"He writes specially about the theoretical Essenes, or the so-called Terapeut, (the word "Terapeut" means a physician), and his description of the Order corresponding with Josephus, and thus we have two authentic authors that correspond perfectly in their description of the doctrine, life, customs, and ceremonies of this Order.
According to the account of Philo, "The 'Terapeuts' were Essenes who, of their own free will, retired into solitude, and who from love of godliness and heavenly things, passed their time in studying religion and nature. They lived in several places in Palestine and Egypt, and in this last country their greatest congregation was in the vicinity of the city of Alexandria, in a lovely valley by the Sea of 'Moria,' where the air in this country is very mild and healthy.
"Here each one lived in their respective houses, or rather huts, but so close to each other that in time of danger the brethren could call to each other and hasten to mutual help and assistance."
Among these Therapeuts, there were others who lived in solitude in deserts and caverns as, for example, Banus, whom Josephus mentions; and to this class belonged most probably John the Baptist, Luke Evang. l Chap 63 V Mark 1 Chap 4 and Matt 3 Chap 4 V) for his habit and mode of life correspond according to the gospel with those of the Therapeuts.
Like the general members of the Order of Essenes he had disciples, whom he brought up and instructed, but that the New Testament does not directly record John as a member of the Essene Order nor mention the same Order, this may easily be explained by the circumstances that every member of the Order had to take a sacred oath at their initiation never to divulge any of the secrets of the Order to anybody that did not belong to it and not to manifest himself as a member of the Order in cases where it was not necessary.
That our Lord and Master, Jesus, took John and his disciples into his service, goes to show that he at least prized the noble efforts of the Essenes for truth and justice, and that their profound knowledge in the science of nature and the scriptures of the prophets, was known to him.
The Pharisees generally conceived the scriptures of the prophets liberally and misunderstood altogether the spiritual meaning thereof, as regards to the coming of Messias. But the Essenes interpreted and conceived the scriptures and prophecies of the coming of Messias allegorical, viewing the divine secrets earnestly and profoundly.
Therefore Jesus chose for his firm and faithful disciples, the pious and unassuming Essenes, among whom John, the son of Zacharias, was one of the most devoted and best versed in the scriptures, who stepped forth to proclaim the coming of Messias in Christ. And with the most sincere love, greatest perseverance, and firm faith, did John seal and confirm this truth through the cleansing by water, through baptism (which with the Essenes had the double significance of both bodily and spiritual purifying) and in Christendom considered the first Sacrament.
Before a Neophite was admitted, or allowed to appear before the Brotherhood, having gone through the first trials, he had to pass three days and nights in a lonely grotto, in religious and solemn meditation. For his sustenance he found frugal but sufficient food, consisting of fruits, bread and water.
When this time was passed he was brought to the Brotherhood in the evening, immediately after the setting of the sun, where certain questions were given him to answer; and when he had there taken the oath of initiation, the brotherly kiss passed the round of the brethren, whereupon the Neophite was dressed in the white garb, as a sacred emblem of his purity of soul, as he now having consecrated himself to Jehovah in the cause of truth and light.
The elder of the Brotherhood then initiated him saying: "Beloved son, you are consecrated to Jehovah, therefore choose your path after his will; contend ever undaunted for truth and virtue; try and examine everything minutely and conscientiously, and having tried much, choose the good and useful in life, and use it for the good of yourself and your fellow men."
Then he was given a spade and an apron, and one of the elders of the Brotherhood spoke as follows:
"The Brotherhood is henceforth they world, thy all, thy father and thy mother, thy sister and brother; and henceforth it is the duty of the Brotherhood to care for thee, for hence thou are its beloved son."
Some of the priests then read the prayer of the Brotherhood, and when he had pronounced the last word, all the brethren shouted in chorus:
"Amen! Amen! Amen!"
The usual hymn of praise was then sung, and the brethren sat down to their frugal, brotherly meal, or feast of love, but still the Neophite was not allowed to sit by the brethren's table, but had to take his place by a special table in the presence of the brethren.
Now again, came a trial of twelve months, and when all the years of trials, three full years, were ended, the Neophite was considered an actual member of the Brotherhood, and then he was initiated and gradually instructed in the doctrines and secrets of the Order.
The Jews in general called this Brotherhood, "The Holy Brotherhood of the Chosen Ones," of "Hasidees," that is, the pious, of the "Children of Peace", of whom Jesus speaks on several occasions.
In Luke, 10 Chap. 5 V. when he says:
"When ye come into a house say first, 'Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; if not, it shall turn to you again."
Likewise Nathaniel says to Jesus:
"Whence knowest thou me?
"Jesus answered and said unto him, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee."Evang. John l Chap. 48 V. and also do we refer to the conversations with Nicodemus John 3 Chap.
The brethren had their special signs, and thereby recognized each other when they met. These signs were: A certain movement of the right hand, a grip, the brotherly kiss, and the word of salutations- "Peace be with you my brethren", and it is significant that Jesus on occasions where he suddenly or unannounced stepped forth among his disciples always saluted them with the words:
"Peace be with you."Luke 24 Chap. 36 V. Matt 20 Chap. 19-26 V.
The Essenes represented their doctrines to the younger members and brethren in parables or allegorical form, thereby to form and exercise the mind and sharpen the thought that they might gradually get used to interpret the glorious doctrines and truths that were hidden under the parables.
Josephus says therefore, "Maxima enim philosophic pars apud Essenos, prised ritu per Allegorias traditur"; and we know that the Master Jesus, often made use of the allegorical form, thereby to form and exercise the mind and sharpen the thought that they might gradually get used to interpret the glorious doctrines and truths that were hidden under the parables.
Josephus says therefore, "Maxima enim philosophic pars apud Essenos, prised ritu per Allegorias traditur"; and we know that the Master Jesus, often made use of the allegorical representation and parables, when he would impress some moral commandment of high idea in the hearts of his disciples or the people, or some sacred doctrine of his divine truths.
The moral commandment of the Essenes appear otherwise to be very much similar to those which the ancient philosophers and wise men taught but still more similar are they to the doctrines that Jesus preached.
In my little work "Palestine In The Time Of Jesus", I have, page 88, showed this by several examples.
Yes, the very fundamental commandments of the moral law of the Essenes consists of the same words that are quoted in Luke Chapter where it says: "And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him saying, 'Master what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'
He said unto him, "What is written in the Law? And how readest thou?"
And he answering said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all they soul and with all they strength and with all they mind and thy neighbor as thyself."
And Jesus said unto him: "Thou hast answered right. This do and thou shalt live."
Everybody that entered into the Brotherhood took the solemn vow, "To love God above all, and exercise love and justice to all men."
The places within the borders of Palestine where most of the Essenes lived and had their meetings in the time of John the Baptist and Jesus, were the country around Nazareth, the valley Achor near Bethabrar, the country round the castle of Messeda, the desert at Ephraim, the mountainous country at Igutha, not far from Hebron, the town Bethania by Jerusalem, the valley at Thabor and the country surrounding the stronghold Macherous, where John afterwards was a captive and where he by the command of Herod was beheaded.
Such was this remarkable Brotherhood, within whose sacred association the true God was worshipped and the doctrine of true religion preserved in purity, truth and spirit, in many centuries.
For this, their pure, unsophisticated worship, this Brotherhood was renowned, before by and after the time of Jesus; and useful, indeed, did their firm faith in God prove; for soon after the departure of the Master came the times when they were tempted, and when it was of need to be firm in their faith.
After Jesus' departure was the Brotherhood subjected to the most severe temptations the greatest trials and persecutions. The Romans spread war and desolation over the unlucky land of the Jews, and with the horrors of the war followed thousands of miseries. But none were more persecuted than the pious Essenes.
The Roman chiefs and soldiers invented all conceivable kinds of tortures and excruciations, to make them mock and deny God, but by none of all their barbaric means did they succeed in shaking the perseverance and firm faith of these pious people.
In the first fury of the war, many of the Essenes who lived in the cities, had fled to their brethren in the desert and the mountain, and hidden there, could they in peace and brotherly love, exercise their worship of God, according to the teachings of the Master, unharmed, in its purity and truth.
But soon, their places of refuge were discovered and traced by their enemies, when they were driven out of their places of concealment, and most of them fell boldly, victims to the fury and rage of the Roman soldiers.
With the greatest calmness, without complaint or murmur, they suffered the lengthened pains of death and sealed the Masters' teachings with their blood.
But there were still many, who, in spite of the inventive means used by the Romans to trace their ambuscades, remained undiscovered, and thus were saved from a suffering death, and these are just the fathers of the Brotherhood, who have preserved in its purity their doctrines, secrets, and the knowledge that they themselves inherited from wise fathers, and handed down to their posterity, and these their doctrines give the truest and greatest manifestation of the greatness, wisdom and power of God and His inscrutable love to all men.
Editor's Note: There are some sources which claim that Jesus' body is buried in Kashmir, India. Many Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs believe the location to be in the capital city of Srinagar where there is a tomb guarded by a Muslim devotee. Over the door it says, “Isa Maisa,” Master Jesus. It is a Jewish tomb, not Muslim. It is said that Jesus and one disciple, Thomas, traveled to India to finish teaching the “lost” tribes of Israel, which Moses was unable to accomplish. Jesus is said to have lived 80+ years and to have fathered several children. See Jesus, Beyond Belief, next.
Pages To Ponder
Crucifixion By An Eyewitness