The most complete and best preserved ancient example of the Ten Commandments, a 2,000 year old leather parchment scroll discovered in a cave at the Dead Sea in 1952, will go on display on Friday in New York’s Discovery Times Square Exposition. The scroll is an important, although brief, addition to the show “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times.”
The largest collection of biblical artifacts ever displayed outside Israel, the exhibit, which opened October 28 and will run through April 15, is already featuring 20 Dead Sea Scrolls, with sections from the biblical books of Genesis, Psalms, Exodus, Isaiah, and others. The Ten Commandments scroll will be added to the show from Dec. 16 through Jan. 2.
Dating from 50 BCE to 1 BCE, the scroll was found in Cave 4, one of the 11 caves near the site of Khirbet Qumran on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea where a highly fragmented collection of documents in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic writing was discovered between 1947 and 1956. Written in Hebrew, the scroll contains the text of the Ten Commandments from Deuteronomy (the fifth book of the Old Testament) and is the best preserved of all the Deuteronomy manuscripts. It features four complete and two partially damaged columns and was likely intended as a prayer leaflet.
Owned by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the scroll is believed to be the second-oldest version of the commandments, after the Nash Papyrus, which dates to 150–100 BCE. However, this manuscript, which was discovered in Egypt and is now in the Cambridge University Library, is less complete and more fragmented