October 5th was Yom Kippur, a holiday observed by the Jewish people and recognized as a public holiday in the state of Texas. In honor of this holiday, I’m going to talk about a part of Jewish history that – like a bunch of parts of history related to ancient anarchism, libertarianism, and various other parts of human history related to freedom – is often overlooked when talking about the control of kings and statists in history. I will talk about a group of ancient religious Jewish anarchists known as the Essene sect of Judaism.
This sect is mentioned in a peer-reviewed historical book called Foundations of Christianity by Karl Kautsky which was written in 1953. Essenes is mentioned in the third volume of the text and it was founded in the 2nd century before our era. This particular branch of Judaism was referenced by various different texts of the time. For example, Pliny the Elder mentions the Essenes in his text Natural History. The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by some historians studying the group and ancient Judaism to be the main text of the Essenes and part of their library.
This group was a society without a state or at least without a controlling state with a monopoly on violence. However, according to the Hebrew Josephus, the Essenes settled “in great numbers in every city” while practicing a communal hippie-like lifestyle wherever they existed. This branch of Judaism existed until its dissolution in the 1st century CE, so it existed for about two hundred years before disappearing.