Essenes Customs: The Rituals of Ancient Anarchist Jews

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Earlier, I wrote about an ancient sect of Jews who lived an anarchist/libertarian lifestyle known as the Essene. They were around from the 2nd century BCE and were dissolved in the 1st century CE. However, I should have mentioned more of their customs and what particularly they did as a people. So, this article will talk about some of the customs that made them unique compared to other sects of Judaism.

Some reports talked about the Essene group of Jews as if they were celibate, but the Hebrew writer Josephus says this varies from communal group to communal group. There was apparently an "order of Essenes" that had a practice where they would allow others to live with them, even those that did not practice the Jewish faith. If two people living in this particular order liked each other then, according to the text The Wars of the Jews by Josephus, then the pair would be engaged for around three years before becoming married. There was also democracy being practiced with leaders being elected to attend to the interests of the group.

Members of the Essene group were forbidden from searing oaths and from sacrificing animals. People were allowed to carry weapons, but people were trained to only used them for self-defense and to defend against robbers. Unlike many ancient Jewish sects - and a lot of societies around at the time, the Essenes chose not to possess slaves, and any slaves who found themselves in their community were allowed to join the community.

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