The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is reporting that archaeologists have found nearly two dozen fragments from the Book of Zechariah and Nahum in a cave known as the “Cave of Horrors” that was originally discovered in the 1950s in connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In 2017, the IAA decided to re-visit these caves over concerns that looters were working the caves. To access the Cave of Horrors, archaeologists had to repel down a 260-foot cliff.
The cave got its name from the skeletons of 40 men, women and children that had taken refuge in the cave hiding from Roman soldiers during the second century Jewish revolt that took place between 132 AD and 136 AD.
Archaeologists also found the remains of a Roman camp near the cave leading some to speculate that they knew the Jews were in the cave and simply decided to starve them out.
And though the cave had not been studied for nearly 60 years, this second effort proved worthwhile. In addition, to discovering fragments of the Bible, they also discovered the body of a young girl not believed to have been connected to the 40 bodies discovered earlier and a woven basket.
So far, they have been able to decipher 11 lines from the two minor prophets that were part of several clumps discovered in the cave. Though written in Greek, the fragments also contained the Hebrew name for God written in a form of Hebrew used during the first Temple period. The first Jewish temple was destroyed in 586 BC.
It is believed the remaining portions of the clumps yet to be studied also contain excerpts from the minor prophets and are probably remnants of a much larger find of the Minor Prophets discovered during the first excavation of the cave in the 1950s.
The Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, between 1946 and 1956, after a Muslim shepherd looking for a lost sheep threw a stone into a cave and heard pottery breaking.
Inside the cave, he found several large clay jars that contained scrolls of the Jewish Biblical text along with other non-Biblical writings.
During the digs in these caves, archaeologists discovered tens of thousands of fragments from the Jewish Old Testament.
These remnants dated from as early as 408 BC and include scripture written in multiple languages — Greek, Hebrew, Nabataean and Aramaic.
This recent discovery adds to the growing list of fragments/copies that have been discovered containing the Old and New Testament scriptures.
Researchers have uncovered nearly 25,000 fragments from the New Testament alone. This includes 6,000 written in the original Greek and the remainder being translations of the New Testament in other ancient languages.
Some of these fragments date to within a few decades of when the New Testament books were actually written during the first century.
In addition, the writings of the early church fathers in the second and third centuries contains large sections of scripture, that once compiled, contained the entire New Testament.
The Old Testament is essentially the same. Archaeologists have found tens of thousands of Old Testament fragments in the Dead Sea scrolls alone.
As Bible apologists like to point out, more fragments and copies of the Bible have been discovered than any other ancient texts.
As a comparison, only 10 copies/fragments of Caesar’s Gallic Wars have been uncovered. The earliest is dated to 1,000 years after it was first written in the first century BC.
And there are only five partial copies of Aristotle’s Poetic, and the earliest was written 1,400 years after it was first written in the fourth century BC.
But aside from the sheer quantity of Biblical texts discovered, the recent find again reveals how carefully, the ancients scribes were when they were making copies of the scripture
You can see how little has changed in Zechariah 8:16-7 recently discovered in the Cave of Horrors and translated into English from its original Greek:
16: These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates.
17: And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate – declares the Lord.’
When compared to the ESV used today:
16 These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;
17 do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”
READ: Dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing biblical text are discovered in Israel’s ‘Cave of Horror’ having been hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome 1,900 years ago AND The Manuscripts