Older than the Dead Sea Scrolls, these silver scrolls are the oldest artifacts containing Biblical text

Anita Durairaj

The oldest surviving text of the Hebrew Bible dates to 600 B.C. and is known as the Ketef Hinnom Scrolls.

The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls contain text that is specifically from the Book of Numbers in the Bible.

The two scrolls were first discovered in 1979 in Ketef Hinnom, an archaeological site near the Old City of Jerusalem.

The scrolls themselves are tiny and no bigger than the diameter of a quarter. The first scroll measured 1.06 in by 3.82 inches while the second scroll measured 0.43 inches by 1.54 inches.

The scrolls were originally worn as amulets around the neck. In addition, the scrolls were made of silver.

It took archaeologists about three years to unroll the scrolls because they were afraid they would disintegrate due to their age.

Once unrolled, archaeologists discovered that the scrolls contained tiny lines of ancient Hebrew script. The writing has been described as miniature writing on amulets.

The writings on each scroll contain several lines of priestly benediction and mention the name "Yahweh" as written about in the Book of Numbers.

Unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls which are a collection of 900 manuscripts, the Ketef Hinnom Scrolls only reveal a few lines from the Book of Numbers but it is significant because of its age.

The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls are reported to be four centuries older than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thus, they are the earliest known citation of texts found in the Bible and the earliest example of a statement referring to "Yahweh" as God.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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