Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer
Search by multiple inventory points or book comparison
Full Inventory point list:
44 books found
Copper Scroll (3Q15) [Fragment] (Researcher: Alexander Samely):
Selected Inventory point(s):
1.1 The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): the text acknowledges its own existence as a "text" (or writing, הכתב), something that is capable of having a "copy" (משנא) and an "explanation" (פרושה) in the last sentence, 12:11–12: "[there will be found] a copy of this text and its explanation and their measurements and itemization (פרוט) of every single [thing]".

Full profile (Bibliography at the bottom):
1.1 The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): the text acknowledges its own existence as a "text" (or writing, הכתב), something that is capable of having a "copy" (משנא) and an "explanation" (פרושה) in the last sentence, 12:11–12: "[there will be found] a copy of this text and its explanation and their measurements and itemization (פרוט) of every single [thing]".

1.1.1 The text refers to itself using a genre term, speech act term, verb or other term implying verbal constitution: the abstract word for "document" or "writing" is used, in 12:11.

1.1.2 [The text speaks of itself as dealing with an overall theme (subject matter) or purpose, or as consisting of coordinated parts making a whole: if the word ופרוט in 12:12 is correctly interpreted as meaning "and its specficiation" (or itemization, inventory, etc.) and refers to the contents of the text of which a copy is deposited in the location mentioned, then the text refers to itself as a kind of itemization or list of "all" items of a certain unspecified (!) kind, consisting of "their measurements" (presumably that of the worth or number of the items, or the distances to its locations) and "its explanation" (ופרושה). The latter term is probably not the explanation of the "text" (contained in the copy of the text), but the explanation which constitutes the text, namely of the items and their location. This would mean that the text presents its contents bounded by a certain kind of object being named, "itemized". However, the definition of the topic, or the selection criterion for what is actually mentioned in this text, is not made explicit, but has to be inferred from the items mentioned and the nature of their mention. See further 5.7.1.]

1.1.3 The text uses expressions for characterizing itself as a bounded entity: the fact that the last sentence (whose character as heading is addressed in 1.1) speaks of a "copy" of the present document, saying that it contains or constitutes an "inventory" or "itemization" of every (כל) item (12:11) strongly suggests that the text presents itself in some sense as bounded or exhaustive (albeit for a topic that is left implicit).

1.6 The approximate word count or other indication of comparative size is: Lefkovits gives the number of words as c. 713 (including partially restored ones, p. 489).

1.7 The text’s Inventory profile should be seen in the light of the following further information on completeness, thematic progression, aesthetic effects, etc.: The text of the Copper Scroll is extraordinarily uncertain in its meaning, despite being one of the least fragmentary documents from Qumran (see Puech, "A New Examination", pp. 88 f. and Wolters,, pp. 321 f., both in Davies and Brooke; full references under point 5.5 and 2.2 respectively). At many points, scholars read the same line as entirely different Hebrew words, and the translations can vary so much that totally different overall messages are taken from a passage (see, e.g., the summary of translations for 11:9 given in Lefkovits, p. 392 f., or the account of the indistinguishable bet/kaf in Wolters, "Palaeography", p. 325–328 [see 2.2 for detailed reference].). In this Profile, these uncertainties affect in particular the mention of documents (see, although scholars largely agree on the mention of a "copy" in 12:11 ff., so that point 1.1 above seems secure; the recurrent terms "tithe vessels" (see and ככ (most scholars read this as abbreviation for "talent", but see Lefkovits in Brooke and Davies); the presence of imperatives (see 2.6.1); and the possibility of a first person (see 2.2, a minority reading). At the same time, the whole text consists of smaller units which follow the same extraordinarily rigid and clear statement structure (see 5.8).

Top of the Page

2.1 The information conveyed in the text defines the perspective of the governing voice in the following way:

2.1.1 The text does not thematize how the governing voice comes to know the text’s contents (or its right to command obedience from the addressee), but suggests that its knowledge (or authority) is unlimited. The text’s governing voice speaks from the perspective of unmediated access to all levels and parts of some projected reality: the governing voice appears to speak from unmediated knowledge of the locations at which the objects are to be found, what the objects are, and what measurements are connected to their worth or their location. No mediating sources of knowledge are acknowledged.

2.1.7 The governing voice (whether first or third person) is anonymous, that is, is not presented as tied to a specific personal identity (or to personhood in general).

2.1.8 The governing voice speaks at no point in the first person (except for any and all persons/objects are mentioned from a third-person perspective. (But see 2.2.)

2.2 [A first-person voice imposes its perspective on all (or almost all) knowledge or norms conveyed in the text: Wolters reads a first person singular pronoun at several places in the text, e.g., 3:9 ("my garments", reading yud alone instead of yud followed by final nun), 8:3 and 11:9 ("my pure things"). See also A. Wolters, "Palaeography and Literary Structure as Guides to Reading the Copper Scroll", in Brooke and Davies, pp. 311–333, here at 319, 331.]

2.4 The governing voice defines a horizon of knowledge as shared with the projected addressee by taking for granted the following linguistic usages or references (in selection):

2.4.1 Persons or unique objects referred to by proper name or by technical expression: for persons mentioned or presented in narrative usage; as characters; or topics, for example: persons are identified by role (e.g., high priest, queen) or by name, such as the biblical names Solomon, Absalom, Rachel, Zadok, in all cases only in order to identify locations (not in reference to these persons as persons). for locations, for example: practically every sentence contains an adverbial complement that names or describes a location within the wider area of Palestine, insofar as one can identify them today. These are in many, but far from all, cases proper names of places (about 50 of them), including Qidron, Jericho, Mt. Garizim (on the inherent ambiguity of this location, see Fidler in Brooke and Davies, p. 222 [see 5.5]), etc. as well as names whose locations are today unknown but are always presupposed by the text. They are in most cases used as reference points from which a certain distance (in cubits) is measured in a certain direction (East, West, South, North all occur). Landscape features (such as valley, ravine, clod of earth, etc.), building structures or architectural feature (water channel, residence, entrance, portico, threshold, slab, outlet, house/room (בית 11:16)), or utilites (water channel, burial mound, tomb, cistern) are further used to specify locations. See Pixner and Fidler in Brooke and Davies on the possible symbolic – rather than geographical – significance of locations. for documents, texts, books, etc. (identified through being referred to or quoted), for example: a number of times, documents that belong to items and are said to be located "next to them" are mentioned by the generic term כתבן, "their document" or "their lists", e.g. 11:1, 11. However, the letters can also be read בתכן, in which case these mentions of a text would disappear; see Lefkovits, pp. 546–53 and Puech 2006, and the clear account of the problem in Wolters, "Palaeography", pp. 327 f. [detailed reference under 2.2]. At several points unspecified "books" (ספר) are mentioned as being next to the vessels or other artefacts. See also 1.1.

2.4.2 [circumlocutions, names or descriptions employed as “code” names: some scholars believe that certain place names are coded references, or at least disguised, e.g., Allegro, p. 63; none of the code terms used regularly at Qumran appears in the text.]

2.4.3 The text as a whole routinely employs the following language(s), knowledge of which is taken for granted: a Hebrew somewhat resembling Mishnaic Hebrew, with some distinctive orthographic features, such as the use of alef for he. Numbers occur very frequently in the text (Lefkovits counts 83 occurrences of cardinal numbers), and are expressed either verbally (in most cases) or by number symbols also known from other ancient sources (including some at Qumran), cp. Lefkovits, pp. 489 f. Additional language(s) taken for granted in quoted speech or certain parts of the text are: there are seven groups of two or Greek letters (in 1:14, 1:12, 2:2, 2:4, 2:9, 3:7 and 4:2) whose meaning is unclear; they are always found in an incomplete line but at the left hand margin. See Lefkovits, Appendix C (pp. 498 ff.).

2.4.4 Special linguistic usages occur pervasively or prominently: Technical expressions for a particular subject matter: perhaps the term often translated as "tithe" vessel (כלי דמע) and occurring c. 15 times in the scroll is technical (certainly its meaning in modern scholarship is contested; see A. Lange, "The Meaaning of dema' in the Copper Scroll and Ancient Jewish Literature", in Brooke and Davies (eds.), pp. 122–38); see also Lehman. Other special linguistic usages: see

2.6 The text presents itself as speaking to certain persons, groups or entities, explicitly projecting a certain image of its addressee.

2.6.1 The governing voice uses apostrophe, second-person grammatical forms or first-person exclusive or inclusive “we”: there are several imperatives, in particular "dig!" (חפר), but that depends on the vocalization of the defectively written word; Lefkovits, for example, prefers a participle passive, "hidden", e.g., p. 212 for 6:9; for an uncertain case of imperative form see 8:3, which Garcia Martinez and Tigchelaar read as "do not crush them" אל תקדם; Milik also reads an imperative ("Ne te les approprie pas!"), but Lefkovits and most other scholars read the letters in such a way that no verbal form is found in that particular passage. See also Wolters, "Palaeography" in Brooke and Davies, pp. 331 f. [see 2.2 for full reference].

Top of the Page

5.5 [The text’s sequence of sub-topics (discursive or narrative) mirrors a temporal or spatial order, but without narrative emplotment between the sub-topics. Or it mirrors the sequence of units of meaning in another text (from single words to whole books), while not reproducing the relationships between those parts, not using quotations from it as lemmatic progression (i.e., no 6.1), and not creating narrative emplotment: It seems not to be the case that the text follows one principle of geographical order in its sequence. Various geographical patterns have been suggested, inevitably dependent to some extent on uncertain identifications of places, but none would apparently produce a linear sequence of text parts mirroring a sustained overall geographical principle of order. See Milik, DJD III, pp. 259–75, Allegro, pp. 63–119, and R. Fidler, "Inclusio and Symbolic Geography in the Copper Scroll", in Brooke and Davies, pp. 210–25. If Fidler is correct in saying that "connotations travel freely" (p. 222), then the text does precisely not present itself as mirroring, in its own basic sequence of topics, the known spatial realities of locations. The same goes if one follows Bar-Ilan in speaking of (4) "cycles" of journeys to deposit treasures as having been followed in the sequencing of text parts, leading to duplication and "repeated lists"; M. Bar-Ilan, "The Process of Writing the Copper Scroll", in Brooke and Davies, pp. 198–209; see also E. Puech,"A New Examination of the Copper Scroll", in Brooke and Davies, pp. 58–89, here at 82–89.] [A spatial or geographical order provides the sequence for the text’s themes (including any normative themes) in a continuous part of the text: this is possible, so that geographical "regions" acocunt for the togetherness of certain thematic units; see, for example, the cluster of units mentioning Sekakah and surrounding places/passages; see Puech, "A New Examination" in Brooke and Davies, pp. 82–4 [see above]. Even this less demanding principle of a limited textual order according to a unified spatial principle, however, seems not entirely certain.]

5.7 Adjacent text parts constituting themes are merely juxtaposed or weakly conjoined, while there is no indication of an overall objective relationship (so no 5.6, 5.2.1, 5.3.1, 5.4.1 or–3): unless the final sentence is interpreted as making a claim to thematic boundaries (see 1.1.2),point 5.7 here applies, since no unified geographical progression can be discerned as being mirrored by the sequence of all text parts; see the bracketed point 5.5 above.

5.7.1 Some measure of objective interrelatedness of all/almost all themes in the text is capable of expression by way of a summarizing term or phrase not noticeably more general than the text’s own words when speaking about its themes: it seems that what the text presents is the identification (by spatial terms) of about 60 places in the geographical area of Palestine in which objects of monetary or other value are located. If the imperative "dig" occurs (instead of merely the noun "depth", see 2.6.1), then these locations have furthermore in common that the projected addressee is envisaged as "finding" these items, using this very text, so that the text becomes an instruction to the projected addressee of HOW to find them (rather than merely a record of something). Even without the presence of the imperatives, this might be implied.

5.8 The bulk of the text consists of small forms and patterns drawn from a limited set of formats for thematic articulation or for discussion (further section 8): the text falls into very clearly demarcated units of self-contained information. The basic grammatical construction is the nominal sentence (the missing copula often imitated in the modern translations by use of a colon). The pattern of information within the sentence or groups of sentences is as follows (some of these are optional): (1) the designation of a location; (2) specification of a distance and direction as seen from that location to another location; (3) optional imperative to "dig" or simply a depth measurement (see 2.6.1); (4) one or more objects implied as being in that last location; (5) numerical figure of monetary value (ככ); in seven lines this is furthermore followed by a group of Greek letters (see (cp. Wolters, p. 12). Scholars counting the units of the text with this structure usually give a total of c. 60, producing an average of around 12 words per unit. I appears to me that one of the strongest parallels for the patterned language of this document, apart from Megillat Ta'anit, are statements in The Lives of the Prophets (see that text's Profile).

5.9 The text’s governing voice projects the accuracy or validity of its statements as:

5.9.1 Being taken for granted or being self-evident.

5.11 The text mentions no unique individuals as characters, or mentions them only in frame positions.

Top of the Page

7.1 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between a non-biblical text and one or more biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive: these consist entirely in the mention of some place names and personal names which are also found in biblical texts. For the possibility that these places have "symbolic" significance, deriving from the biblical narratives, see Fidler in Brooke and Davies (see 5.5).

7.2 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between the non-biblical text under discussion and other non-biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive: the extent to which this text has overlaps or correspondences with other texts found at Qumran or other non-biblical texts is controversial. There is no evidence of substantial relationship. Parallels of form have been pointed out between the Copper Scroll and Megillat Ta'anit, as "lists", that is, informaton in conceptual columns (see also 12.1); cp. also the patterned language of some units in The Lives of the Prophets (see further 5.8).

Top of the Page

8.1 Standard forms or contents formulated in set phrases, set sentence formats, or clauses in a standard syntactic connection.

8.1.16 Descriptive sentence of a static (ocular) structure or "scientific" descriptive sentence: practically all sentences are descriptive of a static reality (the presence of certain items in certain locations).

Top of the Page

9.13 Physical evidence from antiquity potentially shows non-verbal signals indicating (an interpretation of) the text’s thematic division: vacats and in particular and line breaks appear to be used to indicate sense units within thematic units (vacats) or between them. With the exception of the unit starting in line 3, it seems that every new thematic unit, as embodied in the patterned language (see 5.8) and beginning in most cases with the preposition "in" naming a location (ב), starts in a new line. For attempts to identify a two-column layout in the text (e.g., in 4:12, 7:13, 8:16, 9:9, 9:13, 10:4, 10:14) see M. O. Wise, "David J. Wilmot and the Copper Scroll", in Brooke and Davies, pp. 291–310, here at 300). The unusual material on which the text is written (originally three copper sheets riveted together and shaped into rolls), and the nature of its production and even some of its graphic and linguistic features, may well also produce a kind of non-verbal signal about the meaning of the text as a whole. It is, however, extremely difficult to come to an interpretation of this with confidence. For an example see Lefkovits who lists features which in his view all point to secrecy of production, and thus secrecy of text contents (pp. 454 f.).

Top of the Page

11.1 The non-narrative text projects its thematic concern as being mainly one or more of the following:

11.1.1 Description of a reality, including a physical reality.

Top of the Page

12.1 Sampling of genre labels applied to the text in secondary literature: list (see in particular Brooke and Davies, p. 8), non-fiction or fiction, non-literary document (Lefkovits), register, "folklore", "summary of popular traditions...put down by a semi-literate scribe", "perhaps the work of a crank" (the last three quoted phrases by J. T. Milik, “The Copper Document from Cave III, Qumran”, The Biblical Archaeologist, 19 (1956), pp. 60–4, here at p. 63), "economic document" (Wilmot as quoted by Weiss in Brooke and Davies, pp. 291 f.; see point 9.13 for detailed reference). While there is widespread consensus on the Copper Scroll being a list, the term "list" is rarely defined and when it is differences appear to emerge of what scholars mean by it, e.g., as when each constituent unit (statement) is in itself also called a "list", as in Bar-Ilan [see 5.5] or when a list is understood to imply two columns each with each own type of information aligned horizontally (see Wise, pp. 299–300).

Top of the Page



J. T. Milik, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert vol. 3 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), pp. 211–302, plates xlviii–lxxi; J. M. Allegro, The Treasure of the Copper Scroll (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960); B.-Z. Lurie, The Copper Scroll from the Desert of Judah [Heb.] (Jerusalem: Kiriat Sefer, 1963); D. Brizemeure N. Lacoudre, E. Puech, Le Rouleau de cuivre de la grotte 3 de Qumran (3Q15). Expertise, restauration, épigraphie (Brill: Leiden, 2006), vol. 1, pp. 169–216 offering a new edition, translation and commentary in French by E. Puech, as well as an English translation, pp. 207–17); plates in vol. 2; J. K. Lefkovits, The Copper Scroll. 3Q15. A Reevaluation (Leiden: Brill, 2000), quoted as "Lefkovits"; F. García Martínez and E. J. C. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, pp. 232–239; A. Wolters, The Copper Scroll. Overivew, Text and Translation (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), quoted as "Wolters".

Online text available from: (accessed 22 March 2012)

Select Translations:

In addition to the editions above: M. Wise, M. Abegg Jr., E. Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (San Francisco: Harper, 1996); G. Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (London: Allen Lane/Penguin, 1997), pp. 583–9.

Selected Studies:

In addition to the editions and translations above, see also for example: A. Wolters "Literary Analysis of the Copper Scroll", in Z. J. Kapera (ed.) Intertestamental Essays in Honour of J. T. Milik (Cracow: Enigma Press, 1992), pp. 239–54; S. Goranson, "Sectarianism, Geography and the Copper Scroll", Journal for Jewish Studies, 43 (1991), pp. 282–7; M. R. Lehman, "Identification of the Copper Scroll based on its Technical Terms", Revue de Qumran, 5 (1964), pp. 97–105; B. Pixner, "Unravelling the Copper Scroll Code: A Study on the Topography of 3Q15", Revue de Qumran, 11 (1983), pp. 323–65; G. J. Brooke and P. R. Davies (eds.), Copper Scroll Studies (London: T&T Clark, 2002) (for specific articles from this collection, see individual Profile points).

Top of the Page