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Re: Names of the Angels, Herod-Era DSS

This is a consolidated response to two threads (as per a recent request 
by the list moderator):


> On Sun, 27 Oct 1996, Robert D Storch wrote:
>  > J. War*) What exactly does J. mean here? Why an oath to preserve the *
>  > names* of  the angels?
>  >  
>  > Do those DSS materials firmly attibuted to the group associated with
>  > Qumran--whether or not they were "Essenes"--in fact display a 
>  > preoccupation with angels and their names?
>  The book of Enoch (which is included in the collection but probably 
>  earlier) shows specific interest in the names of the angels (see chapters 
>  6-12, for example).  What to make of that in light of Josephus' remark, 
>  however, I am not at this point sure.
>  David Suter

I've always suspected the oath preserving the names of angels to 
be related to magical practices.  Knowing the secret names of angels 
(or demons) gave magical power over these forces.  Jub. 10:7, 12 
alludes to magically binding demons as a means of curing the illnesses 
they were responsible for. 1 Enoch 7:1 contains polemics against 
"magical medicine, incantations, the cutting of roots, and... plants" 
revealed to humanity by the Watchers or fallen angels; incantations 
and astrology figure large in the polemics of 8:3-4 also.  1 Enoch 
shows a curious ambivalence towards these forbidden subjects, in 
some places condemning the Watchers and their secrets, in others 
classifying the Watchers with the archangels.  

As case in point, knowledge of plants and herbs is both condemned as 
a forbidden medical-magical art; and yet Noah (Jub. 10:12-14) produced 
a book of "healing by means of herbs."  This magic book was somehow 
related to restraining illness-producing spirits, as shown by the context.  
Josephus, Wars 2.136 comments on the Essenes "investigations into 
medicinal roots and the properties of stones (amulets?)," probably showing 
Essenes practices these forbidden magical healing arts.


Yirmiyahu Ben-David writes:

> >Russell Gmirkin:
>  I consider 4QMMT to demonstrate a relationship between the 
>  sectarians and the Sadducees.  But the content of the scrolls 
>  most closely resembles the description of the Essenes in Josephus 
>  in my opinion.  So I posit that (a) the sectarians originated in 
>  Maccabean times; (b) in the early Hasmonean times there was an 
>  amicable split between the largely priestly Sadducees and the 
>  sectarians; (c) that the Essenes of Josephus were the spiritual 
>  heirs of the sectarians who preserved their literature.  The rabbis 
>  may have preserved memories of both the Essenes and Sadducees 
>  under the name Sadducees, the former being considered a subset or 
>  historical split-off of the latter.<
>  If I understand (b) correctly, then my understanding agrees that the 
>  Y'rushalyim Tz'doqim were a Greco- Roman, nouveau-, and pseudo- split- off

>  from the original Tz'doqim -- which I've labelled, a bit arbitrarily, as 
>  Khasiydim Tz'doqim for lack of better differentiation.  Regarding (c), I 
>  thought Qimron had made a compelling argument that MMT refers to "we" as 
>  the Dead Sea sect; "you" as the Tz'doqim leader who was in power, i.e.,
>  Greco- Roman Pseudo- Tz'doqim in the Beyt Miyqdash in Y'rushalayim; and 
>  "they" were the P'rushim (Discoveries, p. 175).  If you're equating the 
>  Essenes with the Dead Sea sect (?), then these Khasiydim Tz'doqim and the 
>  Greco- Roman Pseudo- Tz'doqim were related by more than mere rabbinic 
>  memory?

I agree with the entire above construction.  I can accept provisionally 
calling the original Maccabean-era  sectarians as Zadokite Hasidim, 
i.e. Hasidim that looked to the leadership of Zadokite priests.  And I 
believe that both the Essenes and Sadducees acepted the halakhah 
of the original sectarians.  The Essenes I see as more direct inheritors 
of the earlier traditions, perhaps some still living in exile at a late date,

while the Sadducees I see as being more closely connected to the 
Jerusalem temple cult (largely for economical reasons) and hence 
alienated from the more stringent Essenes.  MMT I see as an appeal 
from the Essenes to the Jerusalem leader of the Sadducees temple cult 
to abandon Pharisee practices.  The Jerusalem leader I think was probably 
Hyrkanus, who switched from Pharisee to Sadducee practice.

At least that's my construction.

-- Russell Gmirkin