From authors contemporaneous with the Essenes (Philo, Josephus and Pliny the Elder), we learn that there were two “orders” in this movement: one of celibates and one that led normal family lives. For example, Josephus writes, “Marriage they disdain” (Jewish War 2.120) but he also says, “There is another order of Essenes…they think that those that decline to marry cut off the chief function of life…They have no intercourse (with their wives) during pregnancy, thus showing that their motive in marrying is not self indulgence but the procreation of children” (Jewish War 2.160).

The existence of the two orders can be inferred also from the scrolls. It seems that the Manual of Discipline was written for the celibates and the Damascus Document for the married. See Joseph M. Baumgarten, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), vol. 1, pp. 122–125.