‘Roots, Remedies and Properties of Stones’: Dead Sea Healing

Joan E. Taylor

in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199554485
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745911 | DOI:
‘Roots, Remedies and Properties of Stones’: Dead Sea Healing

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The Dead Sea’s healing resources, being so well-known in antiquity, also attracted Essenes, who were attested as being adept in pharmacological lore (so Josephus, War 2: 136). As John Allegro once noted, their location also lates to Ezekiel 47: 1-12, where a stream of healing water flows from the Temple down the Kidron to the Dead Sea, bringing alive the water from en Gedi to En Egallaim (Ain Hajla). Many healing resources are evidenced in antiquity: balsam, date palms, rue, mandrake, madder, honey, minerals (asphalt, sulphur, alum, salt), along with healing hot spring waters. These can be related to the continuing traditions of medicinal plant use among the Bedouin over the centuries. Likewise, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are many instances of a deep concern with healing, seen as a blessing of God. This is found in scientific works in the corpus (the wisdom of Solomon), containing lore concerning astrology, physiognomy, angelology, exorcisms, purifications and pharmacology. The archaeology of Qumran itself indicates a strong possibility that part of the site was used for medicinal manufacture, as also in En Boqeq.

Keywords: Josephus; Allegro; spring waters; medicinal plants; astrology; physiognomy; angelology; exorcisms; purifications; Qumran; En Boqeq; En Gedi; En Egallaim

Chapter.  19224 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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