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Fragments of Hebrew Original of ‘book of Jubilees’ Found in Massada

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Fragments of the long-lost Hebrew original of the Book of Jubilees, an apocryphal version of portions of the Book of Genesis, have been found in the excavations at Massada, the stronghold near the Dead Sea where the last Jewish defenders held out against the Romans in the first century of the Common Era.

Announcement of the new find was made today by Dr. Yigael Yadin, Hebrew University archaeologist and director of the current excavations which are being concluded this week. The Book of Jubilees, which had been available until now only from an Ethiopic translation of a Greek text, deals with episodes from the time of the creation until the Exodus from Egypt. The fragments found at Massada relate the efforts of the Archangel of Hatred to overthrow Moses.

Another recent discovery at the site is a collection of 53 shekels and half shekels which, together with the 17 found last year, constitute the largest single group known to exist today and the only ones in a definite single archaeological level which confirms their dating at between 66 to 73 Common Era. Summarizing the results of the excavations, Dr. Yadin reported that a total of 3,800 coins were found at the site as well as more than 1,000,000 pottery fragments.

One of the mysteries still remaining with regard to the fortress, Dr. Yadin pointed out, was the fact that only 28 skeletons have been found of the 970 defenders known to have died at the site. He said that 50,000 cubic meters of earth and stones were sifted in the course of the II months of excavation which uncovered about 10 miles of walls and many buildings. He estimated that plans to maintain the site would cost about 250,000 pounds ($83,000) annually.

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