The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies
The Essene Study of Law and Virtue
Philo's Account; Quod Omnis Probus Liber," §12


Of philosophy they (Essenes) study only that which pertains to the existence of God and the beginning of all things, ["ma'ase merkabah" and "ma'aseh beresht"], otherwise they devote all their attention to ethics, using as instructors the laws of their fathers, which, without the outpouring of the divine spirit ["ruah ha-kodesh"], the human mind could not have devised.

These are especially taught on the seventh day, when, abstaining from all other work, they assemble in their holy places, called synagogues, sitting in rows according to their age, the younger ones listening with becoming attention at the feet of the elder ones.

One takes up the holy book and reads aloud, another one from among the most learned comes forward and explains whatever may not have been understood—for, following their ancient traditions, they obtain their philosophy by means of allegorical* interpretation.

(allegorical 1: writings in which words or text represent abstract qualities, ideas or concepts. 2: having hidden spiritual meaning that transcends the literal sense of a sacred text. 3: metaphor, parable; see Jesus NT gospels.)

Thus they are taught piety, holiness, righteousness, the mode of governing private and social affairs, and the knowledge of what is conducive or harmful or indifferent to truth, so that they may choose the one and shun the other.

Of the love of God they exhibit myriads of examples, inasmuch as they strive for a continued, uninterrupted life of purity and holiness; they avoid swearing and falsehood, and they declare that God causes only good and no evil whatsoever. [comp. "kol de-abed Rahmana le-tab 'abed," "What the Merciful does is for the good" Ber. 60b].

Their love of virtue is proved by their freedom from love of money, of high station, and of pleasure, by their temperance and endurance, by their having few wants, by their simplicity and mild temper, by their lack of pride, by their obedience to the Law and by their equanimity.

Of their love for man they give proof by their good will and pleasant conduct toward all alike [comp. Abot i. 15, iii. 12: "Receive every man with a pleasant countenance!"], and by their fellowship, which is beautiful beyond description.

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