It is an exciting discovery when someone finds a letter in his attic that is several generations old. Likewise, historians study with great interest the writings of famous people who lived a hundred years ago. Even more so, they are elated when they discover a document that is two or three hundred years old, perhaps in the crypt of an old church. When documents over twenty centuries old are found, they are in a class by themselves.
The Jericho region of the Dead Sea had long been rumored to be the home of ancient biblical manuscripts. A Seleucian patriarch named Timotheus I (727-819 A. D.), in a letter to Sergius, wrote that he had learned that some Jews had discovered sacred books in caves near Jericho, and that they had since come out in large numbers and gathered these findings. An ancient historian, Eusebius (260-340 A. D.), mentioned in his “Ecclesiastical History” that both Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were found in a jar near Jericho during the reign of the Roman Emperor Caracalla Antoninus (reigned 211-217 A. D.). Another clue, earlier still, is in the writings of Origen (185-264 A. D.). He compiled a massive work of six Hebrew versions of the Old Testament which he named the “Hexapla.” He said that the portion of the sixth version, that contained the book of Psalms, was taken from a jar found near Jericho. 1
In 1947, three Bedouin shepherds were wandering through the desert between the Jordan River and Bethlehem, as their people had done for centuries. They passed through an area known as Qumran, near Jericho, north-west of the Dead Sea. They did not know that they were about to discover the greatest archeological discovery of the 20th century. As they walked past the opening of a cave, one of
them threw a rock into it. A crash resounded from the cave. What was it that he had struck? It was getting dark so they left the scene but, within days, the curiosity of the youngest one (fifteen years of age) prompted him to make his way back to the spot. Through an opening, only large enough for a slender man, the shepherd squeezed his way inside. After a short time, his eyes adjusted to the dim light in the near entrance area of the cave. Before him were ten pots, some with lids on and some left open. Within two sealed pots he found a couple of bundles in cloth wrapping. Within the wrappings were the first discovered portions of what we call today, the Dead Sea Scrolls. 2, 3
Truth and wisdom are sometimes found in unexpected places. Two thousand years ago simple shepherds, in humble surroundings, were tending their flocks. They did not know that they were about to have revealed to them the greatest discovery of all time. Angels appeared above them and announced; “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2.11). The angels were a witness to them and they followed this witness to Bethlehem, where they found Jesus the Christ. Almost two thousand years later, in a deserted area of the hot Judean desert, there were shepherds. Walking through their humble surroundings, they stumbled across a cave. This cave, and others, held a mystery and a treasure that had been hidden for more than a thousand years. The treasure is the Dead Sea Scrolls, and these scrolls are an ancient witness. If we follow their witness, to whom will it lead us?
In this booklet we will ask the question: Is there evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah? To determine this, we will examine ancient prophecies. Through prophetic Scripture, the Dead Sea Scrolls witness to us that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ; Jesus is rightly called the Christ because He fulfilled many ancient prophecies, concerning the Christ, that were written down before He walked the earth.
To arrive at this answer, we will need to examine several things. Firstly, how do we know that the Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient? Secondly, what prophetic Messianic Scriptures were found at Qumran? Thirdly, which of these prophetic Messianic Scriptures did Jesus fulfill on His first advent? Fourthly, which of these manuscripts predate Jesus’ walking the earth, being from the pre-Herodian era or earlier? Lastly, how are these Scriptures/prophecies to be understood?
When scholar W. F. Albright, of John Hopkins University, began studying the scrolls, he was amazed at their signs of antiquity. He stated; “There is no doubt in my mind that the script is more archaic than that of the Nash Papyrus … I would prefer a date around 100 B. C.”4 Since the time of the earliest work on the scrolls, a number of scrolls have been dated even older than this. How do we know that the Dead Sea Scrolls are this ancient?
One way that we know that the scrolls are ancient is through the science of paleography. Paleography is the analysing of ancient scripts in comparison to other ancient scripts for the purpose of dating a document. Writing changes over time, and it is precisely these changes that give us clues as to how old a document may be. James C. Vanderkam explains:
By observing the changes, the paleographer can determine roughly where on the line of development a particular document belongs. In order to translate the relative position on the line into a chronological date, the expert must have some fixed point – especially texts that contain their own date – from which to extrapolate for those works whose dates are under investigation. 5
Ancient documents, such as religious Scriptures, are usually penned by professional scribes. Because of this, there usually is much uniformity between scripts of a particular age. Although there is much uniformity, there is also indication that different scribes copied different documents.6 Frank Moore Cross, of Harvard University, published a study of the Qumran, and other related, scripts in 1961. He defined and organized the ages of these documents into three periods. The Archaic period was from 250 to 150 B. C. This was followed by the Hasmonean period from 150 to 30 B. C. This was followed by the Herodian period, 30 B. C. to 70 A. D. 7 The Herodian period can be further broken down into three sub-periods. The early Herodian period is 30 to 25 B. C. The Herodian
period is 25 B. C. to 50 A. D. The late Herodian period is 50 to 70 A. D. 8 From the Archaic period, archeologists have a number of artifacts to which they can compare the Dead Sea Scrolls. The most ancient Hebrew writing in existence today is the Gezer Calender that was carved on a limestone plaque and dates to the 6th century B. C.
Archaic Hebrew also appears on pieces of pottery which date to the Pre-exilic period and there is an inscription carved into the wall of an aqueduct that dates back to 700 B. C. Archeologists who have examined the script of the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us that some of it more closely resembles the script on the artifacts just mentioned than it does modern script. It has been discovered that the Hebrew people, upon returning from Babylon, developed squarely shaped letters. Previously, the Hebrews did not write this way.9 Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are written in the older style of script. For these reasons, paleography on the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests ancient dates for these documents.
More indicators that the Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient are internal allusions within the texts. Whenever an ancient historical figure is mentioned in a document, it becomes possible that the document is from that figure’s lifetime. As well as biblical scrolls, at Qumran we have some apocryphal and other writings. These other writings mention Antiochus10 and Demetrius (Demetrius III Eucerus, reigned 103-76 B. C.). Another historical figure who is mentioned is Shelamsion, the Queen of Judea (76-67 B. C.). It is also noteworthy that while writing about a number of historical events, the Qumran writers never mentioned the destruction of the second temple (70 A. D.), an event that would be of enormous importance to any Jew living at that time.11 This suggests that their writings predate this event.
Further indications of the scrolls’ antiquity are the archeological artifacts found in or near the caves. It was discovered that within the vicinity of the Qumran caves were the ruins of some ancient buildings. Through extensive digging and studying, archeologists, like Roland De Vaux, tell us that a settlement of people lived on this very spot in ancient times. De Vaux identifies two settlements, the more recent one being from the time of the Hasmonean King John Hyrcanus (134-104 B.C.). 12
One building includes a large room with long tables and ink wells. It is believed that this is where the Qumran scribes copied the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is important to mention that not all of the manuscripts were penned at Qumran. Some of the manuscripts were brought to Qumran by its inhabitants, the Essenes. This ancient settlement suggests an ancient date for the Dead Sea Scrolls.
More evidence for an ancient date for the scrolls has been found in the form of pottery. In the cave where the scrolls were found, much pottery was also discovered. This pottery matches exactly with the pottery found at the settlement site. The pottery links the scrolls to the Qumran settlement and has been dated, some of it to between 31 B. C. to 14 A. D. 13
The scrolls, however, do not have to be dated the same age as the pottery. It is believed that just before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A. D., they destroyed Qumran in 68 A. D. One theory is that, immediately prior to this, the Qumran community packed their ancient scrolls in new pottery and hid them in the caves.14 The pottery, both in the Qumran caves and in the Qumran settlement, suggests an ancient date for the composition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Another archeological indicator to the antiquity of the Dead Sea Scrolls is the coinage that was found at the Qumran settlement. Ancient coins had stamped upon them the regnal year of the king who had them minted. At Qumran we have coins that were minted in different ages. We have Seleucid coins from both the reigns of Antiochus III (223-187 B. C.) and Antiochus VII (138-129 B. C.). We also have Jewish coins from Hyrcanus’ reign (134-104 B. C.). A coin from the reign of Aristobulus (104-103 B. C.) was found, and also from the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B. C.). Alexandra Salome and Hyrcanus II (76-67 B. C.) leave us with coins, as does Antigonus Mattathias (40-37 B. C.). There were also coins found from the Herodian period that were dated between 37 B. C. and 6 A. D., as well as Procuratorial coins from Nero’s reign (54-68 A. D.). From the coins found at Qumran we can see that multiple generations lived at this spot, the earliest being at least from 187 B. C. If the occupants of Qumran wrote or copied the Dead Sea Scrolls, 15 then the coins from this time suggest an ancient date for the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are both treasure and an ancient witness. Paleontologists marvel at the evidence for the incredible age of these documents. Script type, internal allusions, nearby artifacts, pottery and coins all point to a very ancient date for these scrolls.
Now that we know that the scrolls are ancient, we must ask: What Messianic scriptures do they contain? Old Testament Messianic scriptures are prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. We must ask which of these scriptural prophecies, found at Qumran, did Jesus of Nazareth fulfill when He came to earth? These scriptures come primarily from the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Psalms, which were so well preserved at Qumran. However, we also have prophecies from Numbers, Deuteronomy and Malachi.
The following scriptures contain Messianic prophecies.
For the purpose of our study, I would like to narrow this list further. We must reduce our study because we have decided to examine, specifically, the Qumran scripture prophecies that are pre-Herodian, or earlier. The documents that contain these scriptures are dated anywhere from the 3rd century B. C. to 25 B. C., proving conclusively that these prophecies were spoken and written down before Jesus Christ’s first advent, or coming. In a quotation, wording which is within square brackets has been lost from the scrolls and had to be supplemented. Supporting material that may be pre-Herodian I have mentioned with a note.
The first verses that we shall consider are Deuteronomy 18.18-19. This text appears in 4QDeut f which is dated between 75 and 50 B. C.16 The verses appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls as follows:
[I will raise for them a prophet like you from among their countrymen; I will put my words
in] his mouth, and he will speak to them [all that I command him. And whoever does not
listen to my words which] he will speak in my name, I [will hold] that person [accountable.] 17
The “you” in this scripture refers to Moses, and we are told that God was going to raise up a prophet like Moses, one Who would have God’s words in His mouth and would speak them. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled this prophecy. In the New Testament He is called a prophet (see Matthew 21.11; Luke 7.16; John 4.19). These specific verses, Deuteronomy 18.18 and 19, are applied to Christ by Peter in Acts 3.20-26.
It is unfortunate that the 4QDeut f manuscript preserves so little of these verses. However, in another document found at Qumran, called “A Moses Apocryphon,” 18 which is not necessarily pre-Herodian, these verses are quoted almost word for word:
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put My words
in his mouth, and he shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not
heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I Myself will hold accountable. 19
So we see that even though the Dead Sea Scroll text preserves only “his mouth, and he will speak to them… he will speak in my name, I … that person” , we can reconstruct both verses from the Moses Apocryphon.
The next scripture passage from the Dead Sea Scrolls that we will consider is Psalm 22.14-16. These verses appear in 4QPs f and this manuscript is dated between 100 to 30 B. C. 20 They read from the Dead Sea Scrolls as follows:
[I have] been poured out [like water, and all] my bon[es are out of joint. My heart has
turned to wax; it has mel]ted away in my breast. [My strength is dried up like a potsherd],
and my tongue melts in [my mouth. They] have placed [me] as the dust of death. [For]
dogs are [all around me]; a gang of evil[doers] encircles me. They have pierced my hands
and my feet.21
The individual in this Scripture passage is enduring terrible suffering, suffering that leads to Him being placed “as the dust of death.” Other Bible manuscripts translate this “in the dust of death” (MT, LXX). He is encircled by evildoers who have pierced His hands and feet. Undoubtedly, this is a reference to Christ suffering and dying on the cross.
For hundreds of years there has been controversy concerning this passage of Scripture. The controversy is this: the portion “They have pierced” has been interpreted to be “like a lion” in the Jewish Tanak.22 This is because it appears that way in the Masoretic text (M. T.), which is dated around 1000 A. D. The Septuagint (LXX) is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that was made sometime between 285 and 247 B. C. Our earliest copies of the Septuagint date to the 4th century and they predate the Masoretic text by over six hundred years. In the Septuagint, the phrase we are discussing appears as “They have pierced my hands and feet.” Although this is the earlier rendering of the phrase, Jewish scholars still reject it in favor of their more modern Masoretic text. Now, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are even older than our copies of the Septuagint, we see that the verse indeed reads “They have pierced my hands and my feet.”23
Another prophetic scripture from the Dead Sea Scrolls is Psalm 69.9. The manuscript for this Psalm is 4QPs a and it is dated at 150 B. C. 24 The scripture reads from the Dead Sea Scrolls as follows:
For it is zea[l for your house] that has consumed me, and the insul[ts of those who insult you]
have fallen upon me. 25
The individual in this verse is eaten up with zeal for the LORD’s house. This verse is applied to Christ in John 2.17. In John 2.17, Jesus’ disciples remembered this verse, when they saw Jesus’ zeal, when He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem by driving out those who were using it for merchandising purposes. Jesus rebukes the merchants for making His Father’s house a house of merchandise. Hearing His words and seeing His actions, His disciples remembered Psalm 69.9 and applied it to Jesus.
The last scripture that we will consider from the Book of Psalms, found at Qumran, is Psalm 109.25. The manuscript for this scripture is 4QPs f and is dated between 100 to 30 B. C. 26 In the Dead Sea Scrolls this verse reads as follows:
[I am] an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, [they wag] their heads. 27
The speaker in this verse claims that He has become a reproach and when people look at Him, they shake their heads. Matthew’s Gospel records that when Christ was on the cross, people blasphemed Him and wagged their heads (see Matthew 27.39).
One of the best preserved books at Qumran was the Book of Isaiah. The copy in Cave 1 was the first Dead Sea Scroll to be discovered in 1947. Isaiah contains many Messianic prophecies. One chapter that is especially prophetic is Chapter 9. The manuscript for this chapter is 1QIsa a and is dated from 100 B. C. 28 The first two verses from this chapter of the scrolls read as follows:
For one who was in anguish there will be no gloom. In the former time he treated the land
of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but in the latter time he will make it
glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who
walked in darkness have seen a great light. On those who lived in the land of deep shadows,
light has shined.29
The Gospel of Matthew identifies Jesus as this great light and records that He dwelt, for a time, in Capernaum, which is in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali (see Matthew 4.13-17).
Also within Isaiah, Chapter 9, are these wonderful verses, 6 and 7. The Dead Sea Scrolls read:
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will be on his shoulders. He
is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. His
government will expand, and peace will be endless for the throne of David and his kingdom,
to establish it and to sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.30
This great Scripture passage tells us that the Messiah will come as a child. He will be a ruler whose rulership will expand and bring endless peace. He will be more than a ruler; He is called Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God. He is the Prince of Peace.
Jesus of Nazareth came to this world as a child, born in Bethlehem. He is the foundation and leadership of a Church that was formed in the first century, has continued through the ages, and will continue into eternity. His followers have spread throughout the Earth, and His counsel has been treasured through the centuries. Many have said like Peter; “…, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (John 6.68). Jesus is called God (see John 1.1, 20.28; Hebrews 1.8) and His ministry was characterized by the peace that He brought, and still brings, to those who come to Him by faith.
One prophetic passage that not only appears in the Qumran text of Isaiah, but is also found in commentaries written by the Qumran writers 31 (I do not know if this commentary is pre-Herodian) is Isaiah 11.1-5. The manuscript for the Isaiah text is again 1QIsa a and is dated from 100 B. C. 32 It is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls as follows:
A shoot will come forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The spirit of the LORD will rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit
of counsel and mig[h]t, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight will
be in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by appearances, nor decide by what he hears,
but with righteousness he will obtain justice for the poor and decide with equity for the
meek of the land. He will strike the land with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of
his lips the wicked will be killed. Righteousness will be the belt around his waist and
faithfulness the belt around his loins. 33
From these verses we learn that the Messiah will come from the lineage of Jesse, the father of David. The Spirit of God will rest upon Him. He will have divine wisdom and understanding, divine counsel and might, and divine knowledge and the fear of the LORD. We know that even the Qumran people interpreted this scripture passage literally because they also wrote a hymn that referred to it (I don’t know if pre-Herodian), in these words (1 QH iii, gf):
For through deathly contractions she brings forth a male child, and through hellish pains
there burst forth from the womb of her who is pregnant a Wonderful Counselor with his
It is a matter of historical record that Jesus of Nazareth is from the lineage of Jesse (see Luke 3.23-32; Matthew 1.1-6). The Holy Spirit descended upon Him at His baptism (see Matthew 3.13-16). In the power of the Spirit, and in the fear of the LORD, Jesus shared His wisdom and knowledge with others. Jesus ministered to the poor and the meek, and was characterized by righteousness and faithfulness.
Isaiah 28.16 appears in 1QIsa a, found in Cave 1, and is dated from 100 B. C. 35 It reads in the Dead Sea Scrolls in these words:
Therefore thus says the LORD, Behold, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tried stone,
a precious cornerstone of sure foundation; whoever believes will not be in panic. 36
The Apostle Peter takes this same scripture of Isaiah 28.16 and applies it to Jesus in 1 Peter 2.4-6:
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For this is contained in Scripture:
‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone,
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’
Isaiah 35.5-6 also deserves our attention. These verses are found in 1QIsa a (dated from 100
B. C.), and in the Dead Sea Scrolls they read as follows:
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will unclose. Then the
lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing. Yes, water will burst out
in the wilderness, and streams will run through the desert. 37
These wonderful verses speak of the healing that the Messiah will bring to the eyes of the blind, to the ears of the deaf, to the lame and to the mute. The healing that He brings will be as refreshing and life-giving as a river in the wilderness. These are the very things that characterize Jesus’ ministry, miracles of physical and spiritual healing.
Another Scripture passage that the Qumran writers recorded is Isaiah 40.3-5. These verses, again, come from 1QIsa a (dated from 100 B. C.). They are written in the scrolls in these words:
A voice cries out, ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, and in the desert make
a smooth highway for our God. Let every valley be raised and every mountain and hill be
lowered. Let the uneven spots be levelled and the rough places made a plain. The glory of
the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh together will see it. The mouth of the LORD has
These verses speak of the Messiah having a predecessor who would call for preparation for the LORD. Again, Jesus’ ministry met this requirement because it was preceded by John the Baptist, who preached this very thing. John the Baptist even applied the predecessor in this verse to himself, saying; “… ‘I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.'” (John 1.23).
Another pertinent scripture/prophecy that appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls (1QIsa a) (dated from 100 B. C.) is Isaiah 50.6 which reads as follows:
I gave my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard.
My face I did not turn aside from insults and spitting. 39
It is very interesting to note that the Qumran writers expected the Messiah to be insulted. Referring to the Messiah, they say that “many spoke insults against him” (4 Q541). 40 (I don’t know if this quote is pre-Herodian).The speaker in Isaiah 50.6 is one whose back was beaten, his beard pulled out, and who was insulted and spit upon. In Matthew, Chapter 26 verses 67-68. (See also Luke 22.63-64), the actions of those who had arrested Jesus are spoken of in these words:
Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, and said, ‘Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?’
This terrible prophecy found its fulfillment in the torture of Jesus Christ.
The most well-known Scripture passage of all of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled is surely Isaiah, Chapter 53. None of the text for this chapter in 1QIsa a has been lost through deterioration. Our copy of this chapter, along with all other scriptures in 1QIsa a, is dated from 100 B.C. This was written down nearly a hundred years before Christ was born at Bethlehem. It reads as follows:
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a tender plant, and like a root out of a dry ground; he had
no form and he had no majesty that we should look at him, and had no attractiveness that
we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others, and a man of sorrows, and
familiar with suffering; and like one from whom people hide their faces and we despised
him, and we did not value him. Surely he has borne our sufferings, and carried our
sorrows; yet we considered him stricken, and struck down by God, and afflicted. But he
was wounded for our transgressions, and he was crushed for our iniquities, and the
punishment that made us whole was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we
like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each of us, to his own way; and the LORD
has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did
not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, as a sheep that before its
shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. From detention and judgment he was
taken away – and who can even think about his descendants? For he was cut off from the
land of the living, he was stricken for the transgression of my people. Then they made his
grave with the wicked, and with rich people his tomb – although he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet the LORD was willing to crush him, and he made
him suffer. Although you make his soul an offering for sin, and he will see his offspring,
and he will prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will triumph in his hand. Out of
the suffering of his soul he will see light, and find satisfaction. And through his knowledge
his servant, the righteous one, will make many righteous, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I allot him a portion with the great, and he will divide the spoils with the
strong; because he poured out his life to death, and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for their transgressions. 41
This marvelous Scripture passage of Isaiah, Chapter 53, tells us many things about the Messiah. He would grow up “like a root out of a dry ground”. This is referring to Him being the Root of David and of Jesse, mentioned earlier. He was despised and rejected, and we know that Jesus was. For our sins He was wounded, crushed and punished. Because of this, we are healed. He was “oppressed and he was afflicted”, and Jesus was. He is here identified symbolically as a lamb, and Jesus, at the start of His ministry, was called “… the Lamb of God …” (John 1.29). He was “led to the slaughter” and was silent. So too, Jesus was led before Pilot and stood there silently as false accusations were made again st Him (See Mark 15.3-5). He was “cut off from the land of the living” for the sins of others. The LORD made “his soul an offering for sin”. He has borne our iniquities, and makes many righteous. This all speaks of the atonement and the wonderful salvation that Jesus Christ brings. He even prays for peoples transgressions, and we know that Jesus prayed for transgressors as He hung on the cross.
Having conducted our study, what conclusions can we arrive at? Through dating techniques, such as paleography, archeology and examining internal allusions, we learn that the scrolls are very ancient. From manuscripts earlier than Jesus’ first advent, all earlier than 25 B.C., we learn that He will be preceded by a messenger who calls people to prepare for the LORD. The Messiah will come as a child, will grow up and will have zeal. He will have on Him divine wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, with knowledge and in the fear of the LORD. The Messiah will suffer, having His hands and feet pierced. He will be despised. His back will be beaten and He will be insulted and spit upon. He will be rejected. He will be wounded and crushed for our sins. He will be silent as He is led to the slaughter, and He will die. He will bear our sins. He will be a foundation stone, laid by the LORD. He will be a Ruler, Counselor, the Prince of Peace and even Mighty God. His rulership will expand and will administer peace.
Two thousand years ago the angels bore witness to humble shepherds of a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord and Who was born that day in the city of David. This witness led them to Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls bear witness to the great Savior Messiah, as well. If we follow their lead, we will find that there is only one person in history who fits the description that they provide. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that Jesus of Nazareth is rightly called Jesus Christ, the Messiah, on the grounds that He fulfilled many ancient prophecies that were written concerning Him before His incarnation on earth.
Isaiah Chapter 53 opens with two questions: “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” The Dead Sea Scrolls not only witness of Jesus Christ, they call us to faith in him. Friend, have you believed their message? In one sence, the one who believes in Jesus Christ has the arm of the LORD revealed to them. The arm and hand of the LORD reaches down and picks you up and out of your sins. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned, each of us, to his own way. Our self-will has led us down so many wrong paths that we don’t know the way back. It has brought us to a place of being lost. Our sins have separated us from our God. We need to believe His report. We need the arm of the LORD to rescue us. Our sins have a terrible penalty, which will only be fully known on the great judgment day of Christ.
But there is good and hopeful news for lost sheep like you and me. The LORD has laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. Jesus Christ had no sin of His own. His life was like a tender plant, innocent and gentle. He taught, He Healed, He loved, and He endured the rejection of men. He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was like a sheep led to the slaughter. He was cut off from the land of the living. But all of these things were in the plan of God, and Jesus submitted Himself to God’s plan. Jesus paid the penalty for your sins and mine by dying on the cross, and three days later, He arose from the dead.
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? If you do not know the Lord, I believe that His arm is being revealed to you, that the LORD’s strong arm and hand is reaching out to you to rescue you from sin. He would pick you up and lift you out of the mire, placing you on solid ground. When the LORD’s arm is stretched out to you, you must reach out and take it by repentance and faith. The first question you must answer yourself. Do you believe?
I would like to clarify two points.
When quoting Scripture from the Dead Sea Scrolls, portions of the text that appear within square brackets ( [ ] ) have been lost due to damage to the document.
Some might object to me saying that pre-Herodian documents pre-date Jesus Christ walking the earth because Jesus is eternal and He walked the earth in a pre-incarnate form. I don’t disagree with this at all. I am simply saying that these documents pre-date Christ’s incarnation which historians date around A.D. 1.
1James C. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994), 1-2.
2James C. Vanderkam and Peter Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 4.
3The first discovery uncovered the great Isaiah Scroll, a Habakkuk commentary and a Qumran writing called “The Manual of Discipline.” This discovery was followed by the discovery of more caves, eleven in total, containing many documents.
4W. F. Albright, as quoted in Charles F. Pfeiffer’s The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 25.
5James C. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, 16.
6Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Origins Of The Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 142.
7James C. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, 17.
8Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993), 48.
9Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 27-29.
10Either Antiochus Epiphanes, 165 B.C., or Antiochus IV, 168 B.C., or Seleucid monarch Antiochus, 64 B.C.
11Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls Qumran In Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981), 38.
12James C. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, 13.
13Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Bible, 31.
14Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls Qumran In Perspective, 34.
15James C. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, 22.
16 Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament, 61.
17 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), 172.
18 I do not know whether “A Moses Apocryphon” is pre-Herodian.
19 Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls A New Translation (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996), 230.
20 Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament, 66.
21 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 519.
23 “They have pierced (16) or, simply, ‘piercing’, is the most likely translation of a problematic Hebrew word. A strong argument in its favor is that the LXX, compiled two centuries before the crucifixion, and therefore an unbiased witness, understood it so. All the major translations reject the Masoretic vowels (added to the written text in the Christian era) as yielding little sense here. (See margin of RV, RSV, NEV), and the majority, in fact, agree with the LXX.” D. J. Wiseman, ed. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries Vol. 14A (Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 107.Taken from Psalms 1-72 from the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series, edited by Derek Kidner. Copyright(c) Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1973. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.
24 Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament, 66.
25 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 533.
26 Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament, 66.
27 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 548.
28 Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament, 50.
29 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 284.
30 Ibid., 284.
31 I do not know if this commentary is pre-Herodian.
32 Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament, 50.
Also, see Edward M. Cook, Solving The Mysteries Of The Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 159.
33 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 287-288.
34 Krister Stendahl, The Scrolls And The New Testament (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Co., 1992), 12.
35 Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament, 50.
36 Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls A New Translation, 137-138.
37 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 323.
38 Ibid., 332.
39 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 354.
40 Edward M. Cook, Solving the Mysteries Of The Dead Sea Scrolls, 171.
41 Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 359-360.
42Edward M. Cook, Solving the Mysteries Of The Dead Sea Scrolls, 171.
43Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, 359-360.
Abegg, Martin, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999.
Burrows, Millar. More Light On The Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: The Viking Press. 1969.
Cook, Edward M. Solving The Mysteries Of The Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.
Pfeiffer, Charles F. The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992.
Scanlin, Harold. The Dead Sea Scrolls And Modern Translations Of The Old Testament. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993.
Stendahl, Krister. The Scrolls And The New Testament. New York: The Crossroads Publishing Co., 1992.
Ulrich, Eugene. The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Origin Of The Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999.
Vanderkam, James C. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994.
Vanderkam, James C. and Peter Flint. The Meaning of The Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.
Vermes, Geza. The Dead Sea Scrolls Qumran In Perspective. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981.
Wise, Michael, Martin Abegg, Edward Cook. The Dead Sea Scrolls A New Translation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.
Wiseman, D. J., ed. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries Vol. 14A Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973.
Scriptures taken from The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible and The New American Standard Bible.
“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)