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Re MishC and Dating the DSS deposit
This posting of Jan. 10 evidently never made it on Orion due to technical
difficulties. So we'll try again.
Ian Hutchesson, building on a suggestion of Greg Doudna that the
archaeological evidence allows for the scrolls to have been deposited as
early as the first century BCE, suggests that the scrolls were deposited ca.
64/63 BCE just before the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey.
Ian, I agree with all your conclusions, but with none of your reasons! That
is to say, your arguments are close but need refining.
(1) MishC & Dating the Deposit of the DSS.
You rightly argue (along with Greg) that the 4Q322-324 reference to "Aemilius
kills" represents the latest historical reference in the scrolls. And you
point out that the scrolls contain no references to Pompey, the Herods, etc.
Why not? Because the scroll collection was deposited before the Roman
conquest of Judea. So far so good. And this represents an improvement over
Doudna's suggestion of a deposit ca. 40-37 BCE.
> MishC tells us about events contemporary to its writing, of Shelamzion,
> Hyrcanus, Arabs, prisoners, and AEmilius Scaurus. These are in fact the
> dateable indications from within the Dead Sea Scrolls. No other hard
> evidence points to anything later.
> Current thought dates the reference to AEmilius Scaurus which was in the
> sixth year of MishC to 62 bce when he was governor of Syria. However,
> looking at the dating from MishC, this would place the problems alluded to
> regarding Shelamzion and Hyrcanus (from year two of MishC) to 66 bce, but
> know that Shelamzion died the previous year.
Your dating the Salome reference to year 2 is based on the Eisenman-Wise
translation. There is no real textual basis for this dating, as the Salome
reference and the year 2 priestly courses are on two different fragments.
The more recent Wise-Abegg-Cook translation properly considers the Salome
reference undated. Hence many of your arguments are unnecessary.
However, I'll comment on your later arguments anyway. I can accept that
there is room for the date of "Aemilius [Scaurus] kills" may be before
Pompey. but your specific arguments, however, I have to disagree with on a
> Josephus records a prior intervention on the scene while Pompey was off
> dealing with Tigranes of Armenia (AJ XIV.II.3). It was in fact Scaurus who
> broke the siege led by Hyrcanus, Antipater and Aretus against Aristobulus
> who was holed up in Jerusalem. It was probably this involvement by Scaurus
> that gave the writer of MishC the idea that "AEmilius killed".
The thing is, the incident at AJ 14.29-33 = 14.2.3 doesn't support a
description, "Aemilius [Scaurus] kills." At this incident (and see also the
parallel account at Wars 1.128-130 = 1.6.2-3, Scaurus enters Jewish
territory, and is immediately met by delegates from Aristobulus and Hyrkanus.
Aristobulus, who is beseiged in Jerusalem, sends the larger bribe. Scaurus
"dispatched a herald" to Hyrkanus and his Arab allies, threatening them with
Roman action if they didn't withdraw. "Aretas, terror-struck, withdrew from
Judea," and Scaurus returned forthwith to Damascus. Aristobulus sent forces
after Aretas and inflicted 6000 casualties. The point: Scaurus didn't kill
anyone here, but only sent a messenger. Aristobulus did the killing. Unless
you want to argue against the facts as presented by Josephus -- but before
you do, read further.
It seems to me the "Aemilius [Scaurus] kills" phrase is satisfied instead by
Wars 1.159 = 1.8.1 "Meanwhile Scaurus had invaded Arabia. Being held up at
Petra by the difficulties of the ground, he proceeded to _lay waste the
surrounding country_, but here again suffered severely, his army being
reduced to starvation" This incident is related after the fall of Jerusalem
by Pompey in autumn 63, but it is likely this military action began around
the start of the Jerusalem seige (three months earlier), to forestall Arab
intervention. Hence this invasion may have begun before the fall of
Jerusalem to Pompey. (However, I want to do a little research in the
classical sources to make sure my timeline on Scaurus and Pompey is accurate,
as I'm currently just relying on Josephus.)
With this modification of your theory, you still have the Scaurus reference
before the reduction of Jerusalem by Pompey, which was your main point.
However, it throws a wrench in the works, in that this event is extremely
close to the start of Pompey's seige, which in my opinion probably does not
allow time for your "temple hierarchy" safeguarding the Jerusalem scrolls at
(2) Were the scrolls transported to Qumran in 64/63 BCE?
You plausibly suggest, following a number of others on the list, that the
scrolls were written in Jerusalem, not Qumran.
> Given the analysis of the numerous scribal hands involved in the writing
> the texts (highest indication being 800), it seems extremely unlikely that
> these texts were written at Qumran, and if not, they had to have been
> transported to Qumran at some time before the fall of Israel to Titus. The
> only likely place for them to have come from is Jerusalem.
OK. However, I have problems with your model of how the Jerusalem texts came
> After having seen the implications of Pompey's harbinger, AEmilius
> the temple hierarchy sensed the grave danger and desired to save their
> of treasured texts. Given that Aristobulus had control of various
> strongholds around the country , a plan was developed to send the texts to
> some of these strongholds in order to save them (other caves findings have
> been noted in history). One such stronghold was Qumran. Documents were
> hurriedly sent there in order to be wrapped and stored in jars, being
> placed in storage caves like #4 so that they could be systematically dealt
I find it really hard to believe several aspects of this scenario. First, on
a physical level, the Jerusalem temple hierarchy wouldn't know about caves at
Qumran. The people at Qumran knew about the caves at Qumran. Second, the
Jerusalem hierarchy had the resources to wrap and store scrolls. They
wouldn't send them unwrapped, hoping the fortress had jars to store them in.
The scrolls came from Qumran and hence were stored in Qumran jars. Third,
the idea that Jerusalem priests sent scrolls to fortresses to preserve them
from Pompey just seems ad hoc. Where is the evidence? The Copper Scroll
suggests a rich temple hierarchy was more concerned with hiding valuables
than scrolls. So does common sense. But read further before responding
Also, on a historical level, according to the account in Josephus Aristobulus
didn't believe he had a problem with Pompey. Even when Pompey had him
trapped at Alexandrion, Aristobulus was confident he didn't have a serious
problem. As for the partisans of Aristobulus in the temple, they were so
confident of their ability to withstand a seige that they turned Pompey away
after Aristobulus had already negotiated a surrender. So your assumption
that the temple partisans of Aristobulus were so worried about Pompey that
they started caching scrolls flies in the face of their militancy and
> However, before the process could be completed, Aristobulus was forced to
> consign all the strongholds to Pompey. This was soon followed by the
> catastrophe in Jerusalem in which all the priests in the temple along with
> the supporters of Aristobulus were killed and Pompey entered the Holy of
> There were no temple priests left to write anything about these events.
> Besides, the documents were already hidden in the caves in which they were
> found this century.
There were no temple priests anywhere? There were no pens left? The
Sadducees were obliterated? This reconstruction just isn't credible. But
again, see below.
(3) A new hypothesis of the scrolls deposit.
Ian, though I can't buy your specific proposal on the scrolls deposit, I will
however give you credit for suggesting they were put in the caves prior to
Pompey's conquest of Jerusalem. However, there is a far more plausible model
of how they arrived in Jerusalem and how they wound up in the caves.
Let me refresh your memory on my proposal of 9/19 regarding the occupation of
Qumran by Sadducean partisans of Alexander Jannaeus. From that earlier
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
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
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.
Now in the passage in Antiquities cited above, the Sadducee leaders who were
considered partly responsible for the Pharisee crucifixions under Jannaeus
were being killed in Jerusalem, and therefore requested (through Aristobulus)
that they be allowed to man the fortresses of Judea in voluntary exile,
arguably including Qumran. These were leading Sadducees from Jerusalem. As
religious leaders, they presumably possessed private libraries of some sort.
If you want a historical (not hypothetical) incident to explain scrolls
coming from Jerusalem to Qumran, the appointment of Sadducee religious
leaders from Jerusalem as garrison commanders is that incident. This
explains the arrival of Jerusalem scrolls to Qumran without ad hoc
So far so good. Now, how did these Qumran scrolls come to be deposited in
the caves? According to Wars 1.117 = 1.5.4, Aristobulus was in possession of
all the fortresses (who were manned with his Sadducean supporters).
According to Wars 1.136-137 = 1.6.5, when Pompey took the side of Hyrkanus,
Aristobulus took refuge in the fortress Alexandrion, and eventually had to
turn over the fortresses to Pompey:
"In the end, Pompey commanded him to evacuate the fortresses and knowing that
the governors had orders to obey instructions given in Aristobulus's own
hand, insisted on his writing to each of them a notice to quit."
Aristobulus did this, then withdrew to Jerusalem to prepare for war. The
Sadducean fortress commanders, meanwhile, turned over the various fortresses
to Pompey's troops. It is this event that occasioned the deposit of the
scrolls, in my opinion. The Sadducean commander of Qumran, forced to vacate
the fortress, first had the scrolls at Qumran wrapped and put in jars in
caves, then left, probably for Jerusalem, where he intended (along with the
other fortress commanders) to join Aristobulus and put up a fight. After
they won, they intended to return to the fortresses, including Qumran. They
were, however, as you pointed out, defeated at Jerusalem. It is not
necessary to hypothesize that every last Sadducee in Jerusalem or Judea
perished. The main thing is, the fortress never returned to Sadducee
control, due to Pompey's victory. Hence the scrolls were never recovered.
This more historically sophisticated model explains not only the texts'
probable Jerusalem origin, yet more recent use at Qumran, and their
abandonment around the time of Scaurus, but is also explains the "Hymn to
King Jonathan [Alexander Jannaeus]" as well: it was the exiled Sadducean
Jannaeus partisans (more recently Aristobulus supporters) who both brought
the scrolls to Qumran and left them there on Pompey's arrival.
Let me here emphasize that though this construction is original to me, Greg
deserves credit for raising the whole scrolls deposit issue to light, and Ian
for suggesting the time of Scaurus and Pompey as the likeliest. I'm
currently putting my theories on the scrolls deposit in article form, but I
think it's healthy to discuss these issues on Orion first. I hope you've
found my comments constructive.
-- Russell Gmirkin