Jesus and His Essene Brethren
Did Jesus' travels include long voyages abroad?
Jesus and the Essenes
In 2020, Meru University offered an exciting course on the relationship between Jesus and a little-known Jewish community called the Essenes. For many Meru University students who had never heard of the Essenes, the course proved to be an eye-opening education.
Using scholarly resources released in the 20th century, David Christopher Lewis presented a fascinating account of the childhood education of Jesus of Nazareth by this Jewish sect. Historical records have recently come to light, compelling us to acknowledge the influence the Essene Community had upon the life and ministry of Jesus.
Weaving diverse and independent sources that confirm the existence of the Essenes at the time of Jesus’ birth, we understand with greater insight the rich cultural milieu and wide spectrum of religious and spiritual teachings to which the boy Jesus, spoken of as Yeshua in their texts, had access.
Who was this secretive and remotely situated community of Jews who dedicated their lives to the preservation of the holy books of the law, the sacred Torah, and to its author, the God they worshiped as Jehovah, or Yahweh?
Referred to by some researchers as the “people of the covenant” or the “covenanters,” we learn that the Essenes, inhabitants of these far-flung desert dwellings in and around ancient Palestine, dedicated their lives to a singular purpose.1. The main objective of the several redoubts maintained by the Essenes was the accumulation, preservation and ultimate dissemination of the sacred knowledge that lay at the very foundation of what the Christian world refers to as the Old Testament books of the Bible.
We now know that these desert dwellers were keeping the vigil for the coming of a Messiah, whose prophetic arrival in their lifetime was a subject of recurring scholastic scrutiny. When that much-anticipated time should arrive, the Essenes were prepared to welcome and support the mission of this great soul whom many today call Savior.
The Birth of Christianity
In addition to the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves at Qumran, perhaps there is no other year more impactful on the research into the Essene way of life than 1923. In that year, researcher Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, by virtue of a fortuitous personal introduction, was given access to the Vatican library archives containing ancient Aramaic scrolls.
In this library treasure trove, Szekely discovered documents, among the multitude of scrolls and codices, which detailed the spiritual practices and beliefs of the Essenes, recorded by their scribes. He released these findings in his book, The Essene Gospel of Peace, published in four parts over several decades.2.
To the orthodox Christian community, it may be an understatement to say that Szekely’s books are controversial.3. To the mystics and esotericists among us, his book has revealed a new way of viewing the early life of Jesus as a member of the Essenes, as were his parents Mary and Joseph, and his experiences with this community that influenced and molded his ministry.
Szekely’s The Essene Gospel of Peace might have remained in relative obscurity if orthodoxy had had its way. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls a few decades later, this new evidence of a thriving Essene Community at Qumran in the centuries leading up to the birth of a prophesied Messiah, gives us irrefutable proof that this sect was focused on preparing to welcome, nurture and protect the son of man and his globally transformational and timely mission.
Through what has been revealed in these long-buried Essene codices bequeathed to us by the almost-forgotten keepers of a covenant with God, we begin to place the life and times of the one destined to be called the Christ, in their proper historical context.
The Essenes—Emerging from the Dawn of History
To an indifferent world, before the writings of Szekely and the Qumran findings, the only known written references to the Essenes were in the testimonies of three widely-acknowledged historians--Philo, the Jewish philosopher; Pliny, a Roman writer; and Josephius, the Jewish warrior and historian.
There is nothing in the Bible that mentions the Essenes. How can this be when recent indicators point to the likelihood that the Essene Community flourished as far back in history as the time when the Patriarch Enoch himself walked the Earth?
In the New Testament of the Bible, we learn of two religious/political movements within the Jewish religion—the Sadducees and the Pharisees, whom Jesus often rebuked for their hypocrisy and corruption. Yet the mention of the Essenes, who were so influential in Jesus’ young life is not to be found in any of the Gospels.4
One answer could be that the Essene leaders had determined long ago to build their communities far from urban centers. They purposefully separated themselves out, choosing wilderness areas to pursue their mission—the preservation of Yahweh’s Law as the Torah, all its many adjunct rabbinical writings, and more.5.
Populous cities like Jerusalem were controlled by Sadducees and Pharisees and their scribes of the law. Their version of recorded history and their dominant religious narrative often survived as the only arbiter of what has been passed down to later generations. That narrative is now being challenged by what we are learning about the Essene way of life today.
A Tapestry of Cultures Contribute to Jesus’ Early Education
Not many Christians realize that the boy Jesus had a wealthy uncle, Joseph of Arimathea. A merchant who owned a sizable fleet of ships, he plied the trade routes and very nearly controlled a monopoly in the trading of tin, which he sourced from the rich mines located in Cornwall, England. Tin was a very prized metal in that era in that it alloys with copper to form bronze weapons and implements.
Accompanying him on several voyages was his young nephew Jesus. Now with insights afforded us by the Essene teachings, along with other corroborating evidence, it is apparent that Joseph was well aware of the singular destiny that awaited his gifted nephew. So, it is not too far-fetched to read that Jesus had the opportunity to study under master teachers in universities of the Druids, while accompanying his uncle Josephius to England.6.
What’s more, due to the patronage of his uncle, Jesus traveled all over the known world. His travels took him to the Orient to learn from the lamas of Tibet, and he studied with Hindu Brahmins, Egyptian high priests, and Jewish Kabbalist scholars.
In a recent Meru University course, participants learned of four areas emphasized in the Essene curriculum during Jesus’ education with them. Their curriculum offered ...
- A rich diversity of ancient traditions contributing to a cohesive system formed from many cultures.
- Multiple disciplines in spiritual and practical teachings, disciplining, strengthening and grounding the student’s character in knowledge, harmony and energy balance.
- Permanent, enduring standards of eternal verities.
- The balance and harmony of the virtues of the soul (psychological balance).
Beyond classical academic subjects, surviving documents reveal the vast science the Essenes possessed in angelology. Included are prayer rituals, devotions and evidence of a strong collaboration between the Essenes and angels.
Added to these topics are elements of Persian influence in the study of the stars, both astronomy and astrology, as well as the infusion of Eastern traditions that concentrate on the practices of meditation and experiencing the Divinity within one’s being.
Truly the mission of the Essenes was the preservation of the ancient wisdom teachings extending back in time to Father Enoch. This holy sect, living communally in obscure settlements, kept Yahweh’s book of Law as their living covenant. Within this community, Jesus matriculated, and under their watchful care, awakened into his full messiahship.
Modern Essene Teachings Re-kindled in the New Era
Evidence points to the ways Jesus, as well as John the Baptist, also taught by the Essenes, adapted some of the Essene rituals into their teachings. These practices have remained integral to Christianity unto the present day.
The sharing of the communion cup, a remembrance of the life blood that we all share, and the ritual of baptism for the cleansing of sins John the Baptist performed in the Jordan River are two of these practices. They pre-date the advent of Jesus, and were adopted by Jesus and his cousin John to afford the early followers meaningful spiritual experiences as well as symbols to which they could relate.
The Gospels of the New Testament at last have been supplemented with the “rest of the story” as the Essene mysteries have come to light in the past century. Praise be to Yahweh whose people had the foresight to hide their written testaments in the hills by the Dead Sea. These scrolls—so controversial and paradigm-changing for Christendom—confirm for the initiate the true message of Jesus.