Judaism and Scribes Accuracy
Scribes in Ancient Israel, as in most of the ancient world, were distinguished professionals who could exercise functions we would associate with lawyers, government ministers, judges, or even financiers, as early as the 11th century BCE. Some scribes copied documents, but this was not necessarily part of their job.
The Jewish scribes used the following process for creating copies of the Torah and eventually other books in the Tanakh
1. They could only use clean animal skins, both to write on, and even to bind manuscripts.
2. Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty lines.
3. The ink must be black, and of a special recipe.
4. They must say each word aloud while they were writing.
5. They must wipe the pen and wash their entire bodies before writing the most Holy Name of God, YHVH, every time they wrote it.
6. There must be a review within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required corrections, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
7. The letters, words, and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document.
8. The documents could be stored only in sacred places (synagogues, etc.).
9. As no document containing God’s Word could be destroyed, they were stored, or buried, in a genizah.
Sofers – (Hebrew: סופר סת”ם) are among the few scribes that still ply their trade by hand. Renowned calligraphers, they produce the Hebrew Torah scrolls and other holy texts by hand to this day. They write on parchment.
Sofers Accuracy: The Accuracy of a measurement means getting a value that is close to the actual answer. Precision: Precision refers to the reproducibility of this result that is you get the same result every time you try.
Dead Sea Scrolls
Until 1948, the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible dated back to 895 A.D. In 1947, a shepherd boy discovered some scrolls inside a cave West of the Dead Sea. These manuscripts dated between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D. Over the next decade, more scrolls were found in caves and the discovery became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Every book in the Hebrew Bible was represented in this discovery except Esther. Numerous copies of each book were discovered, such as the 25 copies of Deuteronomy that were found.
While there are other items found among the Dead Sea Scrolls not currently in the Hebrew Bible, the texts on the whole testify to the accuracy of the scribes copying down through the ages, though many variations and errors occurred. The Dead Sea Scrolls are currently the best route of comparison to the accuracy and consistency of translation for the Hebrew Bible, due to their date of origin being the oldest out of any Biblical text currently known.