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orion-list Prof. Goranson has it right - Essenes = Observers
Most recently, in another listserver, Prof. Goranson wrote
a very succinct paragraph:
From: Stephen Goranson, POST #4682
Subject: 3 notes on Essene history: Essene name.....
1) The name "Essenes," which has various spellings in Greek, derives from
the Hebrew root 'asah, in the phrase 'osey hatorah, observers of torah.
This self-designation is found in Qumran Essene texts, for example, the
[END OF GORANSON POST]
Many months ago, I had suggested that a possible "pun" in the Greek
Suda on the Essenes was that they were called "SITTERS", because
they were engaged in relatively "speculative" (i.e., theoretical)
of Jewish spirituality. And I suggested that with the Hebrew penchant
for looking for puns, developing puns, and applying puns at every
turn, it might be hard to know which was the TRUE origin of a word,
the "obvious" term, or the "pun" which made fun of the original and
Whether or not my speculation on "Sitters" will ever be confirmed or
not, I have discovered yet another good reason to accept Dr. Goranson's
position that the term Essene comes from the Hebrew term for "Do-ers"
or, as he more recently expresses it, the Hebrew term for "OBSERVERS".
Epiphanius (in Vol. I. p. 230, Dindorf's ed.), listed four Samaritan
Gorothenes, Sebouaioi, Dositheans, and, puzzlingly, "Essenes".
Typically, this is passed over because it just doesn't make much sense
since he then goes on to list 7 Jewish sects, including the "Ossaioi."
I propose that the Samaritan sect called the "Essenes" is a pre-
Maccabeean reference to Samaritan ascetics, called "Observers"
or "Watchers" - - and thus translated by Epiphanius into "Essenes".
As we know, the term Samaritan and Samaria comes from the
Hebrew for "watcher" (See Strong#: 8111). And if my theory
that the Hasidim that joined with the Maccabees were of Samarian
and Rechabite origin, we at once have an explanation for the Essenes
(as we know them) getting their name, getting their calendar, and
even getting their script. In fact, even that "dash" of "sun worship"
might have Samarian or Rechabite sources. Belief in the "resurrection"
and the "afterlife" either pre-existed with this Samaritan group, or was
provided for by the Priestly families that joined around the
Naturally, just because Samarian "Hasidim" create a temporary
alliance with a Hebrew priestly clan doesn't mean the Samarian
group or groups disappear instantly. And I suggest that Epiphanius
might have been making a distinction from the "original/Samaritan"
Essenes by referring to the the "Qumran/Hebrew" type Essene
with the term: "Ossaioi".
I know these ideas are novel, but I welcome insights and even
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