Courtesy of the Matson Collection, the Episcopal Home
The letters that form this secret message appear in the words of the text of Deuteronomy, from 6:10 to 13:19. The scroll has been written in such a way that these letters align vertically in the center of each column of text to spell out the message.
Far from pristine in its preservation, the Abisha scroll is a patchwork of repairs and re-inkings. Experts have identified six different scribal hands that worked on the scroll, with writing styles spanning 800 years. The portion of the scroll from the end of Numbers through Deuteronomy (including Abisha’s cryptogram) exhibits the oldest writing style, a style used in Nablus about the first half of the 12th century C.E.