Prof. Kraft wrote that "infra" meant "downhill" here. That, I think,
doesn't match the context. Just two brief notes for now. If you were to
describe one of the following as notably high, which would you pick: Essene
place, Ein Gedi, or Masada? Second, Bob wrote:

>Thus I would say that Pliny's account is basically irrelevant for
>arguments about Qumran's possible Essene connections.

But, even if one were quite agnostic about "infra" in this case, it remains
that Pliny's words on Essenes are not limited to "infra"! He describes them
in ways that match Kh. Qumran and Qumran mss. And he still also locates
them west of the Dead Sea, where Qumran still is.

The new Tel Aviv [archaeology journal] is out, (v.27 n.2 [2000] 273-91).
Yizhar Hirschfeld's site is plainly not the Essene locus of Pliny's source
from Herod the Great's time, as amply demonstrated there by David Amit and
Jodi Magness. A Reply from Y.H. is included. Briefly: Essenes are described
as a community, not as "hermits" (and "vegetarian" is not from the most
ancient descriptions). The site is too late and too small and the wrong
type (seasonal work; perhaps agricultural storage). It lacks built
courtyard, dining room, meeting room, mikvaot. Or a cemetery. Or even an
oil lamp. Merely two coins predate mid first century CE--and they are both
surface finds. The site was bigger in Byzantine times. Yizhar Hirschfeld's
site--located South-West (!) of Ein Gedi (the spring)--is not Pliny's
Essene site.

Stephen Goranson

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