Biblical Archaeology: Exploring The Dead Sea Scrolls (Deuteronomy 4Q41 – 4Q)

What is Deuteronomy 4Q41 – 4Q?

4Q41 or 4Q is a section of Deuteronomy that also goes by the title “All Souls Deuteronomy“. The scroll was discovered in cave #4 in Qumran, which was previously discussed in our discussion on PaeloGenesis-Exodus. It was discovered in 1952 but it was sold on the black market for a large sum of money by the Unitarian Church of All Souls which is where the title “All Souls Deuteronomy” was derived.

The two pieces included in this grouping are believed to have been sewn together originally but some (Emmanuel Tov) have argued that they were sewn together not as a continuous manuscript but as a method of inserting verses from Deuteronomy into a commentary or liturgical scroll. Some have suggested also that perhaps the two pieces were sewn together accidentally by someone in Qumran. This second explanation does not seem to make a lot of sense since many other manuscripts exist at Qumran where biblical pieces were used to make devotional or liturgical materials.

The dating of the scroll pieces is generally agreed upon as being from the 1st century B.C.E. This means the scroll was completed about 100 years or so before Jesus was born.

What in the Deuteronomy 4Q41 – 4Q?

The scroll shown below is a snippet of the 10 commandments from Deuteronomy.

4q41 - 4q Deuteronomy scrolls
4q41 – 4q Deuteronomy (Source:

Translation of Deuteronomy 4Q41 – 4Q

[Translation from]

Deuteronomy 5

1 Moses called to all Israel, and said to them, “Hear, Israel, thestatutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears today, that you may learn them, and observe to do them.” 2 Yahweh our Godmade a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Yahweh didn’t make thiscovenant with our fathers, but with us, even us today, who are all of us here alive today. 4 Yahweh spoke with you face to face on the mountain out of the middle of the fire, 5 (I stood between Yahweh and you at that time, to show you Yahweh’s your God’sword: for you were afraid because of the fire, and didn’t go up onto the mountain;) saying,

6 “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

7 “You shall have no other gods before me.

8 “You shall not make a carved image for yourself, any likeness of what is in heaven above, or what is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them; for I, Yahweh, your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me; 10 showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

11 “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain: for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

12 “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Yahweh your God commanded you. 13 You shall labor six days, and do all your work; 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God,in which you shall not do any work, you, your daughter, your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, your ox, nor your donkey, nor your livestock,nor your stranger who is within your gates; that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahweh your Godcommanded you to keep the Sabbath day, to sanctify it, because in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all which is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, Yahweh blessed the seventh day to sanctify it.

16 “Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your Godcommanded you; that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you, in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

17 “You shall not murder.

18 “You shall not commit adultery.

19 “You shall not steal.

20 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

22 Yahweh spoke these words to all your assembly on the mountain out of the middle of the fire, darkness, the cloud, and of thick darkness, with a great voice. He added no more. He wrote them on two stone tablets, and gave them to me. 23 When you heard the voice out of the middle of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; 24 and you said, “Behold, Yahweh our God has shown us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the middle of the fire. We have seen today that Yahweh does speak with man, and he lives. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear Yahweh our God’s voice any more, then we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the middle of the fire, as we have, and lived? 27 Go near, and hear all that Yahweh our God shall say, and tell us all that Yahweh our God tells you; and we will hear it, and do it.”

28 Yahweh heard the voice of your words, when you spoke to me; and Yahweh said to me, “I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They have well said all that they have spoken. 29 Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!


31 But as for you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I givethem to possess it.”

32 You shall observe to do therefore as Yahweh your God has commanded you. You shall not turn away to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the way which Yahweh your Godhas commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land whichyou shall possess.

Deuteronomy 6

1 Now this is the commandment, the statutes, and the ordinances, which Yahweh your God commanded to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you go over to possess it;


Deuteronomy 8

5 You shall consider in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so Yahweh your God disciplines you. 6 You shall keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, to walk in his ways, and to love him. 7 For Yahweh your God brings you into a good and spacious land, a land of brooks of water, of springs, and underground water flowing into valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines, fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive trees and honey; 9 a land in which you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you may dig copper. 10 You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless Yahweh your God for the good land which he has given you.

Why does Deuteronomy 4Q41 matter?

All of the Dead Sea scrolls have their own importance but some manuscripts are more telling than others. This manuscript is unique in that it appears that it’s been carefully preserved in a way that shows a great concern about the 10 commandments. Each community with collections of manuscripts had favored texts and other texts that they distanced themselves from. This is also clear when reading the of the Qumran commentaries.

Of the biblical manuscripts found in the Qumran caves Deuteronomy was among the most found. They had a heavy emphasis on the Pentateuch and apocalyptic writings. They also favored priestly material and even made their own community guidelines for priest and training them. The interesting thing about Deuteronomy in the Qumran community is that they would insert passages of Deuteronomy into many other works and could be used as a form of proof-texting or building a prophetic theme. While there is much to learn about Qumran and their texts we can safely say that the were always keeping an eye out for prophetic fulfillment. Their use of Deuteronomy was no different.


2 thoughts on “Biblical Archaeology: Exploring The Dead Sea Scrolls (Deuteronomy 4Q41 – 4Q)”

  1. HOT Deu 5:1 .. the “what “God said” starts with AT and ends with a VAT just like Gen 1:1 AT heaven and VAT earth .. which is misquoted in the KJ .. is there mishmash and truth .. HOT+ and the Dead Sea Scrolls sickness in all that most people are lead to believe? I always check HOT against the HO+ and there a lot of syllables “not translated” .. some ten thousand AT’S missing in KF .. but very important, as it is “here”.

    • Bob I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying brother. I assume you’re referring to Hebrew Old Testament.

      I think the untranslated words you are referring too should be Aleph Tav, followed usually by a hyphen. This is not an actual word. It’s a direct object maker. We don’t require such things in English.


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