Sites In The Holy Land Coin Series
By Edward Schuman
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The land of
Israel, the Holy Land, abound with historical sites. This cradle
of civilization has lain for ages like a beautiful slave in the
market-place. All of the great powers of antiquity, Assyria, Persia,
Greece, Rome, Egypt and Arabia, have in turn possessed it; and billows
of destructive conquest have rolled over it like tidal waves, wrecking
its architectural glories, and sweeping much of its historic splendor
with the past, therefore is very important in Israel. Without that
charm, much would be lost. Invoke the aid of memory and imagination
here, and its once fertile plains will be adorned with splendid
cities, while over its historic landscapes will be hung a veil of
romance. Summon from its hills the echoes of the past, and every
stone will seem a monument, and every ruined wall a page in history.
This is the theme of a continuing series of legal tender commemorative
coins "Historical Sites in the Holy Land" which originated in 1982.
1982. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 at Qumran,
a site to the north-west of the Dead Sea, about 15 miles east of
Found by chance,
these manuscripts constitute the most important archaeological discovery
ever made in the Land of Israel, and indeed one of the most important
of this kind in the world. The Scrolls belonged to the Essenes,
one of the three main Jewish sects existing at that time. An extreme
faction of the Essene sect founded a settlement at Qumran, a desolate
desert site. During two hundred years they led a monastic-style
life there - the first community of the kind in the western world,
they lived in expectation of the great apocalyptic event the "War
of the End of Days". In 66 C.E. they joined the first Jewish Revolt
against the Romans (convinced that this was the war that they had
foreseen); the Qumran settlement was completely destroyed and the
all the books of the Bible, apart from the Book of Esther, were
found at Qumran - in all totaling about 200 scrolls. Prior to this
discovery, the most ancient known Biblical texts in Hebrew went
back a thousand years or so. The manuscripts now in our possession
go back two thousand years or more. Most of the other Scrolls concern
the sect, how it was organized, its laws, commentaries on the Laws
of Moses, Apocalyptic writings etc.
The Essene sect,
to which the Qumran community belonged, has left very little trace
in Judaism, but its influence on Christianity was considerable.
Several social principles were common to both Jesus of Nazareth
and the Essenes, specifically the positive value of poverty. The
influence is most evident in the writings of Paul and John the Evangelist,
both in the style and in important theological principles such as
belief in predestination, the concept of free will, the dualism
of light and darkness, truth and falsehood, etc.
Qumran discovery a feverish search for other manuscripts was conducted
in the surrounding area and ancient documents were discovered at
six other sites. More ancient than the Qumran Scrolls are those
of Wadi Dalyeh (which date from the time of Alexander the Great).
More recent manuscripts have been discovered at Masada (dating from
the first Revolt against the Romans in 70 C.E.); in the caves of
Murabba'at and at Nahal Hever (dating from the second Revolt against
the Romans in 135 C.E.); and at Khirbat Mird Monastery (from the
18th century C.E.).
The Qumran find
and the subsequent discoveries have greatly enriched our knowledge
of ancient times.
of the Coins
Obverse: The Hever cliffs, with the caves where the Scrolls
were discovered. The word "Qumran" in Hebrew and English, on
a background of ancient script from the Scrolls.
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