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orion khirbet 'esse?
I write to ask about khirbet 'esse, and similarly named places. As
a starting place, there is a site, khirbet 'esse (spelled, in this
instance, ayin-e-shin-shin-e) in northern Jordan, about 10 km east of the
southernmost point of the Sea of Galilee. It has Roman and Byzantine
sherds, according to S. Mittmann, Beitraege zur Siedlungs- und
Territorialgeschichte des noerdlichen Ostjordanlandes (Wiesbaden, 1970) 24.
First, is anyone aware of a more recent publication or survey of the site?
(I'm told by e-mail that the Jordan archaeological bibligraphy, JADIS, does
not provide one.)
There are several interrelated questions, including: is this place
identical to any of the places mentioned in rabbinic literature with
similar spellings (and variants)? Is the place name derived from its
inhabitants, hypothetically, Essenes (spelled with ayin and sin)? Is this
within the "land of Damascus"? Is this within the (midbar of) Kohalit? Is
Essa mentioned by Josephus relevant here?
To try to fill in some of the information, briefly:
Rabbinic literature includes places with similar names, and some of
them may be in this geographic area. For instance, Assya,
(ayin-samek-yod-aleph) is listed with Gadar, Hamath, and Tiberias as places
with permitted spring bathing in BT Sabbath 109a. A place (or places?),
Essasayoth (ayin, double samek) is mentioned in BT Gittin 4b. Adolphe
Nebauer, Le Geographie du Talmud (Paris, 1868) 38, 273, 312, etc. gives
many references. (What would be a good recent study?) There are spelling
variants, including aleph/ayin and Ss.
Then there's KXLT where Alexander Jannaeus had victories (in
trans-Jordan?) before a dinner attended by sectarian strife, according to
bQidd 66a; the Copper scroll mentions KWXLYT four times (and a fifth,
Josephus Ant 13.393 [15.3] has Essa, but that is usually, and
perhaps rightly, taken to be a mistake for Gerasa, which is in the parallel
text in War 1.104. S. Mittmann discussed *this* Essa in ZDPV 103 (1987)
49f. R. Bergmeier in ZDPV 113 (1997) 75f (abandoning the etymology offered
in his book, Aramaic XSY), proposed Essene origins from Gerasa. There may
be problems with, e.g., his chronology (of Qumran and the land of
Damascus), and the place name(s) could have come from the group rather than
vice versa (if there is any relationship), but he gives some bibliography
(to which C. Salmasius, Plinianae exercitationes, 1629, could be added,
which raised geography, Epiphanius' Ossenes, O/E interchange, etc.). But
Bergmeier doesn't discuss either khirbet 'esse or rabbinic placenames.
G. Vermes cited (RQ 7 143), in a playful way, Genesis Rabbah
36, 8: "It was taught: It happened that R. Meir was B)SYY), and there was
no scroll of Esther there. He recited it by heart and wrote it down."
Vermes noted the suggested (and unlikely) reading "in Asia [Minor]" and the
Palestinian town name
reading, and then asked: "But why not try 'Essenes' [in his Aramaic
spelling] instead...?" But Rabbi Meir was from Tiberias, and, if Neubauer's
suggestion is right, the town south of the Yarmouk River would be a
reasonable place for him to go to give the Esther scroll to a group lacking
Khirbet 'Esse is on maps of Mittmann, G. Schumacher ZDPV 1896 (he
translates the Arabic as "nest"), E. Hoehne 1979, Pixner RQ 1983, etc.
Previously, on orion, the one cylindrical (so-called "scroll") jar
from near Abila was noted.
Has anyone comments or bibliography on a possible Essene/Ossene
settlement in north Jordan?
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