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July 19, 1968 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-07-19

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Purely Commentary

Since all roads in Israel lead to Masada, it is neces-
sary that historical truths relating to the subject of what
was an impregnable fortress nearly 2,000 years ago should
be fully established.
Dr. Solomon Zeitlin, of Dropsie College, editor of
the Jewish Quarterly Review, the recognized outstanding
living authority on the Second Commonwealth period in
ancient Jewish history, in ansk..kmf
, kk;;;:.

essay to appear in the currentix;.:
issue of Jewish Quarterly
view, challenges some . of they
contentions regarding the Ma-' .
sada defenders and states that
not the Zealots but the Sicarii
were in the fortress, that they
did not defend it, that they
committed an act of mass sui-
cide contrary to Jewish teach-
Prof. Zeitlin is critical of the
conclusions reached by Yigael
Yadin, who conducted the ex-
cavations that led to the clear-:: ,-
ing of the debris at Masada and
to the uncovering of the his-J..
toric settings of the fortresses
that served as Herod's hideout
and as the centers of activity
Dr. Zeitlin
during the Roman Wars. Giving credit to the great
achievement of completing the findings, he challenges
the basic facts regarding the Zealots.
Entitling his essay "The Slavonic Josephus and
the Dead Sea Scrolls: An Expose of the Recent Fairy
Tales," Dr. Zeitlin commences his revealing presenta-
tion by referring to the alleged discovery in Moscow,
in 1926, of a Slavonic version of "Wars of the Jews by
Josephus" and shows by resort to extensive historic
and literary data "that the so-called Slavonic Josephus
has no value either for the study of Josephus or the
beginnings of Christianity." He thereupon proceeds to
show how, in a similar way, consideration should be
given to his rejection of claims that the Dead Sea
Scrolls belong to antiquity: his insistence is that they
are of medieval vintage.
In his extensive analyses, Prof. Zeitlin differentiates
between the Zealots and the Sicarii. He questions the
claims that the discovered scrolls were written either by
Essenes or Pharisees. Commenting on the document that
was found by bedouins and is titled Commentary on
Habakkuk, he points to its containing the phrase "Moreh
Zedek"—"Teacher of Righteousness"—and he declares
that "it was coined by the Karaites, who maintained that
their teachers were righteous while the teachers of the
Rabbanites were false."
He writes that "in the Commentary of Habakkuk, the
term Bet Mishpat is used for house of judgment," and
states that "the usage of the term Moreh Zedek, bet
mishpat and gemar zedek found in the Commentary of
Habakkuk • stamps this scroll as a composition of the
Middle Ages." There is this additional charge in the
Zeitlin expose:
"The author of the Manual of Discipline in quoting
the passage from Isaiah 40.5 'Clear ye in the wilder-
ness the way of Yahweh' omitted the word Yahweh and
substituted ellipses for it. The practice of using ellipses
to indicate that a word had been omitted came into
usage during the Middle Ages. This is a clear indica-
tion that this scroll could not have been written during
the Second Jewish Commonwealth."
There is this appended note that devastatingly de-
molishes the claims of the Dead Sea Scrolls' proponents'
claim that they belonged to antiquity:
"The Isaiah Scroll was written during the Middle
Ages by an ignorant scribe who did not comprehend the
meanings of the words and copied them mechanically.
This explains the numerous misspellings, missing letters,
words. Of such scribes Hai Gaon (939-1038) speaks con-



Let it be indicated in advance that the reason for
giving a hearing to Dr. Zeitlin is that he has consistently
exposed the antiquity claims for the Dead Sea Scrolls;
he has shown the errors which indicate that they belong
to the Middle Ages; yet he has been ignored. This is an
undeserving attitude towards one of the world's most
distinguished Jewish scholars. If it should eventually be
established, as Prof. Zeitlin feels it will be—as it was
in the instance of the so-called Slavonic Josephus—that
a fraud has been perpetrated in claiming antiquity for
the scrolls under discussion, then it will indicate anew
that to be right it is necessary for only one person to
assert the correct views, even if the entire world is
opposed to him. But in Dr. Zeitlin's case there are others
who corroborate his contentions. This commentator does
not claim to have the knowledge to judge the scrolls,
but he has the conviction that Prof. Zeitlin deserves a
hearing and has not received it properly. By ignoring
him, neither Prof. Yadin nor anyone else enhances the
position of proper scholarship.

In the course of his present expose of the fallacies
regarding the scrolls, Dr. Zeitlin writes in his latest essay:
"Another scroll named 'The War between the Sons
of Light and the Sons of Darkness' was acclaimed to be
composed during the Second Commonwealth and to have
great value for the study of the Essenes; while others
maintained that it was the work of the Zealots-Sicarii.
From internal evidence we must conclude that this scroll
is a composition of the Middle Ages. In describing wars,
the author mentions a people by the name Togar. A
people named Togar does not occur in the Hebrew Bible,

2—Friday, July 19, 1968


Dr. Solomon Zeitlin's Challenges
to Israeli Archaeologists... Exposes
of Views on Masada, Sicarii, Zealots

the Talmud nor in Josephus. The name Togar first oc-
curs in the Rabbinic literature of the Middle Ages."
Charging concealment of basic facts and failure on
the part of translators of the scrolls to indicate short-
comings, Dr. Zeitlin states:
"The physical signs used in the Scrolls, parentheses,
connecting lines between two words and ellipses indi-
cating that a word or words had been omitted, have
never been referred to by the translators. A conscien-
tious translator of important manuscripts should set
forth everything in the manuscripts. A slight omission
even in a modern document may change the sense of
the text, particularly when it is contended that the
parentheses and the connecting lines found in the
Scrolls are compelling proofs of the late date of the
Scrolls. Why did the protagonists of the antiquity of
the Scrolls conceal these important facts?"
There is significance in his statement in which he
points to the following:

"The practice of using connecting lines was not in vogue in
antiquity. It is true that in the printed text of the Hebrew
Bible where we have accent signs, one or two syllable words
which do not have an accent sign are connected by a line with
the following words to indicate how it should be read. However
in the Pentateuchal Scroll which is read in the synagogue and
does not have accent signs there are no connecting lines. Con-
necting lines came into usage after accent lines were introduced,
i.e. in the Middle Ages. This is an unimpeachable proof that this
scroll was composed during the Middle Ages.
"The protagonists of the antiqUity of the Dead Sea Scrolls
ignored all the scientific requisites in identifying newly discovered
Hebrew manuscripts. The scholars who maintained the antiquity
of the Scrolls presented two arguments for their case—pale-
ography and archaeology. Archaeology cannot serve as a criterion.
for the antiquity of the Scrolls. The four scrolls were not dis-
covered by archaeologists. They were first bought by Metropolitan,
Athanasius Yeshue Samuel and later purchased by the Hebrew
University. The scholars did not actually see the Scrolls in the
caves. The discovery of the Hebrew Scrolls is still shrouded in
mystery. There are different versions and contradictory state-
ments in regard to the finding of the scrolls. According to one
version a bedouin who carried goods through the desert dis-
covered the Scrolls. Another version is that a bedouin shepherd
while looking for his goats discovered the scrolls. Stilt another
version is that the Bedouin Muhammad entered a cave and
found seven or eight jars, all save one were empty and from
that one Muhammad and his friend drew forth one large leather
roll and two smaller ones. Muhammad further stated that when
they entered the cave and found the pottery pars, 'I began to
break the jars with my staff thinking I would find treasure.' So
Muhammad broke all the jars. Now the question which confronts
us is how the Hebrew University could exhibit jars which sup-
posedly contained the Scrolls. To repeat, archaeologists never
saw the Scrolls in the jars. Some merchant brought linen wrap-
pings. They were brought to the Metropolitan in a bag. The
carbon 14 test was applied to the wrappings but not to the
scrolls. As was said before only the merchants claimed the scrolls
were wrapped in linen. How much can we rely on the statements
of Oriental merchants? Why was carbon 14 test not applied to
the Scrolls? Archaeology as a criterion establishing the antiquity
of the Scrolls must be eliminated.
"The other contention of the scholars in establishing the
antiquity of the Scrolls is paleography. Paleography in connection
with manuscripts of the Middle Ages is a science, and manu-
scripts have been allocated properly to definite periods and
even countries. The reasons were, first, that there have been
a great many manuscripts and some of these have colophons, from
which one can date other manuscripts. We have no Hebrew
manuscripts of the Second Jewish Commonwealth to which the
Paleography of the Hebrew Scrolls can be compared. The scholars
in identifying the Hebrew Scrolls as being of the pre-Christian
period are acting like the provincial lawyer who concludes and
then argues. The scholars concluded, and, on the basis of their
conclusions, they differentiate. They asserted that one of the
Hebrew Scrolls is of an early period and of another a later
period. 7t was been well said, To date unknown documents by
other unknown, documents still leaves us with an unknown. date.'
"The only scientific criterion in ascertaining the date of a
newly discovered manuscript is by internal evidence. Internal
evidence proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the Hebrew
Scrolls are of the Middle Ages. I marshalled much internal
evidence to demonstrate that the Hebrew Scrolls are not of the
pre-Christian period. I asked ray protagonists of the antiquity
of the Scrolls to refute my evidence but they found themselves
more comfortable by taking refuge in silence. The evidence
against the antiquity of the Hebrew Scrolls is irrefutable and

Prof. Zeitlin makes serious charges also in relation
to the discovered "Letters of Bar Kokba." He calls at-
tention to the following:

"Some of the letters assigned to Bar Kokba begin with the
phrase 'From Simon to . . .' The use of the preposition 'from'
before the proper name militates against the assertion that the
letters were writen by Bar Kokba. During he Hellenistic-Roman
period the Romans as well as the Jews commenced letters with
their proper name and title without the prefix 'from' before the
proper name. This is attested to by the many hundreds of letters
written by Cicero, Seneca, Pliny the Younger, letters produced
by Josephus in his works, letters found in the books of Maccabees,
and so Paul in his epistles always began with his name and title
`servant of Jesus Christ, apostle of Jesus Christ.' It is to be noted
that in Acts, where a letter is produced, the wordings are as
follows, 'Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix
greeting.' The method of writing letters employing the preposi-
tion 'from' before the proper name was in vogue in Babylonia
and was 'in use by the Jews during the Middle Ages.
"The letter ascribed to Bar . Kokba contains many obscure
and meaningless words and ungrammatical sentences and is
unintelligible written by a semi-literate person. Those who
maintained that the letter was written by Bar Kokba engaged
in emending the text. gmendation of a manuscript must be based
on external evidence, i.e. on other manuscripts of the same text
which have different readings, or on internal evidence, i.e.
proof from the text itself that the reading is faulty. Ground for
emendation is based on the assumption that the scribe who
copied the manuscript made some errors; scholars then feel
justified in emending an erroneous text, but no scholar has the
right to emend the text which was written by the author him-
self. If there are misspellings or incorrectly used words, we must
assume that the author did not know how to express himself.
Those who changed the words of Bar Kokba to improve his
style virtually sought to instruct Bar Kokba how to write a
letter correctly. We may assert that this letter was not written
by Bar Kokba. Furthermore, he would not have used the name
Bar Kosba."

Are we dealing with fairy tales rather than realities
and truths? Here are the views of Dr. Zeitlin:
"The story of the discovery of the Scrolls and their
importance for the history of the Second Jewish Common-
wealth and the beginning of Christianity are in the realm
of fairy tales. By the employment of publicity and propa-
ganda the Scrolls became popular as people like fairy
tales. It is regrettable that many fairy tales and myths
have become facts of history and repeated by scholars
as historical facts. Unless a strong challenge is launched
against the antiquity of the Scrolls and constant refuta-
tion of the fallacious views propounded by the protagon-
ists of the antiquity of the Scrolls they will be accepted as
historical facts and history will be distorted.
"The tales about the finding of the Scrolls and the
assertions of their antiquity may be compared to the so-
called finding of the Piltdown man which aroused the
excitement of scholars and was accepted as a very im-
portant finding. The theory about the Piltdown man was
incorporated in encyclopaedias and dictionaries but it is
now established that it was a hoax. (The Piltdown man
omitted in most recent dictionaries.)

By Philip

"The assignment of the Hebrew Scrolls to great an-
tiquity and their value for history can be paralleled to
the Greek Horse in the Metropolitan Museum of New
York. It was maintained to be two thousand four hundred
years old and was held by experts as an important ex-
ample of ancient Greek sculpture. Now it is found to be
a hoax. After careful examination, it was asserted that
it is a 'fifty-years old fake.' Credit is to be given to Joseph
V. Noble who discovered the forgery and courageously
said, 'It is famous, but it is a fraud.' How easily 'experts'
can be deceived, or are willing to be deceived.
"The fairy tales about the antiquity of the Hebrew
Scrolls and their importance for history is on a par with
the finding of the Slavonic Josephus. In both instances
the 'experts' erred in ascribing great value to the Scrolls
and to the Slavonic Josephus. By propaganda and publi-
city people were misled."
Now we come to the revelations about Masada. Pre-
viously, Dr. Zeitlin had dealt with the role of the Sicarii.
He showed that the Sicarii and the Zealots were "two
different groups with different ideologies and were hos-
tile to each other." He explained:

"They came into being at different periods. Josephus, who is
the sole authority for both of these parties clearly distinguished
the difference between them. He called one group the Sicarii
because they used a sica, dagger, to assassinate those who were
willing to submit to Rome. They first employed the sica during
the time of the procuratorship of Felix. This group came into
being when Augustus Caesar annexed Judaea in the year 4 C.E.
and made it a province of Rome. Judah of Galilee, son of
Hezekiah, aroused the people to revolt against Rome with th
motto, There is only one ruler and that is God and there shoul
be no lordship of man over man. Josephus named this group the
Fourth Philosophy to distinguish it from the other three groups,
the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes
"After the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple,
many of the Sicarii succeeded in escaping to Egypt and Cyrene
where they continued to propagate their philosophy of no lordship
of man over man. The leaders of the Jewish community in Alex-
andria, fearful of their activities, surrendered them to the Roman
authorities and they were tortured and put to death. This is a
succinct account of the origin and activities of the Sicarii as is
given by Josephus.
"Josephus, in describing the different groups who committed
crimes against their fellom r men during the last days of Jerusalem,
mentioned one group whom he named Zealots. He wrote, The so
called Zealots justified their name by their actions, for they
copied every deed of ill." Their origin and activities are fully de-
scribed by Josephus,. The Zealots as a group originated after the
establishment of the provisional government in Jerusalem.
On the 25th of November, 65 CE, the Judaeans had a great
victory over the Romans. One who distinguished himself in the
defeat of the Roman legions was Eleazar, son of Simon. After the
army of Cestius was totally defeated a provisional government
was established consisting of Sadducees and Pharisees. Eleazar, son
of Simon, who was greatly responsible for the victory over
the Romans, was not included in the government. The mem-
bers of the government openly advocated continuance of the
revolt, secretly however they were for peace. It assigned generals
to conduct the war. Galilee, the most strategic district for the
protection of Jerusalem, was assigned to Joseph, son of Matthias,
later to be known as Josephus Flaviius. He was known to be for
a peaceful arrangement with the Romans. Eleazar, son of Simon,
was ignored. Eleazar and his followers suspected that the mem-
bers of the provisional government were playing a double role.
Publicly they were for the continuance of the war but inwardly
they were for peace. Eleazar and his followers were not strong
enough to challenge and overthrow the government.
"In the year 67 CE the last fortress in Galilee, Jotapata, fell
and Josephus surrendered to the Romans. When the news
reached Jerusalem that Josephus was alive and enjoying the free-
dom in the Roman camp, the people in Jerusalem realized that
they had been betrayed by the government. A strong opposition
developed against the government. Eleazar, son of Simon,
organized the group called Zealots, with the purpose of over-
throwing the provisional government and zealously persecuting
the war against the Romans. There was actually a civil war
between the followers of Eleazar. the Zealots, and the provisional
government headed by Ananus, the high priest, a Sadducee. This
was the origin of the group known by the name Zealots.
"There was a vast difference between the Sicarii and the
Zealots. The former had an ideology, a philosophy, there should
be no lordship of man over man. They strove to enforce their
ideology by terror. The Zealots had no ideology. They strove
zealously to persecute the war against the Romans . . .
"Josephus makes no further reference to the Sicarii until the
time when Flavius Silva besieged Masada. During the long period
of the war against the Romans when the Judaeans fought heroic-
ally for the independence of Judaea the Sicarii did not participate.
They were in Masada making raids upon their fellow co-religion-
ists. They had ample opportunities to ambush and harass the
Romans from the south to attack their rear but made no move
to aid the Judaeans. The last reference that Josephus made to the
Sicarii was after the burning of the Temple when a group of the
Sicarii escaped to Egypt. Josephus referred to the Sicarii fifteen
times in 'Wars' and three times in 'Antiquities.' Josephus referred
to the Zealots as a party fifty-one times in 'Wars'. The term
Zealot as a group does not occur in 'Antiquities' for the simple
reason that Josephus concluded `Antiquities' with the outbreak of
the revolt. The Zealots had not yet come into existence at this
time. They appeared on the political scene after it became' known
in Jerusalem that Josephus had defected to the Romans. Like all
the classical writers Josephus employed the word zealot as
an adjective, zealous, devoted, fanatic. Any one who has studied
the works of Josephus can readily differentiate when he used the
word zealot as an adjective and when he employed the term to
define a particular party, Zealots. In the passages where Josephus
used the word zealots as an adjective the latin has ‘studiosos'
(Wars 2.444). In all the passages where Josephus employed the
term Zealots to the particular group Zealots, the Latin has Zealots.
"In summing up, the following conclusions must be drawn: The
Sicarii and the Zealots were different groups hostile to each
other. The Zealots were zealous for the survival of Judaea as an
independent stateand fought for it heroically. The Sicarii were
rebels, fanatics, hotting the idea that there should be no lordship
of man over man. They were not interested in the preservation of
the Jewish state. Their idea was utopian then as today. When
they were persecuted by the moderate group, they fled to Masada
and remained inactive. They did not furnish aid to their brethren
in Jerusalem when they were besieged by the Romans. The Sicarii
did not fight the Romans. When Masada was beseiged by the
Romans the Sicarii committed suicide. By this act Masada was
given to the Romans without a fight and without the loss of a
single Roman soldier. Masada was the only fortress which was
not defended by the Judaeans. The Fortress Antonia (N.W. of the
Temple) was heroically defended; Jotapata was likewise heroically
defended. The Fortress Machaerus, N.E. of Masada, was heroically
defended and the Romans suffered heavily. Masada was the only
fortress given to the Romans without a battle. The story of Ma-
sada is not a glorious chapter in the history of the Judaean war
for their independence.
"Prof. Yadin excavated Masada and claimed that he found
many important documents from the period of the last days of
Jerusalem. A detailed analysis of the - value of the documents
found in Masada was presented in my essay 'The Sicarii am'

"The Jewish Museum in New York had on exhibit many item;
found in Masada. Recently a booklet was published under the
title 'Masada, Struggle for Freedom'. I was dismayed by the title.
It may be said to be a misnomer. The people in Masada did not
put up a struggle for freedom. One may get a false view from
the description given of the people in Masada as it does not
square with the accounts presented by Josephus. On p. 13 it is-
siated, 'The most glorious episode of this dismal period is
associated with Eleazar ben Yair, an entirely different type of
hero; one of the very last of the warriors against the Romans.
He had escaped the destruction and capture of Jerusalem, and-
when all hope for success against the Romans was lost, he fled
with a small band of followers to the fortress of Masada, in the
Wilderness of Judaea'. This description of Eleazar ben Yair indi-
cates that he fled with a small band to Masada after the destruc-
tion and capture of Jerusalem which is historically not true.
"In the chronological table,. year 69, is given the following,
'Vespasian proclaimed Emperor of Rome. Leaves Judaea. Titus be-
came Commander of the Roman Army in Judaea. Temple burned,
Zealots flee to Masada.' This item is historically wrong. The Tem-
ple was burned in the year 70, not in 69. Josephus stated that the

(Continued on Page 40)

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