In prior posts, I have discussed the possible connection
between Enochian sects of Judaism and the Rechabite clans
(or "guilds").

By referring to Boccaccini's marvelous _BEYOND THE ESSENE
HYPOTHESIS_, I am careful to point out that Boccaccini
would NOT agree with me that the Essenes came out of a
Samaritan matrix.

On page 29 he writes:  "Epiphanius offers another piece of
interesting evidence.  As did other late Christian authors,
he mistook the Essenes for a Samaritan sect, yet he located
a "genos" of Jews with a strikingly similar name, the Ossaioi,
in the vicinity of the Dead Sea (Haer. 19.1.1-4, 10)."

The idea that the Essene movement had to be PARTICULARLY
"Judah-ite" does not seem to cross Boccaccini's mind very
seriously.  And yet he notes comments about the ANTIQUITY
of the Essenes that would, by definition, have to precede
the emergence of Judah (the "son of Israel"):

Page 24:

"Pliny, takes pleasure in amazing his readers
by saying of the Essenes "for thousands of centuries a
people has existed that is eternal"..."

Some modern readers are already quick to dismiss such comments
as propaganda or error, and that the Essenes can only be defined
within the confines of the JEWISH (i.e., Judah-ite) theology,
if not the post-Maccabean Jewish theology!

And yet the Boccaccini is perfectly comfortable discussing
Enochian theology that precedes even the rise of the Zadokites.

At some point, one has to wonder about the semantic confusion
that could be standing in the way of seeing the multiple possibilities
for interpreting the roots of Enochian sectarianism, and its influences
on the rest of Hebrew thought.

Historians point to the emphasis on Zadokites in the Dead Sea
Scrolls as an indication that the Essenes were derived from group
of Jewish Zadokite priests.

In the past I have pointed out that another interpretation is
that since the Essenes were a "voluntary" association, Zadokite
priests could have elected to JOIN the Essenes, rather than the
Essenes were established to protect Zadokite preeminence.

But there are other solutions as well.  After the rise of the
Maccabeans and the Hasmoneans, the Samaritan temple was quite
proud of the authenticity (which doesn't appear challenged)
of their OWN Zadokite priesthood.  This priesthood comes from a
time that a Jewish high priest fled/moved to Samaria and established
his lineage there.  This is a slightly different "trajectory" from
the rise of Dositheanism, where a devotion to the Jerusalem cultus
is transplanted amongst Samaritans.... which creates "ethnically
Samaritan" people who are "religiously Jewish".

So now we have THREE possible avenues for the Zadokite presence
moving into Samarian environs.  And thus THREE possible ways for
Samaritan Zadokites to become a part of the pan-Hebrew Essene

But *WAS* the Essene movement "pan-Hebrew"?

The Suda/Suidas material explicitly says it was.  It says that
the Rechabites (certainly non-Jewish, but based on Jeremiah's
discussion at least partly Hebrew) were the source of the
Essenes.  Here's a helpful URL on the Suda article:

Search for the "Epsilon" article number 3123.

Search results for epsilon,3123 in Adler number: 
Headword: Essaioi 
Adler number: epsilon,3123 
Translated headword: Essenes, Essaioi

Jews, ascetics, who differ exceedingly from the Pharisees and scribes
with reference to their mode of life;[1] progeny[2] of Jonadab, son of
Rechab the righteous. They are fond of one another and more pious than
others: they turn away from pleasure as from an evil, but they assume
moderation, self-control, and the capacity not to succumb to passions as
virtues. And marriage is despised among them, but taking to themselves
other people's children while they are still young and teaching them,
they consider them as kin, and stamp them with their own customs. And
they reject all baseness and practice every other virtue. They cultivate
moral speech, and are generally assiduous in contemplation. And hence
they are called Essaioi, ["Sitters"][3] with the name signifying this,
that is, [they are] contemplators.[4]  Essaioi very much excel and are
very much superior to the Pharisees in their mode of life.[5]

Greek Original:
Essaioi: Ioudaioi, askêtai, Pharisaiôn kai grammateôn tên askêsin ex
epimetrou dianestêkotes, progonoi Iônadab, huiou Rhichab tou dikaiou.
philallêloi kai tôn allôn eulabeis pleion: hoi tên men hêdonên hôs kakian
apostrephontai, tên de sôphrosunên kai enkrateian kai to mê tois pathesin
hupopiptein aretên hupolambanousi. kai gamos men par' autois huperoratai,
allotrious de paidas neous eti proslambanomenoi kai didaskontes hôs
sungeneis hêgountai kai tois êthesin heautôn entupousi. kai pan aischron
apoballontai kai pasan allên aretên exaskousin. hoi epimelountai tês
êthikês lexeôs, theôriai de ta polla paramenousin. enthen kai Essaioi
kalountai, touto dêlountos tou onomatos, toutesti theôrêtikoi. hoti
Essaioi huperteroi sphodra kai lian huperkeimenoi tôn Pharisaiôn kata tên

[1] Cf. epsilon 1632.
[2] pro/gonoi in the sense of 'stepchildren.'
[3] The implied pun for the term Essaioi is not immediately obvious. The
translator has attempted to approximate the pun by linking the specific
form of the Greek word to the term for sitting. In Hebrew, "sitting" also
relates to "holding office", or priestly duties, as well as, presumably,
perceived as being related to a "thinking" lifestyle, instead of a
non-sitting, "active" lifestyle. It could thus be a pun aimed at the
assembly-oriented element of the Essene community. In the Bible the
people who hail from the "Son of Rechab" (i.e., Rechabites) can also be
related to the term "sitting" via the Hebrew for "sitter" or "sojourner".
To "sojourn" can be as simple as to "sit down" in the middle of an
unclaimed part of a foreign land.
[4] George the Monk, 1.328.7-10; 329.11-17; 344.19-21.
[5] Quoted from phi 94.


Jeremiah's discussion of the Rechabites [who elsewhere are
connected with the region of Hamath] explains that the Rechabites
had retreated to Jerusalem to avoid Assyrian predations.
But how had they become so closely involved with the Yahweh cult
to receive the commendations of Jeremiah?  Was there faith a recent
acquisition?  Or had it been acquired a generation or generations

The Old Testament provides a clue; in 2 Kings 17 we read:

2 Kings 17:24-31
"The king of Assyria brought people from ... Hamath... and
settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites.
They [Hamathites and others] took over Samaria...Then the king
of Assyuria gave this order:  'Have one of the priests you took
captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach
the people what the god of the land requires.'...Nevertheless,
each national group made its own gods in the several towns...
the men from Hamath made Ashima [which is probably "a-shai-ma"
a reference to the Caravan god Shai al Qaum, the "Rechabite"
god who prohibited the consumption of wine"].

But the text continues in a strange duality:
2 Kings 17:32-34a
They [the deportees, including those of Hamath] worshipped
the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own
people to official for them as priests in the shrines...
to this day they persist in their former practices."

This then alternates with the opposing view contained in
verse 34b:
"They nieghter worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and
ordinances, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the
descendants of Jacob."

This is then followed by yet ANOTHER contradictory doublet:
2 Kings 17:41
Part A - 
"Even while these people were worshipping the Lord...

Part B - "they were serving their idols".

And this is concluded with "To this day their children and
grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did."

This appears to be an "on point" explanation for how and
where this alien "Rechabite" guild comes from.  Their ancestors,
being deported by the Assyrians from the home territories of the
Rechabites (i.e., Hamath) are settled in Samaria and are taught
the cult of Yahweh.  And that despite their interest in Yahweh,
they continue to include "alien" elements in their religious

Later, as Assyrian hostilities begin to creep south again,
eventually to swallow up even Jerusalem, they flee southwards,
to a safe haven for Yahweh worshippers.  Jeremiah is obviously
impressed with them.
[And I find it conceivable that Jeremiah is, himself, a highly
placed Rechabite.  But let's not digress.]

Ezekiel's pro-Zadokite writings also takes note of an "alien"
form of Yahweh worship, where "priests" turn their backs to
the Temple and pray to the rising sun.... exactly the same 
devotional form as quoted by Josephus in his description of the
Essenes of his day!

Could Ezekiel and Jeremiah have represented rival priestly
factions and traditions?  Is there *ANY* evidence that there
was opposition to Zadokites?

Boccaccini does a brilliant job of showing that there WAS
rivalry with the Zadokites.  In fact, implicit in his writings
is the idea that the Maccabees (and thus the Hasmoneans) could
very well have been wrapped up in the Enochian brand of Judaism.
This would explain why the last surviving Zadokite High Priest,
Onias IV, never returns to his "rightful place" in Jeruslaem....
nor any of his heirs if he had any.  It could be because the 
Enochian sect(s) had managed to assert their preeminence during
the Zadokite moment of weakness.  [This would be analogous to
the Zadokites taking control from the Jerusalem "local elite"
after returning from Persia.  This remnant priesthood, probably
connected in some way to the Tobiad family, had been literally
driven out of the new Temple when they persistently tried to
join in the newly re-invigorated Yawheh cult.]

What does Boccaccini tell us about the conflict between the
Zadokites and the Enochianism?  And does it relate to the Essenes?

On pages 77-78 he writes:
"While the Samaritans were excluded from the Jerusalem
temple and founded a schismatic community, a priestly opposition
party took shape in Judaea and coalesced around ancient myths
with Enoch as their hero....Whether Enochic Judaism emerged in
the fourth or third century BCE [or before?!], one thing is
certain:  Enochic Judaism arose out of anti-Zadokite priestly
circles that opposed the power of the priestly Zadokite
establishment.  The long debate in scholarship about whether the
Enoch books come from priestly or antipriestly circles finds a 
consistent resolution when considering that the priestly nature
of Enochic Judaism does not contradict its anti-priestly

"Enoch's "critique of the Jerusalem priestly establishment...
takes seriously the priesthood's claim for itself and the 
importance of priestly duties and categories.  This attitude
is at once critical of the reality it sees in the temple and
deeply devoted to the ideal of the temple understood in a
quite concrete way."

"At the roots of the Qumran community, therefore, is an ancient
schism within the Jewish priesthood betwen Enochians and Zadokites.
We do not know exactly who the Enochians were, whether they were
gennealogically related to the Zadokites or were members of 
rival priestly families.  Unlike the situation with the Samaritans,
we have no evidence that the Enochians formed a schismatic
community, in Palestine or elsewhere.  The [early] Enochians were
an opposition party within the temple elite, not a group of 

"[Enochian literature] .... testifies to a period of time
when there was a dispute regarding the proper character of the
priestly office, but when the discussion was still quite tame,
and there was yet room for differences of opinion."

The discussions over these differences would later become
more polarized.  But I recommend that a review of Enochian
theology as it connects to the Essenes should not ignore the
basic evidence that suggests Enochian thought, as well as 
Essenic thought, extended BEYOND the limits of the Judah-ite
people..... into the Samaritan area where there was ALSO
1) a Rival Zadokite priesthood;
2) Samaritan devotees to Jewish theology (i.e., the Dositheans);
3) and a tradition of Rechabite/Samaritans, some of whom appear
(per Ezra and Nehemiah) to have not only been part of the exile
to Babylon, but also part of the RETURN from Persia!

One might be in the habit of thinking Essene thought is 
UNIQUELY Judah-ite.  And so I can understand the hesitancy
to think that Jewish Essenes were just a sub-set of a general
Essene movement.  But I don't think a person can safely say
that Enochian sectarianism is ALSO "uniquely" Judah-ite.  In
fact, it might be more of a hall-mark of NON-Jewish schools
of devotion to Yahweh!

George Brooks
Tampa, FL

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