On one occasion Yeshua (Jesus) gave orders to Shimon (Peter) and Yohanan (John) to prepare for the Passover ahead of the disciples’ arrival: “Enter a city, then look for a man carrying a jar of water. Follow him and ask the person in charge to offer hospitality. He will show you a large room.” This is exactly what happened (Luke 22:7-13).

When Josephus Flavius describes the diaconal network that the Essenes, a Jewish group who were equal in number to the Pharisees, he writes: “They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have they give to them …there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers…” (Wars 2:124). Josephus also confirmed what we already know from other sources: many of the Essenes did not marry – choosing instead to dedicate themselves wholly to God.

So why did the disciples need to look for a man carrying a water jar? The answer is simple.

In an agricultural society, it was the exclusive duty of women to carry water. A man carrying a water jar could mean only one thing – this adult man had no wife and therefore he must have belonged to the Essene community!

Did Jesus know the future? Absolutely! He was familiar with the diaconal network of the Essene movement and he knew exactly what would happen next.

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62 COMMENTS

  1. Is it possible too that the Essenes knew who Yeshua was? After all, He was the Crown Prince of Israel; the one next in line to assume the throne had the Jews threw out the Romans. And He was the One most likely to actually be ha’moshiach! He’d resurrected Lazarus after he was dead four days, a thing only the Anointed One of Israel could do; and they were witness to this! So if this was an Essene community they would have not only shown hospitality, but they would have brought out their best for this particular traveler.

  2. In my deep study of the name for Jesus in the Quran, Isa, I’ve concluded that in the Negev, a group of believers who rejected the Herod were awaiting the promised branch of Jesse, the Messiah. As this group’s influence expanded northeast, the Messianic name Ishai (Jesse) changed to the Arabic Isa, rather tha Yasu’a as He was known other proto-Arabic Hellenized communities. Like the Nasara in the Quran, Isa reflects the morphology of Arabic dialects, with the western region becoming Orthodox and the Eastern region becoming Nestorian. The Quran captures that moment in time.

      • Isa is name Muslims use for Jesus. The Koran mentions Isa (Jesus) being Word of God and Spirit of God. Goes on tour talknow about Isa (Jesus) raising the dead, and performing miracles. Can’t remember where in the Koran, but it does say Muhammad ‘is’ not Spirit or Word.

        • The problem is, Ann, the “Isa” mentioned in the Quran is considered by Muslims to be a low prophet, much lower than Muhammad in their hierarchy of prophets. They claim that when Muhammad ascended into the 7th heaven from Jerusalem, he greeted Isa in the 2nd heaven. Not Jesus!

        • Ann, you wrote: “Isa is name Muslims use for Jesus. The Koran mentions Isa (Jesus) being Word of God and Spirit of God.”

          I have not read the Q’ran but my understanding is that he is described as a prophet, not more. Can you post your references for us?

  3. Part Two
    To complete my thought. In Josephus’ time, the Nabateans may have called these people awaiting the Messiah Isa’in in proto-Arabic. This would have been pronounced as Essenes. A parallel development came around in the Middle Ages with establishment of the Jesuit order. Jesuit in Arabic is analogously Isawiyiin. This those awaiting the Branch of Jesse we’re called both Notzrim/Nasara and Isa’iin/Essenes in the Second Temple Period. Two Messianic groups supporting the House of David as opposed to The Hasmoneans.

      • Dr, Eli re”– this adult man had no wife and therefore he must have belonged to the Essene community
        ‘!So if a man’s wife died he automatically became an Essene? That a big stretch of the imagination. One thing sure is he was expecting them A follower of Jesus

    • Dr. Rood’s comments are accurate. “Issa” is still a given name used in Arab communities, and is fairly common in Lebanon. Just as Hispanics use the name “Jesus” (pronounced “Hay-SOOS”) as a given name for their sons, so Issa is still a name used in the non-Jewish middle east.

    • Hello Dr. Rood – I am confused and must be misunderstanding you. How does terminology used in Josephus’ time or Jesuits’ time relate to supporting or not supporting the Hasmoneans, whose dynasty ended long before?

  4. Whether true or a wives tale, I’ve been told several times that this man was John Mark’s father. If true then the man did have a wife. On a different note, if the wife died, he should have still had to fetch his own water. In either case, the main point is that it was uncommon for a man to fetch water, which made it easy for Peter and John to distinguish who they were to talk to.

  5. Doesn’t your proposal assume that the only unmarried male adults were Essenes? How can you document this? Paul insists that he had no wife as Peter did. He advocates that Christians do not marry if they are single. So we have at least one contradicting piece of evidence in the New Testament that a non-Essene, former Pharisee could be an adult male without a wife. Aren’t there other examples in 2nd Temple literature of non-Essene adult males who do not have wives?

    • Hi, Richard. No I do not assume that non-wife men can only be essences, but I assume that they chances are far higher especially because there are other qualifiers (not just being not married).

      • Interesting concept of the man with the water pot who had access to a large gathering room as well that may have been Essene.

    • The Messianic Jews were not Christians ! And neither did Y’Shua preach Christianity .This is false doctrine. Y’Shua is a Jew and all of His talmidim and emissaries were Jews .Constantine in 313 CE/AD started Christianity .Jews especially Kefa /Peter and Sha’ul /Paul were called to preach to not only their fellow Jews but to the gentiles starting in Acts 10 .Salvation is from the Jews .

      • Hi Jo Ann, Appreciate your knowledge of religious history. Yes, salvation is “from” the Jews. Yet, when you mentioned Acts 10, what happened to the first 9 chapters?
        Also, were not the early talmidim first called “Christians” at Antioch? (Acts 11:26) But this was only because the word was used as a derogatory term for “Christ-followers.”

        • No ! The Jewish believers were called Messianic’s .Constantine in 313 CE/AD started Roman Catholic Christianity and persecuted the Jews .

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          • I would certainly agree with Jo Ann as to the era that the term “christian” occur. In the older version of the the bible the statement in Acts 11:26 reads “followers of the Way” as Jesus addressed himself in John 14:6.

          • Are you not talking about Acts 9:2? What translation was it? For Acts 11:26, the oldest (1526-1611) English translations I have (Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops, KJV) all follow the Greek χριστιανούς (chrisianous).

          • Yes, that’s true and I think that it was Nero who named believers as Christians. It was, I think, a derogatory term (little Christs) and it seems to have stuck. Constantine, I assume, picked up on that, then introduced all the pagan stuff. Jews suffered as a result

      • You’re right; the disciples were first “called” “Christians” at Antioch, as reported in Acts 11:26. However, for “called,” the Greek uses a form of the word “chrema,” which is the normal term for a pronouncement from a deity. Same word was used for “he was warned in a dream.” … I do agree that Constantine started something very different from what existed before; we don’t have the benefit of Spirit-inspired commentary on that, but what was built looks more like the Roman Army than the ecclesia of the Apostles.

      • The word Christian stands fo Christ. When he was born they the parents were told by God to name him Christ Jesus. This fact is in the Bible and the Quran and maybe other religious books.

        • According to Matthew-1:21 and Luke-1:31, the angel said his name should be Iesous (Heb. Yeshua) because “He will save his people from their sins.” “Christian” does come from the Greek word for Mashiach, but it was first used after Yeshua had already resurrected and ascended (Acts 11:26).

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      • Agree! They were the Jewish sect of the Notsarim (Nazarenes), and by the writings of the church itself they existed completely apart from Christianity well into the Middle Ages and possibly beyond. They are what the modern Messianic movement is based on.

    • Hi

      If you read the passage in 1 corinthians 7 in context it talks about the church at that time under distress, be wise about marriage in times of persecution as it adds much responsibility. It doesn’t tell Christians today that they should not marry in a life practically free from persecution – which many in the west live in today.

  6. Shalom to you from Romania ! Wow. I did not knew this. I am happy that I discovered this site. I learn many new things and it makes the Holy Scriptures more clear because I am not a jew and now I can learn the context . Thank you very much! God bless all of you and this work!

  7. The Lord said Saul was a chosen vessel for Gentiles. The Lord also said, He did nothing w/o the Father who had to be involved w the large room also.

  8. Is it possible that the Essenes also owned the building in which the Upper Room was located? In the Jerusalem of Jesus’ time, crowded especially at Passover with Gentiles, it was important for observant Jews to hold their Seder dinners in kosher surroundings. The Essenes were sticklers for ritual purity, so perhaps the water-carrying man directed them to a building that Jesus knew would be ritually clean.

  9. Fr. Bargil Pixner, OSB was a scholar on the Essenes. His studies and papers, articles have opened knowledge and insight. Essences are the only “sect” not mentioned, criticized in the NT. John the Baptizer, Jesus, and perhaps Jesus’ step brother James the Righeous all have some Essene features. The large number of priests that come into the early church and the issue with Ananias and Sapphira also reflect Essene features.

  10. 1) This is a noteworthy theory. There is also another level of possible meaning but before I share it I preface it with yet another theoretical layer. While the Christian Church has an understandable disdain for “astrology” it may be throwing out the baby with the bath. There is evidence, both outside and inside the scriptural text, that the ancients held that God had written the overarching plan of this age in the stars and that the constellations (Hebrew: Mazzoroth) were a kind of mnemonic to be read as general prophecy (not fortune telling) … continued…

  11. 2) … (Gen 1:14, Psalm 19:1, Job 38:31-32 , Matt 2:2, …). It turns out that Jesus was born right at the advent of the age of Aquarius, the “water bearer” symbolized by a man bearing a water jar. We often miss that both the Greek , Christ, and the Hebrew, Massaich, mean “the one of anointment” ( both the anointed one but also the one who dispenses it) as John is alluding to in Matt 3:11. This would be the beginning of the age of anointment (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17). So the passage can be read:

  12. 3)… Jesus sends disciples on ahead of him (symbolically his death and their continuance in life) where they are to encounter one bearing the water jar (symbolically Jesus himself who dispenses the holy Spirit through the age and returns at the end) who leads them *up* to a place prepared for them where they will go during the future Passover, that is the judgement of those not set apart by the blood of the Passover lamb. I am not claiming this IS the meaning but only a *possible* prophetic imagery designed into the actual event.

  13. But why Essenes never mentioned in the Bible?
    Any rational explanation of that?
    Where did they come from and where did they go?

    • To be fair, many other groups and sects did not merit mention in the NT, but maybe the Essenes were not mentioned because they were not overly pertinent to the NT narrative, because they had mostly abandoned Jerusalem, or that the Essenes were fading into obscurity about the time the NT was written down.

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  14. I have often pointed out that the traditional site for Jesus’ last Seder was within the area known to be occupied by the Essenes.

    • Philip Traditional is not a strong base to build TRUTH on.I would very much like to know How exactly do you arrive at that answer and that The Essenes Occupied that ares. If Jews lived in my neighbourhood does not mean everyone is a Jew. Although might want to be????/

  15. Some Scholars and Academics have already linked Jesus Practices with the Essenes. There are any remote possibility of Jesus and the Apostles had joined the Essenes community before He completed 30 years old?

    • I don’t think that question could be answered with any certainty since the New Testament doesn’t directly address it.

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      • Creative, but no. Either it was a play on the word netser (“the Branch”, Isa.11:1), or perhaps it was playing off of the Aramaic word for despised (nats’or).

  16. Fascinating discussion. I have the audio version of the Jewish Gospel of John, by Dr Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. As a Bible-studying Catholic, I appreciate the Jewish context presented, although I have minor issue with the Judas E background. But thank you Dr!

  17. I think the only thing we can be sure of is that either the man did not have a wife or that she was physically unable to go to the well. Hospitality was enormously important in that culture.

  18. Off topic question, but many others are too. Where would Jesus’ Mother Mary have celebrated the passover? Not with Jesus? Was this not a family event? Were only his disciples present? Please feel free to edit this….

    • Going to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover/Unleavened Bread was incumbent only on males (Deu.16:16), but if they were willing to travel there, the family could certainly come, too. The first Passover in Egypt was a family event, so by example yes the family should take part. Maybe Mary celebrated with Joseph (if he was still living) or else with another male family member. The “Last Supper” seems to have only included Yeshua and His disciples.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with Jewish Insights Into Scriptures I or The Revelation in a Jewish Context II : Discovery. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  19. Hi Dr, Eli, I have a question may be you can give light. Matthew 26:2 is a prophecy given by the Lord concerning his betrayal. if let say that Matthew 26:2 happened on Wednesday and the betrayal in Matthew 26:48 happened on the night of Friday, isn”t that the after 3 days found in Mark 8:31 will now fall on Monday and not Sunday?

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