Friday, September 28, 2012

The ASOR blog | Qumran a Genizah?

The ASOR blog | Article by Jodi Magness
Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls


In this article, David Stacey wrote:

1. “It is unlikely that either the Hasmonean Kings, or Herod, would tolerate an independent community setting up camp at a site of some economic and strategic importance.”

I agree with this view.

2.  “the scrolls were most likely brought to the site as genizah deposits”

I disagree. For the same reason that Herod would not have permitted an independent community at Qumran, it is unlikely that Qumran was a genizah. Neither Herod, nor Agrippa I would have tolerated the War scroll, the Temple Scroll or 4QMMT, for example, to have been on view in the caves at Qumran. Inflammatory texts were kept under lock and key in Agrippa I’s archives. These were raided by the priests and set on fire shortly before the Romans commanded by Nero invaded. The priests then took the scrolls to Qumran and to the Judean desert thinking to preserve them for the future. There was then no Herod to stop them, and they had killed Agrippa I. The story is obfuscated in War 2.17.6. - the "priests went into the vaults under ground". The priests were now in charge.  They wanted to "restore the sacrifices as formerly"  (War 2.17.3).  That was with a new temple.

They did something similar with the treasure they took from Agrippa I’s vaults, burying it all over the place, and keeping a record on the copper scroll found in Cave 3. The burial of treasure according to the copper Scrolls (there were two) anticipated the imminent invasion of the Roman army under Nero in 66.  Later, the Romans under Vespasian must have recovered that treasure, because none has ever been found.  The Romans released the priests who had been imprisoned during Nero's reign. Some of those priests revealed the whereabouts of the treasure.  The remaining prophets were taken to Rome for Vespasian's triumph, and the priests were available to do his bidding - hence Josephus (a most unlikely character) was created to edit an already existing earlier form of Antiquities, and write War and Life.  'Josephus' was one of the priests, a traitor to the Jewish priestly cause, who was released by Vespasian.  After the capture of the temple from the prophets (the only event of Vespasian's so-called war), there were agreements between the priests and Vespasian.       

3.  "A peripheral source of water was the Iron Age cistern at Qumran which was fed by capturing rain run-off. This was a minor source but its exploitation for humble, but necessary, water intensive industries such as pottery making, the scouring and dyeing of wool, curing and tanning leather and parchment etc. prevented the need to use the ‘expensive’ water in Jericho for such low-return purposes. An incidental advantage was that all these industries, which produced noxious fumes and foul smells, attracted swarms of flies and mosquitoes, and were generally and ritually polluting, were carried out well away from the Royal Palaces.”

So this genizah would have been very unusual one. being spread around the Judean desert. It is a figment of David's imagination. If Qumran was ritually polluting, as you imply David, wouldn’t that alone have made it unsatisfactory as a genizah for what the priests considered was God’s holy word?  You have shot yourself in the foot.