Iamblichus of Chalcis was a third-century philosopher who established a school of religious and mystical philosophy called Neoplatonism. His ten volume curriculum contains extracts from a variety of the ancient Greek philosophers, such as the works of Plato and Aristotle.
Sometime during his life, Iamblichus compiled a biography of the philospher, Pythagoras, who had lived eight-hundred years earlier, between 570-495 BC. In this biography, he writes about the twenty-two year study Pythagoras undertook in the temples of Egypt, and about his initiation into the Egyptian and Babylonian mysteries.
He also writes about one particular trip Pythagoras made to Egypt during which he landed on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. There, he separated himself from society, and lived and studied with a secret fraternity, in a temple beneath Mount Carmel.[i]
In Israel at that time, there were two known sects within Judaism – a set of religious beliefs and practices that originated from the Hebrew Bible. The sect known as the Pharisees were concerned with strict external observance of theology, ritual worship and the law that was given to the Israelite people through Moses. In contrast, the Sadducees tended to convey an appearance of refined agnosticism.
The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Acts 23:8
But there was also a third sect that existed in Israel. This sect was formed around 500 BC, when several of the masters of the priesthood incarnated there and formed a secret fraternity called Essaioli – the Essenes.
The Essenes lived peaceful, disciplined and pious lives who arose every morning before dawn for silent meditation and prayer. They were strict vegetarians who blessed everything they consumed before taking it into their bodies. They revered all life in all forms.
These masters held a universal, eclectic view of religion and interpreted the Hebrew scriptures in a spiritual, symbolic and metaphysical manner. To preserve their sacred records from the Roman soldiers, they hid them in caves, crypts and clay jars that were made specifically for this purpose.
Their fundamental tendency was quite other than that of Pharisaism, and strongly tinged with Eastern elements.
The Essenes numbered about four-thousand and were divided into two branches – the Ossaeans and the Nazoreans. The Ossaeans lived at a settlement, called Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Known as the B’nai-Zadok, they were a strict, celibate monastery that only allowed men into the ranks. It was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 that provided science with proof of their existence.
They maintained a tent tabernacle, which was con-structed according to the original directions that had been given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5
The sole purpose of the Nazorean Essenes was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah into the world. They were the B’nai-Amen – the Children of God. And so it was within this sect that Jesus began his studies.
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. Revelations 3:14