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Re: orion Two questions.
In response to Mark Dunn's questions:
Qumran, from circa 100 BCE to circa 70 CE would appear to have
been, for most of that time, a fairly quiet, peaceful place. Essenes from
elsewhere apparently came and went, and worked there, but there is little
reason to think there was much outside traffic. So, not entirely cut off
from the world, but, for most of that time, a relatively out-of-the-way
site which most others paid little mind. The material culture shows no
great wealth, though the treasury evidently was considerable. Whether that
site had been owned by an Essene who donated it or was merely far enough
away to arouse little offense or attention would be interesting to know.
That Qumran was destroyed in 68 or 70 or so is agreed. But before
that, back to c.100 BCE, there appear to have been only two physical
upheavals. The 31 BCE earthquake, which most agree caused some damage, and
an intentional destruction dating approximately within 7 to 3 BCE. The
latter possibly resulted from the agitation and perhaps paranoia of Herod
the Great's last years or from the unrest following his death. (For
example, perhaps some temporary gang sought the wealth that the Tyrian
silver coins attests to.) But in both cases Qumran was apparently rebuilt
without much delay. Evidently it was not considered a fortress nor the
inhabitants soldiers. In the war of c.40 BCE, Ein Gedi (which was
fortified) was destroyed, as archaeology shows. This is confirmed, IMO, by
the source in Pliny from c. 15 BCE describing Qumran/Ein Feshkha then as
peaceful and Ein Gedi as still in ashes or like a graveyard. If the
Hasmoneans or Herod (before 7 or so) wished Qumran destroyed, they were
capable. The pursuit of the teacher of righteousness (Judah, I think) by
the wicked priest (Alexander Jannaeus, I think) would more likely have been
in the "land of Damascus," east of the Jordan and north than at Qumran.
There have been several publications (e.g., by George Brooke; S.
Talmon, et al.) discussing possible Qumran views of exile and of wilderness
(cf. e.g., Isa. 40:3 in S), as well as a proposal by B. Z. Wacholder
suggesting a link with geography in Ezekiel.
As I suggested before, more attention might be given to the
toparchy lists in Pliny and in Josephus.
Stephen Goranson firstname.lastname@example.org