|Josephus (Antiquities 18)||Josephus (Wars 2)|
It also deserves our
admiration, how much they exceed all other men that addict themselves to
virtue, and this in righteousness; and indeed to such a degree, that as
it hath never appeared among any other men, neither Greeks nor barbarians,
no, not for a little time, so hath it endured a long while among them.
no longer stubbornly follow a sinful heart and lustful eyes committing all
manner of evil.
|he will always hate the wicked, and be assistant to the righteous||These last [i.e., the Essenes] are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection
for one another than the other sects have.
they may love all that He has chosen and hate all that he has rejected.|
"...that they may love all the sons of light...and hate all the sons of darkness.
...of loving kindness and good intent one towards the other...
...to separate from all the men of falsehood who walk in the way of wickedness.
are about four thousand men that live in this way, and neither marry wives,
nor are desirous to keep servants; as thinking the latter tempts men to
be unjust, and the former gives the handle to domestic quarrels
|They 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 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.
Moreover, there is another order of Essens, 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, as trials that they are likely to be fruitful, they then actually marry them. But they do not use to accompany with their wives when they are with child, as a demonstration that they do not many out of regard to pleasure, but for the sake of posterity.
are not mentioned]...
|...that institution of theirs, which will not suffer
any thing to hinder them from having all things in common; so that a rich
man enjoys no more of his own wealth than he who hath nothing at all.
||...insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren.|
...shall bring...possessions into the Community of God...
|They also appoint certain stewards to receive the incomes of their revenues, and of the fruits of the ground; such as are good men and priests, who are to get their corn and their food ready for them. They none of them differ from others of the Essens in their way of living, but do the most resemble those Dacae who are called Polistae [dwellers in cities]||Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath 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
also have stewards 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. ..
when he has completed one year within the Community...his property and earnings
shall be handed over to the Bursar of the Congregation...
|...And after this purification is over, they every one
meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted
to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into
the dining-room, as into a certain holy temple...
but a priest says grace before the meal; and it is unlawful for any one to
taste of the food before grace be said. The same priest, when he hath dined,
says grace again after meat; and when they begin, and when they end, they
praise God, as he that bestows their food upon them.
shall eat in common and pray in common...|
And when the table has been prepared for eating, and the grape drink for drinking,
the Priest shall be the first to stretch out his hand to bless the first bread and new wine.
|Nor is there
ever any clamor or disturbance to pollute their house, but they give every
one leave to speak in their turn; which silence thus kept in their house
appears to foreigners like some tremendous mystery.
man shall interrupt a companion before his speech has ended, nor speak before a
man of higher rank; each man shall speak in his turn. And in the Assembly of
the Congregation no man shall speak without consent of the Congregation.|
Whoever has interrupted his companion whilst speaking [must do penance] ten
|And truly, as for other things, they do nothing but according to
the injunctions of their curators...
...that he will ever show fidelity
to all men, and especially to those in authority, because no one obtains
the government without God's assistance; and that if he be in authority,
he will at no time whatever abuse his authority...
shall unite, with respect to the Law and possessions, under the authority of
the sons of Zadok, the Priests who keep the Covenant...|
...in accordance with all that has been revealed to the sons of Zadok...
The man of lesser rank shall obey the greater in matters of work and money.
|only these two things are done among
them at everyone's own free-will, which are to assist those that want it,
and to show mercy; for they are permitted of their own accord to afford
succor to such as deserve it, when they stand in need of it, and to bestow
food on those that are in distress.
he has failed to care for his companion, he shall do penance for three months.
|They dispense their anger after a just manner,
and restrain their passion.
has answered his companion with obstinacy, or has addressed him
impatiently...therefore he shall do penance for one year...|
Whoever has borne malice against his companion unjustly shall do penance for
six months/one year; and likewise, whoever has taken revenge in any matter
|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
one of them has lied deliberately in matters of property, he shall be excluded
from the Meal of the Congregation...|
Whoever has deliberately lied shall do penance for six months.
Whoever has deliberately deceived his companion, he shall do penance for three
|They also take great pains in studying the writings
of the ancients, and choose out of them what is most for the advantage
of their soul and body.
where the ten are, there shall never lack a man among them who shall study the
Law continually, day and night, concerning the right conduct of a man and his
companion. And the Congregation shall watch in community for a third of every
night of the year, to read the Book and study Law and to pray together.
|But now if any one hath 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...
Every man, born of Israel, who freely pledges himself to join the Council of the Community, shall be examined by the Guardian at the head of the Congregation concerning his understanding and his deeds. If he is fitted to the discipline, he shall admit him into the Covenant...
And later, when he comes to stand before the Congregation, they shall deliberate his case...
After he has entered the Council of the Community he shall not touch the pure
Meal of the Congregation until one full year is completed, and until he has
been examined concerning his spirit and deeds; nor shall he have any share of
the property of the Congregation.
And when he hath 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...
when he has completed one year within the Community... And if it be his
destiny...to enter the company, his property and earnings shall be handed over
to the Bursar of the Congregation who shall register it to his account and
shall not spend it for the Congregation. He shall not touch the Drink of the
Congregation until he has completed a second year among the men of the
|...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.
when the second year has passed, he shall be examined, and if it be his
destiny...to enter the Community, then he shall be inscribed among his brethren
in the order of his rank for the Law, and for justice, and for the pure Meal;
his property shall be merged and he shall offer his counsel and judgment to the
|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...
approaches the Council of the Community shall enter the Covenant of God... He
shall undertake by a binding oath to return with all his heart and soul to
every commandment of the Law of Moses...
|...that he will always hate the
wicked, and be assistant to the righteous...
separate from all the men of falsehood who walk in the way of wickedness.
|...that he will
be perpetually a lover of truth, and propose to himself to reprove those
that tell lies.
shall rebuke one another in truth, humility, and charity.|
Let him not hate him...but let him rebuke him on the very same day...
|...that he will keep his hands clear from theft, and his soul
from unlawful gains; and that he will neither conceal any thing from those
of his own sect...
one of them has lied deliberately in matters of property...
if ten of them be sitting together, no one of them will speak while the
other nine are against it.
there are ten men of the Council of the Community... |
And in an Assembly of the Congregation no man shall speak without the consent
of the Congregation. Should any man wish to speak to the Congregation, yet not
be in a position to question the Council of the Community, let him rise to his
feet and say: I have something to say to the Congregation." If they command him
to speak, he shall speak.
|...nor discover any of their doctrines to others, no, not
though anyone should compel him so to do at the hazard of his life.
shall conceal the teaching of the Law from men of falsehood...
|They also avoid spitting in the midst of them,
or on the right side.
has spat in an Assembly of the Congregation shall do penance for thirty days.
|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...
a man return whose spirit has so trembled before the authority of the Community
that he has betrayed the truth and walked in the stubbornness of his heart, he
shall not touch the pure Meal of the Congregation, and during the second year
he shall not touch the Drink of the Congregation...|
Then when his two years are completed the Congregation shall consider his case...
If, after being in the Council of the Community for ten years, the spirit of
any man has failed so that he has betrayed the Community and departed from the
Congregation to walk in the stubbornness of his heart, he shall return no more
to the Council of the Community. Moreover, if any member of the Community has
shared his food or property which...of the congregation, his sentence shall be
the same; he shall be expelled.
|Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the
Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day; for they not only
get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle
a fire on that day, but they will not remove any vessel out of its place,
nor go to stool thereon.
|Now after the time of their preparatory trial is over, they are
parted into four classes; and so far are the juniors inferior to the seniors,
that if the seniors should be touched by the juniors, they must wash themselves,
as if they had intermixed themselves with the company of a foreigner.
Priests shall enter first, ranked one after another according to the perfection
of their spirit; then the Levites; and thirdly, all the people one after
another, in their Thousands, Hundreds, Fifties, and Tens, that every Israelite
may know his place in the Community of God according to the everlasting design.
No man shall move down from his place nor move up from his allotted
The man of lesser rank shall obey the greater...
And they shall all sit before him according to their rank and shall be asked their counsel in all things in that order.
Each man shall sit in his place: the Priests shall sit first, and the elders second, and all the rest of the people according to their rank.
But when the second year has passed, he shall be examined, and if it be his
destiny...to enter the Community, then he shall be inscribed among his brethren
in the order of his rank for the Law, and for justice, and for the pure Meal.
|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
legislator, 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, as expecting to receive them again.
that they may not abandon Him during the dominion of Satan because of terror or
|...while they allot to bad souls a
dark and tempestuous den, full of never-ceasing punishments.
He deliver you up for torture at the hands of the vengeful Avengers! May He
visit you with destruction by the hand of all the Wreakers of Revenge!...Be
damned in the shadowy place of everlasting fire!. May God not heed you when you
call on Him...|
And the visitation of all who walk in this spirit shall be a multitude of
plagues by the hand of all the destroying angels, everlasting damnation by the
avenging wrath of the fury of God, eternal torment and endless disgrace
together with shameful extinction in the fire of the dark regions. The times of
all their generations shall be spent in sorrowful mourning and in bitter misery
and in calamities of darkness until they are destroyed without remnant or
|The doctrine of the Essenes is this: That all things are best ascribed to God.||
ever they existed He established their whole design, and when, as ordained for
them, they came 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
He has created man...and has appointed for him two spirits in which to walk until the time of His visitation: the sprits of truth and falsehoods...
But the God of Israel and His Angel of Truth will succour all the sons of light. For it is He who created the spirits of Light and Darkness and founded every action upon them...
For God has established the sprits in equal measure until the final age, and has set everlasting hatred between their divisions.
...And he knows the reward of their deeds from all eternity.
Return to Index