With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the relationship between Essenism and the religious doctrines taught in the New Testament has become a subject of consuming interest. The evidence now coming to light confirms what various scholars have long surmised: namely, that it is impossible to evaluate pristine Christianity correctly except through an understanding of the Essenes.
Old prejudices die hard; but since that day in 1947, when a Bedouin goatherd stumbled into a cave in which the Essenes had secreted their manuscripts just before they fled before the Roman armies in 68 or 69 A.D., it is scarcely possible any longer to deny their direct influence upon Christianity. A few cautious scholars have questioned whether the Covenanters who lived at the Qumran Monastery were actually those Essenes described by Pliny, Philo, and Josephus. Others have argued that the Scrolls are medieval forgeries" or were composed by Jewish Christians of the third or fourth century. Such arguments, of course, serve merely to accentuate the generic relationship between the Covenanters and the religious doctrines as taught in the New Testament which reveal a strong orientation to Essene religious faith; otherwise it would be impossible to maintain that documents unquestionably composed in the second or first century before Christ were composed by Christians several centuries later.
Space does not permit us to reproduce the archeological, paleographical, and other evidence which proves that the Dead Sea Scrolls were composed between 170 and 60 B.C.E. by a Jewish cult which flourished until 69 A.D. This material is carefully reviewed by Millar Burrows in his Dead Sea Scrolls. Professor W. F. Libby of the University of Chicago subjected a piece of linen wrapping which covered one of the MSS. to the Carbon- Process and found that its date of origin was approximately 33 A.D. Suffice it to say that today no competent scholar doubts that the latest possible date on which any of the Scrolls could have been copied was 68 A.D. This, of course, does not determine the date of composition, which could have occurred at any time during several preceding centuries and which must be determined from internal evidence.
There can be no dispute concerning the authenticity of the Scrolls, which, in addition to several previously unknown and complete documents, now translated and published, include two MSS. of Isaiah and literally thousands of fragments found in various caves. Among these are portions of practically every book of the Old Testament.
In addition to the Old Testament scriptures, the celibates of Qumran had a sacred literature of their own. Of documents previously known, fragments have been found of the Book of Enoch, The Book of the Jubilees, and The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. In addition, a complete manuscript of The Damascus Document was discovered. We know, therefore, that these writings, long known but never correctly evaluated, must be identified with the Dead Sea Covenanters. Finally, other complete works were also found; these have now been translated and they cast a brilliant light upon the cult: The Manual of Discipline, The Habakkuk Commentary, The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness, and The Thanksgiving Psalms.
We agree with Mr. A. Dupont-Sommer that the Essenes and the Qumran Covenanters were most certainly one and the same. It is simply incredible that Khirbet-Qumran and its occupants could be anything other than the monastery and the cult described by Pliny, who wrote about 60 A.D.: "Lying on the west of Asphaltites [Dead Sea], and sufficiently distant to escape its noxious exhalations, are the Esseni, a people that live apart from the world, and marvellous beyond all others . . . for they have no women among them; to sexual desire they are strangers; money they have none.... Day after day, however, their numbers are fully recruited by multitudes of strangers that report to them, driven thither to adopt their usage by the tempests of fortune, and wearied with the miseries of life" (Nat. History, Bohn, I, 430-431).
Whether or not Pliny had seen the Qumran monastery, it is certain that his information was accurate: the ascetics who lived there were known to him as Essenes, and, since not the slightest vestige of any other remotely similar group has ever been discovered and since the words of Pliny are reinforced and elaborated not only by Philo and Josephus but also by the Dead Sea Scrolls, we must conclude that they and the Covenanters were identical. Essenes means "holy ones"; this was a nickname used only by outsiders, and never by the cultists themselves.
We need to begin our study examining the practices of the Essene sect. This unique order existed for more than two centuries. Only their inner circle knew their esoteric doctrines. The organization consisted almost entirely of male celibates, of whom there were some four thousand. A small percentage of them lived in the Dead Sea Monastery; the remainder, residing in special communal houses scattered throughout Judaea, worked full time at some regular occupation, and were to be found in every walk of life; and so great were the compensations of membership that the Order flourished, even though unaugmented by the birth of children.
The Essenes were in no wise mendicants, like the Buddhists; nor were they monks, except perhaps the specially selected brethren who lived at Khirbet-Qumran; in fact, there was apparently little external difference between them and other Jews. They did not renounce work; they simply rejected the individualism of the world, its acquisitive ways, the obligations of family and relatives, and the sensual appetites common to humanity.
We have already noted the statement of Josephus that the Essenes had adopted the Pythagorean way of life (Antiq. XV, x, 4). And indeed the parallels between the Essenes and the Pythagoreans were many and striking:
The Essenes, however, never adopted the Pythagorean doctrine of metempsychosis (the transmigration of the soul): on this one point they remained closer to Zoroastrianism, which as we have seen, had already made deep penetration into Judaic thought. We may say that mature Essenism was seventy per cent Pythagorean, fifteen per cent Zoroastrian, and fifteen per cent Judaistic , which element, however, was pertinent only in relation to its external forms.
To their own satisfaction, the Essenes had delivered the definitive answer to the ethical problem of Job. No longer need the saints be perturbed over the misery of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked, for now they had an eschatology which would right all wrongs in an everlasting existence after death. To achieve the bliss of heaven and escape the eternal torments of hell, God's Elect will love Him and do His will in the present life. To that end, they will combine into communal societies, where all will contribute according to their ability and receive according to their need; by achieving this perfect brotherhood now, the righteous are made fit for the apocalyptic kingdom of God on earth and for a blessed eternity thereafter in heaven.
THE ZADOKITES AND THE CHASIDIM
During the period preceding the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, apostasy to Hellenism had become rampant; and, to combat it, a group had arisen known as the Zadokites and later as the Chasidim (Hasidim, Assidaeans). Zadok had been the high priest in the time of David. We must realize that these patriots of 185- 160 B.C.E. underwent a complex evolution and division into parties during the ensuing decades. The old name continued as a badge of honor; and therefore we find both the Essenes and the antithetical Sadducees calling themselves the Sons of Zadok as late as 60 B.C.E.
The Sadducees were the nobles, the wealthy, the educated, who composed the dominant class. They rejected the Zoroastrian-Pythagorean eschatology, and were totally unaware of any social injustice.
During the early Maccabaean campaigns, the original Sons of Zodok, who were simply intensely Judaistic, split into two divisions:
We need to take time to look at these Chasidim for it would be them who would depart from normative Judaism and Jewish beliefs:
While discussing the reign of Jonathan, 160-143 B.C.E., who became also high priest in 152 B.C.E., Josephus declares that during this period (about 145 B.C.E.) the three great religious sects, which were really political parties, became established among the Jews. He declares that the Sadducees, like the Epicureans, denied the existence of providence and believed in free will; the Pharisees, like the Stoics, believed in determinism; but the Essenes, like the Pythagoreans, taught the doctrine of necessity or fate (Antiq., XIII, v, 9).
What happened was this: the Sadducees became more conservative economically and politically, but less religious; the Chasidim split into two divisions, the Pharisees and the Essenes. As the last two matured between 145 and 100 B.C.E., their divergence, in spite of their common Zoroastrianism, became wider and deeper. Whereas the Essenes more and more abandoned the temporal, the Pharisees, becoming worldly, sought power, wealth, and popular influence. The latter became the spokesmen for the people, and the former the depository of extreme religious fervor. The Pharisees envisioned a world in which the Jews would rule over a great empire to be established by their Messiah, the son of David; the Essenes considered themselves the Elect Ones of the Supreme God, chosen by Him to rule over an apocalyptic kingdom of saints to be inaugurated by the supernatural Angel-Messiah of Moral Judgment. The Pharisees accepted and developed the Temple worship, while the Essenes, rejecting the ritual of blood-sacrifice, established a severe and all-encompassing discipline based upon faith, sacraments, and holy works. While the Pharisees externalized religion into an elaborately formalized discipline, the Essenes made it a way of life, requiring profound moral regeneration intended to govern every overt act and secret thought. That many of these characteristics already existed by the time of John Hyrcanus in 134 B.C.E., we can scarcely doubt. Josephus declares that the "Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances . . . which are not written in the laws of Moses and" which "the Sadducees reject," who "are able to persuade none but the rich," while "the Pharisees have the multitude on their side" (Antiq., XIII, x, 6). Eventually, the latter elaborated thirty-nine classes of labor forbidden on the Sabbath, and made endless subdivisions under each. Various schools of religious persuasion and interpretation arose, which debated the finest points of interpretation. For example, a woman could untie certain knots on the Sabbath, but only if she could do it with one hand. A light might be extinguished to exorcise an evil spirit, but not for the sake of thrift. And so it went.
Shortly before the year 100 B.C.E., a revolutionary development took place among the Essenes. A great leader, called the Teacher of Righteousness, arose among the Essenes, who, perhaps, like Zoroaster and Pythagoras traveled abroad and absorbed the religions of Persia, Egypt, and Greece; certain it is that he mastered Pythagoreanism; upon the Zoroastrianized Judaism which already constituted Essene ideology, he engrafted the discipline and the mysteries of the Orphic---Pythagoreans. It is also certain that he claimed a divine power by which to interpret the prophets. It was this Teacher of Righteousness that also composed an additional revelation in the name of Enoch which we know today as the Book of Enoch; he wrote The Manual of Discipline; and that he interpreted various ancient prophecies as descriptions of current catastrophes. He transformed Essenism into a doctrine of social revolt, in which the possession of wealth or property became criminal per se. Under his leadership, the cult abandoned Judaism more than ever before and embraced much broader ideas concerning race and salvation: the Messiah, no longer a mere moral judge nor simply an avenger of the Jews, as in Daniel and Isaiah, became an international Saoshyant. In short, under the new dispensation, the Essenes were transformed substantially into Pythagoreans.
The Essenes, however, even while abandoning Judaism in reality never surrendered the discipline of the Mosaic Law, for which they remained sticklers to the end. Nor did they surrender the Jewish scriptures, especially the prophets, for they saw in these fervent denunciators of wealth and idolatry their own true brethren and forerunners. Yet they would be responsible for the translation and alteration of the Jewish Scriptures into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt, whereby they would alter the texts to promote their sect's religious beliefs and gain authority for their movement over others. In order to establish their peculiar doctrine, they composed documents which they attributed to Enoch and the Patriarchs, men whose antiquity did, and whose authority might, exceed that credited to the Torah itself. In fact the Teacher of Righteousness attributed greater authority to his writings that to the writings of Moses. After adopting the eschatology of Zoroastrianism and the discipline and soteriology of the Pythagoreans, what remained of Judaism was a mere husk, as it were, to support the concepts derived from Persia, India, Greece, and Asia Minor. Thus was formed the great Jewish synthesis which was contemporaneous with Mithraism but which followed Pythagoras by four centuries.
From February 9 to April 24, 1954, an expedition worked to uncover the ruins of Khirbet-Qumran, which include a principal building 111X90 feet and several smaller ones. From coins, pottery, and other evidence, found there, we know that the monastery was first used about 104 B.C.E.; and this original occupation continued to about 31 B.C.E., when the structure was seriously injured by an earthquake. It was then abandoned until 4 B.C.E., when the building was repaired and reoccupied as before, until 68-69 A.D., when it was gutted by fire. It was again used in 132-135 A.D. by Bar Cochba, and then abandoned forever to the shifting sands. We know, consequently, that Khirbet-Qumran was the headquarters of the Essenes from about 104-31 B.C.E. and from 4 B.C.E. to 68-69 A.D.
The construction of the building establishes that it was a community center; it contained a large upper room (see Mark 14:15) in which the eucharistic feasts were celebrated; it had a scriptorium, equipped with seats and benches, in which the scrolls were studied and copied; it had a commissary in which the common goods were stored; and just outside stood the cistern in which the daily baptismal baths were taken. It is obvious that the main building contained no living quarters; the residents, who may have numbered some two hundred at any given time, lived in caves or tents nearby. The cemetery, which lies to the east of the building, contains about two thousand graves, of which a small percentage have been excavated.
We know that John Hyrcanus, 134-104 B.C.E.the first who assumed the triple crown of ruler, high priest, and prophets carried out various military expeditions against his neighbors. The Hasmoneans, having achieved independence, immediately sought to establish a savage imperialism upon the Samarians, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and others. Nor were they content with tribute: they gave their neighbors the short shrift of accepting Judaism, being driven from their homes, or suffering death at the point of the sword (Antiq., XIII, ix-x). About 109 B.C.E., however, an event occurred which was fraught with fearful consequences for the Jewish nation: Hyrcanus went over to the Sadducees, and embarked upon a career of domestic persecution.
It was undoubtedly soon after this that the Essenes reorganized themselves into their thiasoi under their current Master of Justice or Teacher of Righteousness. Thereafter, the fierce struggles between the Pharisees and the Sadducees became a matter of indifference to the Essenes, who withdrew from all such conflicts among the Sons of Darkness and dedicated themselves to meditation concerning the impending apocalyptic catastrophe. Considering this momentary existence quite inconsequential, they gave formal allegiance to whatever civil power happened to exercise authority at the moment; but their esoteric religious documents and doctrines became profound secrets, to be shared only by their tried and trusted comrades.
Thus, under the leadership of their Master, the Essenes lived their submerged life for something like forty years preceding Pompey's capture of Jerusalem, which, at a single stroke, put an end to the Hasmonean dynasty and the political independence of the Jews.
Authentic history knows even less concerning the Teacher of Righteousness than it does of Jesus. And is this so strange? The Essenes were sworn to absolute secrecy. Since their doctrines were revolutionary, the publication of these would have brought rightful punishment upon them. Even as Pythagoras and his followers were ruthlessly slaughtered, so the Essenes had good reason to fear at all times bloody assault and general destruction. We can only say that the Teacher was venerated by the community, but that his identity was little known beyond its pale.
Nevertheless, in spite of their secrecy and their apparently innocuous activity, the Essenes must have incurred suspicion and enmity:
All this must have been generally known, even though their scriptures were effectively concealed. It is possible that Aristobulus II, the last Hasmonean king, had learned their secrets from spies planted within their ranks. At all events, it is certain that shortly before Pompey rent the veil of the Temple, the Teacher of Righteousness was arrested, tried, condemned to death, and executed. Some have surmised that this was the "Onias, a righteous man . . . and beloved of God," who was stoned to death by "wicked Jews," (Antiq., XIV, ii, 1), about 65 B.C.E. However, the evidence is too fragile to establish such a conclusion.
Thereupon the conviction took hold upon his followers that the Teacher had risen from the dead, had ascended to heaven, and would shortly return as the all-powerful Son of Man, surrounded by myriads of angels; and that he would conduct the last judgment, establish the kingdom of heaven upon earth, and send all sinnersthat is, all who love material things, indulge in marriage, and reject the communal lifeto an eternal flaming hell. The Essenes expected this Angel-Messiah to be the reincarnation of their Teacher of Righteousness. The Teacher of Righteousness became thus, in his first appearance, a divine incarnation, who, in his second, was to be a reconstituted Danielic Son of Man who would also be the Messiah of Moral Judgment, actuated by Buddhist-Pythagorean ethical principles. Precisely when his Parousia was expected we cannot now declare with certainty; but we know that the delay was to be brief. Those who had seen his execution expected also to witness his return in glory.
Had the Hasmonean dynasty continued in power after the execution of the Teacher, the Essenes in general would probably have suffered a similar fate. But with the advent of Roman sovereignty in Jerusalem, such extirpation could no longer be carried out. The Essenes, therefore, more secretive than ever retired to their monastery and to their various thiasoi throughout the land, to practice their communal living, study their mysterious scriptures, and await their Messiah.
We have noted that the monastery at Khirbet-Qumran remained unoccupied after the earthquake of 31 B.C.E. until 4 B.C.E. What was the reason for this? We believe that a passage in Josephus supplies the key (Antiq., XV, x, 4-5). While Herod was very young, the Essene Manahem had prophesied that he would one day be king; and, therefore, "he continued to honor all the Essenes." Because of the constant conspiracies against him, Herod required oaths of allegiance. "The Essenes," however, "were excused from this imposition" (Ibid.). Many scholars believe that during the reign of Herod, they enjoyed such favor and immunity that they abandoned their headquarters in the desert.
By 25 A.D. the Essene Messiah was more than half a century overdue. Nevertheless, the air was electric with expectation. At this juncture, John the Baptist, believing himself the incarnate Elijah and the harbinger of the Messiah, appeared suddenly in the wilderness off the shore of Jordan in Judea declaring that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Whether he was an Essene who had left the Order or whether he was simply an individual prophet attempting to establish a cult of his own, we cannot now determine. Like Jesus, he despised and hated Pharisee and Sadducee alike, whom he characterized as "a generation of vipers" (Larson, The History of Christian Origins, p. 236).
We doubt that the careers of John or of Jesus himself provoked more than a passing ripple within the Essene community. Their Messiah had already completed his earthly career, and, even if his return was inexplicably delayed, there could certainly be no other. And so the Essenes gazed skyward and waited. Their dreams, however, were crushed in the general catastrophe which destroyed the Jewish state in 70 A.D. We know only that the Romans burned the Khirbet-Qumran monastery and we conclude that the Essenes were scattered to the winds.
It is indeed fortunate that we possess detailed descriptions of the Essenes from the pens of two great Jewish writers, Josephus and Philo Judaeus. The second of these was an Alexandrian, who made himself the master of Hellenic philosophy, especially that of Plato, Pythagoras, and the Stoics, and who had attempted a union of Greek metaphysics with Judaic theology. He it was who first gave the Logos doctrine, previously enunciated by Zeno, its final formulation. Since Philo was an earnest inquirer who lived a long life which ended about 40 A.D., he must have known intimately all the elements constituting Jewish life during the half century preceding his death. His testimony, therefore, must be accepted as authentic. We read that their leader had "trained to'' community of living many thousands of disciples, who are called Essens, because of their holiness.... They dwell in many cities of Judaea and many villages, and in large and populous societies.... And their mode of life is our evidence of their liberty; none ventures to acquire any private property at all, no house or slave, or farm cattle, or any of the other things which procure or minister to wealth; but they deposit them all in public together, and enjoy the benefit of all in common. And they dwell together in one place, forming clubs and messes in companies, and they pass their whole time in managing every kind of business in the public good. But different members have different occupations, to which they strenuously devote themselves, and toil on with unwearied patience, making no excuses of cold or heat or any change of weather. .
Of the men, then, who thus differ in occupations, every one on receiving his wages gives them to one person who is the appointed steward: and he, on receiving them, immediately purchases the necessary provisions, and supplies abundance of food and other things of which men's life is in need. And they who live together and share the same table are content with the same things every day, being lovers of frugality . . . Not only have they a common table, but also common raiment; for they are supplied in winter with thick coats, and in summer with cheap tunics, so that every one, who will, may easily take whichever he likes, since what belongs to one is considered to belong to all, and the property of all to be, on the other hand, the property of each one.
Moreover, if any of them should fall sick, he is medically treated out of the common resources. . . And so the old men if they happen to be childless, are wont to end their lives on a very happy and bright old age, inasmuch as they are blest with sons both many and good....
Further, then, as they saw with keen discernment the thing which alone, or most of all, was likely to dissolve their community, they repudiated marriage and also practiced continence in an eminent degree. For no Essene takes to himself a wife, because woman is immoderately selfish and jealous . . . For the man who is either ensnared by the charms of a wife, or induced by natural affection to make his children his first care, is no longer the same toward others, but has unconsciously become changed from a free man into a slave.
A second passage from Philo contains complementary information (A Treatise to Prove that Every Man Who Is Virtuous Is Also Free, XIII).
There are . . . Essenes, in number something more than four thousand . . . not sacrificing living animals but studying rather to preserve their minds in a state of holiness and purity. These men . . . not storing up treasures of silver and gold, nor acquiring vast sections of the earth out of a desire for ample revenues . . . are nevertheless accounted very rich, judging contentment and frugality to be great abundance, as in truth they are.
Among these men you will find no makers of arrows, or javelines, or swords, or helmets, or breastplates, or shields, no makers of arms or military engines; no one, in short, attending to any employment whatever connected with war, or even to any of those [ordinary] occupations even in peace which are easily perverted to wicked purposes; . . . they repudiate and keep aloof from everything which can possibly afford any inducement to covetousness; and there is not a single slave among them, but they are all free, aiding one another with a reciprocal interchange of good offices; and they condemn masters, not only as unjust, inasmuch as they corrupt the very principle of equality, but likewise as impious, because they destroy the ordinances of nature, which generated them all equally.
But in their view this natural relationship of all men to one another has been thrown into disorder by designing covetousness, continually wishing to surpass others in good fortune, and which has therefore engendered alienation instead of affection, and hatred instead of friendship; and leaving the logical part of philosophy . . . they devote all their attention to the moral part....
Now these laws they are taught at other times, indeed, but most especially on the seventh day, for the seventh day is accounted sacred, on which they abstain from all other employments . . . a great many precepts are delivered in enigmatical modes of expression, and allegorically....
In the first place, then, there is no one who has a home so adequately his own private property, that it does not in some sense also belong to every one: for besides that they all dwell together in companies, the house is open to all those of the same notions, who come to them from other quarters; . . . and they cherish respect for their elders, and honor them and care for then, just as parents are honored and cared for by their lawful children; being supported by them in all abundance both by their personal exertions, and by innumerable contrivances.
We turn now to Josephus, who was born about 37 A.D. and died about 100 A.D. He was a general in the Jewish army of insurrection during 68-69 A.D., but earned the clemency and favor of the Romans after he decided the war was hopeless. In his Life, he tells us that at the age of sixteen he became an Essene neophyte and dwelt for three years in the wilderness with a teacher named Banus, who bathed constantly in cold water to curb his libido, who, like John the Baptist, lived on uncooked food that grew wild, and who wore only such clothing as could be procured from trees. We conclude that this discipline lost its attraction, because presently Josephus joined the Pharisees, "which is of kin to the sect of the Stoics" (Life, 2). Although he was never admitted to the inner circle of the Essenes, he certainly knew snore about them than any other extant witness; and he has left us several descriptions of them. In one passage he declares (Antiq., XVIII, 1, 3-6):
The doctrines of the Essens is this: That all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, and esteem the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for; and when they send what they have dedicated to God into the temple, they do not offer sacrifices there, because they have more pure lustrations of their own; on which account they are excluded from the common court of the temple, but offer their sacrifices themselves; yet is their course of life better than that of other men; and they entirely addict themselves to husbandry. It also deserves our admiration, how much they exceed all other men that addict themselves to virtue.... This is demonstrated by that institution of theirs which will not suffer anything to hinder them from having all things in common, so that a rich man enjoys no more of his own wealth than he who bath nothing at all. There are about four thousand men that live in this way, and neither marry wives, nor are desirous to keep servants; as thinking the latter tempts men to be unjust, and the former gives the handle to domestic quarrels; but as they live by themselves, they minister to one another. They also appoint certain stewards to receive the incomes of their revenues, and of the fruits of the ground; such as are good men and priests, who are to get their corn and their food ready for them. They none of them differ from others of the Essens in their way of living.
We find that the Essenes, like the Buddhists and the Pythagoreans, sought personal freedom and independence by rejecting marriage, together with all family ties and responsibilities; and they mortified "the body of this death," by renouncing sex-consummation, which has appeared to ascetics of all ages as the ultimate triumph over our lower nature.
The following is our most detailed account (Wars of the Jews, II, viii, 2-13).
For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews . . . the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essens. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essens reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence, and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons' children while they are pliable, and form them according to their own manners....
These men are despisers of riches. . . Nor is there any one to be found among them who bath more than another; for it is a law among them that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possession, and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren....
They have no certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open to them, just as if it were their own, and they go into such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them for fear of thieves. Accordingly, there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them.... Nor do they allow of the change of garments, or of shoes, till they be first entirely torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell anything to one another, but every one of them gives what he bath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself; and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please.
....every one of them are sent away by their curators to exercise some of those arts wherein they are skilled, in which they labor with great diligence till the fifth hour. After which they assemble themselves together again into one place, and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they every one meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into the dining room, as into a certain holy temple, and quietly set themselves down; upon which the baker lays them loaves in order; the cook also brings a single plate of one sort of food, and sets it before every one of them; but a priest says grace before meat, and it is unlawful for any one to taste of the food before grace be said. The same priest, when he bath dined, says grace again after meat, and when they begin, and when they end, they praise God, as he that bestows their food upon them: after which they lay aside their white garments, and betake themselves to their labours again till the evening....
And truly, as for other things, they do nothing but according to the injunctions of their curators; only these two things are done among them at every one's own free will, which are to assist those that want it and to show mercy; for they are permitted of their own accord to afford succour to such as deserve it, when they stand in need of it, and to bestow food on those that are in distress; but they cannot give anything to their kindred without the curators. They dispense their anger after a just manner, and restrain their passion. They are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath; but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem it worse than perjury; for they say that he who cannot be believed, without swearing by God, is already condemned. They also take great pains in studying the writings of the ancients, and choose out of them what is most for the advantage of their soul and body, and they inquire after such roots and medicinal stones as may cure their distempers.
But now, if any one bath a mind to come over to their sect, he is not immediately admitted, but he is prescribed the same method of living which they use for a year, while he continues excluded, and they give him also a small hatchet, and the forementioned girdle, and the white garment. And when he bath evidence, during that time, that he can observe their continence, he approaches nearer to their way of living, and is made a partaker of the waters of purification; yet is he not even now admitted to live with them; for after this demonstration of his fortitude, his temper is tried two more years, and if he appear to be worthy, they then admit him into their society. And before he is allowed to touch their common food, he is obliged to take tremendous oaths that, in the first place, he will exercise piety towards God; and then that he will observe justice towards men, and that he will do no harm to any one, either of his own accord or by the command of others; that he will always hate the wicked and be assistant to the righteous; that he will ever show fidelity to all men, and especially to those in authority; because no one obtains the government without God's assistance; and that if he be in authority, he will at no time whatever abuse his authority, nor endeavour to outshine his subjects, either in his garments or any other finery; that he will be perpetually a lover of truth and propose to himself to reprove those that tell lies; that he will keep his hands clear from theft, and his soul from unlawful gains; and that he will neither conceal anything from those of his own sect, nor discover any of their doctrines to others, no, not though any one should compel him so to do at the hazard of his life. Moreover, he swears to communicate their doctrines to no one any otherwise than as he received them himself; that he will abstain from robbery, and will equally preserve the books belonging to their sect, and the names of the angels (or messengers). These are the oaths by which they secure their proselytes to themselves.
But for those that are caught in any heinous sins they cast them out of their society, and he who is thus separated from them does often die after a miserable, manner; for as he is bound by the oath he bath taken, and by the customs he bath been engaged in, he is not at liberty to partake of that food that he meets with elsewhere, but is forced to eat grass, and to famish his body with hunger, till he perish....
Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Jews, in resting from their labour on the seventh day; for they not only get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on that day, but they will not remove any vessel out of its place, nor go to stool thereon. Nay, on other days . . . covering themselves round with their garment, that they may not affront the divine rays of light, they ease themselves....
Now after the time of their preparatory trial is over, they are parted into four classes; and so far are the juniors inferior to the seniors, that if the seniors should be touched by the juniors, they must wash themselves, as if they had intermixed themselves with the company of foreigner. They are long-lived also, in somuch that many of them live above a hundred years, by means of simplicity of their diet, nay, as I thing, by means of the regular course of life they observe also. They condemn the miseries of life, and are above pain, by the generosity of their mind. And as for death, if ti will be to their glory, they esteem it better than living always; and indeed our war with the Romans gave abundant evidence what great souls they had in their trials, wherein, although they were tortured and distorted, burnt and torn to pieces, and went through all kinds of instruments of torment that they might be forced either to blaspheme their legislator or to eat what was forbidden them, yet they could not be made to do either of them, nor once to flatter their tormentors, or to shed a tear; but they smiled in their very pains, and laughed those to scorn who inflicted the torments upon them, and resigned up their souls with great alacrity, as expecting to receive them again.
For their doctrine is this, that bodies are corruptible...but that the souls are immortal, and continue forever and that they come out of the most subtle air, and are united to their bodies as to prisons, into which they are drawn by a certain natural enticement; but that when they are set free from the bond of the flesh, they then, as released from long bondage, rejoice and mount upward......and thence are those exhortations to virtue, and dehortations from wickedness collected, whereby good men are bettered in the conduct of their life by the hope they have of reward after their death, and whereby the vehement inclinations of bad men to vice are restrained, by the fear and expectation they are in, that although they should lie concealed in this life, they should suffer immortal punishment after their death. These are the divine doctrines of the Essens about the soul, which lay an unavoidable bait for such as have once had a taste of their philosophy.
There are also those among them who undertake to foretell things to come, by reading the holy books, and using several sorts of purifications....
Moreover, there is another order of Essenes, who agree with the rest as to their way of living, and customs, and laws, but differ from them in the point of marriage, as thinking that by not marrying they cut off the principal part of human life, which is the prospect of succession; nay rather, that if all men should be of the same opinion, the whole race of mankind would fail.... But they do not use to accompany with their wives when they are with child, as a demonstration that they do not marry out of regard to pleasure, but for the sake of posterity.
Instead of consuming the space necessary to analyze these quotations, we ask the reader to re-read and carefully consider every statement, for each is weighted with far-reaching implications. It is my desire that we proceed now to an analysis of several Essene documents, which corroborate fully the statements of Philo and Josephus, but which, in addition, reveal a great many facts and doctrines entirely unknown, or not attributed with assurance to the Essenes, before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.