Top 10 and Qumran Latrine Response
Haaretz has a very one-sided article on Israeli archaeology in the West Bank. Somebody should write an honest response to what's essentially a mouthpiece for the opinions of one Rafi Greenberg.
Archaeology magazine lists the Top 10 Discoveries of 2006. Nothing of biblical significance is included, but the #1 discovery is the tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings. KV63 is the first tomb excavated here since King Tut's tomb in 1922.
Hardly a week goes by when some argue is promoted or dismissed on the basis of logic rather than evidence. In this Haaretz article about the Qumran latrines, Yitzhak Magen responds to the recent proposal by Zias and Tabor that only Essenes would have ventured outside the camp.
"In addition," Magen says, "the Qumran area and particularly the caves surrounding the site, are full of predatory animals and animals that consume carrion, like foxes, hyenas, and leopards. People who lived in this area for years were well aware of that. They feared these animals and certainly would not leave their camps to relieve themselves. Thus, it is unreasonable to assume that the camp's latrine was located at such a distance."
"It was not the Essenes who buried the scrolls in the caves near the Qumran ruins," Magen adds. "The scrolls were buried by Jews who escaped from Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple." One of the main escape routes from Jerusalem passed through Qumran. Jews, who were somewhat unfamiliar with the area and had no knowledge of its predatory animals, did not fear entering the caves to bury the scrolls, he proposes.
So it's unreasonable that Essenes walked a few dozen yards to bury scrolls, but it's reasonable that people came dozens of miles and hid them there (but only because they didn't know about the foxes!).
Magen does not respond to the ancient texts which specify the Essenes should travel 1,000 or 2,000 cubits (1,500-3,000 feet) outside of the settlement to relieve themselves.
Whenever you hear that something is "unreasonable," that should alert you to the likelihood that there's no good evidence to support the proposed conclusion.