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RE: orion-list Translations of Josephus

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The word used for "wilderness" or "desert" in the passage from Josephus is
)ERHMI/A, which means a desolate place, or a place of solitude (the word
hermit comes from it).  I'm not sure it bears upon the issue you're raising
since it has to do only indirectly with the amount of water.  In any case,
you should probably imagine something more on the order of the Badlands in
South Dakota rather than the Sahara.  For bathing, the Greek has POLLA/KIS
LOUO/MENON, the second word being a middle or passive participle from LOU/W,
to "wash" in the active voice, and to "bathe" (possibly in a river, Liddell
and Scott suggests) in the middle or passive voice (which is what we have
here).  "Ablutions" simply means a ritual washing of all or part of one's
body, and apparently has the advantage of being taken from the related Latin
root to the Greek word in question, but probably doesn't really tell you how
much water Bannus had to wash in, and whether he was sprinkling or dunking

Comparisons of past water levels of the Dead Sea with the level in recent
decades are misleading, since one reason the water level has been falling is
undoubtedly related to the use of water from the Jordan system for a variety
of purposes.  There has been some discussion of that issue sometime in the
past on Orion (or possibly IOUDAIOS).

David Suter
Saint Martin's College
For private reply, e-mail to "Suter, David" <dsuter@stmartin.edu>
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