Lake Kinneret Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls don't look so special anymore.

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In early March 2009, archeologists in Northern Israel made a fascinating discovery. During an expedition looking for Roman artifacts around the Kinneret, archeologists stumbled upon several ancient documents written in Hebrew.

The Kinneret scroll, long-lost until it was found under this very tree.After sending the scrolls to the Bible department of Bar Kokhba University, Professor Yossi Amichai determined that the scrolls were in fact quite similar to the Book of Genesis.

As similar as the script was, there were fundamental differences that have shocked the Jewish world.

The Story of Joseph

For one, many of the relationships found in the texts were similar to the canonized version, but with characters switched around. The most noteworthy changes are found in the story of Joseph. In the Kinneret version, it is Judah who is enslaved in Egypt, with the main culprit in his sale being Joseph.

The "Technicolor Dreamcoat" that has been popularized on Broadway is instead described as a large multi-colored hat. The issue for the brothers was not so much jealousy over Jacob's preferential treatment of Judah, but his insistence on wearing such an ugly head covering.

Some in the academic world have embraced the changes in the story. Doctoral candidate Paul Ramirez at Southern Susquehanna University explained in a Jerusalem Herald interview that the Kinneret Scrolls offer considerable proof for his Ph.D. thesis, "Joseph Was a Big Jerk: The Story of the Original No-Good Brother."

However, the biggest disappointment has come from Donny Osmond, the original "Joseph" in the Broadway show. Osmond, a devout Mormon, has announced that he no longer wants to be associated with the show because he does not want to take part in "spreading lies about Scripture."

(He did announce, however, that he is currently writing a musical based on the story of Samson. Citing public morality, Delilah will not be appearing in the play.)

Insight Into April Fools

There is one other major addition to the Genesis story that may shed light on another tradition we hold today.

At the end of the Creation story, in the Kinneret version, after Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, they get a message from God telling them that He was only kidding and that the joke went a little too far. From that day forth, every Rosh Chodesh Nisan, people were commanded to play practical jokes on each other. While that Rosh Chodesh tradition may have died out, it still manifested in society today as "April Fools Day."

Jeremy Moses

Jeremy Moses is the Editorial Fellow at MyJewishLearning.com. He has a BA in American History and Modern Jewish Studies from McGill University. He served as the advisor for United Synagogue Youth in Montreal. He spent two summers working as a Unit Head at Camp Ramah in Canada.