College Papers

To what excludes them from the sect. As

To begin, separatist sects are exclusive communities that deliberately
sacrifice the larger portion of the population in order to welcome a smaller,
more devoted segment of the population. 
In other words, individuals cannot “walk in” and consider themselves
part of the exclusive community, there is a definite process through which
newly initiated members convert their livelihood and whole outlook before being
considered as member of the community.  As it is mentioned: “Whoever wants
to join their sect is not admitted immediately, but for a year must follow
their lifestyle as an outsider… However he is still not admitted to their
common life, for after this test of fortitude, his mettle is tried for two
years more and if found worthy, he is admitted into their society”(Jewish War
2.137-138).  The Essene lifestyle would
therefore sacrifice the larger population in order to adhere to those in the
inner circle.  The concept of exclusivity
creates fascination amongst those on the outside, as people generally want
something more when they cannot have it. Outsiders may demand to know why they
cannot be included and reasons as to what excludes them from the sect.  As it relates to the Essenes, their
exclusivity lies not only in a segregated lifestyle but also in the strict
adherence to Mosaic Law.  Those who
wished to enter the sect had to take make many oaths involving the
covenant.  As it is mentioned: “To be
devout towards the Deity and to observe justice towards human beings, and to
harm nobody, either of his own accord or at the command of others, and always
to hate the wicked and help the righteous” (Jewish War 2.139-141). The
similarity between the oath of the Essenes and the commandments shows the
importance to which the Essenes believed in a strict Mosaic covenant way of
life.  Outsiders wishing to join the
Essenes would not only seek fulfillment from a life of exclusivity, living segregated
amongst other chosen members, but they would also be fulfilled in serving God
by living a life according to strict Mosaic law, considered by some to be the
highest level of authority since it was given by God.

 

Secondly, seeing as the Essenes represent a group of people that are
bound together by an appreciation of the same ideals, beliefs and moral values,
outsiders may look upon the Essene’s as the ‘right’ way of living.  In turn, this ideology leads to the concept of
religious dualism whereby those within the inner circle believe that certain
kinds of people would not fit in with their society.  As it is mentioned: “These men in the first
place, live in villages, avoiding all cities on account of the habitual
lawlessness of those who inhabit them, knowing that such a moral disease is
contracted from association with wicked men, just as a real disease might be
from an unhealthy atmosphere, and that this would have a deadly effect on their
souls”(Every Good Man is Free 12:76). In other words, there is a clear
distinction between what is perceived to be the ‘right’ way to live as well as
what are moral/immoral, light/darkness and holy/blasphemy in communal living.  Those seeking to live a life that caters to serving
God’s commandments would find it appealing to live life in the ‘right’ way.

  

Finally, the Essenes were frugal, regimented, and communal, this sort of
lifestyle offered certain drawbacks to those living within its inner
circles.  One aspect of the Essenes that
differed from other sects of ancient Judaism was their contempt for wealth and
private property.  As it is mentioned:
“No one among them ventures at all to acquire any property whatever of his own,
neither house, nor slave, nor farm, nor flocks and herds, nor anything of any
sort which can be looked upon as the fountain or provision of riches” (Hypothetica
11.4).  Moreover, the idea of shared
wealth was not optional, all members of the inner circle had to abide by these
rules.  As stated: “Their law requires
anyone joining them to hand over his property to the order, so that among them
there is no abject poverty or excess riches, but each one’s possessions are
mixed in with the others, like a shared patrimony among brothers” (Jewish War
2.122).  The Essene’s lifestyle presented
itself as communal living whereby everyone within was considered to be monetarily
equal.  By outsider’s standards the
giving up on wealth and possessions can be seen as a big drawback to joining
the exclusive community.  For example: “The
clothing and management of their bodies is like that of children under strict
discipline. They do not change their clothing or shoes until they have
completely worn out with use” (Jewish War 2.126-127). As a result, the Essenes
contempt for wealth and abstain from living a luxurious life in favor of a
simple life may be seen as detrimental to outsiders.