Essenes (From the Hebrew'esah, Council or Party)
ESSENES (from the Hebrew 'esah, council or party)
A Jewish sect, existing between the second and first centuries c.e., whose adepts devoted their lives to the study of religious texts, sharing their possessions, and observing a strict discipline. The Essene movement represented a scission in Judaism, a response by some pious Jews to the influence of Hellenistic culture. The prime cause of this scission was the luxury of sacerdotal ceremonies, which was denounced by many, but another reason was the rivalry between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Essenes (also called "the pious") settled in a desert area in the north of Palestine, away from the corruptions of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered at Qumran in April 1947, are believed to be relics of the Essenes.
SEE ALSO Dead Sea Scrolls.