Psalms Scroll

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Dead Sea — Psalms Scroll Tehillim Psalms (Tehillim) 11QPs


Copied ca. 30 – 50 C.E.
Height 18.5 cm (7 1/4 in.), length 86 cm (33 3/4 in.)
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquties Authority

This impressive scroll is a collection of psalms and hymns, comprising parts of forty-one biblical psalms (chiefly form chapters 101-50), in non-canonical sequence and with variations in detail. It also presents previously unknown hymns, as well as a prose passage about the psalms composed by King David.
One of the longer texts to be found at Qumran, the manuscript was found in 1956 in Cave 11 and unrolled in 1961. Its surface is the thickest of any of the scrolls-Äit may be of calfskin rather than sheepskin, which was the more common writing material at Qumran. The script is on the grain side of the skin. The scroll contains twenty-eight incomplete columns of text, six of which are displayed here (cols. 14-19). Each of the preserved columns contains fourteen to seventeen lines; it is clear that six to seven lines are lacking at the bottom of each column.

The scroll’s script is of fine quality, with the letters carefully drawn in the Jewish book-hand style of the Herodian period. The Tetragrammaton (the four-letter divine name), however, is written in the paleo-Hebrew script.


Sanders, J. A. The Psalms Scroll of Qumran Cave 11 (11QPsa). Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, IV. Oxford, 1965.
English Translation of the Psalms Scroll (Tehillim) 11QPs
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Column 19: Plea for Deliverance (A Non canonical Psalm)

Surely a maggot cannot praise thee nor a grave worm recount thy loving-kindness.
But the living can praise thee, even those who stumble can laud thee. In revealing thy kindness to them and by thy righteousness thou dost enlighten them. For in thy hand is the soul of every living thing; the breath of all flesh hast thou given. Deal with us, O LORD, according to thy goodness, according to thy great mercy, and according to thy many righteous deeds. The LORD has heeded the voice of those who love his name and has not deprived them of his loving-kindness.
Blessed be the LORD, who executes righteous deeds, crowning his saints with loving-kindness and mercy. My soul cries out to praise thy name, to sing high praises for thy loving deeds, to proclaim thy faithfulness–of praise of thee there is no end. Near death was I for my sins, and my iniquities have sold me to the grave; but thou didst save me, O LORD, according to thy great mercy, and according to thy many righteous deeds. Indeed have I loved thy name, and in thy protection have I found refuge. When I remember thy might my heart is brave, and upon thy mercies do I lean. Forgive my sin, O LORD, and purify me from my iniquity. Vouchsafe me a spirit of faith and knowledge, and let me not be dishonored in ruin. Let not Satan rule over me, nor an unclean spirit; neither let pain nor the evil inclination take possession of my bones. For thou, O LORD, art my praise, and in thee do I hope all the day. Let my brothers rejoice with me and the house of my father, who are astonished by the graciousness… [ ] For e[ver] I will rejoice in thee.

Transcription and translation by J. A. Sanders

Return the Psalms Scroll to The Qumran Library

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