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Elisha Qimron

Prof. Elisha Qimron

Elisha Qimron is an academic in the study of ancient Hebrew, in which he took his PhD in 1976 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writing his dissertation on The Hebrew of the Scrolls. Currently, he is a professor in the Department of Hebrew Language at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. For several decades he has been one of the team of international scholars working on the Dead Sea Scrolls, in particular on the texts found in Cave 4 at Qumran.

In 1979 Qimron was co-opted by John Strugnell, the editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls publication team, to assist in completing long-overdue work on the Halakhic Letter (4QMMT), on which Strugnell had been working alone since 1959. The work on the fragments was eventually completed and published in 1994. Qimron was the first Israeli scholar on the team.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s many scholars felt frustrated at the delay in publishing the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was generally known that most of the texts had been translated, but were still not available to researchers. Some also complained about the proprietary attitude of some of Strugnell's team toward the Scrolls they were working on, which made access to them difficult if not impossible in some cases.

Hershel Shanks of the Biblical Archaeology Society decided that the reconstructions of the Dead Sea Scrolls should be made available to scholars, so in 1992 he published the two-volume A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls which included, without permission, material on the Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) that Qimron had been working on for some eleven years. Qimron had even given the document its title.

Qimron decided to sue the Biblical Archaeology Society for breaching his copyright, on the grounds that the research BAS had published was his intellectual property as he had reconstructed about 40% of the published text. Such reconstruction is unique in the sense that if the original photographs had been given to a hundred different researchers, a hundred different reconstructions would be made. In 1993 Judge Dalia Dorner of the Israeli Supreme Court awarded Qimron the highest compensation allowed by law for aggravation in compensation against Hershel Shanks and others. A 2000 appeal in front of Judge Aharon Barak and colleagues against the verdict was upheld in Qimron's favor.


  • Elisha Qimron, John Strugnell et al. (1994) Discoveries in the Judaean Desert Volume X. Qumran Cave 4: V: Miqsat Ma'anulle Ha-Torah. Oxford University Press.
  • Elisha Qimron. (1996). The Temple Scroll: A Critical Edition with Extensive Reconstructions'. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
  • Edited by Donald W. Parry and Elisha Qimron. (1999). Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah - STDJ 32. Brill Academic Publishers.
  • Elisha Qimron. The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Harvard Semitic Studies, Scholars Press, Atlanta.
  • Edited by Donald W. Parry and Elisha Qimron. (1999). The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaª). A New Edition Brill Academic Publishers.

External links

  • Qimron and 4QMMT
  • Qimron vs. Shanks reported in the New York Times
  • Qimron's legal rights upheld in 2000 appeal
  • Qimron and 4QMMT
  • Qimron on the Dead Sea Scrolls Timeline
  • Qimron and the Dead Sea Scrolls in Time Magazine
  • 4QMMT published in BAS
  • Article about Qimron by Simon Holloway
  • An overview of the Qimron v Shanks legal case
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