-The Scrolls-

There was fresh snow on the slopes of the French Alps at Megève and in her spacious suite of the family hotel, Palace du Mont d’Arbois, Ariane marveled at the story of the scrolls as Jean Levy helped her understand the archaic Hebrew.  What she’d intended to be a pleasant weekend break from her busy schedule became the better part of a week in seclusion with Jean and their lengthy speculations about the complete meaning of the scrolls.  Now that he’d filled her in on the totality of “The Project,” she understood all of the cloak and dagger shenanigans that wrapped around Mike Jerrod’s stay in St. Émilion.  “Has Mike seen this,” she asked.  “Only bits and pieces,” replied Jean, “Now that we have the entire transliteration in Hebrew, I’ll make sure he gets a copy.”

“I want this translated into English and French and I know just the person for the job,” said Ariane, “She’ll be perfect.”

“That may well be,” said Jean, “However the scrolls and the transliteration are technically the property of the government of Israel and Shin Bet may have something to say about who does what with their Project.”

“There few people in this world who love the nation of Israel more than we do,” she said, “It is totally ingrained in the family, part of the DNA and while we love the Nation we have no particular allegiance to any particular government coalition.  We’ll talk with Ehud and he’ll make the necessary arrangements with Shin Bet.”

“Ari Weiner will be glad to hear that,” said Jean, “He long ago lost patience with Shin Bet.”

The “talk” with Ehud turned out to be more months of negotiations but in the end Christiane Sitt Arslan sat between Ari Weiner and Itzhak Zimmermann at the conference table and listened to Meir Olmert explain the ground rules for “The Project.”

Born into a prominent Jewish family in Tehran, educated in California, Mexico City, Rome, Paris and Berlin, she was a naturalized Israeli citizen and a poet published in Hebrew, Farsi, English, Spanish, French and German.  Christiane was more than qualified for the task of translating Itzhak’s transliteration of the scrolls into modern languages; but despite her capabilities and her family’s pedigree, she remained suspect in Jerusalem.  She looked around the table and found only male faces - a circumstance that was not unusual for her.  As he rambled on about the national security implications of “The Project,” Olmert never looked in her direction.  Though she wasn’t aware of it, her presence in the room was testimony to a security breach and a manifestation of Olmert’s limited influence with his senior cousin, the Prime Minister.

Other than some short introductory remarks Christiane made no comments, asked no questions and she was relieved when the meeting finally came to an end.  She waited until she Ari and Itzhak were outside and on their way to see the scrolls before she asked, “Must I be part of these meetings?”

“That’s up to Shin Bet,” Ari replied, “but I’ll have a word with Meir and we’ll see what can be done.”

“Thank you,” she said, “I suppose it would be too much to ask if I could work from home.”

Itzhak laughed, “That’s what I wish more than anything in the world.”

“I’m not very good with people,” she said, “And that’s why I don’t teach.  I tried once, but they irritate me with their distractions.”

After a tour of the facility and the chance to see the actual scrolls, Christiane spent the rest of that day and most of the next day carefully reading what Itzhak had transcribed into Hebrew.  She made meticulous notes with numerous questions and when she finished, she asked him, “Why have you stripped this of context?”

Itzhak replied, “Because any context I recorded as part of the transliteration would be speculation.”

“Even though a significant part of reading and writing Modern Hebrew is taken from context,” she asked.  “A significant part of many written languages is taken from context,” he replied, “You’ve been translating literature and poetry.  I assume that’s why you’re here.  Feel free to translate this work in anyway you choose.  It will make no difference to me.  I can translate the transliterated Hebrew into English as it is written, lay it down word for word line for line against what you choose to do and the readers can choose for themselves.”

“You don’t believe what is written here,” said Christiane.  “Now we come back to context,” Itzhak replied, “From all the evidence that Ari’s people have compiled the scrolls look to be legitimate artifacts from 700 to 800 BCE.  I still have my doubts about that.  What I have little doubt about is that they were written by at least four or five different hands and other than the claims made in the text; there is nothing to place the authorship in the 10th Century BCE.  To the contrary, the syntax and grammar is too advanced for that time.  If the scrolls aren’t some modern forgery, they are more likely fabrications of some familial legend written six or more generations and three hundred years after the supposed origin of the story.”

“So however I chose to interpret your work into English, or any other language, is irrelevant,” she said.  Itzhak sighed, “You can extrapolate context or embellish your translations however poetic license carries you; but I would caution that you set your words in a different typeface than the transliteration.  There are scholars of Ktav Ivri who won’t hesitate to point out any liberties that you take with the text.  My understanding of the political compromise between Shin Bet and IAA is that portions of the archeology will be redacted before anything is published.  The conclusions will predominately identify the scrolls as likely fabrications from the Post- Exilic period of Israel’s history.  There will be dissenting opinions, but the scrolls will probably end up in storage rather than on display.  With that said, I am at your service to review your translations before we publish.”


Christiane began work with her transliteration from the raw Hebrew to English charting it word for word on her laptop.  She charted the relationships and the academic and Biblical histories of the forty odd people named in scripture and the scrolls and then she identified and charted the relationships of the over forty people who were named in the scrolls but unmentioned in scripture.  After that she carefully put together a timeline of people and events and a table of place names referencing maps of ancient and contemporary Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea.  She then charted the various journeys of the account across the maps and from all of that emerged a more detailed context of history.  In order to see the whole of it she printed out her charts and maps and covered the walls of the conference room where Ari Weiner and Meir Olmert met weekly with the staff that worked “The Project.”

She’d just taped the last large map to the wall when Weiner, Olmert and the rest of the team entered the room.  Olmert asked the obvious, “What’s all this?”

Christiane climbed down from the short stepladder raised her right arm and said, “This is context.  This is the story of a man and the people of his life.  Those named in scripture and those unnamed.  This is a story uncensored by prophets or High Priests and it addresses the role of women of the era.”

Ari Weiner pulled out his handkerchief and blew his nose, “Going with the Tamar and Asherah connection then?”

Christiane nodded and said, “Tamar is mentioned three times in Samuel II, she’s raped, abused and condemned and then she disappears.  Amnon and Absalom are murdered and mourned but what happened to her?”

“She was mercifully exiled and forgotten,” said Olmert.  “She is not forgotten in these scrolls,” Christiane countered, “She is celebrated here and continues to serve her father in her way.”

“Which is only one of the many things that make these scrolls suspect,” Olmert replied, “Twenty-five hundred years of written scripture and the Torah stands without a letter out of place against a fanciful tale written in at least four hands.  Who would believe it?”

“And is the Torah the work of Jahwists, the Elohists, the Deuteronomists or the Priests,” asked Christiane.

“Which brings us to another reason to question what is written here,” he said, “The Torah is the Word of G_D as written by the Prophet Moses.  It is the foundation of the people of Israel.  The politics of nation of Israel has always been a fragile thing.  The nation has come and gone and come again; but the people endure.”

Christiane smiled, “Shas would not look kindly on anything that challenges the Torah and without them your brother would have to go looking for another coalition partner for his government.”

Meir Olmert touched his nose, “As I said, political alliances in Israel have always been a fragile thing.”

The People of the Book - The Discovery

The People of the Book - Discovery Part Two

The People of the Book - Discovery Part Three

PoB-Discovery: Thanksgiving and Ari Weiner

PoB-Discovery - Plans for Erev Rosh Hashanah and The Fundraiser

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Comment by M. C. Sears on January 19, 2017 at 11:21am

It's so exciting that you've picked this project back up!

Comment by JMac1949 Today on January 19, 2017 at 11:45am

Thanks Mary... it gets more and more twisted as it unfolds.


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