The Esséniens were the members of a Jewish Communauté , founded towards the II E. The principal groupings were established, seems it, on banks of the Dead Sea. The esséniens were described by the old authors: Flavius Josèphe, Philon of Alexandria and Pline Old the. The Archéologue S think, for the majority, that the site of Qumrân was a essénien establishment and that its occupants are probably the authors of the Dead Sea Scroll. However this theory does not achieve the unanimity: for certain researchers, the manuscripts actually came from the library of the Temple of Jerusalem. The movement seems to have disappeared towards 70. The literature intertestamentaire (Livre of Hénoch, Livre of the Jubilees and Manuscrits of Qumrân) in addition referred to a Jewish calendar particular, solar, that one called the Calendrier essénien.
Community practicesMost outstanding in this community was the pooling and the distribution of the goods of the community according to the needs for each member. The Shabbat was observed strictly, like the ritual purity (baths with cool water and wearing of white clothing). It was interdict to swear, lend oath, to proceed to Sacrifice S of animals, to manufacture Arme S, to make deals or to hold a trade. The members, after a Noviciate three years, renonçaient with the terrestrial pleasures to enter a kind of life monacale. Their food was particular in what it was not to undergo of transformation, by cooking for example. Their food was composed primarily of Pain, of wild roots, and of Fruit S. the consumption of Viande was prohibited. They lived according to strict rules:
- false claim of goods: one year of exclusion;
- lie, or scene of anger against another member of the community: 6 months;
- spittle or laughter during a meeting, or a meeting of prayer: 1 month;
- gesticulation during a meeting: 10 days;
- port of Woolen article S prohibited.
The Master of justiceOne knows according to the found texts with Qumrân that the esséniens venerated a Maître Justice , probably their founder, who would have been the victim of an impious priest.
Il appears extremely probable which this Master of Justice was not other than the large priest Onias III, deposited in 175 before the Christian era by Antiochus IV Epiphane, then assassinated in 170 in its exile of Syria at the instigation of its successor Ménélas, to which it did not spare his reproaches. Onias III would be thus the Master of Justice and Ménélas the impious priest. It is known that Onias III was the last large priest legitimate of the descent of Sadoq (large priest of Solomon, the founder of the Temple of Jerusalem).
Les esséniens, which declared “wire of Sadoq”, would be thus the partisans legitimists of Onias III, above all people of sacerdotal race, or the allies of the latter. That would explain their fundamental fidelity with the religion of their Jewish ancestors, and their extreme veneration with regard to the Temple of Jerusalem, in which however they did not celebrate, because they considered it occupied by usurpers.
Destiny of the essenismThe relations of the esséniens with monarchy hasmonéenne were ambiguous: at the same time they rejected these monarchs like large illegitimate priests, but they highly supported their resistance to the Greek and pagan influence, incarnated by the Séleucides. This is why the esséniens were probably tolerated, and not persecuted, by the Hasmonéens, then by Hérodiens, their heirs.
At the time of the Destruction of the Temple and at the time of the chaos which prevails in the Judaea at the end of the first century, Esséniens did not succeed in preserving their identity, while the Jewish community of the Diaspora organized itself around the surviving pharisees, which gave rise to the tradition of the rabbinical Judaïsme. It is probable that the establishment of Qumrân represented a precarious survival of the movement essénien. In 70, after the destruction of their establishment by the Roman legions, then the ruin of Jerusalem, the esséniens disappeared completely. It very little remains probable that they mixed or melted in the sect of the Pharisien S, faithful of the Temple, which rather represented for them their enemies.
Was Jesus essénien?The origins of the movement essénien were quite former to the Christian era, and in the writings of Qumrân one finds no allusion to the Christianisme.
Il exists certain analogies between the two movements (messianism, baptismal practices, renouncement of the tangible properties), which made say to Ernest Renan that Christianity was “a essenism which succeeded”, but the esséniens, which are now better known for us since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scroll, were distinguished from Jesus de Nazareth by their ritualistic rigorism, their preoccupation with an external purity, their manner of living in withdrawn communities, their thought (cataclysmic eschatologic hope, and not Messianic advent in softness; doctrines of the two spirits; etc…). Neither the texts néotestamentaires nor the others (Flavius Josèphe, Fathers of the Church, apocryphal books) mention of the esséniens in connection with Jesus or the Christian . Bringings together can however be made between the New Testament and the texts esséniens concerning certain topics (davidic line of the Messie, resurrection of dead the) or expressions, such as for example that of “the poor in spirit”, presents at the same time in the Béatitudes and certain fragments found to Qumrân where it indicates the faithful observers of the law.
A complex currentThe current of the esséniens, “on which the Dead Sea Scrolls threw a very new light, seems most complex and, with many regards, most interesting. The closed Community, of monastic organization, withdrawn in the desert, on the inhospitable shores of the Dead Sea, Esséniens communicates to their only initiates a teaching esoteric. Pure between the pure ones, one sometimes defined them as Pharisiens in superlative. Their movement was undoubtedly born, the shortly after the insurrection maccabéenne, of a protest against the attitude, considered to be too fashionable and laxist, of the sovereigns hasmonéens and against a priesthood considered by them as illegitimate. Consequently they are diverted official liturgies of the Temple and practice in their loneliness of the rites which are clean for them. They include in the same judgment the pagan ones, those of the Jews which attend the occupants idolâtres and masses it of the people which accept the authority of an unworthy clergy. They live in an atmosphere Eschatologique and are regarded as the small herd of the elected officials who will constitute the core of the imminent Kingdom. ” Marcel Simon, the Civilization of Antiquity and Christianity , chap. the Judaism .
- Edmond Bordeaux Szekely is the author of several books which show “the interest of the ideas and practical esséniennes for our modern time”: the Gospel essénien , the Life Biogénique , the Incorrigible Optimist .
- Eliette Abécassis, in its novel Qumram , speaks about the esséniens. Ary, religious Jewish young person Israeli, is plunged in a historical investigation which makes it go up until the origins of the Christian religion.
- In 2006 appears a claim of timeless filiation. On its official site, Olivier Manitara is claimed the “representative of the Essénien People”.
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