Column I

The Great Qumran Isaiah Scroll

For the line by line translation of this page click here

What you see above is a photo-copy of a photograph taken by the Albright Foundation of the Great Qumran Isaiah Scroll. The scroll that was photographed by the Albright Foundation is of the complete book of Isaiah from the first letter to the last, beginning with the first word which you can see in the upper right, if you are a Hebrew reader. The first line says: "Chazon Yis'ayahu ben Amots asher chazeh 'al yehudah veyerushalayim biy-yomey 'uziyahu" which follows exactly the Masoretic text, as does the rest of the manuscript with rare minor exceptions. It means word for word: "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amos which he "saw" about Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah...etc." The few important variations of the Qumran text from the Masoretic Text is due to scribal errors in almost all the cases and not from having been copied from a different text.

Many other variations are accounted for by the Qumran scribe's use of a system of adding semi-vowels to indicate vowels in a word. This accounts for most of the differences between the Q text and the M text. There are no vowels, as such, in the Masoretic Text. To indicate vowel sounds and open syllables the Qumran scribes frequently added a waw or a yod or a he, or less frequently, an aleph to words to help in pronunciation and in meaning. To read many other very legitimate reasons for the many "letter for letter" variations in the Qumran text from the Masoretic Text please read the introduction to the translation of the Qumran Isaiah Scroll.

According to a letter I received from the curate of the Israel Museum at the University of Jerusalem, that is, The Shrine of the Book, the scroll will never be in the condition it was when first photographed by the Albright Foundation, and that is due, (in spite of extreme care and climate control given to the room where the scroll is stored) to oxidation of the leather on which it was written and it is now in a darkened condition that makes it very difficult to read. Thus this facsimile copy is now better to read than the opportunity of seeing the original which few of us will probably be privileged to do.

This first page illustrates several of the characteristics that are present and recur often in the rest of the Scroll. Some letters which were missed by the first copyist or scribe were written in above the line of words You will see, (all above the first line,) that an ayin was elided from Isaiah's name and was inserted later either by the original scribe, correcting his own mistake, or by a later editor. It is anyone's guess which is true and can not be concluded either way with certainty., but it is more likely a later editor. (There is evidence in the scroll of multiple editors with different "hand-writing" and spelling and editorial marks.) The same is true for the yod added to the last of Jerusalem and the waw in the word biy-yomey. If you see those you might also see that the original scribe missed the yod which properly begins Hezekiah's name in Hebrew* on the second line and what looks like a correction in the lamed in the word "kings of" is the scribal peculiarity of making the lamed extremely large in the word "malchey". He is consistent in making large lameds.
*See page 28 and comments there under line 29 for a thorough examination of the 4 different ways that the Q scribes spelled Hezekiah's name.

1. Some of these additions might be corrections by the original scribe or some may be additions of vowel letters like o, u, or i which are indicated by waw, for the first two and yod for the last . This addition of elided letters and the addition of waw and yod where they help in the reading above the line is very frequent.

2. Sometimes a word is added above the line which has been left out by the copyist. There is no illustration of that on this page but it is not infrequent.

3. Aleph is often added to the end of words where the Masoretic text does not use aleph. For instance the word "Kiy." the conjunction, meaning "because" or "that" has an aleph appended. An example of this can be seen in the first word on the right in line 3 of the text above. Addition of aleph to words not having aleph at the end of the word in the Masoretic is frequent in the Qumran text and may be evidence of Aramaic which is marked by the use of aleph sufformatives . Such Aramaic influence in the scribe should be expected and is confirmation of the chronological context of copying the scrolls. The addition of aleph (and "he") as a Q scribal peculiarity is illustrated at length on page 53 under Q Scribal Spelling Addition of aleph by the Q scribe or scribes is also discussed in the Introductory page. under the heading "Aleph and "he" endings added." Some words that are Aramaic in origin and differ from the words found in the Masoretic text in the same place are listed in Section VIII. Aramaic Spelling in the Introductory page.

4. The gaps in the text caused by disintegration of the leather on which the text was written are called "lacunae" In each lacuna as in this one on the page above it is possible to reproduce the missing text from the Masoretic text which is absolutely always consistent with the context. Although there are some variation from the Masoretic text, these are very infrequent and most often involve only a word and more often person and number of a verb or number of a noun, but even this is infrequent and can not be considered substantial.

5. There are several places where an extra word or two is added to the text. These are infrequent in relation to the total text and they add no real content that is not already in the text. One such addition of 2 words can be seen on this page in the last word in line 18 and the first word in line 19 These words are especially interesting because of their Aramaic origin and are discussed under Variations below.

6. Rarely, a verse is missing altogether. There is no example of this on the first page here but you can see in the portion of the next page , between the second and third line up from the lacuna there are editor's marks indicating where verse 10 of Isaiah 2 is completely omitted. Whoever the editor was he marked the text circa 100 BCE. before it was "bottled" Thus the original Isaiah text was understood at that time to contain some words which were not written by the original Qumran scribe and the elision was taken (in BCE) to be a scribal error. This is also the case in other places where there is an omission or a redundancy where the scribe has copied the same text twice and an editor has marked the error

7. An example of other frequently found editorial corrections: A good example of an unmarked redundancy is in Isaiah 38:19 and 20. In verse 20, (line 12) after the second word "le-hoshiy'eniy" (to save me) the whole of verse 19 is repeated as well as the first two words of verse 20. There is nothing to indicate the repetition which is an obvious error. But an omission in the next two verses is corrected in the margin. The last word of verse 21 and the first 6 words of 22 were omitted and an editor with a different hand and stroke and spelling (kiy without the aleph) entered the omitted words in the left margin vertically. There is no way to account for a careful editor spotting the omitted words and not noting the redundancy which he could not have avoided seeing.

8. There were two scrolls of Isaiah found in the same cave. The one called the "Qb" text has only about two thirds of the text surviving. You can see a portion of Isa 57:17 through 59:9 in the Qb text here. Click the "Back " button on your browser to return to this page. There is internal evidence that points to it having been copied from the Great Isaiah Scroll. In the "lapse" or "gap" of 16:8-9 the "Qb" text has a space left in the text, to mark the omission, which is unmarked in the Great Isaiah Scroll. This omission can be seen in page 13 of the Scroll. My comments there are under the heading "A Serious Omission." When I first translated the Qumran scroll in 1996 I added these comments to the translation:

"The copyist or scribe must have been copying from another manuscript [rather than listening to a reader] and ended at "gephen shikmah" in verse 8, his eyes then returned to the page at "gephen shikmah" midway in verse 9 and then copied the rest of verse 9 and proceeded on to verse 10 leaving out the words, between the two "gephen shikmah" entries, that comprise 2/3 of verse 8 and 1/3 of verse 9."

9. None of these "errors' are indicative of a different text with wide variations from the text that has been received. If anything, the "errors" confirm the received text. .

Physical Condition of the Page:

This is the first page of 3 on the first of 17 strips of leather that make up the scroll. With the next page and page 54 this is the most damaged and difficult to read of the pages of the scroll. Since it is the first page it would have seen more unrolling and rerolling of the scroll. It also would be closer to what ever elements would have affected the scroll. There are a number of various kinds of blemishes on the total scroll. Almost all of them are represented on this first page.
1. Leather has actually deteriorated and fallen away and text has been lost. See the large lacuna at the bottom left.
2. Darkened portions of decaying leather which would be lost with little pressure.
3. Surface chipping where the underlying leather has survived but a letter or two has been lost as in line 1: 7th word and in line 12: 2nd word.
4. Where material has fallen away but does not affect the text as in the bottom margin and the right margin from line 12 to line 25.
5. Right marginal lines due to initial pressure of drawing a line to form a straight margin and its erasure after the page was composed. For these and other lines read the discussion in the Introductory page under the heading of Probable Causes for these lines.
6, Vertical and horizontal creases due to folding as below line 16.
7. Creases that became splits in the surface of the leather. For more on creases click on Probable Causes link above.
8. A blemish in the surface of the leather that may result from natural wear and tear or may have been a blemish in the original leather skin surface. A blemish extends diagonally from right to left from line 2 through 6. which joins a crease that extends into the next page.
9. Small internal lacunae within the text of the page sometimes affecting text. See lines 3, 12, and 22.

Variations in the Q Text from the Masoretic Text:

Line 2: Last word: Q = an article "he" is added not in M.
Line 3: 6th word: Q = This word is partially obliterated because of the blemish in the leather and the lacuna that follows the word. But the word in Q has a single mem instead of 2 mem's as in M = "ve-romamtiy." Also the yod is missing in the lacuna and abrading has obscured the word in general.7th word: Q = "hemah" 3mpl pro noun and M = "hem" 9th word Q = "biy" prep beth + suf 1cs (in me) corresponds exactly with M and we notice it here only because this is one of the forms that will have aleph appended in the following pages. The differences in spelling and inconsistent use of aleph causes speculation that more than one scribe penned the scroll.
Line 4: 9th word: Q = "hithbonen" is obscured by the blemish.
Line 6: 7th word: Q = the daleth is obscured by fading in " 'od" (yet or more)
Line 7: 3rd word: M= "davah" and M = "davay" (spelling). 9th word: Q = "biy" (in me) and M = "bo" (in it).
Line 9: 7th word: M = "shamamah" (desolation) Q = "shamamo" (its desolation) Line 9: Next to last word: Q = omission of "he" in "ke-mapekat" and M = "ke-mahpekat" prep (k) like or as + noun (as an overthrowing). Note the pronunciation would be the same with or without "he." But "he" appears to be edited in above the line. Last word the resh is missing because of abrasion from "zariym" (strangers)
Line 10: 8th word: In Q = "natsur" 4th stem Pual Participle translated "besieged" only in this place. It is the same word as "Branch" of 11:1 and refers to the Messiah and to Nazarene or Nazareth. Isaiah uses this word in a "mystical" way. See the article on the use of the word word "Nazar." And comments in the commentary on this verse.
Line 12: 1st two words are abraded and difficult to see. They are "shim'u deber" (hear the word of) 6th word: Q = "ve- 'aziynu" and M = "ha-'aziynu." Last 2 words should be "lamah liy" (why) but only part of the mem and the he are visible in "lamah."
Line 14: last 2 words: M = "miy biqesh" (who)+ verb (piel) which is not found in Q. Q rather has an inf. "to seek or request this."
Line 15: 2nd and 5th words: Q = addition of lamed prep. to each of these words.
Line 16: 7th word: Q = "ve- 'atsarathah" cj + nfs cs + suf 3fs ( her solemn assembly) and M = "ve- 'atsarah" cy + nfs (and the solemn assembly).
Lines 18 and 19: last on 18 and 1st word on 19: Q adds two extra words to the end of verse 15. Q = " 'etsba'otheykem" [Aramaic] nfpl cs + suf 2mpl (your fingers) and "be-a' von" prep + nfs (in iniquity) Both these words are added and not found in the Masoretic text and they are both Aramaic spellings of the words. The Aramaic spelling is confirmation of the time of editing the scroll. See more on Aramaic spelling in Q.
Line 19: 3rd and 4th words: Q = add waw cj to each not in M. 2nd word: "na' " (please) is completely obscured by the lacuna.
Line 20: 7th word: Q = a different spelling: addition of aleph to "ya'tom" (fatherless).

Line 21: 3rd from last word: Q = "ke-sheniy" prep + ns (scarlet) and M = "ke-sheniym" prep + nmpl (as scarlets).
Line 22: 2nd word: Q = omission of aleph in the spelling of this word.
Line 23: 4th word: Q = addition of prep beth (in) to "chereb" (sword)
Line 25: 3rd word: Q = "hayu" pf 3mpl (they are) and M = "hayah" pf 3ms (it is)
Line 26: 2nd word: Q = "kulom" (all of them) and M = "kulo" (each one) 3rd word: Q = " 'ohevey" nmpl cs (lovers of) and M = " 'ohev" nms cs (lover of). 5th word: Q = plur cs and M = sing cs. 7th word: Q = spelling "y'atom" same as previous with aleph added.
Line 28: 4th word: Q = ve='enaqam imp 1cs and M = "ve 'anaqamah" imp 1cs + cohortive "he"

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