Click picture to enlarge. Machaerus is the traditional site for John the Baptist’s imprisonment and beheading. Many Jews were said to have disappeared there, never to be heard from again. The below map is as maps were in ancient Israel, facing toward the sun (with East being “up”).
In last week’s blog, I introduced that Essenes likely influenced John the Baptist. Today I’ll analyse how and compare the disciples’ expectations with John the Baptist’s for their Messiah. This leads to the answer for what all of us should do in the face of discouragement and doubts.
6 IMPORTANT PARALLELS BETWEEN JOHN THE BAPTIST AND THE ESSENES
The important parallels between John the Baptist and the Essenes (or at least, the Qumran sect) are:
First, both John and the men of Qumran…appealed to Isaiah 40:3…retreating to the wilderness and engaging in…redemption and restoration of Israel (…Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:2-4; Luke 3:2-6; John 1:23)…. Both Essenes and Christians called their respective movements “the Way” because of Isaiah 40:3…. John’s emphasis on Isaiah 40:3 likely paved the way for Christian adoption of this description.
Second, both John and the men of Qumran called for repentance and practiced baptism (…Matthew 3:5; Mark 1:4-5; Luke 3:7; John 1:25). Excavation of the ruins at Qumran has uncovered the presence of baptismal reservoirs, confirming the importance of ritual immersion for the Essene community.
Fifth, John’s strange diet may have reflected the strict food laws (kashruth) that were observed by the Essenes. Josephus says Essenes who were evicted from the community often starved to death because they are unwilling “to share the food of others,” preferring to eat grass rather than violate their food laws… (see Matthew 3:4, 11:18; Mark 1:6; Luke 1:15).
Sixth, John harshly criticized Israel’s religious leaders, calling them…a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7-9). This confrontational approach coheres with the harsh epithets frequently found in the writings of Qumran. For example, the Essenes labeled their enemies as Man of Lies…Wicked Priest…Preacher of Lies…Men of the Pit…Men of Perversity…Sons of Darkness…Host of Belial.
From The Dead Sea Scrolls
WHAT JEWS EXPECTED OF THEIR MESSIAH
Now analyzing what the Jews expected in the first century,
Many Jews in Jesus’ time expected Messiah just to be human despite the fact that the OT contains important hints about his divinity. Judging from the literature produced in the time between the Testaments, however, we know that some Jews expected Messiah to be much more than merely a human descendant of King David.
From The Dead Sea Scrolls