BCE, God began to speak to the rulers and people of Judah
through the mouth of His prophet, Jeremiah.
He warned them not to continue their
sinful ways and live according to His laws. Failure to do so
would result in His punishing them.
His warnings were ignored for some 25
years and, as a result of their continued disobedience, He
was going to punish them by having the Chaldeans invade and
occupy their country. However, if they did not resist His
punishment, He would restore their land in a short time.
Once again, His wishes were ignored
and they tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent the Chaldean
invasion (ca 597 BCE). As a result, not only was their land
occupied, but for, once again, disregarding God's orders,
all the leading citizens were taken captive to Babylon.
Again He warned the people not to
oppose those He had set in authority over them and once
again the people disobeyed Him and rose in a rebellion that
was quickly crushed (586 BCE). For ignoring His orders for
the third time, God's punishment was severe. Jerusalem and
the Temple were destroyed and all but the very poorest of
the people were taken into exile in Babylon.
It was 48 years before God took pity
on them and raised up Cyrus, king of the Chaldeans (referred
to in the Damascus Scroll as "Prince of the Congregation"),
who freed the exiles and once again gave them sovereignty in
It was these experiences that led to
the Essene philosophy that "fate (God) governs all things
and nothing befalls man, but is in accordance with its (His)
Thus invasions and occupations were by
the will of God to punish the people for disobeying His
laws. Any attempt to oppose them would only result in
No Essene either of the sect or an
adherent would oppose an invasion or engage in efforts to
determine who would be in authority over them.
On becoming a member of the Sect, a
member had to swear tremendous oaths, among which were:
a) He would do no harm to anyone, either of his own
accord, or by the command of others.
This meant he was forbidden to engage in any conflicts.
As Josephus said, "He was a man of peace." The only time
this prohibition would be lifted was during the final battle
between good and evil at Armageddon, when all Jews. except
the priests, were required to participate.
The exemption for the priests probably dates back to
David's time, who was not permitted to build a temple
"because he had shed much blood".
b) He would show fidelity to all men, especially
those in authority, which required him to obey those in
authority from his immediate superiors up to the ruler
of the country.
It was only permissible to break this oath if compliance
with an order would contravene Essene religious beliefs, in
which case he could refuse to obey and resign himself to the
Any adherents who opposed a ruler's
actions or edicts were free to protest either as individuals
or as members of an organized group.
They could, and indeed were expected
to, serve in the army if called upon.
In short, an adherent had the same
freedoms, was subject to the same restrictions and faced the
same penalties for breaking or refusing to obey the laws as
did non-Essenes, except for three instances:
If the adherent acted contrary to the basic Essene
philosophy and joined in attempts to repel an invader,
expel an army of occupation (except in the final battle
at Armageddon) or overthrow a ruler, he incurred the
penalty of ex-communication.
According to Josephus, this penalty was severe, "for as
he is bound by oath and by customs he has been engaged in,
he is not at liberty to partake of that food that he meets
with elsewhere and is forced to eat grass, and to famish his
body with hunger 'til he perish. For which reason they
receive many of them again when they are at their last gasp
our of compassion for them."