Talmudi Megillat HaN’Choshet
(Studies in the Copper Scroll)
While most of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by Bedouins, the Copper Scroll was discovered by an archaeologist. The scroll, on two rolls of copper, was found on March 14, 1952 at the back of Cave 3 at Qumran. It was the last of 15 scrolls discovered in the cave, and is thus referred to as 3Q15. The corroded metal could not be unrolled by conventional means, and John Marco Allegro arranged for Professor H. Wright Baker, of the College of Technology at Manchester, England, to cut the sheets into 23 strips in 1955 and 1956.
Megillat ha’Nechoshet, (The Copper Scroll) has intrigued scholars and laymen alike for it’s content, myth, legends, and potential disclosure of an immense amount of wealth seeming to have been enscribed thereon.
What is the Copper Scroll? Is is a “treasure map” or just a hoax? Is it a religious document and not an administrative – quasi civil document of the Second Temple era? If it is a religious document which comports with the practice of the Qumran Communities adherence to shunning wealth, then the Copper Scroll should be given serious theological consideration as to why and how it fits into the Qumran Communities theology and end times (eschatological) out-look upon their immediate circumstances within that Second Temple era.
Copper was used in the construction of the Tabernacle for the: Brazen Altar, (Exodus 38.4), foot of the altar (38.8), rings (27.4), pins (27.19) and sockets (38.10). As well, the Copper Serpent (Numbers 21.6-9) was a healing agent for those who looked upon it. Hezekiah crushed the Copper Serpent (Mishneh Pesachim 4.6) and hid the Book of Remedies (M.Pesachim 4.6) as it became used in avodah zarah idol worship. In short, it is the base of or foundation necessary for burnt offerings. Copper, “precious as gold” was weighed by Ezra, the Priests, as well as the Levites (Ezra 8.27), who wrote all the weight of the free-will offering to the L-RD. (8.34) Copper is thus identified primarily seven times in the Jewish Bible (TaNaCh) of lessor or lower importance in metallurgy and the value of metals as the basis upon which to build the Mishkan.
So, what, if any thing happened to the “treasures” of the Copper Scroll? Do they still exist or are they lost to antiquity? Although the answer may be found in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus; siman (signs) do not attest to the veracity of the “location” treasure themselves.
For theological reasons, I prefer to suggest that the treasure map theory is a “wisdom mystery” couched in the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves. From my research paper on the Dead Sea Scrolls: As can be seen by 1Q21 “The Words of Levi”
(The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation, Wise, Michael; Abegg, Martin, Jr.; and Cook, Edward; Harper Collins Publishers, San Francisco, 1996 pp.251-52):
“Then he gave me the blessings of the Priesthood…”. “Consider, my sons, my brother Joseph, who teaches writing and discipline and wisdom. …. So wisdom is a great fortune of glory, and a fine treasure for all who possess it. If mighty kings come with many people, and an army, horsemen, and many chariots with them, and if they seize the wealth of the lands and nations, plundering everything in them, they still could not plunder the storehouses of wisdom, nor could they find its hidden riches. 4Q213 Frag. 6+7 (Wise 257)
According to Michael Wise in The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation; “Copper was used for the safekeeping of nonliterary records, Roman public laws, and even the private discharge papers of Roman Military veterans. More to the point, copper and bronze were common media of choice for the archival records of temples in the Roman period.
According to Josephus, …. The Romans pursued a definate policy to retrieve treasure hoards that citizens of Jerusalem had secreted during the siege. As always, the key to their recovery lay with the interrogation of prisoners. One such, Pinchas, was an official treasurer of the Temple. The historian tells us that this man delivered up to the Romans “‘the tunics and girdles worn by the priests… many other treasures also were delivered up by him, with sacred ornaments (War 6.390-91). (Wise, pp. 190-91)
Megillat ha’Nechoshet begins:
“In the ruin in the Valley of Achor, under the steps with the entrance at the East at a distance of 40 cubits a strong-box of silver with it’s vessels, 17 talents in weight. KEN
“In the ruin-heep of Kohlit: vessels of tribute of the master of nations, and ephods. All of this belongs to the tribute and the seventh treasure, a second tithe rendered unclean. Its opening is in the edge of the aqueduct on the north six cubits to the immersion bath, XAG.” (CHAG)
[Sixth, Seventh, Eleventh Caches]
Forty two talents lie under the stairs in the salt pit.HN (HEN) Sixty five bars of gold lie on the third terrace in the cave of the old Washers House.QE (TA’AH) Seventy telents of silver are enclosed in wooden vessel that are in the cistern of a burial chamber in Matia’s courtyard. Fifteen cubits from the front of the eastern gates, lies a cistern. The ten talents lie in the canal of the cistern.DI (DAY)
Dig down sixteen cubits under the eastern corner to find forty talents of silver.TR (TAPH)
Fourteen talents of silver can be found in the pillar on the northern side of the big cistern in Kohlit. SK (SOOK)
Here, the Greek characters are transliterated into Hebrew: Ken, Chag, Hen, Ta’ah, Day, Taph, Sook (Yes, Their Festival [in] Booths [to play, tap or beat] Tamborines [is] Enough [for] Anointing)
“Thus the scroll is not a ‘free’ literary prose creation; instead, it is a work designed according to a fixed and defined (preset) structure. Even if none of the 60 items is complete in containing entries for all seven subjects or ‘fields’ that exist in the scroll, the form of the description was preset, and the author was not permitted to express himself freely. Indeed, Wolters has shown that the Copper Scroll could have been written in seven columns, a fact that emphasizes that we cannot regard this as a text with a free form but a text with a rigid structure.”
Copper Scroll Studies George J. Brooke, Philip R. Davies A&C Black, Oct 27, 2004 – Religion – 362 pages
“All Sevens Are Precious”
The Copper scroll according to Al Wolters was written in seven columns
Wolters identifies seven subjects or fields that exist in the Copper scroll
seven places that Greek characters appear on the Copper scroll. Here, the Greek characters are transliterated into Hebrew: Ken, Chag, Hen, Ta’ah, Day, Taph, Sook (Yes, Their Festival [in] Booths [to play, tap or beat] Tamborines [is] Enough [for] Anointing)
The seven locations (listed in the Copper Scroll possessing Greek letters) are thought to be by some scholars to “represent the quantities of treasure buried at the site. Or, “Another recent suggestion is that they are abbreviations of names of priestly families responsible for the treasure at that particular site.” Meir Bar Ilan (referencing Shekalim 3.2) states that “the Greek letters were used as private signs.”
However, this Mishneh states first, that Aleph, Bet, Gimmel were the “siman” (or signs) “used for the half-shekel levy imposed on the public;” whereas the Greek letters, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, appear in the Mishneh only as a secondary opinion (of Rabbi Ishmael). In Rabbi Ishmael’s rules of hermenuetics, heyqesh – comparison, the matter of whether Hebrew or Greek characters were used for designation of the registrant who had paid the treasurer the Temple tax (shekel) imposed upon them is resolved because when one compares the Hebrew to the Greek, the characters only make sense as a coherent sentence in Hebrew. As private signs (siman) for the Temple tax (shekel) they make perfect sense.
Since only seven locations possess Greek characters and according to Al Wolters, Megillat HaNechoshet the Copper Scroll was written in seven columns, the numeral seven plays a significant role in our “discovery” concerning the treasures from Qumran.
For instance, this could tell us who composed the scroll or which priestly family might have contributed to the half shekel levy during the Hashmonean Dynasty.
ZAYIN is the seventh letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet which means a sword or sceptre
(as in the symbol for royal authority) – As for example –
Esther 5.2 “When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther came near, and touched the top of the scepter.”
The seventh letter of the alef-bet is zayin. Its design is the form of a sword. The top of the zayin is the handle, and the vertical leg is the blade. Another interpretation of the zayin’s design is that it represents a crown and a scepter. The zayin thus alludes to power and authority.
seven days shall you eat unleavened bread – matzah – Parsha Bo – Shmoth 12.8, 15-20 introduces the lesson of matzah unleaven bread; the complete nullification of leaven (or leavening agents, that is nullification of the individual’s ego or pride) from one’s home commemorated annually with Pesach – Passover. Thus, every year BEGINS with a nullification of leavening agents from our midst!
Zachor remember the seventh day to sanctify it Exodus 20.8
Shomer guard or keep the seventh day Deuteronomy 5:12
“all sevens are precious”
Pesach and Sukkot are seven day festivals
“Ye shall dwell [“B’Simcha”] in booths seven days; all that are home-born in Israel shall dwell in booths.”
For, “The Joy of the L-RD is your Strength” – Nechemiah 8.10,
“And all the congregation of them that were come back out of the captivity made booths, and dwelt in the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.” Nechemiah 8.17
the Challah (Bride) at her wedding goes around her Katan (groom) seven times
under the Chuppah (wedding canopy) seven blessings are said
they the Challah and Katan celebrate for seven days
There are also seven “lower sefiroth”- the Lower Shekinah (“spheres of illumination”) found in Sefer Yetzirah – the Book of Creation.
there are seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot
seventh year – shmitta the Year of Release and Land Laying Fallow
seventh year – Hakhel Deuternomy 31.10 The King’s Assembly (National Address) (Chapter of the King) Biblically speaking, even the King is subject to the Torah in a Biblically permissable, yet limited Monarchy. Deuternomy 17.18-20 Disempowered King: Monarchy in Classical Jewish Literature (3.3 The King’s Subjugation to the Torah) By Yair Lorberbaum.
seven years times seven years is 49 years before the 50th Jubilee (Yovel) Year of Liberty
Zachor remember the seventh day
Zaqen aged, elder