Member of a Jewish sect active in Palestine from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. The Essenes formed small monastic communities whose members strictly observed the laws of Moses and the Sabbath and held their property in common. They withdrew from society, avoiding temple worship in Jerusalem and supporting themselves by manual labor. They usually excluded women. It is likely that the Dead Sea Scrolls were composed, copied, or collected by the Essenes.
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