In the days of Ezra and beyond, there would have been an increasing need for copying the Old Testament manuscripts. As you may recall from your personal Bible study, the Babylonians took the Jews into captivity for seventy years. Most of the Jews did not return upon their release in 537 B.C.E., and after that. Tens of thousands stayed in Babylon while others migrated throughout the ancient world, settling in the commercial centers. However, the Jews would pilgrimage back to Jerusalem several times each year, for religious festivals. Once there, they would be reading from the Hebrew Old Testament and sharing in the worship of God. Over a century later in Ezra’s day, the need to travel back to Jerusalem was no longer a concern, as they carried on their studies in places of worship known as synagogues, where they read aloud from the Hebrew Scriptures and discussed their meaning. As one might imagine, the scattered Jewish populations throughout the ancient world would have been in need of their own personal copies of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Within the synagogues, there was a storage room, known as the Genizah. Over time, manuscripts would wear out to the point of tearing. Thus, it would have been placed in the Genizah and replaced with new copies. Before long, after the old manuscripts were built up in the Genizah, they would eventually need to be buried in the earth. They performed this duty, as opposed to just burning them, so the holy name of God, Jehovah (or Yahweh), would not be desecrated. Throughout many centuries, many thousands of Hebrew manuscripts were disposed of in this way. Gratefully, the well-stocked Genizah of the synagogue in Old Cairo was saved from this handling of their manuscripts, perhaps because it was enclosed and overlooked until the middle of the 19th century. In 1890, as soon as the synagogue was being restored, the contents of the Genizah were checked, and its materials were gradually either sold or donated. From this source, manuscripts that were almost complete and thousands of fragments have found their way to Cambridge University Library and other libraries in Europe and America.
Throughout the world, scholars have counted and cataloged about 6,300 manuscripts of all or portions of the Hebrew Old Testament. Textual scholars of the Hebrew Scriptures, for the longest time, had to be content with Hebrew manuscripts that only went back to the tenth century C.E. This, of course, meant that the Hebrew Old Testament was about 1,400 hundred years removed from the last book that had been penned. This, then, always left the question of the trustworthiness of those copies. However, all of that changed in 1947, in the area of the Dead Sea, there was discovered a scroll of the book of Isaiah. In following years more of these precious scrolls of the Hebrew Scriptures were found as caves in the Dead Sea area yielded an enormous amount of manuscripts that had been concealed for almost 1,900 years. Specialists in the area of paleography have now dated some of these as far back as the third and second-century B.C.E. The Dead Sea Scrolls as they have become known, vindicated the trust that had been placed in the Masoretic texts that we have possessed all along. A comparative study of the approximately 6,000 manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures gives a sound basis for establishing the Hebrew text and reveals faithfulness in the transmission of the text.
 The Genizah was a storehouse for Hebrew books: a repository for Hebrew documents and sacred books that were no longer in use, e.g. because they are old and worn, but must not be destroyed.
 Paleography is the study of ancient writings: the study of ancient handwriting and manuscripts
 Hebrew Bible: the traditional text of the Hebrew Bible revised and annotated by Jewish scholars between the 6th and 10th centuries C.E.
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