The Bible Scholar Who Became an Undercover Agent, Harry M. Orlinsky, Biblical Archaeology Review (18:4), Jul/Aug. 1992.


Yigael Yadin

Yigael Yadin. By Boris Carmi /Meitar Collection / National Library of Israel / The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, CC BY 4.0,

It was about noon, Thursday, July 1, 1954. My wife and I had just seen our two sons off for their summer in Vermont. Our car was packed for a fortnight’s trip to Toronto, my wife was already seated in the car and I was locking the door when the telephone rang. We looked at each other- should I answer? We were impatient to get away, but after the third or fourth ring, I went back inside.

It was Yigael Yadin, speaking from the office of Avraham Harman, Consul-General of Israel in New York City. I must come over to the consulate at once, he said. What could be so important that only I could perform the service? Was I needed for some military action, I asked facetiously [typical Orlinsky humor—Ed.]. It was more important than that, Yadin declared. I asked for a minute or two to talk it over with my wife. Together we decided that if Israel needed me, we had no choice.

When I reached the Israeli Consulate, Harman and Yadin were waiting impatiently. The matter, they said, concerned the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Read the rest of The Bible Scholar Who Became an Undercover Agent in the Biblical Archaeology Society online library.

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