Bush to view rarely-seen Dead Sea Scroll

The most complete scroll ever found will go on display at the Israel Museum this month.

Isaiah scroll 224.88 (photo credit: The Israel Museum)
Isaiah scroll 224.88
(photo credit: The Israel Museum)
The most complete Dead Sea Scroll ever found will go on display at the Israel Museum this month for the first time in four decades, the museum announced Monday. Two major sections of the Great Isaiah Scroll, featuring the prophet's celebrated message of peace: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares" (Isaiah 2:4), will be on display at the museum's Shrine of the Book from May 19-August 30 in honor of Israel's 60th anniversary. "This special installation provides visitors with a rare opportunity to view one of the oldest, most complete, and best preserved of the Dead Sea Scrolls," said James S. Snyder, director of the Israel Museum. "The Isaiah Scroll, with its timeless message of peace, is one of the most important ancient biblical documents ever discovered," he said. The exhibition, fittingly called "Swords into Plowshares," presents the longest sections of the complete Isaiah Scroll: a 2.6-meter-long section comprising chapters 1-28, and a 2.38-meter-long section comprising chapters 44-66. In an attempt to contextualize the scroll, the museum will also display ancient archaeological tools, including a bent scimitar and a newly excavated, never before displayed early Roman seal, depicting a dove-like bird carrying an olive branch. US President George W. Bush, arriving Wednesday for a three-day visit, is scheduled to view the scrolls on Thursday evening in a private tour. The Isaiah Scroll is one of the first seven scrolls discovered in 1947 in a cave near Qumran, on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea. Of the 220 biblical scrolls found in the area, the complete Great Isaiah Scroll is one of the best preserved and the only one containing an entire biblical book. Dating from approximately 120 BCE, it is also one of the oldest Dead Sea Scrolls. The complete Isaiah Scroll was last on display at the Israel Museum from 1965-67, as part of the original design conception for the Shrine of the Book, where the scrolls are housed. Scroll sections are rotated on a regular basis in the museum in accordance with a policy aimed at their long-term preservation. Separately, a display from the Book of Psalms, including the famous Biblical passage: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalms 133), will be part of an exhibition opening at the city's International Convention Center for the benefit of Bush and other dignitaries attending Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.