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orion Essenes etc.

I may have lost the trail in this regard, but I think it was Stephen who
asked: "How did an Essene group manage to continue their long-term settlement
(i.e., one which must have at least started before 70 [B.C.E.]) through the
war with Rome?"  Do I have this right?  If not, I sorry for the mistake.  If
so,  part of the answer may be found in Josephus.  According to Josephus,
from about 41 B.C.E. to 4 C.E. (the approximate reign of Herod) the Essenes
had the favor of Herod because of the prediction of Manahem who had patted
the young Herod on the bottom and told him he would be king of the Jews. If
Essenes were living at Qumran, perhaps they were left alone because they had
Harod's favor.  Of course, that does not account for the entire period but it
does account for a substantial time of turmoil right in the middle.

On the issues raised by Ian where he states ". . . the dss were concerned
amongst other things about gonorhea and marriages and other incidentals of
non-celebate life which is in flagrant conflict with the info we have about
the Essenes;"  I would have a few observations.  First, Josephus clearly
describes the process of joining the Essene sect.  (Wars, Book II, Chapter
VIII).  It is certainly possible for someone (or several persons) to have
contracted gonorrhea before they converted to be an Essene and, thereby, have
the subject of gonorthea become a topic that would be discussed.  The notion
that converts led reprehensible lives before conversion seems to have been
accepted in other religions developing about this time.  Second, Josephus
suggests at least twice that marriage played a role for Essenes.  He says:
"They do not absoulutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of
mankind thereby continued; but they guard against lascivious behaviour of
women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one
man."  Later he says: "Moreover, there is another order of Essens, . . .
[who] differ from them in the point of marriage, as thingking that by not
marrying they cut off the principal part of human life [I hope not
literally], which is the prospect of succession, . . . .  [T]hey try spouses
for three years; and if they find that they have their natural purgations
thrice, as trials that they are likely to be fruitful, they then actually
marry them."  So, why would all Essenes at Qumran (if they were there) have
to be the non marrying type?  And wouldn't the practice of trying out women
for three years until one finds a spouse that he finds satisfactory not
possibly lead to gonorrhea?  Third, Josephus' explaination about how Essenes
take "other person's children, whle they are pliable, and fit for learning .
. . and form them according to their own manners" might possibly raise an
issue about just what these solitary men were doing with young children out
among the palm trees taking daily communal baths?  Pedophilia certainly was
not an unkown at the time as, for example, Herod demonstrates.

Stephen has advised me that there is evidence of palms at Qumran and he has
kindly given me a few citations for which I express my thanks.  He also notes
that "[b]otanically, palm trees are male or female, but, symbolically, they
are sometimes regarded as female, as shown by the use of the name Tamar."  In
searching the internet for information about date palms, I found a site that
says: "Palms of both sexes must be grown, and every female flower needs to be
hand-pollinated for satisfactory fruit production.  A good male palm can
produce enough pollen to fertilise the female blossoms of 50 palms.
 Consequently, many gardens are planted with a ration of 50:1.  Bees will
rarely be attracted to the female bloom until it has been pollinated,
preferring the more beautiful male scented flower."  This same source says
that it takes 20 years before a palm becomes fully fruit bearing, the first
ten years are spent in producing off-shoots, by which more palms are

I assume these same notions were well known to those who raised date palms in
the area of Jericho, Qumran, En Gedi,  and Jerusalem.  People who are familar
with growing grapes for wine certainly wouldn't have any trouble
understanding what it takes to grow a good date palm.  Perhaps it is the 50:1
female to male ratio that leads palms to be referred to in the female gender.

Mark Dunn