Essene scholars basically rely on four sets of ancient writings for their knowledge and speculation on the Essenes. The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, c.20BC - c.54AD, in his manuscript titled Quod Omnius Probus Liber, mentioned over 4000 Essenes in villages throughout Palestinian Syria. Next, Pliny the Elder, c.23AD - c.79AD, a Roman soldier, naturalist, historian and biographer produced the 37-volume Natural History, indicating that the Essenes had existed for thousands of generations and located them at his time in the desert along the north-west portion of the Dead Sea.
Flavius Josephus, c.37AD - c.100AD, Jewish soldier turned Roman historian and politician, included the Essenes in a number of his manuscripts, offering us the most comprehensive look at this mystical religious order. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, in caves outside of Qumran near the north-west coast of the Dead Sea, helped, or possibly complicated, the analysis of Essene history. Some scholars believe that the Qumran colony were Essenes, and others most definitely do not.
I will leave you to do your own research, if you have the inclination, and to draw your own conclusions. It is now time for us to turn our attention to the information obtained through the in-trance, legendary American mystic, Edgar Cayce, on how, for many centuries and with Heavenly guidance, preparations were slowly being set in place for the eagerly anticipated birth of the Messiah..
"So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people ..." [DS: I Kings 18:20 and 21, King James version of the Bible.] "3. In those days when there had been more and more of the leaders of the peoples in Carmel - the original place where the school of prophets was established during Elijah's time, Samuel - these were called then Essenes; and those that were students of what ye would call astrology, numerology, phrenology, and those phases of that study of the return of individuals - or incarnation." [DS: Edgar Cayce reading 5749-8.]
The prophet Elijah and a group of his associates apparently established the School Of Prophets at Mount Carmel, and the group known today as the Essenes evolved from the School Of Prophets, with the assistance of our next guest: "35. There it may be said that the entity so fostered those activities of that group later known as the Essenes, as to have been the influence that made the whole ideal and idea possible. 36. That, too, was a noble and an enlightening service to the world; ... 37. ... the entity gained from the teachings of many outside the pale of the tenets of the Mosaic law, - those things that were good in the purifying of the body, not only through the mastering of activities in thought but through the diet, through communion with the universal forces as manifested or expressed in nature itself. 38. The name then was Durkon." [DS: Reading 2441-2.]
For the record, Mrs. 2441 was obviously a woman, and Durkon was probably also a woman because when a soul, which is neither male nor female, changes from a body of one sex to the other sex in a succeeding incarnation, this fact is usually if not always pointed out in the reading. The historical documents mentioned in our opening paragraph sometimes refer to the Essenes as being celibate and male dominated, and it is always possible that certain sects of Essenes were celibate over the centuries, but, as we shall see, this was definitely not the case with our central group of Essenes who were actively laying the groundwork for the arrival of the coming Messiah.
"7. (Q) What is the correct meaning of the term "Essene"? (A) Expectancy. 8. (Q) Was the main purpose of the Essenes to raise up people who would be fit channels for the birth of the Messiah who later would be sent out into the world to represent their Brotherhood? (A) The individual preparation was the first purpose. The being sent out into the world was secondary. Only a very few held to the idea of the realization in organization, other than that which would come with the Messiah's pronouncements.
9. (Q) Were the Essenes called at various times and places Nazarites, School of the Prophets, Hasidees, Therapeutae, Nazarenes, ... and taking as members Gentiles and Jews alike? (A) In general, yes. Specifically, not altogether. They were known at times as some of these; or the Nazarites were a branch or a THOUGHT of same, see? Just as in the present one would say that any denomination by name is a branch of the Christian-Protestant faith, see? So were those of the various groups, though their purpose was of the first foundations of the prophets as established, or as understood from the school of prophets, by Elijah; and propagated and studied through the things begun by Samuel. ... They took Jews and Gentiles alike as members, - yes.
10. (Q) Please describe the associate membership of the women in the Essene brotherhood, telling what privileges and restrictions they had, how they joined the Order, and what their life and work was. (A) This was the beginning of the period where women were considered as equals with the men in their activities, in their abilities to formulate, to live, to be, channels. They joined by dedication - usually by their parents. It was a free will thing all the way through, but they were restricted only in the matter of certain foods and certain associations in various periods - which referred to the sex, as well as to the food or drink." [254-109]
"13. This entity then came into activity in that heterogeneous or conglomerate thought, - in the name then Ulai. The parentage of the entity was one Archaus - a close adherent of the Essene's thought yet of the orthodox group ... 14. Then, the entity was brought up in the tenets or schools of thought that had attempted to be a reconstruction of the former activities established by Elijah in Mount Carmel.
15. Hence, coming under the influence of ALL of these tenets, the entity was greatly confused through its early experience. The entity had the greater teachings, or was acquainted with the greater teachings of the Carmelites - now the Essenes - and of the orthodox groups ..." [993-5] Ulai was a female, and a first cousin of Martha of Bethany, Mary of Bethany who was also known as Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus, raised from the dead by Jesus after four days in the tomb.
"8. The Essenes were a religious order within Jewry ... 10. Then, with the looking for the Savior, through the tenets of that new order, ..." [1602-4] "13. (Q) Were we Essenes in the Palestine period? (A) The names themselves imply it, yes. But remember the Essenes had the divisions, just as you will find that most churches have their groups and divisions, these [DS: the husband and wife] were in opposite groups of the Essenes. One held to - that it can happen - the other that God makes it happen." [2072-15]
As we see from the readings and historical documents, with centuries of careful planning and Heavenly guidance, the School of Prophets evolved into the mystical group known as the Essenes, and methodical preparations were progressing, sometimes at a snail's pace, for the long-prophesied arrival of the Messiah. But, one piece in the carefully orchestrated process was still missing. Before the arrival of the Savior, the Essenes needed the appropriate teacher for this Messiah, and, as quoted in reading 2072-15 in the above paragraph, "God makes it happen." Our next installment of The Story Of The Essenes will feature the Heavenly-sent teacher and protector of Jesus.
© Doug Simpson 2012.
Edgar Cayce Readings © 1971, 1993-2009 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.