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Final Word on the Essenes

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

This week we deal with question relating to the sect of the Essenes, of which Jesus was a member

YOU SAID THE ESSENES, THE  GROUP THAT PRODUCED JESUS, ARE NOT DIRECTLY MENTIONED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.  IF THEY ARE INDIRECTLY MENTIONED, HOW DOES ONE GET A HINT IT IS THEY WHO ARE BEING TALKED ABOUT?

You will not be able to tell if you haven’t read the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes did not actually call themselves Essenes. According to the Jewish historian and philosopher Philo Judeaus, Essenes was  “a name awarded to them in recognition of their holiness”.  It stemmed from the Greek and Egyptian term meaning  secret and sacred, which was befitting: the Essenes flaunted holiness like a badge and lived in self-imposed isolation. The Essenes had several philosophically descriptive names.  One of these was “the poor”. They were poor because they generally shared everything and therefore had no individual property.  When you encounter the term poor in the gospels, rest assured you are reading about the Essenes.  The Beatitudes in MATTHEW 5 begin with “Blessed are the poor”. That introductory sets the tone for all the remaining 7 Beatitudes that follow. They are about extolling the virtues of the Essenes. In other words, Jesus, who is said to have uttered them, was saying unless you morally bankrupt and spiritually corrupt Pharisees and Sadducees emulate our humility and spirituality, woe unto you.  Although the Essenes are not directly mentioned in the Bible, secular chroniclers of the day such as Flavius Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, and Pliny the younger give them prominent mention, in some cases even much more than the Pharisees and Sadducees. What is ironic is that it is they who wrote the New Testament. All the language and philosophy you find in the Dead Sea Scrolls is found in the Bible from Matthew all the way to Revelation.

WHY DID THE ESSENES SET THEMSELVES APART FROM THE REST AND SECLUDE THEMSELVES AT QUMRAN?

The Essenes had removed themselves from mainstream society around 175 BC to live a monastic life about 40 to 50 km southeast of Jerusalem. The name they chose for this cluster of settlements was Judean Wilderness. Although it was generally characterised by arid and uninviting terrain, the Judean Wilderness did have scanty vegetation. Examples of the mini-settlements that comprised the Judean Wilderness were Mird; Mar Saba; Mazin; Ain Feshka; and Qumran. Qumran was the principal settlement. Qumran, Ain Feshka, and Mazin were located on the West coast of the Dead Sea. Although  the Qumran settlers are best known as Essenes, they primarily referred  to themselves as  the Nozrei ha brit, meaning “Keepers of the Covenant” – the Davidic Covenant by which the Jewish Anunnaki god Enlil, best known as Jehovah, promised David and his descendents everlasting rule over Israel. In their formative stages, however, the Essenes called themselves the Sons of  Zadok, or simply Zadokites. In one sense, this meant  “Righteous Men”. In another, it meant “adherents to the Zadok order”. Zadok, a Levite and descendent of Aaron,  was the temple high priest during the reign of King Solomon. All the  first 30 priests from Eleazer, the son of Aaron, to the Babylonian captivity were Aaronites. But after the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC, priests were arbitrarily appointed by the occupying power as well as by puppet Jewish kings who served the interests of the occupying power. Moreover, the Davidic dynasty was banished from ever ruling Israel after the Babylonian captivity.  To  some section of the Jews, this not only  amounted to a desecration but was a breach of the Davidic Covenant. So circa 175 BC, this section of the Jews separated itself from other Jews and set up its own community at Qumran in protest. There, the  community awaited two messiahs to liberate Israel from foreign occupation – the Davidic messiah from the tribe of Judah and the priestly messiah from the  tribe of Levi. It also awaited a prophet like Moses or Elijah. This community of Jewish puritans and fundamentalists is what became known as the Essenes.

HOW DID THE ESSENES DIFFER FROM THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES?

Generally speaking,  the Sadducees were the aristocrats of the  day. They were the elite of Jewry. It was the Sadducees who ran the Jerusalem Temple and dominated the Sanhedrin, the Jerusalem-based Jewish governing council. The Pharisees were mostly teachers of the law of Moses, the so-called scribes. Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees worshipped in the Jerusalem Temple, although the Pharisees did have local houses of worship called synagogues. However, neither the Sadducees nor the Pharisees were exactly in one accord. Each group had splinter groups. For instance, the Herodian Sadducees were the Sadducees proper. Qumran too had  its share of  Pharisees and Sadducees who were amenable to  Essene ideals. The Essenes regarded the  Sadducees and Pharisees as corrupting and sacrilegious. For instance, whereas animal sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple were the order of the day, the Essenes never sacrificed animals at their sanctuary at Qumran. The Essenes never even ate meat: the only  flesh they ate was that of fish.  Those who say Jesus was the “sacrificial lamb” of God are totally mistaken. Jesus was an Essene and Essenes did not believe in animal sacrifices or such typology.  The Essenes were staunch champions of the restoration of the Aaronite priesthood to the Jewish temple and the Davidic dynasty  to the Jewish throne. That’s why both Jesus and John the Baptist arose from their ranks.
 
OTHER THAN ESSENES, WHAT OTHER NAMES DID THE ESSENES CALL THEMSELVES?

According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes went by several names. They called themselves  the  Keepers of the Covenant; the Sons  of Zadok; the Righteous Ones; the Elect;  the Sons of Light; the Holy; the Saints; the Perfect of the Way; the Poor; the Osim (meaning something like healer); the Zealots (meaning people who are zealous for the law, although these term predominantly applied to their military wing); the New Convenanters; the Remnants of Israel; Lebanon, which means white because they wore sparklingly white linen; etc.  Also, the Essenes had several sects amongst them, each with its own adopted name. For example, there was a sect of the Essenes known as the “Few” and another known as the “Many”. This kind of language peppers the gospels and sadly the overwhelming majority of the pathetically ignorant Christian clergy settle for the generalised superficial interpretation of these terms.  The Jesus movement was called the Nazarenes, not Christians.  The Nazarenes were an offshoot of the Essenes. Nazarenes primarily meant “People of the Branch”. According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Branch of David was another name for the Davidic messiah, this being Jesus in the first century. A secondary meaning of the term Nazarenes was “Fish Men”.  

IF THE ESSENES OR ESSENE AFFILIATES WROTE MUCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT AS YOU SAID, SURELY THEY WOULD HAVE MENTIONED THEMSELVES IN THE BIBLE INSTEAD OF MENTIONING  ONLY THEIR RIVALS SUCH AS SADDUCCEES AND PHARISEES.

It is probable that in the earlier gospel versions as well as epistles that are now lost, the Essenes  directly mentioned themselves. The versions we today find in the Bible are edited ones. The gospels and epistles were continuously edited to accommodate certain philosophical and doctrinal slants which reflected the schisms amongst the early church. In AD 66, the Essenes waged what was to become a 7-year war against the Romans. They  were crushed by Roman general Flavius Titus and the Jerusalem temple was destroyed. That was the end of the Essenes and Sadducees: only Pharisean  Judaism was allowed to  flourish by the Romans because it was inimical to both the other two. From that time henceforth, it was suicidal for anybody to call himself an Essene. Hence,  the versions  of gospels and epistles that were published post AD 70 (which form the basis essentially of those we have in today’s Bible) could not risk employment of the term Essene.  Even Josephus never mentioned the Essenes in his first work,  The Wars of the Jews, which was published in AD 75.  He first made mention of them in The Jewish Antiquities, which was published in AD 93, when Roman anti-Essene sentiment had substantially subsided. Josephus claimed he was a Pharisee but this of course was a self-preservation tactic:  he was an Essene. It is clear he was an Essene because  he wrote a great deal more about the Essenes than the Pharisees, let alone the Sadducees. But conscious of the peril that attached to calling oneself an  Essene in the 70s AD (when he became a property and imbongi of the Romans,) he elected to play it safe and dub himself a Pharisee.

IF THE ESSENES WERE AS PEACEFUL AS  CONTEMPORARY HISTORIANS DESCRIBE THEM, WHY DID THEY HAVE AN UNDERGROUND MILITARY WING IN THE ZEALOTS?

The Essenes were a government of national unity at a microcosmic level. Among the Essenes were fundamentalist Sadducees as opposed to the Herodian Sadducees who ran the Jerusalem temple; moderate Pharisees as opposed to conservative Pharisees who were based in Jerusalem; the Egyptian-based Theraputae who were headed by Theudas Barabbas; the Samaritan-based Magi who were headed by Simon Zelotes; the People of the Way, founded by John the Baptist; the Nazarenes, who were headed by  James the Just  (the brother of Jesus); and the Zealots  who were headed by   Hezekiah, his son Judas of Galilee, Judas Iscariot, and Menahem ben Judah (the brother of Judas of Galilee) and Joseph Gishala in that order.   The Zealots were not Essenes as such initially: they were political as opposed to philosophical allies of the Essenes. Flavius Josephus describes the Zealots as a “fourth sect of the Jews” after the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. It was not until after the death of James  the Just in AD 62 that the Zealots took control of Qumran. “Zealot” was a cover name: it meant “those who are zealous for the role” and was actually another name of the Essenes before it was usurped by Galilean revolutionaries. The Zealots officially called themselves Galileans because Galilee was their principal bastion. The Essenes were extremely civil and peaceful. It was the Zealots who were drawn to the Essenes because of their spirituality and puritan character and not vice versa.  Sadly, instead of Essene sanctity rubbing off on the Zealots, it was Zealot radicalism that at long last corrupted the other.

HOW WAS THE ESSENE WAY OF LIFE?

Flavius Josephus and Philo provide a very highly illuminating and remarkable portrait of the Essene way of  life. They were a marvelous people the Essenes.  They were arable and pastoral farmers,  beekeepers,  artisans, and craftsmen. All these activities were purely for subsistence purposes: they never engaged in commerce at all. They were absolutely peaceful, never kept slaves, and made no instruments of war. Although they did study philosophy (particularly Pythagorean philosophy), mathematics, astrology, and medicine (herbs,  vibrational healing from stones, and spiritual healing), they emphasised moral and virtue the most. They preached and practiced love of God; love of virtue; and love of mankind. They practiced mutual love and renounced riches: their society was totally egalitarian. All possessions were shared; all were economic equals. They were remarkably just: all judgements were passed by a court  with not less than 100 people on the bench! They had prophets and astrologers who were “rarely wrong” in their predictions. However, they were very strict in the administration of justice. People who betrayed their secrets (that is, Gnostic secrets) were either expelled from the Essene community or,  rarely so, killed. Menstruating women were forbidden to come into contact with men and were not to allow themselves to be seen at all. A man  could not join the Essene community if he was handicapped  in any way or had a stigmatic disease such as leprosy for instance.  Essenes were not allowed to mix with or go into the homes of non-Essene lest they be “tainted” or “defiled”.  Because of the therapeautic prowess of the Theraputae among them, the Essenes were able to live up to 120 years, which was  as unusual those days as it is in our day.

HOW UNIQUE WAS ESSENE THEOLOGY RELATIVE TO THAT OF  MAINSTREAM JEWS?

The Essenes’ spiritual philosophy was based not on Judaism as such but on the teachings of Pythagoras, the great Greek mathematician and philosopher (see  HYPERLINK "http://www.essene.com/History/PythagorasAndNazareans.html" http://www.essene.com/History/PythagorasAndNazareans.html for a highly insightful comparison between Essene and Pythagorean way of life.)   They had their own sanctuary at Qumran and therefore never worshiped in the Jerusalem temple. In their sanctuary, they never sacrificed animals at all.  Their overall leader was called the Teacher of Righteousness. This was their high priest. They forbade swearing oaths. They were strict adherents to Sabbath requirements: even cooking and  going to the toilet was not allowed on the Sabbath. Whilst they forgave each other, they had a permanent hate of their enemies. An Essene was obliged to bath his body in full at least twice daily, before a meal. To them, inward cleanness had to be mirrored by outward cleanliness. In addition, they had numerous bathing rituals which were regularly conducted. Co-ption into full Essene fellowship  was rigorous: it took 3 years.  They believed not in an afterlife Heaven but a theocracy right here on Earth in which Israel would rule the whole world. They anticipated an apocalyptic war between they, the Sons of Light, and everybody else, the Sons of Darkness.  This war would be led by  the messiah of David, who they awaited along with the messiah of Aaron. They believed in the immortality of  the soul nevertheless. The body was regarded as a prison from which the soul was liberated at death.

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE QUMRAN DOCUMENTS

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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