The Essenes, the Sadducees and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
November 16th, 2001
Received by H.
I see that you have received quite a lot of questions, and some fit well into what we are dealing with now. So, let’s proceed to answer some of them. I also know that there have been questions about relatives and friends who now live in the spirit world, but I feel somewhat reluctant to answer them. It is not because of personal reasons, for sure. But I am concerned that if I begin to answer this kind of inquiry, I will end up responding to similar questions quite frequently in the future. And this has not been the objective of my coming.
I know that I have answered questions on your relatives, H___, but I did so in order to give you some incentive, and I won’t answer any more questions of this kind. Of course, if some spirit of your or of another person’s kin should come to deliver a message, we will allow this.
But now let’s focus on what A__ wants to know:
- Was John the Baptist an Essene or did he have certain Essene influence or education?
- What is the true story when Paul was taken prisoner and then sent to Rome?
- Was Paul really an arrogant, proud person, lacking a good sense of humor, did he suffer from deep depression, did he stammer when speaking?
- What are the particulars of Paul’s four mission journeys, those mentioned the Bible.
- When Mary gave birth to Jesus, who assisted her? Joseph? Or other people?
- How did the early Christian church develop? What happened to Christianity in the first five centuries?
- Which were the social and economic classes that Christians came from in the first five centuries?
- Was Jesus, as a good Jew, a regular wine drinker?
We have to make a choice, because we cannot answer everything. All those questions about Paul of Tarsus and the early church we will answer in due course when we deal with the respective topic. The answers to those questions may easily fill whole libraries. I intended to continue in a chronological order, and we are currently dealing with Jesus’ youth. And so, my dear A___, you will have to wait a little bit more, but if God permits it, everything will be clarified.
But now, let’s give some concrete answers: When Mary gave birth to Jesus, who assisted her? Joseph? Or other people? As a matter of fact, it was a midwife who helped Mary. In all Jewish villages there were midwives. When the labor pains became more frequent, Joseph, nervous and trembling like all young fathers-to-be, advised his relatives, and they sent for the midwife.
Now, Jesus, as a good Jew, was a regular wine drinker? You make me laugh, my brother. Yes, it is true. Jesus was a “regular wine drinker.” He was a cheerful man. And drinking wine was not and is not prohibited at all in Judaism. Only Islam prohibits the consumption of any kind of alcohol, but not so in Judaism. In Passover celebrations, the Jews don’t drink just one glass of wine, but several. Wine is a good invention. I also liked it.
Now we will deal with the question: Was John the Baptist an Essene or did he have certain Essene influences or education? And the answer is a very long one. In fact, this has already been answered through Dr. Samuels, but I admit that the answer has not been very detailed.
[Inserted by H.] In Revelation 2: Life and ministry of John the Baptist John informs us:
“It is not true, as some theologians believe, that I tried to lead a reform movement independent of Jesus, nor was I to any extent influenced by the Essenes, whose views of purity led them to isolated communities away from the so-called contaminations of the genuine Hebrew civilization, or the Hellenistic influences, and where they carried out their religious practices; for, like Jesus, I believed not in retreat from the world but in carrying the message of God to the people, and as I believed in ablutionals as symbolical spiritual purity, I had of necessity to preach where water was readily obtainable and that was the Jordan.”
To begin with, we will go back many decades into the past, decades before John the Baptist was born.
When Alexander Jannaeus, the Hasmonean king, died, his widow Salome Alexandra governed with the help of the Pharisees. She arranged that her son Hyrcanus be named High Priest. But soon afterwards, a new conflict broke out in Palestine. Hyrcanus’ brother, Aristobulus II rose up, defeating Hyrcanus at Jericho, and proclaimed himself the new king and High Priest. The Sadducees supported him openly. Hyrcanus’ loyal friend, Antipater, Herod the Great’s father, called the Nabatean Arabs for help, and they expelled Aristobulus from Jerusalem.
Aristobulus appealed to the Romans, or rather, to Scaurus, the Roman legate in Syria, and he forced the Nabateans to withdraw. Jerusalem once again was in Aristobulus’ hands.
Hyrcanus did not give in and appealed to Pompey, the Roman general who had conquered Syria, and was in Damascus at that time. Aristobulus found out, and also sent a petition, and to make matters worse, there was a third petition from the people of Jerusalem that Pompey might help them to abolish the monarchy in Judea and to return to theocracy.
And now Aristobulus made a serious error. Instead of waiting for Pompey’s decision, he attacked the fortress of Alexandrium. This upset Pompey, and he took this as an excuse for attacking Jerusalem. That part of the city’s population supporting Hyrcanus opened the city’s gates voluntarily, but the followers of Aristobulus withdrew into the Temple and fortified themselves there, offering a strong resistance. Finally, Pompey broke the walls and killed thousands of Jews. He even entered into the Holiest, thus profaning the Temple, because, as I have already said previously, only the High Priest was entitled to enter therein, and only once every year. Aristobulus was taken prisoner and sent to Rome in chains. Years later, when Julius Caesar freed him, PompeyÂ’s followers poisoned him.
This battle over Jerusalem happened in the year 65 B.C.
Now, my dear brother A___, you surely will wonder, what has all that to do with the Essenes or with John the Baptist?
Well, what the history books don’t tell is that the Sadducee priests certainly knew that something serious would happen. And before the war against Pompey broke out, they secretly rescued their most precious and most fragile treasure, the scrolls of writings, from the Temple and hid them in caves in the desert near the Dead Sea. There were hundreds of them, and a good part has been recovered by now, more than 800.
When thousands of years later these writings were discovered, writings which now have worldwide fame as the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Qumran Scrolls, the delighted investigators at first attributed them to the Essenes. And this idea persists until the present time. But as more scrolls eventually were discovered, it became clear that they had nothing to do with the Essenes.
Among the texts there are the following ones: Lists for the priestly service in the Temple (Mishmarot), mystic visions of the Temple (SSS), priestly purity (MMT), a treasure of the Temple (Copper Scroll), the preparation of the ashes of the red heifer, as the Book of Numbers tells:
“This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.”
The leaders of this kind of cult were the sons Zadok, that is to say, the Sadducees, as the Book of Ezekiel states:
“But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”
So you see, my brother A___, the discovery of these scrolls has been the reason why a connection was established between John the Baptist and the Essenes. But this is wrong. The Essenes rejected the Temple cult in Jerusalem. They would never have written these texts. Kirbet Qumran has nothing at all to do with this sect. It is certainly surprising for many, but the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are in fact Sadducee texts.
The Sadducees had backed Aristobulus, as we have already seen. And thousands perished under the Roman swords, and those who could escape, emigrated to Egypt or Babylonia. In later decades, there were practically no Sadducees anymore in Palestine.
It was Herod the Great who re-established the Sadducee priestly line. He ordered several Sadducee families back to Jerusalem, and a few followed his call. Among them was the House of Boethus (and its offspring, the House of Kathros), the House of Annas and of Phiabi, humble families, which clung to power as long as they could, once they had obtained it.
And from Herod’s time on until the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, there was an uninterrupted chain of Sadducee High Priests, among them Annas and Caiaphas.
The Sadducee cult was based exclusively on the Temple, and when it finally was destroyed, the sect disappeared. Modern rabbinical Judaism derives from pharisaical Judaism. The Pharisees survived the tumultuous times of the first and second century after Christ.
I could tell you much more on the subject, but the message is already very long and it may confuse the reader. In summary, the Essenes, who didn’t enjoy major importance in Jewish society, had absolutely nothing to do with John the Baptist or Jesus. They did not live in Qumran, and the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls are writings created in Jerusalem, under Sadducee domain. The false attribution of these writings to the Essenes caused Bible scholars to establish the connection of John and Jesus with the Essenes, a completely false and untenable connection. They came from a pharisaical atmosphere, and although Essenes had much in common with Pharisees, for example their independence from the Temple cult, Jesus and John chose their own way, independently of the religious streams of their time.
Perhaps it is also worthwhile mentioning that apart from the Sadducee High Priest, there was also a class of chief priests, also Sadducees, more or less 200 of them, and a great number of common priests, like Zacharias, John's father, who belonged to the most diverse sects, also to the Pharisees, and who frequently didn’t live in Jerusalem, but in the surrounding villages.
So then, having said that, I will now finish this message. I hope it has been informative and may shed new light on a very difficult topic, because the multifaceted Second Temple Judaism ceased to exist many centuries ago, and it was very different from the more uniform Judaism of the present times.
I wish for you our Heavenly Father’s blessings. God bless you and guide you in your spiritual adventure.
Your brother in Christ,
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013