Daily Archives: November 22, 2011

New insights into the clothing of the Qumran inhabitants

The recent edition of Dead Sea Discoveries has an article by Orit Shamir and Naama Sukenik on “Qumran Textiles and the Garments of Qumran’s Inhabitants.” The article costs $35 from Brill. To order click here. Here is the abstract.

Among the Qumran textiles that were kept at the Rockefeller Museum was a group of textiles that were unusual for Qumran. Most of them were made of wool, and some were dyed or decorated. Their marking QCC—Qumran Christmas Cave indicates their origin. In 2007 the cave was investigated by Porat, Eshel, and Frumkin. The cave is located in the bottom section of Kidron valley and doesn’t belong to Qumran caves. It can now be determined that all of the textiles from Qumran are made solely of linen. They were free of any colored decoration, except for scroll wrappers that decorated in blue. This, and the simplicity and whiteness of the textiles from Qumran, is compatible with the literary sources. It appears that the people of Qumran wished to differentiate themselves from the rest of the population also on the basis of their style of garments.

A popular article based on the technical paper appears in LiveScience here. Some speculation about the writers of the scrolls is based on the cloths found with the scrolls. Look also for an Image Album of 8 captioned photos including the textiles from Qumran and the Christmas Cave.

Most of the cloth wrappings found at Qumran were white and made of linen. The wrappings found at Christmas Cave were colorful and made of wool. The Mosaic law was clear about the clothing to be worn by the Israelites.

Do not wear clothes made of both wool and linen. (Deuteronomy 22:11 CSB)

Jodi Magness cites the War Scroll to illustrate that the “Qumran sectarian clothing must be made entirely of linen” (Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit, 116).

Most Bible students probably think of the Kidron valley running north to south between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. That is correct, except that the brook joins with the Hinnom valley and continues east to the Dead Sea.

The photo below was made about 4.25 miles south of Qumran along the Dead Sea Road (Hwy. 90) as it crosses the brook Kidron (Qidron). The Christmas Cave mentioned in the article is to the west (left) of the highway as the brook comes down from Jerusalem. (Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Location of the Brook Kidron on Dead Sea Road (view north). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Crossing Brook Kidron on Dead Sea Road (view northeast). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When David fled from Jerusalem at the time of Absalom’s rebellion, he crossed the Kidron “toward the way of the wilderness.”

Everyone in the countryside was weeping loudly while all the people were marching past. As the king was crossing the Kidron Valley, all the people were marching past on the road that leads to the desert. (2 Samuel 15:23 CSB)

HT: Joseph I. Lauer