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Facts about the Dead Sea Scrolls For Kids


What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The Dead Sea scrolls are so named because of the location of their discovery. They were found in caves in Qumran on the shore of the Dead Sea. These approximately 900 scrolls and fragments were discovered between the years 1947 and 1956. They caused much excitement in the academic and archeological fields.

When were the Dead Sea Scrolls Written?

The scrolls were written around 150 B.C.E. to 70 C.E., some 2,000 years ago. Almost all of them are in Hebrew or Aramaic. They include the oldest known copies of the Bible, some on parchment and some on papyrus. Writings from the Bible make up almost half of the scrolls. The rest consist of writings from the Second Temple period. The largest number of scrolls (39 scrolls) are Psalms, followed by Deuteronomy (33 scrolls), the Book of Enoch (25 scrolls), and Genesis (24 scrolls). In addition, writings from the Prophets are heavily represented, including 22 scrolls from Isaiah. All of the books of the Bible, the Prophets, and the Writings are found among the Dead Sea scrolls, except for the books of Nehemiah and Esther. The only book found in its entirety is Isaiah.

It is believed that this collection of scrolls was the library of a Jewish sect known as the Essenes. The Essenes were active from the second century before the Common Era to the first century of the Common Era. Another theory is that Jews wrote the scrolls from Jerusalem who fled the Romans at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E.

Most of the Dead Sea scrolls are housed in the Shrine of the Book, a wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The scrolls are on display for the public, or they can be viewed online.

What are the prophecies in the Dead Sea scrolls?

The prophecies written in the Dead Sea Scrolls are included in the Bible, Prophets, and Writings. The prophecies of Isaiah include the famous depictions of Messianic times when “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid,” “nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” and “He will destroy death forever.” Other prophecies warn the people of Israel about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple if they fail to mend their ways. This prophecy is found in the passage, “Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised Thee, is burned with fire, and all our treasures are laid waste.”

Several chapters are devoted to the punishments that will befall the nations that tormented the people of Israel, such as Babylon, Syria, Egypt, and Moab. The time of the fulfillment of this promise is referred to as “the year of recompenses for the cause of Zion.” Later, Isaiah mentions the return of the people of Israel to their land, “And I will delight in Jerusalem and rejoice in my people, and the voice of crying and weeping will no longer be heard in it.”

Isaiah paints a panoramic view of the final redemption with the words, “and my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and sure dwellings, and quiet resting places. And they shall densely cover the land like a forest, and the city shall extend down into the valley” and “it shall come to pass that every new moon and every Sabbath, shall all flesh come to worship before Me.”