Today dawned freezing and overcast, but with no sign of the hoped-for white roads.
After dressing in a total of seven layers…
… we boarded the bus to head to our first destination of the day.
The biggest menorah in the world.
It was a gift from the UK (yay!). From top to bottom down the middle is depicted the Exodus from Egypt, the Commandment Tablets, Ruth and Naomi, Ezekiel and the dry bones, the Warsaw Rebellion, the words “Shema Yisrael” (Hear, O Israel), and people rebuilding Israel.
From there, we walked about ten minutes to the Israel Museum.
There was a lot of walking and standing involved with today.
The first of it was around the Jerusalem Model.
It’s a model of what Jerusalem looked like in the 1st century. Here are some shots from around the model:
It was absolutely freezing as we looked around the model city, raining and later snowing (although nothing settled, and pictures didn’t take very well). In my opinion (and the opinion of several others), we spent a little too long standing around – Yuval was talking, but I was so cold and distracted that I didn’t hear any of it.
Eventually, we moved on to the next section of the Museum – the “Shrine of the Book”. That’s just a bit of an obscure, non-descriptive name for the area that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. Once I worked that out, I got very excited!
We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the Dead Sea Scrolls Museum (as I’m now calling it, for clarity), so I don’t have any. We entered into a long hallway built to resemble a cave, along the sides of which were displayed various artefacts found around Qumran. This opened up into a big round area (shaped on the top like the lid of the jar the scrolls were found in), in which were displayed many of the scrolls.
Fragments of all the books of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) other than Nehemiah and Esther were found. In some places, they’re not exactly the same as the Masoretic Text (which dates to about 1400 years later), and bear more resemblance to, for example, the Samaritan Pentateuch, or what a translation of the Septuagint might be. Fragments of the Septuagint itself were found (Exodus and Leviticus), as well as some fragments of Aramaic translations (Leviticus and Job).
The Qumran community lived along the Dead Sea (we’re visiting Qumran on the weekend) and farmed. They practiced Community of Goods, and candidates handed over all their possessions to the community after a year of living with them.
Most of the scrolls were things like the community rule book and a prayer book and a hymn book, but some were of books of the Bible I recognised. A facsimile of Isaiah (the only complete scroll found) was displayed in the middle of the scroll room. The handwriting is a little different, and I found myself wishing I had taken my Hebrew Bible (it’s the Masoretic text, and here in the hotel room) along with me to compare them.
On the way out, I stopped in at the shop. It was a bit of an odd shop. There were lots of books – and I bought a very geeky one entitled “Origins of the Alphabets: Introduction to Archaeology”, which has at the back all the letters and their various origins and forms over the ages – and a surprising amount of kitchen implements.