[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Aristobulus II's "sadducees"?

>There was a bit of irony there that does not come through
>well on email.  The irony is that, as Russ Gmyrken's post
>brought out, supporters of Aristobulus II were given the
>Hasmonean fortresses (with three named exceptions) mid-1st
>BCE, all of this per Josephus...

>I was still writing ironically in applying the "Sadducees" 
>adjective to the partisans of Aristobulus II.  This is
>going beyond Josephus (and who are "sadducees" anyway).
>However this has, in fact, been argued.  Michael Wise in
>an article on the 4QMish(C) calendar text in his
>recent _Thunder in Gemini_ book (and an earlier version in
>the Wise et al 1994 publication of the 1992 New York
>Academy of Sciences conference in NY) argues that 
>4QMish(c) displays a pro-Aristobulus II _tendenz_.  Wise
>links the partisans of Aristobulus II to the supporters
>of Alexander Jannaeus who lost to the Pharisees of
>Alexander Salome and JHyrcII.  So that is the Sadducee-
>Aristobulus II link--and the Qumran link--if you want to
>argue that line.  (I cannot myself see either the
>name Aristobulus or a pro-Aristobulus II tendenz in

I agree that Wise's article is not entirely convincing on 
finding a pro-Aristobulus II slant to 4QMish(c), as his 
argument weighs heavily on his choice of restoration 
for partial words in the text.

However, there are two other potential items of evidence
pointing to a connection between the sectarians and the 
Hyrkanus / Alexander Jannaeus / Aristobulus II Sadducees.
(I think it's fairly clear from Josephus that the anti-Pharisee 
party had continuity from the time of Hyrkanus to Aristobulus II, 
and hence from the Hyrkanus account may be fairly identified 
as Sadducee.)

First, it seems to me that MMT may represent an appeal by the 
sectarians to Hyrkanus at his changing loyalties to the Sadducee 
party.  This may have been seen as an opportune moment for 
the sectarians to present their opinions to a newly sympathetic 
priestly establishment.  MMT seems to show that the sectarians 
(whom I am reluctant to label Essenes as this may be anachronistic) 
had strong affinities with the Sadducees and opposed the Pharisees 
at this time.

Second, there is the purported Hymn to King Jonathan.  If Jonathan is 
actually a reading here (and I understand this is still debated) and if 
we further accept this as a reference to Alexander Jannaeus (again, 
debated), then this argues for the sectarians specifically having political 
allegiance to Jannaeus, and thus again having pro-Sadducee anti-Pharisee 

(I can respect the position of those who don't see a Jonathan reading 
in the text.  But I think it is entirely unacceptable to accept the Jonathan 
reading and then minimize its significance by saying this was a non-sectarian

text that somehow found its way into the Qumran corpus.  This approach seems 
to reduce to discounting facts that are inconvenient or conflict with
theories.  So I think one must engage the evidence and grant the possibility
of the 
sectarians favoring Jannaeus, despite this upsetting the pNahum applecart.)

The above evidence raises the possibility that the sectarians were Jannaeus 
partisans and linked with the Sadducees, with whom the sectarians must have 
previously had a friendly parting of the ways.  Then when the former Jannaeus

partisans went into voluntary exile manning the fortresses of Judea under the

arrangement negotiated between Aristobulus II and Salome Alexandra 
(Ant. 13.410-417=13.16.2-3), arguably the sectarians were included in this

At Qumran we have a remarkable phenomenon of a one-time fortress being
by a sectarian community.  And in the exile of the Jannaeus partisans we have
with a particular sectarian/political orientation (Sadducean) of known
affinity with our sectarians 
(per MMT) exiled to Judean fortresses apparently including Qumran.  It seems
to me the 
two facts are related.  (Can this also explain the presence of sectarian
texts at Masada?)  

-- Russell Gmirkin