scheduled to sit down with Kando in the beautiful interior garden of the museum, which included a pool surrounded by a marginal planting of lavender, and negotiate the purchase of the papyri. When the time came I was nowhere to be found and Paul Lapp discovered me fast asleep in my room—exhausted from late hours, excitement, and jet-lag. I hastened over to the Museum. Sa‘ad conducted the negotiations in English, Arabic, and French. Kando feigned ignorance of any language but Arabic, but his control of English numbers was perfect.

As I did in the earlier negotiation for the Psalms scroll, after long and heated haggling getting nowhere, I pulled out the check and threw it down on the table, saying this is all I had, take it or leave it. This time Kando did not take it. Finally, I agreed to the price of 11,000 pounds, more than $30,000, with 7000 pounds in cash and 4000 more payable within a year. Where the additional money would come from I did not know, and felt very uneasy until I had word from Mrs. Elizabeth Bechtel that she would foot the additional bill. An unhappy postscript to the story, learned years later, was the revelation that Yusuf Sa‘ad, the museum’s bargainer, was in fact a silent partner of Kando; we never had a chance in the oriental bazaar. Perhaps most distressing was my inability, owing to the exhaustion of my funds, to purchase the large hoards of coins found with the papyri and Samaritan bones. These scattered and while Dr. Ya‘aqov Meshorer has now published a large number of them, it is a pity they were split up and their provenience put into question.10

We received the material on Monday, November 19. In the evening, the Lapps and I gathered in the scrollery of the Museum to unroll the document with seven seals, the prize piece of the find. I gingerly cut the strings holding the seven seals in place. Humidifying the papyrus, and using a fine brush with water, we coaxed the papyrus open, and began unrolling it turn by turn. Six turns were unwound, and no writing appeared. It appeared that I had paid a fortune for a blank piece of papyrus. On the seventh turn, however, a bold line of script appeared. When the top line was reached we read a date formula, “On the 20th of Adar, year 2, the accession year of Darius the king, in Samaria.” We were very lucky. It was a double date formula, by Arses who died in the second year of his reign, and by the accession year of Darius III. After going to the library to check the calendars of the Achaemenid kings, we could assign a precise date to the papyrus- March 19, 335 BCE. We were also very unlucky. Less than one half of the papyrus, a slave conveyance, was preserved—and this was the best preserved papyrus of the lot. A number of years would pass before I could reconstruct the legal formulae of a slave conveyance sufficiently well to fill in lacunae and discover the full contents of this papyrus, published as Samaria Papyrus 1.11 The papyri are all badly preserved, having been a feast for hungry worms left behind after the bones of the massacred patricians from Samaria were stripped clean.

April 21, 1965 was a red-letter day for many of us; we were present and lectured on the occasion of the dedication of the Shrine of the Book, built through the benefaction of the late Joy Ungerleider Mayerson and the Dorot Foundation but alas, still separated from the scrollery at the Rockefeller Museum, a situation which ended only with the unification of Jerusalem in 1967.

Early in 1967, a Washington law firm communicated with me, and later its representatives made a visit to Cambridge to discuss Qumran scrolls for sale. The firm was wealthy and as respectable as Washington law firms go, so I took seriously their claim that they were middlemen for persons in Jordan and Beirut who had more or less complete Qumran scrolls for sale. The scrolls were purportedly from Cave 11. Rumors about Cave 11 material which had never come into scholars’ hands had circulated for a decade and indeed circulate to this day. Acting again for the American Schools scroll committee, I set out for Jerusalem on March 3 with two tasks to accomplish—the public task of attempting to establish a new American School of Oriental Research in Beirut and the private task of negotiating for the purchase of the scroll or scrolls being offered in Beirut. I made clear to the authorities in Jerusalem that whatever scrolls the American Schools acquired they would be returned to Jerusalem and the Rockefeller (Palestine) Museum. From March 5–11, 1967, I traveled about Lebanon looking for an excavation site for the projected new school, deciding that Paleo-Tyre, mainland Tyre, was ideal. I was met in Beirut by a representative of the Washington law firm, the director of a major American public museum, and a certain rogue named Wendell Phillips. They stayed at the swank Phoenicia Hotel; I stayed in a small waterfront hotel whose name I have forgotten. I was given a phone number in Beirut before I left home and now came the day to call it. Someone answered in good English and asked for my number. Later he called and asked if I could identify myself. I said that I had his phone number and was known to the representative of the Washington firm. What more was necessary? Whom did I know in Beirut? I mentioned Maurice Chehab, the Director of Antiquities (which didn’t get a laugh), Bill Holliday then at the Protestant Divinity School, Henri Seyrig at the French Institute, Dimitri Baramki at the American University, and so on. He hung up. Later in the day the same person, who remained nameless, called and said they were satisfied I was who I claimed to be and proposed that I meet them that night at 11 P.M. under an arch in the Old Suq of Beirut—alone. I argued to no avail that my associates should come along too. So, I found my way by cab to the designated rendezvous, where the cab driver left me after asking if I really wished to be left alone in such a place. After he left I debated with myself- should I stand in a shadow or in plain view on the street. It occurred to me that the person or persons whom I was to meet might figure that I had come prepared to pay the million dollars or more asked per scroll, and that they might take unpleasant measures to extract money from me. The place was perfect for a robbery, so I thought. No one was to be seen. It was very dark. Garbage littered the walkways under the arches. One body more or less might not be noticed for days. After a very long time passed—perhaps ten minutes—a white Mercedes came into sight, rolled past me as I stood in the archway, and circled out of sight again. A few minutes later it came back into view and paused in front of me. A door was opened and I was invited into the back seat by a silver-haired gentleman who spoke French-accented English. I immediately noticed a man with his head hidden under the dashboard sitting on the right of the driver. His brachycephalic skull was familiar. So I said, “Greetings O Kando, How are you?” [Marhaba ya-Kando, kêf el-hal?]. He rose up grinning, thanked god several times, asked me concerning my health, and shortly ran out of Arabic I understood.

We were taken to a grand mansion where the banker, the driver of the car, lived. Kando showed me several boxes of fragments, some from Cave 11, others of the Bar Kokhba era including a Greek contract or two. But, he explained, he had a great scroll to sell worth millions of dollars. Why did he not have it with him? The Washington contact had sworn to me that he had several large scrolls. Well, he had at least one, and the fragments, the remarkable fragments he had brought. I said I was not interested in his minuscule fragments. He then proposed that I come to Jerusalem with him. He would sell me the scroll. I said that my donor was a busy man who had come to Beirut. Why had Kando not brought the scroll or scrolls as promised? I had missed classes at the university; I had spent the American Schools’ good money provided by a donor. Show the scroll to me here in Beirut. Go get it if necessary. But he insisted that he had become afraid to bring it out, and that “big men” (I gathered he meant the Ta‘âmirah elders) wouldn’t let him take it to Beirut. After a long evening I realized that he did not have the scroll with him. I told him that my former student, Paul Lapp, the professor at the American School, would negotiate for me. He knew Paul, who had been present at the negotiations for the Dâliyeh Papyri. Show the scroll to him and he would authenticate it and get in touch with me. If so, I would return to Jerusalem in the summer after the University was out for vacation, and perhaps buy his scroll.

In June 1967 the Six Day War broke out. The old city was united with the new city, and Bethlehem came under the jurisdiction of Israel. On June 8, less than a month after my visit with Kando, Professor Yigael Yadin, who had been negotiating with Kando by way of another American middleman, a “televangelist,” sent an army colonel to Kando’s home. He asked Kando for the scroll and Kando the cobbler handed over a shoe box. The officer brought it to Yadin and inside he found the Temple Scroll. Kando received $105,000 for the document, far less than he had hoped, more than he deserved. He had violated the agreement which had given him immunity over the years, and sought millions abroad. In the end all turned out well. The publication of the Temple Scroll provided a suitable climax for Yadin’s career, an appropriate anticlimax in Kando’s list of financial triumphs, and a brief adventure for me.

There has been half a century of scholarly labor on the scrolls of the Judaean Desert. The little team once closed off in the old city has now expanded exponentially in united Jerusalem. In recent years, thanks especially to Emanuel Tov, the publication of the series of principal editions of the scrolls has sped up and literature on the published material has burgeoned. The recent bibliography of Florentino García Martínez and Donald W. Parry records more than fifty-six hundred items dealing with the finds in the Desert of Judah published in the last twenty-five years. Controversy has not ceased, and one tabloid informs us that the scrolls prove that Moses came from a distant planet. But slowly, as is properly the case with sensational discoveries, fantasy fades away and the truth emerges. We now read the history of early Judaism and primitive Christianity with new eyes, and in another fifty years the history of Judaism and of the biblical text will be even more richly and soundly understood.

1. “A Biblical Fragment from the Maccabaean Age- The Nash Papyrus,” JBL 56 (Ί937) 145–176.

2. The Hebrew Scrolls (Oxford- Oxford University Press, 1951) 23, no. 1.

3. The Judaean Scrolls (Oxford- Basil Blackwell, 1965) 373.

4. In 1958, Maurice Baillet of the CNRS was added to the team after completing his edition of fragments from the “Minor Caves.”

5. They were later assigned to Emanuel Tov and Sidnie White for editing and appeared in DJD XIII, Cave 4 VIII (Oxford- Clarendon Press, 1994) 187–345.

6. Now published in DJD XII, Qumran Cave 4 VII (Oxford- Clarendon Press, 1994) 133–146.

7. Cf. DJD VI, Qumrân Grotte 4 II (Oxford, Clarendon, 1977) 6–8.

8. DJD TV, The Psalms Scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (Oxford- Clarendon Press, 1965).

9. The scroll has been published by D. N. Freedman and K. A. Mathews, The Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll [11QpaleoLev] (Winona Lake, Indiana- American Schools of Oriental Research, 1985).

10. Ya‘akov Meshorer and Shraga Qedar, The Coinage of Samaria in the Fourth Century BCE (Jerusalem- Numismatic Fine Arts International, 1991).

11. “Samaria Papyrus 1- An Aramaic Slave Conveyance of 335 B.C.E. Found in the Wâdi ed-Dâliyeh,” Eretz-Israel 18 (1985) [The Avigad Volume]- 7*–17*.

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