We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

Ḥever, Naḥal

[This entry is divided into two articles: Archaeology and Written Material.]

Archaeology

In the autumn of 1953, Yoḥanan Aharoni conducted a survey of Naḥal Ḥever, where he found ten caves (which he designated Caves 1 through 10). Aharoni likewise discovered two Roman siege camps, the first on a plateau north of Naḥal Ḥever and a second camp on the southern bank. In both camps, as well as in the cave below the northern camp, he discovered evidence that the bedouin had preceded him and undertaken excavations for the purpose of plundering. In the course of his examination, it was ascertained that the cave under the northern bank was a large cave with two openings (designated as openings number 5 and 6; therefore, the northern cave is identified as 5/6Ḥev). During the spring of 1955 Aharoni returned to the caves of Naḥal Ḥever, this time to examine Cave 8 on the southern bank of the river below the southern Roman camp. It was determined that excavations had been conducted by the bedouin in this cave as well. Here, Aharoni discovered more than forty skeletons and named the southern cave the Cave of Horror. Within the framework of the Judean Desert Expeditions in 1960, Yigael Yadin excavated the northern cave. He found in it many artifacts from the era of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. [See Bar Kokhba Revolt.] The most significant find was a leather flask containing fifteen letters that Shim῾on bar Kosiba᾽ (Bar Kokhba's real name) had sent. [See Bar Kokhba, Shim῾on.] Following this discovery, the northern cave was named the Cave of the Letters.

In 1961, within the framework of the second part of the Judean Desert Expeditions, Yadin returned to the northern bank of Naḥal Ḥever. This time he excavated the Roman camp, Caves 3 and 4 (where he found pottery from the era of the Bar Kokhba Revolt), and he returned to the Cave of the Letters. During the course of this project, Yadin discovered the Babatha archive. [See Babatha.] In the course of part two of the Judean Desert Expeditions, Aharoni excavated the Cave of Horror, where he found a number of scroll fragments, among them fragments of the Greek Minor Prophets scroll, proving that the main section of this scroll was discovered by the bedouin in this cave.

In 1991 an additional cave was discovered in the western portion of Naḥal Ḥever, where refugees had fled at the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. This cave was excavated by David Amit and Hanan Eshel. Signs of pillaging excavations conducted by the bedouin also were found in this cave. Despite this, a silver coin from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt was discovered. One can assume that the two documents included in the Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim collection originated in this cave.

Cave of the Letters.

This cave is the largest on the northern bank of Naḥal Ḥever. The cave's two openings are 7 meters (23 feet) apart. The length of the cave is approximately 150 meters (457 feet), and it contains three chambers. The two openings lead to chamber A, the northeastern side of which is rounded. Chamber A is full of huge masses of boulders. A tunnel approximately half a meter (1.6 feet) high leads from chamber A to chamber B. It is necessary to crawl through it in order to enter chamber B. From chamber B a tunnel extends to the east, while chamber C opens from the north into chamber B west of the tunnel.

In 1960 a burial chamber containing the skeletons of nineteen people and an abundance of fabric was found in the cave. At the foot of the cave a Bar Kokhba coin, a hoard of bronze articles used for ritual worship, and a fragment of a scroll of the Book of Psalms were found. The most significant findings in the cave, fifteen of Bar Kokhba's letters, also were discovered in 1960. In 1961, hoards of pottery, metal, and glass vessels were discovered in the inner portion of the cave. [See Glassware; Metal Utensils; and Pottery.] Among them was an archive containing the documents of Babatha. Arrowheads, a whole arrow, fragments of a scroll from the Book of Numbers, as well as a fragment of papyrus including a Nabatean document published by Starcky (5/6Ḥev 36 = XḤev/Se Nab. 1) were found at the entrance to the cave in 1961. Hence, we can deduce that some of the documents included in the Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim collection originated in the Cave of the Letters. A hoard of nineteen bronze vessels and a fragment of a scroll of the Book of Psalms were found in the first chamber. In the second chamber there were few finds: primarily, pottery, mats, and a Greek papyrus, which is the inner section of a marriage contract (5/6Ḥev 37). The majority of the finds were discovered in the third chamber: metal finds, a collection of rings, a cooking pot, a set of glassware, a Bar Kokhba coin, and baskets. The most significant find was a basket containing, among other items, the Babatha archive—thirty-five documents written between 93 and 132 ce in various languages— Greek, Nabatean, and Aramaic. Adjacent to the Babatha archive were six documents from the era of the Bar Kokhba Revolt belonging to Eleazar ben Samuel, a farmer from ῾Ein-Gedi who had leased land from Bar Kokhba.

Cave of Horror.

This cave is situated on the southern bank of Naḥal Ḥever. It resembles a corridor 65 meters (213 feet) long, winding a little toward the north and culminating in a chamber that is reached by a short tunnel. The bedouin conducted pillaging excavations in the cave, and it was excavated entirely by Aharoni in 1961. During the course of this excavation, many clay vessels from the era of the Bar Kokhba Revolt were found in the cave, among them a significant group of ceramic oil lamps, glass vessels, and four bronze coins that were minted by Bar Kokhba. Also discovered were three ostraca, bearing names of the deceased placed on top of the skeletons, as well as fragments of two documents written on a papyrus, one in Aramaic and another in Greek, and fragments of a scroll written in Hebrew containing what most likely is a prayer (8Ḥev 2). Especially important are nine fragments of the Greek Minor Prophets (8Ḥev 1) discovered by Aharoni, the remainder of which were found by the bedouin, who designated their origin as Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim. Consequently, one can assume that a portion of the documents included in the Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim collection originated in the Cave of Horror.

Cave of the Tetradrachm.

This is a large cave on the upper west side of Naḥal Ḥever approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) west of the Cave of the Letters and the Cave of Horror. This cave has three openings and three chambers; however, it is larger than the Cave of the Letters, and it is 200 meters (656 feet) long. This cave was discovered and excavated in 1991 by David Amit and Hanan Eshel. In it were found many clay vessels from the era of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, two short inscriptions written in ink upon sherds itemizing the contents of jars, and a silver tetradrachm from which the cave gets its name. An assumption can be made that two of the documents (XḤev/Se 9 [deed]; XḤev/Se Gr. 2 [double contract; marriage contract]) included in the Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim collection were discovered by the bedouin in this cave, since these documents originated in Yakim, which is only about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from the Cave of the Letters, whereas the rest of the documents of the Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim collection originated in the eastern region of Transjordan. The documents under discussion mention the village Aristoboulias and the capital of the toparchy Zif—both in the southern region of Mount Hebron. The Aramaic document is dated by paleographic analysis to the Herodian period, and it documents the transaction of Yehudah ben Shimon selling an orchard in Yakim to a man by the name of Yehudah. [See Deeds of Sale.] The Greek document is a canceled marriage document from the year 130 ce, of a bride from Aristoboulias and a man from Yakim.

[See also Archaeological Surveys; Archaeology; Qumran, article on Archaeology; and biography of Yadin.]

Bibliography

  • Aharoni, Y. “The Cave of Naḥal Ḥever.” ῾Atiqot, English Series 3 (1961), 148–162.
  • Aharoni, Y. “Expedition B—The Cave of Horror.” Israel Exploration Journal 12 (1962), 186–199.
  • Amit, David, and Hanan Eshel. “A Tetradrachm of Bar Kokhba from a Cave in Naḥal Ḥever.” Israel Numismatic Journal 11 (1990–1991), 33–35.
  • Amit, David, and Hanan Eshel. “Sela῾ Cave.” Excavations and Surveys in Israel 13 (1993), 107–108.
  • Barag, D. “Glass Vessels from the Cave of Horror.” Israel Exploration Journal 12 (1962), 208–214.
  • Tov, Emanuel, ed. The Greek Minor Prophets Scroll from Naḥal Ḥever (8ḤevXIIgr): The Seiyal Collection. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 8. Oxford, 1990.
  • Yadin, Yigael. “Expedition D.” Israel Exploration Journal 11 (1961), 36–52.
  • Yadin, Yigael. “Expedition D—The Cave of the Letters.” Israel Exploration Journal 12 (1962), 227–257.
  • Yadin, Yigael. The Finds from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters. Judean Desert Studies. Jerusalem, 1963.
  • Yadin, Yigael. Bar-Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome. London, 1971.

Hanan Eshel

Written Material

The written material from Naḥal Ḥever falls into three groups: Group I contains documents found in Cave 5/6 (the Cave of the Letters) and Cave 8 (the Cave of Horror) in the course of controlled excavations; Group II contains documents which, although they can be traced definitely to two caves in Naḥal Ḥever, were not found there in the course of controlled excavations; Group III contains material about which there are reasons to believe that it comes from Naḥal Ḥever, although this cannot be said with absolute certainty. Fragments from this group sometimes match those found in the first two groups, for example, the Greek Minor Prophets Scroll (8Ḥev 1).

Group I.

This group was discovered in Naḥal Ḥever by Israeli archaeological missions as part of a large-scale Judean Desert survey in 1960–1961. [See Archaeology.]

Documents from the Cave of the Letters.

Cave 5/6, the Cave of the Letters, was excavated by Expedition B, led by Yigael Yadin, during two seasons of excavations, in 1960 and 1961. [See also biography on Yadin.] With the exception of two literary texts, Numbers ([5/6Ḥev 1a] and Psalms [5/6Ḥev 1b]), all of the material excavated by Yadin's mission is composed of documentary texts from the last decade of the first century CE to the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 ce. [See Bar Kokhba Revolt.] This documentary corpus, designated P.Yadin (olim 5/6Ḥev), falls into three groups.

First are the letters of Bar Kokhba and his supporters (5/6Ḥev 49–63). The majority of these letters were written by Bar Kokhba himself. [See Bar Kokhba, Shim῾on.] They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. None of the letters is dated. Most are addressed to Jonathan son of Baianos and Masabalah (5/6Ḥev 49–56, 58–60), Bar Kokhba's administrators in ῾Ein-Gedi, and are, therefore, likely to come from their archives. [See ῾Ein-Gedi.] These letters should be studied together with two letters of Bar Kokhba to Yeshu῾a son of Galgula found in Wadi Murabba῾at (Mur 43–44; Benoit, 1961), both of which, like the letter from Beit-Mashiko to Yeshu῾a ben Galgula (Mur 42), must have come from the latter's archive. The fragmentary letters Mur 45–52 may belong to the Bar Kokhba circle as well. The only letter addressing Bar Kokhba himself is part of the Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim collection (XḤev/Se 30; Cotton and Yardeni, 1997). [See Ṣe᾽elim, Naḥal.]

The second set consists of leases and subleases of the Bar Kokhba administration in ῾Ein-Gedi in Hebrew and Aramaic (5/6Ḥev 42–46) and one private deed from the time of the revolt (5/6Ḥev 47a–b). The leases should be considered in conjunction with a deed of sale and farming contracts from Murabba῾at (Mur 24), also recording leases of land. These leases and subleases suggest that Bar Kokhba took possession of public land, that is, parts of the imperial domain in Judea.

A deed of sale of half of a garden (5/6Ḥev 47a–b) in ῾Ein-Gedi is dated by the era of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. It should be considered together with nine private legal deeds written during the revolt and using the same dating system. Four are deeds of sale from Wadi Murabba῾at (Mur 22, 23, and 25; Benoit, 1961); from Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim come three other deeds of sale (XḤev/Se 7–8a), a confirmation of divorce (XḤev/Se 13), and a deed of land sale (XḤev/Se 49) (Cotton and Yardeni, 1997). [See Deeds of Sale; Murabba῾at, Wadi.]

It should be noted that the private-law procedures visible in the documents from the Bar Kokhba period are continuous with those from the immediately preceding “provincial” period both in Judea and Arabia. What changes dramatically after the outbreak of the revolt is language use: Hebrew now appears alongside Aramaic (Nabatean) and Greek.

The third set of documents is the Babatha archive (5/6Ḥev 1–35), which contains legal documents in Nabatean (5/6Ḥev 1–4, 6, and 9), Aramaic (5/6Ḥev 7–8 and 10), and Greek (5/6Ḥev 5, 11–35) of a Jewish woman who lived in the village of Maḥoz ῾Eglatain on the southern shore of the Dead Sea, in what used to be the Nabatean kingdom which in 106 ce became the Roman province of Arabia. [See Babatha.] The Babatha archive begins on 11 August 94 ce and concludes on 19 August 132 ce—not long after the outbreak of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in Judea. The close ties with ῾Ein-Gedi, evident throughout the archive, may explain the presence of the Babatha archive in the same cave where documents belonging to Jonathan son of Baianos and Masabalah were found. The Babatha archive should be studied closely together with the archive of Salome Komaïse daughter of Levi (XḤev/Se 12, XḤev/Se gr 60–65), which also revolves around the affairs of a Jewish family from the village of Maḥoz ῾Eglatain, and whose documents are dated between 30 January 125 and 7 August 131 ce. The two archives contain deeds of sale, deeds of gift, petitions, land registrations, receipts, mortgages, promissory notes, and marriage contracts. The two women must have known each other since their families' properties were abutted by the same neighbors and the same witnesses signed their documents. Like Babatha and her family, Salome Komaïse left her home in Arabia with her precious documents and probably perished in the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Neither Babatha nor Salome Komaïse retrieved her documents.

Of all the material found in the Cave of the Letters at Naḥal Ḥever by Yadin, only the Greek part of the Babatha archive has received its final publication (Lewis, 1989). The rest will be published by Y. Yadin, J. C. Greenfield, A. Yardeni, and B. Levine, The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters, vol. 2: Hebrew, Aramaic and Nabatean Documents (Judean Desert Studies, 3). [See Family Life; Marriage and Divorce; and Names and Naming.]

Documents from the Cave of Horror.

Cave 8, the Cave of Horror, was excavated by expedition B, led by Y. Aharoni, in 1960. Fragments of the Greek Minor Prophets scroll (8Ḥev 1), fragments of parchment containing a prayer (8Ḥev 2), and a fragment of a letter (?) written in Greek on papyrus (8Ḥev 4) were found there.

Group II.

The second group contains most of the so-called Seiyal collection. The original Seiyal collection was composed of documents that were not discovered in the course of controlled excavations but rather were found by bedouin and brought in August 1952 and July 1953 to the Rockefeller Museum (then the Palestine Archaeological Museum), where they are kept to this day. [See Palestine Archaeological Museum.] The plates were labeled Se, that is, Seiyal (Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim). Although the labeling suggested that the papyri came from Naḥal Ṣe᾽elim, those directly in charge of the documents at the time of their discovery never made this claim anywhere in print. Most of the original Seiyal collection has been published (Tov, 1990; Cotton and Yardeni, 1997).

Seiyal Collection, Volume 1.

The first volume (Tov, 1990) contains the Greek translation of the Minor Prophets (8Ḥev 1). The fragments of this translation, discovered by Aharoni in 1960 in the Cave of Horror in Naḥal Ḥever, established that the larger fragments of the text designated on the plates in the Rockefeller Museum as coming from Seiyal also came from Cave 8 of Naḥal Ḥever. Thus the entire first volume of the Seiyal collection originated in Naḥal Ḥever. The fragments belong to a single manuscript written in two different hands that can be dated to the late first century BCE. The translation follows the sequence of books of the Masoretic Text and not that of the Septuagint. It contains portions from the books of Joel, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Zechariah. If the scroll had contained all the Minor Prophets, it would have reached approximately 10 meters, longer than any published Qumran scroll.

Seiyal Collection, Volume 2.

The second volume (Cotton and Yardeni, 1997) contains exclusively documentary texts, in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Depending on the language in which they are written, the documents are designated XḤev/Se and XḤev/Se ar, respectively, for the Hebrew and Aramaic documents and XḤev/Se gr for the Greek documents. Many of these texts can be safely traced to the Cave of the Letters—above all, those documents that belong to the archive of Salome Komaïse, daughter of Levi. The striking similarities between the archive of Salome Komaïse and Babatha, and the identity of some of the people who figure in both archives, would constitute reasons strong enough to postulate that the Cave of the Letters is the source of Salome's archive as well, were it not for the more tangible proof that one document from the archive (XḤev/Se gr 65) was found by Yadin in the Cave of the Letters. The unity of the archive seems to be the best proof that the other documents in this archive, XḤev/Se ar 12, XḤev/Se gr 60, 61, 62, 63, and 64 (possibly also XḤev/Se ar 32), originally part of the Seiyal collection, come from the Cave of the Letters as well. In addition, XḤev/Se gr 67, 68, 70, and 71, located on a plate in the Rockefeller Museum (XḤev/Se gr. 5), which contains several documents from the archive of Salome Komaïse daughter of Levi, must come from the Cave of the Letters as well. And finally the Aramaic deed XḤev/Se 7 and the Aramaic renunciation of claims following a divorce XḤev/Se 13 safely can be traced to the Cave of the Letters for reasons of identity of hands and names.

Volume 2 of the Seiyal collection also includes an Appendix Containing Alleged Qumran Texts, two of which, 4Q347 (a fragment of XḤev/Se ar 32) and 4Q359, can be traced to the Cave of the Letters; both were not part of the original Seiyal collection. On the other hand, there are items that are part of the original Seiyal collection, but that are not included in volume 2, that can be traced to the Cave of the Letters: Numbers? (XḤev/Se 1) and Psalms (XḤev/Se 4), which are from the same manuscripts as the smaller fragments from the same books found by Yadin in the Cave of the Letters (5/6Ḥev 1a and 1b); and contracts XḤev/Se Nab. 1–5 (6). Fragments of contract XḤev/Se Nab. 1 (Starcky, 1954) were discovered by Yadin in the Cave of the Letters in 1961. Since all the Nabatean documents according to Starcky were found in the same place, contracts XḤev/Se Nab. 2–5 (6) were surely found in the Cave of the Letters too. Furthermore, it is possible that contract XḤev/Se Nab. 1 belongs to the Babatha archive, whereas contract XḤev/Se Nab. 2 belongs to the archive of Salome Komaïse daughter of Levi.

Group III.

The third group is composed of documents that are likely to have come from Naḥal Ḥever. Thus there are good reasons for believing that the contracts XḤev/Se 8 and XḤev/Se 8a (two deeds written in Kefar Baru), the deeds XḤev/Se 26 (written in the same hand as the former two documents), and the deed of land sale XḤev/Se 49—all four of which are included in volume 2 of the Seiyal collection—come from Naḥal Ḥever. A deed of sale XḤev/Se 9 (written in Yakim) and a canceled marriage contract XḤev/Se gr 69 (written in Aristoboulias)—both included in volume 2 of the Seiyal collection—are likely to have come from a cave in the upper part of Naḥal Ḥever (some 12 kilometers west of the Cave of Horror and the Cave of the Letters), excavated in December 1991. Both locations, Yakim (present-day Khirbet Yuqin or Khirbet Bani Dār) and Aristoboulias (present-day Khirbet Istabûl), are close to the cave (Khirbet Istabûl lies only 3 kilometers west of the cave).

As regards Group III generally it can be assumed that whatever belongs to the original Seiyal collection may have come from Naḥal Ḥever, as do the single documents from the collection that belong to Group II. This consideration lies behind the decision to designate all of them XḤev/Se. The X indicates that the cave number is unknown, the Ḥev expresses their likely provenance (Ḥever), whereas the Se (Seiyal) is there to remind us of the alleged provenance of the documents as well as to preserve the connection with the collection as a whole.

[See Aramaic; Greek; and Hebrew.]

Bibliography

  • Aharoni, Y. “Expedition B—The Cave of Horror.” Israel Exploration Journal 12 (1962), 186–199.
    Description of the discoveries in the Cave of Horror in Naḥal Ḥever
    .
  • Benoit, P., J. T. Malik, and R. de Vaux. Les Grottes de Murabba῾at. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 2. Oxford, 1961.
  • Cotton, H. M., and A. Yardeni. Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek Texts from Naḥal Ḥever and Other Sites, with an Appendix Containing Alleged Qumran Texts. The Seiyâl Collection, vol. 2. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 27. Oxford, 1997.
  • Greenfield, Jonas C. “The Texts from Nahal Ṣe᾽elim (Wadi Seiyâl).” In The Madrid Qumran Congress: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid, 18–21 March 1991, vol. 2, edited by J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Montaner, pp. 661–665. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, 11. Leiden, 1992.
    A survey of the Seiyal collection
    .
  • Lewis, N. The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of the Letters, vol. 1, Greek Papyri. Judean Desert Studies, 2, edited by Yigael Yadin and Jonas C. Greenfield. Jerusalem, 1989.
    The Greek documents of the Babatha archive and Aramaic and Nabatean Signatures and Subscriptions
    .
  • Starcky, J. “Un contrat Nabatéen sur papyrus.” Revue biblique 61 (1954), 161–181.
    Preliminary publication of XḤev/Se Nab. 1
    .
  • Tov, Emanuel. The Greek Minor Prophets Scroll from Naḥal Ḥever (8ḤevXIIgr). The Seiyâl Collection, vol. 1. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 8. Oxford, 1990.
  • Tov, Emanuel, with collaboration of Stephen J. Pfann. In Companion Volume to the Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche Edition, rev. ed. Leiden, 1995.
  • Yadin, Yigael. “Expedition D.” Israel Exploration Journal 11 (1961), 36–52.
  • Yadin, Yigael. “Expedition D—The Cave of the Letters.” Israel Exploration Journal 12 (1962), 227–257.
  • Yadin, Yigael. “The Nabtaean Kingdom, Provincia Arabia, Petra and En-Gedi in the Documents from Naḥal Ḥever.” Phoenix. Ex Oriente Lux 17 (1963), 227–241.
    The three articles by Yadin contain preliminary and partial transcriptions of the texts found in Naḥal Ḥever in 1961 and 1962
    .

Hannah M. Cotton

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2021. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice