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Re: Dss related questions (copper scroll)
Russell Gmyrken wrote:
I don't understand on what historical basis you believe the Ptolemies
remained in control of and maintained property in portions of Palestine into
the Hasmonean period. The was a war between Antiochus the Great and the
Ptolemies' Greek-mercenary general Scopas that decided this whole issue in
Granted. But not in the Transjordan. Hyrcanus Tobiad was clearly not ruled by
the Seleucids at any time during his lifetime. I believe that he died after
helping Jason try to retake the High Priesthood circa 169 BCE. As Hyrcanus
was a puppet ruler of the Ptolemaic Empire, I think it fair to say that they
remained in control of or at least in significant influence over this region
until at least 169 BCE. The question then becomes whether or not they lost
control immediately after the death of Hyrcanus. My answer to this would be
The dynamics of the situation are far more complicated than most would
assume. In 169 BCE, the Seleucids were worried about battling against Rome,
not only the Ptolemies. Romans were massing on both the western border of the
Seleucid empire and in Egypt. Antiochus didn't have time to mess around in
the East. He had to attack/defend those borders. In 168 BCE he was soundly
crushed by the Romans in Egypt and forced to flee to the North. Because of
this defeat, he was forced to pay an extreme level of tribute to the Romans,
something that forced him to rob all of the temples in his empire, including
Jerusalem. Did he have the time or the resources to take the Transjordan at
this point? Unlikely.
Beginning in 167 BCE. There arose a major uprising in the midst of his
empire, the Hasmonean rebellion. Could he have spared resources to attack the
Transjordan then? Again, unlikely.
A few years later in 163 BCE, he had to battle Demetrius for control of
the Seleucid empire. Did he have the ability to attack the Transjordan then?
When the Hasmoneans came to power, circa 159 BCE, pro-Ptolemaic forces
or semi-independent armies, such as the one possessed by Hyrcanus, lay on
their Eastern border. They were probably not under the influence of, much
less under the control of, the Seleucids.
Hence your conclusion is not necessarily correct:
"The Ptolemies lost and were evicted from Palestine. It really
wasn't until Herodian times (Anthony and Cleopatra) that a Ptolemaic queen
actually controlled portions of Palestine (hence my including this Cleopatra
as a marginally possible candidate for the "queen's residence" near
Russell continued, in response to my contention that the Queen in question
might be the Cleopatra who was a friend of Onias IV:
Actually, no. Not if you are talking 159 BCE, which is when you suggest the
copper scroll treasures were hidden. The letter of Onias IV to "Ptolemy and
Cleopatra" at Josephus, Ant. 13.65=13.3.1 refers to Ptolemy VI Philometer and
his queen, and was written possibly as late as the 140s, but definitely after
Onias IV assisted Ptolemy VI in the dynastic war against his brother Ptolemy
VII Euergetes during the 150s and 140s (see Polybius). So the letter you
allude to is anachronistic if used as evidence of a close friendship of Onias
IV and Cleopatra in 159.
Okay, so Cleo is not a good possibility. How about any other Ptolemaic queen?
I think that the best possibility is that the name given to the place has
nothing to do with a queen, but is simply a name like the "Ford of the High
But the main problem is -- how does this alleged
friendship gain Cleopatra a residence by Jericho when this was Seleucid real
estate in the 160s? (And note that the infant king Ptolemy Philometer
probably only married around 165-163.)
It was probably not Seleucid real estate.
Fair enough on the Tobiad region being pro-Ptolemaic. Of course this also
put them firmly in the anti-Seleucid Maccabean camp, as evidenced by the
Tobiad cavalry unit fighting in the Maccabean army, for instance.
No, not necessarily. There were two factions of the Tobiads. One was clearly
pro-Ptolemaic. The other may have been pro-strongest, not necessarily only
pro-Seleucid. Thus when the balance of power was shifting and money was
pouring in from Rome, the Jerusalem, former pro-Seleucid, Tobiads may have
joined the Hasmonean cause. Another possibility is that the Transjordan
Tobiads joined the Hasmoneans in order to defeat their current enemy, the
Seleucids, not necessarily because they supported the Hasmoneans.
But as for your thought that "hiding money in the Transjordan wouldn't have
much of a problem," I must politely disagree. In spring, 163 BCE, the
pro-Seleucid Gentile residents of Transjordan -- including those in the
vicinity of the sites in the Copper Scroll -- started capturing and killing
the perceived pro-Ptolemaic/anti-Seleucid Jewish residents in this region.
They appealed to Judas Maccabaeus for help, and with great difficulty he
managed to defeat the armies of Timotheus and evacuate the Jews to Jerusalem.
Something tells me that this is pro-Hasmonean rhetoric more than it is
historical truth. Perhaps the "difficulty" part is correct, but I would doubt
that this was the reason for the attack or the neccessity of defending the
Eastern border against anti-Hasmonean, not necessarily anti-Jewish forces.
These people feared Rome and Rome's influence. Afterall, Rome drove the
Seleucids into the ground because of their required tribute. I think that it
is possible that the residents of this region did not wish to come under
Roman control in the name of the Hasmoneans.
Russell concludes therefore:
Hence in 159 your pro-Ptolemaic Jews were either dead or gone.
No. They are the ones that gave the Hasmoneans a hard time and continued to
do so for many years after.
> Not so quick. Eupolemus was the son of John, son of someone named Akkos.
> Now, it is a jump to assume that this man was a priest, much less related
> family that lived near Jericho.
That Eupolemus was a priest is clearly brought out in the keen interest in
temple history and architecture in the preserved fragments of his history.
This is not evidence that he was a priest. The rabbis were all clearly
interested in these things. Were they all priests?
I refer you to Wacholder's book, _Eupolemus_, for the currently definitive
discussion. (He also discusses Eupolemus as a recent and credible source in
I/II Maccabees, which you might profit reading, given your downplaying II
Maccabees as a historical source in
your thesis -- by the way, sincere thanks for the copy.)
Thanks, I'll check it out and you're welcome.
> Moreover, you assume that the entire Akkos
> clan sided with the Hasmoneans simply because Eupolemus did, if he
> represented that faction of priests to begin with. It may well have been,
> Eupolemus was a priest of the family Akkos, that he represented the
> position in the family and could be the reason why he spoke so vehemently
> favor of the Hasmoneans.
He appears to have been a very prominent member of the family -- that he
represented the "minority position" seems a rather ad hoc suggestion.
Hyrcanus was prominent. Was he in the majority opinion of the Tobiad family
before or after his father and his brothers tried to kill him?
> However, the text of the Copper Scroll may again
> provide an out. The treasure was not buried in the House of the Akkos
> but in a cave near it. "Near" might refer to the closest cave, or even a
> close cave, and may have been at some distance from the site. Why do we
> connect all of the caves 1-11 to Qumran? Some were located at some
> from the site, were they not?
The natural explanation for the mention of specific estates in the Copper
Scroll is that certain individuals were assigned the duties for hiding
different portions of the temple treasure, and that the Copper Scroll
represents the "accounting." [The Greek letters have been plausibly
suggested as initials -- or name beginnings -- of the responsible parties.]
So I would say this is a cave either on the Akkos estate or known to them --
and given the Akkos clan connection with the temple treasury, this approaches
a near certainty in my opinion.
You are right that the most likely explanation is that they knew. Therefore,
I would argue that the family as a whole sided with the Oniads. Afterall,
their livelihood was being threatened by the Hasmoneans who were ousting
> I don't think that this theory on the Copper Scroll is impossible. I
> bet my life on it, but I don't think that such a possibility may be ruled
> out. I haven't decided between this and a couple of later dates. One of
> later dates is not post destruction of Jerusalem, but post destruction of
> Leontopolis, only a few years later. This is why the question of how
> accurately we may date the deposition of the scrolls in the caves. Can we
> date the deposition to 68 CE, prior to 68 CE, or possibly to circa 73-74
> when the Romans went after the Oniads in Egypt.
Wouldn't hiding temple treasures in Roman-controlled Palestine in 73-74 CE
-- by Egyptian sectarians -- involve some logistic difficulties?
Absolutely, the same ones that the Jerusalem contingent would have faced in
66 CE. There was an opposing army in the land that was winning. That is
another reason why I suggest the 159 BCE date. It makes much more sense
logistically. There was no huge occupying army and the Oniads had a
substantial one of their own.
-David Jay Kaufman