Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Scrolls Deposited After the Fall of Jerusalem? (The Heritage Key, Monday 07/06/2009)

Owen Jarus interviewed Yuval Peleg, and wrote:  "I also questioned him on his idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls were deposited in the Qumran caves by refugees who were fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD."

Peleg's idea:
OJ: One question that I had about the idea that people were depositing these scrolls on the way out is why didn’t they just carry them with them so to speak?
YP: Beyond Qumran?
OJ: Beyond Qumran
YP: You to have to see the area - Qumran is the last station. The water came to the cliffs after Qumran. You have to go through the water, through the Dead Sea, in order to go south. Or climb the cliffs. Continuing to go with scrolls and stuff? Just put it in the caves.

Its a ridiculous idea.  If the Roman army was surrounding Jerusalem, hoards of people carrying scrolls (on donkeys or by foot) would hardly have gone unnoticed.  The Scrolls were deposited in the few months before the invasion of Nero's armies, and that means before 66 CE.  This was a massive operation by anyone's standards.  The priests knew that Nero was coming for them because they had killed Agrippa I and James the prophet. Now Nero was going to eliminate the priests.

But what danger would the Scrolls have been in if left in Jerusalem?  It has struck me as incredible that the Romans were not aware of the existence of the Scrolls.  You can bet they would have have been greatly interested in the War Scroll. 

The Scrolls were originally under the control of the king, Agrippa I.  From the king's (and the Roman's) point of view, some of the documents (the War Scroll is a good example) would have been extremely sensitive.  War 2.17.6 looks highly suspicious. It was probably originally as follows: "The priests set fire to the palace: after which they made haste to where the archives were reposited. The keepers of the records fled away. Some of the high priests went into the vaults, under ground."  As night follows day, the burning of the palace was followed by retrieval of the archives. This would agree with Rengstorf: the Scrolls came from one library, Agrippa 1's library.  The priests would certainly not have wanted their scrolls burned. The burning of contracts belonging to creditors was pure obfuscation.   

In the the garbled text of Life 8, we have something very close to this: "But he told them, that now they had been so unfortunate as to be made a 'present' by Nero to Agrippa...that the archives were now removed." This was in a speech of one 'Justus' (possibly Ananus the leader of Jerusalem) who was encouraging the priests (people) to revolt out of the hatred they bore for the prophets of Ein Gedi (the people of Sepphoris). 

So now we have a motive for taking and hiding the Scrolls.  The priests wanted to revive the old warrior priesthood. 

Thanks Robert Cargill for deleting my posts to your blog.  

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