In the previous five instalments, we wrote about the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the elders, and the institution of the Sanhedrin. In this installment, we will be discussing additional influential groups at the time of Jesus, as spoken about in the Bible and also in archeological and historical records, namely the Essenes, the Zealots (and in passing the tax collectors) and the Herodians.
The Essenes are not mentioned directly in the Holy Bible. However, their existence has been well established, and from what we know about them, it is clear that they would have been at odds with Jesus, His teachings and His practices. Contrary to the opinion of some “experts,” Jesus was most definitely NOT a member of the sect of the Essenes.
The Essenes have been described as a “Jewish mystical sect somewhat resembling the Pharisees… They originated about B.C. 100, and disappeared from history after the destruction of Jerusalem” (M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition).
The Smith’s Bible Dictionary says this about the Essenes:
“It seems probable that the name signifies seer, or the silent, the mysterious… There were isolated communities of Essenes, which were regulated by strict rules, analogous to those of the monastic institutions of a later date. All things were held in common, without…