Hershel Shanks

ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME. Cave 4, like most of the other caves carved into the marl sandstone hills near Qumran, functioned as a private residence, with its smooth, finely chiseled interior providing bright and well-ventilated (if somewhat spartan) accommodations for the sectarian Jew who called Qumran home. But unlike the other residential caves, which contained only a smattering of scrolls that were kept for private study and personal devotion, Cave 4 was found littered with thousands of jumbled scroll fragments representing more than 500 separate documents written across a span of nearly three centuries. The lack of any discernable order among the texts suggests they were all hurriedly placed in the cave at the same time, possibly in an effort to hide them from the Roman legion that was advancing on Qumran in 68 C.E.