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Re: The Essenes

Regarding the origin of "essene" which is still not fully settled and could
be a reference to "hasid" as well as to healer (thus, a possible link with
the Therapeutae).  It is possible that the essenes were one of the many
groups that inhabited Qumran. One can, in fact, argue that the sectarian
movement was comprised of various sub movements which claimed the desert as
their territory because of its  traditional associations with redemption
from corruption and enslavement to the "flesh" and other exodus concerns.
Within Qumran one could probably find essenes of the type described by
Josephus and others who did not fully agree with everything they advocated,
e.g., marriage. To suggest that the sectarian movement was monolithic is
obviously unrealistic especially if we wish to see them operating within a
fairly long period of time. 
All of the above may also be ultimately related to the concept of the
"yahad" which may have differentiated the Qumranites from other sectarians
especially in their relationship to the Temple in Jerusalem.  Since they
viewed that Temple worship as corrupt and since they saw themselves as the
true "bnei Zadok" who had a new revelation from God, they had their own
worship in the desert (not necessarily as an imitation of the Jerusalem
worship) which was the right one and which would ultimately be recognized by
all as the correct one.  The concept "yahad" tends to be associated with
ritual (togetherness) and ritual during the second commonwealth was still
centrally related to the Temple. 

Ita Sheres
San Diego State University.