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orion half-shekel Temple tax
Among the interesting articles in the M. Hengel Festschrift is "Invented
Traditions of the Maccabean Era" by Albert I. Baumgarten. Though several
(including myself) had already concluded that the Qumran coin hoard (mostly
silver of the kind used for temple payment) was evidence of the Essene
attitude toward the Temple as discussed in 4Q159 and Josephus, this welcome
essay gathers interesting related observations. Not to presume to speak for
AIB, but merely to note a few thoughts after reading:
1) If Hanukkah was not celebrated by Essenes and/or Qumranites, this
indicates some disapproval of the Hasmoneans.
2) I Macc 14:41 limited the approval of the rule and priesthood of Simon
"until a true prophet should arise." Was it the case that Essenes and/or
Qumranites in the first century BCE and following considered that a true
prophet had arisen?
3) If the annual half Shekel Temple tax was "invented" "sometime between
125 and 88 BCE" (as Bickerman proposed [p.201]), does this provide further
evidence of the Essene/Qumranite resistance to the expansion of rule of
Alexander Jannaeus? (Jannaeus took land, forced conversions, assumed more
power, fought sectarians, and minted many coins.) More and more scholars
are agreeing on a c100 BCE date for the beginning of Qumran settlement
(excluding, of course, Iron Age). Judah the Essene prophesied about
rulers. Jannaeus invaded "the land of Damascus." Though the movement which
became called in Greek Essaioi/Essenoi surely had an earlier history before
Qumran, a history involving Jubilees and parts of Enoch literature, is
there really any evidence that Damascus Document or Serek ha-yahad existed
as early as the 160s BCE? Surely no copy among the very many extant copies
approaches that age. Should we assume that copies 50 or 60 or so years
older must have existed, as some argued concerning MMT?
Here is a quotation of a paragraph (omitting 2 footnotes) from A.
I. Baumgarten, vol. I, p. 202:
"Approval of the new tax was not, however, unanimous. The Qumran
sectarians, who had qualms either about the legitimacy of the tax and/or of
the way the Temple was being run by those who collected it, refused to pay
it. [n.17] Those at Qumran agreed that a ransom to God should be paid
(Exod. 30:12), but insisted that it need be done only once in a lifetime.
Who received their money is a very interesting question beyond our ability
to answer. [n.18]"
One possible answer: they held the money, awaiting a renewed
Temple. Similarly, the copper scroll, IMO, lists money and objects for the
temple (eventually), not from it.
Stephen Goranson email@example.com