[ Pharisees & Sadducees ] [ Primary texts ] IHO Index ] [ Search ] [ Dead Sea Scrolls ] Baptism  ]

Click on title of any pericope numbered in red to access the original language text.

76. Essenes are Rural Poor
75 Then too, Syrian Palestine is not unproductive in moral excellence. There the major portion of the Jewish people are distributed. It is said that among them there are more than 4000 persons with the name of Essenes. In my judgment---(though) it is not exact in the Greek dialect---they are , indeed, they have become servants (therapeutae) of God, not by sacrificing animals, but by praying to render their thoughts fit for the holy.
76 Now in the first place, they dwell in villages, keeping away from the cities because of lawlessness practiced by city-dwellers. They know that the pestilence bred from this company, as from polluted air, would render their souls incurable. There are some who till the soil, while others pursue crafts which work for peace. And so they benefit themselves and their neighbors. They do not treasure silver and gold or acquire great sections of land because of a desire for the proceeds. Instead, they provide the necessities for the basic requirements of life.
77 For they are unique among all the race of men, having become penniless and landless by choice rather than lack of good luck. But they count themselves very wealthy, judging ready satisfaction and contentment with little (to be) abundance, as it is.
  --- Philo, Every Good Man is Free 12.75-77

77. Dead Sea Settlement of Essenes
73 On the west bank (of the Dead Sea) the Essenes take refuge, to the point where they are harmful. This is a solitary people and remarkable in comparison with others in the whole world. They live as partners of the palms, without any women---having renounced all desire---and without money. From day to day this throng of refugees is renewed by crowds weary with life, whom fortune drives in waves from afar to adopt their customs. Thus, through thousands of ages---incredible to say---a people in which no one is born is eternal, so fruitful for them is others' repenting of life!
  -- Pliny, Natural History 5.15.73

78. Some Essenes Marry
160 There is also another order of Essenes which, though agreeing with the others in life-style, customs and rules, is distinct in its doctrine regarding marriage. That is they think that those who do not marry cut off the greatest goal of life---the line of succession. Moreover, (they claim), if all were of this mind the race would very shortly die out.
  --- Josephus, Jewish War 2.160

79. Essene Monastic Rules
120 Although (the Essenes) are Jews by birth, they love one another even more than the others. They avoid pleasures as a vice and hold that virtue is to overcome one's passions and not be subject to them. Marriage is disdained by them. But they adopt the children of others while still young, leading them like kin through their studies and impressing them with their customs.
121 While they do not reject marriage even from their teaching, they guard themselves against the wantonness of women and have been persuaded that none (of them) keeps faithful to one (man).
122 They frown on wealth. And their common life is wonderful! No one can be found superior to others in property. For their law is for those entering the party to make their substance public for the order. So nowhere is either extreme poverty or exceptional wealth evident. Rather, each man's possessions are mixed into one property which is for all the brothers.
123 Oil they regard as pollution. And if anyone in the assembly is anointed he scrubs his body. For they count dryness as good and wear white everywhere. Those who administer the community are elected and their appropriate duties determined by vote of the whole.
124 They have no city, but many settle in each town. And all that they own lies open to those who have come from elsewhere, just as if they belonged with them. And they entertain those whom they have never seen before as their closest associates.
125 And so they make their journeys carrying nothing at all except weapons on account of the bandits. In each town an attendant is chosen by the order to serve strangers, and he provides clothing and whatever they need.
126 Like children, they are trained to be scrupulous about dress and bodily appearance. And they change neither garments nor sandals until they are tattered or worn out by time...
135 They master an even temper and control their anger. They advocate trust and assist peace. And all that is spoken by them has more force than an oath. But they avoid swearing, regarding it worse than perjury. For they say that he who cannot be believed unless God is against him is already condemned...
143 Now they expel from the order those who wander into substantial sins. And he who has been condemned often winds up with a miserable fate. For he who is bound by their vows and customs cannot partake of a meal with others...
144 Therefore, they take back many who are at their last breath out of pity, deeming the near fatal torture as satisfaction for their sins...
146 Now they obey their elders and hold that the majority is right. For example, when ten sit together, no one speaks if nine are unwilling.
147 They also avoid spitting in their midst or to the right side. And they are the most distinct of all Jews in abstaining from work on the Sabbath. For not only do they prepare their meals one day ahead so as not to light a fire on that day, they do not dare to move a dish or even relieve themselves.
  --- Josephus, Jewish War 2.120-126, 135-147

80. Communal Property at Qumran
11 ...And all who volunteer for his Truth shall bring all their knowledge and powers
12 and possessions into the Unity of God:
--to purify their knowledge by the truth of God's precepts, and
--to measure their powers
13 according to the perfection of his ways
and all their possessions according to his righteous counsel.
  --- Dead Sea Scrolls, Community Rule (1QS) 1.11-13

81. Deviants from Torah Excommunicated
21 All who enter in the council of Holiness are those who walk in perfection of way,
as he commanded. Every man from this (group)
22 who with a lax or high hand bypasses a word from the Torah of Moses
shall be driven out of the council of the Unity
23 and shall return no more.
And no one from the men of Holiness shall mix his property with his for any
24 reason.
  --- Dead Sea Scrolls, Community Rule (1QS) 8.21-24

82. Directions for the Instructor
12 These are the precepts for the instructor to walk in
with all who live according to the rule for each occasion and the value of every man:
13 --to go along with the will of God,
according to all that has been revealed for each occasion;
and to measure with all the understanding he has attained according to the times
14 along with the precept for each occasion;
--to separate and weigh the sons of Zadok according to their spirits
and to uphold those chosen at the time
15 by his favorable decision;
--to judge each as to his spirit and to bring near each as his hands are clean
and to advance him according to his understanding.
16 --Thus his love is like his hatred.
He is not to argue or dispute with the men of corruption
17 but to conceal the counsel of the Torah among the men of error.
  --- Dead Sea Scrolls, Community Rule (1QS) 9.12-17

83. Essene Worship & Communal Meal
128 Moreover, their way of worshipping God is their own. For they utter nothing mundane before sunrise, but with some of their fathers' prayers they beg him to arise.
129 After this they are dismissed by those in charge, each to his own craft. And they work strenuously until the fifth hour [= 11 a.m.], when they again gather together in one spot. Girding themselves with linen cloths, they wash their bodies with cold water. And after this purification, they assemble in a private room, where no one with other beliefs is allowed to come. Having purified themselves, they enter the dining hall as if it were some shrine.
130 When they are seated in silence, the baker passes out the loaves according to rank and the cook passes each one a portion from a single dish.
131 The priest prays before the meal; and one is not allowed to eat before this prayer. When they have breakfasted, he gives thanks again. So, they begin and finish (eating) by honoring God as the author of life...
132 ...No shouting or confusion ever pollutes the house, but they speak in turn to one another.
133 Now, to those outside, the silence of those within seems like some awesome mystery. But it is really because they are allotted just enough food and drink and, so, are always sober.
  --- Josephus, Jewish War 2.128-133

Covenanters' Sabbath Rules

Covenanters' Imprison Sabbath Violators

84. Communal Order at Qumran
2 They shall walk in these ways in all dealings with each other, wherever they dwell:
--regarding work and wealth [mammon]:
the lesser shall heed the greater.
--but united they shall eat
3 and united they shall pray;
and united they shall take counsel.
--and in every locale where there are ten men from the common council,
4 --a priest shall not be lacking among them.
and they shall sit before him each according to his rank;
and thus they shall be asked for their counsel in every case.
--and when they prepare the table for eating or the new wine
5 for drinking, the priest shall be the first to stretch out his hand for the blessing on the first portion of bread or new wine.
  --- Dead Sea Scrolls, Community Rule (1QS) 6.2-5

85. Council of Twelve
1 In the council of the community there shall be twelve men and three priests
perfected in all that has been revealed from the whole
2 Torah:
--for practicing truth and righteousness, justice and loving kindness and walking humbly with each other;
3 --for keeping faithfulness in the land with firm intention and contrite spirit;
--for overcoming iniquity by deeds of justice and endurance of fiery trials;
4 --and for walking in all things by the standard of truth
and the regulation for the occasion.
  --- Dead Sea Scrolls, Community Rule (1QS) 8.1-4

  Essenes Excused from Oath of Allegiance

[ Pharisees & Sadducees ] [ Primary texts ] IHO Index ] [ Search ] [ Dead Sea Scrolls ] Baptism  ]


Perspective on the World of Jesus

with new translations from primary texts

Copyright 1999-2017 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website 
OCLC World catalog no. 62046512

[Hypertext links to this web page are invited. Brief quotations may be used in scholarly reviews and research providing the author is credited & the URL for this web page properly noted. But the text as a whole may not be posted or reproduced elsewhere without express written permission of the author.]