We are reading translations of the very words that God’s spokesmen carefully wrote on their first scrolls, unchanged.
Isaiah wrote his great work of prophecy some 700 years before the birth of Christ. Across the generations his work was loved and carefully studied, especially by a group of Jewish believers who formed a small community at Qumran. That community ended in 68 A.D., but not until its members carefully hid their precious writings. The scrolls lay in a cave near the Dead Sea, preserved in Palestine’s dry heat for 19 centuries. Then, in 1947, they were accidentally found by a young Bedouin.
Among the scrolls were copies of Habakkuk and Isaiah, with fragments of Daniel and other OT books. Some of the biblical scrolls were copied as early as 160 years before Christ!
What is so significant about the find? The earliest text of the Hebrew OT which scholars possessed before the Dead Sea discovery dates from around A. D. 1100. These could now be compared with texts more than a millennium older!
Many textual critics had challenged the accuracy of the OT. They claimed that all sorts of changes had been introduced across the centuries. But the scrolls gave witness to the fact that the text of our OT has been preserved across the millennia essentially unchanged! When we read the words of Isaiah, or any of the other OT prophets, we can be confident. We are reading translations of the very words that God’s spokesmen carefully brushed on those first scrolls, preserving for all time the living messages of God.