Plunder Quotes

In this post, I’ll be working on my plunder paper, in which I look at the Qumran Temple Scroll’s interaction with the Torah’s laws on the division of plunder. I want to see how Second Temple Judaism in general interacted with those laws, primarily to see if it regarded the Torah as authoritative, or departed from the Torah in some way, shape, or form. I’ve assigned myself the following tasks, some of which I’ll get done today, and some of which I won’t. But I’ll record my results here, and if there are no results, I will record that as well.

I want to look up “spoil(s),” “plunder,” and “booty” in the Encyclopedia Judaica, the Jewish Encyclopedia, the Anchor Bible Dictionary, Josephus, the index of Yonge’s Philo translation, and the NRSV deuterocanonical writings. Here are some other ideas: I can look up what my Jewish Study Bible has to say about the division of plunder laws in the Torah. Once I learn the Greek words for “spoil(s),” “plunder,” and “booty,” I can do a search on my Philo’s Libronix, and look them up in my Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. But that’s enough for now! Allow me to type in those sources below so I can fill in beside them the information that I find, if any.

1. Encyclopedia Judaica: The article on the Wicked Priest said he plundered the poor (1 Qp-Hab. 12:8-10). The article on the Second Book of Maccabees says the corrupt priests’ plunder and bribing the king led to revolt. The article on “Solomon, Psalms of” refers to the plunder of the kingdom of David by sinners, taken to be the Hasmoneans. The article on Menelaus explains how he plundered: he plundered the gold of the Temple. The article “Leviticus, Book of” refers to the distribution of booty in the archives of Mari dating from the time of Hammurapi, in a discussion of “filling the hand.” The article on the “Tithe” talks about tithing in Mesopotamia.

Okay, this was somewhat of a rabbit trail. The reason I wrote down parts about the corrupt priests’ plundering is that the Torah’s laws give a lot of booty to the high priest, and I wanted to see if the priest’s used that to justify their plundering. But the plunder they did isn’t so much from battles, the topic of the Torah laws, but rather from the Temple or fellow Judeans. The Mari distribution of booty looks like a good lead, but, alas, EJ didn’t refer to specific sources. I wonder if I can track them down in Martha Roth’s book on law-codes in the ancient Near East, or do a search on my BibleWorks Hammurapi, just to see if that touches on it. Another issue: how did Saul divide the plunder in I Samuel 15?

This adds more to do, but I’ll look at the following sources before I return to the new tasks that crop up.

2. Jewish Encyclopedia: Article on “Sanhedrin”: “Ch. ii. [of the Mishnah tractate]: Rights of the high priest (§ 1); rights and duties of the king, who may neither judge nor be judged, and may declare war only with the consent of the Great Sanhedrin; his share of the booty; he may not accumulate treasure for himself; he must have a copy of the Torah made for himself; the reverence due him (§§ 2-5).” Article on “Aroer”: “David sent to the elders of this city a share of the booty taken from the Amalekites who had attacked Ziklag (I Sam. xxx. 28).” Article on “Lots”: “Booty of war is divided by lot (Joel iv. 3; Nahum iii. 10; Ob. 11; see also Judges xx. 9; Neh. x. 35, xi. 1; I Chron. xxiv. 5, xxv. 8, xxvi. 13 (see Herzog-Hauck, “Real-Encyc.” 3d ed., xi. 643 et seq.).” Article on “Joshua, Book of”: ch. 22: “Now that they have become rich in cattle, silver, gold, iron, and garments they are to divide the booty with their brethren (1-8).” Article on “Moses”: “Still another story relates that Moses received a large part of the booty captured from Pharaoh and, later, from Sihon and Og (Lev. R. xxviii. 4).” Article on “Ban”: “The practise of devoting to the Deity the spoils of war, persons or things, found among all ancient nations and primitive tribes, is inseparably connected with the idea of a holy warfare which claims all booty for the god who leads to victory and in whose honor the captured foes, as well as goods, are destroyed on the spot (see, concerning the Teutonic and Celtic tribes, Tacitus, ‘Annales,’ i. 61, xiii. 57; Cæsar, ‘De Bello Gallico,’ vi. 17; respecting the Indians, Waitz, ‘Anthropologie,’ iii. 157; and for the Arabs, the passages quoted by Schwally, ‘Kriegsalterthuemer,’ pp. 35-38)…King Mesha of Moab tells in his inscription (lines 16-18) how, after having carried off the vessels of Yhwh from the city of Nebo and dragged them before Kemosh, his god, he devoted…7,000 prisoners to Ashtor-Kemosh, and how he ‘slew the inhabitants of Attarot as a spectacle to his god Kemosh’ (line 12). As a rule, the people, before going to war, devoted, in the form of a vow, the whole booty to the deity in order to secure its victorious aid. So did the Teutons and Gauls, according to Tacitus and Cæsar; and in like manner did Israel vow to ‘ban’ the Canaanites and their cities in case God would deliver them into his hand: ‘and they banned [A. V. ‘utterly destroyed’] them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah’ (Num. xxi. 3).” Article on “Gorgias”: “The Syrians, seized with panic, fled into the Philistine territory, and only then did the Jews seize the rich spoils (166 B.C.).” Article on “Wisdom of Solomon, Book of the”: “It delivered Israel from its heathen oppressors, entered into the soul of Moses, enabling him to work all his miracles before Pharaoh, and, in the shape of a protecting pillar of cloud by day and of an illuminating fire by night, guided the people through the wilderness and through the Red Sea, while it drowned the Egyptians and cast them up again from the deep to enrich the Israelites with the spoils that floated upon the water (x. 15-20; comp. Mek., Beshalla, 6; Targ. Yer. to Ex. xiii. 21; xv. 12, 20; Josephus, ‘Ant.’ ii. 16, § 6).” Article on “Gentile”: “The question arose whether a Jew might share in the spoils gained by a Gentile through robbery. One Talmudic authority reasoned that the Gentile exerted himself to obtain the ill-gotten property much less than in earning his wages, to which the Mosaic law is not applicable; hence property seized by a Gentile, if otherwise unclaimed, is public property and may be used by any person. Another authority decided that a Jew might not profit by it (B. M. 111b).”

Not too much help here. I see something about the Bible on the division of plunder. And that article on Sanhredrin looks interesting, since it shows that the Mishnah may apply the law of the king to the high priest. There are leads on the ban in the ancient Near East. But I don’t really see anything about the division of spoil in Second Temple Literature.

3. Anchor Bible Dictionary: I didn’t find any specific articles on booty, plunder, or spoil(s), so I’ll skip this and maybe come back to it later.

Josephus (BibleWorks translation): Ant. 5:48–Joshua divided spoils among all the soldiers. Antiquities of the Jews 6:367: “and from that time this law obtained among them, that those who guarded the baggage, should receive an equal share with those that fought in the battle. Now when David was come to Ziklag, he sent portions of the spoils to all that had been familiar with him, and to his friends in the tribe of Judah. And thus ended the affairs of the plundering of Ziklag, and of the slaughter of the Amalekites.” Antiquities of the Jews 15:402: “and around the entire temple were fixed the spoils taken from barbarous nations; all these had been dedicated to the temple by Herod, with the addition of those he had taken from the Arabians.” Antiquities of the Jews 3:55: “So our forefathers obtained a most signal and most seasonable victory; for they not only overcame those who fought against them, but terrified also the neighbouring nations, and got great and splendid advantages, which they obtained of their enemies by their hard pains in this battle: for when they had taken the enemy’s camp, they got ready booty for the public, and for their own individual families, whereas till then they had not any sort of plenty, of even necessary food.”

Index of Yonge’s Philo Translation: I didn’t find anything here under “spoil(s),” “booty,” and “plunder.” In the Scripture index, I found commentary on Numbers 31:25ff. It didn’t really comment on the division of plunder, but it liked the part that said tribute belongs to the LORD (pp. 266, 390).

NRSV Deuterocanonical Writings: 1 Maccabees 5:28: “Then Judas and his army quickly turned back by the wilderness road to Bozrah; and he took the town, and killed every male by the edge of the sword; then he seized all its spoils and burned it with fire.” 1 Maccabees 6:6: “that Lysias had gone first with a strong force, but had turned and fled before the Jews; that the Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils that they had taken from the armies they had cut down[.]” I Maccabees 11:51: “And they threw down their arms and made peace. So the Jews gained glory in the sight of the king and of all the people in his kingdom, and they returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of spoil.” II Maccabees 8:28: “After the sabbath they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured and to the widows and orphans, and distributed the rest among themselves and their children.” II Maccabees 8:30: “In encounters with the forces of Timothy and Bacchides they killed more than twenty thousand of them and got possession of some exceedingly high strongholds, and they divided a very large amount of plunder, giving to those who had been tortured and to the orphans and widows, and also to the aged, shares equal to their own.” II Maccabees 8:31: “They collected the arms of the enemy, and carefully stored all of them in strategic places; the rest of the spoils they carried to Jerusalem.” Judith 15:11: “All the people plundered the camp for thirty days. They gave Judith the tent of Holofernes and all his silver dinnerware, his beds, his bowls, and all his furniture. She took them and loaded her mules and hitched up her carts and piled the things on them.” Sirach 37:6: “Do not forget a friend during the battle, and do not be unmindful of him when you distribute your spoils.” 1 Esdras 4:5: “They kill and are killed, and do not disobey the king’s command; if they win the victory, they bring everything to the king– whatever spoil they take and everything else.”

Jewish Study Bible: No help here.
Philo’s Libronix:
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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