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RE: orion-list: Friendly Clarification
I am still puzzled by this debate.
(1) Altman's calculations assume that the description of Essenes in
Josephus requires them to be working hard in the blazing sun for 16 hours a
day, with no attempt to avoid the heat of the day as one would have to at
Qumran. What passages imply this? She specifies, moreover, that with their
morning rituals they would only be getting out to the fields late morning
and have to work at the hottest time of day. But I get a very different
impression from Josephus:
"Before the sun is up they . . . offer . . . certain prayers . . . they are
then dismissed . . . to the various crafts . . . until the fifth hour, when
they again assemble . . . (purification, followed by breakfast)" (War
2:128ff). This suggests to me that they do their work before noon, followed
by a cold bath and refrehsments . . . ?
(2) In any case, using Josephus for a description of Qumran Essenes is a
red herring. Whoever lived at Qumran, and whatever the Essenes were,
Josephus is clearly not attempting to describe the life of Essenes at
Qumran. He has primarily in view city/town Essenes, and his description is
"They occupy no one city, but settle in large numbers in every town . . .
in every city . . ." (War, 2:124, 126).
(3) The question in my mind is: if we could take Josephus to Qumran, would
he recognize these as Essenes or not? For all the ambiguities with defining
Essenes, I have no doubt that he would, but I am also quite confident that
he was not particularly describing this community. Pliny, on the other
hand, I think did have in mind the community at Qumran, which he knew only
by legend as a community of the famed Essenes.
Dr. Daniel K. Falk
Assistant Professor of Ancient Judaism and Biblical Studies
Department of Religious Studies
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1294
Office phone: (541) 346-4980
Office fax: (541) 346-4118
From: Rochelle I. Altman [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2000 9:03 PM
Subject: orion-list: Friendly Clarification
My dear Pfann,
You do not know to what support I refer? Then I shall repeat what I wrote:
>I thank you for your support. You have shown that I am right about: a)
>donkeys, b) drinking water being carted in, and c) a source -- and that
>is ALL you have shown.
I must thank you again. The case against the "Essenes-at-Qumran" is only
strengthened by such an egregious example of an out-of-context quotation.
Indeed, this one is so outrageous in its perversity that it has relieved
me of any compunctions as to calling a spade a spade.
The distance of "2 miles" is as the crow flies; we are talking about sub-
stantially more than 5 kilometers on foot via a rough track that climbs
up and down. In the desert, a source of water is considered nearby/close/a
walk -- if the source can be walked to *without* carrying a water container
with one; a distance of 150 to 200 meters. If one must carry a water skin/
bag/canteen, then a source more than 5 kilometers away is neither nearby
nor a "walk"; it is a trip -- and one must calculate how much water to
carry with one.
Nobody who does his IDF service in the field could possibly have come up
with such a foolish idea as a water source more than 5 kilometers away
over a rough track with many ascents and descents as being "nearby."
One plans water supplies for trips; for day-today living at a site, a
water source 5 kilometers away on foot may as well be on the moon.
Further, there are good reasons for the Spanish "siesta" and the same
reasons lie behind the fact that throughout the Mediterranean businesses
closed, and in many areas still do close, between 1:30 and 5:00 pm.
Nobody who has farmed, or gardened for that matter, in a hot climate --
where people get up in the dark and are _out_ of the fields by 10:00 am --
could possibly attribute the life-style of the Essenes *as described* to
the people who lived at Qumran. In addition, one does not leave farm
implements out in the field; one carries them home.
Because of their morning rituals, after having walked more than 5
carrying a water bag, a personal shovel, and farm implements, these Essenes
would be arriving at the fields at around 10:00 am, just when everybody
is heading for the shade. They would then have to do hard labor for four or
five hours out in the hottest part of the day. Finally, at around 2:30 pm,
after a full day's work, these "farming" folk would have to refill their
water skins, hoist their farming implements, hook on their personal
and walk back more than 5 kilometers in the heat. If that is an "Essene"
cemetery, then they all dropped dead of heat exhaustion en route.
We know "where"; nobody denies that someone lived at Qumran, but we do NOT
know who or what or why. Even 'when' is an open question -- as it is clear
that the site was used by different peoples at different times across the
centuries. As per the description in Josephus, the "Essenes" were not among
One may know oxidation chemistry, but be unable to build a campfire. Talk
to people in the real world, not theoreticians.
I must also thank you for giving a practical demonstration as to why the
Qumran field of studies is urgently in need of reality checks.
Now I have to go dig and weed to prepare the garden for winter.
Dr. Rochelle I. Altman, co-coordinator IOUDAIOS-L email@example.com
For private reply, e-mail to "Daniel K. Falk" <dfalk@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU>
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