Swords to Plowshares

Promoting a faith-based love for all creation.

Who were the Essenes? Was Jesus part of this group?

From what I’ve read, the Essenes were a Jewish sect that broke from traditional Judaism because they felt mainstream Judaism was not living the way God wanted people to live. So they started their own community based on the values they believed God wanted. They refused to eat meat or slaughter animals, seeing such practices as ungodly and contrary to what God wanted. This made them heretics in the eyes of mainstream Jews who believed God desired animal sacrifices.

The Essenes celebrated holy days without the sacrificing of animals, such as Passover with bread instead of lamb. Given the similarity between this practice and the one Jesus instituted to replace the Passover lamb sacrifice, it makes sense that Jesus and the Essenes were connected in some way, but the historical record is far from clear if or to what extent Jesus was associated with the Essenes. Regardless, Jesus clearly advocated serving the Jewish God just as the Essenes did and both radically broke from traditional Judaism and both sought to end animal sacrifice, the Essenes by explicitly forbidding it and Jesus by freeing the animals from the temple market and acting as the sacrifice to end all animal sacrifices. Given these connections, I personally believe God was guiding the Essenes (or at least I have no reason to disbelieve it) just as I believe God guides present day movements that seek to live a more authentic and pleasing life of servitude toward God and who question cruel traditions that are carried out in the name of God.


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