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orion-list Part 2: The Maccabees and the Roots of the Dead Sea Communities

Below is the second bit of text from a book written BEFORE the widespread
release of Dead Sea material, but which does a very good job of
describing the factors at play during the time of the Maccabees that
would lead to the formation of secretive, disciplined, hierarchical
zealots distributed in villages throughout Judea:

The Maccabees, by Moshe Pearlman,  1973, Published by Macmillan
Publishing Company

[continued from prior email^]

p.  89:
After much reflection, Judah must have recognized that to do this would
require revolutionary changes in the size, location and maintenance of
his force.  He would need more men to undertake action on the scale he
envisaged^ They would begin to suffer casualties - - these had been
minimal so far - - and continuous replacements were essential.  The kind
of numbers he expected to recruit to his ranks could not all be
permanently stationed, sheltered, and fed in Gophna, even if, unlike the
original group from Modi^in, they came alone and not with their families
and cattle^.. bases would need to be established - - closer to the areas
of proposed action.  It would be best to station small concentrated units
in the different districts throughout rural Judea.  Each could operate in
its own region, yet be ready to augment another force for major action
anywhere else.

It is reasonable to suppose that these considerations led Judah to the
concept of a militia, for it is clear from subsequent events that the
fighters of Judea must have followed the pattern of underground
militiamen.  One can imagine that Judah now devised a scheme whereby
Gophna continued for the time being as the base for the main core fo his
force, his general headquarters and the principal guerilla training
centre.  Volunteers would henceforth proceed in the usual clandestine way
to Gophna, where they would undergo basic training [initiation].  Their
wives, parents and children would stay behind to tend the fields and
ensure a steady supply of produce.

Upon completion of their training, the volunteers would return to their
villages, conceal their weapons [including a hatchet?] and resume their
farming; but they they would come under the military command of one of
Judah^s officers responsible for their district [overseers?].  They would
be on permanent call by this local commander, either for an operation on
their own or with other units, and would return from an engagement to the
life of a farmer.

In this way Judah would have his men stationed through Judea; comouflaged
as innocent farmers, they would be ^invisible^ as guerillas to the
occupation troops; and they would maintain themselves, thereby relieving
general headquarters of the arduous problems of food, shelter and the
movement of supplies.

The militia system would also provide more eyes and ears for Judah^s
intelligence network.  Each militiaman would be a one-man intelligence
unit, able to file his report quickly to the nearby district commander^.
There is little doubt that Judah had established contact with trustworthy
Jerusalem Jews, men whose hearts were with the rebels^ and there were
ways of passing them on [by means of codes and other secret signs?].

To get his militia system started, Judah, his brothers and his principal
lieutenants must have undertaken an intensive recruiting campaign,
visiting between them every village in Judea, explaining to the men^ how
they would now be able to farm and fight, thus intensifying the struggle
with less disruuption of village life.  District commands were probably
established soon after, officered by local men, veteran volunteers who
had proved themselves at Gophna^.

p. 98:
Whether or not it was precisely such operations which marked the opening
of the Maccabee^s new military phase, they are in keeping with what we
know from the records of the Seleucid occupation pattern and of Judah^s
later tactics^. The ancient texts show that Judah carried out
wide-ranging attacks which soon made it impossible for the imperial
[Greek] mercenaries to mvoe freely in rural Judea.  The countryside was
under the effective control of the Maccabees.  Seleucid rule in Judea was
confined to Jerusalem alone^."

>From the Maccabees emerged the foundations of a secretive, numerous,
disciplined, hardened core of zealous warriors which, over time, became
increasingly ascetic and increasingly similar to the descriptions of the
Dead Sea Scrolls and even to less "idealistic" writings about the Essenes
(email me for the relevant sections of Hippolytus !).  Naturally, in a
communities as harsh as those described in the scrolls, there are
factions that become dissatisfied and who leave:  most likely "The
Pharisees" and "The Scribes".  Now the question merely remains as to
WHEN.  We already know when
the Dead Sea "assemblies" are forged (some time after the Maccabee
retreat to The Wilderness in 166 BC, but before the death of Judah in 160
BC).  Sometime within the next 10 or 20 years (per Josephus) the
Pharisees define themselves.  Any one have some pet theories on exactly
how the Sadducees (with philosophical links to the Dead Sea communities)

George Brooks
Tampa, FL
For private reply, e-mail to George Brooks <george.x.brooks@juno.com>
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