***From Alan Schuetz in Baton Rouge, LA:  I am new to the Orion family, and
if this subject has been debated to death, please point me to the proper
archive.  Thank you.
The sect from Qumran (and Damascus) never referred to themselves as Essenes,
and Josephus' description of this group could have been derogatory (possibly
"the pious") since he was a self-described Pharisee (after allegedly
studying and investigating the major Jewish sects of his day).  Based on the
gospel accounts in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant), we know what
Yehoshu'a (Joshua =[Jesus in Christianity]) thought of Pharisees and
Sadducees as a whole.

I firmly believe that the Qumran community represented the celibate, male
priesthood in the wilderness east of Jerusalem who segregated themselves
from women and the corrupt priesthood presiding in Jerusalem.  (For those
who disagree with the latter statement, please refer to Malachi).  I believe
that this priesthood serviced the families (men and women) of Damascus, who
also segregated themselves from the corruptness in Jerusalem at that
particular point in time.  This fits the constructs found in the DSS and the

Acts 9:1  Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples
of the Lord, went to the high priest,
2  and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if
he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them
bound to Jerusalem.
3  As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and
suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;
4  and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul,
why are you persecuting Me?"
5  And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He said," I am Jesus whom you are
6  but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do."

Note:  "The Way" comprised of men and women in Damascus.  Sha'ul (Saul) was
persecuting the *followers* of Yehoshu'a (Gr. ='Iesous; Lat.='Iesus).

Acts 24:10  When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded:
"Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I
cheerfully make my defense,
11  since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I
went up to Jerusalem to worship.
12  "Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself
did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot.
13  "Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me.
14  "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a
sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in
accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets;
15  having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there
shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
16  "In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless
conscience both before God and before men. (NASB)

Note:  After his conversion, Paul identified himself with HaDerech (v14) --
the "Judeo-Christian" sect called "The Way".  They believed everything that
is in accordance with the Law and what was written in the Prophets.

Matthew 3:1  Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the
wilderness of Judea, saying,
2  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
3  For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "THE
4  Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around
his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5  Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district
around the Jordan;
6  and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they
confessed their sins. (NASB)

Note:  From my understanding, the "wilderness of Judea" has been
traditionally east of Jerusalem (i.e., Qumran and the surrounding area).
The Jordan River (mikveh) is in close proximity to Qumran.  This river was
the closest natural water source fulfilling the requirements for a "tevilah"
(complete immersion) -- which is the ritual water purification for
proselytes.  This wasn't anything new; everything was performed "by the

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