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Inkwells etc.

While traveling by airplane during the last week, I read a book entitled "A
Marginal Jew - Rethinking the Historical Jesus" by John P. Meier.  Meier
discusses several matters that caused me to wonder about the issue of
inkwells.  Perhaps, I am just not able to accept the notion that Roman
soldiers would actually be using numerous inkwells as opposed to finger

Anyway, according to Meier, "[t]o be able to read and explain the Scriptures
was a revered goal for religiously minded Jews [of the first century A.D.].
 Hence literacy held special importance for the Jewish community."  Meier
continues that "[i]n his admittedly apologetic work, Against Apion, Josephus
states that the Law orders children to be taught to read and learn the laws
and deeds of their forebears.  In the caves of Murabba'at, the last refuge of
the Bar Kochba rebels during the Second Jewish Revolt (A.D. 132-35), ABC
exercises have been found, at least one of them from the hand of a beginner.
 Similar exercises have been found in the citadel called the Herodium (just
southeast of Bethlehem), to which Bar Kochba withdrew for a while."  I
furhter noted that in The Jewish Wars (J.W. 2.8.2 sections 120-21) J talks
about some Essene's adopting young children, apparently as one way of
replenishing their own number.  So, if there are graves of young children
near Q, and literate E's would find it important to educate children, and one
way to educate is through writing exercises, and you need ink for writing
exercises, then one might posit a "school" as a reason for an unusual number
of inkwells as opposed to a monastic scriptorium.

One other thought related to the Romans "marching to Masada."  It has been
awhile since my military service, but if the Romans first destroyed the
occupation at the north end of the Dead Sea - whatever it was in about 68
A.D. - why would anyone want to march down the western shore between the
hills and the water.  I can't imagine an easier place for an ambush in that
region of the world. There are lots of places to hide in those hills.
  Wouldn't the Romans simply lauch some boats and row down to the shore east
of Masada?  On the other hand, I have seen maps that show a road from J to
Bethehem, from B. to Hebron, and from H to Engaddi.  My impression is that
the area between Engaddi and Masada would not be as difficult militarily as
the area between Q and Engaddi.  Perhaps someone that has modern military
experience in the area knows more about the risks.  Perhaps, that is
classified information.

Mark Dunn