Two notes on a Jerusalem Report/Post article, "The Qumran Quandry" By Ziv
1) Reportedly, David Jesselsohn (the owner) and Israel Knohl speculated that
the--I add, possibly fake--inscription was found "apparently on the east coast
of the Dead Sea. Knohl says that based on the geological composition of the
stone, it was hewn near the narrow peninsula between the two main basins of the
Dead Sea - and that there was a Jewish community in that vicinity in antiquity.
He also posits the existence of another tablet containing earlier parts of the
story, which seems to begin in the middle in the stone Jeselsohn purchased." I
am not a geologist; is this claim of a Lisan-limited provenance technically
plausible? Positing a second tablet seems imaginative to say the least. This
inscription does not appear to resemble known tomb inscriptions. Knohl's
interpretation may mix two streams of thought.
2) Reportedly, "[Lawrence] Schiffman points to a major puzzle relating to the
Essenes - they are not mentioned in any ancient Hebrew text. "The first time
the word 'Essenes' is written in Hebrew is during the Renaissance," asserts
Schiffman. This is particularly anomalous given that Josephus portrayed the
Essenes as the third major political-religious movement in the late Second
Temple period, alongside the Pharisees and Sadducees - yet, in contrast to the
latter two groupings, neither the New Testament nor the entire corpus of
Talmudic writings ever once speak of the Essenes. Nor does the word appear in
the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves."
Though the Modern Hebrew for Essenes is not in the scrolls, the Hebrew
original for the Greek spellings of Essenes, 'osey hatorah, observers of torah,
is in the Qumran mss, in texts (the pesharim) recognized on other grounds as
Essene. That "Essenes" came from Hebrew was recognized, and in effect
predicted, as early as 1532 by Philip Melanchthon in J. Carion, Chronica
folio 68 verso: "Essei / das ist / Operarii / vom vort Assa / das ist
wirken." And N. Serarius cited D. Chytraeus [Kochhafe], Onomasticon, as
deriving Essenes from the Hebrew root 'asah and calling Essenes "factores
legis" in J. Triglandius, Trium scriptorium illustrium de tribus judaeorum
sectis syntagma (Delft: A. Berman, 1703) 107.