Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Dead Sea Scrolls: My Visit to Southern California

Wifey and I spent Mother's Day visiting our son in Murrieta, California, south of Los Angeles. To get there, one must drive through Los Angeles with its confusing phalanx of freeways and intense traffic.  It always caused me considerable stress to do it, but this time it was different.  I navigated freeway Hell without much stress.  The reason:  this time I could see well, following two recent operations to remove cataracts.  Driving through L.A. was just ordinary driving, not the usual exercise in terror and chaos.

At my son's home in Murrieta, we watched "Gifted Hands," the 2009 movie about the life of Dr. Ben Carson, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Carson.  It is a very inspiring story, and Carson owes much to his mom for steering him and his brother in the right direction.  His brother became an engineer.

On Monday we drove to Los Angeles to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition.  The scrolls on display were mere fragments of the originals, which largely deteriorated after 2,000 years in a desert cave.  There are scrolls that are nearly intact, but they were not displayed, probably due to the difficulty of transporting them safely.  There was a lot of pottery displayed, including some of the jars in which the scrolls were originally stored.  Most of the pottery was broken into pieces, and reassembled like puzzles to make them whole again.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient, hand-written texts, copies of the Jewish scriptures, from every book except that of Esther.  They were likely written and stored during the time of the Roman occupation, as a means of preserving Jewish holy texts from possible destruction by the invaders.  They were found in eleven caves near the Dead Sea, over a period from 1946 to 1952.

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