With the help of new technology, three experts in ancient Hebrew have been able to discern a different reading of the passage from a fragment of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Prof. Elisha Qimron had been working on the final stages of the second volume of the new edition of the Hebrew writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls when a particular fragment of a Dead Sea Scroll had been posted on the joint website of Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority − the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library website.
The website features very high resolution photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls using a special camera, which not only records the condition of the actual scrolls to help preserve them, but also brings to light for the first time faded and hidden letters.
The fragment, found in Cave 4 at Qumran, measures a paltry 7 by 10 centimeters and is very poorly preserved. However, one look at the new photograph of the fragment on the site was enough for Qimron to put off publication of the volume to try and decipher the text.
Qimron sent the photograph to Hanan Ariel and Alexey Yuditsky − two of his assistants on the Hebrew historical dictionary project he had helped head for the Hebrew Language Academy. “He said he wanted each of us to read it independently. We each read the letters differently, but after negotiations we agreed on a wording. After we stopped debating and agreed, we immediately understood what was written,” Ariel said.
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