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The Copper Scroll – 3Q15

    Paraphrase and comments by Chad Hack & Nathaniel Carey


    One of the most illusive documents found in the Qumran region is The Copper Scroll. Made of two separate sheets of copper, rolled up and oxidized right through, the contents of The Copper Scroll could only be determined after it had been cut into parallel strips.

    The text is difficult to read because it is virtually impossible to differentiate between some letters and others that are almost like them. The copyist made numerous mistakes thus making the task of the translators even more difficult.

    The document is mysterious. Is it legend from folklore about fictitious treasures or a catalogue of hiding places for real treasures? The formulas and directions are ambiguous and inconclusive thereby hinting at the possibility that the scroll is a myth. Furthermore, scholars presume that The Copper Scroll was written about 40 years after all the other scrolls.

    Specific and blatant contradictions among the translators forced us students to make educated guesses between the possible choices without certainty of the accuracy. For example, one translator suggested that the location of a treasure was facing a certain direction. Meanwhile another translator suggested that the entrance of the location is facing that direction, but location itself was facing in a different direction. Some treasure had a numeric value and other descriptions of the same treasure did not. Sometimes the treasure was gold, and other times it was silver. All together these examples combined to make the translated text ambiguous and intimate towards the fictional nature of the content.


    Column I

    In the ruin of Horebbah[1] which is in the valley of Achor, under the steps heading eastward about forty feet: lies a chest of silver that weighs seventeen talents (yard stick).KEN [2] In the tomb of the third section of stones there is one hundred gold bars. Nine hundred talents[3] are concealed by sediment towards the upper opening, at the bottom of the big cistern in the courtyard of the peristyle. Priests garments and flasks that were given as vows are buried in the hill of Kohlit[4]. This is all of the votive offerings of the seventh treasure. The second tenth is impure. The opening is at the edge of the canal on its northern side six cubits toward the immersed pool.CAG Enter into the hole of the waterproofed Reservoir of Manos[5], descend to the left, forty talents of silver lie three cubits from the bottom.

    Column II

    Forty two talents lie under the stairs in the salt pit.HN Sixty five bars of gold lie on the third terrace in the cave of the old Washers House[6].QE Seventy telents of silver are enclosed in wooden vessel that are in the cistern[7] of a burial chamber in Matia’s courtyard[8]. Fifteen cubits from the front of the eastern gates, lies a cistern. The ten talents lie in the canal of the cistern.DI Six silver bars are located at the sharp edge of the rock which is under the eastern wall in the cistern. The cistern’s entrance is under the large paving stone threshold. Dig down four cubits in the northern corner of the pool that is east of Kohlit. There will be twenty two talents of silver coins.

    Column III

    Dig down nine cubits into the southern corner of the courtyard. There will be silver and gold vessels given as offerings, bowls, cups, sprinkling basins, libation tubes, and pitchers. All together they will total six hundred nine pieces. Dig down sixteen cubits under the eastern corner to find forty talents of silver.TR Votive vessels and priestly garments are at the northern end of the dry well located in Milham[9]. The entrance is underneath the western corner. Thirteen talents of silver coins are located three cubits beneath a trap door in the tomb in the north-east end of Milham.

    Column IV

    Fourteen talents of silver can be found in the pillar on the northern side of the big cistern in Kohlit. SK When you go forty-one cubits into the canal that comes from…you will find fifty-five talents of silver. Dig down three cubits in the middle of the two boulders in the Valley of Achor, and you will find two pots full of silver coins. At the mouth of the underground cavity in Aslah[10] sit two hundred talents of silver. Seventy talents of silver are located in the eastern tunnel which is to the north of Kohlit. Dig for only one cubit into the memorial mound of stones in the valley of Sekaka[11] to find twelve talents of silver.

    Column V

    A water conduit is located on the northern side of Sekaka. Dig down three cubits under the large stone at the head of this water conduit to discover seven talents of silver. Vessels of offering can be found in the fissure of Sekaka, which is on the eastern side of the reservoir of Solomon[12]. Twenty-three talents of silver are buried quite nearby above Solomon’s Canal. To locate the exact spot, go sixty cubits toward the great stone, and dig down for three cubits. Thirty two talents of silver can be located by digging seven cubits under the tomb in the dried up riverbed of Kepah[13], which is between Jericho and Sekaka.

    Column VI

    Forty-two talents of silver lie underneath a scroll in an urn. To locate the urn, dig down three cubits into the northern opening of the cave of the pillar that has two entrances and faces east. Twenty-one talents of silver can be found by digging nine cubits beneath the entrance of the eastward-looking cave at the base of the large stone. Twenty-seven talents of silver can be found by digging twelve cubits into the western side of the Queen’s Mausoleum[14]. Dig nine cubits into the burial mound of stones located at the Ford of the High Priest to find twenty-two talents of silver.

    Column VII

    To find four hundred talents of silver measure out twenty-four cubits from the water conduit of Q…of the northern reservoir with four sides[15]. Dig six cubits into the cave that is nearby Bet Ha-Qos[16] to locate six bars of silver. Dig seven cubits down under the eastern corner of the citadel of Doq[17] to find twenty-two talents of silver. Dig three cubits by the row of stones at the mouth of the Kozibah river[18] to obtain sixty talents of silver, and two talents of gold.

    Column VIII

    A bar of silver, ten vessels of offering, and ten books are in the aqueduct on the road that is to the east of Bet Ahsor[19], which is east of Ahzor[20]. Dig down seventeen cubits beneath the stone that lies in the middle of the sheep pen located in the outer valley to find seventeen talents of silver and gold. Dig three cubits under the burial mound of stones located at the mouth of the Potter ravine to find four talents of silver. Dig twenty-four cubits below the northward burial chamber that is located on the south-west side of the fallow field of the valley of ha-Shov to reveal sixty-six talents. Dig eleven cubits at the landmark in the irrigated land of ha-Shov and you will find seventy talents of silver.

    Column IX

    Measure out thirteen cubits from the small opening at the edge of Nataf[21], and then dig down seven cubits there. Seven talents of silver and four stater coins lie there. Dig down eight cubits into the eastern-looking cellar of the second estate of Chasa to obtain twenty-three and a half talents of silver. Dig sixteen cubits into the narrow, seaward-facing part of the underground chambers of Horon[22] to discover twenty-two talents of silver. A sacred offering worth one mina of silver is located at the pass. Dig down seven cubits at the edge of the conduit on the eastern side inside the waterfall to locate nine talents of silver.

    Column X

    When going down to the second floor, look to the small opening to find nine talents of silver coins. Twelve talents lie at the foot of the water wheel of the dried up irrigation ditches which would be fed by the great canal. Sixty-two talents of silver can be found by going to the left for ten paces at the reservoir which is in Beth Hakerem[23]. Three hundred talents of gold and twenty penalty fees can be found at the entrance to the pond of the valley Zok. The entrance is on the western side by the black stone that is held in place by two supports. Eight talents of silver can be found by digging under the western side of Absalom’s Memorial[24]. Seventeen talents are located beneath the water outlet in the base of the latrines. Gold and vessels of offering are in this pool at its four angles.

    Column XI

    Very near there, under the southern corner of the portico in Zadok’s tomb[25], beneath the pillars of the covered hall are ten vessels of offering of pine resin, and an offering of senna.
        Gold coins and consecrated offerings are located under the great closing stone that is by the edge, next to the pillars that are near by the throne, and toward the tip of the rock to the west of the garden of Zadok. Forty talents of silver are buried in the grave that is under the colonnades. Fourteen votive vessels possibly of pine and resin are in the tomb of the common people and Jericho. Vessels of offering of aloes and tithe of white pine are located at Beth Esdatain, in the reservoir at the entrance of the small pool. Over nine-hundred talents of silver are next to the reservoir at the brook that runs near the western entrance of the sepulchre room.

    Column XII

    Five talents of gold and sixty more talent are under the black stone at the Western entrance. Forty-two talents of silver coin are in the proximity of the black stone at the threshold at the sepulchral chamber. Sixty talents of silver and vessels are in a chest that is under the stairs of the upper tunnel on Mount Garizim[26]. Six-hundred talents of silver and gold lie in the spring of Beth-Sham[27]. Treasure weighing seventy-one talents and twenty minas are in the big underground pipe of the burial chamber at the point where it joins the house of the burial chamber. A copy of this inventory list, its explanation and the measurements and details of every hidden item are in the dry underground cavity that is in the smooth rock north of Kohlit[28]. Its opening is towards the north with the tombs at its mouth.


    [1] Horebbah like most of the locations are either fictional or too ambiguous in description to merit verification.
    [2] According to Wise, Abegg, Cook the signifigance of the greek letters that follow this in several of the subsequent descriptions remains mysterous.
    [3] The introduction by Vermes suggests that the amount of treasure is arbitrary. All of the amounts would total sixty-five tons of silver and twenty-six tons of gold in weight.
    [4] The existence and location of this place is unknown.
    [5] This location is unknown.
    [6] This location is unknown.
    [7] Wise, Abegg and Cook suggest that the cistern described here may be the large ancient cistern lying just beneath the First Wall of Jerusalem.
    [8] The location of Matia’s courtyard is unknown.
    [9] Wise, Abegg and Cook are uncertain whether Milham refers to a place or a structure.
    [10] Wise, Abegg and Cook state that the Wadi Atsla opens to the northwest of the Dead Sea, about two kilometers from the site of Qumran.
    [11] Secacah appears in the Bible in Joshua 15:61, in a list of cities located in the wilderness of Judea. The modern identification is disputed, but many scholars think that Secacah was an ancient name for the site of Qumran.
    [12] The pool of Solomon is unidentified.
    [13] Kepah’s location is unknown.
    [14] The Queen’s Mausoleum is unidentified, but it may well have been located near Jericho, where the Hasmonean kings and queens had done considerable building and lived part of the year according to Wise, Abegg and Cook.
    [15] All of the translations submit only a hiatus after the capital Q.
    [16] The priestly family of Hakkoz lived near Jericho. According to Ezra 8:33 and Nehemiah 10:6, they may have been in charge of the Temple treasury in the Second-Temple period.
    [17] Dok is about two kilometers north of Jericho according to the sources of Wise, Abegg and Cook.
    [18] Kozibah apparently designated that portion of the Wadi Qelt stretching between Ein Qelt and Jericho.
    [19] This location is unknown.
    [20] This location is unknown.
    [21] Nataf was a small opening resembling a large birdhouse that had many entrances, many birds lived there at the same time.
    [22] A city located sixteen kilometers northwest of Jerusalem.
    [23] Beth Hakerem is on the south of Jerusalem, at the modern Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. No treasure has been found there by modern inhabitants.
    [24] Stood in the Ancient Royal Valley, now known as Emeq Rephaim thirteen hundred kilometers south of Jerusalem.
    [25] No notes are given on Zadok.
    [26] A former site of the Samaritians temple to the God of Israel.
    [27] Beth Shem is unknown. It may be an error for Beth Shemesh, the city in the southwest famously associated with Samson.
    [28] The inventory list with all its details is supposedly in another Copper Scroll. But it has never been found.

    Works Cited

    Vermes, Geza. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. Allen Lane: The Penguin Press; New York, New York, 1997

    Allegro, John. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reappraisal. Penguin Books; New York, New York, 1990

    Abegg, Martin Jr.; Cook, Edward; Wise, Michael. The Dead Sea Scrolls–A New Translation. Harper San Francisco; New York, New York, 1996

    Martinez, Florentino Garcia. The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English. Second Edition. E.J.Brill Leiden; New York, New York, 1996

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