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orion Hirschfeld's Excavations
In the Nando Times News article it is reported that Adolfo Roitman, director
of the Israel Musemum's Shrine of the Book "challenged Hirschfeld's theory,
saying it was based on an improper translation of the Latin word 'infra'. In
this case, Roitman said, Pliny meant Ein Gedi was south of the Essene site --
not below it physically as Hirschfeld contends."
H. Rachman in "Pliny, Natural History With an English Translation In Ten
Volumes," Vol. II, Harvard University Press (1942) translates the relevant
passage as follows: "On the west side of the Dead Sea, but out of range of the
noxious exhalations of the coast [parenthetically, this would seem to
disqualify Qumran if Magness is correct in the BAR article about the level of
the Dead Sea at the time of the occupation of the site during from about 100
BCE to 68 CE], is the solitary tribe of the Essens, . . . . Lying below the
Essens was formerly the town of Engedi, second only to Jerusalem in the
fertility of its land and in its groves of palm-trees, but now like Jerusalem
a heap of ashes. Next comes Masada, a fortress on a rock, itself not far from
the Dead Sea. This is the limit of Judea."
Assuming Pliny's sources was based on a source from the time of Herod the
Great [I believe that SG (based on Stern and VanderKam) argues for Marcus
Vispanius Agrippa speaking at or about 15 BCE], it is perfectly clear that
someone updated information from that source to a time after 70 CE.
In Rackman's translation he translates "infra" as "below", however, it appears
that below sometimes means physically below as opposed to "south of." For
p. 276 "Infra hos Engada etc." "Lying below the Essenes was. . . Engedi. .
p. 289 "Infra Palmyrae solitudines . . . ." "Below the desert of Palmyrae . .
p. 353 "Infra Agdeos, Carnas. . . ." "Below there the Agdaei. . . ."
p. 409 "Infra haec omnia planiora. . . ." "Below these places the whole
country is more level.
The word "supra" is sometimes translated to physically higher than and
sometimes "north of." It is curious how Roitman is so sure that Pliny means
I would also note that Masada is called a fort but the site of the Essenes is
not called a fort. Somewhere banished from this list IH must be laughing.