Hard to read because of its semicursive script, the Dead Sea Scroll known as 4Q448 lacked a proper decipherment of a key phrase for 15 years after its publication, until Dr. Ada Yardeni sucessfully deciphered it in 1992. Measuring 6 by 3 inches, the leather fragment bears three columns of text, designated A, at top; B, at right; and C, at left (see translation). A 2-by-2-inch reinforcing tab, at center right, secured a thong (found still attached) that kept the scroll from unrolling. The thong would have been wrapped around the scroll and tied as shown in the drawing. Although Qumran Cave 4 and Cave 8 yielded more than 200 leather tabs and matching thongs, this is only the second example that was found still attached to a scroll.
Column A has been identified as a psalm, the last three lines of which correspond to Psalm 154, known from Syriac manuscripts. Columns B and C consist of a prayer for peace for the kingdom, God’s and King Jonathan’s, which are equated. Alexander Janneus (103–76 B.C.E.), whose Hebrew name was Jonathan, is the only ruler who can be identified with the King Jonathan in 4Q448. The positive attitude toward Jonathan, expressed in the prayer in columns B and C, suggests that the author was a Sadducee, the only sect that viewed Jonathan favorably. This in turn suggests that the scroll was brought to Qumran from somewhere else, if the Qumran community was Essene as most scholars believe.