Friday, April 8, 2011

Exodus 26 and 27 in Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran, 4QPaleoExod, 2QExod and 4Q364)

One very important inquiry that I wanted to do for a long time was to compare the Masoretic Text (Leningrad Codex) to the relatively recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls.

Even as of today, it is still not an an easy task to do as most of the processed DS scrolls are yet to become available to general public and most Biblical scholars, primarily thanks to the censorship from many different religious organizations and  owners of the actual scrolls. Fortunately, the situation with access to the scrolls had been rapidly changing in the last 10 years, and since I had some time on my hands I have decided to do a basic research and see what I would have come up with.

I have examined several recent books and articles on the subject, but I wanted to particularly direct your attention to the book by David L. Washburn, called "A catalog of biblical passages in the Dead Sea scrolls" (2003), since it provides very nice summary of almost all verses that are relevant to the Tabernacle.

Of'course, please note that this book provide very basic and very "rough" comparison, so it must be by no means taken as an ultimate conclusion in the matter, especially considering that more DS scrolls and more discoveries may become available in the future. However, at this time, you may indeed consider this book as a comprehensive insight into the comparative analysis of the Masoretic text and its validity.

Anyway, here is what this book tells us about the verses of Exodus 26 and 27. This is page 32 of this book:
As you can see, the most critical verses in the description of the Tabernacle (Exod 26:11-13, Exod 26:24 and Exod 26:33) are identical to the Masoretic Text. Other verses appear to be also identical to the MT, with only minor differences that not critical to the technical description of the Tabernacle.

Also, since the Samaritan Pentateuch(Sam) is believed to be influenced by the text of DS scrolls, it is most likely that most of the verses are identical to MT as well.

Therefore, you can clearly see that the technical description of the Tabernacle had not been changed throughout the ages and had been perfectly preserved in the Masoretic Text.

And even if it will ever so happen that major deviation from the Masoretic Text ever be discovered, it will always be easy to check the validity of the text by relying upon a purely mathematical approach.

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