The biblical blueprint- and the Dead Sea scroll of Isaiah

A portion of the Great Isaiah Scroll, Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Isaiah prophecy 66:8: ‘Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children’.

The ancient 2000-year-old Book of Isaiah, found in the Dead Sea caves in 1947, first came into Jewish hands in the shortly-to-be-proclaimed State of Israel (May 14th, 1948) in January, 1948, either by divine providence, or a very remarkable coincidence:

“In January 1948, Professor Eleazar Sukenik of the Chair of Palestinian Archaeology in the Hebrew University arranged to meet with a member of the Syrian community in the YMCA building of Jerusalem to see the scrolls and borrow them for a few days, after hearing of their existence at the monastery. Upon realizing their authenticity, Sukenik copied several chapters of the Book of Isaiah from the manuscript and distributed copies to the Constituent Assembly of the State of Israel.”

That ancient scroll may now be seen displayed at the beautiful ‘Shrine of the Book’ at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

A central recurrent theme of the Bible is a blessed life in the favor of the Creator, then human rebellion leading to exile from the Creator, and then the return from exile. That is the essential blueprint of the Garden of Eden account, and the parallel history of Israel, the people of YHVH. It is a repeated theme in the text, and in our history, culminating with this, the second major return to the Land of Israel (or third, if you count a return under Moses), in our lifetime. This text of Isaiah (in which is predicted, before it happened, the exile of the Jewish people from their land of promise due to rebelliousness and, after a long and arduous dispersion, the Creator would bring them back and re-establish them as a nation, in one day) was copied by the Essenes in the 1st century BC, and sat there silently for two millennia until 1947- revealed not by the efforts of a Jewish scholar or archaeologist, but by a goat who apparently smelled his forefather’s skin upon which the words of Isaiah were scribed- to be revealed in its exquisite timing.

The entire biblical theme speaks of an unfolding historical process leading to an ultimate purpose and culmination. Today’s events in Israel are part of that ongoing process in G-d’s continuing and unbroken history (which is also in the beauty of the Creation account, being a process of life appearing on the Earth over time). The history of the Jewish people is an anomaly of a people set apart, “lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9 ), separate and not a part of the long history of the Christian church as it evolved away from its Jewish roots, even until the time of restoration to those roots in the Olive Tree, and Israel’s re-grafting back to their land and language, and into that same Tree of Life of its own (Romans 11:24).