Fragments of a Leviticus scroll (Aruglev) found in the Judean desert in 2004

Hanan Eshel, Yosi Baruchi, Roi Porat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The pottery found in the Nahal Arugot cave together with the paleographic data attest that this scroll was brought to the cave at the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (i.e., in the summer of 135 CE). These new fragments, similar to the rest of the Bar Kokhba scrolls found in the Judean desert between 1951 and 1962, are very similar to the Masoretic Text.10 This similarity can be explained by the fact that, starting from the first century CE, there was significant effort expended in creating a unified text for the books of the Pentateuch. The success of this endeavor is reflected in all of the known biblical fragments of the Bar Kokhba period.11 Hence it appears that the Pentateuch used in Judea in the first third of the 2nd century CE was nearly identical to that of the Masoretic Text. Indeed, the partial verses found in the Nahal Arugot fragments discussed here are identical to the Masoretic version, with one exception: the word which appears in Fragments B and C (Column 1, line 12) with a waw - while in the Masoretic Text of Lev 23:4 it appears defectively.12 Until now, fragments of the four other books of the Pentateuch from the Bar Kokhba period had been found, while Leviticus had not. And to the best of our knowledge, the fragments published here are the first parchment scroll fragments discovered in the Judean Desert since the conclusion of the Masada excavations in 1965. Papyri were found at Ketef Jericho in 1986 and 1993, and in the Har Yishai cave near Ein Gedi in 2002. But these documents deal with money matters, and are not religious texts written on parchment.13 The discovery of the fragments published here shows that there is still a chance of finding scrolls and documents in the Judean Desert caves, despite the widespread plundering of the caves since the first scrolls were unearthed at Qumran in 1947.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalDead Sea Discoveries
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


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