E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Essenes (2 syl.).
A sect among the Jews in the time of our Saviour. They were communists who abjured every sort of fleshly indulgence. They ate no animal food, and drank only water. Their sacrifices to God were only fruits of the earth. They kept the Sabbath so strictly that they would not even wash a plate or rinse a cup on that day. They always dressed in white, took no part in public matters, but devoted themselves to contemplative studies. They held the Jewish Scriptures in great reverence, but interpreted them allegorically.