Qumran Cave 1 Questions, Part 4: Sukenik’s Isaiah Scroll

Before diving in to this post, a quick note: The conference that was the proximate cause for me trying to organize my thoughts on the topic of the Dead Sea Scrolls said to come from Cave 1 took place a couple weeks ago (“On the Origin of the Pieces: The Provenance of the Dead Sea Scrolls”). My presentation is now available online at the Lying Pen website, along with all the other presentations. If you do watch my paper, please keep in mind that I view talks like this as an opportunity to raise questions and think through issues, and not necessarily as presenting final conclusions to any particular problem.

Now, back to the questions. In this series of posts (see part 1, part 2, and part 3), one of the questions I have been trying to answer is: Which of the purchased scrolls that we call “Cave 1” pieces can actually be connected with the material recovered from Cave 1 in controlled excavations by de Vaux and his team? Today I want to look again the scroll of Isaiah bought by Eleazar Sukenik (1QIsab).

The scroll was one of three purchased by Eleazar Sukenik from the dealer Faidi Salahi in 1947. It was published in 1955. Seven additional small pieces of the scroll were published in DJD 1 as 1Q8. These pieces are sometimes described as having been excavated by de Vaux’s team. For instance, the editors of DJD 32, the re-edition of the Cave 1 Isaiah scrolls, made the following claim in 2010:

“While Sukenik was working on the main part of 1QIsab, those seven additional fragments were found during excavations in Cave 1 by Lancaster Harding and Roland de Vaux, under the auspices of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. They were published in the first volume in the DJD series in 1955.” (p. 22)

But the editors of DJD 1 are quite clear that these fragments, collectively published as 1Q8, were not excavated. They were purchased in 1950:

“…parmi les fragments édités ci-après, les ensembles nos. 8 (Isaïe), 20 (Apocalypse de Lamech), et 28 (Annexes à la Règle de la Communauté) ont été achetés à un marchand d’antiquités de Bethléem.” (p. 43)

The Bethlehem dealer would no doubt be Kando, to whom this purchase is attributed by John Trever.

Sukenik’s Isaiah scroll (1QIsab) before unrolling; image source: E.L. Sukenik, The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University (Magness Press, 1955), fig. 10
1Q8 fragments (with 1Q9 fragments at bottom), PAM 43.752; image source: Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

In more recent times, other fragments of 1QIsab have been identified in photographs from the Shrine of the Book (identified as “SHR” in these discussions). In 1988, Emile Puech identified a small portion of Isaiah 44 from Sukenik’s scroll among these photographs. In 2002, Eva Jain made a new reconstruction of Sukenik’s Isaiah scroll and identified several more fragments from the scroll among the pieces recorded in photos in the “SHR” series. So now a couple questions: First, I assume that the pieces in the “SHR” frames were part of the batches of material obtained by Sukenik in November and December of 1947, meaning that this “new” material was also purchased and not excavated. Is this correct? And second: Are these SHR series photos available anywhere online?

In 2009 Peter Flint and Nathaniel Dykstra identified several more such “SHR” fragments and placed them in position in the roll as reconstructed by Jain. These authors also placed one PAM fragment from the frame 40.543. But this piece had already been published (but not placed) as fragment 7 of 1Q8, and thus was also part of the 1950 purchase from Kando. So, again, unless I am missing something, there is no connection between Sukenik’s Isaiah scroll and the material excavated by de Vaux’s team.


Barthélemy, Dominique and Józef T. Milik, Qumran Cave I, DJD I (Oxford: Clarendon, 1955).

Flint, Peter W. and Nathaniel N. Dykstra, “Newly Identified Fragments of 1QIsab, Journal of Jewish Studies 60 (2009), 80-89.

Jain, Eva. “Die materielle Rekonstruktion von 1QJesb (1Q8) und einige bisher nicht edierte Fragmente dieser Handschrift,” Revue de Qumrân 20 (2002), 389-409.

Puech, Emile. “Quelques aspects de la restauration du Rouleau des Hymnes (1QH),” Journal of Jewish Studies 39 (1988), 38-55, at 55, note 40.

Ulrich, Eugene and Peter W. Flint, Qumran Cave 1, II: The Isaiah Scrolls, Part 2: Introductions, Commentary, and Textual Variants, DJD XXXII (Oxford: Clarendon, 2010).

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2 Responses to Qumran Cave 1 Questions, Part 4: Sukenik’s Isaiah Scroll

  1. eibert tigchelaar says:

    Answer to question 1. Note that most or all of these fragments were not purchased as fragments, but were part of the scrolls, and were separated from the scroll by James Biberkraut, placed on plates, and photographed by Helena Biberkraut. Only later did these photographs receive the “SHR” label. In the original publication Sukenik overlooked some of those fragments on the plates (perhaps in part because they were not clearly kept apart from the 1QHa ones).
    Answer to question 2. The SHR photographs were included in the Brill Microfiche edition, and should be (I have not been able to double-check this since my access expired) in part accessible through the online Brill Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library. You can only access photographs through texts, though, and not all SHR images will have been linked to texts.

    • Corrado Martone says:

      Yes, in the Brill database the relevant columns of 1QIsa-b are linked to an SHR photo (at least in the BYU version of the software, which is the one I have. The photos are also accessible independently, but I assume they are only the ones linked to texts, as Eibert mentioned.

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