New Bible Museum to Be Built in Jerusalem

'It's absurd that in the land of the Bible, there is no center dedicated to it,' said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A Bible museum that will include a sculpture garden featuring biblical characters and exhibits showing what daily life was like in biblical times will be built in the Jerusalem area, the cabinet decided in a unanimous vote on Sunday.

"It's absurd that in the land of the Bible, there is no center dedicated to it," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bible-writing project in 2009.
Maya Levin / JINI

The value of the project, Netanyahu added, lies "not just in the heritage of the Bible, but also in its accessibility to the greater public in Israel and around the world."

The museum will be funded primarily by a nonprofit group called Emek Hatanakh (Valley of the Bible ), which aims to make people around the world more familiar with the Bible. The government has yet to decide whether it will help support the museum, but Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the facility would receive the land for free.

The group behind the museum has previously encouraged hundreds of thousands of children all over the world to draw pictures depicting biblical scenes.

It is currently getting people in Brazil, Finland, Panama, Taiwan, Singapore and 40 other countries to collaborate on writing Torah scrolls, with each contributor writing a single verse in his or her own language.

Next week, the project will be moving to Tanzania, where the verses will be written in Swahili.

The Torah scrolls will be displayed in the museum, which will also include artwork connected to the Bible and serve as an academic center for Bible research.

An interministerial committee will be established to consider various proposals on the museum's funding and location.

The sites to be considered include the part of Jerusalem near the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum, the biblical landscape reserve Neot Kedumim, and the Adulam nature reserve.