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Israel displays Dead Sea scroll for first time in decades

A Dead Sea scroll of the Book of Isaiah will go on public display in Jerusalem this week for the first time in more than 40 years.

Book of Isaiah text shown to public as part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebration

A Dead Sea scroll of the Book of Isaiah will go on public display in Jerusalem this week for the first time in more than 40 years.

The 7.3-metre scroll, one of 1,000 documents found in caves on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1949, will be on display for three months at the Israel Museum as part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebration.

The manuscript, written by a Judean scribe about 120 B.C., was last exhibited in Israel in 1965, but curators noticed that new cracks were developing in the document.

Since 1967, it has been stored in a dark, temperature-controlled room at the Israel Museum.

A smaller fragment of another Dead Sea scroll will be on display at the Jerusalem convention centre, where U.S. President George W. Bush  will be speaking during his visit to Israel this week.

It contains the text of Psalm 133, which reads: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

The Book of Isaiah, written in Hebrew, was the only complete book found among the Dead Sea scrolls.

Attributed to the prophet Isaiah, who lived in the 8th century BC, the text is important in both Christian and Judaic traditions.

It contains an idyllic picture of a peaceful future, with the words: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more."

The Dead Sea scrolls are the oldest Hebrew documents ever found.

Archeologists and historians have been studying them — copies have been made available to researchers — to determine the history of the period and variations in traditional writings.

Fragments have also been loaned for touring exhibitions, but the delicate nature of the artifacts prevents them from being displayed except under strictly controlled conditions.

With files from the Associated Press

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