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Re: women at Qumran

On Thu, 2 May 1996, Ita Sheres wrote:

> I am not convinced about Broshi's claims; I don't even know that he made
> such claims!  But I tend to agree with Phillip Arnold's suggestion that
> anything "special" that would have marked women's graves would be there for
> ideological-purity reasons. The presence of women at Qumran does not
> automatically suggest that the sectarians' views about women were
> necessarily more "enlightened" than some other misgynists of the period
> (e.g. Wisdom of Ben Sira chapters 9 and\or 25). In fact, the purity laws of
> Qumran regarding women were in some cases stricter that the Priestly Code.

Which rather begs the question as to why would they want to bring female 
bones along - given the traditional views about the polluting effect of 
human remains, and the assumed, under this scenario, views about women. 
If the Qumran community did not allow women, why bring along their bones?

Btw - I assume that it is beyond argument that only the 
women's/children's coffins had nails in them? Is this the case?

> Moreover, if we read some of the expressions in the Hodayot about the
> lowliness, degradation, filth and pollution which characterize the human
> race, we get a fairly uneasy feeling about the sect's attitude to women. At
> one and the same time, though, they were "trapped" in a dilemma because they
> fully accepted the command to procreate but also accepted the "pollution"
> associated with it - so how can one overcome that "problem"?  

Surely not by burrying female bones at the cemetery... And this problem 
does not sound specific to Qumranites - the conjunction of those two 
attitudes exists in Judaism, Christianity and Islam in general.

In a nutshell, what the reburrial scenario sorely lacks is some kind of 
theory as to why the reburrial of female bones would make sense to the 

Best,	 Asia [asia@cs.huji.ac.il]