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Re: Copper Scroll (was Re: orion-list Essenes, Zias article, etc.
In a message dated 99-12-10 11:11:56 EST, Stephen Goranson wrote:
<< Thanks for your comments. Detailed evaluation of your article must
await a reading. (Please send the citation to the orion bibliography when
available.) I will be interested to read, for instance, which items you
propose match Josephus text. Lefkovits may be right about the karsh
proposal, but this IMO is not certain, rather, a matter under discussion.
Again you asserted that only the temple and not Essenes could have the
amount you calculate. But that assertion is not self-evident. Long-lasting
ascetic groups sometimes amass great wealth. Again you did not convey why
to assume that none of the coin hoards you discuss can have been Essene. If
you have no opinion on the Greek letters, and allow a possible long period
of deposits (and also removals?), then my proposal, which incidently
reduces the total, may be worth considering. In any case, I assume that
there is more to learn about this text.
Dear Stephen Goranson,
Thank you for your comments. In my paper, I made no effort to match
individual Copper Scroll treasures to Josephus, just to recovered hoards of
silver shekels of the period 30 B.C.E. to the fall of Masada. However,
Josephus (Wars, Book 6, 429-32, Whiston translation) wrote: "others they
made search for underground...a great deal of treasure was found in these
caverns." Copper Scroll treasures (Milik's numbering) 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 17
contained silver coins and appear to have been concealed underground in
Jerusalem, in cisterns or other underground chambers. Of course, the
"treasure" taken by the Romans must have been primarily privately-owned and
not religious property like the Copper Scroll treasures [this has been
disputed, but I will not discuss it here as it is irrevelant to my study],
but possibly one or more of these six treasures were included.
All of my calculations assume that Lefkovits' proposal in re karsh is
correct. If it is not, then no coin hoard is as large as the smallest
treasure, and the total is very much higher.
To appreciate the size of the Copper Scroll treasure we need to compare it to
the annual revenues of the Temple or the total monetary stock of Judaea at
the time. Arye Ben-David, Jerusalem und Tyros, 1969, calculated the revenues
of the second Temple as 450,000 Tyrian shekels annually. If we assume this
to be correct, the total annual receipts were only 296 talents. But the
Temple had large expenses, so only a portion of this would have been retained
for the treasury. If they were able to save 10% every year, it would take
77.8 years to accumulate 2,300 talents. It could thus be argued that 2,300
talents was not utterly beyond the means of the Temple by the time of the
First Revolt--but surely the Essenes, as a small minority sect, could never
have approached such a sum. And if we argue that Qumran was the world
headquarters of the Essenes, and that the Copper Scroll treasure was Essene,
then we are left with the Essenes concealing 0.366 talents in their
headquarters and 2,304.62 talents of silver--plus another 302.5 talents of
gold--elsewhere. This is the basis for my conclusion that the Copper Scroll
was not prepared by the Essenes.
However, this subject deserves further study than I can give it in this brief
Regarding the coin hoards, there is of course no way to determine the
religious beliefs of those concealing them, and I made no attempt to do that.
If your suggestion that the Greek letters indicate removal of the treasure is
correct, which is certainly possible, then almost 960 talents of silver
should be subtracted from the amount. You could then argue (and perhaps
have) that these 960 talents became, say, the 400 talents of treasure 30 plus
the 600 of treasure 59. This would reduce the total to around 1,344 talents.
I still think that this is far beyond the means of the Essenes.
Thank you again for your helpful comments.
Robert D. Leonard Jr.
For private reply, e-mail to RLWinnetka@aol.com
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