The museum is a point of national pride, residing adjacent to the Israeli house of government, the Knesset, the Hebrew University, the Supreme Court and the Bible Lands Museum. The museum began in 1965 and has since grown to include 500,000 objects and 50,000 square feet. It welcomes 800,000 plus visitors ever year.
What Exhibits are at the Israel Museum?
With 500,000 items cataloged, there is plenty to see! Here are ten interesting things to see and include in your itinerary.
Second Temple Period Jerusalem Model
This impressive model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period brings the entire tour and bits and pieces of the ancient world into perspective for participants. You may walk in the City of David, but seeing a model of how it was in relation to the Temple really makes it all seem much more understandable!
The model is built at a 1:50 scale and covers an impressive 22,000 square feet! It includes the Herodian Temple, Herod’s Temple, the Tomb of King David, The Pool of Siloam, the Pool of Bethesda and others. It was designed following the writings of the famed Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus.
The Shrine of the Book
The Shrine of the Book is a dome shaped wing of the Israel Museum that houses one of the most important archeological finds in the history of the world, the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls were discovered by Bedouin Shepherds in 1946-1947 in the caves at Qumran, near the Dead Sea and included copies of the Old Testament scriptures dating back to the third century B.C.
The scrolls are now housed at the Israel Museum, and displayed in what is called “The Shrine of the Book”. The book of Isaiah is the most intact scroll and a replica of it is now on display at the museum so as to preserve the integrity of the actual scroll and preserve its condition. In fact, all of the scrolls are only on display for a period of 3-6 months at a time so they can be returned to darkness for a rest period and prevent overexposure to light.
The Pilate Stone
Prior to 1961, there was no historical evidence of the existence of Pontious Pilate and some doubted his existence. Then during excavations at Caesarea Maritima, a city known to have been destroyed and rebuilt using the same stones repeatedly through history, a stone in the steps of the amphitheater read, “Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.”.
This stone now resides in the Israel Museum as a testament to the historicity of people listed in the Bible.
Tel Dan Stele
The historical existence of King David has been a long fought battle between archeologists and scholars. Some say he was just a mythical character and not areal historical ruler. Others say he may have existed, but was a tribal leader at best.
Then in 1993 a team of archeologists working in Northern Israel in the area of Dan found a stele that was from the 9th century BC, and wrote of the name “The King of the House of David”.
The stele is now on display in the Israel Museum.
The Silver Scrolls
The oldest known copies of biblical text is from 600 BC in the form of the silver scrolls, which was a word for word copy of the “Priestly Blessing” of Numbers Chapter 6.
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
“The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
“The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
The significant find made in 1979 in burial caves in Jerusalem reveled not only the oldest known surviving scriptures in writing, but also that the translation was word for word what we know today, showing the reliability of the transmission of the text over the millennia. The Dead Sea Scrolls also showed this accuracy.
The scrolls, which are constructed of 99% silver and 1% copper, are able to be viewed at the Israel Museum.
The Israel Museum is an exciting place not only filled with these fantastic items, but many other relics of ancient Israel as well as a more current works of art and culture from Israel and Israelis around the world. We suggest adding at least a short visit to the Israel Museum so you can view some of our nation’s treasures.
We are actively planning tours for 2021 and beyond, and it’s not too early to plan! Contact us today to begin your journey to the Holy Land today!