Biblical Archaeology Review 19:6, November/December 1993

Where the Temple Tax Was Buried

The key to understanding the Copper Scroll

By Manfred R. Lehmann

One Dead Sea Scroll stands out as unique—in many ways. First, of course, is the material it is written on. It is the only one of the more than 800 scrolls in the collection that is written, or rather scratched, on copper—thin copper sheets. Obviously, it must have been an extremely important document. The Copper Scroll, as it is known, is also unique in its content. It consists simply of a list of 64 hiding places of enormous amounts of gold and silver.a

The Copper Scroll was discovered by archaeologists rather than by Bedouin, so we know not only the cave in which it was found (Cave 3), but also the precise location within the cave. It was placed on a separate shelflike space separated from the other inscriptional materials found in the cave.

Its language is also different from that of the other scrolls. While it is in Hebrew, the kind of Hebrew is closer to the Hebrew of the Mishnah, the great rabbinic law code dated to about 200 C.E. that forms the core of the Talmud.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.