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communities of the sect appeared in the towns of Judea, it must be expected that different
views would be held.
According to Josephus, although they occupied no one city, yet they settled in large
numbers in every town. They seem to have preferred the smaller towns and villages, and
did not engage in commerce or navigation. Their occupations included farmers,
shepherds, cowherds, beekeepers, etc., and they would have nothing to do with the
instruments of war. They were very much a community, and their whole day appears to
have been subjected to rigid discipline. Like the early church of Acts they had "all things
common", and new members surrendered their property to the order, and in return
received all their needs.
It has been this latter point, together with certain aspects of their teaching, which has
caused some to identify them with the early Christians. Some suggest that John the
Baptist, and even the Lord himself, were members of the sect. The obscure period in the
life of the Lord between the ages of twelve and thirty, lends itself to this idea, and the
silence of the Scriptures as to what He did during this period, is accounted for by
assuming Him to have been within an Essene community.
But any who have really appreciated the teaching of the Lord in the Gospels, will
know that it is on a very much higher plane than any of "the commandments and
doctrines of men". His words were confessedly not his own, but neither were they
derived from any human source, for they were the words of his Father in Heaven
(John 17: 8). The identification of the Lord with the Essene community must be
rejected by all who love the Scriptures, and recognize them as the inspired Word of God.
The Scribes and Pharisees.
The scribes and Pharisees are mentioned in association with each other above 20 times
in Scripture, and they were both active in opposing the ministry of the Lord. The
relationship between the two is not easy to trace, although it appears that the sympathies
of the scribes were with the Pharisees, even if it be not true to say that the scribes
belonged to the Pharisaic party. There is no evidence that scribes were ever Sadducees,
although Matt. 22: 34, 35 has sometimes been urged for this view.
"But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were
gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question."
The words `of them' have been referred to the Sadducees, but it surely makes better
sense to refer them to the Pharisees who were here taking over the word battle against the
Lord, after the silencing of the Sadducees. The `lawyer', it is true, was almost certainly a
scribe, as will be shown later, but it is quite wrong to imagine he was a lawyer in the
narrow sense of holding only the Law of Moses to be the Divine rule, thus identifying
him with the Sadducees.
The scribes also appear in sympathy with the Pharisees in Acts 23: 9:
"And there arose a great cry, and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part, arose."