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orion Palm\Water etc.

Dear Ian and Stephen (and others interested, if any):

This discussion of palms and water made think about several issues.  I
understand that many scholars agree that in the period of say 200 B.C.E. to
100 C.E. the west bank of the Dead Sea was "more thinckly populated than we
are accustomed to imagine . . . [and] settlements supported by agriculture"
 ( N. Golb, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? at 31) were reasonably common.  

But more available fresh water than exists today and  more settlements
supported by agriculture does not per se equal palm trees.  I assume that the
palm trees, if any, were date palms as opposed to thatch palms, cotton palms,
california palms and the like.?   Wasn't Jericho called the City of Palms?  I
would understand generally, but not specifically, that date palms grow in
places that are warm and have a lot of sunshine and live where fresh water is
available.  The availablity of fresh water does not necessarily mean that
there must be a coastal area, a river or stream, or a natural oasis.   I
would expect (but I am not sure) that even in the period of say 200 B.C.E. to
100 C.E. many palm trees in entire area from Egypt to Damascus were
maintained by irrigation or an irrigation system.  I would assume that they
were grown for several reasons including to support life and, perhaps,
 because of their religious significance.  Isn't it true that date palms were
in a religious sense a sign of joy and happiness and a symbol of life?
 Revelations (7:9)?  The palm is also used in worship.  For example: "On the
first day you shall take choice fruits, palm branches, boughs of leafy trees
and willows from the river bank, and for seven days you shall rejoice in the
presence of Yahweh your God (Lev. 23:40; Neh. 8:15; Mic. 13:27; 2 Mic. 14:4).
 Wasn't the Temple itself decorated with palm branches as a testament to the
religious significance of palms? (1 Kgs. 6:29; Ezek. 41:18).

Therefore, in looking for places along the west shore of the Dead Sea where
the proverbial Essenes could "live among the palms" one would presumably look
for those sites where water flowed naturally, where there was an oasis, or
where palms could have been irrigated.  Perhaps the "the elaborate system for
providing water to Qumran" described in Ian's message was used for something
with religious (and also utilitarian) significance in addition to bathing and
baptisms.  Perhaps the elaborate system was used for growing date palms?.  I
wonder if there is an evidence of palms in the area of Qumran?  Again, would
pollen studies demonstrate anything in this regard?  Perhaps Pliny was giving
us a religious clue that is not otherwise evident on its face.  Perhaps the
presence of the elaborate irrigation system at Qumran is puzzel piece that
fits together with Pliny's palm trees quote?

Mark Dunn