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orion-list Another Proof for Doers = Essenes ?



I may have stumbled onto what MAY be another way of proving
that Prof. Goranson is on the right track about "DOERS" being
the key source for the term Essene.
 
There is an anonymous Greek encyclopedia (c. 1000 C.E.) called
the Suda Lexicon (Suidas Lexicon).  In this work is a paragraph
or two on the Essenes.  As a convenience I provide the URL
for the Suda entry on the net, as well as the contact person of
the organization:
 
> http://www.stoa.org/sol/source/findentry.shtml 
     Search under:  Epsilon, 3123 
 
   Contact for Suda Project: Ross Scaife,
     scaife@pop.uky.edu
 
In the interests of space, I will here include only a few 
sentences of the transliterated Greek and the English:
 

> "Essaioi: Ioudaioi, asketai, Pharisaion kai Grammateon ten
> askesin ex epimetrou dianestekotes, progonoi Ionadab, 
> huiou Rhichab tou dikaiou.....
> 
> kai pan aischron apoballontai kai pasan allen areten 
> exaskousin. hoi epimelountai tes ethikes lexeos, theoriai de 
> ta polla paramenousin. enthen kai Essaioi kalountai, touto 
> delountos tou onomatos, toutesti theoretikoi. hoti Essaioi 
> huperteroi sphodra kai lian huperkeimenoi ton Pharisaion 
> kata ten politeian."
  
 
ROUGH ENGLISH:
"Essenes: Jews, ascetics, who stand quite above [stand
quite aloof from] the Pharisees and Scribes with reference
to their mode of life, the progeny [as in stepchildren] of
Jonadab, son of Rechab the Just One [the Righteous]....
 
And they reject all baseness and practice every other virtue.
These cultivate moral speech, and reflection / contemplation
generally abides [among them]. And from this they are called
Essaioi, with the name showing this, that is, that they are
contemplators. Thus the Essaioi very much excel and are very
much superior to the Pharisees throughout the country/state."
[END OF TEXT]
 

While it would be a great joy to work out better versions
of the translation, I want to focus the reader's attention
on the key points that I believe will not be too dependent
on the exact interpretation:

1) The author of this entry thinks the Essenes come from the
Rechabites of the Old Testament.
 
2) He thinks that the word "Essaioi" is a pun of some sort
connected with what we know about the Essenes, presumably
from just what we know from the encyclopedia entry.

3) He thinks the word has some "obvious" connection with
the notions of  "speculation" or "contemplation."
 
None of this may, in fact, be correct.  But for now let's
assume the author obtained his information from somewhere
other than his imagination.

As many of you have surely already done, I put various parts
of the word "Essaioi" into the "analyzer" page of the Perseus
website.  In terms of useful insights, I got **nada**,
**bupkiss**, **nothing**.   I then wondered what would happen
if we put a breath in front of "Essai" - - which seems to be
as easy to add as it is to remove from old writings.  This is
what I found:
 
> LSJ/PERSEUS LEXICON CITATION:
>
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/morphindex?lookup=hessai&.submit=Ana
lyze+Form&lang=Greek&corpus=2.0&display=Latin+transliteration&formentry=1
 
> Hiz˘ =  "to make to sit, seat, place"
> [Entry in LSJ or Middle Liddell]
> 	hessai 	aor imperat mid 2nd sg poetic
> 	hessai 	aor inf act poetic
> 	hessai_ 	aor opt act 3rd sg poetic

 
> And from Strongs, I obtained the following:
> 
> **Strong's Number:  2523 kathizo {kath-id'-zo}  
>        AV - sit 26, sit down 14, set 2, be set 2,
>	 be set down 2,  continue 1, tarry 1;
> 	 48 entries.
>           1) to make to sit down
>           1a) to set, appoint, to confer a kingdom on one
>           2) intransitively
>           2a) to sit down
>           2b) to sit
>           2b1) to have fixed one's abode
>           2b2) to sojourn, to settle, settle down
 
Before everyone gets too excited, please follow this
line of thinking:

1) What if the Essenes refered to themselves as DOERS
OF THE LAW just as has been suggested?

2) What if someone of the late-Hasmonean or early-Herodian
establishment thought this was (or the Essenes were)
presumptuous and wanted to poke fun at these DOERS.  He
might just start to refer to them by the abbreviation:
"SITTERS".
 
This is not to say that ESSENE is based on the word for
SITTERS.  It means that the term Essene may have become
a humorous and/or ironic one for the general population
(or amongst the "notables") to use because of the intrinsic
humor of implying that the "DOERS" were really "SITTERS".

Lets look at the internal evidence for this idea:
1) What do "contemplators" do plenty of?  SITTING.
2) What do the Essenes do during there most important
meal ritual?  SIT.
3) There is the connection between SITTING in or
DWELLING in one's "seat of authority", which would
certainly apply to a hierarchical organization like the
Essenes.  Finally...
3) What were the Rechabites declared to be for eternity?
"SOJOURNERS" or "DWELLERS" in a land that will not be
called theirs? ... indeed, they were to be SOJOURNERS
in the land forever.

This is **NOT** a sideways swipe at the primacy of
the use for DOERS.  Quite the contrary.  As I typed
in a dozen or so iterations of aspects of the term
"Essaioi" in the Perseus website, I rejected each and
every one because they didn't seem to make much sense,
or they didn't tie in with the DOERS trajectory in any
particularly convincing way.

And then, when I hit on "TO SIT" - - I could only
stop and ask myself a question.  If I were going to
pin a word usage on a group that perceived themselves
as DOERS, I would chuckle all day if I could find a very
similar sounding word that meant the complete opposite.
 
Thus, the primacy of DOERS remains intact!  Especially
as a part of the Essenes self-perception.  But references
to the term SITTERS may be how the general population
or some of the upper-crust Palestinians amused themselves
at the expense of the zealously devout (and perhaps even
sanctimonious?) Essenes.
 
George Brooks
Tampa, FL
For private reply, e-mail to George Brooks <george.x.brooks@juno.com>
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