The scrolls remained hidden for the next two thousand years.
In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd named Muhammad (Ahmed el-Dhib) was searching for his lost goat and came upon a small opening of a cave.
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Worship at the sacred Jerusalem Temple had become corrupt, with seemingly little hope for reform.
A group of devoted Jews removed themselves from the mainstream and began a monastic life in the Judean desert.
Their studies of the Old Testament Scriptures led them to believe that God's judgment upon Jerusalem was imminent and that the anointed one would return to restore the nation of Israel and purify their worship.
Anticipating this moment, the Essenes retreated into the Qumran desert to await the return of their Messiah.
This community, which began in the third century B.
C., devoted their days to the study and copying of sacred Scripture as well as theological and sectarian works.As tensions between the Jews and Romans increased, the community hid their valuable scrolls in caves along the Dead Sea to protect them from the invading armies. 70, the Roman general Titus invaded Israel and destroyed the city of Jerusalem along with its treasured Temple.Their hope was that one day the scrolls would be retrieved and restored to the nation of Israel. It is at this time that the Qumran community was overrun and occupied by the Roman army.Lowering himself into the cave, he discovered several sealed jars. To his disappointment, he found them to contain leather scrolls.He collected seven of the best scrolls and left the other fragments scattered on the ground.Muhammad eventually brought some of the scrolls to a cobbler and antiquities dealer in Bethlehem named Khando. Fragments from every Old Testament book except for the book of Esther were discovered.