Ancient Essene Life
at Wadi 'ain es-Siah on Mt Carmel, Israel

THE GREAT WELL SPRING - the "Well of the Essenes" ('Ain Es-siah), was the source of all life in Wadi Essiah (Essene Canyon). Flowing from an oven shaped opening in the southern Karmeliya ("Carmelite") Ridge and thence flowing through covered rock channels to all other areas of the ancient Nazorean Monastery. Yeshua and his disciples would have drunk deeply from this pure flowing "Essene Well", and would have drunk wine and eaten fresh garden produce produced from its healing waters.

Remains of covered water channels, or "misra", which began at the "tanna", or "oven spring", and took purifying water to various purification pools and areas throughout the compound, including the entrance area. At the entrance there are four multilevel purification pools, about 6 feet across, where waters cascade down in various grades of purity. Niches, cut into the stone face above the spring, once held votive statues, which are described in the ancient texts as existing at the source of bubbling water and living springs of light. More "misra", or purity canals flowing south of the Temple structure. Other "misra" channels also flowed on other sides of the temple, creating a sacred and pure place through water flow. At certain festivals in the sacred year some of these cover stones would have been removed and the temple structure splashed inside and out for further purification and consecration.


The cave, known now as the Cave of Elisha (lower) and Elijah (upper), is just across from the high spring in the more holy eastern area of the monastic compound. Only more advanced initiates would have frequented this area on a regular basis. Troughs in the lower "Elisha" cave, (probably carved during the Latin hermit phase of the monastery, or even later. These troughs were probably cut after the Essene phase into previously existing stone benches that could have previously served as seating during advanced ritual work of the ancient Nazorean initiates.) A stone pillar in the lower cave supporting the cavern above. The upper and more holy chamber is entered from the lower chamber by a small stone stair. The upper chamber, representing the womb of Heavenly Mother, would have been utilized for only the most holy ordinance work of the B'nai-Amen.

A cave cell ruin, one of many, located on the sloping ridges above the main monastery. This would have been the sleeping chamber of an individual Nazorean family. More cells, or habitation caves on the lower southern slopes of Karmeliya ridge where the married monks and nuns would have performed some of their daily disciplines, spiritual exercises and prayers.


Remains of stone terraces on Karmeliya ridge of Siah canyon where dedicated monks and married Nazorean nuns would carry jugs of holy spring water to nurture the grape vines, olive trees, and other garden plants grown for fresh food, oil and wine by the monastic community. These terraces on the slopes of Karmeliya would have trapped much of the winter rain water for utilization by the vines and trees planted on them. (The probable site of the ancient Essene Temple lies under the ruins in the center of the photo.) An ancient winepress ruin that exists just to the left of the Temple entrance. (May also have been used as a "Maswetta" baptismal font fed by water flowing from the spring through the misra channels.) Nazorean Nazarites, unlike their Jewish counterparts, drank wine and were known as Gupnia, or little grape "vines." They had long, uncut hair.

Gardens to the west and below the monastery which were watered by the springs of Siah canyon. The crops would have included: Wheat, emer, millet & barley, squash, pumpkins, watermelon, cucumbers, legumes, lentils, chick-peas, grapes, raisins, figs, olives, apricots, dates, citron, jujube, pears, plums, peaches, quince, cherries, pomegranates, onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, almonds, pine nuts, pistachio, walnuts; spices, lettuce, chicory, cress, sorrel, dandelion leaves, cabbage, brassilicas, radishes, beets, turnip greens, and possibly cinnamon and honey. The same lower gardens from farther up Siah canyon. Here ancient Essenes would have further produced bounteous produce as fresh fruits offerings on their water washed stone altars. Ancient Nazoreans always washed their food three times on special altars before eating the Goodness of Mother Earth. (All Nazoreans here would have eaten a diet based on the changing seasons and harvests periods of Mt Carmel. The Mediterranean sea can be seen on the distance west horizon, below the gardens. Ancient Nazorean's would have traveled this canyon trail to go down to the coast and to other nearby villages like Capernaam by the sea.

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Remains of the bread oven that are found just south of the Temple structure. This kitchen might have been called Bethlehem, the House of Bread. A holy child born in the adjacent cave would have been born "at Bethlehem" (as Jesus the Nazorean was said to have been.) People in Canaan and ancient Israel consumed between 330 - 440 lbs. of wheat and barley per year, usually in the form of flat coarse breads. Essenes would have also eaten sweet sprouted breads. "Grain constituted over fifty percent of the average person's total caloric intake, followed by legumes (e.g. lentils), olive oil, and fruit, especially dried figs" (Judaism: Practice and Belief, 63 BCE-66 CE, 1992, page 129). Remains of an ancient sanctuary, built atop a still older Temple structure, consisting of three chambers 20' by 20', with an entrance porch about 16' by 20'. The eastern holy of holies section is raised above the other two, and is toward the east. The flowing wellspring of life was just behind this holy of holies, which fed water channels that surrounded, and purified, the ancient Temple complex. Essenes would not have entered this sanctuary without more purification washings, perhaps even a Tamasha immersion in the flowing mikveh near the entrance. (The Bethlehem "caves" are at the top left of the image.)

Remains of what is now known as the Prior's cell, located at the western entrance of the monastery. This porter's guard house consists of two chambers and four or more large and cascading washing pools fed by water channels from the distant spring. No meat, pork, poultry, fish or eggs, or those who eat them, would have passed beyond this point, but only monastics (Nazoreans) and lay village Essenes (Mandai or Essai) entering the lower Edah Assembly Hall. After preliminary Rishama purification's in the various pools, representing different stages of purity, and possible changing into white pure garments in the outer Porter's chamber, one could enter the western entrance into the lower Edah Assembly Hall. The steps seen above took those more advanced in Nazirutha to a raised dais and then to the upper levels of the Monastery.


Map of monastic ruins in the Wadi 'ain Essiah (Essenes). Karmeliya (The "Carmelite") ridge on the south (top of map) and Kalabir ridge on the north (with double cave) enclose the lower monastic complex consisting of about one acre of land. Acerage on the sides of the wadi were also used for growing terraces and for cave and hut construction. (In this map the entrance to the complex is to the left which was westward toward the lower gardens and lower spring and the sea.) The entrance and lower Edah hall would have represented one level of purity, that of the lay Mandai, or Gnostic Nazorean. Up the spiral stair would have been a second level of purity. Around the Temple would have been a third area of holiness, with the most holy area and degree of purity being behind the Temple at the "Essene Well" and grotto. These four levels being represented by the four purification pools at the entrance house.

In this a monastic B'nai-Amen complex of the ancient Essenes, these Nazoreans would have spent their days studying and copying the sacred Nazorean scrolls, farming and gardening on the surrounding terraces, practicing spiritual disciplines such as yoga and meditation (learned from eastern Essene settlements in India), consulting astrological sciences (learned from Essene settlements in Persia), engaging in prayer, praise, and psalm recital from the Qulasta (Nazorean psalm book). At dusk and dawn they would have all gathered to celebrate the great Kushta ceremonies of brother and sisterhood that bound them all together as a spiritual family in the Great Life.

More photos of the ancient Essene Nazorean Monastic site

The Nazarenes of  Mount Carmel
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