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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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One particular phenomenon which resulted from the theosophico-ascetic spirit among the Alexandrian Jews, was the sect of the Therapeutae. Their headquarters were at no great distance from Alexandria, in a quiet pleasant spot on the shores of the Lake Moeris, where they lived, like the anchorites in later periods, shut up in separate cells, and employed themselves in nothing but prayer, and the contemplation of divine things. An allegorical interpretation of Scripture was the foundation of their speculations; and they had old theosophical writings which gave them this turn. They lived only on bread and water, and accustomed themselves to fasting. They only ate in the evening, and many fasted for several days together. They met together every Sabbath day, and every seven weeks they held a still more solemn assembly, because the number seven was peculiarly holy in their estimation. They then celebrated a simple love-feast, consisting of bread with salt and hyssop; theosophical discussions were held, and the hymns which they had from their old traditions were sung; and mystical dances, bearing reference to the wonderful works of God with the fathers of their people, were continued, amidst choral songs, to a late hour in the night. Many men of distinguished learning, have considered this sect as nothing but a scion of the Essenes, trained up under the peculiar influence of the Egyptian spirit.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Therapeutae'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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