The Abomination of Desolation

Chapter 11: The Brotherhood

 

 

[And if] My people upon whom My Name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I shall hear from the heavens, and forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

We have stated previously that all Christians in the 1st century were those known as the Essenes, that this constitutes one of the most compelling pieces of evidence in favor of the necessity of the vegetarian ideal in Christianity, and that we would prove its veracity. Our proof does not consist of yet another academic hypothesis regarding the origins of the Essene sect, of which there are many, but on solid evidence from Scripture and from the ancient writers. In fact, the term ‘Essene’ only actually appears in a few contemporary sources, albeit authoritative ones: Pliny, Philo and Josephus—a Roman and two Hellenic Jews, the last of whom was overtly hostile to the Essenes—though he claims he had been one—as a revisionist and propagandist first for the Pharisees, and then, after he had notoriously betrayed his own people, for the Romans who came to Palestine to destroy the Jewish and Christian sects. Philo, likewise, is known for his role as the chief ambassador of the Jews of Alexandria to the Roman emperor Caligula in their dispute with the citizens of that city, which included many Christians (called “the Greek lobby” below). We will not bother with Pliny, as he was the vaguest and the most removed from the Essenes, but we will cover the other two, and in so doing, we will have exhausted the evidence from the primary sources without putting our own spin on it.

We have also stated that Yahshuah’s followers were called ‘Nazarenes,’ and this is the basic premise which we have used so far to show that all Christians were ideologically affiliated with (and the direct successors and continuation of) the Nazarite sect, and that they were therefore necessarily all strict vegetarians. (That is, if you were not a vegetarian, then you were not a Christian, and no one would have made the mistake of associating you with the Nazarene sect.) In fact, this is misleading, because there was really no distinction between a Nazarite and a Nazarene. We will explain this in a moment, but for now it suffices to point out that there is no difference between a Christian and a Nazarite, to use the biblical definitions, as the terms ‘Essene’ and ‘Nazarene’ are interchangeable—the former being the Greek historians’ choice for describing the Nazarites, and the latter being the New Testament Greek choice for the same.

The implication is that Christianity was neither seen as nor depicted as an outgrowth of Judaism in the 1st century, as it is now, nor even as a new sect which was created by Yahshuah or his teachings, or by those of his followers, but as the continuation of the prophetic tradition of that period. It is evident throughout Acts (especially ch. 17) that there were already “brothers” or “set-apart ones” (as opposed to “taught ones”) who aided Paul and Silas everywhere they went. There is a clear “doers of the law” vs. “hearers of the law” dichotomy presented here; those who were hearing and not acting accordingly (i.e. the Jews) laid the exact same charges laid against them as those laid against Stephen. Acts 18 tells that the Jews of Greece were of “one mind” in their rejection of Paul’s teachings.

And when Gallion was proconsul of Achaia, the Yehuḏim with one mind rose up against Sha’ul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, “This one does seduce men to worship Elohim contrary to the Torah.” Acts 18:12-13

So when Tertullus (a Greek Jew) brought formal charges against Paul before the Roman governor Antonius Felix, one of which was of his being a “ringleader of the sect of Nazoraioi” (Acts 24:5-6), and the other of which was of his trying to “desecrate the Temple” (24:7), the word Christianoi or ‘Christian’ would seem more appropriate, seeing as that word was already being thrown around in Antioch. Needless to say, if the Christians had been Jews, then they would not have tried to desecrate (much less destroy) the Temple, and if they had actually been a new sect which had sprung up from Yahshuah’s teachings, then they would not have been called Nazoraioi, or Nazarites, though the term is rendered ‘Nazarenes’ in English Bibles. A quick examination of the evidence will confirm all this, but scholars have yet to accept it, because it contradicts their numerous false assumptions about the origins of Christianity.

Obviously these are very controversial statements that require substantiation. We are reliant mostly on hearsay, because the enemies of the Gospel have long since suppressed it, but there is still plenty to draw on. For instance, Epiphanius ironically wrote against the Nazarenes in the 4th century by calling them “heretics” and trying to debunk their doctrines, while simultaneously employing the same phrase as is recorded in the charge against Paul in Acts 24. This may not seem like a big deal, because it could be considered a coincidence, but not when we realize that the accusation levied against both the Nazarenes of the 1st century, represented chiefly by Paul, and the Nazarenes of the 4th century, is that the phrases rendered “Nazarene sect” or “sect of Nazarenes” is actually Ναζωραίων αἵρεσις or Nazoraion airesis in Greek, or ‘Nazorean heresy’ in English. The word ‘heresy,’ from its Greek etymology, roughly means ‘opinion.’ The Christians had a different opinion than the Jews (and later “Christians” like Epiphanius), and that opinion was that the sacrifice which they held as a sacrament was an abomination. So when Irenaeus wrote Adversus Haereses, for instance, he was writing “Against the Sects (of Christianity)” on behalf of the established Roman religion.564Nor is this a difference of opinion between certain individuals, but of the ideologies of whole sects.

“For having found this man a plague, who stirs up dissension among all the Yehuḏim throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Natsarenes, who also tried to profane the Set-apart Place, and whom we seized, and wished to judge him according to our law, but the commander Lysias came along and with much violence took him out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come to you. And by examining him yourself you shall be able to know all these matters of which we accuse him.” And the Yehuḏim also agreed, maintaining that these matters were so. Acts 24:5-9

The first proof we have that the terms ‘Nazarites,’ ‘Essenes’ and ‘Christians’ are all synonymous when referring to the context of the 1st century and thereafter, and that they were regarded as interchangeable during that time, is that Yahshuah himself was called a ‘Nazarene.’

But hearing that Archelaos was reigning over Yehuḏah instead of his father Herodes, he was afraid to go there. And having been warned in a dream, he departed to the parts of Galil, and came and dwelt in a city called Natsareth—thus to fill what was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Natsarene.” Matthew 2:22-23

All by itself, this is so controversial that many Christians have resorted to confessing that the quotation does not actually come from Scripture, but that “Matthew” (the Gospel of Matthew was written by all of Yahshuah’s disciples, and was not called Matthew, but the Gospel of the Hebrews) got his inspiration from the Holy Spirit. For example, “We are offended that anyone would suggest the authors of the Bible rely upon human records and not the Holy Spirit,” says bible.ca, in its attempt to establish the veracity of Scripture in response to the argument that the quotation must have been taken from tradition outside the Bible.565 Yet these people have no idea what the Holy Spirit even is, and imagine it to be some sort of mischievous, ambient energy field, like a demon that suddenly possesses people and makes them speak in tongues or bark like a dog. This is offensive to reason itself—never mind to God.

The very same article we just quoted from has 18 other points following this one, the second of which is that “Catholic and Orthodox defenders must contradict the traditional interpretation of the Fathers (Jerome) of Mt 2:23 and their own theologians. They are therefore violating the very principle of oral tradition and the ‘authority of the church’ to interpret scripture, that they are trying to prove.”566 We will certainly not argue against this point, but it is sheer folly to ascribe the significance to Jerome, and therefore to Isaiah, without realizing that Jerome’s views do not fall anywhere near the bounds of Catholic and Orthodox doctrine, especially when it comes to the Gospel of Matthew. Jerome was a heretic in every sense of the word until the Church decided to make him one of its “doctors.”

Once more it is written in the pages of the same evangelist, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Let these word fanciers and nice critics of all composition tell us where they have read the words; and if they cannot, let me tell them that they are in Isaiah. For in the place where we read and translate, “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots,” in the Hebrew idiom it is written thus, “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse and a Nazarene shall grow from his root.” Jerome567

Jerome’s command of the Hebrew language is beyond dispute, as it was he who first translated the OT into Latin, and this is exactly why the Church ultimately decided to lay claim to his legacy, even though it meant endorsing his views. It is extremely common for theologians, Bible translators and Bible publishers to demonstrate their total lack of comprehension of prophecies such as this by citing passages in the footnotes when they are verbatim quotations, but not when they are not verbatim. So, because most people ascribe these profiteers an innate authority to determine the meaning of Scripture, or else reject its veracity altogether, the Christians have to back themselves into a corner and defend an untenable position, such as that the Holy Spirit puts prophets and apostles into a trance and they engage in some sort of automatic writing, rather than that they understood what they were talking about, and reasoning with their audience rather than spewing gibberish. That the passage in question is in Isaiah (11:1), and that the Hebrew idiom does say this, shows that the theologians understand neither the spirit nor the letter of the text.

This is important, because in most cases, the NT writers do not pull quotes out of the OT verbatim, but paraphrase them and apply them to the present situation, which demonstrates a thorough comprehension of the source material. We have already remarked on this numerous times without explicitly stating that this is going on. For instance, in the previous chapter we quoted 2 Timothy 2:19: “יהוה knows those who are His [Numbers 16:5],” and, “Let everyone who names the Name of Messiah turn away from unrighteousness [Isaiah 55:7].” The NIV’s policy is to insert footnotes directing the reader to the source passages, and in this case, it could not determine either one, even though it places quotation marks around each citation, as though the publisher Zondervan did not even make the effort to guess what the citations refer to. We use this just to demonstrate the trend; the reader is at liberty to look up these passages for himself to see how they relate to 2 Timothy.

Even ignoring the facts provided earlier in this treatise about Nazareth being a Nazarite community, the Galilean Bethlehem (‘Place of Bread’), this necessarily describes Yahshuah as a strict vegetarian, and all his followers as the same, as we will describe below. The fact that the audience is directed to the prophecy in Isaiah makes it even more clear, as Jesse was from the Bethlehem in Judah, and that both he and his son David are recorded in the genealogy of Matthew 1, and even Yahshuah’s father was called “son of David” in 1:20, even as Yahshuah is in 1:1, though they were almost 1000 years removed from their ancestor. Clearly, Matthew 2:22-23 means to establish the messianic line of David as the object and Bethlehem (the city of David) as the location of the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah, rather than that it should itself be a prophecy which is no prophecy at all, but a lie, because it says it was to fill what was spoken by the Prophets. Moreover, this is all corroborated in Luke.

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And יהוה Elohim shall give Him the throne of His father Dawiḏ. And He shall reign over the house of Ya‛aqoḇ forever, and there shall be no end to His reign.” Luke 1:32-33

And Yosĕph also went up from Galil, out of the city of Natsareth to Yehuḏah, to the city of Dawiḏ, which is called Bĕyth Leḥem, because he was of the house and lineage of Dawiḏ, to be registered with Miryam, who was engaged to him—being pregnant. Luke 2:4-5

Most interesting here is that Matthew draws the connection with the testimony of the Prophets. Also of note is that the ISR translators have given us the renderings of “Natsareth” and “Natsarene,” which distinguishes them from the more common transliterations of ‘Nazareth’ and ‘Nazarene.’ This would signify different etymological origins, as the root words are supposed to be completely different words in Hebrew, as we will explain in a moment. However, this is still based on a subjective view point, and none is necessary to establish our premise.

The word Nazoraioi or ‘Nazarenes’ does not designate people from Nazareth, as Nazareth was not really a place name, but a descriptive term evidently applied to any of the Nazarite communities, including the ones at Bethlehem in Galilee and Damascus in Judea, though this is uncertain, as there are no other Nazareths that we know of. If this was not the case, then it would have been located on a Roman map, and we would have numerous contradictions to account for, such as the fact that Paul was from Tarsus in Seleucia, but identified as a “ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” Rather, the term Nazoraioi describes the sect of the Nazarites, and their ideology, meaning that Matthew 2 is deliberately calling Yahshuah a Nazarite. There were certainly degrees of initiation which differentiated people according to how strictly they observed the rules of the sect, and the ones we know about are basically those of the highest degrees, and this is reflected in the fact that Paul was a “ringleader,” but we have already shown that the basic requisite for admittance into the sect was adopting vegetarianism in practice, while those who did not take the ideology seriously were constantly admonished or excommunicated.

We know that Paul was a Nazarite, because it is plainly stated in Acts. We know that Yahshuah and John the Baptist were both Nazarites, because it is plainly stated of them in the Gospels. What most people are not aware of is that the ancient writers regarded them as vegetarians, which should come as no surprise to us, given everything we have already covered. The Ebionites in particular held this view, which is more than a little significant, as the Ebionites were none other than the Christians of Judea, those who strictly adhered to the principles and the way of life of the Nazarites, called such before the more inclusive term ‘Essenes’ was applied to the whole Christian sect. Consider the position of the Ebionites’ archnemesis Epiphanius:

And how can [the Ebionites’] stupidity about the eating of meat not be exposed out of hand? First of all, because the Lord ate the Jewish Passover. Now the Jewish Passover was a sheep and unleavened bread—sheep’s flesh roasted with fire and eaten, as his disciples say to him, “Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee that thou mayest eat the Passover?” And the Lord himself says, “Go ye into the city, and ye shall find a man bearing a pitcher of water and ye shall follow whithersoever he goeth, and say ye to the goodman of the house, where is the guest-chamber, where I shall keep the Passover with my disciples? And he shall show you an upper room furnished; there make ready.”

And again, the Lord himself says, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you.” And he did not simply say “Passover” but “this Passover,” so that no one could play with it in his own sense. A Passover, as I said, was meat roasted with fire and the rest. But to destroy deliberately the true passage these people have altered its text—which is evident to everyone from the expressions that accompany it—and represented the disciples as saying, “Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?” and he supposedly saying, “Did I really desire to eat meat as this Passover with you?”

But how can their tampering go undetected, when the passage cries out that the “mu” and “eta” are additions? Instead of saying έπιθυμία έπεθύμησα they have put in the additional μή. Christ truly said, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you.” But they misled themselves by writing in meat and making a false entry, and saying, “Did I really want to eat meat with you as this Passover?” But it is plainly demonstrated that he both kept the Passover, and, as I said, ate meat. Epiphanius568

Epiphanius (who was 4 centuries removed from the event, and heavily invested in the Church’s official position) hints that the Ebionites had the true gospel, which portrays Yahshuah as having told his disciples that he was not going to eat meat with them, but that the Romans tampered with the text by removing the word ‘meat.’ Consider how we have already shown that it was through his attempt at a rebuttal of their “stupidity” (which is no rebuttal at all, but an ad hominem attack, like the rest of his vitriol) regarding the diet of John the Baptist that has actually preserved knowledge of the Church’s subversion of the text in posterity. We are truly grateful for this preservation, as without it, our job would be extremely difficult and our arguments would lack substance. However, the credit does not go to Epiphanius, who was instrumental in the demise of the Ebionites, but to the Ebionites themselves, for even Jerome (and therefore the Church itself) gained his knowledge of Scripture straight from the Ebionites, for he was one of them. His “Hebrew gospel” was simply the Gospel of the Ebionites, which the Church changed the name of to the Gospel According to Matthew in its bid to destroy the apostolic legacy. (This is a summary of the nature of the dispute which we have examined in Satan’s Synoptics.)

Epiphanius himself was well aware of this, but said that the Ebionites’ gospel was not truly “Matthew,” because they had “corrupted and mutilated” it. Yet it was they, not he, who had always spoken Hebrew, even at that later date—and this was “heresy.” Unlike the Church’s, the Ebionite tradition not only descended directly from the apostles, and from John and Yahshuah, but was also directly in line with it. That the scriptures they maintained should be the ones to have been tampered with begs the question of how the Church in Rome had direct access to the source material, when no Roman ever even had a translation of them until the late 4th century, and this due solely to the pious evangelism of the very same Ebionites that the Roman clergy mercilessly persecuted and eradicated for no other reason than that they never deviated from the course which Yahshuah had set them on.

Probably the most interesting of the changes from the familiar New Testament accounts of Jesus comes in the Gospel of the Ebionites description of John the Baptist, who, evidently, like his successor Jesus, maintained a strictly vegetarian cuisine. Bart D. Ehrman569

The vegetarianism of John the Baptist and of Jesus is an important issue too in the Ebionite interpretation of the Christian life. It is one of the two particular features of their theology that receives a detailed discussion in Pan. 30. The other is the belief that Jesus was born a mere man and was proclaimed the Son of God only at his baptism. To argue for these doctrines the Ebionites have [allegedly] constructed a gospel of their own. Joseph Verheyden570

Drawing on Epiphanius’ presentation of the Ebionites, Robert Eisenman writes, “John (unlike Jesus) was both a ‘Rechabite’ or ‘Nazarite’ and vegetarian.”571 He holds that the Ebionites are indistinguishable from the Nazoraioi, being the very same wilderness-dwellers that Epiphanius wrote against: “[The Nazerini] ate nothing but wild fruit, milk and honey—probably the same food that John the Baptist also ate.”572 Epiphanius’ greatest mistake (of many), as we have pointed out, was in determining that the Ebionites must have changed the scriptures because of their depiction of John’s diet, but a simple exercise in logic would have informed Epiphanius that subsisting on locusts is not a sustainable diet unless the locusts are swarming, which does not happen often, and even then, he would have been in extremely poor health. The truth is that every single piece of evidence we can muster lends weight to the view that the Ebionites were the true Christians of ancient Palestine all the way into the late 4th century, and that their knowledge and understanding of Scripture was both unsurpassed, and true to its intent.

The question, then, is whether the Ebionites deliberately or mistakenly lied about the truth, having been so much closer to its source than Epiphanius, who was writing several centuries later, with an overtly Roman bias. He loves to call his opponents “stupid” and other such slurs, but the prevailing opinion among the Roman clergy (Epiphanius himself worked his way up to the rank of Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus) was that Constantine’s mother Helena had truly discovered the “True Cross” and all the so-called holy sites, and that to merely question the legitimacy of these fraudulent discoveries based on proofs from the Bible was an excommunicable offense (and excommunication amounts to everlasting damnation in their minds). What could be more stupid than that?

Moreover, Epiphanius was writing in Greek, his native language, and was neither fluent in Hebrew, which was native to the Ebionites, nor familiar with the culture of the ancient Christians, having been born into a “Christian” family and having spent most of his life in that environment, including monasteries in Egypt and Palestine. It is not that Epiphanius was unfamiliar with what his opponents believed that made his reasoning so fallacious, but the fact that he had never considered it without his overtly hostile bias and strong desire to kill everyone that disagreed with it. We would not even be obliged to mention all this here, if not for the fact that no one considered the Ebionites (or “Nazarenes”) to be “heretics” at all, until he pointed out their differences—and this is exactly how Origen (the most prolific and most influential of the Christian scholars of all time) also went down in infamy (due to Epiphanius’ influence). In fact, most modern scholars have even assumed a difference between the Ebionites and the Nazarenes based solely on this distinction, so that there are two sects instead of one, just like they have monumentally failed to recognize the fundamental flaw of associating Jews and Christians, as if it is even possible to be a “Jewish Christian,” seeing how each term describes the adherent of a particular and distinct ideology that is diametrically opposed to the other. One well-informed professor goes so far as to correct himself in his footnotes, apparently without even realizing it.

Certainly there were two ancient groups of Greek and Aramaic-speaking Jewish-Christians in Palestine who interpreted the Hebrew Bible: the heretical Ebionites9 and the orthodox Nazarenes.10

9Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 3.21.1; 5.1.3) notes their opposition to the virgin birth and to Jesus as divine Son of God. It is likely that Justin Martyr already knows them (Dial. 48). Jerome (Adv. Pelag. 3.2) says the Gospel According to the Hebrews (GH) was Aramaic in Hebrew letters … He (Comm. in Matth. 12:13) and Epiphanius (Pan. 30.13.1-8; cf. 30.3.7) say the Ebionites used it. Pritz, p. 87, thinks the Ebionites produced a Greek sectarian edition of GH since Clement and Origen, who did not know Hebrew well, quote it. Epiphanius (Pan. 30.22.3-5) quotes a Greek argument from an Ebionite work. Symmachus, author of a Greek Old Testament version and other writings known to Origen, is called an Ebionite by Eusebius, H.E. 6.17 … the sect’s name (compare Hebrew ‘ebion ‘poor’) points to an environment which used Hebrew.

10Although they are not specifically named in extant Christian sources until the fourth century, Pritz, pp. 71-76, makes a good case that they, unlike the Ebionites, are absent from the oldest heresy lists because they were not considered heretical until Epiphanius added them. This perhaps is confirmed by Nazarene expositions on Isaiah which in part appear to date from the second half of the second century … They appear to consider Jesus as divine Son of God born of a virgin, perhaps as pre-existent Word of God (Jerome, in Esaiam, 11:1-3; 29:17-21). Origen (Contra Celsum 5.61) probably has described the Nazarenes when he describes a second group of ‘Ebionites’ who accept the virgin birth ‘like us’ … Jerome specifically says the Nazarenes accept the virgin birth (Letter 112 13). Epiphanius (Pan. 29.7.6; cf. 29.9.4), with an admitted lack of knowledge on the point, cannot say if the Nazarenes accept the virgin birth. His uncertainty likely would have been a key point in coming to consider them heretics.

Rabbinic sources record second-century incidents with disciples of Jesus the Notsri (נןצרי). These disciples may belong to the same group mentioned later by Jerome and Epiphanius since they are presented as Aramaic speakers, and in one notable incident a disciple disputes the Hebrew Bible with a Jewish sage to the latter’s satisfaction … The Nazarenes’ use of the Hebrew Bible is described in detail by Epiphanius (Pan. 29.7.4), while a number of the Nazarene fragments on Isaiah reflect polemic against rabbinic leaders and traditions. Perhaps unlike the Ebionites, the Nazarenes may only have used the Gospel of the Hebrews in Aramaic since Jerome speaks of translating it into Greek and Latin (De Vir. Ill. 2; cf. Pritz, 86-87). But they approved of Paul’s ‘Gospel’ and the gentile mission (Jerome, in Esaiam 9:1) and so probably had some knowledge of Greek (they perhaps even quoted Col. 2:9; cf. Jerome in Esaiam 11:1-3). If they are rightly identified as members of the group who fled Jerusalem before 70 CE to settle in Pella (Epiphanius, Pan. 29.7.8), Greek would also be natural in this predominantly Greek-speaking city. William Horbury573

 

Notice how Jerome and Irenaeus give us opposite descriptions of the Ebionites/Nazarenes based on their acceptance or rejection of a single Roman superstition (and the Catholics’ virgin birth doctrine is superstition), and that this is used to demonstrate how they were not, in fact, a single sect. This is because Irenaeus was totally ignorant of them, having never ventured further to the East than Italy, and attacked them based on his own belief in absurd pagan doctrines, while Jerome was writing in their defense, right from Palestine. Jerome, unlike Irenaeus and the rest, is the only real competent authority on the Ebionites among any of the ancient writers who have ever been accepted by the Church, as he was the only one who took the trouble to inform himself regarding the merit of their doctrines and practices. Epiphanius also lived in Judea and was widely famed for his proficiency in foreign languages, but admitted to not even knowing whether the Ebionites believed the very thing which Irenaeus had criticized them for, with the intent of rooting them out and bringing about their extermination (a cause which both men shared and ultimately effected in their respective times and locations), is all the evidence a reasonable person should need to determine that the Roman Christians were not even familiar with the circumstances of their own origins, much less of those of the Christians in Palestine. And this is truly incredible, given that they claimed to be the true Christians, and by that time had already announced their alleged “apostolic succession.” More to the point, their notions of supremacy and infallibility beg the question of what they thought had happened to the real Christians in Palestine (those who had followed the teachings of Yahshuah and the apostles before the Gospel had even been brought to Rome), if not that they were present in the sect which had continuously maintained the name since the 1st century. We submit that it was the Romans, whose ignorance and malice are equally self-evident in their actions, who used every means at their disposal to suppress the truth, even as the apostles warned about those who would destroy the Elect for filthy gain. There is simply no other candidate for such an identification, as the Christian sect was indeed so suppressed and the Roman supremacy was indeed so established by such means.

However, the Essenes were not suppressed until the Romans invaded Palestine at the behest of the Jewish king. Josephus tells us (Ant. 15.10.4-5) that they enjoyed Herod’s blessings, owing to their strict obedience (e.g., unlike others under his reign, they were not forced to swear obedience to him, because their obedience was never questioned), and partly to the prophecy of a certain Menachem among the Essenes who foretold that Herod would became a king and enjoy a happy reign. Josephus also says in Antiquities (15.10.4) that the Essenes lived “the same kind of life as do those whom the Greeks call Pythagoreans,” which is about as clear an indication as we could hope for that they were vegetarians (‘Pythagorean’ is synonymous with ‘vegetarian’), given how little attention he gives them in that context. The majority of his description is contained in his other major work, On the Judean War. Notice that the Essenes’s discipline was more severe than that of the Pharisees or the Sadducees!

For there are three philosophical sects among the Judeans, the followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essenes. These last are Judeans by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essenes reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence and the conquest over our passions to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other peoples’ children, while they are pliable and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued, but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man. [This is not an accurate depiction, but comes back to “adultery,” as we will see later.]

These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who has 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 everyone’s possessions are intermingled with every other’s possessions, and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren. They think that oil is a defilement, and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body, for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards [deacons] appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them have no separate business for any, but what is for the uses of them all.

They have no one 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 for them, just as if it were their own, and they go in to 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, but the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow the change of garments or of shoes until the first is 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 has to him that wants 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.

And as for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary, for before sunrise they do not speak a word about profane matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising. After this all 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 until 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 all 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 the food, and it is unlawful for anyone to taste of the food before grace is said. The same priest, when he has dined, says grace again after the food, 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 take to their labors again until the evening. Then they return home to supper after the same manner, and if there be any strangers there, they sit down with them. Nor is there ever any clamor or disturbance to pollute their house, but they give every one leave to speak in their turn. The silence thus kept in their house appears to foreigners like some tremendous mystery, the cause of which is that perpetual sobriety they exercise, and the same settled measure of food and drink that is allotted them, and that is abundantly sufficient for them.

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 everyone’s own free will: to assist those that want it, and to show mercy, for they are permitted of their own accord to afford succor 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 advantageous for their soul and body, and they inquire after such roots and medicinal stones as may cure their distempers.

But now if anyone has 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 also give him a small hatchet and the fore-mentioned girdle, and the white garment. And when he has given 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 [i.e. he is baptized], 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 anyone, 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 always 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 endeavor 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 disclose any of their doctrines to others, no, not though anyone should compel him so to do at the hazard of his life. Moreover, he swears to communicate their doctrines to no one except how 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 messengers. These are the oaths by which they bind 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 hath taken and by the customs he has 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 until he perishes, for which reason they receive many of them again when they are at their last gasp, out of compassion for them, as thinking the miseries they have endured till they came to the very brink of death to be a sufficient punishment for the sins they had been guilty of.

But in the judgments they exercise, they are most accurate and just, nor do they pass sentence by the votes of a court that is fewer than a hundred. And as to what is once determined by that number, it is unalterable. What they most of all honor, after God himself, is the name of their lawgiver, whom if any one blaspheme he is punished capitally. They also think it a good thing to obey their elders, and the major part. Accordingly, if ten of them are sitting together, none of them will speak while the other nine are against it. They also avoid spitting in the midst of them, or on the right side. Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Judeans in resting from their labors on the seventh day, for they not only get their food ready the day before, so that they are 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 they dig a small pit, a foot deep, with a paddle (of the kind of hatchet that is given them when they are first admitted among them), and covering themselves with their garment, so that they do not affront the divine rays of light, they ease themselves into that pit, after which they put the earth that was dug out again into the pit, and even this they do only in the more lonely places which they choose for this purpose, and although this easement of the body is natural, yet it is a rule with them to wash themselves after it, as if it were a defilement to them.

Now, after the time of their preparatory trial is over, they are parted into four classes [prophets, evangelists, shepherds and emissaries—the novices were initiates, which is to say, still in their preparatory phase: the novices are not to be confused with the prophets, who were full members of the sect], 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 a foreigner. They are long-lived also, insomuch that many of them live above a hundred years, by means of the simplicity of their diet—nay, as I think, by means of the regular course of life they observe also. They contemn the miseries of life, and are above pain, by the generosity of their mind. And as for death, if it will be for 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 lawgiver or to eat what was forbidden them, yet could they not be made to do either of them, no, 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, expecting to receive them again.

For their doctrine is this: That bodies are corruptible, and that the matter they are made of is not permanent, but that 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 bonds of the flesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upward. And this is like the opinions of the Greeks, that good souls have their habitations beyond the ocean in a region that is neither oppressed with storms of rain or snow, or with intense heat, but that this place is such as is refreshed by the gentle breathing of a west wind that is perpetually blowing from the ocean, while they allot to bad souls a dark and tempestuous den, full of never-ceasing punishments. And indeed the Greeks seem to me to have followed the same notion, when they allot the islands of the blessed to their brave men, whom they call heroes and demi-gods, and to the souls of the wicked, the region of the ungodly, in Hades, where their fables relate that certain people such as Sisyphus and Tantalus and Ixion and Tityus are punished, which is built on this first supposition, that souls are immortal, 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 Essenes 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, and being perpetually conversant in the discourses of the prophets, and it is but seldom that they miss in their predictions.

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. However, they try their spouses for three years, and if they find that they have their natural purgations thrice, to see whether they are likely to be fruitful, they then actually marry them. But they do not have intercourse with their wives when they are with child, as a demonstration that they do not marry out of regard for pleasure, but for the sake of posterity. Now, the women go into the baths with some of their garments on, as the men do somewhat dressed. And these are the customs of this order of Essenes. Josephus574

We have thought it proper to relate these facts to our readers, however strange they are, and to declare what has happened among us, because many of these Essenes have, by their excellent virtue, been thought worthy of this knowledge of divine revelations. Josephus575

Who cannot see from this description, and from our previous discussions, that Josephus is describing the Christians, and that these are the same as the Nazarites? The fact that he plainly states that there were three philosophical sects in Judea in the 1st century, and that the other two were the Pharisees and the Sadducees, ought to be all the proof a reasonable person would need to make the association between Essenes and Christians. Otherwise we are at a loss to explain how he failed to mention the Christians as a fourth, especially considering that his description of the Essenes matches the descriptions of what Christians ought to believe and how they ought to behave, according to the Bible, exactly. The only reason we can see that any scholars have been slothful to accept this extremely obvious truth is that they are not aware of the fact that Christianity prohibited eating flesh and held to a (much) “severer discipline” than the Jews, even though they have accepted that the Christians were not supportive of the Jewish sacrificial customs, which amounts to the same thing, anyway.

It is practically incredible that Josephus tells us that “most” of the Essenes lived to 100 years of age, as the average life expectancy in the Roman Empire was under 25 at birth, and under 50 for those who survived infancy.576 His remarks are often taken as hyperbole, rather than as they should be, as evidence of the benefits of eating well (the cause for which he explicitly attributes the longevity), because no other group in the history of the world is known to have had such longevity apart from this one remark. Especially considering the severe restrictions which all Judeans had for accessing a wide variety of plant foods (the majority of the Essenes lived in the area of the Dead Sea, and Josephus himself says those who were excommunicated often starved because they could not find suitable foods, i.e. that they had insufficient access to strictly plant-based foods once they were removed from the community), this demonstrates that the Essene diet is far more suited to preserving health than any omnivorous one, as they effectively eliminated disease. Moreover, Josephus is correct when he attributes this extreme longevity to their lifestyle rather than their diet alone, as their lifestyle prescribed manual labor (i.e. physical exercise) and regular fasting (i.e. detoxification), and it is these three things which together keep the body at optimal health.

In any case, the Essenes’ ability to live in harmony with Nature and with the very same society which they shunned and openly despised is exactly what made them so virtuous in the eyes of the Jews and Romans alike. They simply never made trouble for anyone else, which made them model citizens, in spite of whatever differences they had. As one scholar puts it:

In both cases [of Philo and Josephus], the Essenes are not shown as some peculiar sect that is unrepresentative of what most Jews think, but as a kind of apogée of excellence within the Jewish philosophia. … While the Essenes are identified as being part of a tradition so ancient as to trace its origins to Moses (i.e. fundamental Judaism), Philo notes that new members come into an Essene community because of ‘a zeal for virtue and philanthropy.’ … Therefore, in Hypoth. 11.3 Philo links the Essenes’ sublimation of the body’s desires with this advanced age, not with exceptional virtue, whereby ‘they are no longer inundated by the flood of the body nor led by the passions.’ Joan Taylor577

Of course, this ignores the fact that every Essene had already subdued his passions well before he was consecrated, but it still demonstrates that they were seen by others as those who, contrary to the rest of the society, lived into old age and were not concerned with material passions—“the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). In fact, a big part of the confusion regarding both Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls lies with the simplistic assumptions that have been made about their relationship by the general public, as we have already seen in the case of Epiphanius. He was ignorant because they had taken their secrets with them to the grave, and they were not even discovered until the 19th century, in the Cairo Geniza, before the initial discovery at Qumran.

The popularly accepted story regarding Qumran is that it was a community built and occupied by the Essenes, and that the Dead Sea Scrolls were (and were among) the writings of this sect. But this fails to account for a wide variety of possibilities, none of which will likely ever be conclusively determined by any empirical methods known to Man. Roland de Vaux, whose team was responsible for excavating Qumran, asserted that the site was the City of Salt mentioned in Joshua 15:62. Other scholars have identified it with Secacah, which is mentioned in the previous verse (v. 61). We have already associated it with the Damascus established by Elisha and alluded to in Yahshuah’s description of the Abomination, and in the story of the magi who visited Herod (which, given Herod’s affinity for the Essenes, proves that the magi were indeed located in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, rather than in Mesopotamia, as commonly supposed), and also mentioned by name in Acts as the place where Paul spent his novitiate.

Recall that we have said that the Nazarites of Damascus had set themselves apart from the city of Engedi. In fact, they actually had communes in several locations in the hills surrounding Engedi by the 1st century, which suggests that Engedi was the original Damascus of Judea, or else, assuming that Qumran was, the integrity of the originally all-Nazarite commune deteriorated over the centuries as it turned into a city. Also, the fact that David was staying there when he was hunted by Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-2) lends more credibility to this notion, as David was supported by the Nazarites, and probably no other faction within Israel at that time.

Regardless of the precise identification, given its longevity, there are no grounds for assuming that Qumran was only ever occupied by one group with a continuous ideological standing. While the early hypothesis was that this settlement was occupied by Essenes, a number of difficulties have been pointed out with this claim. The foremost of these, which is also relevant to our treatise, is the fact that large numbers of animal bones have been found in pots and potsherds outside what have been identified as the communal meal buildings at Qumran.578

A further complication is the fact that if, as is popularly held, the Dead Sea Scrolls represent the world view of the people who occupied Qumran, then in no way could it be said that they were unanimously opposed to the consumption of flesh or the sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple. Indeed, the Temple Scroll is little else but a detailed exposition regarding temple practices, with the primary focus being the sacrifices. This scroll makes it clear that its author anxiously awaited a time when a temple would be constructed and controlled in accordance with his sect’s vision. Similarly, the War Scroll contains a section devoted to proper sacrificial practice:

They shall rank the chiefs of the priests after the Chief Priest and his deputy; twelve chief priests to serve in the regular offering before God. The chiefs of the courses, twenty-six, shall serve in their courses. After them the chiefs of the Levites serve continually, twelve in all, one to a tribe. The chiefs of their courses shall serve each man in his office. The chiefs of the tribes and fathers of the congregation shall support them, taking their stand continually at the gates of the sanctuary. The chiefs of their courses, from the age of fifty upwards, shall take their stand with their commissioners on their festivals, new moons and Sabbaths, and on every day of the year. These shall take their stand at the burnt offerings and sacrifices, to arrange the sweet smelling incense according to the will of God, to atone for all His congregation, and to satisfy themselves before Him continually at the table of glory.War Scroll (1QM) 2:1-6

Contrast this with what is said in the Community Rule (1QS), also known (previously) as the Manual of Discipline:

When these become members of the community in Israel according to all these rules, they shall establish the Spirit of holiness according to everlasting truth. They shall atone for guilty rebellion and for sins of unfaithfulness, that they may obtain loving-kindness for the land without the flesh of holocausts [burnt offerings] and the fat of sacrifice. And prayer rightly offered shall be as an acceptable fragrance of righteousness, and perfection of way as a delectable free-will offering. Community Rule 8:12

No man shall send to the altar any burnt-offering, or cereal offering, or incense, or wood, by the hand of one smitten with any uncleanness, permitting him thus to defile the altar. For it is written [Proverbs 15:8], “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination but the prayer of the just is an agreeable offering.” Damascus Document

It is clear that whatever the relationship between Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, neither could the inhabitants have written or practiced all of what is written therein, because of inherent contradictions, nor could all of the scrolls have been written by the same sect. Judging by the fact that no altar has been found at Qumran, the animal remains there could not have been the result of sacrifices, even if the inhabitants did consume animal flesh.579

Ironically, it has even been noted by many scholars that Josephus makes no mention of any priestly hierarchy when speaking of the Essenes, and this has been used to refute the Essene-Qumran hypothesis. However, in reality, it only demonstrates that there were indeed multiple sects, at least one of which was pro-sacrifice, and at least one of which was anti-sacrifice. In other words, Josephus’ failure to mention any sort of priesthood among the Essenes is evidence in support of the Essene-Qumran hypothesis, so far as the real Christians were those of the commune, and the Community Rule clearly shows that they were the ones who opposed the sacrifice, as evidenced by Josephus’ description of the Essenes. The others, the ones who supported the sacrifice and who composed the War Scroll and the Temple Scroll, were the Jews who had been influenced by the Christians, as Philo and Josephus had been, but not to the point of giving up their practices. This makes them rivals whose main point of contention was the fact that some ate meat and some did not. We already know that the Christians were formally charged with speaking against the Temple and wanting to abolish the sacrifice (and therefore, as the Pharisees saw it, the Law itself), so it is probable that the Temple Scroll was formulated in response to the growing antagonism of the Temple and the Pharisees, much like the Church has convened its ecumenical councils, and even the canon of the Bible was decided upon, in response to the “heresies” of the Christians. Consider that Matthew 27:51 says that the curtain in the Temple veiling the Holy of Holies was rent apart when Yahshuah died, symbolizing the abolition of the sacrifices, and consider God’s judgment against those who performed and partook of them, and there is substantial evidence of the basis of this antagonism both in the Ebionite gospel called Matthew and in the prophetic tradition as a whole.

The most likely reason for the existence of the Temple Scroll is that it was composed c. 70 AD and the Temple had just been destroyed, and they were looking forward to a new temple and a priesthood that were patterned after the instructions set down by Moses, rather than the precedent of Solomon. Either way, there are clear affinities between the Temple Scroll and the Damascus Document, so it cannot be said that the Jews who wrote the former were not at least influenced by the Nazarites who wrote the latter, and to some extent, they were one and the same (both defined generically as Essenes by Josephus, though two separate branches). In any case, the Essenes of Damascus were not the Christians, but those who had preceded them, so the evidence at Qumran loosely ties the Essenes there to the Sadducees (Samaritan exiles living in Judea), and more strongly to the Zadokites (exiled priests from Jerusalem) whom the Samaritan woman associated with Yahshuah himself in John 4, being those who said that the Samaritans ought to worship in Jerusalem. This is incredibly significant, because it shows that the policy laid down in the Temple Scroll was already known in Samaria before Yahshuah’s time, and more importantly, that Yahshuah did not favor it, which means that his followers also would not have favored it.

So what we are looking at when we examine the Dead Sea Scrolls is the material evidence of the sect of Nazarites from Samaria who were loyal to the Zadokite priesthood after both it and the temple at Mt. Moriah were abolished by the Hasmoneans, as well as the literature left behind by the members of that same sect of Nazarites (i.e. the Christians) who adhered to the teachings of the high priest in exile, the most important of which was that the practice of sacrifice was contrary to the Law. Both groups are accounted for in the term ‘Essenes,’ but there was never such a thing as an Essene Jew, as the Jews were those of the Sadducee and Pharisee persuasions. This understanding will be necessary for an accurate picture of what caused the Judean War (discussed in Chapter 14), and given how intricately linked the events of the Judean War are to the Damascus community, we would not be surprised to learn that the Essenes of Damascus were the first to revolt against the Jews in Jerusalem and Caesarea.

When Josephus speaks of the Essenes, he is really speaking of that group of Essenes that we would call the 1st century Christians, rather than those moderate Jews who had been influenced by Christianity but continued to engage in the practice which the Christians considered abominable. The assumption that no mention of a priesthood rules out the Essene-Qumran hypothesis denies the fundamental assumptions that the Essenes were a brotherhood, that James the Just was the high priest of the sect as a brother, following Yahshuah, and that even Yahshuah, who is specifically named the high priest of the order of Melchizedek in the Bible, is never portrayed as having or otherwise thought to have carried out the kinds of functions which the Jewish and Roman priests carried out. It also ignores the most pertinent detail, that the primary function of these priests was to kill animals, and that this was the point of contention with the Essenes. Josephus does not deny that the Essenes had priests who carried out any ceremonial functions, such as the thanksgiving prayer before and after every meal; he only fails to demonstrate any knowledge of a priestly hierarchy. So we would only expect to see an association between the priestcraft of the Jews and the Essenes evident at Qumran if the Christians of Qumran were not Essenes. On the other hand, the fact that the Essenes had a separate area for performing their sacrifices at the Temple specifically because the altars were defiled, in their eyes, necessarily leads to the conclusion that they had a separate priesthood, as well, seeing as the Jewish priests, in their eyes, were even more defiled than the altars were.

Unfortunately, we are forced to speculate about the actual historical events surrounding the Essenes, because these events are not recorded outside Josephus, who was himself not a member of the sect, much less a purveyor of its secrets, but was a member of one of the groups comprising their enemies (the Pharisees/Jews), commissioned by the other (the Romans) to whitewash the history. All we have from the Christians’ own words is in recently retrieved fragments (the Dead Sea Scrolls), which already had a scandalous history of cover-up before they were handed over to Jewish scholars to whitewash, just as Josephus had been hired to do with the history. It is virtually impossible to find a single translation or interpretation which does not come straight from some Zionist. The most famous and widely disseminated translation, complete with the overtly pro-Jewish bias and explanatory notes, comes from the recently deceased Hungarian scholar Géza Vermes, called the “greatest Jesus scholar” of our time (to be read ‘greatest disinformationist regarding the libel that Yahshuah was a Jew,’ as that was his one and only concern—a lie for which any Christian in the 1st century would have been tried for blasphemy before an assembly and put to death). Vermes was not just a Jew, but a crypto-Jew who served as a Catholic priest before coming out of the crypto-closet and taking up residence in Britain, where he made his mark on the English-speaking world.

With such a myopic focus on the “Jewishness” of the Dead Sea sect, and such feeble and overtly self-contradictory notions as its only bases of support, the entire Qumran-Essene hypothesis fails to account for the incredible complexity of ideological changes and population movements over time, as do its detractors, who similarly have no idea what the truth of the matter is, and cannot therefore provide a sufficient reinterpretation of the evidence. Numbers 6 is sufficient by itself to demonstrate that the Nazarites and their customs had existed in Palestine for some 1500 years by the 1st century AD; when the Nazarite mode of living is envisioned less as something that an individual either did or did not do, and more as a world view that influenced a plethora of people and sects over many centuries, then one can begin to put both Qumran and Essenism more into their proper context. The Nazarites should be considered as sitting atop a hierarchy of spiritual knowledge, while their customs and knowledge were disseminated and watered down into forms more tolerable to the masses that were not as committed to an extreme way of life, and who were therefore not nearly as organized or as influential over time. Very few people want to or are capable of living like John the Baptist, but whose who are are far more capable of pooling resources and living in communities such as Qumran.

Even within the same community, there would have existed individuals at widely varying stages of spiritual understanding and development; to expect that all of them would have acted in precise uniformity, therefore, is unreasonable, just as it is unreasonable to assert that because animal bones have been found in Qumran, it means that no Essenes ever lived in this settlement. All this allows us to definitively rule out is, ironically enough, the impression that most people have of Qumran: that it was a homogenous community of strict Essenes and had never been otherwise occupied. If anything, that Paul declared that he went preaching repentance to those in Damascus first (Acts 26:20) implies that while they were the most likely to heed his words, they also had a lot of necessary changes to make. And the fact that he was initiated into early Christianity in Damascus for three full years (Galatians 1:17) implies that while some of its inhabitants were advanced enough to teach him, Paul quickly surpassed his peers in both development and zeal. Furthermore, the presence of Jews there (which caused him to flee), just as the Christians had a large base of support in Jerusalem, demonstrates that the various sects coexisted in all Judean settlements, though not in the most isolated of the ascetic communities.

We maintain that, without any altar, the animal bones are evidence of slaughter that was done apart from the Law, which is evidence of famine, particularly the forced attrition of a settlement under siege. As the Judean War was largely carried out by, if not actually instigated by the Essenes of Damascus, it is very probable that the city was the first or among the first besieged by the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. If not, then it still certainly would have been a major target of the legions arriving from Syria under Vespasian’s command. Either way, Yahshuah predicted a time of anguish unmatched by any other before or since, and we already know that some Israelites ate their own children to survive when they were besieged by the Assyrians and Babylonians, so it certainly stands to reason that the famine was severe enough to cause even many who were ideologically aligned with the Christians to butcher their animals. However, Josephus tells us that the Essenes remained steadfast to the end, even under torture, and even smiling through it and regarding their persecution as a blessing, preferring death (a sentiment shared by Paul in his epistles), so this rules out that it was the Christians of the commune that were eating flesh, even as a last resort. Clearly, the Jews would have had no such inhibitions against butchering animals in an attempt to save their lives. It is also perfectly within the realm of possibility that while Qumran was once occupied by a sect practicing Essenism to some degree, this sect was eradicated by Jewish nationalists fleeing from the march of the Roman army during the first war, who could have brought all of their possessions with them, including animals. We simply cannot know for sure who the final inhabitants of this site were, and thus how to properly judge who did what, and when.

Given the sway which both Josephus and Pliny portray the Essenes as having had in 1st century Palestine, it is absurd to think that no evidence of their existence outside of Qumran would be accessible to us still today. Indeed, one Israeli archaeologist claims to have found an Essene settlement at Engedi.580 While the academic support of this claim has been virtually non-existent, the findings are suggestive of the mode of living ascribed to the Essenes, including an absence of animal bones at the site. For, as we have seen, the 1st century Christians were anything but egalitarian, and senior members even had to wash if they had physical contact with junior members. We can only imagine how they would have viewed with disgust those who were of what they considered inferior races, and whose practices were altogether abominable. That the Nazarenes would not even talk to (which Epiphanius ironically took to be evidence of their stupidity) or touch the garment worn by a mainstream Christian today is evident not just in Jude, but also in the reaction the disciples had to the Canaanite woman who touched Yahshuah’s garment. So it really is a good thing that we have the Bible, even in its adultered state.

As far as it concerns the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves, judging by their content, far more of them constitute records of mainstream paradigms that had been preserved than they shed light on the more “radical” roots of Christianity. The Community Rule seems to be the closest insight we have into Essenism, which is really nothing more than an initiatory stage into Ebionitism, which is itself a step down from the full-fledged Nazarites. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls have done little to shed light, in any direct manner, onto the innermost teachings of these sects, which Josephus plainly regards as out of reach to anyone else. Instead, these can only be inferred from what has not been twisted or manipulated in the New Testament, or else the remaining fragments of Ebionite literature alluded to by their critics. All other traces have been destroyed.

There is, also, of course, the Essenes’ general position on marriage, because it is sometimes (wrongly) supposed that they were celibate. However, as we have just seen from Josephus, this is certainly not the case. Nor is it the case with Christians. Ironically, it is the Bible (Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38) which asserts that Peter was married, and the Church which claims the contrary, based on a deliberate misreading of Luke 18:28-30. Nor is this a matter of Peter or any disciple having been married but then having forsaken his wife, as implied; Clement records that Peter’s wife was martyred, just as he was. The Church, however, in response to the clear testimony of Scripture, and based on its overall silence, has insisted that only Peter among the Twelve was married, yet this is still invoked to justify priestly celibacy, and it is still Peter that they claim succession from.

We might view this and every other issue more realistically than the Church: converts were encouraged to adopt whatever degree of asceticism they were able to endure, which did not necessarily entail divorcing one’s wife, though it could have necessarily entailed taking care of their families, rather than simply abandoning them. Paul advocated celibacy for those who were competent to practice it, but marriage for those who were not, due to sexual desire (or perhaps emotional/psychological dependency), and for any man who thought he was wronging a woman by not marrying her. The supposition is that he would be wasting her time if he kept her strung along, because she could have married someone else and had children and been supported economically. The phrase “if she is past the flower of her youth” (1 Corinthians 7:36) is a clear indicator that the Essene practice of marrying for the sake of posterity rather than pleasure was the one advocated by Paul. Compare Josephus’ remarks that the Essenes “neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred” and that they “do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women,” with the notion of creating a brotherhood through obedience, and of the sanction of marriage.

Let marriage be respected by all, and the bed be undefiled. But Elohim shall judge those who whore, and adulterers. Hebrews 13:4

This all goes to show that the apostolic position on marriage could be taken as evidence that ‘Essene’ and ‘Christian’ are not synonymous, supposing that the Essenes were celibate. We are therefore obligated to debunk this notion that they were indeed celibate. It comes from a superficial reading of Philo, who regularly uses hyperbole as a rhetorical device to make his points, and is easily shown to be an exaggeration in light of Josephus’ testimony.

However, most sharply seeing the very thing, alone or great, that was certain to shatter the community life, they beg off marriage; by means of this indeed to fashion self-control most excellently. For none of the Essenes leads a wife. Philo581

The sense is that even with the pooling of possessions for the sake of the community life, previously stated, women are not included. The Essenes do not have wives, but it is not stated by Philo that these older men who have acquired property have never had wives. Their alienation from married life is presented as positive, while the situation of a married man with children is presented in very negative terms. Women are selfish, jealous, and distracting. Because of the importance of community life in this piece, the essentially problematic issue of women’s objection to this life is stated: when women have children they object to, so that men become slaves rather than free (11.16-17). This notion of the slavery of a man to a woman is found also in Probus, where a male master of a pretty little slave girl ends up fawning on her and being, for all intents and purposes, her slave (Prob. 38-40), thanks to her beauty and charming speech, which become weapons of mass destruction (έλεπολεις) against weak souls, “mightier than all the machines which are constructed for the overturning of walls (Prob. 38).” …

Josephus then insists that marriage is accepted by Essenes as a whole: “marriage and what succeeds from it is not abolished (War 2.121). There is no indication he means it is only acceptable only for other Jews who are not Essenes, but rather this bald comment is a signal at the start of his discussion of a topic he would return to, namely that the Essenes reject passion, but one order is married: “there is also another order of Essenes, alike in mode of living, customs and law with the others, differing in opinion concerning marriage” (War 2.160). This group of men marry to continue the human race. They insist that the girls they marry have already had three menstrual periods, to show they can conceive children, and they do not have sex with them when they are pregnant (cf. Apion 2.199, 202). In every other way, they are the same as the Essenes who are not married. However, we are not told the ages of the two orders, nor are we told that all the Essenes who spurn marriage and teach students have always been celibate and unmarried. Josephus simply does not give the information that would create a holistic picture. Joan Taylor582

It is inferred from Josephus that the Essenes could not have all been commune-dwellers, and that married men were those who followed the Essene laws as far as they were applicable to their social settings. But this ignores the fact that the real Essenes were the commune-dwellers. The whole reason the issue needed to be addressed in Paul’s epistles is that those who did not abandon their families to live in community were seen by the brothers as outside the rule (and rightly so). Paul’s solution was not for the man to divorce his wife, as was later done by the Gnostic sects of Medieval Europe, but to lead her to salvation.

So we find in Paul’s communities the seeds of their destruction—namely, that they were too compromising, and to not be would be to invite destruction, because a people who do not breed, and instead rely on taking in new converts, will die out if it fails to win converts, or if it eventually takes over the world. Unfortunately, the Christians were never going to get through to the Roman establishment, whose very existence was predicated on the idea of the social elites oppressing the poor and hoarding luxuries—basically the same things Paul lists as the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21. (Included in his list are “quarrels, jealousies, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions” and “envy,” which were seen as characteristics of, if not practically exclusive to, the female gender. This is also why Paul forbade women from speaking in assembly or from teaching men, as he attributed the divisions which he was informed of to women. This position was no different than what he had been taught in Damascus, and is clearly the basis of Josephus’ description of the Essenes’ general views on women, though he was confused about their theological position on adultery, thinking, as he did, and as almost everyone outside their sect ever has, that it is a matter of extramarital affairs.)

Even the incapacity for the Christian sect to propagate itself without breeding was not a major concern for Paul, because he expected the kingdom of heaven to be established sooner rather than later. And in the kingdom of heaven, we are told, men do not marry and women are not given in marriage. It may be that way now, but it will not be in the age to come, and all Christians were encouraged to act accordingly. So we can see how the society advocated by Yahshuah is antithetical to the Church, as it actually holds its own institution to be a sacrament (marriage is a manmade institution regulated by the Church), like baptism and the Eucharist.

And יהושע answering, said to them, “You go astray, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of Elohim. For in the resurrection they do not marry, nor are they given in marriage, but are as messengers of Elohim in heaven.” Matthew 22:29-30

It is therefore important to state categorically in the case of the Essenes that women are not shared in the possessions of the community or kept individually by a member of a community. It is this, then, that the Essenes reject, despite their communal life, because of the discord or strife it may produce, which would “shatter the community life.” Joan Taylor583

This notion of fellowship is key to understanding who the Christians really were, especially in terms of what they practiced. A wealthy, self-seeking and independent-minded man like Josephus might have reviled the notion of a communal rule, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say: the Essenes certainly enjoyed longer, happier lives than their Judean kinsmen did. The reason for this is that fellowship, according to the Apostles, and according to the way of the Christians, depends on practicing “truth.”

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and are not doing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of יהושע Messiah His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:6-7

Consider this in light of the fact that the Essenes are said to have been well respected by everyone, including the Jewish and Roman authorities, because the whole world saw them as righteous. This passage from 1 John is the context of one of the two justifications which Christians routinely point to in the NT for their false doctrine of original sin, to the end of saying that it is impossible to be righteous. The implication, however, is not that we are all still sinners if we have been redeemed, but that we are all sinners unless we have been redeemed.

If we say that we have no sin, we are misleading ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us the sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

It is as sad as it is ironic, then, that these words, used to justify this abominable doctrine, are concluded with the sentence, “My little children, I write this to you, so that you do not sin” (2:1). To even suggest that Christians have simply lost their way would be to lie and cover their sin by affirming that they were once on the straight and narrow path. If only this were ever the case, then they could be brought back to it. But these words were not written to them or for them; they were exclusively written for those obedient to Christ.

Now, the implication of the Essene/Christian connection should be obvious. Moreover, there is a reverse side to this argument. We might suppose from Josephus’ description of the Pharisees that he was speaking of modern Christians. After all, they are defined by their beliefs, and the two groups have always believed exactly the same things.

But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment. Josephus584

It is beyond dispute that the Essenes were vegetarians, that they did not practice animal sacrifice (even when they took control of the Temple) because they upheld the sanctity of life, and that they practiced ritual purity, especially in regards to what went into their mouths. They even bathed before their meals, though not at any other time, and ate communal meals (i.e., no one who was an Essene ate anything other than what was put in front of him). These meals consisted of plant foods, and perhaps milk and honey, which may not be a vegan diet by today’s standard, but it is certainly a vegetarian diet, especially considering that the words ‘milk’ and ‘honey’ almost certainly do not convey what we would be inclined to think they do. (This is supposing that “milk and honey” is not a metaphor for their having claimed the inheritance of the covenant between Yahweh and Abraham, and that it means actual milk and honey, rather than what we have described it as in our discussion in Chapter 6.) They certainly also would have been ethical vegans in light of modern farming practices.

There is no shortage of evidence to prove all this, as these are among the characteristics which their contemporaries invoked to define them. The vegetarian ethic is nearly always included in any competent description of the sect by today’s historians and commentators. However, very few actually have any real understanding of who the Essenes were or what they believed, and the same also applies to their ideas about Christians, too, so we need to examine what the ancient writers had to say about them before we can move on. Once we have sufficiently demonstrated that all Essenes were, in fact, Nazarites, and that this description befits all real Christians, this should dispel any notions that the vegetarian ethic was not just a mainstay of the Christian sect, but actually a rigidly applied ideology which needed to be espoused before consideration would be given for a candidate’s admittance into the sect. We quote from Joan E. Taylor’s “Philo of Alexandria on the Essenes: A Case Study on the Use of Classical Sources in the Discussion of the Qumran-Essene Hypothesis” to demonstrate the point:

Philo mentions the Essenes briefly also at the beginning of De Vita Contemplativa [‘On the Contemplative Life’] as being the subject of a lost, preceding treatise on the active life of philosophy. … On the very first page [of Quod omnis probus liber, a.k.a. Probus], there is a reference to “the most sacred company of Pythagoraeans” (Prob. 2) and later “the most holy Plato” (Prob. 13). Sophocles’ words are “as any from the Pythian god” (Prob. 19). Moses gets a mention as “the law-giver of the Jews” (Prob. 29), but—strangely—without quite the same dazzling compliments, and one senses that Philo is trying to impress, by wit, language, intelligence and erudition, a largely non-Jewish audience skilled in Stoic philosophy, who hide behind the ostensible addressee “Theodotos” (Prob. 1).

The Hypothetica is very fragmentary and the rhetorical dimensions are therefore difficult to ascertain, but as a whole it seems to have been designed to make a case for the Jews against the “Greek” lobby in Alexandria who were determined to present Alexandrian Jews—and Judaism—in the foulest light. Both the “Greeks” and the Jews of Alexandria sent delegations to Gaius Caligula, in 39 C.E., and then again to Claudius, in 4 C.E. [sic], in which they presented their cases before the emperors.

In both cases, the Essenes are not shown as some peculiar sect that is unrepresentative of what most Jews think, but as a kind of apogee of excellence within the Jewish philosophia. As such, while it is important to Philo that his claims be true, more or less, he has no interest in giving us the warts-and-all introduction to the Essenes, but rather he presents them in ways that will strike positive chords of recognition in terms of the philosophically-educated audience he seems, in both works, keen to impress.

Probus on the whole does not contain many references to Essene particularities that are not immediately recognizable as examples of philosophical perfection within the Greek tradition. Therefore we would expect to hear that the Essenes love virtue, do not care about money or reputation or pleasure, that they are pious, ascetic, controlled, orderly, enduring, frugal, simple-loving, content, humble, respectful of the law, steady and humanity-loving (77, 83-4). We would also expect that they spurn property-ownership and hoarding of money (Prob. 76), and had a sense of community. The pooling of possessions was not an uncommon philosophical ideal: Plato advocated it already for the guardians of the city in his Republic (3.416d, 5.462c), and the Pythagoreans apparently practiced this (Iamblichus, De Pyth. Vita 167-9). There is also the sense that Philo is describing what he knew of all pious Jews: going to synagogue on the Sabbath, studying the law, practicing virtue, and so on (Prob. 80-81).

Still, there are a few points to note within Philo’s glowing resumé where Philo is drawing some attention to peculiarities. A number of these are strongly related material in Josephus. The Essenes do not own slaves (Prob. 79; cf. Ant. 18.21). They practice allegorical exegesis, according to ancient tradition (Prob. 82; cf. Ant. 18:11, 20). The Essenes do not swear oaths (Prob. 84 cf. War 2.135). They are particularly concerned with purity (Prob. 84 cf. Ant. 18:19; War 2.129). They live by themselves in separate communes (Prob. 85; Hypoth. 11.1, 5; Ant. 18:21). They have common clothes and meals (Prob. 86, cf. 91; Hypoth. 11.4-5, 10, 12; Ant. 18-20; War 2.122, 129-32). They look after the sick and elderly as parents (Prob. 87; Hypoth. 11.13, cf. Ant. 18.21). Overall there is nothing particularly problematic in terms of reading Philo’s text concerning these features. Elsewhere, however, Philo’s language can be ambiguous.

At the very beginning of the description of the Essenes, for example, Philo has pointed out a common observation that philosophical goodness is found all over the world. He then notes:

And also not devoid of goodness is Syria Palestina, which is inhabited by no small part of the populous nation of the Jews. They refer to certain people among them, over 4000 in number, by the name of ᾿Εσσαῖοι. According to my opinion this is not an accurate form of Greek language, but it would derive from ὁσιότηϛ, “holiness,” because with them they have become above all attendants of God (θεραπευταὶ θεοῦ) not by sacrificing animals, but by being worthy to render their minds holy (ἱεροπρε-πε͂ιϛ τὰϛ ἑαυτῶν διανοίαϛ κατασκευάζειν ἀξιοῦντεϛ) (Prob.75). Joan Taylor585

 

The two related texts spoken of here are, in English, Every wicked man is a slave, and Every good man is free. Needless to say, this philosophy is the same as the one espoused by Paul in his letter to the Romans: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons.” And the fact that the Essenes were regarded as the epitome of the Greek ideal is important to establishing that they were in line with the Nazarites, as Pythagoras was a Nazarite. So we can see how a Hellenic Jew like Philo would have held the Essenes in high esteem, as they were the most righteous people in the world, by each of his standards.

Given that Acts 2:41 records that about 3000 were added to the number of Christians at Pentecost, which was, at the very most, a few years before Philo penned Quod omnis probus liber (Every good man is free)—that is, before Paul and his companions started preaching to the Gentiles—it seems that there could not have been another sect in the whole world which fit Philo’s description of the Essenes as well as the Christians. Philo could just as easily have been referencing Paul’s epistles to explain the Essenes’ position as any other writings, had they been written and circulated by that time. It is astonishing to us that this is even a question, but we can certainly understand why the obvious truth would be hidden from the modern Christians and other interpreters, as they cannot imagine that the ancient Christians were as holy and as staunchly opposed to the Jewish sacrificial customs as they were. In Philo’s mind, the fact that the Essenes were Nazarites, and vice-versa, is so clear that he actually uses them synonymously when he says (Prob. 91) “τὸν … τῶν Ἐσσαίων ἢ ὁσίων ὅµιλον,” or “the sons of the Essaioi, or ‘holy ones.’” Recalling that to be ‘holy’ is to be ‘set-apart’ (as a Nazarite): he says (Hypoth. 8.11.1) again that they are called Essaioi, “in my opinion, because of their exceeding holiness.” So, really, it could hardly be any clearer that the Essenes were Nazarites, in point of fact, regardless of the etymology of their name to prove as much, which we will demonstrate in a moment.

Philo obviously knew that he was butchering the Greek language by making this first association (for which he has been heavily criticized), so it stands to reason that he was willing to do so just in order to present the Essenes as models of virtue for everyone else to follow. “Christians” who believe the Essenes were not the burgeoning Christian sect would do well to inquire as to whether the teachings and practices espoused by the Christians would have been so insufficient as to have been ignored in favor of such a ringing endorsement of a sect of their ideological enemies, the Jews, or even how such a sect could have emerged and been tolerated by the establishment, though the Christians, who obviously shared similar (identical) views, were persecuted. Obviously, the Essenes were well respected among the Jews of Alexandria, as well as the Greeks, on account of their true piety, being seen by both groups as the icons of morality, and this is what caused the Christian sect to grow beyond its fledgling state of 4000 adherents.

If we look at Philo’s text closely, it is apparent that the contrast that is made here is between two types of service offered by attendants of God. Philo distinguished between what priests do in the Temple (offer animal sacrifices) and what Essenes do in terms of their service (preparing their minds for God). This dichotomy differentiates Essenes as better servers of God, in Philo’s esoteric view, but it does not invalidate the need for sacrifices in the Temple, nor in fact does it mean that no Essenes were priests (cf. Josephus, Ant. 18:22; War 2.111, 131). We are here in the world of Philo’s poetic imagery: the Essenes are not in their daily living behaving as priests offering animal sacrifices to God in the Temple, and yet they are truly God’s attendants by continually offering the spiritual sacrifice of their minds.

Reading this from the perspective of rhetoric, it is also clear that Philo, in creating the Essenes as an example of “the good,” would have been highly unlikely to state at the outset that this pinnacle of goodness within Judaism spurned the entire sacrificial system of the Jerusalem Temple, if not the Temple itself. While Philo agreed with much of the exegesis of the extreme allegorisers of Alexandria who really did spurn Temple sacrifices and festivals, he did not accept their practice. Instead, Philo believed there should be a balance between outward action and inner meanings and advocated both: “we shall be ignoring the sanctity of the Temple and a thousand other things, if we are going to pay heed to nothing except what is shown us by the inner meanings of things” (Migr. 92), he wrote, against the extreme allegorisers. The Temple system was necessary as a kind of training (Her. 123), and one should participate in it so as not to cause any offence to others (Ebr. 87), even though Philo accepted that the real and true sacrifice was bringing oneself to God (Spec. 1.269-72) by piety (Mos. 2.107) because “God takes pleasure from altars on which no fire is burned, but which are visited by virtues” (Plant. 108). Philo’s words in Probus 75 are therefore consistent with what we find elsewhere in his work, where true spiritual sacrifice is emphasized, but Philo never accepted that this meant invalidating the need for actual sacrifice.

Additionally, an anti-animal sacrifice reading sets up an unnecessary dissonance with what Josephus writes in regard to the Essenes. In the most likely reading of Antiquities 18.19 Josephus states that “while sending votive offerings (a᾿ναθήµατα στελλοντεϛ) to the Temple, they [the Essenes] perform sacrifices with very different purifications (θυσίαϛ ἐπιτελοῦσιν διαφορότητι ἁγνειῶν), which they hold as a custom (ἅϛ νοµίζοιεν), and because of this they perform the sacrifices by themselves, keeping away (εἰργοµενοι) from the common precincts (τοῦ κοινοῦ τεµενίσµατοϛ).” Additionally, the Essenes are conspicuous by their presence in the Temple at certain points of Josephus’ narrative (War 1.78–80;2.562–7; Ant. 13.311–13). The sending of special gifts to the Temple indicates that, for Josephus, they wished to honour it (and had the money to do so in terms of sending votive gifts). In his view the Essenes kept away from the common precincts, τοῦ κοινοῦ τεµενίσµατοϛ—which would refer to the Court of the Gentiles where most people were permitted—but nevertheless not the Temple proper, and one is therefore led to imagine that Essene priests engaged in Essene sacrifices separately to one side of the altar. The main point was that the Essenes had particular practices of purification/purity (ἁγνεία) that entailed some kind of separation from others. Joan Taylor586

Philo fails to mention what Josephus points out, that the Essenes performed sacrifices separately, presumably because it reflected negatively on them, in his view. Yet this assumes that the sacrifices were animal sacrifices, and that it was proper to make such sacrifices, in contradiction to the testimony of the Prophets. Philo’s point of view may have been representative of moderate Jews, but it was certainly not in keeping with the ethos of the Christians, who believed that all animal sacrifice was abominable, and who would not have compromised on this one issue, though they may have upheld the Temple and the vocation of the priests, among other things. This uncompromising attitude is evident in the fact that they had their own space for sacrifices, because no strict vegetarian would throw his food on a grill right after the previous supplicant had just roasted a lamb on it, and then call it “holy”—just ask any ethical vegan to find out how unthinkable it would have been for them.

Philo tells us that the Essenes were obsessed with purification, and that they refused to engage in any sort of activity that would be promoting violence. He says (Prob. 78), “You would not find one maker of arrows, spears, daggers, a helmet, a breastplate, or shield among them, nor on the whole an armorer or engineer or one making business of anything for war, but [their professions] do not slip towards evil as much as [one making business] of those things for peace. For they do not dream of a trading market or retail business or ship-owning, eliminating the starting-line towards greed” (cf. James 1:10:11). In other words, no Essenes ever engaged in any profession that espoused violence, but they were even more concerned with avoiding trades which tended toward greed, as they were completely set apart from the world. Clearly, this is the Christian ethic, and the exact antithesis of the whole paradigm of Judaism, which is built around profit, in every respect. He goes on to tell us (Prob. 86; Hypoth. 11.4,10) that the Essenes earned money and then put it into the communal funds, just like the Christians were doing. What the Essenes did do is what we might expect from a sect of peace-loving vegetarians living in community: agricultural and artisanal work (Prob. 76).

In the Hypothetica Philo mentions cultivators, shepherds, and bee-keeping (11.8) as well as artisanal crafts (11.9). This coheres with Josephus, who would write, just after his comment that the Essenes have a different ritual of purification for their sacrifices in the Temple: “βέλτιστοι δὲ ἄλλωϛ [ὁι] ἄνδρεϛ τόν τρόπον καὶ τὸ πᾶν πονεῖν ἐπι γεωργία τετραµµένοι: “Otherwise, best are [the] men who have directed their way and all to work hard in agriculture” (Ant. 18.19). It is as if Josephus is announcing a truism, and he has characterised all good Jews as doing precisely this at the end of Against Apion: what could be better than “to attend to crafts and agriculture” (2.294)? Josephus tries to balance a possible negative concerning the Essenes’ peculiar Temple practice by emphasising they are best among men, by reference to an ideal of simple labour in agricultural cultivation. Hyperbole aside, Josephus did not think all Essenes everywhere were farmers and had no other occupations. He sees Essenes earning money (Ant. 18.22), and in War 2.129 he mentions τέχναι—crafts, artisanal skills—in which the Essenes were proficient. He cannot have imagined the Essenes living within “every city” (War 2.124) as farmers, and when Josephus writes of individual Essenes they are teacher-prophets (War 1.78; 2.113; Ant. 13.311–13; 15.370–9;17.346–8). In War 2.140 he notes their humility and honesty in public office. Both Philo and Josephus place information about Essene occupations within rhetorical structures in which the main emphasis is on the simplicity of the Essene lifestyle, uninvolved in the world of commerce, trade and gain. Joan Taylor587

We need to remember that, back then, there was no carnism outside the context of religious sacrificial rites—at least not in Europe or the Middle East. So the fact that the Essenes were staunchly opposed to the sacrifices means they were vegetarians both in practice and in ideology. For them to have been opposed to sacrifice while simultaneously observant of the Law necessarily means that they were vegetarians, because it means they would not have had any other approach to it. In our society, eating meat is divorced from ritual animal slaughter, so the connection is not as immediately apparent, but it was certainly well understood by everyone living back then, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Clearly, as this is an ethical issue, the association which we would make in the modern context is not even with animal sacrifice, but with killing animals, and this is exactly what Christians have failed to comprehend, so that they think their murder is justified, because the act of killing has been removed from its theoretically toned down and relatively merciful context.

From all this, it ought to be blatantly apparent that the Christians and the Essenes were one and the same. Every scholar who has ever made a study of the Essenes knows that they were vegetarians, even going so far as to detest the sacrifice, and this is never disputed by anyone, but for Josephus to have called them “teacher-prophets” is to give this trait a particular emphasis. It cannot be that the Essene sect emerged from any source but the teachings of Christianity, because their values were neither espoused in any sect that we know of outside the Nazarites (and other prophets, if there were indeed any), nor contradicted at any point in time by the Christians themselves, who took positions against every other sect, even the Pharisees and Sadducees, both of which were observant of the Law in other matters. And their values and specific teachings are so perfectly reflected in the New Testament literature that one cannot possibly object that there is no evidence that the Essenes were Christians and vice-versa. Philo and Josephus were not writing to Christian audiences, the way the apostles were, and we can plainly see from our examination of their epistles that they were written to brothers living in community who had already been familiarized with and who had already adopted the teachings they had been given orally, one-on-one.

So the only real objection which a mainstream Christian could levy at this point, having seen that the Bible firmly commands abstinence from meat in every case whatsoever, is that the Essenes were not in fact the 1st century Christians, and that there is therefore little or no evidence that the Christians were actually following Yahshuah’s teachings and the rules laid down by the Law and Prophets, though the Essenes clearly were in the minds of those who witnessed the way they lived and wrote down this witness for us. If not for this witness, we are at a loss to explain what even happened to the 1st century Christians, just as the mainstream Christians of today are at a loss to account for them except in the blind assumption that they got together and established the Church, which had already existed for some 700 years by that point.

Epiphanius says the Essenes were Samaritans, so this accounts for their origins. The Samaritans were basically the Israelites who had not been put into captivity in Assyria or Babylon, which basically means that they were the descendants of those who had not been punished by God for their sins (i.e. for their murderous appetites). The name of Samaria comes from the ancient name of Shomeron (and the modern name of Shomronim). The significance of this will be apparent in a moment.

Josephus tells us that the Sadducees were Samaritans who were denied their request to help the Pharisees (i.e., the Persians, or Babylonian/Jewish colonists) rebuild the Temple of Solomon, but came to Judea and served the Persian society there. In other words, the Samaritans were not apostate, but the Sadducees were. Meanwhile, the Samaritans built (or had already built) a temple on Mt. Moriah in defiance of the Pharisees, but it was destroyed either by John Hyrcanus or by Simeon the Just, depending on whether Josephus or the Talmud has the correct account. Samaritans regard Mt. Moriah (which they, like everyone else, call Gerizim) as sacred to this day, holding their annual Passover sacrifice there, and about 90% of the world’s Samaritan population lives in its vicinity. This is such an insult to Jews that, for a Samaritan to convert to Judaism, the first and most important thing he must do is renounce his belief in the sanctity of Mt. Gerizim. Jews, on the other hand, as a gesture of perpetual hate for the descendants of Jacob, have commemorated the destruction of the temple on Moriah, the 21st of Kislev, forbidding the eulogizing of the dead on that date, while simultaneously lamenting the destruction of Solomon’s Temple with the only major fast day in Judaism other than Yom Kippur (Tisha B’Av). “Christians” have likewise treated Samaritans with the utmost contempt, having first forbidden them from approaching Moriah, then desecrating it with a Byzantine church, and then outlawing Samaritanism altogether in 529, causing a revolt which was brutally suppressed, wherein the vast majority of Samaritans were butchered, exiled or enslaved, while their lands and possessions were given to mercenaries from Arabia.588

Epiphanius says that the term ‘Samaritans’ means ‘watchmen,’ because they saw themselves as keepers (or rather, observers) of the Law of Moses. This is a common metaphor in the OT, and one which is often used in the NT to the same end. Sometimes it is obvious that the translators have simply gotten it wrong, and the correct association is with Samaritans rather than watchmen, though they are used interchangeably, as they are the same word. (Such poetic license is very common in the Prophets, though not in the Law.) One passage in Jeremiah stands out as clearly indicating that the fabled Mt. Ephraim is indeed Moriah (now called Gerizim), seeing as that the prophets are sent from Samaria to Jerusalem.

“For there shall be a day when the watchmen cry on Mount Ephrayim, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Tsiyon, to יהוה our Elohim.’” Jeremiah 31:6

The New Testament equivalent of the verb root of ‘Samaritan’ is τηρέω (tēréō, G5083), which is used many times to the same effect (e.g., 1 Timothy 5:22, 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:7). James 1:27 and 1 John 5:18 go straight to the point in demonstrating that one who keeps the Law, keeps himself (that is, his body) by abstaining from sin. More often than not, the addressees of the Epistles are those who are defined as “preserved” in this way, where tēréō is used. Jude uses it three times in his short epistle. It is literally what defines the Elect throughout Scripture—the necessary and consistent implication being that only those following the law of the Nazarites are “saved,” in any sense.

Yehuḏah, a servant of יהושע Messiah, and brother of Yaʽaqoḇ, to those who are called, set-apart by Elohim the Father, and preserved in יהושע Messiah. Jude 1

All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death. We know that everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin, but the one having been born of Elohim guards himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of Elohim, and all the world lies in the wicked one. And we know that the Son of Elohim has come and has given us an understanding, so that we might know the true One. And we are in the true One, in His Son יהושע Messiah. This is the true Elohim and everlasting life. 1 John 5:17-20

We have already observed that the town of Nazareth was located in Samaria, and that the prophets were of Samaritan origin. It is a watchman who declares “Fallen, fallen is Babylon” in Isaiah 21, which shows that the “Babylon” of Revelation is actually none other than idolatry—namely, the idolatry of the Pharisees (Babylonian Jews)—and that the role of the Messiah, according to John the Baptist, was to abolish this particular practice. Considering that neither Jews nor Christians even consider worship of the Temple to be idolatry, much less that the form of worship at the Temple constituted such, this insight ought to go a long way to dispelling any ideas that there was nothing wrong with animal slaughter under the Law of Moses. Yet it is no surprise to us, as we already know that the Temple sacrifice was not just idolatry by the Prophets’ reckoning, but actually the Abomination of Desolation.

Lift up a banner on the walls of Baḇel, strengthen the watch, station the watchmen, prepare the ambush. For יהוה has both planned and done what He spoke concerning the inhabitants of Baḇel. Jeremiah 51:12

Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Tsiyon, put on your garments of splendour, O Yerushalayim, the set-apart city! For no more do the uncircumcised and the unclean come into you. Shake yourself from the dust, arise, and sit down, O Yerushalayim. Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Tsiyon! For thus said יהוה, “You have been sold for naught, and you are redeemed not with silver.” For thus said the Master יהוה, “At first My people went down into Mitsrayim to sojourn there, and Ashshur oppressed them without cause. And now, what have I here,” declares יהוה, “that My people are taken away for naught? Those who rule over them make them wail,” declares יהוה, “and My Name is despised all day continually. Therefore My people shall know My Name, in that day, for I am the One who is speaking. See, it is I.” How pleasant upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news [gospel], who proclaims peace, who brings good news, who proclaims deliverance, who says to Tsiyon, “Your Elohim reigns!” The voice of your watchmen! They shall lift up their voices, together they shout for joy, because eye to eye they see the return of יהוה to Tsiyon. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Yerushalayim! For יהוה shall comfort His people, He shall redeem Yerushalayim. יהוה shall lay bare His set-apart arm in the eyes of all the nations. And all the ends of the earth shall see the deliverance of our Elohim. Isaiah 52:1-10

Isaiah then goes on to mention a watchman from Seir, the mountain range of Edom, which takes its name from the Hebrew word for ‘hair.’ Incidentally, the word nazar is sometimes translated as ‘hair,’ as the hair of the Nazarite was the ‘crown’ or sign of his consecration. Seir was settled by Esau, called “hairy.” That this is an intentional metaphor is clear just from the fact that the prophecy is against Dumah, which is both a rarely used alternate name for Edom, and the word for ‘silence’ (Aramaic) or ‘silent’ (Hebrew).

Turn aside! Turn aside! Come out from there, touch not the unclean. Come out of her midst, be clean, you who bear the vessels of יהוה. For you shall not come out in haste, nor go in flight. For יהוה is going before you, and the Elohim of Yisra’ĕl is your rear guard. Isaiah 52:11-12

While the connection may not be clear to anyone unfamiliar with Hebrew folklore, dumah is associated with the “silence” (meaning ‘stillness’) of death. Rabbinic literature names Dumah as the tutelary angel (the principality) of Egypt, prince of Hell, and angel of vindication, which therefore makes him none other than the malakh ha’mastema, the leader of the Watchers. In the Zohar, he is the chief of demons in Gehenna, with tens of thousands of angels of destruction under his command.589 The prophecy is therefore against the Way of Death as much as it is against the nation of Edom, as to bear the vessel of Yahweh is to maintain an undefiled body, according to Scripture (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 2 and Timothy 2:19-21, which we covered in the previous chapter), as surely as it is to hold the instruments of the Temple.

There are many other such passages which demonstrate the association between “watchmen” all over Israel and Judah, and the role of the prophet. The most explicit are perhaps those in Ezekiel and Habakkuk, though even these are still employed with the double meaning of the metaphorical context. Like most rhetorical devices in the Prophets, the spiritual meaning is no less applicable to the Christian of today than the literal meaning was to the ancient Israelites. The context of Ezekiel 33 is helpful for determining the deeper meaning of ‘watchman,’ being the vocation of a prophet, even as a priest or minister is called a “shepherd.”

And the word of יהוה came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and you shall say to them, ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land shall take a man from their borders and shall make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land, and shall blow the ram’s horn and shall warn the people, then whoever shall hear the sound of the ram’s horn and shall not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood is on his own head. He heard the sound of the ram’s horn, but he did not take warning, his blood is on himself. But he who takes warning shall deliver his being. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and shall not blow the ram’s horn, and the people shall not be warned, and the sword comes and takes any being from among them, he is taken away in his crookedness, and his blood I require at the watchman’s hand.’ And you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Yisra’ĕl. And you shall hear a word from My mouth and you shall warn them for Me. When I say to the wrong, ‘O wrong one, you shall certainly die!’ and you have not spoken to warn the wrong from his way, that wrong one shall die in his crookedness, and his blood I require at your hand. But when you have warned the wrong to turn from his way, and he has not turned from his way, he shall die in his crookedness, but you have delivered your being.” Ezekiel 33:1-9

I stand at my watch, and station myself on the watch-tower, and wait to see what He says to me, and what to answer when I am reproved. And יהוה answered me and said, “Write the vision and inscribe it on tablets, so that he who reads it runs. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, and it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it lingers, wait for it, for it shall certainly come, it shall not delay. See, he whose being is not upright in him is puffed up. But the righteous one lives by his steadfastness. And also, because wine betrays him, a man is proud, and he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his appetite as the grave, and he is like death, and is not satisfied, and gathers to himself all nations and heaps up for himself all peoples.” Habakkuk 2:1-5

Notice the contrast between the righteous living by faith (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38) and a deathly appetite. The Dead Sea Scrolls actually say ‘wealth’ here rather than ‘wine.’ In Matthew 6:24, the term is mammon (cf. Deuteronomy 8:11), which is always translated as ‘wealth’ or ‘money,’ etc. This is significant both because this text from Habakkuk is quoted directly no less than three times in the New Testament, and because ‘wealth’ was a euphemism for ‘meat’ in the ancient world. For example, the Instruction of Amenope (c. 1100 BC) says “Better is bread with a happy heart than wealth with vexation,” calling forgiveness of debts “a path of life” and “good news” (gospel). The context of both is the same, and we see the same themes repeated again and again in the NT, as well as in the Prophets and other OT writings.

If you find a large debt against a poor man,
Make it into three parts;
Forgive two, let one stand,
You will find it a path of life.
After sleep, when you wake in the morning,
You will find it as good news.
Better is praise with the love of men
Than wealth in the storehouse;
Better is bread with a happy heart
Than wealth with vexation.
Do not confound a man in the law court,
In order to brush aside one who is right.
Do not incline to the well-dressed man,
And rebuff the one in rags.
Instruction of Amenope590

The slaughtering of the wrong ones
Is an abomination to יהוה,
But the prayer of the straight is His delight.
The way of the wrong one
Is an abomination to יהוה,
But He loves him who pursues righteousness.
Discipline is grievous to him who forsakes the way;
He who hates reproof dies.
The grave and destruction are before יהוה,
How much more the hearts of the sons of men.
A scoffer does not love his reprover,
Nor does he go to the wise.
A glad heart makes good a face,
But by sorrow of heart the spirit is stricken.
The heart of the understanding one seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
All the days of the afflicted are evil,
But gladness of heart is a continual feast.
Better is a little with the fear of יהוה,
Than great treasure with trouble.
Better is a meal of vegetables where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred.
Proverbs 15:8-17

“Shall not all these lift up a proverb against him, and a mocking riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his! Till when is he to load on himself many pledges’? Do not your creditors rise up suddenly? And those who make you tremble wake up and you be plunder for them? Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you, because of men’s blood, and doing violence to the land, to the city, and to all who dwell in it. Woe to him who is getting evil gain for his house, in order to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of evil! You have counselled shame for your house, to cut off many peoples, and your being is sinning.” Habakkuk 2:6-10

“Woe to him who builds a town by blood, and establishes a city by unrighteousness! for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the esteem of יהוה, as the waters cover the sea! Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbour, pouring out your wineskin, and also making him drunk—in order to look on their nakedness!” Habakkuk 2:12,15-16,18

Going back to Isaiah’s proclamation about Seir, it is evident that the “watchmen” come from Edom (or Idumaea). This is where Herod the Great was from, and we know that the Essenes were well esteemed by him because of an incident involving an Essene who prophesied his reign when he was a youth. This also proves beyond a doubt that the Essenes were in existence before Yahshuah came along, so that the term ‘Ebionite’ properly distinguishes between different factions of Essenes, naming those who adhered to his teachings, while they simply referred to the others as “antichrists.”

These “antichrists” were split into several sects, but became overshadowed by the sect of Elkasaites, followers of one Elkasai, from whom came Manes, and therefore the Manichaeans, and therefore the Roman Catholic sect of Mithraism. This Elkasai, in turn, was an Ossaean, which demonstrates that ‘Ossaean’ was a name applied to the original Essenes, before these distinctions were made. According to Epiphanius, the groups of Essenes that existed before Elkasai’s time, and during it, were the Ossaeans and the Nazareans. He locates and describes them as follows, using Wikipedia’s description:

[The Nasareans] are Jews by nationality, from Gileaditis, Bashanitis and the Transjordan as I have been told, but descendants of Israel himself. This sect practices Judaism in all respects [namely circumcision, Sabbath and festival observances] and have scarcely any beliefs beyond the ones that I have mentioned. … It acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received legislation—not this legislation though, they said, but some other. And so, though they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat, in their eyes it was unlawful to eat meat and make sacrifices with it. They claimed that these books are forgeries and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers. …

After this sect in turn, comes another one which is closely connected with them, the one called the sect of the Ossaeans. These are Jews like the others [they keep the whole Law (5:1)], hypocritical in their behavior and horrid in their way of thinking. I have been told that they originally came from Nabataea, Ituraea, Moabitis and Arielis, the lands beyond the basin of what sacred scripture calls the “Salt Sea.” … Only by renouncing the books of Moses does it cause a schism—as the Nasareans do. Epiphanius591

Of course, we cannot take Epiphanius seriously in determining that either the Ossaeans or the Nazareans were Jews, as they were neither considered Judeans by nationality or geographical placement, nor Jewish by religion, as they acknowledged every patriarch from Adam to Joshua but rejected the Law of Moses, according to Epiphanius’ own account. But it was routine for the Romans to call anyone who observed the Law Jewish, and anyone who observed the Sabbath, a “Judaizer,” so this mistake was well within the bounds of Roman convention. Epiphanius was blatantly an idiot, so we will overlook this and assume that his description is otherwise accurate, in that it was taken from earlier sources. The prophecy of Isaiah therefore comes full circle, and we have the proof we need for reinterpreting Paul’s descriptions of Arabia in the fourth chapter of Galatians, especially the association between Arabia and Damascus alluded to in 1:17.

And I progressed in Yehuḏaism beyond many of my age in my race, being more exceedingly ardent for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased Elohim, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His favour, to reveal His Son in me, that I might bring Him, the Good News, to the gentiles [translators’ interjection: the text reads ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν—“that I might preach him among the Gentiles”], I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, neither did I go up to Yerushalayim, to those who were emissaries before me. But I went to Araḇia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Yerushalayim to learn from Kĕpha, and remained with him for fifteen days. And I saw no other of the emissaries except Yaʽaqoḇ [James], the brother of the Master. Galatians 1:14-19

This shows, among other things, that Paul spent his entire probationary period between Arabia and Damascus, which is to say, between Seir and Qumran (or Engedi). It also shows that these communities had been in existence since before the emergence of the Christian sect, and were independent of the influence of the apostles, with the exception of James the Just, who was a brother rather than a disciple of Yahshuah, like the others. In other words, James’ authority after Yahshuah’s passing was due to his having been the second in rank among the Nazarites, as opposed to the notion that Yahshuah gave this authority to his disciples. This is very important to establishing the Essene-Christian connection, as well as the Essene-Qumran connection, because it is blindly assumed that the Essenes could not have been Christians, and therefore that the Qumran sect which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls could not have been a Christian sect, because they were both in existence before the emergence of Christianity—the major false assumption being that Christianity began with Yahshuah, as though his own teachings had no precedent.

So when Paul was writing this to the Galatians, he was informing them that his authority did not come from the Twelve, but from the Source, so that his authority was as legitimate as theirs—and this is in the context of saying that he was “separated from his mother’s womb,” i.e. that he became a Nazarite at that time, or else that he had always been. This clearly refutes Epiphanius’ notion that the Essenes were defiled according to their own logic, because no man has the right to call “unclean” what God has made clean. Ironically, this is the very basis of the assertion that the Gentiles are admitted into the body of Christ, without which Epiphanius and the other Romans would not have even so much as a leg to stand on in their quest to persecute and destroy the Nazarite sects.

But, having demonstrated the continuity of ideology, we still have not provided any material evidence to show that the name of the Essene sect comes from a description of the Nazarites. We have put it off thus far to make the case clear, rather than suspect, for this is a very sensitive and controversial subject. Wikipedia puts it thus:

It was proposed before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered that the name came into several Greek spellings from a Hebrew self-designation later found in some Dead Sea Scrolls, 'osey hatorah, “observers of torah.” Though dozens of etymology suggestions have been published, this is the only etymology published before 1947 that was confirmed by Qumran text self-designation references, and it is gaining acceptance among scholars. It is recognized as the etymology of the form Ossaioi (and note that Philo also offered an O spelling) and Essaioi and Esseni spelling variations have been discussed by VanderKam, Goranson and others. In medieval Hebrew (e.g. Sefer Yosippon) Hassidim (“the pious ones”) replaces “Essenes”. While this Hebrew name is not the etymology of Essaioi/Esseni, the Aramaic equivalent Hesi’im known from Eastern Aramaic texts has been suggested. Wikipedia592

According to Duke University librarian Stephen Goranson, there have been over 60 proposed etymologies for the term ‘Essenes’ over the years.593 The reason there have been so many but no consensus is that the scholars have completely failed to realize the connection between the Nazarites and the Essenes. We do not blame them for this error, however. After all, how could they see this connection, when they neither know of it from tradition, nor have been baptized by the Holy Spirit according to the Nazarene fashion? We merely point this out to show that we are not trying to establish a new hypothesis in the face of a commonly accepted one, but that there is none to detract from, and that ours is not another hypothesis, but the truth.

The key here is in the recognition that the Essenes themselves saw themselves as the “doers of the law,” in a clear association with Yahshuah’s remarks in the Gospels, which differentiates them from the “hearers,” i.e. the Jews and apostate Christians. To “do” (keep) or “observe” the Law (and remember that to be an observer is to be a watchman) is to abstain from whoring, to offer no sacrifices and eat no flesh, which is what the “hearers” do specifically because they do not keep it, but still want to maintain the pretense of being under God’s grace. That being said, Strong’s lists the short definitions for its entries of the Hebrew word for ‘Nazarite’ (נזר) as follows:

H5144 (nazar): consecrate
H5144a (nazar): abstain
H5144b (nazar): dedicate
H5145 (nezer): crown (consecration, separation)

 

So we can plainly see how the meaning of ‘Nazarite’ is ‘one who abstains (from whoring),’ and that to be “consecrated” or “holy” (set apart) is to be “dedicated” to one’s oath to abstain. This is reflected in Isaiah 66:17, which associates the consecration and purification with eating garden foods and contrasts it with eating the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things. We can also see why Paul exhorted his audience to seek the “crown,” even as he did, and why the metaphor of the “crown” is so prominent in the other epistles. The translation to “crown” outside the context of the metaphor is simply a mistake, as it is based on a play on words with the metaphor. We make other associations from Scripture to give the following reinterpretations of select passages, in order to decode the mystical language of the Essenes for those with the right spirit for listening to the teachings of life:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

[Consider life with the following analogy: Everyone who enters a race trains for it, but only the one who finishes it ahead of his competition is awarded the prize. It is not enough to merely compete by training and then entering the race. To become the victor, you must train harder than your competition, perform to the best of your ability, and finish the race. Live in such a way as to be the most worthy of the prize of life among men. Do this, and you will attain the consecration of a Nazarite, and therefore everlasting life.]

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)

[I have been obedient to the end. Now I shall have my reward, the consecration unto everlasting life, which the Master will give me when my body is destroyed, and not just me, but all who have similarly mastered the passions of the flesh.]

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 (NIV)

[Blessed is the one who passes the tests of his novitiate. That one will be consecrated unto the life which the Master has promised to those who obey his commands.]

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:6-9 (NIV)

[Submit to those who are above you, and you will be rewarded when the time comes. Overcome your passions, safe in the knowledge that your needs are being met. Be vigilant and wise. Resist temptation by being steadfast in your obedience. Be encouraged by the fact that all your brothers around the world must endure the same trials.]

This is significant because of the etymology of נזר (nazar, H5144), which is clearly related to נצר (H5341), or natzar. The exact equivalent of natzar in the New Testament is tēréō, as we have discussed it. From this it should be apparent that the Essenes were an ancient order.

 

 

 

 

When Philo gives the number of Essenes as being over 4000 (Prob. 75, as also Ant. 18.20), the emphasis is on just how very many of them there were. The word he uses in Prob. 91, ὅμιλος, “crowd” or “throng,” implies this, and we find large numbers very strongly emphasised in Hypoth. 11.1: Moses trained μυρίους “multitudes” of his pupils for a life of community, namely the Essenes, and “they dwell in many cities of Judaea, and many villages, and in great and much-populated throngs” (Hypoth. 11.1, cf. 11.5). Joan Taylor594

So when Yahshuah commanded his disciples not to go among the Gentiles or into any town of the Samaritans to preach the kingdom of heaven, but to go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6), the significance is that the Gentiles were beyond salvation, and the Samaritans were not in need of it because they were not “lost.” That is, they were not eating flesh, because they were observant of the Law (hence their name) but had no temple (and therefore no means of a lawful sacrifice), and, apart from the Sadducees who lived in Judea (that is, Samaritan converts to Judaism/Pharisaism), they had “no dealings” with the Jews (John 4:9). The Abomination was, after all, a strictly Jewish affair before it was adopted by the Christians. The name of Nazareth, on the other hand, means ‘the guarded,’ as in, ‘city of the guardians,’ and Pilate, who was intimately familiar with the differences between Judeans and Samaritans, even mistook Yahshuah for a Samaritan until he was informed that he was from Galilee.

Now, if there were indeed 4000 Nazarites in Palestine in the 1st century, and these were the ones called Christianoi or ‘Christians,’ then we would expect the term ‘Essene’ to have an etymology which clearly reflects this Nazarite association. In fact, there is only one possibility, and this is why the scholars have yet to recognize it, even though the consensus is leaning toward the realization of its meaning. They only consider root words, not conjugations, presumably because this would require a more advanced understanding of the language than a non-native speaker has. (This includes Israelis and other Jews, as all Jews are non-native speakers of Hebrew. The modern “Hebrew” language has been pieced together from several sources, including Aramaic, Yiddish and Tiberian Hebrew. Even the “Hebrew” alphabet is Aramaic. This has caused a great deal of confusion over the nature of ancient or “paleo” Hebrew, which has been a dead language since the demise of the Ebionites and whatever Samaritans may have still spoken some dialect of it perhaps as late as the 6th century.)

An example from our common language will serve to demonstrate this academic mishap well. It is generally thought that the word ‘vow’ in English comes from the Latin votum, by way of the Old French vou, but in fact, this is only because of the association with ‘vow’ as a noun. (It is also a verb.) Votum is a noun, properly translated ‘votive’ in English, which has exactly the same meaning. In Latin, the corresponding verb is not the same as the noun, as it is in English. This Latin verb (in infinitive form) is vovere. As the letter ‘U’ was written as ‘V’ in Latin (there is no distinction between ‘U’ and ‘V’ in Latin as there is in French or English, and the Latin ‘V’ was pronounced the way we pronounce ‘W’), the words vou (Old French) and vow are clearly both derivations of vovere, not, as commonly thought, of votum. So when we speak of a ‘vow,’ we are only ever speaking of an act or action, not of an offering (or prayer) as a noun—the correct term of which would be ‘votive,’ which can be either a noun or an adjective. (As a participle, the adjective form of ‘votive’ literally means ‘consecrated’ or ‘dedicated,’ in fulfillment of a vow, where ‘vow’ is understood to be an oath or a promise. Thus a votive is the same thing as an offering, which is not to be confused with ‘sacrifice’ in the OT—a mistake in translation almost universally applied to the Bible due to misunderstanding.)

Our language is merely a reflection of thoughts which are common to all men, and abstract thoughts are only accentuated and expounded upon by a philosophical language like ancient Hebrew. Simply put, the Hebrew equivalent of ‘votive’ is nazar (H5144), while the equivalent of ‘vow’ is natzar (H5341). The scholars do not even realize that these words are closely related, because they are thinking in the terms of their own languages, where such distinctions between what has been consecrated (the votive) and the act of consecration (the vow) are so subtle that they pass undetected by native speakers. (This includes speakers of modern Hebrew, which causes even more problems due to the similarities between modern Hebrew and ancient Hebrew, and therefore to certain assumptions which modern Hebrew speakers make about ancient Hebrew, which they should not.) Yet the clue is right there in our own language, where we use one word (the verb: ‘vow’) to describe the other (the noun/adjective: ‘votive’), even though this is technically improper grammar and it should be the other way around.

So the scholars are never going to find the correct etymology of ‘Essene’ until they try to think like the early Christians, because this term was a self-designation. We already know they spoke Hebrew and later Aramaic as native languages,595 so the origin must be in ancient Hebrew. Thanks to the proposed etymologies of Philo and Josephus, modern scholars are already aware of the fact that the meaning of ‘Essene’ is ‘holy one,’ so the fact that it is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word for ‘consecrated’ or ‘set apart,’ which is to say natzar (H5341), as a transliteration (not as a translation, which would be tēréō, G5083), should already be obvious to anyone who knows that there is no difference between a Nazarite and an Essene. However, it is a long step from natzar to essaioi or esseni, and while it is normally the case that a few letters will get lost in the process of transliterating any name of Semitic origin into Greek (e.g., the Old Persian Dārayavauš becomes Dareîos in Greek, or Darius in Latin and English), it is not the case that the first letter is normally dropped.

The fact that the first letter is dropped in this case does not provide a problem for us, but actually provides the proof we need to be certain of its exact etymological origin as a Greek corruption of the first person conjugation of H5341. The significance is that no one became known as an Essene until he was fully consecrated as a brother, having spoken the words ‘I vow (to keep the Law),’ which is essorennah—in Hebrew.The -ah stem designates the conjugation (the “I”), which leaves us with the impersonal Hebrew self-designation of a Nazarite as essorēn, being the half-conjugated form of the root natzar, and therefore the same as the corrupted esseni (originally essorene) in Greek. (For clarification, this is not to say that esseni is a direct transliteration of natzar, but rather a shortened form of essorennah.) And this is why the Greek designations for ‘Essene’ have the same meaning as the Hebrew word for ‘Nazarite’ does, because ‘Essene’ is actually the (Anglicized) Greek spelling of the self-designation derived from the Hebrew word (natzar, H5341), though it would take an advanced knowledge of ancient Hebrew to figure this out, given the dissimilarity between the conjugation and its root and its extremely rare use (two occasions) in Scripture, which is practically our only source of knowledge of ancient Hebrew—and most scholars were oblivious to the fact that there was even such a thing as Scripture in ancient Hebrew (as opposed to Masoretic Hebrew) prior to the emergence of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Note how this word is used in these two instances (Isaiah 27:3 and Psalm 119:33), and the picture of the Essenes being the same as the Nazarites should be clear by now.

 

 

All those who freely devote themselves to His truth shall bring all their knowledge, powers, and possessions into the Community of God, that they may purify their knowledge in the truth of God’s precepts and order their powers according to His ways of perfection and all their possessions according to His righteous counsel. They shall not depart from any command of God concerning their times; they shall be neither early nor late for any of their appointed times, they shall stray neither to the right nor to left of any of His true precepts. All those who embrace the Community Rule shall enter into the Covenant before God to obey all His commandments so that they may not abandon Him during the dominion of Satan because of fear or terror or affliction. On entering the Covenant, the Priests and Levites shall bless the God of salvation and all His faithfulness, and all those entering the Covenant shall say after them, “Amen, Amen!” Community Rule 1:11-20

And the Priests and Levites shall continue, saying: “Cursed be the man who enters this Covenant while walking among the idols of his heart, who sets up before himself his stumbling-block of sin so that he may backslide! Hearing the words of this Covenant, he blesses himself in his heart and says, “Peace be with me, even though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart” [Deuteronomy 29:18-19], whereas his spirit, parched (for lack of truth) and watered (with lies), shall be destroyed without pardon. God’s wrath and His zeal for His precepts shall consume him in everlasting destruction. All the curses of the Covenant shall cling to him and God will set him apart for evil. He shall be cut off from the midst of all the sons of light, and because he has turned aside from God on account of his idols and his stumbling-block of sin, his lot shall be among those who are cursed forever.” And after them, all those entering the Covenant shall answer and say, “Amen, Amen!” Community Rule 2:11-18

No man (shall be in the) Community of His truth who refuses to enter the Covenant of God so that he may walk in the stubbornness of his heart, for his soul detests the wise teaching of just laws. He shall not be counted among the upright for he has not persisted in the conversion of his life. His knowledge, powers, and possessions shall not enter the Council of the Community, for whoever ploughs the mud of wickedness returns defiled. He shall not be justified by that which his stubborn heart declares lawful, for seeking the ways of light he looks towards darkness. He shall not be reckoned among the perfect; he shall neither be purified by atonement, nor cleansed by purifying waters, nor sanctified by seas and rivers, nor washed clean with any ablution. Unclean, unclean shall he be. For as long as he despises the precepts of God he shall receive no instruction in the Community of His counsel. For it is through the spirit of true counsel concerning the ways of man that all his sins shall be expiated that he may contemplate the light of life. He shall be cleansed from all his sins by the spirit of holiness uniting him to His truth, and his iniquity shall be expiated by the spirit of uprightness and humility. And when his flesh is sprinkled with purifying water and sanctified by cleansing water, it shall be made clean by the humble submission of his soul to all the precepts of God. Let him then order his steps to walk perfectly in all the ways commanded by God concerning the times appointed for him, straying neither to right nor to left and transgressing none of His words, and he shall be accepted by virtue of pleasing atonement before God and it shall be to him a Covenant of the everlasting Community. The Master shall instruct all the sons of light and shall teach them the nature of all the children of men according to the kind of spirit which they possess, the signs identifying their works during their lifetime, their visitation for chastisement, and the time of their reward. From the God of Knowledge comes all that is and shall be. Before ever they existed He established their whole design, and when, as ordained for them, they come into being, it is in accord with His glorious design that they accomplish their task without change. The laws of all things are in His hand and He provides them with all their needs. He has created man to govern the world, and has appointed for him two spirits in which to walk until the time of His visitation: the spirits of truth and falsehood. Those born of truth spring from a fountain of light, but those born of falsehood spring from a source of darkness. All the children of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of Light and walk in the ways of light, but all the children of falsehood are ruled by the Angel of Darkness and walk in the way of darkness. Community Rule 2:25-3:21

One might inquire as to why, if the Christians were really such strict adherents to the Law, they were encouraged to break it. Yet we have seen that the Essenes only “broke” the Law of Moses on the one point of animal sacrifice, and this was not a matter of breaking it, but superseding it and fulfilling it entirely. A better question to ask would be why modern Christians think they have any room at all for sinning, much less that God hardly cares that they do, given how strict Yahshuah’s followers were. Consider his remark, “I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done” (Matthew 5:17-18). And his followers, Josephus tells us, put to death anyone among them who blasphemed him, as all mainstream Christians routinely do every time they call him Jesus and otherwise profane his name by calling themselves Christians and then emphatically denying him by their lifestyles.

Consider Epiphanius’ ridiculing of the Ebionites, who were all that was left in his time of the remnant of the ancient Christians. Rather than taking the truth of their tradition seriously enough to suppose that there may have been some sort of merit to it, in order to weigh it against Scripture, as Scripture commands, he blindly assumes they just invented it all—an ironic position for a Catholic clergyman, to say the least. A discerning mind will recognize the Ebionites’ beliefs as clear evidence (if not proof) of Yahshuah’s vegetarian ideal, though he dismisses it outright.

But they say he is not begotten of God the Father but was created as one of the archangels, and that he is ruler both of angels and of all creatures of the Almighty; and that he came and instructed us to abolish the sacrifices. As their so-called Gospel [that is, the original Gospel of Matthew] says, “I came to abolish the sacrifices, and if ye cease not from sacrifice, wrath will not cease from you.” … They lay down certain ascents and instructions in the supposed “Ascents of James,” as though he were giving orders against the temple and sacrifices, and the fire on the altar—and much else that is full of nonsense. Epiphanius596

Epiphanius’ remarks also make it clear that the eponymous founder of the Ebionite sect, according to them, was none other than Yahshuah. This makes sense, considering that he was “poor” enough to say, “the Son of Man has no place to rest his head,” and that his followers were told, “blessed are those who are poor in spirit.” We already know for a fact, beyond any hint of doubt, that the apostles were vegetarians like Yahshuah was, so Epiphanius’ animosity is not directed at a group which had invented a tradition and attributed it to them, as his own Church had done and continues to do to this day—even if this is what they actually did with the scriptural text, as alleged—but against the Holy Spirit itself.

And they say [Peter] abstained from living flesh and dressed meat as they do, and any other meat-dish—since both Ebion himself, and Ebionites, abstain from these entirely. When you ask one of them why they do not eat meat they have nothing to say, and foolishly answer, “Since it is produced by the congress and intercourse of bodies, we do not eat it.” Thus, according to their own foolish regurgitations, they are wholly abominable themselves, since they are results of the intercourse of a man and a woman. Epiphanius597

Truly, it is what comes out of a man’s mouth that defiles him. This is exactly the kind of vain reasoning which Paul criticized in his epistles, and which modern Christians love to employ. Even assuming that vegetarians cannot possibly be entirely free from guilt, this does not exonerate those who have no desire to be, much less those who go out of their way to ridicule them, which is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, however one looks at it. It is not as though God will not see the effort they have made to obey him, and to simply say “because we are obedient to God’s command” would more than suffice to demonstrate the absolute polarity between them and him.

Epiphanius obviously failed to comprehend that the Ebionites were under strict obligation not to cast their pearls before swine (as we have seen, Josephus says as much concerning the Essenes), so their answers were short and took the form of parable. He clearly also misunderstood that the “congress and intercourse” they spoke of, according to Epiphanius’ sexually-minded interpretation, is idolatry, and only figuratively adultery or fornication, which, as we know, are euphemisms for the sin of eating flesh throughout Scripture, and therefore the very language which they spoke. This is such a basic premise of the prophetic interpretation of Scripture that Epiphanius makes himself out to be the fool, and monumentally so, by demonstrating his severe incapacity for reason, matched only by his malice. Hence they were right not to say anything to him and those of his ilk. If they had not already understood this from Scripture, then what would they have understood of heavenly matters?

The Ebionites might as well have said “because it’s shit,” because that is exactly what is meant in the modern idiom by the second part of “the congress and intercourse of bodies.” Epiphanius obviously never considered that they might not have chosen two words for the sake of redundancy rather than for the sake of giving a complete answer. Food passes through the bowels and comes out the anus, as we all know. It is never true that what comes out is not a defilement, by the Ebionites’ line of reasoning, but if one were to eat what comes out, then that person would be defiled. So to say that meat is the product of whoring is to affirm that they desired to be pure, just as if they were abstaining from excrement, to use the equivalent modern idiom, and in accordance with the many commands of Scripture.

Epiphanius was so stupid, in fact, that he identified the Ebionites as Nazarites, but failed to make a connection with the Osseans, meaning that the Ebionites were the true Christians who remained loyal to the apostles after the Nazoreans (another group) had split with them. This is obviously due to the fact that Epiphanius had all the facts at his disposal, and simply did not know how to read them, because the correct interpretation would have required him to overturn his own bias. According to one author, “Epiphanius may have relied on a source ‘dealing with a split in the Nazarene ranks, resulting in the sect of the Ebionites.’”598 Who were the Ebionites, then, but the Nazarites who remained Nazarites after the “antichrists” had gone out from them? And who was Epiphanius, if not a clergyman of the very same cult which had been established by the antichrists, as we are going to show later? The same passage that remarks on this in 1 John indicates that the esoteric knowledge was preserved by those who kept the Law.

Little children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that the anti-messiah is coming, even now many anti-messiahs have come. This is how we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have stayed with us—but in order that it might be made manifest that none of them were of us. And you have an anointing from the Set-apart One, and you know all. 1 John 2:18-20

Should not Hegesippus and Clement and Alexandria, writing from Jerusalem in the 2nd century, be considered better authorities on the subject of early Christianity than Epiphanius? Their testimonies were not only taken at face value by the Church Fathers, but are held in even higher esteem by Christians today than they were back then. Eusebius, likewise, on whose record we are reliant for Hegisippus’s remarks, wrote well before Epiphanius was born, and is considered “the Father of Church History.”

For instance, Clement states concerning Matthew (the disciple): “Happiness is found in the practice of virtue. Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, and vegetables, without flesh.” Likewise, both the Homilies and the Recognitions of the Clementine literature record Peter as being a vegetarian. It may not mean much to us, but Clement is formally regarded a saint by Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Anglican Christians, and was held as such by the Catholic Church until 1586; his authority is not in question by modern Christians.

Indeed it is clear that not just Matthew and Peter, or even just the Twelve, but all of Yahshuah’s disciples were strict vegetarians, as being a vegetarian was a requisite for admission into even the lowest ranks of his brotherhood’s membership. The Twelve in particular (minus Judas) never deviated from Yahshuah’s teachings, going so far as to give their lives for the kingdom of heaven. They may not have been born into the excessive purity of the Nazarites, but they certainly embraced it and spread it to their own disciples. To show that this was the case, we quote from Eusebius, the most important and reputable Christian historian of all time:

And even supposing that they combined together to invent falsehoods, it is surely wonderful that so large a number of conspirators should continue to agree about their inventions even to death, and that not one of them in alarm at what happened to those who had been already killed ever severed himself from the association, or preached against the others, and brought to light their conspiracy; nay, the very one who dared to betray his Master while He lived, dying by his own hand, at once paid the penalty for his treachery. …

And note, what a remarkable thing it is that they all agreed in every point in their account of the acts of Jesus … not without labor, and by bearing torture, all kinds of outrage and death, and were in all things borne witness to by God …

I have thus concluded the working out of what would follow if for the sake of argument a ridiculous hypothesis were supposed. This hypothesis was, to make suppositions contrary to the records, and to argue that Jesus was a teacher of impure words, injustice, covetousness, and all kinds of intemperance, that the disciples, profiting by such instruction from Him, surpassed all men in cupidity and wickedness. It was, indeed, the height of absurdity, equivalent to saying that when Moses said in his laws: “Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not bear false witness,” he should be calumniated and accused falsely of speaking in irony and pretense, and of really desiring that his hearers should kill and commit adultery, and do the opposite to what his laws commanded, and of merely putting on the appearance and disguise of a holy life for a pretense. In this way, too, any one might slight the records of all the Greek philosophers, their strenuous life and sayings, with the calumny that their disposition and mode of life was contrary to their writings, and that their choice of a philosopher’s life was but a hypocritical pretense. And in this way, to speak generally, one might slander all the records of the ancients, annul their truth, and turn them upside down. But just as one who had any sense would not scruple to set down one who acted thus as a madman, so also with regard to our Savior’s words and teaching, when people try to pervert the truth, and suggest that He really believed the opposite to what He taught. But my argument has been, of course, purely hypothetical, with the object of showing the inconsistency of the contrary, by proving too much would follow from granting for the moment an absurd supposition.

This line of argument, then, being refuted, let me recur to the truth of the sacred writings, and consider the character of the disciples of Jesus. From the men as they stand, surely any sensible person would be inclined to consider them worthy of all confidence; they were admittedly poor men without eloquence, they fell in love with holy and philosophic instruction, they embraced and persevered in a strenuous and a laborious life, with fasting and abstinence from wine and meat, and much bodily restriction besides, with prayers and intercessions to God, and, last but not least, excessive purity, and devotion both of body and soul. Eusebius599

Eusebius, quoting Hegesippus, writes of James the Just, Yahshuah’s “brother”: “He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath.” At the very least, it must be recognized that these were the same characteristics which were observed about the Essenes specifically because they were not commonplace, with the addition of his long hair, in the idiomatic expression attached to the Nazarite custom. Christians opposed to the notion that Yahshuah himself was a vegetarian might want to ask themselves, since the implication is that he was raised as a vegetarian, if it is really plausible that Yahshuah’s mother would not have raised him in precisely the same manner, considering that both were Nazarites from the womb, just as Samson and Samuel (whose births were similarly announced by an angel who gave instructions to their mothers) were. Furthermore, Yahshuah obviously did not forsake his upbringing, considering that he sought to be baptized (an exclusively Nazarite custom at that time) by John, and we are told that God was “well pleased” with him (Luke 3:22).

This further establishes and confirms the notion that not just Yahshuah, but actually all the Nazarites/Essenes were indeed vegetarians, because they were commanded to be by God, and a Nazarite, by definition, is obedient to God. And if that is the case, then there is a long tradition of vegetarianism with the Nazarites listed in the Bible, going all the way back to the time of Moses (and presumably earlier), regardless of whether or not vegetarianism itself is mentioned in conjunction with their identifications as Nazarites. For as we see with James, and as we see with our historical examination of the Essenes—a sect founded by Nazarites and which practiced vegetarianism—our default presumption must be that anyone who was a Nazarite was in fact practicing vegetarianism, and it becomes the burden of those in opposition to this thesis to bring some evidence against it. (We have rebutted every argument we have seen or could find to the contrary, and preempted and rebutted every other possible objection from Scripture that we could think of, in the body of this book, in Appendix B, or in Satan’s Synoptics.) Otherwise Eusebius, by way of Hegesippus, is making a clear association between Nazarites and vegetarianism, even though such an obvious connection is apparently lacking in Moses’ description of the Nazarites of Israel in Numbers 6 (though not elsewhere, in the cases of Samson and Samuel), because Moses did not write a law for Nazarites, as he had no authority and no incentive to do so, but only for those wishing to become such. Furthermore, the history of the Essenes demonstrates the continuity of thought and practice between Moses’ time and the New Testament period.

So we have Hegisippus informing us that the Nazarites were vegetarians, and we have a preponderance of evidence supporting the undisputed fact that the Essenes were all vegetarians. We have the apostle Paul declaring himself a vegetarian in the Bible, where he is described as both a “Nazarene” and a Nazarite, while he admonishes meat-eaters for failing to conform to his expectations. We have James the Just (whose opinion on the matter, according to Acts 15, carried the day and set the precedent for all new converts), together with the judge Samson and the prophet Samuel, all Nazarites like Yahshuah and his cousin John the Baptist, all clearly and unmistakably identified as strict vegetarians, even as the ideal of having been set apart as such from before they were conceived in the mothers’ wombs. This ought to be enough to convince any reasonable person that vegetarianism was at least the ideal of early Christianity, and of the ideology which preceded it by more than 1000 years, but the fact that the Twelve and everyone they baptized were also vegetarians should suffice to show that, far from merely being a personal choice or an ideal, the vegetarian aspect was actually a core teaching of the sect. This is already widely accepted, though the association between Christianity and Essenism is not, due only to the fact that some scholars cannot accept the implications, rather than the preponderance of evidence, or the truth of it. (The evidence is accepted; the implications are not.)

The plain fact of the matter is that Yahshuah did not simply come out of nowhere and then announced God’s plan of salvation, as supposed by the “virgin birth” doctrine and the cult of worship built around him (or rather, around Jesus, as the Roman Apollo/Mithras). The prophets of Salem had existed continuously since well before the time of Moses, and those of Israel since at least that time, and they had not yet been exterminated by the time of Epiphanius. The “Christians” in their ivory towers in Rome and Byzantium may have wanted to pretend like they were not there, but they persisted out in the wilderness as a constant reminder of God’s wrath against the heathens of Jerusalem, Babylon, Rome and elsewhere. Eventually, the Roman establishment realized they would have to do something about them, so it sent its inquisitors out to defame and destroy them, and it is thanks to this that we even have a record of what their beliefs were, beyond the practices recorded by Philo and Josephus, because the dead cannot speak in their own defense. Yet their blood cries from the ground, and God hears it, as do all those who are of him, and we who are obedient may not know all the details, but we know enough, and we will never forget.

 

 

 

 


 

 

564 This is a euphemism for what is actually a manual for the early phase of the Inquisition, intended to wrest control of Asia and Phrygia from the Christians (which ultimately failed); the actual English title of Irenaeus’ treatise is On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, where “gnosis” is Greek for “knowledge” of the spiritual type, which all Christians of that era sought. Irenaeus’ object was to differentiate between the new Roman teachings and what the Romans had previously assimilated under the tutelage of the “gnostic heretics” Valentinus and Marcion, etc. This was especially necessary due to the bitter conflict between the Roman bishop Victor and the Christians represented by Polycarp and Polycrates, combined with the Romans’ fervent desire to suppress them and assert their authority over them. Irenaeus, like all other Romans, was positively ignorant of what the Christians in the East believed and practiced, so the sects in Palestine and Egypt simply got lumped into the mix of the other “heretics” like Marcion. This is certainly understandable, but not if we are to suppose that Irenaeus actually had some measure of comprehension of his subject like the later heresiologists Epiphanius and Justin Martyr did. Either way, the later heresiologists were still basing their premises on the erroneous opinion of Irenaeus and his contemporaries, as that is what prevailed when Constantine suppressed and effectively destroyed the remnant of apostolic Christianity.

565-566 Steve Rudd, “Extra-Biblical Oral Tradition Arguments Refuted,” bible.ca, http://www.bible.ca/sola-scriptura-pro-tradition-nazarene-matthew-2-23.htm.

567 Letter 47:7.

568 Panarion, Book I, xxx.22.1-5.

569 Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, Oxford, 2003, p. 102.

570 Joseph Verheyden, Epiphanius on the Ebionites, in The image of the Judaeo-Christians in ancient Jewish and Christian literature (editors: Peter J. Tomson, Doris Lambers-Petry), 2003, p. 188; retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=9bbWbMGekWoC.

571 Joseph Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Penguin, 1997, p. 240.

572 Ibid., p. 367.

573 William Horbury, Hebrew Study from Ezra to Ben-Yehuda, Bloomsbury, 1999; retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=dH-XcGLkBAgC.

Please note that this reference is missing the page numbers because the book was made unavailable before we were able to retrieve them, but after we retrieved the citation. It is an expensive book and rather obscure text, and we do not have access to it.

574 On the Judean War, ii.8.2-13.

575 Judean Antiquities, xv.10.5.

576 “Life expectancy,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Life_expectancy_vs._life_span.

577 Joan Taylor, “Philo of Alexandria on the Essenes: A Case Study on the Use of Classical Sources in Discussions of the Qumran-Essene Hypothesis,” The Studia Philonica Annual, 19, 2007, pp. 8, 19, 20; retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/204958/Philo_of_Alexandria_on_the_Essenes_A_Case_Study_on_the_Use_of_Classical_Sources_in_Discussions_of_the_Qumran-Essene_Hypothesis.

578 Jodi Magness, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eerdmans, Cambridge, 2002, p. 121; retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=NnpvX1Ke-LkC&pg=PA121.

579 Ibid., p. 118.

580 Yizhar Hirschfeld, “Ein Gedi 1998,” http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/symposiums/programs/Hirschfeld98.shtml.

581 Taylor, p. 21.

This citation is from Philo’s Hypothetica, 11.14, by way of Eusebius’ Preparation for the Gospel. It is also quoted on p. 42, with a more detailed explanation, of Taylor’s book The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (Oxford University Press, 2012).

582 Ibid., pp. 21-22.

583 Ibid., p. 23.

584 On the Judean War, ii.8.14.

585 Taylor, pp. 7-9.

586 Ibid., pp. 13-14.

587 Ibid., p. 16.

588 “Mount Gerizim,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Gerizim#Post-exile_history.

589 “Dumah (angel),” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumah_%28angel%29#The_angel.

590 Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature—A Book of Readings Volume II: The Old and Middle Kingdoms, University of California, Berkeley, 1976, pp. 150-161; retrieved from http://www.humanistictexts.org/amenope.htm.

591 Panarion, Book I, xviii.1.1-4; xix.1.1-2,5.1.

592 “Essenes,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essenes#Name.

593 Stephen Goranson, “Essene name, Essene history” (comment on thread), Qumran and the Early Christian Church, 28 Jul 2004, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/qumran_origin/message/4016.

594 Taylor, p. 26.

595 The Ebionites were the ones which are recorded as having spoken Aramaic later on, and this is perhaps why they came to be distinguished from the Nazareans, which would imply cultural differences between the two groups. This could easily be accounted for in that they were on opposite sides of the Jordan, but it is also likely that they were the same sect divided into two parts, as the Nazareans descended from the prophetic tradition of Samaria, and the Ebionites from the Christian evangelism in Judea. That is, the Ebionites were probably the Jews who converted to Christianity—hence the distinction between Ebionites and Nazarites, as well as Nazareans. However, it is also possible that the Ebionites were simply the remnant of Christians that fled to Pella at the outset of Rome’s invasion, in which case we would suppose that the majority of them stayed outside of Palestine for the duration of their existence.

596 Panarion, Book I, xxx.16.4-5,7.

597 Ibid., xxx.15.3-4.

598 Peter J. Tomson & Doris Lambers-Petry, The Image of the Judeo-Christians in Ancient Christian Literature, Mohr Siebeck, 2003, p. 185; retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=9bbWbMGekWoC.

599 Proof of the Gospel, Book III, v.116-118.