Three Major Groups of Israel
2nd Temple Period
516 BCE to 70 CE
It may be a shock to the first-time reader of anything Jewish, but Judaism, as we know it today, is not what ancient Israel looked like during the time of Yeshua (Jesus). Judaism today formed from a sibling of the ancient faith (see diagram below for visual). The Rabbinic sibling formed from the merging of their Pharisaic sibling along with a few other siblings from the 1st century. Codification of the Babylonian Talmud didn't happen until the 6th century and gradually, a new, non-priestly, non-hereditary class of community leaders, Torah teachers and interpreters emerged. The Jewish community's recovery from the destruction of the Temple in 70 and the Jewish wars against Rome was significant. Jewish leadership eventually gained authority over most of the Jewish community and created a system of biblical interpretation that satisfied their convictions. Their time, attention and dedication to the Torah was/is commendable not to mention a significant demonstration of resilience.
The Ancient Faith of Israel
So what was before Judaism? What was Israel's ancient faith? Many modern Christians think the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) was for the Jews and the New Testament for the Christians. Therefore, the Old Testament is for Judaism and not for Christians, and Jews don't need to read the New Testament because it wasn't written for them. This couldn't be further from the truth. Israel's ancient faith predates Christianity and Judaism. Judaism has additional essential texts and the Christian idea of an "accepted" canon is a later development as well.
The Ancient Faith of Israel is some implicit and inherited ancestral beliefs and understandings of a common ancient origin and history - customs, institutions, ways of life and a general worldview that most descendants of Jacob shared.
Out of this Faith formed different views and interpretations of the scriptures, which were encouraged and debated. This practice can be witnessed in your Bible as Yeshua (Jesus) talks negatively about some new Pharisee laws. What Christians are not accustomed to knowing is that Yeshua was more than likely a Pharisee himself.
It's important to know that different kinds of Pharisees disagreed with each other. The open debate was/is encouraged. Search up Hillel and Shammai's discussions. Yeshua (Jesus) was hard on the ones that needed it. He did not go against the proper way of the Pharasidic teachings as it was taught to him. Instead, he spoke out against new practices that were being introduced. These concepts were challenged according to his most excellent convictions. Yeshua and Paul (Acts 23:6-9) were both Pharisees but were aware of the Essene ways. Yeshua (Jesus) stayed true to his roots while enjoying the company of his Essene, Gentile and Pharisee followers. There is no documented discussion of "conversion" or what they would be labelled or called. They just were what they were born into.
There is no fate, nothing is pre-ordained, all events are a result of free will
Some events are pre-ordained by God, others are a result of human free will
All events are predetermined and occur as God alone wills
Wars II: 162-165
Souls are not eternal, there is no Hades, no rewards, no punishments, no resurrection and no fate
Souls are eternal. Only the souls of good people undergo resurrection. the souls of evil men are punished for eternity
Messianics that followed the Dead Sea Scrolls (Hebrew-Septuagint (LXX), non-canonical texts and community rules) as if the words themselves were their oxygen.
Disagree with pharisaic traditions because they are not biblical. Not popular with majority, but only among the elites.
Many observances are based on passed-on traditions which are not in the Bible. Popular among the masses.
Devoted their life to serving God and shared all that they had so others would not suffer.
Sons of Light vs. Sons of Darkness
Regarding the Essenes, "All things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for...they are excluded from the common court of the temple...andy they entirely addict themselves to husbandry...addict themselves to virtue, and this in righteousness indeed to such a degree, that as it hath never appeared among any other man...institution of theirs which will not suffer anything to hinder them from having all things in common; so that a rich man enjoys no more of his own wealth thank he who hath nothing at all."
They based their beliefs on the New Covenant, the priesthood of Melkizidek, they believed they would be the Bride of Christ and stayed pure.
Sun Dial/Solar Calendar
Found at Qumran
The year starts in Spring at the Equinox, then the 12 months with the seasons divided by a tekufah/solstice/equinox.
It is a 360 day calendar with the four tekufah added in, which makes it a 364 day calendar
Everything works out into even weeks.
You can find out much more about this calendar from a subject matter expert on the subject.
The Hellenistic Era in Israel
is divided into four historical phases:
The Conquest of Palestine by Alexander
the Great and its Aftermath (332-296 bce)
Ptolemaic Rule (296-201 bce)
Seleucid Rule (200-104 bce)
Hasmonean Rule (104-64/3 bce)
The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS)
See them up close and read them for yourself
Find out more about/why the ascetic Jewish sect fled Hellenistic Jerusalem for the desert 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, on the banks of the Dead Sea. Hundreds of manuscripts that survived, partially or in full, were found in caves near the site and are now tangible remnants of our shared past. Unfortunately, the DDS are forbidden to read by several modern-day Christian sects - the ancient collection has however shed light on the development of the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Christianity.