Was Jesus a Yahad or Essene?
by Stephen E. Schlarb
There is a difference of opinion on the Qumran community being Essene or Yahad. Either way, this article makes the argument that Jesus had specialized training at Qumran, before entering into his public ministry.
John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God’ (John 1:36). John apparently recognized Jesus and knew of his mission right from the start. Could they both have known each other as adults at Qumran?
Jesus had learned some specialized teachings as an adult, beyond carpentry, and at a place unknown to his critics in Galilee:
In Matthew 13:54-56
He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
“there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” Mk. 4:22, Mat. 10:26, Luke 8:17.
The Pharisees and Sadducees did not hide their teachings. The Yahad hid their teachings, confined them to the initiates, and taught that their wisdom should not be shared with common people and sinners.
Jesus revealed his teachings to sinners and outcasts. Jesus could have been a Yahad who rebelled at keeping the spiritual truth away from the most needy people.
“It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mk. 2:17.
The Yahad Charter in column 11 (3,14) Dead Sea Scrolls: “By His (God’s) righteousness is my transgression blotted out. Through His exceeding goodness shall He atone for all my sins.”
If Jesus learned this with the Yahad, he may have realized that someone had to fulfill this role for the salvation of not only his people, but for all people. Otherwise the religious practices themselves were futile.
Jesus’ first 3 Beatitudes (Mat. 5:3-5) –
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the gentle (or humble), for they shall inherit the earth.
In the Qumran Scrolls (part of the Dead Sea Scrolls), there is Thanksgiving Hymn 33 which contains the following:
“Blessing to the humble, troubled of spirit, and those who mourn.”
In 1QM (14,7) there is the term, “needy in spirit” or “poor in spirit”. This is interpreted by experts in Hebrew as meaning “needy of God”, regardless of how much money a person has.
The Qumran scrolls are dated from approximately 250 B.C. to about 65 A.D. They are in Hebrew and Aramaic, and were solely in the possession of Jews. The references to “poor in spirit” were phrases already known to Jews who had access to this teaching.
Jesus could have left the Yahad group and determined to bring the higher spiritual teachings to outcast and rejected people. Eventually this would lead to the inclusion of not only outcast Jews, but all people (Mat. 15:21-28).
Jesus saw himself as the agent – the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13 – and referred to himself as such many times:
Mark 2:10, 2:28; 8:31, 8:38; 9:9, 9:12, 9:31; 10:33, 10:45; 13:26; 14:21, 14:41, 14:62.
Jesus may have had a ‘Messiah complex’ – he may have seen his role as the sacrificial Lamb of God for all the people. Or, Jesus really is the sacrificial Lamb of God.