Papyri & Parchment

1000 BC   KING DAVID lived and wrote the Psalms around 1000 BC.  Many times he referred to having the Word of God, the Law of God, the Decrees of God, the Precepts of God.  Here are some of the chapters that do so:  1, 19, 37, 48, 78, 89, 94, 105, 119, etc.  In fact, he dedicated all 176 verses of chapter 119 to this theme.  It begins like this: 
People living pure lives are happy. Those people follow the Lord’s teachings. People who obey the Lord’s Agreement are happy. They obey the Lord with all their heart. Those people don’t do bad things. They obey the Lord. Lord, you gave us your commands. And you told us to obey those commands completely. If I always obey your laws, Lord, then I will never be ashamed when I study your commands. Then I could truly honor you as I study your fairness and goodness. Lord, I will obey your commands.
King Josiah Hears the Law II Chronicles 34:14-19


How did he know what God’s commands were? They had been written down.  Who originated them?  Moses ~ sometimes in stone and sometimes on papyrus.  David acknowledged Moses as the writer of the law.

Psalm 77:15, 20 – With your power you saved your people.  You saved the descendants of  Jacob and Joseph.  You used Moses and Aaron to lead your people like sheep. 

Psalm 99:6 – Moses and Aaron were some of his priests.  And Samuel was one of the men who called on his name.  
Psalm 103:7 – God taught his laws to Moses. God let Israel see the powerful things he can do!

Psalm 105:9, 10, 17, 23, 26 – God made an Agreement with Abraham.  God made a promise to Isaac…. Then he made it a law for Jacob… But God sent a man named Joseph to go ahead of them…Then Israel came to Egypt.  Jacob lived in Ham’s country… God used Moses and Aaron to do many miracles. (Chapters 105 and 106 summarize Genesis and Exodus.)
700 BC  ISAIAH wrote the first of many prophecies around 700 BC.  The prophetic books were written at the same time as various events in the history books of the Old Testament.  There are 17 prophetic books in all, covering a span of about 700 BC to 400 BC.
590 BC  Eventually, the Israelites were taken as captives to other countries in exile.  Among those taken to Babylon was a priest named Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:2-3).  He likely took copies of the scriptures with him.  This occurred around 590 BC.  He also wrote the words of God in the book named after him.
Babylon was later taken over by Media and Persia.  DANIEL ~ what we would call
Prime Minister of Babylon and then Persia, had access to the scriptures.  Daniel 9:1-2 says,

These things happened during the first year that Darius was king. Darius was the son of a man named Ahasuerus.  Darius belonged to the Median people. He became king over Babylon.  

During the first year that Darius was king, I, Daniel, was reading some books {scriptures}. In the books, I saw that the Lord told Jeremiah how many years would pass before Jerusalem would be built again. The Lord said 70 years would pass.


520 BC   Around 520 BC, the Israelites were finally allowed to return to their homeland by King Darius.  Prophet EZRA led them and wrote about it.  After getting settled, some priests rebuilt the altar of sacrifice on the grounds of the now demolished temple in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses (Ezra3:2-5).

Those people built the altar of the God of Israel so they could offer sacrifices on it. They built it just like it says in the Law of Moses. Moses was God’s special servant…They built the altar on its old foundation and offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord. They offered those sacrifices in the morning and in the evening. Then they celebrated the Festival of Shelters just like the Law {of Moses} said. They offered the right number of burnt offerings for each day of the festival. After that, they began offering the continual burnt offerings each day, the offerings for the New Moon, and for all the other festivals and holidays that were commanded by the Lord.

Ezra also played a major role in the events in Nehemiah (see below).  Ezra and Nehemiah were the last books written in what we call the Old Testament.

450 BCAround 450 BC, the Israelites still had copies of the scriptures.  After rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, they rebuilt the city walls.  That completed, there was a public reading of the entire Law of Moses which still existed.  Read Nehemiah chapters 8 and 9:

Ezraread in a loud voice from the Book of the Law from early morning until noon…He read to all the men and women, and to everyone old enough to listen and understand. All the people listened carefully and paid attention to the Book of the Law. Ezra stood on a high wooden stage. It had been built just for this special time….




So Ezra opened the book.  All the people could see Ezra because he was standing above them on the high stage. And as Ezra opened the Book of the Law, all the people stood up.  These men from the family group of Levi taught the people about the Law as they were all standing there….Those Levites read the Book of the Law of God. They made it easy to understand, and explained what it meant. They did this so the people could understand what was being read. The leaders of all the families went to meet with Ezra, the priests, and the Levites. They all gathered around Ezra the teacher to study the words of the Law.

Ezra read to them from the Book of the Law every day of the festival. Ezra read the Law to them from the first day of the festival to the last day. The people of Israel celebrated the festival for seven days. Then on the eighth day the people met together for a special meeting, like the Law says….


Then on the 24th day of that same month, the people of Israel gathered together for a day of fasting…. They stood there for about three hours, and the people read the Book of the Law of the Lord their God. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and bowed down to worship the Lord their God.

Later, when the protective wall around Jerusalem was finally completed, they had a dedication ceremony.  Nehemiah 13:1a reports,  On that day, the Book of Moses was read out loud so all the people could hear.

Yes, after 1000 years, the Jews still had the Law of Moses and were keeping it in the same way that people did in the days of Moses.



Many references were made to events in Genesis and the books which give both further history and the Law of Moses (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).  These five books are sometimes called the Penteteuch, “pente” representing the number five.  
Total number of times these five books are quoted in the New Testament:  At least 101!
Another nearly 200 times the rest of the Old Testament was quoted in the New Testament. 
What was quoted in the first century AD is the same that we have had handed down to us going back to the beginning of Genesis around 4000 BC or earlier. This is no accident!  This was the Power of Almighty God!

How do we know that what the prophets wrote and events surrounding their writing during all this time was what God actually said?  Once again, we can go to the New Testament which has been proven to be correct.  Some 300 times, the history and prophecies of the Old Testament were quoted in the New Testament.  These quotes are the same as that handed down to us from the Hebrew of the Old Testament.

There are archaeological evidences which prove the accuracy of the history in the Old and New Testament. (LINK)

There are prophecies of entire nations fulfilled which prove the accuracy of the prophets.  (LINK)

The life of Jesus was prophesied in details hundreds of years before his birth.  (LINK)



By this time, more people could understand Greek than Hebrew.  Alexander the Great was responsible for much of this transition as he gradually conquered most of the then-known-world.  At this time in Alexandria, Egypt, 70 Hebrew scholars from Jerusalem
gathered in Alexandria and translated the Old Testament books into Greek.  The translation was called the Septuagint, standing for the 70 who did the translating.  It was in much use by the first-century AD.

Today we still have parts of the Septuagint written out, dating back to 200 BC, less than fifty years after the original Septuagint was created.  THE SECOND CENTURY BC.

150 BC       The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered near Qumran in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.  They were inscribed between 150 and 100 BC.  Over 825 full manuscripts, and 40,000 inscribed fragments were stored inside these caves in clay jars.  The jars and dry climate in the caves kept them preserved all those centuries.


They were apparently the library of the Essenes who lived at Qumran between 200 BC and 68 AD.  When the Roman army marched against them during the first Jewish revolt, they apparently hid the scrolls in the caves.  The Essene community was destroyed, but the scrolls survived up to today.

The impressive scroll BELOW is a collection of psalms and hymns, comprising parts of forty-one biblical Psalms of  David (chiefly chapters 101-150)

OT-DeadSea-PsalmsIt was found in 1956 in Cave 11.   Its surface is the thickest of any of the scrolls–it may be of calfskin rather than sheepskin, which was the more common writing material at Qumran. The script is on the grain side of the skin.

In possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

BELOW is a portion of Leviticus chapters 22-27 in the Old Testament.  Leviticus is one of the major books listing in detail many of the Laws of Moses.  

It was found in 1956 in Cave 11.  It expounds laws of sacrifice, atonement, and holiness. It is a total of 39-1/2 inches (100.2 cm) long.

The Leviticus Scroll was written in an ancient Hebrew script often referred to as paleo-Hebrew.  The text was penned on the grain side of a sheep skin (parchment).


This is a section of the Book of Isaiah the prophet, who prophesied both the future captivity of the Israelites, and a far future eternal king.Both this and the Leviticus scroll above are in possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 The Dead Sea Scrolls include every book in the Old Testament in whole or in part except the book of Esther.

They were discovered in 1947, long after translations of the Old Testament had been made in numerous world languages.  How accurate were these translations?  When the writings of the prophet Isaiah as we have it today was compared with the Qumran scroll, it was 95% identical word for word.



The word “Soferim” is Hebrew for a Hebrew treatise dealing with rules relating to Writing and reading the Law of Moses (Torah) and subsequently used as a code of ethics for copying other parts of the Old Testament.  The Rabbinic code included rules for copying for scribes.  Originally, all copies were based on those written down by Moses himself and stored in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem.  After the destruction of the Temple, it is believed that Ezra, by inspiration, recreated them a thousand years later in their original form.  Scribes were required to count each letter and word and line.  Their copies of the originals had to duplicate exactly word for word and line for line.

Rabbi David Lichtman explains this about the accuracy of scribal copying practices
and sites ancient references.
The Rambam writes (Hil. Sefewr Torah 7:11) that if one letyter is added to or missing from a Torah [copy], it is invalidated and is not conferred the sanctity of a Torah scroll….Special mechanisms were established by the Sages to ensure its accurate transmission through the generations (see, for example, Megilah 18b; YD #274). From the wording of the ambam, itappears that this is true even if the wanton letter does not affect the meaning of the word. This is also the ruling of the Tikunei ha’Zohar (#25), Ramban end of Introduction to the Torah, Magen Avraham and Vilna Gaon OC 143:4, Sha’agat Aryeh (#36), Chatam Sofer (OC #52), in contrast to Minchat Chinuch’s ruling (#613) that a missing or additional letter does not invalidate a Torah scroll unless it affects either a word’s pronunciation or its literal or exegetical meaning.) Originally, the Torah was so well preserved that every letter was counted (Kiddushin 30a), which is why the early scribes were given the title “Soferim” (“Counters/Scribes”)…. its margin of error appears to be less than .00004, and to involve only insignificant letters at that.



The long room on the left of this building located at Qumran is called the Scriptorium.

The remains of benches used by the scribes were found here.  Also, some ink wells were found here.  They are both now in museums.
See below.


Dr. Emmanuel Tov, renoun author of many books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, both the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew, and world-wide leader in his field, wrote this:

In the case of the scribes copying biblical texts, precision is a condition sine qua non according to rabbinic sources.  This precision is reflected in the dictum in b. Qidd. 30a: “The ancients were called soferim because they counted (saferu) every letter in the Torah.”  The meticulous care in the transmission of MT is also reflected in the words of R. Ishmael:  “My son, be careful because your work is the work of heaven; should you omit even one letter or add even one letter, the whole world would be destroyed” (b.Sotz. 20a)….

Scribes imitated the column layout of his Vorlage [original] in such a way that the words in the copy would occur in exactly the same position as in the original.  In order to accomplish this, scribes had to use writing surfaces the same size as the originals.

Elsewhere in his book, Tov explains regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls, It stands to reason that literary texts were copied from written Voirlagen [originals].  There is no reason to assume that scribes who knew their biblical texts well wrote them from memory.  Indeed, according to the prescriptions in rabbinic literature, scribes were forbidden to copy scripture without a text in front of them, even if they knew the whole Bible by
heart, in order to secure precision in copying. 
This is from his 325-page book, Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts Found in the Judean Desert.



All the evidences explained above work together to show that there were means to write and maintain original records, even several thousands of years ago.   Further proofs are seen in existing papyri and quotations of other proven papyri.

Manuscripts in the Dead Sea Scrolls are dated within two centuries of the last Hebrew original.  Moreover, fragments of the Septuagint are dated within fifty years of the original.  The Old Testament today is essentially the same as the original.