Dr. Yonatan Adler, lecturer at Ariel University and post-doctoral researcher at Hebrew University, found a rich secret hidden in an unmarked phylactery case buried in the Israel Antiquities Authority storerooms. Inside were nine tiny Dead Sea Scrolls, the Times of Israel reports.
The two scrolls found inside the phylactery case were originally discovered in 1952, but had apparently never been investigated. Seven more previously unopened scrolls were subsequently discovered amongst the antiquities. All nine are believed to have been found in Qumran Cave 4, the site of the initial Dead Sea Scroll excavations.
Pnina Shor, curator and director of the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Projects, offered an explanation for how these tiny capsules could have gone unopened for all these years. “Either they didn’t realize that these were also scrolls, or they didn’t know how to open them,” she told the Times of Israel.
Shor explained their potential for shedding light on Jewish life from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D. to the Huffington Post:
These parchment slips, folded and placed in capsules, are understood to be the “frontlets between your eyes.” mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy (6:8). The texts are in principle the same as those required by later Rabbinic Halakha and those in use today. Since these tefillin – phylacteries from the Judean Desert caves are the only examples we have from the Second Temple period, we do not know whether their distinctive features reflect the traditions of a specific community or whether they represent a more widespread tradition. Perhaps these “new” ones will shed more light on this matter.
In the next two years, the IAA expects to complete the imaging of these new finds and make the information accessible through their new online project database, created in partnership with Google.
Related: Dead Sea Scrolls Go to Court