the essenes 101.

I culled my Essene information from
many, many different sources. But this image came from
this source, which contains a very detailed summary of
practically everything I was able to dig up:
Who's ? Right.
Another interesting source of information:
A Portrait of Jesus' World. 
I sort of have a disease, Internet. Ready for me to reveal it? Here it is: I heart research. I will research the SHIT out of crap, to the point everybody slides away from me to the far end of the table and refuses to make eye contact with me until I return to normal.

So guess what: I've researched the Essenes. If you're watching DIG, this will be interesting information to know. If you are NOT watching DIG (on USA!) (and if you are NOT, then our dinner date this weekend is CANCELED...I mean it: we are DONE.) (but you can make it up to me by watching episode #3 on Thursday at 10 PM and then we'll be friends again), this will still be a lot of interesting information to know...if you're into knowing interesting information. 

Because what an interesting group of fascinating people they were (are? there is at least one group out there, right now, calling itself the Essene).

Some background on them:

These are the people who were responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls (dating back 4,000 years), that were discovered at Qumran. Qumran is a ruin from the Second Temple period; in 1947 some Bedouin desert shepherds stumbled upon ancient scrolls hidden inside clay jars at Qumran. Scholars have traced the origins of the Scrolls back to the Essenes, an ancient group of esoterics who lived before the time of Jesus, and some believe can also be traced back to the time of Enoch and Moses.

The Essenes who wrote and kept the Dead Sea Scrolls were an offshoot of Judaism, formed out of disgust with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. But they are also considered to be lineage/source for some major world religions or groups today such as Christianity (many researchers think most early Christian mystics were Essene), the Gnostics, the Freemasons, and the Kabalists. 

The word "Essene" comes from the northern Aramaic "chasya" meaning "The Holy Ones" or "saint." They were also known as the B'nai Aliyah, the children of ascension. The Essenes rejected worldliness, they believed the Pharisees (the spiritual fathers of Judaism) and the Sadducees (the elitists) were corrupt.

One school of thought is that the Essenes followed the original laws that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai (not the Ten Commandments...the other ones, the Essenes followed the original Commandments, the ones that Moses broke in a fit of rage because God's Chosen were NOT following directions) (and, after the day I just had with 2nd graders, let me tell you: I totally feel Moses--cannot TELL you how many hissy fits I've had this year due to someone NOT following directions). They lived apart from the rest of society, and they gave away all of their wealth, living monastic lives in the desert, committed to strict diets (vegetarianism and fasting) and celibacy (**though there may have been another group, or type of Essene, that did not practice celibacy, but did believe in 3 year engagements before marrying--suuuuuper smart advice, in any time period on Earth, I say). 

The Essenes lived according to the laws of nature--they believed in a Divine energy that was both masculine and feminine, calling these Mother Earth and God the Father. They were agriculturists and finely attuned naturalists who studied astronomy, and were always on alert to "signs" from Nature (quite possibly because they were on the lookout for signs from God to start the 6 Big Battles--more on that later).  

Essenes also ritually immersed themselves in holy water (mikvahs) every morning, ate together after prayer, devoted themselves to charity and benevolence (unless being violently ready for God's holy war, of course--talking about that several paragraphs down). Essenes were forbidden to express anger (aka: heart attacks waiting to happen); they also safe-guarded secrets and carefully preserved all the names of all the angels. They were about the swearing of oaths, and were very against the sacrifice or eating of animals. In fact, the only time they consumed any animal products was when they used the skins of animals, and those animals had always died from natural causes.

The Essenes also believed in a Messianic figure. More than that, they believed in multiple Messianic figures. The Essenes at Qumran believed in TWO Messianic figures: a Messiah of David, a kingly figure come to lead a holy war, but also a Messiah of Aaron, a priestly figure come to restore the Temple in Jerusalem to its original purity and worship of God. In addition to the two Messianic figures, the Essenes also wrote about a prophet.

There are some scholars who believe that Mary's (mother of Jesus) parents were Essenes, as well as both Mary and Joseph, Jesus' brother James, John the Baptist, and maybe even Jesus himself. The home "The Last Supper" took place in was possibly an Essene's home. It's not provable, but given the rejection of traditional Jewish laws the Essenes taught, it's entirely possible, because so many of their teachings and strict way of life closely aligns with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and how he and his followers lived. (I do recognize some disagree that Jesus of Nazareth even existed, but for storytelling's sake, we're going to assume he did.)

The Essenes were an apocalyptic group. But they didn't believe in the complete destruction of the world, rather they believed in the end of an evil age. They believed that when that end happens, God will visit the Earth in a show of great power, establishing a new kingdom for Judaism, which will be similar to the kingdoms of David and Solomon, and that the world will experience a return to a golden age.

There's a well-known collection of Essene writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls called The Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. The Sons of Light are (of course) the Essenes. And the Sons of Darkness are (of course) everybody else. The Essenes believed there would be a cataclysmic fight--not just between the human Sons of Light and Darkness, but also between the cosmic forces of evil and good. The Sons of Light will be the victors. 

Here is a description of the Battle between the Sons of Light and Darkness:

Stage 1: The bad guys form an alliance with Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.  These were the Gentile nations which had all attacked or hurt Israel at some point. The Philistines were the people who seduced Samson via Delilah, cut off his hair, blinded and enslaved him, and then many met their death at his hands...but they were also said to have captured the ark of the covenant for some time. King David conquered them when he killed the giant Philistine Goliath. And the name "Palestine" originates from the name "Philistine." When the Romans conquered Israel, they re-named Israel "Palestinia" in an effort to unattach Jews to the land of Israel. 

At any rate, the Essenes were supposed to fight "violators of the covenant," Jews who aligned themselves in cooperation with all of the bad guys from Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia. Those are who the Essenes will battle, who they called "The Sons of Darkness." 

Stage 2: the battle will move into Egypt....

Stage 3: the battle will move to the North.

The Essenes believed the battle, all total, would last 40 years, that there would be 6 bloody engagements which would end in a 3-3 tie. Then there would be a 7th bloody battle, and in this battle the hand of God would smite all the Sons of Darkness via 7 savage engagements in that last, seventh, battle. There will be a ceremony of Thanksgiving following the day of victory.

Seven. Tunnel 7. It could be a DIG thing.

In addition to all of THAT, there was the Essene "Community of Law," aka: How To Be An Essene. First, each community had an Instructor, sort of a priest, responsible for the community's finances, Biblical interpretations, and governmental decisions. Any decisions made, though, were by majority rule. Each community had chapters, groups of 10 men who came together for meals and Bible study. Once a year, they'd re-evaluate membership and rank, according to each member's Biblical knowledge and behavior--rank could go up or down. The use of military terminology was important. Members were called "volunteers," or something sort of like "soldiers," and were organized into groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, the same method of militaristic organization used by Joshua and Caleb used when Israel first attacked the Canaanites and took possession of Israel. This was done on purpose because, while very peaceful vegetarians who rejected materialism and worldliness and practiced peace and love? The Essenes also considered themselves fierce warriors, waiting for the signal from God to begin the final war between nations. (Joshua and Caleb were two of Moses' 12 spies sent to Canaan to scout out the Promised Land for God's people. They were the only 2 who didn't flake on Moses, and thus were not killed by a plague God sent to smite the other ten spies for their flakiness.)

In other words, Essenes were kind of like a vegan, pacifist mafia. But they were God's vegan, pacifist mafia, and if you've read your Bible or even just paid attention to what I wrote happened to ten out of twelve of God's spies for the twelve tribes of Israel, then you probably already know: God can be a hell of don to work for.

So basically, in terms of the show DIG, what I'm thinking might matter the most are the following:

The Essenes are all about purifying, sanctifying, protecting the Temple Mount.

The Essenes are separatists; they don't mingle with the plebes. And they are very, very, very strict and committed to their beliefs.

Essenes loved animals and nature--maybe this is why the Essene hit man was after the red cow: he was trying to save its life.

The Essenes believed in more than one Messiah, plus possibly a prophet.

Essenes were peaceful naturalists, but they were also fierce holy warriors, and they were waiting to fight the Sons of Darkness, people who aligned themselves to the enemies of Israel. And so if you weren't with them, obviously, you were a Son of Darkness. And that was so so so BAD for you, especially in Battle #7 when Don Dio shows up in all His powerful, smite-y glory.


In conclusion (and summary), let's all try to make sure we stay on the side of the Sons of Light. Okay? And take mikvahs, and don't mingle with the plebes. And be kind to animals. And pay attention to Mother Nature. And do not--DO NOT--ever flake on Moses. Lots of plagues associated with that guy.

Next time: my findings about the Temple Mount. Unless Dig's episode #3 sends me on another researcher-y, geeky hunt for information. (Its title is "The Rosenbergs." And if it's a reference to the historic Rosenbergs I'M thinking of, I'm probably going to be sent on another researcher-y, geeky information hunt. But seriously, you guys--we need to talk about the Temple Mount. Because it's kind of a big deal.)

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