The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
In 1947, a shepherd boy by the name of Mohammed Ab Dib, from the Ta-Amir Bedouin tribe, was allegedly searching for lost sheep when he tossed a rock into the mouth of a cave near the Dead Sea. That evening as he sat around the campfire with his older brothers, Mohammed told how he had heard an evil spirit which he thought had been disturbed by a rock he had thrown into the cave as he searched for a lost goat.
His brothers laughed at the idea of an evil spirit's making noise and decided to go with Mohammed the next day to discover what had caused the noise. Climbing into the cave, they discovered that the noise which he mistook for an "evil spirit" had, in reality, been the tinkling of pottery, a vessel about 30 inches in height containing a very old manuscript sealed with pitch and tar. Thinking that it might be worth something, the young men returned to their families and for several months the Isaiah scroll was carried by the tribe until they went to Bethlehem and traded the manuscript for staples such as milk and cheese, not realizing how valuable it actually was.
At this point the drama quickened. Kando, the Bethlehem merchant, realizing that having this ancient scroll in his possession was in violation of Jordanian law, buried the scroll in his backyard for a period of time; then through the underground he made contact with Professor Eleazar Sukenik of Hebrew University, who immediately recognized the document as being none other than a very old copy of the book of Isaiah. As the words of the text came leaping to life from the page of the ancient scroll, about 35 feet in length, he could hardly contain himself. He knew that if he got too excited, the price would go high, perhaps too high. If he let this manuscript get away, it might forever be lost to posterity or damaged by unskilled hands who could easily ruin the ancient scroll which had been so tightly sealed for almost 2000 years.
For many years after this, Kando, the Bethlehem merchant who bought the scroll and buried it in his backyard, operated a curio shop outside the St. George Hotel in Old Jerusalem, and on occasion, properly encouraged, would pose for a picture, but he was always reluctant to relate the true story which I've just shared with you.
Eventually though, after many cups of Turkish coffee and countless hours of negotiation, the manuscript was purchased by Hebrew University. Professor William F. Albright, one of the world's leading authorities on ancient manuscripts, considered this to be the most important manuscript find of all time.
He dated this scroll at 100 B.C. Until the Isaiah manuscript was found at Qumran, the oldest manuscript of the book of Isaiah in existence had been dated 895 A.D., which meant that this manuscript reached back more than 1000 years, bringing us closer by a millennium to the day when Isaiah penned those words, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given..." (Isaiah 9:6a, KJV).
Between 1947, when the first scroll was found, and 1954, at least 800 scrolls were found, of which 127 or more contain writings of the Old Testament Scriptures.
That these scrolls should lie there unmolested, only to be unearthed when science had really come into its own, causing many to question the validity of Scripture, has to be nothing short of an act of God. It's almost like God saying again what Isaiah wrote long ago, "...the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands for ever" (Isaiah 40:8, NKJV). No other Old Testament book is so full of prophecies relating to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It's more than mere coincidence.
Resource reading: Isaiah 40:1-8.