Hebrew and Aramaic papyri

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The four Nash Papyrus fragments in Hebrew, 2nd century
Aramaic marriage document, July 3, 449 BCE

Hebrew and Aramaic papyri have increasingly been discovered from the 1960s onwards, although these papyri remain rare compared to papyri written in Koine Greek and Demotic Egyptian (no relation except in name, "popular," to modern demotic Greek). The most valuable and religious texts were written on leather scrolls, parchment - such as the literary texts from Masada and Qumran, while papyrus was employed for cheaper, domestic use.[1]

A standard work is the Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum of Victor Tcherikover and Alexander Fuks (Cambridge, Mass. Vol.I 1957, II 1960, III ed. Menahem Stern 1964) which is largely of Greek language papyri but includes examples of Hebrew and Aramaic papyri from Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.[2]

In Egypt[edit]

In 1909 Joseph Offord remarks that Germany had acquired all the Hebrew papyri found in Upper Egypt the previous winter, but that many were still to be found. In 1966 the Bodleian Library possessed only four Hebrew and three Aramaic papyri.[3]


Main article: Dead Sea scrolls

The main corpus, in terms of volume and significance, are the finds at Qumran (1948 onwards). Very few Biblical papyri (as opposed to scrolls) were found at Qumran.[4]

Aside from Qumran[edit]

In January 1952 Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux commenced excavations in four caves at Wadi Murabba'at. 173 documents were found.[5] 1 Aramaic and 1 Greek papyri only were found at the Wadi Sdeir.[6][7]

In 1960-1961 Yigael Yadin excavated Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic papyri from the "Cave of Letters" at Nahal Hever (classified by "XHev" manuscript numbers) among which there were 15 letters; 10 in Hebrew, 3 in Aramaic and 2 in Greek.

In 1962 further finds of 18 Aramaic papyri from Samaria were made in the Wadi Daliyeh.[8]

The 4 papyri from Nahal Se'elim (Wadi Seiyal) are in Greek.


The related area of inscriptions are documented in Jean Baptiste Frey, Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaicarum, 2 vols. CII (Rome 1936–52) and other collections.


  1. ^ Lectures et relectures de la Bible: p. 248 André Wénin, Jean-Marie Auwers, Pierre Bogaert - 1999 "written on parchment, and some 13 percent on papyrus (see below). Likewise, thé Hebrew fïnds from Masada are mainly literary documents written on leather. On thé other hand, all thé documentary texts from Nahal Hever, Nahal Se'elim, .."
  2. ^ Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur Volume 1 - Page 3428 Hildegard Temporini - 1973 "Examples of Hebrew papyri from Egypt are also noted by V. TCHERIKOVER and A. FUKS, Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum I, Cambridge [Mass.] 1957, 107-108, eg M.STEINSCHNEIDER, ZÄS 17 (1879) 93-96; PREISENDANZ, Papyrusfunde 138; P. Ant. 47-50;"
  3. ^ The Jewish quarterly review: Volume 16 Israel Abrahams, Claude Goldsmid Montefiore - 1966 "Although these cannot be said to have any great interest, Hebrew papyri are so few that perhaps no apology is needed for printing them. The Bodleian Library possesses only four Hebrew and three Aramaic pieces, one of which I have ..."
  4. ^ Semitic papyrology in context: a climate of creativity : papers ... - Page 96 Lawrence H. Schiffman - 2003 This is no coincidence, since this script is used mainly for Scripture (Torah and Job), and as very few biblical papyri are found at Qumran, paleo-Hebrew papyri are not expected. The scribal practices reflected in the Qumran papyri can
  5. ^ Jewish and Christian scripture as artifact and canon - Page 206 Craig A. Evans, H. Daniel Zacharias - 2009 "There are seven documents identified as letters (in Hebrew) from the period of the second revolt found among the 173 documents found at ..."
  6. ^ Joseph Fitzmyer A guide to the Dead Sea scrolls and related literature
  7. ^ Ancient texts for New Testament studies: a guide to the background Craig A. Evans - 2005 Summaries of Wadi Sdeir Documents In 1952 some bedouin found written materials in caves in Nahal David. Scholars think that the site was the Cave of the Pool, in Wadi Sdeir, where in 1905 G. D. Sandel was taken by bedouin and where he ...
  8. ^ The Bible and archaeology John Arthur Thompson - 1973 "Hebrew Papyri from Samaria A remarkable collection of papyri evidently from Samaria came to light in 1°62.25 Ta'amireh Bedouin discovered the documents in a cave in a desolate area north of Jericho in the Wadi Daliyeh."