Historical 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 into oblivion.

Association 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.

QUMRAN - 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 Jerusalem.

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 sect disappeared.

Remnants of 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.

Following the 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.
Description of the Coins
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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