"On the western shore" (of the Asphaltites) "dwell the Essenes; whom persons, guilty of any crimes, fly from on every side. A nation it is that lives alone, and of all other nations in the whole world, most to be admired; they are without any woman; all lust banished, &c. Below these, was the town Engadda, the next to Jerusalem for fruitfulness, and groves of palm-trees, now another burying-place. From thence stands Massada, a castle in a rock, and this castle not far from the Asphaltites."
Solinus, Pliny's shadow, speaks the like things: "The Essenes possess the inner parts of Judea, which look to the west. The town Engadda lay beneath the Essenes; but it is now destroyed: but its glory for the famous groves, that are there, doth still endure: and in regard of its most lofty woods of palms, it hath received no disparagement either by age or war. The castle Massada is the bounds of Judea."
We are looking for the places, not the men:--we might otherwise begin the history of the Essenes from those words, Judges 1:16: "And the sons of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went out of the city of palms, with the sons of Judah, into the deserts of Judah." From these we suppose came the Rechabites,--and from their stock, or example, the Essenes. Which if it be true, we make this an argument of the ill placing of En-gedi in the maps, being set too much towards the north, when it ought to have been placed towards the utmost southern coasts.
If the Essenes were the same with the Kenites in seat and place, and the Kenites dwelt beyond Arad southward, or indeed even with Arad, which is asserted in the text alleged,--and if below these were En-gedi, which is also asserted by the authors cited,--certainly, then, the maps have laid it a long way distant from its own proper place, too much northward. View them, and think of these things. To which we also add this:--
The southern borders of the land, Ezekiel 47:19 (the very same which are mentioned Numbers 34 and Joshua 15:2), are thus declared; "The southern coast southward from Tamar to the waters of Meribah in Cadesh," &c. But now Tamar and En-gedi are the same, 2 Chronicles 20:2. Nor have we any reason why we should seek another Tamar elsewhere. Certainly, the Chaldee paraphrast, and Rabbi Sol. Jarchi, and Kimchi following him, have rendered Tamar, in Ezekiel, Jericho. But upon what reason? For how, I beseech you, was it possible, that Jericho should be the bounds of the south land, when it was the utmost bounds of Judea northward? It was this, without all doubt, drove them to that version of the word, because Jericho is called the City of Palms,--and Tamar signifies a palm; since En-gedi would not give place to Jericho, one inch in regard of the glory of palm-groves.
Whether Tadmor, 1 Kings 9:18, be the same with this our Tamar,--and whether Tadmor in the Talmudists be the same with that Tadmor,--we leave to the reader to consider. We produce these few things concerning it, which are related by them--for the sake of such consideration:--
"They receive proselytes from those of Cardya and Tadmor. Rab. Abhu, in the name of R. Jochanan, saith, The tradition asserts, that the proselytes of Tadmor are fit to enter into the congregation." It was said a little before; "Haggai the prophet taught these three lessons:--The rival of a daughter" (of a priest) "may be married by a priest. The Moabites and Ammonites ought to tithe the poor's tithe the seventh year. And the proselytes of Tadmor are fit to enter into the congregation."
This story is recited, in the Jerusalem Misna: "Mary, of Tadmor, having part of the blood sprinkled upon her" (whereby she was to be purified), "heard in that very juncture of time, that her daughter was dead," &c. But the Babylonian calls her "of Tarmod."--"From the place Tarmud," saith the Gloss.--The 'Tarmudeans,' are said, by those of the Babylonian Talmud, to be certain poor people, who got themselves a livelihood by gathering up wood, and selling it.
R. Jochanan said, "Blessed is he, who shall see the destruction of Tadmor: for she communicated in the destruction of the first and second Temple. In the destruction of the first, she brought eighty thousand archers: and so she did, in the destruction of the second."