Dead Sea Scrolls expert to receive Israel Prize in Jewish studies

“I am pleased and moved by the decision to award me the prize, which represents the state’s recognition of scientific and research achievements,” Prof. Elisha Qimron said of the honor.

January 25, 2018 19:35
2 minute read.
Dead Sea Scrolls expert to receive Israel Prize in Jewish studies

Prof. (Emer.) Elisha Qimron. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Prof. Elisha Qimron of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will be awarded the Israel Prize in the category of Jewish studies for his research into the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett approved the recommendation of the prize committee, which was headed by Prof. Deborah Diamant, the Education Ministry announced on Wednesday.

“I am pleased and moved by the decision to award me the prize, which represents the state’s recognition of scientific and research achievements,” Qimron said.

In its decision, the prize committee noted that Qimron is one of the preeminent experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea scrolls are a collection of some 900 scrolls discovered 70 years ago in the Qumran caves by a Beduin shepherd. Also known as the Qumran Scrolls, they date back 2,000 years to the Second Temple period.

Qimron’s three texts on the grammar and language of the scrolls serve all Second Temple period language, biblical commentary and ancient Halacha (Jewish law) researchers, the committee wrote in its decision.

The committee also noted that the prize assumes added meaning because this year is both the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel and the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the scrolls.

BGU president Prof. Rivka Carmi said the university takes great “pride in this honor which was bestowed in the 70th year of the State of Israel.”

“A groundbreaking scientist who left his own unique mark on the Dead Sea Scrolls and trained the next generation of outstanding scholars – I wish him many more years of health and fruitful research,” Carmi said.

Qimron began his academic career at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1964, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Bible and a master’s in Hebrew language. His master’s thesis was titled “Scroll of Psalms from Qumran – a language survey.”

He then went on to pursue his doctorate, writing “The Hebrew Grammar of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” which he submitted in 1976. During his master’s studies, Qimron worked on the Academy of the Hebrew Language’s historical dictionary project.

He was appointed a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University in the early 1980s and was appointed professor in 1993. He twice served as chairman of the BGU department of Hebrew language and served as the vice dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Qimron has won numerous awards, including the Asraf Prize from the Academy of the Hebrew Language for his research contributions; the Shazar Prize for the study of Israeli heritage; and the Mifal Hapais Michael Landau Prize for the sciences and research.

The Israel Prize is presented annually on Independence Day in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the president, the prime minister, the Knesset speaker and the Supreme Court president.

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