Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll to Be Displayed in Israel

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The Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll, scroll 4Q41, will be on display at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Photo: Dan Balilty/AP.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem will display a Dead Sea Scroll fragment containing one of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments, the Associated Press reports.*

The Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll, scroll 4Q41 (also known as the All Souls Deuteronomy), was discovered in 1952 in Cave 4 near the Dead Sea site of Qumran. The scroll dates to the first century B.C.E. and is written in Hebrew.

“A number of the Dead Sea Scrolls preserve parts of the Decalogue [the Ten Commandments], but 4Q41 (4QDeutn) is special because it is so beautifully preserved,” said Dead Sea Scroll specialist Dr. Shani Tzoref, Qumran Institute Fellow at the University of Göttingen and Professor of Bible and Biblical Exegesis at the Universities of Potsdam and Geiger College, in an email to Bible History Daily.

Interested in the history and meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls? In the free eBook Dead Sea Scrolls, learn what the Dead Sea Scrolls are and why are they important. Find out what they tell us about the Bible, Christianity and Judaism.


The most famous of the Qumran caves, Cave 4, was where more than 10,000 scroll fragments from more than 500 manuscripts were discovered. The Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll (scroll 4Q41) was found in this cave. Photo: Hershel Shanks.

Tzoref explained the significance of the Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll:

“One of its more interesting features is its ‘harmonization’ of the text of the Sabbath law: It combines the two different versions found in Exodus and Deuteronomy. It is identified as a copy of Deuteronomy, but it actually contains excerpts of the Biblical book and may have been written for use as a liturgical text. Other ancient copies of the Decalogue also point to liturgical uses: Some of the tefillin at Qumran include this passage, and the second-century ‘Nash Papyrus’ discovered in Egypt contained the Decalogue followed by the ‘Shema’ (Deut 6:4ff.: ‘Hear, O Israel … ’).”

Considered one of the greatest manuscript finds of all time, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain books from the Hebrew Bible as well as the religious writings—as most scholars believe—of the small group of Jews who lived in a settlement at Qumran. The scrolls were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and date between 250 B.C.E. and 68 C.E.

The display of the Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll will be part of the Israel Museum’s “A Brief History of Humankind” exhibit.

“For those who cannot make it to the Israel Museum,” Dr. Tzoref said, “you can get an up-close view from wherever you are on the IAA website: Advanced multi-spectral images have been uploaded to the Leon Levy Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Library.”

Check out high-resolution images of the Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll (scroll 4Q41) here: www.deadseascrolls.org.il/explore-the-archive/manuscript/4Q41-1.

Visit the Dead Sea Scrolls study page in Bible History Daily for more on this priceless collection of ancient manuscripts.



* Although the AP reports that the Ten Commandments Dead Sea Scroll will be on display at the Israel Museum for two weeks, it appears that the duration of the display is unclear for now.


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  • GENE says

    God’s Law for Israel. When Israel was organized as a nation, God became their King, Legislator, and Judge. (Isa 33:22) He gave them the “Ten Words,” or “Ten Commandments,” as they are often called, setting forth the principles upon which the body of about 600 other laws was based. He began the “Ten Words” with the statement: “I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Ex 20:2) This serves as the primary reason for obedience to the entire Law. Disobedience was not only a violation of the law of the Head of government but also an offense against the Head of religion, their God, and blasphemy of God was lèse-majesté, treason.

    Under the Law, the same principles applied as had governed patriarchal society. The Law, however, was more detailed and covered the whole scope of man’s activities. The entire Law, which is set forth in the Pentateuch, was of such a high standard of morality that no man could attempt to follow the complete Law without finding that he was convicted by it as being a sinner, imperfect. “The commandment is holy and righteous and good,” and “the Law is spiritual,” says the apostle Paul. “It was added to make transgressions manifest.” (Ro 7:12, 14; Ga 3:19) It was the whole law of God for Israel, laying down the principles and official decisions of Jehovah, not just a mere gathering of a set of cases that might arise or that had already arisen.

  • DALLAS says

    Aseret ha-Dibrot can be translated as “ten words” or, better, “ten sayings.” In Jewish law, they’re considered commandments, but as a subset of the full list of commandments (613 by one count).

  • GENE says


    This translation of the Hebrew expression ʽaseʹreth had·deva·rimʹ, found only in the Pentateuch, designates the ten basic laws of the Law covenant; commonly called the Ten Commandments. (Ex 34:28; De 4:13; 10:4) This special code of laws is also spoken of as the “Words” (De 5:22) and as “the words of the covenant.” (Ex 34:28) The Greek Septuagint (Ex 34:28; De 10:4) reads deʹka (ten) loʹgous (words), from which combination the word “Decalogue” is derived.

    Source of Tablets. The Ten Words were first orally given at Mount Sinai by the angel of Jehovah. (Ex 20:1; 31:18; De 5:22; 9:10; Ac 7:38, 53; see also Ga 3:19; Heb 2:2.) Moses then ascended the mountain to receive the Ten Words in written form on two stone tablets, along with other commandments and instructions.


  • rod says

    No, it appears they were placed there for safe keeping. A Gebiza is usually for old or damaged scrolls.

  • Yaakov says

    Was not the DDS caves a sort of a Geniza?

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