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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)

TITLE: Shepherd's Treasure
By Ruth Stromquist


1947; the Judean Desert Wilderness: Jum’a Muhammed sits upon his camel, tired from the long day herding the flock. He shades his eyes against the sun, desperately scanning the barren, rocky hills for the stray from his father's herd. His linen head wrap whips wildly about his face in the hot wind, but he's oblivious. His red and tan robes are dusty and there's a long smudge of dirt next to the sparse black mustache on his sun-scorched face.

Where IS that goat? I can't go back to the tent without him. Papa will be furious...

Around 30 A.D.: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written..."

The crags and cliffs have taken on a reddish tinge from the setting sun. Jum’a climbs steep slopes towards the cave where he last saw the goat, his soft leather boots crunching and slipping on gravel. One of his cousins, nicknamed "The Wolf", following behind, yells about the dust his feet stir up, but Jum'a ignores him, now jumping from jutting boulder to boulder...

Arriving at the small, dark entrance, he pauses, and leans against a rocky outcropping, heart thumping; then grimaces as a jagged edge cuts his palm.

He hates caves.

Demons can lurk there.

Grabbing a large rock, he flings it in, hoping the goat will dash out.

The sound of shattering pottery echoes...

"...The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord..."

J'uma's eyes brighten. A clay pot maybe? With COINS maybe?

Shekels had been found around the desert lately, lost during the time of the rebellion just before the Temple was destroyed. Antique dealers in Jerusalem paid good money for them.

But still. He shudders... Caves...

"... And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”...

It's his cousin Wolf who squirms through the narrow cave entrance, and then yells as he falls into darkness.

Landing hard, Wolf's head slams against earthenware, sending pain shooting through his skull. The heavy smell of bat droppings starts him coughing. But soon his eyes grow accustomed to the dim light and he begins to recover.

He sees huge pots surrounding him on the dirt floor.

"Wolf?" J'uma calls.

Shaking his head, Wolf grabs the heavy lid off the nearest jar and tilts it towards the shaft of sunlight from the entrance. Then bites his lip with disappointment.

"It is nothing!" Reaching in, he feels crumbling leather-like material and sees writing in some other language. "An old scroll. No dealer will want this. It is falling apart."

He checks another pot hopefully; then sighing, sits in the dirt, head in hands.

"No coins?" yells J'uma.

"Just stupid scrolls. Nothing more. Nothing but food for the fire tonight."

The sunlight is blocked as J'uma peers down at him. "Maybe someone in the city will pay something though. Let's not burn them yet."

1947-1948: The scrolls change hands many times... They're first sold for $14... The next buyer has to pay $100...The price continues to climb...

1949: The archeologist stares in wonder.

This has got to be the greatest manuscript discovery in history! Two THOUSAND years old... A miracle.

Reverently, he scans the Hebrew words on crumbling animal hide ... An actual complete copy of Isaiah 1,000 years older than any found before... Incredible... This existed already, 100 years before Jesus' time... His very Hands held one exactly like this.

He translates mentally, comparing the words to a KJV Bible...

Some minor variations in punctuation and word endings is all. They mirror each other so precisely... PROOF the prophesies were written before Jesus' birth...

Hungrily he reads the ancient manuscript...

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because YHWH has anointed me to preach good tidings..."

Author's Notes:

This is a slightly dramatized account of the actual finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, all facts as historically accurate as possible.

The passages about Jesus reading Isaiah (a.k.a. Esaias) in Nazareth on the Sabbath in the synagogue are Luke 4:16-21 (KJV)

The Great Isaiah Scroll (Dead Sea Scrolls) is the final quote in the story: Isaiah 61:1.

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This article has been read 431 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/07/10
This was exciting. I've heard how the scrolls were discovered, but you brought me right back into time with you.
stanley Bednarz05/07/10
I liked this. Good take on the challenge, to give us solid info. on what happened before and after the scrolls were found. This and the Wycliffe story rank high on my list.
Joan Campbell05/11/10
This is a lovely telling of that great find. Parts of it made me smile or shudder (food for the fire tonight!) You brought the character to life beautifully (with for instance his fear of the cave) and I really liked the Isaiah passage woven throughout it.
harvestgal Ndaguba05/11/10
Wow, this took me back in time. I felt like I was there. I really enjoyed this. He never knew how priceless that find truley was.
Beth LaBuff 05/11/10
What a treasure! You've brought this story to life for the reader. Very nice!
Phee Paradise 05/12/10
I loved the story. You brought the characters to life with the little details about them. But I found the scripture interrupted the story for me. Could you have put it at the end when the scholar realized what he had?
Marita Thelander 05/12/10
I wondered if this bit of history would show up this week. :) I like the "story" with the discovery and would have liked to see that fictionally developed a bit more.
Loren T. Lowery05/12/10
Fascinating, and the way you told it simply made it that much more enjoyable to read (and learn). Great job making something that could be dull into something that really shines.