Enigma: The Copper Scroll Treasure List Decoded

The Dead Sea copper scroll has been deciphered. In a fascinating decoding exercise, it was discovered that the numbers listed as weights of treasures and cubit measurements on the scroll, were actually the indices of a magnificent calendar matrix. The findings end one of the most intriguing Biblical mysteries, which had confounded scholars for over 60 years. So preoccupied were previous investigators with the treasures, they had overlooked the importance of the numbers on the copper scroll. Instead, the lure of finding hidden treasures excited imaginations and led to archaeological expeditions. But all ended in failure simply because the descriptions to find the sites were incredibly vague or nonsensical.   

The Copper Scroll part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Mahdi Abdulrazak /  CC BY-SA 2.0 ) 

The numbers should have aroused suspicion because there was something gravely amiss about their layout. They were listed as the depths to dig in cubits to find specific numerical weights of gold and silver treasures at 64 locations. (Talents and cubits were the Biblical units of weights and measurements). On closer scrutiny it transpired that no numerical weights of treasures were listed at ten of the sites. Nor were there cubits listed at one third of the sites. That was the first breakthrough because it indicated that the cubits and weights of treasures were unnecessary at the other sites. So why were all those numbers listed? It made them the focus of attention and therefore, the numbers were entered onto a spreadsheet for analysis.   

Strip 11 and Strip 15 of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, from Qumran Cave 3, Jordan Museum (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin )Strip 11 and Strip 15 of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, from Qumran Cave 3, Jordan Museum (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin )

Strip 11 and Strip 15 of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, from Qumran Cave 3, Jordan Museum ( Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin  )

Numbers in Fashion

In the analysis, eight translations of the copper scroll were utilised. These were entrusted to John Allegro, Garcia Martinez, Al Wolters, Michael Wise, Giza Vermes, Judah Lefkovits, Hack & Carey and Emile Puech. Despite the erosion of the copper scroll, the eight translators had come up with practically the same numbers and that was reassuring. The translation by Emile Peuch occurred after the copper scroll had undergone comprehensive restoration work. This enabled Peuch to list extra numbers, which had been illegible to the previous translators. There was still one number that was unrecognizable and another number whose value was suspect.


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Michael Hearns has been involved for many years conducting independent research on some of the cryptic puzzles and unsolved mysteries in the Bible. He is the author of several books including The Mystery of the Tabernacle, The Messiah Immortalised in Time, Mary Magdalene – the First Pope and The “Copper Scroll” Bible .

Top Image : Strips of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll at the Jordan Museum, from Qumran Cave 3, 1st century AD ( Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin  /CC BY-SA 4.0 )

By Michael Hearns

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