Fragments of Ecclesiastes from Qumran Cave 4 (4Q109 Qohelet a)
These fragments of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes are only some of the hundreds of fragments of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, that were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is largely because of the presence of biblical texts like these that the find at Qumran is considered one of the most important of this century. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest copies of biblical books in Hebrew dated to the medieval period, which was nearly 1,000 years after the first books had begun to be considered sacred scripture by the Jewish community. The finding of the Scrolls has meant that we now have copies that are older by hundreds of years than anything we had before 1947.
Among the Scrolls are copies of every book of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, except for the books of Esther and Nehemiah. Some of the books, however, are only represented by very small fragments. The most common biblical books among all of the scrolls and fragments found at Qumran are Psalms, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Exodus, Genesis, and Leviticus. The only complete book still preserved among the Scrolls is the book of Isaiah.
This fragment is among the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, dating from about 175-150 BCE. It contains fragments of text from chapters 5 through 7, such as “sorrow is better than laughter.”