Yemeni Torah Scroll Dedicated to King's in Ceremony
Until its retirement, a 175-year-old scroll containing the first five books of the Old Testament served as the central source of Biblical teaching in an impoverished Jewish community in Yemen.
Dedicated to The King’s College last Thursday, this calf-skin Torah will soon adorn the walls of King’s campus — likely outside the Rosezella Battles Library.
“This is a really special day for us as a community,” King's Executive Vice President General Gibson said as he opened the dedication.
Ken and Barbara Larson generously dedicated this scroll out of their passion for Biblical Scripture, the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Present at the event to introduce the scroll were Gibson and Dr. Scott Carroll, a close friend of the Larson’s and founder of the National Bible Museum in Texas.
Persecuted Yemenite Jews, forced to flee to Israel, carried with them only their most precious belongings — including their Scriptural scrolls. After arriving in Israel, they sold their Torah scrolls to the Ben-David family, a group with a passion for purchasing scrolls from Yemenite immigrants, giving them a base sum of money to begin their new lives in Israel. After the Ben-David family purchased the scroll, they sold it on to the Larson’s, who have a ministry of donating Torah scrolls to Christian colleges and seminaries around the world.
The Yemenite community that originally possessed the scroll dedicated to King’s used it both for daily readings and for teaching the youth of a Yemenite synagogue how to sing the Torah. The small indents which can be felt on the back of the scroll are a sort of musical punctuation system. After the words begin to fade on a scroll, enough for it to no longer be fit for daily readings in the church, it becomes a “retired” scroll or a “pasul”. Prior to this scroll’s retirement, however, a Yemenite synagogue used it daily for fixed readings. The Torah, as Dr. Carroll remarked, is the heart and soul of Judaism.
“Now it becomes your gift,” Carroll said, “A symbol of devotion to the Word and of God’s preservation of his word.”
The Larson’s expressed in an interview following the dedication that they hope King’s will not simply let the scroll hang on the wall, but will actively use the scroll for the Biblical and theological instruction of our students. Although this antique requires typical care for antiquities (avoid storing in direct sunlight, etc.) the vellum of the scroll actually benefits from the oils of clean human hands, so handling the scroll with care is certainly possible and encouraged by the Larson’s.
“We are firm believers that you can’t mature in faith without spending time in God’s word," Ken Larson stated.