Beit Midrash

  • Jewish Laws and Thoughts
  • Kohanim
To dedicate this lesson

Is the Birkat Kohanim Our Oldest Relic?


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Sivan 9 5781
We are all familiar with the Dead Sea scrolls. They were discovered in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea over the course of 10 years (1946-56) by Bedouins. They were initially dismissed & sold to an antique dealer for $28. They were found to contain manuscripts dated by scholars to be from the last three centuries BCE and the 1st century CE. They are the second-oldest known surviving copies of works included in the Tanach. A total of 981 manuscripts were found in 11 different caves. 40% are from Tanach; 30% are non-canonized texts (e.g. the Books of Enoch & Jubilees); the other 30% details rules & beliefs of different Jewish groups (e.g. the Essenes or Tzadukim). The scrolls are kept in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The text of our Sedra's Birkat Kohanim actually was found in two silver scroll-shaped amulets that are dated to 600 BCE
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