JERUSALEM – The Hebrew Bible has gotten a bit of clarification thanks to an accidental discovery!
A dark period in the history of the Hebrew Bible has been illuminated. Two parts of an ancient biblical manuscript separated across centuries and continents have been reunited and placed on display today.
The fragments are 1,300-years-old and are among only a handful of Hebrew biblical manuscripts known to have survived the era in which there were written. They existed separately and their relationship was unknown until a news photograph of one’s public unveiling in 2007 caught the attention of scholars that were integral in their reuniting.
The fragments have come together to make up the text of the Song of the Sea which was sung by jubilant Israelites after fleeing slavery in Egypt. They had just witnessed the destruction of the pharaoh’s armies in the Red Sea.
“The enemy said: ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil. My lust shall be satisfied upon them, I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them,” reads the song, which appears in the Book of Exodus. “Thou didst blow thy wind, the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.”
Scholars believe that the scroll was written around the seventh century somewhere in the Middle East. It isn’t known how the two parts were separated. One was housed in a rare books library at Duke University and the other was part of a private collection of Stephen Loewentheil of New York.
The manuscripts are “filling the gap,” said Israel Museum curator Adolfo Roitman. “We can see we are dealing with a tradition that is still alive.”