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Re: orion-list War Scroll and Cargo cults
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These are some interesting and entertaining ideas about the fictional
and/or fantastic nature of the War Scroll. There are a few studies that have
arrived at the opposite view for at least certain portions of the War Scroll.
In 1969, Osten-Sacken made a very interesting and in my opinion
compelling comparison between the battle against Gorgias described in 1 Macc.
3:38-4:25 and the ritual-dominated battle sequence with speeches and hymns
found in the later portions of the War Scroll (Gott und Belial, 63-67). The
earliest, "primitive" sections of the War Scroll appear to come out of the
early Maccabean war (say 165-164 BCE).
Duhaime authored a very interesting paper in 1988 showing that 1QM 3-9 is
directly comparable in content and genre to Greek and Roman tactical manuals.
This by itself doesn't necessarily argue against Baumgarten's hypothesis
that the War Scroll is a Cargo Cult imitation of foreign military procedures,
but it indicates that this imitation (whether for practical or fanciful
purposes) was likely based on some current available Tactica.
I've written two articles, one in 1996 showing that 1QM 3-9 closely
copies the formations, tactics and weaponry of the Roman legions of the
second century BCE. The second, in 1998, dated the final version of 1QM to
summer 163 BCE, based on historical allusions to the Maccabean conflict in
columns 1-2. Column 2 contains an allusion to the restoration of the temple
in the sabbath year of 164/163 BCE. 1QM 1:1-2 contains allusions, in proper
sequence, to the military campaigns of Judas Maccabaeus in 164 and 163 BCE,
ending in summer 163 BCE just before the major conflict with Lysias. The
rest of 1QM 1 describes the upcoming anticipated battle in highly colored
eschatological terms, the sons of light against the forces of Belial, and
predicts a victory for the Maccabean forces. One might call this fantasy or
fiction. One might also call it (failed) prophecy or propaganda. But I
don't think we can label the whole scroll fiction because of the military
optimism of this or certain other passages.
My own conclusion is that the War Scroll was the official war manual of
the Maccabean forces, which incorporated Roman tactics in 164-163 BCE. Yet
the War Scroll also integrates Biblical legislation regarding war. I would
point out that according to 1Macc. 3:54 Judas organized his army by 1000s,
100s, 50s and 10s according to conventions also in the Torah, 1QM, 1QS and
CD. 1 Macc. 3:55 also showed he allowed certain categories to avoid military
service "according to the law". 1 Macc. 4:41-47 (the cleansing of the
temple) also shows close attention to legal matters of purity that show Judas
Maccabee working hand-in-hand with other priests in matters of halakhah. The
War Scroll shows considerable effort in implementing the Torah in the
military realm. The fact that some aspects of the War Scroll would be
difficult to implement effectively in the field (such as soldiers who slew
the enemy possibly being removed from military action for seven days) does
not convince me that the Hasidim did not put them into practice. After all,
the height of impracticality is a requirement at Jub. 50:12 prohibiting
making war on the sabbath. Yet from 1 Macc. 2:29-38 we learn that there were
certain Jews "seeking righteousness and justice" who refused to defend
themselves on the sabbath and were killed. From 1 Macc. 2:39-41 we learn the
Maccabees ruled that self-defense was permissible on the sabbath. So I
continue to be interested to see just where the War Scroll draws the line
between practicalities and Torah.
By the way, David, my reading of Judith 16:21-25 isn't that Judith went
home and lived out her life in obscurity. That might be an overstatement,
since this passage emphasizes at length her lifelong fame throughout Israel.
Is your point that, in contrast to the Maccabees, Judith did not aspire to
higher office, say queen?
J. Duhaime, "The War Scroll from Qumran and the Graeco-Roman Tactical
Treatises", RevQ 13 (1988) 135-51
R. Gmirkin, "The War Scroll and Roman Weaponry Reconsidered", DSD 3
(1996) 89-129, for the second century BCE date of the tactics and weaponry.
R. Gmirkin, "Historical Allusions in the War Scroll", DSD 5 (1998)
172-214, for the second century BCE date of the tactics and weaponry.
P. von der Osten-Sacken, Gott und Belial: Traditiongeschichtliche
Untersuchungen zum Dualismus in den Texten aus Qumran (Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht: Göttingen, 1969)
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