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orion Ostracon

Given the opportunity to reflect on my last post to the list about 
the 1QS connection with the ostracon, I need to clarify.  Against the 
idea of the "second year" connection with the 1QS second year 
turnover of property is one overwhelming fact: one hundred percent of 
a large number of economic texts on ostraca and papyrus of these 
relevant centuries with this language indicates reading this "second 
year" as a date.  So far as I know, there are zero attested examples 
of texts with opening "second year of joining an association" formula 
language.  (If anyone knows of counterexamples, please speak up.)  
Therefore it is going to be a hard argument to make for the 1QS second 
year interpretation on this ostracon without certain readings in the text 
of something specific.

The second year coincidence (on an ostracon found at Qumran
with broken language which could be read as giving over of property),
this is what grabbed me, its still curious, but stepping back for a moment: 
maybe fifteen or twenty percent of economic texts selected at random--just 
as a guess--are going to contain "second year" references.  In DJD II, the 
Murabba'at texts, I counted 12 with surviving date formula and 5 of those 
had "second year".  In Cowley's Elephantine papyri edition I counted 19 
year dates and 1 of those was "second year".  These two small data 
bases together give 6 out of 31 date formulas as "second year".  Furthermore, 
I notice Mur 115, a Gr text, has a date formula beginning with "(in) 
the 7th year" followed by day and month.  Following the usual expectations, 
the "second year" in the Qumran ostracon would be a date formula and the 
day and month would follow in the line 1 lacuna.    

The best shot at a 1QS connection, it seems to me, would be the 9th 
letter of line 2.  I have studied that letter and compared it against the 
other Chets and Hes in this text until I see these letters in my sleep.  
Back when I thought the word could be no other than the proper name 
Honi (XNY) as read by Cross/Eshel I still could not see a chet there.  
In the IEJ photograph the letter is a sort of blot that looks ambiguous, 
but I am looking at a color photo in A. Roitman, ed. _A Day at Qumran_, 
published by Shrine of the Book, 1997.  (Beautiful coffee table book; 
anyone serious about working on the ostracon ought to get this book 
just for the color photo in it.)  If it could be shown the letter is a He, 
_as it looks like to me_, then you get a sequence NTN HNW or "(PN), 
(who dwells) in Jericho, gave his wealth (phrase beginning with B)..."
Then you would have an interesting 1QS semantic and word parallel.  
The defective spelling is not a problem since the name Honi spelled 
defectively XNY in Murabba'at texts and other examples attest the 
orthographic phenomenon.  But there are issues: (a) is the resulting 
sentence structure natural?, and (b) can a He reading in fact be 
confirmed and a Chet reading excluded? 

Perhaps the most informed answer I received from my Danish tutor 
today.  I showed the letter and said, "If you can tell me whether that 
is a Chet or a He you can change Qumran history for all 
time.  What does that blot of ink look like to you?"  Her answer was, 
"I'd call that letter a Rorschach".  No question a 1QS connection 
would be interesting.  But what can be known on the basis of 
evidence?  That is the issue.

Greg Doudna