The Ten Commandments form the basis of the moral code of the entire Western world. Given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, they are recorded twice in the Bible; once in Chapter 20 of the book of Exodus, and again in the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 5.

These writings, as well as portions of every other book of the Bible (except Esther), and many other Jewish religious texts, were copied between 250 BCE and 70 CE by scribes of a community living on the shores of the Dead Sea at a place known today as Qumran. The community called itself the Yahad , loosely translated as “Together” and modern scholars usually identify them as the Essenes. This was a group of radical Jews who broke away from the Temple cult in Jerusalem and chose to live apart in separate quarters of some of the cities and at a mother-house there on the shores of the Dead Sea. The Jewish historian Josephus discusses them, as does Philo of Alexandria, and they were known also to the Roman historian Pliny the Elder.  We do not know the original name of the place 2000 years ago. But neither the identification of the Yahad with the Essene community nor the exact nature of the settlement at Qumran and its relation to the Scrolls discovered nearby is without controversy in scholarly circles.

Lost for 2000 years, this ancient Jewish library was first re-discovered accidentally in 1947.  Additional manuscripts were found later through archaeological excavation. Some 900 manuscripts, almost all of them fragmentary, make up the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Deuteronomy was one of the favorite books of the Dead Sea Community. Some thirty three portions of the book of Deuteronomy were discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls, more than any other book of the Bible except Psalms (39 copies). One specific fragment of the book of Deuteronomy (4Q41 Pl. 981) was discovered in Cave 4 and included the Ten Commandments as recorded at that time. The original scroll measures 7.1 x 45 cm.

This is the fragment Biblical Reproductions now presents.  The scroll fragment is a precise, laser-cut photographic reproduction of Deuteronomy 5:1-33.  Encased in a clear plastic block, the photographic reproduction of this artifact is protected from the elements and thus can be handled and read without fear of damaging the precious and fragile text. It is a unique presentation of an ancient treasure, offered by Biblical, licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Author: Walter Zanger