The Essenes were a sect of Second Temple Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. They were fewer in number than the Pharisees and the Sadducees (the major Jewish sects at the time). They were vegetarian, ecologists, into both the Father and Mother aspects of God, saw women as equal with men. They were Master Alchemists and could heal with the touch of their hands as well as with food and herbs, had an average life span of 125 years. There were both Northern familial and Southern ascetic groups and they were the teachers of Jesus, John the Beloved and John the Baptist respectively.
Many separate but related religious groups of that era shared similar mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs. These groups are collectively referred to by various scholars as the “Essenes.” The Essenes lived in various cities and congregated in communal life dedicated to asceticism, voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and abstinence from worldly pleasures. The historian, Josephus records that Essenes existed in large numbers, and thousands lived throughout Roman Judæa.
According to a Jewish legend, one of the Essenes, named Menachem, passed mystical knowledge to the Talmudic mystic Nehunya ben HaKanah, to whom Kabbalistic tradition attributes Sefer HaBahir. Some Essene rituals, such as daily immersion in the mikveh, coincide with contemporary Hasidic practices; some historians had also suggest, that name “Essene” is a Hellenized form of the word “Hasidim” or “Hasid” (“pious ones”).
The Essenes gained fame in Modern times as a result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946. These documents include untouched copies of the Hebrew Bible dating to 300 BCE.
Why is Yashua (Jesus) Being an Essene-Nazarene So Important?
Because it leads us to a whole new level of inner-standing our Savior.
Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, came out into the open and *said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He *said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. Now then, when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. He then asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you are seeking Me, let these men go on their way.”
John 18:4-8 NASB
Followers of Yahshua, might want to fully understand that Yashua, identified Himself as a “Nazarene,” not “of” or “from” a “city. The language is clear, denoting a sect and not a place. This knowledge might guide us into making choices that help us walk in His footsteps and follow His Way. After the crucifixion, an angel later identifies Yashua as a Nazarene:
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. But he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; see, here is the place where they laid Him.”
Mark 16:5-6 NASB
The Acts of the Apostles describes just as historians had described, the communal nature of the traditional Essene Kibbutz-style of living.
And all the believers together had all things in common; and they would sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need.”
Peter also uses the Nazar term at the temple and in his speech to the elders at Jerusalem.
But Peter said, “I do not have silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!”
Acts 3:6 NASB
Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”
Acts 4:10 NASB
Ironically, THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURE IS CRITICAL IN SEALING THE POINT. Paul was not from a “city called Nazareth.” He was from Tarsus (south central Turkey). Essene-Nazarene was ALWAYS referring to a sect or way of life, NOT a physical place. Paul was accused by an attorney, Tertullus, as an “Essene ringleader!”
For we have found this man a public menace and one who stirs up dissensions among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.”
The irony is that Paul from Tarsus was called a member of the “the sect of Nazarenes” even though he was vehemently opposed to Peter, James and John and the Essene Laws and many of his letters all were anti-Nazarene.
Jewish priestly sects and the Essenes-Nazarenes differed from mainstream Judaism. So if one is interested in following Yashua Hamashiach – the Christ – one may want to get curious about just WHAT the Essenes were all about! Among other things, they were followers of The Law and a strict blood-free, non-sacrificial diet.
A detailed description of the connection of Jesus to the Essenes may be found here: