|BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects|
Apart from the repulsively carnal form which it had taken, there is something absolutely sublime in the continuance and intensity of the Jewish expectation of the Messiah. It outlived not only the delay of long centuries, but the persecutions and scattering of the people; it continued under the disappointment of the Maccabees, the rule of a Herod, the administration of a corrupt and contemptible Priesthood, and, finally, the government of Rome as represented by a Pilate; nay, it grew in intensity almost in proportion as it seemed unlikely of realisation.
These are facts which show that the doctrine of the Kingdom, as the sum and substance of Old Testament teaching, was the very heart of Jewish religious life; while, at the same time, they evidence a moral elevation which placed abstract religious conviction far beyond the reach of passing events, and clung to it with a tenacity which nothing could loosen.
Tidings of what these many months had occurred by the banks of the Jordan must have early reached Jerusalem, and ultimately stirred to the depths its religious society, whatever its preoccupation with ritual questions or political matters. For it was not an ordinary movement, nor in connection with any of the existing parties, religious or political. An extraordinary preacher, or extraordinary appearance and habits, not aiming, like others, after renewed zeal in legal observances, or increased Levitical purity, but preaching repentance and moral renovation in preparation for the coming Kingdom, and sealing this novel doctrine with an equally novel rite, had drawn from town and country multitudes of all classes, inquirers, penitents and novices.
The great and burning question seemed, what the real character and meaning of it was? or rather, whence did it issue, and whither did it tend? The religious leaders of the people proposed to answer this by instituting an inquiry through a trust-worthy deputation. In the account of this by St. John certain points seem clearly implied; [a i. 19-28.] on others only suggestions can be ventured.
That the interview referred to occurred after the Baptism of Jesus, appears from the whole context.[1 This point is fully discussed by Lucke, Evang. Joh., vol. i. pp. 396-398.] Similarly, the statement that the deputation which came to John was 'sent from Jerusalem' by 'the Jews,' implies that it proceeded from authority, even if it did not bear more than a semi-official character. For, although the expression 'Jews' in the fourth Gospel generally conveys the idea of contrast to the disciples of Christ (for ex. St. John vii. 15), yet it refers to the people in their corporate capacity, that is, as represented by their constituted religious authorities. [b Comp. St. John v. 15, 16; ix. 18,22; xviii. 12,31.] On the other hand, although the term 'scribes and elders' does not occur in the Gospel of St. John, [2 So Professor Westcott, in his Commentary on the passage (Speaker's Comment., N.T., vol. ii. p. 18), where he notes that the expression in St. John viii. 3 is unauthentic.] it by no means follows that 'the Priests and Levites' sent from the capital either represented the two great divisions of the Sanhedrin, or, indeed, that the deputation issued from the Great Sanhedrin itself.
The former suggestion is entirely ungrounded; the latter at least problematic. It seems a legitimate inference that, considering their own tendencies, and the political dangers connected with such a step, the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem would not have come to the formal resolution of sending a regular deputation on such an inquiry. Moreover, a measure like this would have been entirely outside their recognised mode of procedure. The Sanhedrin did not, and could not, originate charges. It only investigated those brought before it. It is quite true that judgment upon false prophets and religious seducers lay with it; [c Sanh. i. 5.] but the Baptist had not as yet said or done anything to lay him open to such an accusation. He had in no way infringed the Law by word or deed, nor had he even claimed to be a prophet. [3 Of this the Sanhedrin must have been perfectly aware. Comp. St. Matt. iii. 7; St. Luke iii. 15 &c.] If, nevertheless, it seems most probable that 'the Priests and Levits' came from the Sanhedrin, we are led to the conclusion that theirs was an informal mission, rather privately arranged than publicly determined upon.
And with this the character of the deputies agrees. 'Priests and Levites', the colleagues of John the Priest, would be selected for such an errand, rather than leading Rabbinic authorities. The presence of the latter would, indeed, have given to the movement an importance, if not a sanction, which the Sanhedrin could not have wished. The only other authority in Jerusalem from which such a deputation could have issued was the so-called 'Council of the Temple,' 'Judicature of the Priests,' or 'Elders of the Priesthood,' [a For cx. Yoma 1. 5.] which consisted of the fourteen chief officers of the But although they may afterwards have taken their full part in the condemnation of Jesus, ordinarily their duty was only connected with the services of the Sanctuary, and not with criminal questions or doctrinal investigations. [1 Comp. 'The Temple, its Ministry and Services,' p. 75. Dr. Geiger (Urschr. u. Uebersetz. d. Bibel, pp. 113, 114) ascribes to them, however, a much wider jurisdiction.
Some of his inferences (such as at pp. 115, 116) seem to me historically unsupported.] It would be too much to suppose, that they would take the initiative in such a matter on the ground that they would take the initiative in such a matter on the ground that the Baptist was a member of the Priesthood. Finally, it seems quite natural that such an informal inquiry, set on foot most probably by the Sanhedrists, should have been entrusted exclusively to the Pharisaic party. It would in no way have interested the Sadducees; and what members of that party had seen of John [b St. Matt. iii. 7 &c.] must have convinced them that his views and aims lay entirely beyond their horizon.
The origin of the two great parties of Pharisees and Sadducees has already been traced. [2 Comp. Book I. ch. viii.] They mark, not sects, but mental directions, such as in their principles are natural and universal, and, indeed, appear in connection with all metaphysical [3 I use the term metaphysical here in the sense of all that is above the natural, not merely the speculative, but the supersensuous generally.] questions. They are the different modes in which the human mind views supersensuous problems, and which afterwards, when one-sidedly followed out, harden into diverging schools of thought. If Pharisees and Sadducess were not 'sects' in the sense of separation from the unity of the Jewish ecclesiastical community, neither were theirs 'heresies' in the conventional, but only in the original sense of tendency, direction, or, at most, views, differing from those commonly entertained.
[4 The word has received its present meaning chiefly from the adjective attaching to it in 2 Pet. ii. 1. In Acts xxiv. 5, 14, xxviii. 22, it is vituperatively applied to Christians; in 1 Cor. xi. 19, Gal. v. 20, it seems to apply to diverging practices of a sinful kind; in Titus iii. 10, the 'heretic' seems one who held or taught diverging opinions or practices. Besides, it occurs in the N.T. once to mark the Sadducees, and twice the Pharisees (Acts v. 17; xv. 5, and xxvi. 5).] Our sources of information here are: the New Testament, Josephus, and Rabbinic writings. The New Testament only marks, in broad outlines and popularly, the peculiarities of each party; but from the absence of bias it may safely be regarded [1 I mean on historical, not theological grounds.] as the most trustworthy authority on the matter. The inferences which we derive from the statements of Josephus, [2 I here refer to the following passages: Jewish War ii. 8. 14; Ant. xiii. 5. 9; 10. 5, 6; xvii. 2. 4; xviii. 1, 2, 2, 4.] though always to be qualified by our general estimate of his animus, [3 For a full discussion of the character and writings of Josephus, I would refer to the article in Dr. Smith's Dict. of Chr. Biogr. vol. iii.] accord with those from the New Testament. In regard to Rabbinic writings, we have to bear in mind the admittedly unhistorical character of most of their notices, the strong party-bias which coloured almost all their statements regarding opponents, and their constant tendency to trace later views and practices to earlier times.
Without entering on the principles and supposed practices of 'the fraternity' or 'association' (Chebher, Chabhurah, Chabhurta) of Pharisees, which was comparatively small, numbering only about 6,000 members, [a Jos. Ant. xvii. 2. 4.] the following particulars may be of interest. The object of the association was twofold: to observe in the strictest manner, and according to traditional law, all the ordinances concerning Levitical purity, and to be extremely punctilious in all connected with religious dues (tithes and all other dues). A person might undertake only the second, without the first of these obligations. In that case he was simply a Neeman, an 'accredited one' with whom one might enter freely into commerce, as he was supposed to have paid all dues. But a person could not undertake the vow of Levitical purity without also taking the obligation of all religious dues. If he undertook both vows he was a Chabher, or associate. Here there were four degrees, marking an ascending scale of Levitical purity, or separation from all that was profane. [b Chag. ii. 5, 7; comp. Tohor. vii. 5.] In opposition to these was the Am ha-arets, or 'country people' (the people which knew not, or cared not for the Law, and were regarded as 'cursed').
But it must not be thought that every Chabher was either a learned Scribe, or that every Scribe was a Chabher. On the contrary, as a man might be a Chabher without being either a Scribe or an elder, [c For ex. Kidd. 33 b.] so there must have been sages, and even teachers, who did not belong to the association, since special rules are laid down for the reception of such. [d Bekh. 30.] Candidates had to be formally admitted into the 'fraternity' in the presence of three members. But every accredited public 'teacher' was, unless anything was known to the contrary, supposed to have taken upon him the obligations referred to. [1 Abba Saul would also have freed all students from that formality.] The family of a Chabher belonged, as a matter of course, to the community; [a Bekhor. 30.] but this ordinance was afterwards altered. [2 Comp. the suggestion as to the significant time when this alteration was introduced, in 'Sketches of Jewish Social Life,' pp. 228, 229.] The Neeman undertook these four obligations: to tithe what he ate, what he sold, and what he bought, and not to be a guest with an Am ha-arets. [b Dem. ii. 2.] The full Chabher undertook not to sell to an 'Am ha-arets' any fluid or dry substance (nutriment or fruit), not to buy from him any such fluid, not to be a guest with him, not to entertain him as a guest in his own clothes (on account of their possible impurity), to which one authority adds other particulars, which, however, were not recognised by the Rabbis generally as of primary importance. [c Demai ii.3.]
These two great obligations of the 'official' Pharisee, or 'Associate' are pointedly referred to by Christ, both that in regard to tithing (the vow of the Neeman); [d In St. Luke xi.42; xviii. 12; St. Matt. xxiii. 23.] and that in regard to Levitical purity (the special vow of the Chabher). [e In St. Luke xi. 39, 41; St. Matt. xxiii. 25, 26.] In both cases they are associated with a want of corresponding inward reality, and with hypocrisy. These charges cannot have come upon the people by surprise, and they may account for the circumstance that so many of the learned kept aloof from the 'Association' as such. Indeed, the sayings of some of the Rabbis in regard to Pharisaism and the professional Pharisee are more withering than any in the New Testament.
It is not necessary here to repeat the well-known description, both in the Jerusalem and the Babylon Talmud, of the seven kinds of 'Pharisees,' of whom six (the 'Shechemite,' the 'stumbling,' the 'bleeding,' the 'mortar,' the 'I want to know what is incumbent on me,' and 'the Pharisee from fear') mark various kinds of unreality, and only one is 'the Pharisee from love.' [f Sot. 22 b; Jer. Ber. ix. 7.]
Such an expression as 'the plague of Pharisaism' is not uncommon; and a silly pietist, a clever sinner, and a female Pharisee, are ranked among 'the troubles of life.' [g Sot. iii. 4.] 'Shall we then explain a verse according to the opinions of the Pharisees?' asks a Rabbi, in supreme contempt for the arrogance of the fraternity. [h Pes. 70 b.] 'It is as a tradition among the pharisees [i Abhoth de R. Nathan 5.] to torment themselves in this world, and yet they will gain nothing by it in the next.'
The Sadducees had some reason for the taunt, that 'the Pharisees would by-and-by subject the globe of the sun itself to their purifications,' [k Jer. Chag. 79 d; Tos. Chag. iii.] the more so that their assertions of purity were sometimes conjoined with Epicurean maxims, betokening a very different state of mind, such as, 'Make haste to eat and drink, for the world which we quit resembles a wedding feast;' or this: 'My son, if thou possess anything, enjoy thyself, for there is no pleasure in Hades, [1 Erub. 54 a. I give the latter clause, not as in our edition of the Talmud, but according to a more correct reading (Levy, Neuhebr. Worterb. vol. ii. p. 102).] and death grants no respite. But if thou sayest, What then would I leave to my sons and daughters? Who will thank thee for this appointment in Hades?' Maxims these to which, alas! too many of their recorded stories and deeds form a painful commentary. [2 It could serve no good purpose to give instances. They are readily accessible to those who have taste or curiosity in that direction.]
But it would be grossly unjust to identify Pharisaism, as a religious direction, with such embodiments of it or even with the official 'fraternity.' While it may be granted that the tendency and logical sequence of their views and practices were such, their system, as opposed to Sadduceeism, had very serious bearings: dogmatic, ritual, and legal. It is, however, erroneous to suppose, either that their system represented traditionalism itself, or that Scribes and Pharisees are convertible terms, [3 So, erroneously, Wellhausen, in his treatise 'Pharisaer u. Sadduc.'; and partially, as it seems to me, even Schurer (Neutest. Zeitgesch.). In other respects also these two learned men seem too much under the influence of Geiger and Kuenen.] while the Sadducees represented the civil and political element.
The Pharisees represented only the prevailing system of, no traditionalism itself; while the Sadducees also numbered among them many learned men. They were able to enter into controversy, often protracted and fierce, with their opponents, and they acted as members of the Sanhedrin, although they had diverging traditions of their own, and even, as it would appear, at one time a complete code of canon-law. [a Megill. Taan. Per. iv. ed. Warsh. p. 8 a.] [4 Wellhausen has carried his criticisms and doubts of the Hebrew Scholion on the Megill. Taan. (or 'Roll of Fasts') too far.] Moreover, the admitted fact, that when in office the Sadducees conformed to the principles and practices of the Pharisees, proves at least that they must have been acquainted with the ordinances of traditionalism. [5 Even such a book as the Meg. Taan. does not accuse them of absolute ignorance, but only of being unable to prove their dicta from Scripture (comp. Pereq x. p. 15 b, which may well mark the extreme of Anti-Sadduceeism).]
Lastly, there were certain traditional ordinances on which both parties were at one. [b Sanh. 33 t Horay 4 a.] Thus it seems Sadduceeism was in a sense than a practical system, starting from simple and well-defined principles, but wide-reaching in its possible consequences. Perhaps it may best be described as a general reaction against the extremes of Pharisaism, springing from moderate and rationalistic tendencies; intended to secure a footing within the recognised bounds of Judaism; and seeking to defend its principles by a strict literalism of interpretation and application. If so, these interpretations would be intended rather for defensive than offensive purposes, and the great aim of the party would be after rational freedom, or, it might be, free rationality. Practically, the party would, of course, tend in broad, and often grossly unorthodox, directions.
The fundamental dogmatic differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees concerned: the rule of faith and practice; the 'after death;' the existence of angels and spirits; and free will and pre-destination.
In regard to the first of these points, it has already been stated that the Sadducees did not lay down the principle of absolute rejection of all traditions as such, but that they were opposed to traditionalism as represented and carried out by the Pharisees. When put down by sheer weight of authority, they would probably carry the controversy further, and retort on their opponents by an appeal to Scripture as against their traditions, perhaps ultimately even by an attack on traditionalism; but always as represented by the Pharisees. [1 Some traditional explanation of the Law of Moses was absolutely necessary, if it was to be applied to existing circumstances.
It would be a great historical inaccuracy to imagine that the Sadducees rejected the whole (St.Matt. xv. 2) from Ezra downwards.] A careful examination of the statements of Josephus on this subject will show that they convey no more than this. [2 This is the meaning of Ant. xiii. 10. 6, and clearly implied in xviii. 1,3,4, and War ii. 8. 14.]
The Pharisaic view of this aspect of the controversy appears, perhaps, most satisfactorily because indirectly, in certain sayings of the Mishnah, which attribute all national calamities to those persons, whom they adjudge to eternal perdition, who interpret Scripture 'not as does the Halakhah,' or established Pharisaic rule. [a Ab.iii. 11; v 8.] In this respect, then, the commonly received idea concerning the Pharisees and Sadducees will require to be seriously modified. As regards the practice of the Pharisees, as distinguished from that of the Sadducees, we may safely treat the statements of Josephus as the exaggerated representations of a partisan, who wishes to place his party in the best light. It is, indeed, true that the Pharisees, 'interpreting the legal ordinances with rigour,' [b Jos. War i. 5.2.] [3 M. Derenbourg (Hist. de la Palest., p. 122, note) rightly remarks, that the Rabbinic equivalent for Josephus' is heaviness, and that the Pharisees were the or 'makers heavy.'
What a commentary this on the charge of Jesus about 'the heavy burdens' of the Pharisees! St. Paul uses the same term as Josephus to describe the Pharisaic system, where our A.V. renders 'the perfect manner' (Acts xxii. 3). Comp. also Acts xxvi. 5: .] imposed on themselves the necessity of much self-denial, especially in regard to food, [c Ant. xviii. 1. 3.] but that their practice was under the guidance of reason, as Josephus asserts, is one of those bold mis-statements with which he has too often to be credited. His vindication of their special reverence for age and authority [a Ant. xviii. 1.3.] must refer to the honours paid by the party to 'the Elders,' not to the old. And that there was sufficient ground for Sadducean opposition to Pharisaic traditionalism, alike in principle and in practice, will appear from the following quotation, to which we add, by way of explanation, that the wearing of phylacteries was deemed by that party of Scriptural obligation, and that the phylactery for the head was to consist (according to tradition) of four compartments.
'Against the words of the Scribes is more punishable than against the words of Scripture. He who says, No phylacteries, so as to transgress the words of Scripture, is not guilty (free); five compartments, to add to the words of the Scribes, he is guilty.' [b Sanh. xi. 3.] [1 The subject is discussed at length in Jer. Ber. i. 7 (p. 3 b), where the superiority of the Scribe over the Prophet is shown (1) from Mic. ii. 6 (without the words in italics), the one class being the Prophets ('prophesy not'), the other the Scribes ('prophesy'); (2) from the fact that the Prophets needed the attestation of miracles. (Duet. xiii. 2), but not the Scribes (Deut. xvii. 11).]
The second doctrinal difference between Pharisees and Sadducees concerned the 'after death.' According to the New Testament, [c St. Matt xxii. 23, and parallel passages; Acts iv. 1, 2; xxiii. 8.] the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead, while Josephus, going further, imputes to them denial of reward or punishment after death, [d War ii. 8. 14.] and even the doctrine that the soul perishes with the body. [e Ant. xviii 1. 4.] The latter statement may be dismissed as among those inferences which theological controversialists are too fond of imputing to their opponents.
This is fully borne out by the account of a later work, to the effect, that by successive misunderstandings of the saying of Antigonus of Socho, that men were to serve God without regard to reward, his later pupils had arrived at the inference that there was no other world, which, however, might only refer to the Pharisaic ideal of 'the world to come,' not to the denial of the immortality of the soul, and no resurrection of the dead. We may therefore credit Josephus with merely reporting the common inference of his party. But it is otherwise in regard to their denial of the resurrection of the dead. Not only Josephus, but the New Testament and Rabbinic writings attest this. The Mishnah expressly states [g Ber ix. 5.] that the formula 'from age to age,' or rather 'from world to world,' had been introduced as a protest against the opposite theory; while the Talmud, which records disputations between Gamaliel and the Sadducees [2 This is admitted even by Geiger (Urschr. u. Uebers. p. 130, note), though in the passage above referred to he would emendate: 'Scribes of the Samaritans.'
The passage, however, implies that these were Sadducean Scribes, and that they were both willing and able to enter into theological controversy with their opponents.] on the subject of the resurrection, expressly imputes the denial of this doctrine to the 'Scribes of the Sadducees.' In fairness it is perhaps only right to add that, in the discussion, the Sadducees seem only to have actually denied that there was proof for this doctrine in the Pentateuch, and that they ultimately professed themselves convinced by the reasoning of Gamaliel. [1 Rabbi Gamaliel's proof was taken from Deut. i. 8: 'Which Jehovah sware unto your fathers to give unto them.' It is not said 'unto you,' but unto 'them,' which implies the resurrection of the dead.
The argument is kindred in character, but far inferior in solemnity and weight, to that employed by our Lord, St. Matt. xxii. 32, from which it is evidently taken. (See book v. ch. iv., the remarks on that passage.)] Still the concurrent testimony of the New Testament and of Josephus leaves no doubt, that in this instance their views had not been misrepresented. Whether or not their opposition to the doctrine of the Resurrection arose in the first instance from, or was prompted by, Rationalistic views, which they endeavoured to support by an appeal to the letter of the Pentateuch, as the source of traditionalism, it deserves notice that in His controversy with the Sadducees Christ appealed to the Pentateuch in proof of His teaching. [2 It is a curious circumstance in connection with the question of the Sadducees, that it raised another point in controversy between the Pharisees and the 'Samaritans,' or, as I would read it, the Sadducees, since 'the Samaritans' (Sadducees?) only allowed marriage with the betrothed, not the actually wedded wife of a deceased childless brother (Jer Yebam. i. 6, p. 3 a). The Sadducees in the Gospel argue on the Pharisaic theory, apparently for the twofold object of casting ridicule on the doctrine of the Resurrection, and on the Pharisaic practice of marriage with the espoused wife of a deceased brother.]
Connected with this was the equally Rationalistic opposition to belief in Angels and Spirits. It is only mentioned in the New Testament, [a Acts xxiii.] but seems almost to follow as a corollary. Remembering what the Jewish Angelology was, one can scarcely wonder that in controversy the Sadducees should have been led to the opposite extreme.
The last dogmatic difference between the two 'sects' concerned that problem which has at all times engaged religious thinkers: man's free will and God's pre-ordination, or rather their compatibility. Josephus, or the reviser whom he employed, indeed, uses the purely heathen expression 'fate' ( ) [3 The expression is used in the heathen (philosophical) sense of fate by Philo, De Incorrupt. Mundi. section 10. ed. Mangey, vol. ii. p. 496 (ed. Fref. p. 947).] to designate the Jewish idea of the pre-ordination of God. But, properly understood, the real difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees seems to have amounted to this: that the former accentuated God's preordination, the latter man's free will; and that, while the Pharisees admitted only a partial influence of the human element on what happened, or the co-operation of the human with the Divine, the Sadducees denied all absolute pre-ordination, and made man's choice of evil or good, with its consequences of misery or happiness, to depend entirely on the exercise of free will and self-determination.
And in this, like many opponents of 'Predestinarianism,' they seem to have started from the principle, that it was impossible for God 'either to commit or to foresee [in the sense of fore-ordaining] anything evil.' The mutual misunderstanding here was that common in all such controversies. Although [a In Jewish War ii. 8. 14.] Josephus writes as if, according to the Pharisees, the chief part in every good action depended upon fate [pre-ordination] rather than on man's doing, yet in another place [b Ant. xviii. 1. 3.] he disclaims for them the notion that the will of man was destitute of spontaneous activity, and speaks somewhat confusedly, for he is by no means a good reasoner, of 'a mixture' of the Divine and human elements, in which the human will, with its sequence of virtue or wickedness, is subject to the will of fate.
A yet further modification of this statement occurs in another place, [c Ant. xiii. 5. 9.] where we are told that, according to the Pharisees, some things depended upon fate, and more on man himself. Manifestly, there is not a very wide difference between this and the fundamental principle of the Sadducees in what we may suppose its primitive form.
But something more will have to be said as illustrative of Pharisaic teaching on this subject. No one who has entered into the spirit of the Old Testament can doubt that its outcome was faith, in its twofold aspect of acknowledgment of the absolute Rule, and simple submission to the Will, of God. What distinguished this so widely from fatalism was what may be termed Jehovahism, that is, the moral element in its thoughts of God, and that He was ever presented as in paternal relationship to men. But the Pharisees carried their accentuation of the Divine to the verge of fatalism. Even the idea that God had created man with two impulses, the one to good, the other to evil; and that the latter was absolutely necessary for the continuance of this world, would in some measure trace the causation of moral evil to the Divine Being.
The absolute and unalterable pre-ordination of every event, to its minutest details, is frequently insisted upon. Adam had been shown all the generations that were to spring from him. Every incident in the history of Israel had been foreordained, and the actors in it, for good or for evil, were only instruments for carrying out the Divine Will. What were ever Moses and Aaron? God would have delivered Israel out of Egypt, and given them the Law, had there been no such persons. Similarly was it in regard to Solomon. to Esther, to Nebuchadnezzar, and others. Nay, it was because man was predestined to die that the serpent came to seduce our first parents.
And as regarded the history of each individual: all that concerned his mental and physical capacity, or that would betide him, was prearranged. His name, place, position, circumstances, the very name of her whom he was to wed, were proclaimed in heaven, just as the hour of his death was foreordered. There might be seven years of pestilence in the land, and yet no one died before his time. [a Sanh. 29 a.] Even if a man inflicted a cut on his finger, he might be sure that this also had been preordered. [b Chull. 7 b.]
Nay, 'wheresoever a man was destined to die, thither would his feet carry him.' [1 The following curious instance of this is given. On one occasion King Solomon, when attended by his two Scribes, Elihoreph and Ahiah (both supposed to have been Ethiopians), suddenly perceived the Angel of Death. As he looked so sad, Solomon ascertained as its reason, that the two Scribes had been demanded at his hands. On this Solomon transported them by magic into the land of Luz, where, according to legend, no man ever died.
Next morning Solomon again perceived the Angel of Death, but this time laughing, because, as he said. Solomon had sent these men to the very place whence he had been ordered to fetch them (Sukk, 53 a).] We can well understand how the Sadducees would oppose notions like these, and all such coarse expressions of fatalism. And it is significant of the exaggeration of Josephus, [2 Those who understand the character of Josephus' writings will be at no loss for his reasons in this. It would suit his purpose to speak often of the fatalism of the Pharisees, and to represent them as a philosophical sect like the Stoics. The latter, indeed, he does in so many words.] that neither the New Testament, nor Rabbinic writings, bring the charge of the denial of God's prevision against the Sadducees.
But there is another aspect of this question also. While the Pharisees thus held the doctrine of absolute preordination, side by side with it they were anxious to insist on man's freedom of choice, his personal responsibility, and moral obligation. [3 For details comp. Hamburger, Real-Encykl. ii. pp. 103-106, though there is some tendency to 'colouring' in this as in other articles of the work.] Although every event depended upon God, whether a man served God or not was entirely in his own choice. As a logical sequence of this, fate had no influence as regarded Israel, since all depended on prayer, repentance, and good works. Indeed, otherwise that repentance, on which Rabbinism so largely insists, would have had no meaning.
Moreover, it seems as if it had been intended to convey that, while our evil actions were entirely our own choice, if a man sought to amend his ways, he would be helped of God. [c Yoma 38 b.] It was, indeed, true that God had created the evil impulse in us; but He had also given the remedy in the Law. [a Baba B. 16 a.] This is parabolically represented under the figure of a man seated at the parting of two ways, who warned all passers that if they chose one road it would lead them among the thorns, while on the other brief difficulties would end in a plain path (joy). [b Siphre on Deut. xi. 26, 53, ed. Friedmann, p. 86 a.] Or, to put it in the language of the great Akiba [c Ab. iii. 15.]: 'Everything is foreseen; free determination is accorded to man; and the world is judged in goodness.' With this simple juxtaposition of two propositions equally true, but incapable of metaphysical combination, as are most things in which the empirically cognisable and uncognisable are joined together, we are content to leave the matter.
The other differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees can be easily and briefly summed up. They concern ceremonial, ritual, and juridical questions. In regard to the first, the opposition of the Sadducees to the excessive scruples of the Pharisees on the subject of Levitical defilements led to frequent controversy. Four points in dispute are mentioned, of which, however, three read more like ironical comments than serious divergences. Thus, the Sadducees taunted their opponents with their many lustrations, including that of the Golden Candlestick in the Temple. [d Jer. Chag iii. 8; Tos. Chag. iii., where the reader will find sufficient proof that the Sadducees were not in the wrong.] Two other similar instances are mentioned. [e In Yad, iv. 6, 7.] By way of guarding against the possibility of profanation, the Pharisees enacted, that the touch of any thing sacred 'defiled' the hands. The Sadducees, on the other hand, ridiculed the idea that the Holy Scriptures 'defiled' the hands, but not such a book as Homer.
[1 The Pharisees replied by asking on what ground the bones of a High-Priest 'defiled,' but not those of a donkey. And when the Sadducees ascribed it to the great value of the former, lest a man should profane the bones of his parents by making spoons of them, the Pharisees pointed out that the same argument applied to defilement by the Holy Scriptures. In general, it seems that the Pharisees were afraid of the satirical comments of the Sadducees on their doings (comp. Parah iii.
3).] In the same spirit, the Sadducees would ask the Pharisees how it came, that water pouring from a clean into an unclean vessel did not lose its purity and purifying power. [2 Wellhausen rightly denounces the strained interpretation of Geiger, who would find here, as in other points, hidden political allusions.] If these represent no serious controversies, on another ceremonial question there was real difference, though its existence shows how far party-spirit could lead the Pharisees. No ceremony was surrounded with greater care to prevent defilement than that of preparing the ashes of the Red Heifer.
[3 Comp. 'The Temple, its Ministry and Services,' pp. 309, 312. The rubrics are in the Mishnic tractate Parab, and in Tos. Par.] What seem the original ordinances, [a Parah iii,; Tos. Par. 3.] directed that, for seven days previous to the burning of the Red Heifer, the priest was to be kept in separation in the Temple, sprinkled with the ashes of all sin-offerings, and kept from the touch of his brother-priests, with even greater rigour than the High-Priest in his preparation for the Day of Atonement. The Sadducees insisted that, as 'till sundown' was the rule in all purification, the priest must be in cleanliness till then, before burning the Red Heifer.
But, apparently for the sake of opposition, and in contravention to their own principles, the Pharisees would actually 'defile' the priest on his way to the place of burning, and then immediately make him take a bath of purification which had been prepared, so as to show that the Sadducees were in error. [b Parah iii. 7.] [1 The Mishnic passage is difficult, but I believe I have given the sense correctly.] In the same spirit, the Sadducees seem to have prohibited the use of anything made from animals which were either interdicted as food, or by reason of their not having been properly slaughtered; while the Pharisees allowed it, and, in the case of Levitically clean animals which had died or been torn, even made their skin into parchment, which might be used for sacred purposes. [c Shabb. 108 a.]
These may seem trifling distinctions, but they sufficed to kindle the passions. Even greater importance attached to differences on ritual questions, although the controversy here was purely theoretical. For, the Sadducees, when in office, always conformed to the prevailing Pharisaic practices. Thus the Sadducees would have interpreted Lev. xxiii. 11, 15, 16, as meaning that the wave-sheaf (or, rather, the Omer) was to be offered on 'the morrow after the weekly Sabbath', that is, on the Sunday in Easter week, which would have brought the Feast of Pentecost always on a Sunday; [d Vv. 15, 16.] while the Pharisees understood the term 'Sabbath' of the festive Paschal day. [e Men. x. 3; 65 a; Chag. ii. 4.][2 This difference, which is more intricate than appears at first sight, requires a longer discussion than can be given in this place.]
Connected with this were disputes about the examination of the witnesses who testified to the appearance of the new moon, and whom the Pharisees accused of having been suborned by their opponents. [f Rosh haSh. i. 7; ii. 1; Tos. Rosh haSh. ed. Z. i. 15.]
The Sadducean objection to pouring the water of libation upon the altar on the Feast of Tabernacles, led to riot and bloody reprisals on the only occasion on which it seems to have been carried into practice. [g Sukk. 48 b; comp. Jos. Ant. xiii 13. 5.] [3 For details about the observances on this festival I must refer to 'The Temple, its Ministry and Services.'] Similarly, the Sadducees objected to the beating off the willow-branches after the procession round the altar on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, if it were a Sabbath. [a Sukk. 43 b; and in the Jerus. Talm. and Tos. Sukk. iii. 1.]
Again, the Sadducees would have had the High-Priest, on the Day of Atonement, kindle the incense before entering the Most Holy Place; the Pharisees after he had entered the Sanctuary. [b Jer. Yoma i. 5; Yoma 19 b; 53 a.] Lastly, the Pharisees contended that the cost of the daily Sacrifices should be discharged from the general Temple treasury, while the Sadducees would have paid it from free-will offerings. Other differences, which seem not so well established, need not here be discussed.
Among the divergences on juridical questions, reference has already been made to that in regard to marriage with the 'betrothed,' or else actually espoused widow of a deceased, childless brother. Josephus, indeed, charges the Sadducees with extreme severity in criminal matters; [c Specially Ant. xx. 9.] but this must refer to the fact that the ingenuity or punctiliousness of the Pharisees would afford to most offenders a loophole of escape. On the other hand, such of the diverging juridical principles of the Sadducees, as are attested on trustworthy authority, [1 Other differences, which rest merely on the authority of the Hebrew Commentary on 'The Roll of Fasts,' I have discarded as unsupported by historical evidence.
I am sorry to have in this respect, and on some other aspect of the question, to differ from the learned Article on 'The Sadducees,' in Kitto's Bibl. Encycl.] seem more in accordance with justice than those of the Pharisees. They concerned (besides the Levirate marriage) chiefly three points. According to the Sadducees, the punishment [d Decreed in Deut. xix. 21.] against false witnesses was only to be executed if the innocent person, condemned on their testimony, had actually suffered punishment, while the Pharisees held that this was to be done if the sentence had been actually pronounced, although not carried out. [e Makk. i. 6.]
Again, according to Jewish law, only a son, but not a daughter, inherited the father's property. From this the Pharisees argued, that if, at the time of his father's decease, that son were dead, leaving only a daughter, this granddaughter would (as representative of the son) be the heir, while the daughter would be excluded. On the other hand, the Sadducees held that, in such a case, daughter and granddaughter should share alike. [f Baba B. 115 b; Tos. Yad.ii. 20.]
Lastly, the Sadducees argued that if, according to Exodus xxi. 28,29, a man was responsible for damage done by his cattle, he was equally, if not more, responsible for damage done by his slave, while the Pharisees refused to recognise any responsibility on the latter score. [g Yad. iv. 7 and Tos. Yad.] [2 Geiger, and even Derenbourg, see in these things deep political allusions, these things deep political allusions, which, as it seems to me, have no other existence than in the ingenuity of these writers.
For the sake of completeness it has been necessary to enter into details, which may not posses a general interest. This, however, will be marked, that, with the exception of dogmatic differences, the controversy turned on questions of 'canon-law.' Josephus tells us that the Pharisees commanded the masses, [a Ant. xiii. 10. 6.] and especially the female world, [b Ant. xvii. 2. 4.] while the Sadducees attached to their ranks only a minority, and that belonging to the highest class. The leading priests in Jerusalem formed, of course, part of that highest class of society; and from the New Testament and Josephus we learn that the High-Priestly families belonged to the Sadducean party. [c Acts v. 17; Ant. xx. 9.)] But to conclude from this, [1 So Wellhausen, u. s.] either that the Sadducees represented the civil and political aspect of society, and the Pharisees the religious; or, that the Sadducees were the priest-party, [2 So Geiger, u. s.] in opposition to the popular and democratic Pharisees, are inferences not only unsupported, but opposed to historical facts.
For, not a few of the Pharisaic leaders were actually priests, [d Sheqal. iv. 4; vi. 1; Eduy. viii. 2; Ab. ii. B &c.] while the Pharisaic ordinances make more than ample recognition of the privileges and rights of the Priesthood. This would certainly not have been the case if, as some have maintained, Sadducean and priest-party had been convertible terms. Even as regards the deputation to the Baptist of 'Priests and Levites' from Jerusalem, we are expressly told that they 'were of the Pharisees.' [e St. John i. 24.]
This bold hypothesis seems, indeed, to have been invented chiefly for the sake of another, still more unhistorical. The derivation of the name 'Sadducee' has always been in dispite. According to a Jewish legend of about the seventh century of our era, [f In the Ab. de R. Nath. c. 5.] the name was derived from one Tsadoq (Zadok), [3 Tseduqim and Tsadduqim mark different transliterations of the name Sadducees.] a disciple of Antigonus of Socho, whose principle of not serving God for reward had been gradually misinterpreted into Sadduceeism.
But, apart from the objection that in such case the party should rather have taken the name of Antigonites, the story itself receives no support either from Josephus or from early Jewish writings. Accordingly modern critics have adopted another hypothesis, which seems at least equally untenable. On the supposition that the Sadducees were the 'priest-party,' the name of the sect is derived from Zadok (Tsadoq), the High-Priest in the time of Solomon. [4 This theory, defended with ingenuity by Geiger, had been of late adopted by most writers, and even by Schurer. But not a few of the statements hazarded by Dr. Geiger seem to me to have no historical foundation, and the passages quoted in support either do not convey such meaning, or else are of no authority.]
But the objections to this are insuperable. Not to speak of the linguistic difficulty of deriving Tsadduqim (Zaddukim, Sadducees) from Tsadoq (Zadok), [5 So Dr. Low, as quoted in Dr. Ginsburg's article.] neither Josephus nor the Rabbis know anything of such a connection between Tsadoq and the Sadducees, of which, indeed, the rationale would be difficult to perceive. Besides, is it likely that a party would have gone back so many centuries for a name, which had no connection with their distinctive principles? The name of a party is, if self-chosen (which is rarely the case), derived from its founder or place of origin, or else from what it claims as distinctive principles or practices.
Opponents might either pervert such a name, or else give a designation, generally opprobrious, which would express their own relation to the party, or to some of its supposed peculiarities. But on none of these principles can the origin of the name of Sadducees from Tsadoq be accounted for. Lastly, on the supposition mentioned, the Sadducees must have given the name to their party, since it cannot be imagined that the Pharisees would have connected their opponents with the honoured name of the High-Priest Tsadoq.
If it is highly improbable that the Sadducees, who, of course, professed to be the right interpreters of Scripture, would choose any party-name, thereby stamping themselves as sectaries, this derivation of their name is also contrary to historical analogy. For even the name Pharisees, 'Perushim,' 'separated ones,' was not taken by the party itself, but given to it by their opponents. [a Yad. iv. 6 &c.] [1The argument as against the derivation of the term Sadducee would, of course, hold equally good, even if each party had assumed, not received from the other, its characteristic name.]
From 1 Macc. ii. 42; vii. 13; 2 Macc. xiv. 6, it appears that originally they had taken the sacred name of Chasidim, or 'the pious.' [b Ps. xxx. 4; xxxi. 23; xxxvii. 28.] This, no doubt, on the ground that they were truly those who, according to the directions of Ezra, [c vi. 21; ix. 1; x. 11; Neh. ix. 2.] had separated themselves (become nibhdalim) 'from the filthiness of the heathen' (all heathen defilement) by carrying out the traditional ordinances. [2 Comp. generally, 'Sketches of Jewish Social Life,' pp. 230, 231.] In fact, Ezra marked the beginning of the 'later,' in contradistinction to the 'earlier,' or Scripture-Chasidim. [d Ber. v. 1; comp. with Vayyikra R. 2, ed. Warsh. t. iii. p. 5 a.]
If we are correct in supposing that their opponents had called them Perushim, instead of the Scriptural designation of Nibhdalim, the inference is at hand, that, while the 'Pharisees' would arrogate to themselves the Scriptural name of Chasidim, or 'the pious,' their opponents would retort that they were satisfied to be Tsaddiqim, [3 Here it deserves special notice that the Old Testament term Chasid, which the Pharisees arrogated to themselves, is rendered in the Peshito by Zaddiq. Thus, as it were, the opponents of Pharisaism would play off the equivalent Tsaddiq against the Pharisaic arrogation of Chasid.] or 'righteous.'
Thus the name of Tsaddiqim would become that of the party opposing the Pharisees, that is, of the Sadducees. There is, indeed, an admitted linguistic difficulty in the change of the sound i into u (Tsaddiqim into Tsadduqim), but may it not have been that this was accomplished, not grammatically, but by popular witticism? Such mode of giving a 'by-name' to a party or government is, at least, not irrational, nor is it uncommon. [1 Such by-names, by a play on a word, are not unfrequent. Thus, in Shem. R. 5 (ed. Warsh. p. 14 a, lines 7 and 8 from top), Pharaoh's charge that the Israelites were 'idle,' is, by a transposition of letters made to mean that they were.]
Some wit might have suggested: Read not Tsaddiqim, the 'righteous,' but Tsadduqim (from Tsadu,), 'desolation,' 'destruction.' Whether or not this suggestion approve itself to critics, the derivation of Sadducees from Tsaddiqim is certainly that which offers most probability. [2 It seems strange, that so accurate a scholar as Schurer should have regarded the 'national party' as merely an offshoot from the Pharisees (Neutest. Zeitgesch. p. 431), and appealed in proof to a passage in Josephus (Ant. xviii. 1.6), which expressly calls the Nationalists a fourth party, by the side of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. That in practice they would carry out the strict Judaism of the Pharisees, does not make them Pharisees.]
. This uncertainty as to the origin of the name of a party leads almost naturally to the mention of another, which, indeed, could not be omitted in any description of those times. But while the Pharisees and Sadducees were parties within the Synagogue, the Essenes ( or, the latter always in Philo) were, although strict Jews, yet separatists, and, alike in doctrine, worship, and practice, outside the Jewish body ecclesiastic. Their numbers amounted to only about 4,000. [a Philo, Quod omnis probus liber, 12, ed, Mang. ii. p. 457; Jos. Ant. xviii. 1.5.]
They are not mentioned in the New Testament, and only very indirectly referred to in Rabbinic writings, perhaps without clear knowledge on the part of the Rabbis. If the conclusion concerning them, which we shall by-and-by indicate, be correct, we can scarcely wonder at this. Indeed, their entire separation from all who did not belong to their sect, the terrible oaths by which they bound themselves to secrecy about their doctrines, and which would prevent any free religious discussion, as well as the character of what is know of their views, would account for the scanty notices about them. Josephus and Philo, [3 They are also mentioned by Pliny (Hist. Natur. v. 16).] who speak of them in the most sympathetic manner, had, no doubt, taken special pains to ascertain all that could be learned.
For this Josephus seems to have enjoyed special opportunities. [4 This may be inferred from Josephus Life, c. 2.] Still, the secrecy of their doctrines renders us dependent on writers, of whom at least one (Josephus) lies open to the suspicion of colouring and exaggeration. But of one thing we may feel certain: neither John the Baptist, and his Baptism, nor the teaching of Christianity, had any connection with Essenism. It were utterly unhistorical to infer such from a few points of contact, and these only of similarity, not identity, when the differences between them are so fundamental.
That an Essene would have preached repentance and the Kingdom of God to multitudes, baptized the uninitiated, and given supreme testimony to One like Jesus, are assertions only less extravagant than this, that One Who mingled with society as Jesus did, and Whose teaching, alike in that respect, and in all its tendencies, was so utterly Non-, and even Anti-Essenic, had derived any part of His doctrine from Essenism. Besides, when we remember the views of the Essenes on purification, and on Sabbath observance, and their denial of the Resurrection, we feel that, whatever points of resemblance critical ingenuity may emphasize, the teaching of Christianity was in a direction opposite from that of Essenism. [1 This point is conclusively disposed of by Bishop Lightfoot in the third Dissertation appended to his Commentary on the Colossians (pp. 397-419).
In general, the masterly discussion of the whole subject by Bishop Lightfoot, alike in the body of the Commentary and in the three Dissertations appended, may be said to form a new era in the treatment of the whole question, the points on which we would venture to express dissent being few and unimportant. The reader who wishes to see a statement of the supposed analogy between Essenism and the teaching of Christ will find it in Dr. Ginsburg's Article 'Essenes,' in Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography. The same line of argument has been followed by Frankel and Gartz. The reasons for the opposite view are set forth in the text.]
We posses no data for the history of the origin and development (if such there was) of Essenism. We may admit a certain connection between Pharisaism and Essenism, though it has been greatly exaggerated by modern Jewish writers. Both directions originated from a desire after 'purity,' though there seems a fundamental difference between them, alike in the idea of what constituted purity, and in the means for attaining it. To the Pharisee it was Levitical and legal purity, secured by the 'hedge' of ordinances which they drew around themselves. To the Essene it was absolute purity in separation from the 'material,' which in itself was defiling.
The Pharisee attained in this manner the distinctive merit of a saint; the Essene obtained a higher fellowship with the Divine, 'inward' purity, and not only freedom from the detracting, degrading influence of matter, but command over matter and nature. As the result of this higher fellowship with the Divine, the adept possessed the power of prediction; as the result of his freedom from, and command over matter, the power of miraculous cures. That their purifications, strictest Sabbath observance, and other practices, would form points of contact with Pharisaism, follows as a matter of course; and a little reflection will show, that such observances would naturally be adopted by the Essenes, since they were within the lines of Judaism, although separatists from its body ecclesiastic.
On the other hand, their fundamental tendency was quite other than that of Pharisaism, and strongly tinged with Eastern (Parsee) elements. After this the inquiry as to the precise date of its origin, and whether Essenism was an offshoot from the original (ancient) Assideans or Chasidim, seems needless. Certain it is that we find its first mention about 150 B.C., [a Jos. Ant. xiii. 5. 9.] and that we meet the first Essence in the reign of Aristobulus I. [b 105-104 B.C.; Ant. xiii. 11. 2; War i. 3. 5.]
Before stating our conclusions as to its relation to Judaism and the meaning of the name, we shall put together what information may be derived of the sect from the writings of Josephus, Philo, and Pliny. [1 Compare Josephus, Ant. xiii. 5, 9; xv. 10. 4, 5; xviii. 1. 5; Jewish War, ii. 8, 2-13; Philo, Quod omnis probus liber, 12, 13 (ed. Mangey, ii. 457-459; ed. Par. and Frcf. pp. 876-879; ed. Richter, vol. v. pp. 285-288); Pliny, N.H. v. 16, 17. For references in the Fathers see Bp. Lightfoot on Colossians, pp. 83, 84 (note). Comp. the literature there and in Schurer (Neutest. Zeitgesch. p. 599), to which I would add Dr. Ginburg's Art. 'Essenes' in Smith's and Wace's Dict. of Chr. Biogr., vol. ii.]
Even its outward organisation and the mode of life must have made as deep, and, considering the habits and circumstances of the time, even deeper impression than does the strictest asceticism on the part of any modern monastic order, without the unnatural and repulsive characteristics of the latter. There were no vows of absolute silence, broken only by weird chant of prayer or 'memento mori;' no penances, nor self-chastisement. But the person who had entered the 'order' was as effectually separated from all outside as if he had lived in another world. Avoiding the large cities as the centres of immorality, [c Philo, ii.p. 457.] they chose for their settlements chiefly villages, one of their largest colonies being by the shore of the Dead Sea. [d Pliny, Hist. Nat. v. 16, 17.]
At the same time they had also 'houses' inmost, if not all the cities of Palestine, [e Philo, u.s. p. 632; Jos. Jewish War ii. 8. 4.] notably in Jerusalem, [f Ant. xiii. 11.2; xv. 10. 5; xvii. 13.3.] where, indeed, one of the gates was named after them. [g War v. 4.2.] In these 'houses' they lived in common, [h Philo, u.s. p. 632.] under officials of their own. The affairs of 'the order' were administered by a tribunal of at least a hundred members. [i War ii. 8.9.] They wore a common dress, engaged in common labor, united in common prayers, partook of common meals, and devoted themselves to works of charity, for which each had liberty to draw from the common treasury at his own discretion, except in the case of relatives. [a War ii. 8. 6.]
Everything was of the community. It scarcely needs mention that they extended fullest hospitality to strangers belonging to the order; in fact, a special official was appointed for this purpose in every city. [b u. s. sections 4.] Everything was of the simplest character, and intended to purify the soul by the greatest possible avoidance, not only of what was sinful, but of what was material. Rising at dawn, no profane word was spoken till they had offered their prayers. These were addressed towards, if not to, the rising son, probably, as they would have explained it, as the emblem of the Divine Light, but implying invocation, if not adoration, of the sun.
[1 The distinction is Schurer's, although he is disposed to minimise this point. More on this in the sequel.] After that they were dismissed by their officers to common work. The morning meal was preceded by a lustration, or bath. Then they put on their 'festive' linen garments, and entered, purified, the common hall as their Sanctuary. For each meal was sacrificial, in fact, the only sacrifices which they acknowledged. The 'baker,' who was really their priest, and naturally so, since he prepared the sacrifice, set before each bread, and the cook a mess of vegetables. The meal began with prayer by the presiding priest, for those who presided at these 'sacrifices' were also 'priests,' although in neither case probably of Aaronic descent, but consecrated by themselves. [c Jos. War ii 8.5; Ant. xviii. 1. 5.]
The sacrificial meal was again concluded by prayer, when they put off their sacred dress, and returned to their labour. The evening meal was of exactly the same description, and partaken of with the same rites as that of the morning.
Although the Essenes, who, with the exception of a small party among them, repudiated marriage, adopted children to train them in the principles of their sect, [2 Schurer regards these children as forming the first of the four 'classes' or 'grades' into which the Essenes were arranged. But this is contrary to the express statement of Philo, that only adults were admitted into the order, and hence only such could have formed a 'grade' or 'class' of the community. (Comp. ed. Mangey, ii. p. 632, from Eusebius' Praepar. Evang. lib. viii. cap. 8.) I have adopted the view of Bishop Lightfoot on the subject. Even the marrying order of the Essenes, however, only admitted of wedlock under great restrictions, and as a necessary evil (War, u. s. sections 13).
Bishop Lightfoot suggests, that these were not Essenes in the strict sense, but only 'like the third order of a Benedictine or Franciscan brotherhood.] yet admission to the order was only granted to adults, and after a novitiate which lasted three years. On entering, the novice received the three symbols of purity: an axe, or rather a spade, with which to dig a pit, a foot deep, to cover up the excrements; an apron, to bind round the loins in bathing; and a white dress, which was always worn, the festive garment at meals being of linen. At the end of the first year the novice was admitted to the lustrations. He had now entered on the second grade, in which he remained for another year.
After its lapse, he was advanced to the third grade, but still continued a novice, until, at the close of the third year of his probation, he was admitted to the fourth grade, that of full member, when, for the first time, he was admitted to the sacrifice of the common meals. The mere touch of one of a lower grade in the order defiled the Essene, and necessitated the lustration of a bath. Before admission to full membership, a terrible oath was taken. As, among other things, it bound to the most absolute secrecy, we can scarcely suppose that its form, as given by Josephus, [a War ii. 8.7.] contains much beyond what was generally allowed to transpire. Thus the long list given by the Jewish historian of moral obligations which the Essenes undertook, is probably only a rhetorical enlargement of some simple formula.
More credit attaches to the alleged undertaking of avoidance of all vanity, falsehood, dishonesty, and unlawful gains. The last parts of the oath alone indicate the peculiar vows of the sect, that is, so far as they could be learned by the outside world, probably chiefly through the practice of the Essenes. They bound each member not to conceal anything from his own sect, nor, even on peril of death, to disclose their doctrines to others; to hand down their doctrines exactly as they had received them; to abstain from robbery; [1 Can this possibly have any connection in the mind of Josephus with the later Nationalist movement? This would agree with his insistence on their respect for those in authority. Otherwise the emphasis laid on abstinence from robbery seems strange in such a sect.] and to guard the books belonging to their sect, and the names of the Angels.
It is evident that, while all else was intended as safeguards of a rigorous sect of purists, and with the view of strictly keeping it a secret order, the last-mentioned particulars furnish significant indications of their peculiar doctrines. Some of these may be regarded as only exaggerations of Judaism, though not of the Pharisaic kind. [2 I venture to think that even Bishop Lightfoot lays too much stress on the affinity to Pharisaism. I can discover few, if any, traces of Pharisaism in the distinctive sense of the term. Even their frequent washings had a different object from those of the Pharisees.] Among them we reckon the extravagant reverence for the name of their legislator (presumably Moses), whom to blaspheme was a capital offence; their rigid abstinence from all prohibited food; and their exaggerated Sabbath-observance, when, not only no food was prepared, but not a vessel moved, nay, not even nature eased.
[3 For a similar reason, and in order 'not to affront the Divine rays of light', the light as symbol, if not outcome, of the Deity, they covered themselves, in such circumstances, with the mantle which was their ordinary dress in winter.] But this latter was connected with their fundamental idea of inherent impurity in the body, and, indeed, in all that is material. Hence, also, their asceticism, their repudiation of marriage, and their frequent lustrations in clean water, not only before their sacrificial meals, but upon contact even with an Essene of a lower grade, and after attending to the calls of nature. Their undoubted denial of the resurrection of the body seems only the logical sequence from it. If the soul was a substance of the subtlest ether, drawn by certain natural enticement into the body, which was its prison, a state of perfectness could not have consisted in the restoration of that which, being material, was in itself impure.
And, indeed, what we have called the exaggerated Judaism of the sect, its rigid abstinence from all forbidden food, and peculiar Sabbath-observance, may all have had the same object, that of tending towards an external purism, which the Divine legislator would have introduced, but the 'carnally-minded' could not receive. Hence, also, the strict separation of the order, its grades, its rigorous discipline, as well as its abstinence from wine, meat, and all ointments, from every luxury, even from trades which would encourage this, or any vice. This aim after external purity explains many of their outward arrangements, such as that their labour was of the simplest kind, and the commonality of all property in the order; perhaps, also, what may seem more ethical ordinances, such as the repudiation of slavery, their refusal to take an oath, and even their scrupulous care of truth.
The white garments, which they always wore, seem to have been but a symbol of that purity which they sought. For this purpose they submitted, not only to strict asceticism, but to a discipline which gave the officials authority to expel all offenders, even though in so doing they virtually condemned them to death by starvation, since the most terrible oaths had bound all entrants into the order not to partake of any food other than that prepared by their 'priests.'
In such a system there would, of course, be no place for either an Aaronic priesthood, or bloody sacrifices. In fact, they repudiated both. Without formally rejecting the Temple and its services, there was no room in their system for such ordinances. They sent, indeed, thank offerings to the Temple, but what part had they in bloody sacrifices and an Aaronic ministry, which constituted the main business of the Temple? Their 'priests' were their bakers and presidents; their sacrifices those of fellowship, their sacred meals of purity. It is quite in accordance with this tendency when we learn from Philo that, in their diligent study of the Scriptures, they chiefly adopted the allegorical mode of interpretation. [a Ed. Mang ii. p. 458.]
We can scarcely wonder that such Jews as Josephus and Philo, and such heathens as Pliny, were attracted by such an unworldly and lofty sect. Here were about 4,000 men, who deliberately separated themselves, not only from all that made life pleasant, but from all around; who, after passing a long and strict novitiate, were content to live under the most rigid rule, obedient to their superiors; who gave up all their possessions, as well as the earnings of their daily toil in the fields, or of their simple trades; who held all things for the common benefit, entertained strangers, nursed their sick, and tended their aged as if their own parents, and were charitable to all men; who renounced all animal passions, eschewed anger, ate and drank in strictest moderation, accumulated neither wealth nor possessions, wore the simplest white dress till it was no longer fit for use; repudiated slavery, oaths, marriage; abstained from meat and wine, even from the common Eastern anointing with oil; used mystic lustrations, had mystic rites and mystic prayers, an esoteric literature and doctrines; whose every meal was a sacrifice, and every act one of self-denial; who, besides, were strictly truthful, honest, upright, virtuous, chaste, and charitable, in short, whose life meant, positively and negatively, a continual purification of the soul by mortification of the body.
To the astonished onlookers this mode of life was rendered even more sacred by doctrines, a literature, and magic power known only to the initiated. Their mysterious conditions made them cognisant of the names of Angels, by which we are, no doubt, to understand a theosophic knowledge, fellowship with the Angelic world, and the power of employing its ministry. Their constant purifications, and the study of their prophetic writings, gave them the power of prediction; [a Jos. War ii. 8, 12; comp. Ant. xiii. 11. 2; xv. 10. 5; xvii. 13.3.] the same mystic writings revealed the secret remedies of plants and stones for the healing of the body, [1 There can be no question that these Essene cures were magical, and their knowledge of remedies esoteric.] as well as what was needed for the cure of souls.
It deserves special notice that this intercourse with Angels, this secret traditional literature, and its teaching concerning mysterious remedies in plants and stones, are not unfrequently referred to in that Apocalyptic literature known as the 'Pseudepigraphic Writings.' Confining ourselves to undoubtedly Jewish and pre-Christian documents, [2 Bishop Lightfoot refers to a part of the Sibylline books which seems of Christian authorship.] we know what development the doctrine of Angels received both in the Book of Enoch (alike in its earlier and in its later portion [b ch. xxxi.-ixxi.]) and in the Book of Jubilees, [3 Comp. Lucius, Essenismus, p. 109. This brochure, the latest on the subject, (though interesting, adds little to our knowledge.]) and how the 'seers' received Angelic instruction and revelations.
The distinctively Rabbinic teaching on these subjects is fully set forth in another part of this work. [1 See Appendix XIII. on the Angelology, Satanology, and Demonology of the Jews.] Here we would only specially notice that in the Book of Jubilees [a Ch. x.] Angels are represented as teaching Noah all 'herbal remedies' for diseases, [b Comp. also the Sepher Noach in Jellinek's Beth. haMidr. part iii. pp. 155, 156.] while in the later Pirqe de R. Eliezer [c c. 48.] this instruction is said to have been given to Moses. These two points (relation to the Angels, and knowledge of the remedial power of plants, not to speak of visions and prophecies) seem to connect the secret writings of the Essenes with that 'outside' literature which in Rabbinic writings is known as Sepharim haChitsonim, 'outside writings.' [2 Only after writing the above I have noticed, that Jellinek arrives at the same conclusion as to the Essene character of the Book of Jubilees (Beth ha-Midr. iii. p. xxxiv., xxxv.), and of the Book of Enoch (u.s. ii. p. xxx.).] The point is of greatest importance, as will presently appear.
It needs no demonstration, that a system which proceeded from a contempt of the body and of all that is material; in some manner identified the Divine manifestation with the Sun; denied the Resurrection, the Temple-priesthood, and sacrifices; preached abstinence from meats and from marriage; decreed such entire separation from all around that their very contact defiled, and that its adherents would have perished of hunger rather than join in the meals of the outside world; which, moreover, contained not a trace of Messianic elements indeed, had no room for them, could have had no internal connection with the origin of Christianity. Equally certain is it that, in respect of doctrine, life, and worship, it really stood outside Judaism, as represented by either Pharisees or Sadducees.
The question whence the foreign elements were derived, which were its distinctive characteristics, has of late been so learnedly discussed, that only the conclusions arrived at require to be stated. Of the two theories, of which the one traces Essenism to Neo-Pythagorean, [3 So Zeller, Philosophie d. Griechen, ed. 1881, iii. pp. 277-337.] the other to Persian sources, [4 So Bishop Lightfoot, in his masterly treatment of the whole subject in his Commentary on the Ep. to the Colossians.] the latter seems fully established, without, however, wholly denying at least the possibility of Neo-Pythagorean influences. To the grounds which have been so conclusively urged in support of the Eastern origin of Essenism, [5 By Bishop Lightfoot, u.s. pp. 382-396.
In general, I prefer on many points such as the connection between Essenism and Gnosticism &c., simply to refer readers to the classic work of Bishop Lightfoot.] in its distinctive features, may be added this, that Jewish Angelology, which played so great a part in the system, was derived from Chaldee and Persian sources, and perhaps also the curious notion, that the knowledge of medicaments, originally derived by Noah from the angels, came to the Egyptians chiefly through the magic books of the Chaldees. [a Sepher Noach ap. Jellinek iii. p. 156.] [1 As regards any connection between the Essenes and the Therapeutai, Lucius has denied the existence of such a sect and the Philonic authorship of de V. cont. The latter we have sought to defend in the Art. Philo (Smith and Wace's Dict. of Chr. Biogr. iv.), and to show that the Therapeutes were not a 'sect' but an esoteric circle of Alexandrian Jews.]
It is only at the conclusion of these investigations that we are prepared to enter on the question of the origin and meaning of the name Essenes, important as this inquiry is, not only in itself, but in regard to the relation of the sect to orthodox Judaism. The eighteen or nineteen proposed explanations of a term, which must undoubtedly be of Hebrew etymology, all proceed on the idea of its derivation from something which implied praise of the sect, the two least objectionable explaining the name as equivalent either to 'the pious,' or else to 'the silent ones.'
But against all such derivations there is the obvious objection, that the Pharisees, who had the moulding of the theological language, and who were in the habit of giving the hardest names to those who differed from them, would certainly not have bestowed a title implying encomium on a sect which, in principle and practices, stood so entirely outside, not only of their own views, but even of the Synagogue itself.
Again, if they had given a name of encomium to the sect, it is only reasonable to suppose that they would not have kept, in regard to their doctrines and practices, a silence which is only broken by dim and indirect allusions. Yet, as we examine it, the origin and meaning of the name seem implied in their very position towards the Synagogue. They were the only real sect, strictly outsiders, and their name Essenes ('E, 'E ) seems the Greek equivalent for Chitsonim ( ), 'the outsiders.' Even the circumstance that the axe, or rather spade ( ), which every novice received, has for its Rabbinic equivalent the word Chatsina, is here not without significance.
Linguistically, the words Essenoi and Chitsonim are equivalents, as admittedly are the similar designations Chasidim ( ) and Asidaioi ('A ). For, in rendering Hebrew into Greek, the ch ( ) is 'often entirely omitted, or represented by a spiritus lenis in the beginning,' while 'in regard to the vowels no distinct rule is to be laid down.' [b Deutsch, Remains, pp. 359, 360.] Instances of a change of the Hebrew i into the Greek e are frequent, and of the Hebrew o into the Greek e not rare. As one instance will suffice, we select a case in which exactly the same transmutation of the two vowel-sounds occurs, that of the Rabbinic Abhginos ( ) for the Greek ( ) Eugenes ('well-born'). [2 As other instances may be quoted such as Istagioth ( ) ( ) ( ), roof; Istuli ( ) ( ) ( ), a pillar; Dikhsumini ( ) ( ) ( ), cistern.
This derivation of the name Essenes, which strictly expresses the character and standing of the sect relatively to orthodox Judaism, and, indeed, is the Greek form of the Hebrew term for 'outsiders,' is also otherwise confirmed. It has already been said, that no direct statement concerning the Essenes occurs in Rabbinic writings. Nor need this surprise us, when we remember the general reluctance of the Rabbis to refer to their opponents, except in actual controversy; and, that, when traditionalism was reduced to writing, Essenism, as a Jewish sect, had ceased to exist. Some of its elements had passed into the Synagogue, influencing its general teaching (as in regard to Angelology, magic, &c.), and greatly contributing to that mystic direction which afterwards found expression in what is now known as the Kabbalah.
But the general movement had passed beyond the bounds of Judaism, and appeared in some forms of the Gnostic heresy. But still there are Rabbinic references to the 'Chitsonim,' which seem to identify them with the sect of the Essenes. Thus, in one passage [a Megill. 24 b, lines 4 and 5 from bottom.] certain practices of the Sadducees and of the Chitsonim are mentioned together, and it is difficult to see who could be meant by the latter if not the Essenes. Besides, the practices there referred to seem to contain covert allusions to those of the Essenes. Thus, the Mishnah begins by prohibiting the public reading of the Law by those who would not appear in a coloured, but only in a white dress.
Again, the curious statement is made that the manner of the Chitsonim was to cover the phylacteries with gold, a statement unexplained in the Gemara, and inexplicable, unless we see in it an allusion to the Essene practice of facing the rising Sun in their morning prayers. [1 The practice of beginning prayers before, and ending them as the sun had just risen, seems to have passed from the Essenes to a party in the Synagogue itself, and is pointedly alluded to as a characteristic of the so-called Vethikin, Ber. 9 b; 25 b; 26 a. But another peculiarity about them, noticed in Rosh haSh. 32 b (the repetition of all the verses in the Pentateuch containing the record of God in the so-called Malkhiyoth, Zikhronoth, and Shophroth), shows that they were not Essenes, since such Rabbinic practices must have been alien to their system.]
Again, we know with what bitterness Rabbinism denounced the use of the externe writings (the Sepharim haChitsonim) to the extent of excluding from eternal life those who studied them. [b Sanh. x 1.] But one of the best ascertained facts concerning the Essenes is that they possessed secret, 'outside,' holy writings of their own, which they guarded with special care. And, although it is not maintained that the Sepharim haChitsonim were exclusively Essene writings, [2 In Sanh. 100 b they are explained as 'the writings of the Sadducees,' and by another Rabbi as 'the Book of Sirach' (Ecclus. in the Apocrypha). Hamburger, as sometimes, makes assertions on this point which cannot be supported (Real-Worterb. ii. p. 70). Jer. Sanh. 28 a explains, 'Such as the books of Ben Sirach and of Ben La'nah', the latter apparently also an Apocryphal book, for which the Midr. Kohel. (ed. warsh. iii. p. 106 b) has 'the book of Ben Tagla' 'La'nah' and 'Tagla' could scarcely be symbolic names.
On the other hand, I cannot agree with Furst (Kanon d. A.T. p. 99), who identifies them with Apollonius of Tyana and Empedocles. Dr. Neubauer suggests that Ben La'nah may be a corruption of Sibylline Oracles.] the latter must have been included among them. We have already seen reason for believing, that even the so-called Pseudepigraphic literature, notably such works as the Book of Jubilees, was strongly tainted with Essene views; if, indeed, in perhaps another than its present form, part of it was not actually Essene. Lastly, we find what seems to us yet another covert allusion [a In Sanh. x. 1.] to Essene practices, similar to that which has already been noticed. [b Meg. 24 b.]
For, immediately after consigning to destruction all who denied that there was proof in the Pentateuch for the Resurrection (evidently the Sadducees), those who denied that the Law was from heaven (the Minim, or heretics, probably the Jewish Christians), and all 'Epicureans' [1 The 'Epicureans,' or 'freethinkers,' are explained to be such as speak contemptuously of the Scriptures, or of the Rabbis (Jer. Sanh. 27 d). In Sanh. 38 b a distinction is made between 'stranger' (heathen) Epicureans, and Israelitish Epicureans. With the latter it is unwise to enter into argument.] (materialists), the same punishment is assigned to those 'who read externe writings' (Sepharim haChitsonim) and 'who whispered' (a magical formula) 'over a wound.' [2 Both in the Jer. and Bab.Talm. it is conjoined with 'spitting,' which was a mode of healing, usual at the time.
The Talmud forbids the magical formula, only in connection with this 'spitting', and then for the curious reason that the Divine Name is not to be recorded while 'spitting.' But, while in the Bab. Talm. the prohibition bears against such 'spitting' before pronouncing the formula, in the Jer. Talm. it is after uttering it.] Both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmud [c Sanh. 101 a; Jer. Sanh. p. 28 b.] offer a strange explanation of this practice; perhaps, because they either did not, or else would not, understand the allusion. But to us it seems at least significant that as, in the first quoted instance, the mention of the Chitsonim is conjoined with a condemnation of the exclusive use of white garments in worship, which we know to have been an Essene peculiarity, so the condemnation of the use of Chitsonim writings with that of magical cures.
[3 Bishop Lightfoot has shown that the Essene cures were magical (u. s. pp. 91 &c. and p. 377).] At the same time, we are less bound to insist on these allusions as essential to our argument, since those, who have given another derivation than ours to the name Essenes, express themselves unable to find in ancient Jewish writings any trustworthy reference to the sect.
On one point, at least, our inquiry into the three 'parties' can leave no doubt. The Essenes could never have been drawn either to the person, or the preaching of John the Baptist. Similarly, the Sadducees would, after they knew its real character and goal, turn contemptuously from a movement which would awaken no sympathy in them, and could only become of interest when it threatened to endanger their class by awakening popular enthusiasm, and so rousing the suspicions of the Romans. To the Pharisees there were questions of dogmatic, ritual, and even national importance involved, which made the barest possibility of what John announced a question of supreme moment.
And, although we judge that the report which the earliest Pharisaic hearers of John [a St. Matt. iii. 7.] brought to Jerusalem, no doubt, detailed and accurate, and which led to the dispatch of the deputation, would entirely predispose them against the Baptist, yet it behooved them, as leaders of public opinion, to take such cognisance of it, as would not only finally determine their own relation to the movement, but enable them effectually to direct that of others also.
From: Book 3, Chapter 2, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
by: Alfred Edersheim
Author Edersheim refers to MANY reference sources in his works. As a Bibliography resource, we have created a separate Edersheim References list. All of his bracketed references indicate the page numbers in the works referenced.
Party representing the religious views, practises, and hopes of the kernel of the Jewish people in the time of the Second Temple and in opposition to the priestly Sadducees. They were accordingly scrupulous observers of the Law as interpreted by the Soferim, or Scribes, in accordance with tradition. No true estimate of the character of the Pharisees can be obtained from the New Testament writings, which take a polemical attitude toward them (see New Testament), nor from Josephus, who, writing for Roman readers and in view of the Messianic expectations of the Pharisees, represents the latter as a philosophical sect. "Perisha" (the singular of "Perishaya") denotes "one who separates himself," or keeps away from persons or things impure, in order to attain the degree of holiness and righteousness required in those who would commune with God (comp., for "Perishut" and "Perisha," Tan., Wayeẓe, ed. Buber, p. 21; Abot iii. 13; Soṭah ix. 15; Midr. Teh. xv. 1; Num. R. x. 23; Targ. Gen. xlix. 26).
The Pharisees formed a league or brotherhood of their own ("ḥaburah"), admitting only those who, in the presence of three members, pledged themselves to the strict observance of Levitical purity, to the avoidance of closer association with the 'Am ha-Areẓ (the ignorant and careless boor), to the scrupulous payment of tithes and other imposts due to the priest, the Levite, and the poor, and to a conscientious regard for vows and for other people's property (Dem. ii. 3; Tosef., Dem. ii. 1). They called their members "ḥaberim" (brothers), while they passed under the name of "Perishaya," or "Perushim." Though originally identical with the Ḥasidim, they reserved the title of "ḥasid" for former generations ("ḥasidim ha-rishonim"; see Essenes), retaining, however, the name "Perishut" (='Αμιξία = "separation," in contradistinction to 'Επιμιξία = "intermingling") as their watch word from the time of the Maccabean contest (see II Macc. xiv. 37; comp. verse 3). Yet, while the more rigorous ones withdrew from political life after the death of Judas Maccabeus, refused to recognize the Hasmonean high priests and kings as legitimate rulers of the Temple and of the state, and, as Essenes, formed a brotherhood of their own, the majority took a less antagonistic attitude toward the Maccabean dynasty, who, like Phinehas, their "father," had obtained their title by zeal for God (I Macc. ii. 54); and they finally succeeded in infusing their own views and principles into the political and religious life of the people.
Principle of Democracy.
It was, however, only after a long and protracted struggle with the Sadducees that they won their lasting triumph in the interpretation and execution of the Law. The Sadducees, jealously guarding the privileges and prerogatives established since the days of Solomon, when Zadok, their ancestor, officiated as priest, insisted upon the literal observance of the Law; the Pharisees, on the other hand, claimed prophetic or Mosaic authority for their interpretation (Ber. 48b; Shab. 14b; Yoma 80a; Yeb. 16a; Nazir 53a; Ḥul. 137b; et al.), at the same time asserting the principles of religious democracy and progress. With reference to Ex. xix. 6, they maintained that "God gave all the people the heritage, the kingdom, the priesthood, and the holiness" (II Macc. ii. 17, Greek). As a matter of fact, the idea of the priestly sanctity of the whole people of Israel in many directions found its expression in the Mosaic law; as, for instance, when the precepts concerning unclean meat, intended originally for the priests only (Ezek. xliv. 31; comp. verse 14 and Judges xiii. 4), were extended to the whole people (Lev. xi.; Deut. xiv. 3-21); or when the prohibition of cutting the flesh in mourning for the dead was extended to all the people as "a holy nation" (Deut. xiv. 1-2; Lev. xix. 28; comp. Lev. xxi. 5); or when the Law itself was transferred from the sphere of the priesthood to every man in Israel (Ex. xix. 29-24; Deut. vi. 7, xi. 19; comp. xxxi. 9; Jer. ii. 8, xviii. 18).
The very institution of the synagogue for common worship and instruction was a Pharisaic declaration of the principle that the Torah is "the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob" (Deut. xxxiii. 3, Hebr.). In establishing schools and synagogues everywhere and enjoining each father to see that his son was instructed in the Law (Yer. Ket. vii. 32c; Ḳid. 29a; Sifre, Deut. 46), the Pharisees made the Torah a power for the education of the Jewish people all over the world, a power whose influence, in fact, was felt even outside of the Jewish race (see R.Meïr in Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 13; Matt. xxiii. 15; comp. Gen. R. xxviii.; Jellinek, "B. H." vi., p. xlvi.). The same sanctity that the priests in the Temple claimed for their meals, at which they gathered with the recitation of benedictions (I Sam. ix. 13) and after ablutions (see Ablution), the Pharisees established for their meals, which were partaken of in holy assemblies after purifications and amidst benedictions (Geiger, "Urschrift," pp. 121-124). Especially were the Sabbath and holy days made the means of sanctification (see Ḳiddush), and, as at the sacrifices, wine was used in honor of the day. A true Pharisee observed the same degree of purity in his daily meals as did the priest in the Temple (Tosef., Dem. ii. 2; so did Abraham, according to B. M. 87a), wherefore it was necessary that he should avoid contact with the 'am ha-areẓ (Ḥag. ii. 7).
From Temple practise were adopted the mode of slaughtering (Sifre, Deut. 75; Ḥul. 28a) and the rules concerning "ta'arubot" (the mingling of different kinds of food; comp. Hag. ii. 12; Zeb. viii.; Ḥul. viii. 1) and the "shi'urim" (the quantities constituting a prohibition of the Law; Yoma 80a). Though derived from Deut. vi. 7 (comp. Josephus, "Ant." iv. 8, § 3), the daily recital of the "Shema'," as well as the other parts of the divine service, is a Pharisaic institution, the Pharisees having established their ḥaburah, or league, in each city to conduct the service (Ber. iv. 7; comp. "Ant." xviii. 2, § 3; Geiger, "Urschrift," p. 379). The tefillin, or Phylacteries, as a symbolical consecration of head and arm, appear to be a counterpart of the high priest's diadem and breastplate; so with the Mezuzah as a symbolical consecration of the home, though both were derived from Scripture (Deut. vi. 8-9, xi. 18-19; Sanh. x. [xi.] 3), the original talismanic character having been forgotten (comp. Ex. xii. 13; Isa. lvii. 8).
In the Temple Service.
In the Temple itself the Pharisees obtained a hold at an early date, when they introduced the regular daily prayers besides the sacrifice (Tamid v. 1) and the institution of the "Ma'amadot" (the representatives of the people during the sacrifices). Moreover, they declared that the priests were but deputies of the people. On the great Day of Atonement the high priest was told by the elders that he was but a messenger of the Sanhedrin and must officiate, therefore, in conformity with their (the Pharisees') rulings (Yoma i. 5; comp. Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 1, § 4). While the Sadducean priesthood regarded the Temple as its domain and took it to be the privilege of the high priest to offer the daily burnt offering from his own treasury, the Pharisees demanded that it be furnished from the Temple treasury, which contained the contributions of the people (Sifra, Ẓaw, 17; Emor, 18). Similarly, the Pharisees insisted that the meal-offering which accompanied the meat-offering should be brought to the altar, while the Sadducees claimed it for themselves (Meg. Ta'an. viii.). Trivial as these differences appear, they are survivals of great issues. Thus the high priests, who, as may be learned from the words of Simon the Just (Lev. R. xxi., close; comp. Ber. 7a; Yoma v. 1, 19b), claimed to see an apparition of the Shekinah when entering the Holy of Holies, kindled the incense in their censers outside and thus were enveloped in the cloud when entering, in order that God might appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat (Lev. xvi. 2). The Pharisees, discountenancing such claims, insisted that the incense must be kindled by the high priest within the Holy of Holies (Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 3; Tosef., Yoma i. 8; Yoma 19b; Yer. Yoma i. 39a).
On the other hand, the Pharisees introduced rites in the Temple which originated in popular custom and were without foundation in the Law. Such was the water-procession of the people, on the night of Sukkot, from the Pool of Siloam, ending with the libation of water in the morning and the final beating of the willow-trees upon the altar at the close of the feast. The rite was a symbolic prayer for the year's rain (comp. Zach. xiv. 16-18; Isa. xiii. 3, xxx. 29; Tosef., Suk. iii. 18); and while the Ḥasidim took a prominent part in the outbursts of popular rejoicing to which it gave rise, the Sadducean priesthood was all the more averse to it (Suk. iv. 9-v. 4; 43b, 48b; Tosef., Suk. iii.). In all these practises the Pharisees obtained the ascendency over the Sadducees, claiming to be in possession of the tradition of the fathers ("Ant." xiii. 10, § 6; 16, § 2; xviii. 1, §§ 3-4; Yoma 19b).
A Party of Progress.
Yet the Pharisees represented also the principle of progress; they were less rigid in the execution of justice ("Ant." xiii. 10, § 6), and the day when the stern Sadducean code was abolished was made a festival (Meg. Ta'an. iv.). While the Sadducees in adhering to the letter of the law required "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," the Pharisees, with the exception of Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, the Shammaite, interpreted this maxim to mean due compensation with money (Mek., Mishpaṭim, 8; B. Ḳ. 84b; comp. Matt. v. 38). The principle of retaliation, however, was applied consistently by the Sadducees in regard to false witnesses in cases involving capital punishment; but the Pharisees were less fair. The former referred the law "Thou shalt do unto him as he had intended unto his brother" (Deut. xix. 19, Hebr.) only to a case in which the one falsely accused had been actually executed; whereas the Pharisees desired the death penalty inflicted upon the false witness for the intention to secure the death of the accused by means of false testimony (Sifre, Deut. 190; Mark i. 6; Tosef., Sanh. vi. 6; against the absurd theory, in Mak. 5b, that in case the accused has been executed the false witness is exempt from the death penalty, see Geiger, l.c. p. 140). But in general the Pharisees surrounded the penal laws, especially the death penalty, with so many qualifications that they were rarely executed (see Sanh. iv. 1, vi. 1; Mak. i. 10; see Capital Punishment; Hatra'ah).
The laws concerning virginity and the levirate (Deut. xxii. 17, xxv. 9) also were interpreted by the Pharisees in accordance with the dictates of decency and common sense, while the Sadducees adhered strictly to the letter (Sifre, Deut. 237, 291; Yeb. 106b; instead of "Eliezer b. Jacob" [as siding with the Sadducees] probably "Eliezer ben Hyrcanus" should be read). The difference concerning the right of inheritance by the daughter as against the son's daughter,which the Sadducees granted and the Pharisees denied (Yad. iv. 7; Meg. Ta'an. v.; Tosef., Yad. ii. 20; Yer. B. B. vii. 16a), seems to rest on differing practises among the various classes of people; the same is true with regard to the difference as to the master's responsibility for damage done by a slave or a beast (Yad. iv. 7; B. Ḳ. viii. 4; but see Geiger, l.c. pp. 143-144).
Sabbaths and Festivals.
Of decisive influence, however, were the great changes wrought by the Pharisees in the Sabbath and holy days, inasmuch as they succeeded in lending to these days a note of cheerfulness and domestic joy, while the Sadducees viewed them more or less as Temple festivals, and as imposing a tone of austerity upon the common people and the home. To begin with the Day of Atonement, the Pharisees wrested the power of atoning for the sins of the people from the high priest (see Lev. xvi. 30) and transferred it to the day itself, so that atonement was effected even without sacrifice and priest, provided there was genuine repentance (Yoma viii. 9; Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 8). So, too, the New Moon of the seventh month was transformed by them from a day of trumpet-blowing into a New-Year's Day devoted to the grand ideas of divine government and judgment (see New-Year). On the eve of Passover the lessons of the Exodus story, recited over the wine and the maẓẓah, are given greater prominence than the paschal lamb (Pes. x.; See Haggadah [Shel Pesaḥ]). The Biblical command enjoining a pilgrimage to the Temple in the festival season is fulfilled by going to greet the teacher and listen to his instruction on a festal day, as in former days people went to see the prophet (Suk. 27b, after II Kings iv. 23; Beẓah 15; Shab. 152a; Sifra to Lev. xxiii. 44).
But the most significant change was that which the Feast of Weeks underwent in its transformation from a Feast of Firstlings into a Feast of the Giving of the Law (Mek., Yitro, Baḥodesh, 3; Ex. R. xxxi.; see Jubilees, Book of). The Boethusians, as the heirs of the Sadducees, still retained a trace of the agricultural character of the feast in adhering to the letter of the law which places the offering of the 'omer (sheaf of the wave-offering) on the morrow after the Sabbath and the Shabu'ot feast on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath following (Lev. xxiii. 15-16); whereas the Pharisees, in order to connect the Shabu'ot feast with Passover and lend it an independent historical character, boldly interpreted the words "the morrow after Sabbath" as signifying "the day following the first Passover day," so that Shabu'ot always falls upon the close of the first week of Siwan (Meg. Ta'an. i.; Men. 65a, b; Shab. 88a).
Especially significant are the Pharisaic innovations in connection with the Sabbath. One of them is the special duty imposed upon the mistress of the home to have the light kindled before Sabbath (Shab. ii. 7), whereas the Samaritans and Karaites, who were in many ways followers of Sadducean teachings, saw in the prohibition against kindling fire on Sabbath (Ex. xxxv. 3) a prohibition also against light in the home on Sabbath eve. The Samaritans and Karaites likewise observed literally the prohibition against leaving one place on Sabbath (Ex. xvi. 29), while the Pharisees included the whole width of the Israelitish camp-that is, 2,000 ells, or a radius of one mile-in the term "place," and made allowance besides for carrying things (which is otherwise forbidden; see Jer. xvii. 21-24) and for extending the Sabbath limit by means of an artificial union of spheres of settlement (see 'Erub; Sabbath). Their object was to render the Sabbath "a delight" (Isa. lviii. 13), a day of social and spiritual joy and elevation rather than a day of gloom. The old Ḥasidim, who probably lived together in large settlements, could easily treat these as one large house (see Geiger, "Jüd. Zeit." ii. 24-27). Yet while they excluded the women from their festal gatherings, the Pharisees, their successors, transformed the Sabbath and festivals into seasons of domestic joy, bringing into increasing recognition the importance and dignity of woman as the builder and guardian of the home (comp. Niddah 38a, b; and Book of Jubilees, i. 8, with Ezra's injunction; B. Ḳ. 82a).
In regard to the laws of Levitical purity, which, in common with primitive custom, excluded woman periodically, and for weeks and months after child-birth, from the household (Lev. xii. 4-7, xv. 19-24), to which laws the ancient Ḥasidim adhered with austere rigor (Shab. 64b; Horowitz, "Uralte Toseftas," iv.-v.; "Pitḥe Niddah," pp. 54-56; Geiger, l.c. ii. 27-28), the Pharisees took the common-sense course of encouraging the wife, despite the letter of the Law, to take her usual place in the home and appear in her wonted dignity before her husband and children (Ket. 61a; Shab. 64b). So, too, it was with the Pharisaic leader Simeon b. Shetaḥ, who, in the reign of Queen Salome Alexandra, introduced the marriage document (Ketubah) in order to protect the wife against the caprice of the husband; and while the Shammaites would not allow the wife to be divorced unless she gave cause for suspicion of adultery (Sifre, 269; Giṭ. ix. 10, 90b; comp. Matt. v. 32), the Hillelites, and especially Akiba, in being more lenient in matters of divorce, had in view the welfare and peace of the home, which should be based upon affection (see Friedmann, "Pseudo-Seder Eliyahu Zuṭa," xv. 3). Many measures were taken by the Pharisees to prevent arbitrary acts on the part of the husband (Giṭ. iv. 2-3 et al.). Possibly in order to accentuate the legal character of the divorce they insisted, against Sadducean custom, on inserting in the document the words "according to the law of Moses and of Israel" (Yad. iv. 8; but comp. Meg. Ta'an. vii.). It was on account of such consideration for the welfare of the home that they stood in high favor with the Jewish women ("Ant." xvii. 2, § 4). They discountenanced also the Sadducean custom of special purifications for the officiating priest (Parah iii. 7; Tosef., ii. 1), and laid more stress upon the purification of the Temple vessels and upon the holiness of the Scripture scrolls, which, according to them, transmitted their holiness to the hands which touched them so as to make them "defile" (i.e., make "taboo") the things touched by them (Yad. iv. 6; Tosef., ii. 20; Tosef., Ḥag. iii. 35; see Geiger, "Urschrift," pp. 134-136).
Aristocracy of the Learned.
Most of these controversies, recorded from thetime previous to the destruction of the Temple, are but faint echoes of the greater issues between the Pharisaic and Sadducean parties, the latter representing the interests of the Temple, while the former were concerned that the spiritual life of the people should be centered in the Torah and the Synagogue. While the Sadducean priesthood prided itself upon its aristocracy of blood (Sanh. iv. 2; Mid. v. 4; Ket. 25a; Josephus, "Contra Ap." i., § 7), the Pharisees created an aristocracy of learning instead, declaring a bastard who is a student of the Law to be higher in rank than an ignorant high priest (Hor. 13a), and glorying in the fact that their most prominent leaders were descendants of proselytes (Yoma 71b; Sanh. 96b). For the decision of their Scribes, or "Soferim" (Josephus, σοπισταί; N. T., γραμματεἴς), consisting originally of Aaronites, Levites, and common Israelites, they claimed the same authority as for the Biblical law, even in case of error (Sifre, Deut. 153-154); they endowed them with the power to abrogate the Law at times (see Abrogation of Laws), and they went so far as to say that he who transgressed their words deserved death (Ber. 4a). By dint of this authority, claimed to be divine (R. H. 25a), they put the entire calendric system upon a new basis, independent of the priesthood. They took many burdens from the people by claiming for the sage, or scribe, the power of dissolving vows (Ḥag. i. 8; Tosef., i.). On the whole, however, they added new restrictions to the Biblical law in order to keep the people at a safe distance from forbidden ground; as they termed it, "they made a fence around the Law" (Ab. i. 1; Ab. R. N. i.-xi.), interpreting the words "Ye shall watch my watch" (Lev. xviii. 30, Hebr.) to mean "Ye shall place a guard around my guard" (Yeb. 21a). Thus they forbade the people to drink wine or eat with the heathen, in order to prevent associations which might lead either to intermarriage or to idolatry (Shab. 17b). To the forbidden marriages of the Mosaic law relating to incest (Lev. xviii.-xx.) they added a number of others (Yeb. ii. 4). After they had determined the kinds of work prohibited on the Sabbath they forbade the use of many things on the Sabbath on the ground that their use might lead to some prohibited labor (see Sabbath). It was here that the foundation was laid of that system of rabbinic law which piled statute upon statute until often the real purpose of the Law was lost sight of (see Nomism). But such restrictions are not confined to ritual laws. Also in regard to moral laws there are such additional prohibitions, as, for instance, the prohibition against what is called "the dust of slanderous speech" (Yer. Peah i. 16a) or "the dust of usury" (B. M. 61b), or against unfair dealings, such as gambling, or keeping animals that feed on property of the neighbors (Tosef., B. Ḳ. vii. 8; Tosef., Sanh. v. 2, 5; Sanh. 25b, 26b).
Doctrines of the Pharisees.
The aim and object of the Law, according to Pharisaic principles, are the training of man to a full realization of his responsibility to God and to the consecration of life by the performance of its manifold duties: the one is called "'ol malkut shamayim" (the yoke of God's Kingship) and the other "'ol hamiẓwot" (the yoke of His commandments). Every morning and evening the Jew takes both upon himself when reciting the "Shema'" (Ber. ii. 2). "The Torah preaches: Take upon yourselves the yoke of God's Kingdom; let the fear of God be your judge and arbiter, and deal with one another according to the dictates of love" (Sifre, Deut. 323). So says Josephus: "For the Jewish lawgiver all virtues are parts of religion" ("Contra Ap." ii., §§ 17, 19; comp. Philo, "De Opificio Mundi," §§ 52, 55). Cain and the generation of the Flood sinned in that they denied that there are a Judgment and a Judge and a future of retribution (Targ. Yer. to Gen. iv. 8; Gen. R. xxvi.). The acceptance of God's Kingship implies acceptance of His commandments also, both such as are dictated by reason and the human conscience and such as are special decrees of God as Ruler (Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 13). It means a perfect heart that fears the very thought of sin (Sifra, Ḳedoshim, 2); the avoidance of sin from love of God (ib. 11); the fulfilment of His commandments without expectation of reward ('Ab. Zarah 19a); the avoidance of any impure thought or any act that may lead to sin (ib. 20b, with reference to Deut. xxiii. 10). The acceptance of God's Kingship implies also recognition of His just dealing with man, and a thankful attitude, even in misfortune (Sifre, Deut. 32, 53; Sifra, Shemini, 1; Mek., Yitro, 10; Ber. ix. 5, 60b). God's Kingship, first proclaimed by Abraham (Sifre, Deut. 313) and accepted by Israel (Mek., Yitro, Baḥodesh, 2-3), shall be universally recognized in the future.
The Future Life.
This is the Messianic hope of the Pharisees, voiced in all parts of the synagogal liturgy; but it meant also the cessation of the kingdom of the worldly powers identified with idolatry and injustice (Mek., 'Amalek). In fact, for the ancient Ḥasidim, God's Kingship excluded that of any other ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 6). The Pharisees, who yielded to the temporary powers and enjoined the people to pray for the government (Abot iii. 2), waited nevertheless for the Kingdom of God, consoling themselves in the meantime with the spiritual freedom granted by the study of the Law (Abot vi. 2). "He who takes upon himself the yoke of the Torah, the yoke of the worldly kingdom and of worldly care, will be removed from him" (Abot iii. 5). Josephus ("B. J." ii. 8, § 14; "Ant." xiii. 5, § 9; xviii. 1, § 3) carefully avoids mentioning the most essential doctrine of the Pharisees, the Messianic hope, which the Sadducees did not share with them; while for the Essenes time and conditions were predicted in their apocalyptic writings. Instead, Josephus merely says that "they ascribe everything to fate without depriving man of his freedom of action." This idea is expressed by Akiba: "Everything is foreseen [that is, predestined]; but at the same time freedom is given" (Abot iii. 15). Akiba, however, declares, "The world is judged by grace [not by blind fate nor by the Pauline law], and everything is determined by man's actions [not by blind acceptance of certain creeds]." Similar to Josephus' remark is the rabbinical saying, "All is decreed by God except fear of God" (Ber. 33b). "Man may act either virtuously or viciously, and his rewards or punishmentsin the future shall be accordingly" ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 3). This corresponds with the "two ways of the Jewish teaching" (Ab. R. N. xxv.; see Didache). But it was not the immortality of the soul which the Pharisees believed in, as Josephus puts it, but the resurrection of the body as expressed in the liturgy (see Resurrection), and this formed part of their Messianic hope (see Eschatology).
In contradistinction to the Sadducees, who were satisfied with the political life committed to their own power as the ruling dynasty, the Pharisees represented the views and hopes of the people. The same was the case with regard to the belief in angels and demons. As Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus indicate, the upper classes adhered for a long time to the Biblical view concerning the soul and the hereafter, caring little for the Angelology and Demonology of the Pharisees. These used them, with the help of the Ma'aseh Bereshit and Ma'aseh Merkabah, not only to amplify the Biblical account, but to remove from the Bible anthropomorphisms and similarly obnoxious verbiage concerning the Deity by referring them to angelic and intermediary powers (for instance, Gen. i. 26), and thereby to gradually sublimate and spiritualize the conception of God.
The Pharisees are furthermore described by Josephus as extremely virtuous and sober, and as despising luxuries; and Ab. R. N. v. affirms that they led a life of privation. The ethics of the Pharisees is based upon the principle "Be holy, as the Lord your God is holy" (Lev. xix. 2, Hebr.); that is, strive to imitate God (Sifra and Tan., Ḳedoshim, 1; Mek., Shirah, 3; Sifre, Deut. 49; comp. Matt. v. 48: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"). So "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is declared by them to be the principal law (Shab. 30a; Ab. R. N., text B, xxvi. [ed. Schechter, p. 53]; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, 4) and, in order to demonstrate its universality, to be based on the verse declaring man to be made in the image of God (Gen. v. 1). "As He makes the sun shine alike upon the good and the evil," so does He extend His fatherly love to all (Shir ha-Shirim Zuṭa, i.; Sifre, Num. 134, Deut. 31, 40). Heathenism is hated on account of the moral depravity to which it leads (Sifre, Num. 157), but the idolater who becomes an observer of the Law ranks with the high priest (Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 13). It is a slanderous misrepresentation of the Pharisees to state that they "divorced morality and religion," when everywhere virtue, probity, and benevolence are declared by them to be the essence of the Law (Mak. 23b-24a; Tosef., Peah, iv. 19; et al.; see Ethics).
The Charge of Hypocrisy.
Nothing could have been more loathsome to the genuine Pharisee than Hypocrisy. "Whatever good a man does he should do it for the glory of God" (Ab. ii. 13; Ber. 17a). Nicodemus is blamed for having given of his wealth to the poor in an ostentatious manner (Ket. 66b). An evil action may be justified where the motive is a good one (Ber. 63a). Still, the very air of sanctity surrounding the life of the Pharisees often led to abuses. Alexander Jannæus warned his wife not against the Pharisees, his declared enemies, but against "the chameleon- or hyena- ["ẓebo'im"-] like hypocrites who act like Zimri and claim the reward of Phinehas:" (Soṭah 22b). An ancient baraita enumerates seven classes of Pharisees, of which five consist of either eccentric fools or hypocrites: (1) "the shoulder Pharisee," who wears, as it were, his good actions. ostentatiously upon his shoulder; (2) "the wait-a-little Pharisee," who ever says, "Wait a little, until I have performed the good act awaiting me"; (3), "the bruised Pharisee," who in order to avoid looking at a woman runs against the wall so as to bruise himself and bleed; (4) "the pestle Pharisee," who walks with head down like the pestle in the mortar; (5) "the ever-reckoning Pharisee," who says, "Let me know what good I may do to counteract my neglect"; (6) "the God-fearing Pharisee," after the manner of Job; (7) "the God-loving Pharisee," after the manner of Abraham (Yer. Ber. ix. 14b; Soṭah 22b; Ab. R. N., text A, xxxvii.; text B, xlv. [ed. Schechter, pp. 55, 62]; the explanations in both Talmuds vary greatly; see Chwolson, "Das Letzte-Passahmahl," p. 116). R. Joshua b. Hananiah, at the beginning of the second century, calls eccentric Pharisees "destroyers of the world" (Soṭah iii. 4); and the term "Pharisaic plagues" is frequently used by the leaders of the time (Yer. Soṭah iii. 19a).
It is such types of Pharisees that Jesus had in view when hurling his scathing words of condemnation against the Pharisees, whom he denounced as "hypocrites," calling them "offspring of vipers" ("hyenas"; see Ẓebu'im); "whited sepulchers which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones"; "blind guides," "which strain out the gnat and swallow the camel" (Matt. vi. 2-5, 16; xii. 34; xv. 14; xxiii. 24, 27, Greek). He himself tells his disciples to do as the Scribes and "Pharisees who sit on Moses' seat [see Almemar] bid them do"; but he blames them for not acting in the right spirit, for wearing large phylacteries and ẓiẓit, and for pretentiousness in many other things (ib. xxiii. 2-7). Exactly so are hypocrites censured in the Midrash (Pes. R. xxii. [ed. Friedmann, p. 111]); wearing tefillin and ẓiẓit, they harbor evil intentions in their breasts. Otherwise the Pharisees appear as friends of Jesus (Luke vii. 37, xiii. 31) and of the early Christians (Acts v. 38, xxiii. 9; "Ant." xx. 9, § 1).
Only in regard to intercourse with the unclean and "unwashed" multitude, with the 'am ha-areẓ, the publican, and the sinner, did Jesus differ widely from the Pharisees (Mark ii. 16; Luke v. 30, vii. 39, xi. 38, xv. 2, xix. 7). In regard to the main doctrine he fully agreed with them, as the old version (Mark xii. 28-34) still has it. Owing, however, to the hostile attitude taken toward the Pharisaic schools by Pauline Christianity, especially in the time of the emperor Hadrian, "Pharisees" was inserted in the Gospels wherever the high priests and Sadducees or Herodians were originally mentioned as the persecutors of Jesus (see New Testament), and a false impression, which still prevails in Christian circles and among all Christian writers, was created concerning the Pharisees.
History of the Pharisees.
It is difficult to state at what time the Pharisees, as a party, arose. Josephus first mentions them inconnection with Jonathan, the successor of Judas Maccabeus ("Ant." xiii. 5, § 9). Under John Hyrcanus (135-105) they appear as a powerful party opposing the Sadducean proclivities of the king, who had formerly been a disciple of theirs, though the story as told by Josephus is unhistorical ("Ant." xiii. 10, § 5; comp. Jubilees, Book of, and Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs). The Hasmonean dynasty, with its worldly ambitions and aspirations, met with little support from the Pharisees, whose aim was the maintenance of a religious spirit in accordance with their interpretation of the Law (see Psalms of Solomon). Under Alexander Jannæus (104-78) the conflict between the people, siding with the Pharisees, and the king became bitter and ended in cruel carnage ("Ant." xiii. 13, § 5; xiv. 1, § 2). Under his widow, Salome Alexandra (78-69), the Pharisees, led by Simeon ben Shetaḥ, came to power; they obtained seats in the Sanhedrin, and that time was afterward regarded as the golden age, full of the blessing of heaven (Sifra, Beḥuḳḳotai, i.; Ta'an. 23a). But the bloody vengeance they took upon the Sadducees led to a terrible reaction, and under Aristobulus (69-63) the Sadducees regained their power ("Ant." xiii. 16, § 2-xiv. 1, § 2).
Amidst the bitter struggle which ensued, the Pharisees appeared before Pompey asking him to interfere and restore the old priesthood while abolishing the royalty of the Hasmoneans altogether ("Ant." xiv. 3, § 2). The defilement of the Temple by Pompey was regarded by the Pharisees as a divine punishment of Sadducean misrule (Psalms of Solomon, i., ii., viii. 12-19). After the national independence had been lost, the Pharisees gained in influence while the star of the Sadducees waned. Herod found his chief opponents among the latter, and so he put the leaders of the Sanhedrin to death while endeavoring by a milder treatment to win the favor of the leaders of the Pharisees, who, though they refused to take the oath of allegiance, were otherwise friendly to him ("Ant." xiv. 9, § 4; xv. 1, § 1; 10, § 4; 11, §§ 5-6). Only when he provoked their indignation by his heathen proclivities did the Pharisees become his enemies and fall victims (4 B.C.) to his bloodthirstiness ("Ant." xvii. 2, § 4; 6, §§ 2-4). But the family of Boethus, whom Herod had raised to the high-priesthood, revived the spirit of the Sadducees, and thenceforth the Pharisees again had them as antagonists; still, they no longer possessed their former power, as the people always sided with the Pharisees ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 4). In King Agrippa (41-44) the Pharisees had a supporter and friend, and with the destruction of the Temple the Sadducees disappeared altogether, leaving the regulation of all Jewish affairs in the hands of the Pharisees.
Henceforth Jewish life was regulated by the teachings of the Pharisees; the whole history of Judaism was reconstructed from the Pharisaic point of view, and a new aspect was given to the Sanhedrin of the past. A new chain of tradition supplanted the older, priestly tradition (Abot i. 1). Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future. True, it gave the Jewish religion a legalistic tendency and made "separatism" its chief characteristic; yet only thus were the pure monotheistic faith, the ethical ideal, and the intellectual and spiritual character of the Jew preserved in the midst of the downfall of the old world and the deluge of barbarism which swept over the medieval world.
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
J. Elbogen, Die Religionsanschauung der Pharisäer, Berlin, 1904; Geiger, Urschrift, Breslau, 1857; idem. Sadducäer und Pharisäer, in Jüd. Zeit. 1863; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., ii. 380-419 (where list of the whole literature is given); Wellhausen, Die Pharisäer und Sadducäer, Göttingen, 1874.K.
"Haughty men these priests are, saying which woman is fit to be married by us, since our father is high priest, our uncles princes and rulers, and we presiding officers at the Temple"-these words, put into the mouth of Nadab and Abihu (Tan., Aḥare Mot, ed. Buber, 7; Pesiḳ. 172b; Midr. Teh. to Ps. lxxviii. 18), reflect exactly the opinion prevailing among the Pharisees concerning the Sadducean priesthood (comp. a similar remark about the "haughty" aristocracy of Jerusalem in Shab. 62b). The Sadducees, says Josephus, have none but the rich on their side ("Ant." xiii. 10, § 6). The party name was retained long after the Zadokite high priests had made way for the Hasmonean house and the very origin of the name had been forgotten. Nor is anything definite known about the political and religious views of the Sadducees except what is recorded by their opponents in the works of Josephus, in the Talmudic literature, and in the New Testament writings.
Josephus relates nothing concerning the origin of what he chooses to call the sect or philosophical school of the Sadducees; he knows only that the three "sects"-the Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees-dated back to "very ancient times" (ib. xviii. 1, § 2), which words, written from the point of view of King Herod's days, necessarily point to a time prior to John Hyrcanus (ib. xiii. 8, § 6) or the Maccabean war (ib. xiii. 5, § 9). Among the Rabbis the following legend circulated: Antigonus of Soko, successor of Simon the Just, the last of the "Men of the Great Synagogue," and consequently living at the time of the influx of Hellenistic ideas, taught the maxim, "Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of wages [lit. "a morsel"], but be rather like those who serve without thought of receiving wages" (Ab. i. 3); whereupon two of his disciples, Zadok and Boethus, mistaking the high ethical purport of the maxim, arrived at the conclusion that there was no future retribution, saying, "What servant would work all day without obtaining his due reward in the evening?" Instantly they broke away from the Law and lived in great luxury, using many silver and gold vessels at their banquets; and they established schools which declared the enjoyment of this life to be the goal of man, at the same time pitying the Pharisees for their bitter privation in this world with no hope of another world to compensate them. These two schools were called, after their founders, Sadducees and Boethusians (Ab. R. N. v.).
The unhistorical character of this legend is shown by the simple fact, learned from Josephus, that the Boethusians represent the family of high priests created by King Herod after his marriage to the daughter of Simon, the son of Boethus ("Ant." xv. 9, § 3; xix. 6, § 2; see Boethusians). Obviously neither the character of the Sadducees nor that of the Boethusians was any longer known at the time the story was told in the rabbinical schools. Nor does the attempt to connect the name "Sadducees" with the term "ẓedeḳ" or " ẓedaḳah" (= "righteousness"; Epiphanius, "Panarium," i. 14; Derenbourg, "Histoire de la Palestine," p. 454) deserve any more consideration than the creation by Grätz ("Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 88, 697) and others, for the purpose of accounting for the name, of a heretic leader called Zadok. Geiger's ingenious explanation ("Urschrift," pp. 20 et seq.), as given above, indorsed by Well-hausen ("Die Pharisäer und die Sadducäer," p. 45), is very generally approved to-day (see Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., ii. 408); and it has received striking confirmation from the special blessing for "the Sons of Zadok whom God has chosen for the priesthood" in the Hebrew Ben Sira discovered by Schechter (see Schechter and Taylor, "Wisdom of Ben Sira," 1899, p.35). In the New Testament the high priests and their party are identified with the Sadducees (Acts v. 17; comp. ib. xxiii. 6 with ib. xxii. 30, and John vii. 30, xi. 47, xviii. 3 with the Synoptic Gospels; see also "Ant." xx. 9, § 1). The views and principles of the Sadducees may be summarized as follows:
(1) Representing the nobility, power, and wealth ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 4), they had centered their interests in political life, of which they were the chief rulers. Instead of sharing the 'Messianic hopes of the Pharisees, who committed the future into the hand of God, they took the people's destiny into their own hands, fighting or negotiating with the heathen nations just as they thought best, while having as their aim their own temporary welfare and worldly success. This is the meaning of what Josephus chooses to term their disbelief in fate and divine providence ("B. J." ii. 8, § 14; "Ant." xiii. 5 § 9).
(2) As the logical consequence of the preceding view, they would not accept the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection (Sanh. 90b; Mark xii. 12; Ber. ix. 5, "Minim"), which was a national rather than an individual hope. As to the immortality of the soul, they seem to have denied this as well (see Hippolytus, "Refutatio," ix. 29; "Ant." x. 11, § 7).
(3) According to Josephus (ib. xiii. 10, § 6), they regarded only those observances as obligatory which are contained in the written word, and did not recognize those not written in the law of Moses and declared by the Pharisees to be derived from the traditions of the fathers. Instead of accepting the authority of the teachers, they considered it a virtue to dispute it by arguments.
(4) According to Acts xxiii. 8, they denied also the existence of angels and demons. This probably means that they did not believe in the Essene practise of incantation and conjuration in cases of disease, and were therefore not concerned with the Angelology and Demonology derived from Babylonia and Persia. Their Views and Principles.
(5) In regard to criminal jurisdiction they were so rigorous that the day on which their code was abolished by the Pharisaic Sanhedrin under Simeon b. Shetaḥ's leadership, during the reign of Salome Alexandra, was celebrated as a festival (Meg. Ta'an. iv.; comp. Ket. 105a). They insisted on the literal execution of the law of retaliation: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Ex. xxi. 24; Meg. Ta'an. iv.; B. Ḳ. 84a; comp. Matt. v. 38). On the other hand, they would not inflict the death penalty on false witnesses in a case where capital punishment had been wrongfully carried out, unless the accused had been executed solely in consequence of the testimony of such witnesses (Mak. i. 8; Tosef., Sanh. vi. 6, where "Bocthusians" stands for "Sadducees").
(6) They held the owner of a slave fully as responsible for the damage done by the latter as for that done by the owner's ox or ass; whereas the Pharisees discriminated between reasonable and unreasonable beings (Yad. iv. 7).
(7) They also insisted, according to Meg. Ta'an. iv., upon a literal interpretation of Deut. xxii. 17 (comp. Sifre, Deut. 237; Ket. 46; see also the description of the custom still obtaining at weddings among the Jews of Salonica, in Braun-Wiesbaden's "Eine Türkische Reise," 1876, p. 235), while most of the Pharisaic teachers took the words figuratively. The same holds true in regard to Deut. xxv. 9: "Then shall his brother's wife . . . spit in his [her deceased husband's brother's] face," which the Pharisees explained as "before him" (Yeb. xii. 6; see Weiss, "Dor," i. 117, note).
(8) They followed a traditional practise of their own in granting the daughter the same right of inheritance as the son's daughter in case the son was dead (Meg. Ta'an. v.; Tos. Yad. ii. 20; B. B. viii. 1, 115b).
(9) They contended that the seven weeks from the first barley-sheaf-offering ("'omer") to Pentecost should, according to Lev. xxiii. 15-16, be countedfrom "the day after Sabbath," and, consequently, that Pentecost should always be celebrated on the first day of the week (Meg. Ta'an. i.; Men. 65a). In this they obviously followed the old Biblical view which regards the festival of the firstlings as having no connection whatsoever with the Passover feast; whereas the Pharisees, connecting the festival of the Exodus with the festival of the giving of the Law, interpreted the "morrow after the Sabbath" to signify the second day of Passover (see Jubilees, Book of).
Views on Temple Practises.
(10) Especially in regard to the Temple practise did they hold older views, based upon claims of greater sanctity for the priesthood and of its sole dominion over the sanctuary. Thus they insisted that the daily burnt offerings were, with reference to the singular used in Num. xxviii. 4, to be offered by the high priest at his own expense; whereas the Pharisees contended that they were to be furnished as a national sacrifice at the cost of the Temple treasury into which the "she-ḳalim" collected from the whole people were paid (Meg. Ta'an. i. 1; Men. 65b; Sheḳ. iii. 1, 3; Grätz, l.c. p. 694).
(11) They claimed that the meal offering belonged to the priest's portion; whereas the Pharisees claimed it for the altar (Meg. Ta'an. viii.; Men. vi. 2).
(12) They insisted on an especially high degree of purity in those who officiated at the preparation of the ashes of the Red Heifer. The Pharisees, on the contrary, demonstratively opposed such strictness (Parah iii. 7; Tos. Parah iii. 1-8).
(13) They declared that the kindling of the incense in the vessel with which the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement was to take place outside, so that he might be wrapped in smoke while meeting the Shekinah within, according to Lev. xvi. 2; whereas the Pharisees, denying the high priest the claim of such super-natural vision, insisted that the incense be kindled within (Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 3; Yoma 19b, 53a, b; Yer. Yoma i. 39a, b; comp. Lev. R. xxi. 11).
(14) They extended the power of contamination to indirect as well as to direct contact (Yad. iv. 7).
(15) They opposed the popular festivity of the water libation and the procession preceding the same on each night of the Sukkot feast, as well as the closing festivity, on which the Pharisees laid much stress, of the beating of the willow-trees (Suk. 43b, 48b; Tos. Suk. iii. 16; comp. "Ant." xiii. 13, § 5).
(16) They opposed the Pharisaic assertion that the scrolls of the Holy Scriptures have, like any holy vessel, the power to render unclean (taboo) the hands that touch them (Yad. iv. 6).
(17) They opposed the Pharisaic idea of the 'Erub, the merging of several private precincts into one in order to admit of the carrying of food and vessels from one house to another on the Sabbath ('Er. vi. 2).
(18) In dating all civil documents they used the phrase "after the high priest of the Most High," and they opposed the formula introduced by the Pharisees in divorce documents," According to the law of Moses and Israel" (Meg. Ta'an. vii.; Yad. iv. 8; see Geiger, l.c. p. 34).
Decline of Sadduceeism.
Whether the Sadducees were less strict in regard to the state of impurity of woman in her periods (Niddah iv. 2), and what object they had in opposing the determination by the Pharisees of the appearance of the new moon (R. H. ii. 1, 22b; Tos. R. H. i. 15), are not clear. Certain it is that in the time of the Tannaim the real issues between them and the Pharisees were forgotten, only scholastic controversies being recorded. In the latter the Sadducees are replaced by the late Boethusians, who had, only for the sake of opposition, maintained certain Sadducean traditions without a proper understanding of the historical principles upon which they were based. In fact, as Josephus ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 3) states in common with the Talmudical sources (Yoma 19b; Niddah 33b), the ruling members of the priesthood of later days were forced by public opinion to yield to the Pharisaic doctors of the Law, who stood so much higher in the people's esteem. In the course of time the Sadducees themselves adopted without contradiction Pharisaic practises; it is stated (Shab. 108a) that they did so in regard to the tefillin, and many other observances appear to have been accepted by them (Hor. 4a; Sanh. 33b).
With the destruction of the Temple and the state the Sadducees as a party no longer had an object for which to live. They disappear from history, though their views are partly maintained and echoed by the Samaritans, with whom they are frequently identified (see Hippolytus, "Refutatio Hæresium," ix. 29; Epiphanius, l.c. xiv.; and other Church Fathers, who ascribe to the Sadducees the rejection of the Prophets and the Hagiographa; comp. also Sanh. 90b, where "Ẓadduḳim" stands for "Kutim" [Samaritans]; Sifre, Num. 112; Geiger, l.c. pp. 128-129), and by the Karaites (see Maimonides, commentary on Ab. i. 3; Geiger, "Gesammelte Schriften," iii. 283-321; also Anan ben David; Karaites).
The Book of Ecclesiastes in its original form, that is, before its Epicurean spirit had been toned down by interpolations, was probably written by a Sadducee in antagonism to the Ḥasidim (Eccl. vii. 16, ix. 2; see P. Haupt, "Koheleth," 1905; Grätz, "Koheleth," 1871, p. 30). The Wisdom of Ben Sira, which, like Ecclesiastes and older Biblical writings, has no reference whatsoever to the belief in resurrection or immortality, is, according to Geiger, a product of Sadducean circles ("Z. D. M. G." xii. 536). This view is partly confirmed by the above-cited blessing of "the Sons of Zadok" (Hebrew Ben Sira, li. 129; see also C. Taylor, "Sayings of the Fathers," 1897, p. 115). Also the first Book of Maccabees is, according to Geiger (l.c. pp. 217 et seq.), the work of a Sadducee. Allusion to the Sadducees as "sinners" is found in the Psalms of Solomon (i. 1, iv. 1-10); they are "severe in judgment" (comp. "Ant." xiii. 10, § 6; xx. 9, § 1), "yet themselves full of sin, of lust, and hypocrisy"; "men pleasers," "yet full of evil desires" (ib. viii. 8; see H. E. Ryle and M. R. James, "Psalms of the Pharisees Commonly Called 'Psalms of Solomon,'" 1891, xlvi.-xlviii. and elsewhere; Kautzsch, "Apokryphen," pp. 128 et seq.). Still more distinctly are the Sadducees described in the Book of Enoch (xciv. 5-9, xcvii.-xcviii., xcix. 2, civ. 10) as: "the men of unrighteousness who trust in their riches"; "sinners who transgress and pervert the eternal law." Sadducees, if not in name, at least in their Epicurean views as opposed to the saints, are depicted also in the Book of Wisdom (i. 16-ii. 22), where the Hellenistic nobility, which occupied high positions likewise in Alexandria, is addressed.
In the New Testament the Sadducees are mentioned in Matt. iii. 7 and xvi. 1, 6, 11, where they are identical with the Herodians (Mark xii. 13), that is, the Boethusians (Matt. xxii. 23, 34; Mark xii. 18; Acts iv. 1, v. 17, xxiii. 6-8). In John's Gospel they simply figure as "the chief priests" (vii. 23, 45; xi. 47, 57; xviii. 3). In rabbinical literature careful discrimination must be made between the tannaitic period and that of the Amoraim. The Mishnah and Baraita in the passages quoted above indicate at least a fair knowledge of the character and doctrines of the Sadducees (see, for instance, R. Akiba in Yoma 40b), even though the names "Boethusians" and "Sadducees" occur promiscuously (see Grätz, "Gesch." iii. 693, and Boethusians). In the amoraic period the name "Ẓadduḳi" signifies simply "heretic," exactly like the term "min" = "gnostic"; in fact, copyists sometimes replaced, it may be intentionally, the word "min" by "Ẓadduḳi," especially when Christian gnostics were referred to.
However, in many cases in which "Ẓadduḳim" stands for "minim" in the later Talmud editions the change was due to censorship laws, as is shown by the fact that the manuscripts and older editions actually have the word "minim." Thus the Ẓadduḳi who troubled R. Joshua b. Levi with Biblical arguments (Ber. 7a; Sanh. 105b), the one who argued with R. Abbahu and Beruriah, (Ber. 10a), the one who bothered R. Ishmael with his dreams (ib. 56b), and the one who argued with R. Ḥanina concerning the Holy Land in the Messianic time (Giṭ. 57a; Ket. 112a) and regarding Jesus ("Balaam," Sanh. 106b), were Christian gnostics; so were also the two Ẓadduḳim in the company of R. Abbahu (Suk. 48b). But the Ẓadduḳim who argue in favor of dualism (Sanh. 37a [the original version of the Mishnah had "apikoresin" or "minim"], 38b-39a; Ḥul. 87 a) are gnostics or Jewish heretics, as are also those spoken of as "a vile people" (Yeb. 63b). "Birkat ha-minim," the benediction against Christian informers and gnostics, is called also "Birkat ha-Ẓadduḳim" (Ber. 28b, 29a). "The writings of the Ẓadduḳim" (Shab. 116a) are gnostic writings, the same as "Sefarim Ḥiẓonim" (Sanh. x. 1; "Sifre ha-Minim," Tos. Shab. xiii. 5). So it is said of Adam that he was a Ẓadduḳi, that is, a gnostic who did not believe in God as the Giver of the Law (Sanh. 38b). "The Ẓadduḳim and informers" (Derek Ereẓ Rabbah ii.; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa i.) are Christian gnostics. In Hor. 11a a Ẓadduḳi is declared to be a transgressor of the dietary and other Mosaic laws, nay, an idolater. On the other hand, the Ẓadduḳim who conversed with Rab Sheshet (Ber. 58a), with Raba (Shab. 88a), and with R. Judah (Ned. 49b) seem to have been Manicheans. See Pharisees.
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
See that given under Pharisees.
A branch of the Pharisees who conformed to the most rigid rules of Levitical purity while aspiring to the highest degree of holiness. They lived solely by the work of their hands and in a state of communism, devoted their time to study and devotion and to the practise of benevolence, and refrained as far as feasible from conjugal intercourse and sensual pleasures, in order to be initiated into the highest mysteries of heaven and cause the expected Messianic time to come ('Ab. Zarah ix. 15; Luke ii. 25, 38; xxiii. 51). The strangest reports were spread about this mysterious class of Jews. Pliny (l.c.), speaking of the Essene community in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, calls it the marvel of the world, and characterizes it as a race continuing its existence for thousands of centuries without either wives and children, or money for support, and with only the palm-trees for companions in its retreat from the storms of the world. Philo, who calls the Essenes "the holy ones," after the Greek ὅσιοι, says in one place (as quoted by Eusebius, "Præparatio Evangelica," viii. 11) that ten thousand of them had been initiated by Moses into the mysteries of the sect, which, consisting of men of advanced years having neither wives nor children, practised the virtues of love and holiness and inhabited many cities and villages of Judea, living in communism as tillers of the soil or as mechanics according to common rules of simplicity and abstinence. In another passage ("Quod Omnis Probus Liber," 12 et seq.) he speaks of only four thousand Essenes, who lived as farmers and artisans apart from the cities and in a perfect state of communism, and who condemned slavery, avoided sacrifice, abstained from swearing, strove for holiness, and were particularly scrupulous regarding the Sabbath, which day was devoted to the reading and allegorical interpretation of the Law. Josephus ("Ant." xv. 10, § 4; xviii. 1, § 5; "B. J." ii. 8, §§ 2-13) describes them partly as a philosophical school like the Pythagoreans, and mystifies the reader by representing them as a kind of monastic order with semi-pagan rites. Accordingly, the strangest theories have been advanced by non-Jewish writers, men like Zeller, Hilgenfeld, and Schürer, who found in Essenism a mixture of Jewish and pagan ideas and customs, taking it for granted that a class of Jews of this kind could have existed for centuries without leaving a trace in rabbinical literature, and, besides, ignoring the fact that Josephus describes the Pharisees and Sadducees also as philosophical schools after Greek models.
The Essenes in History.
The Essenes, as they appear in history, were far from being either philosophers or recluses. They were, says Josephus ("Ant." xv. 10, §§ 4-5), regarded by King Herod as endowed with higher powers, and their principle of avoiding taking an oath was not infringed upon. Herod's favor was due to the fact that Menahem, one of their number who, excelling in virtuous conduct and preaching righteousness, piety, and love for humanity, possessed the divine gift of prophecy, had predicted Herod's rise to royalty. Whether Sameas and Pollio, the leaders of the academy (Abot i. 11), who also refused to take an oath ("Ant." xv. 10, § 4), belonged to the Essenes, is not clear. Menahem is known in rabbinical literature as a predecessor of Shammai (Ḥag. ii. 2). Of Judas the Essene Josephus relates ("Ant." xiii. 11, § 2; "B. J." i. 3, § 5) that he once sat in the Temple surrounded by his disciples, whom he initiated into the (apocalyptic) art of foretelling the future, when Antigonus passed by. Judas prophesied a sudden death for him, and after a while his prediction came true, like everyother one he made. A similar prophecy is ascribed to Simon the Essene ("Ant." xvii. 13, § 3; "B. J." ii. 7, § 4), who is possibly identical with the Simon in Luke ii. 25. Add to these John the Essene, a general in the time of the Roman war ("B. J." ii. 20, § 4; iii. 2, § 1), and it becomes clear that the Essenes, or at least many of them, were men of intense patriotic sentiment; it is probable that from their ranks emanated much of the apocalyptic literature. Of one only, by the name of Banus (probably one of the Banna'im; see below), does Josephus ("Vita," § 2) relate that he led the life of a hermit and ascetic, maintaining by frequent ablutions a high state of holiness; he probably, however, had other imitators besides Josephus.
Origin of the Essenes.
To arrive at a better understanding of the Essenes, the start must be made from the Ḥasidim of the pre-Maccabean time (I Macc. ii. 42, vii. 13; II Macc. xiv. 6), of whom both the Pharisees and the Essenes are offshoots (Wellhausen, "Israelitische und Jüdische Geschichte," 1894, p. 261). Such "overrighteous ones," who would not bring voluntary sacrifices nor take an oath, are alluded to in Eccl. vii. 16, ix. 2, while the avoidance of marriage by the pious seems to be alluded to in Wisdom iii. 13-iv. 1 (comp. II Macc. xiv. 6, 25). The avoidance of swearing became also to a certain extent a Pharisaic rule based on Ex. xx: 7 (see Targ.; Ned. 8b; Yer, Ned. iii. 38a; Soṭah 9b; Ber. 33a); and the rule (Matt. v. 37, R. V.) "Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay," is also Talmudic (B. M. 49a). As a matter of fact, the line of distinction between Pharisees ("Perushim") and Essenes was never very clearly drawn (see "Perishut" in Abot iii. 13; Soṭah iii. 4, xi. 15; Tosef., Soṭah, xv. 11; Ṭoh. iv. 12; B. B. 60b).
Thus the more than six thousand Pharisees who claimed to be "highly favored by God" and to possess by "divine inspiration foreknowledge of things to come," and who refused to take an oath of fealty to Herod, predicting his downfall while promising children to Bagoas, the eunuch (Josephus, "Ant." xvii. 2, § 4), were scarcely different from those elsewhere called "Essenes" ("Ant." xv. 10, § 4). "The Ancient Ḥasidim."
About the organization of the ancient Ḥasidim little is known; but each Pharisee had to be admitted by certain rites to membership in the association ("ḥeber" or "ḥaburah"), receiving the name "ḥaber" therefrom (Dem. ii. 3; Tosef., Dem. ii. 2; Bek. 30b); these fraternities assembled not only for worship but also for meals (see Geiger," Urschrift," pp. 122 et seq.). The Pharisaic and Essene system of organization appears to have been at the outset the same, a fact which implies a common origin. A remnant of this Ḥasidean brotherhood seems to have been the "Neḳiyye ha-Da'at" (the pure-minded) of Jerusalem, who would neither sit at the table or in court, nor sign a document, with persons not of their own circle (Giṭ. ix. 8; Sanh. 23a). They paid special reverence to the scroll of the Law in the synagogue (Masseket Soferim, xiv. 14).
But tradition has preserved certain peculiarities of these "ancient Ḥasidim" (Ḥasidim ha-rishonim) which cast some light on their mode of life. (1) In order to render their prayer a real communion with God as their Father in heaven, they spent an hour in silent meditation before offering their morning prayer (comp. Didascalia in Jew. Encyc. iv. 593), and neither the duty of saluting the king nor imminent peril, as, for instance, from a serpent close to their heels, could cause them to interrupt their prayer (Ber. v. 1; Tosef., Ber. iii. 20; Ber. 32b). (2) They were so scrupulous regarding the observance of the Sabbath that they refrained from sexual intercourse on all days of the week except Wednesday, lest in accordance with their singular calculation of the time of pregnancy the birth of a child might take place on a Sabbath and thereby cause the violation of the sacred day (Niddah 38a, b). Peril of life could not induce them to wage even a war of defense on the Sabbath (I Macc. ii. 38; II Macc. v. 25, xv. 4). (3) They guarded against the very possibility of being the indirect cause of injuring their fellow men through carelessness (Tosef., B. Ḳ. ii. 6; B. Ḳ. 30a, 50b; comp. Giṭ. 7a: "No injury is ever caused through the righteous"). (4) Their scrupulousness concerning "ẓiẓit" (Men. 40b) is probably only one instance of their strict observance of all the commandments. (5) Through their solicitude to avoid sin (whence also their name "Yire'e Ḥeṭ" = "fearers of sin": Sheḳ. vi. 6; Soṭah ix. 15) they had no occasion for bringing sin-offerings, wherefore, according to R. Judah, they made Nazarite vows to enable them to bring offerings of their own; according to R. Simeon, however, they refrained from bringing such offerings, as they were understood by them to be "an atoning sacrifice for the sins committed against the soul" (Num. vi. 11, Hebr.). This aversion to the Nazarite vow seems to have been the prevailing attitude, as it was shared by Simeon the Just (Sifre, Num. 22; Ned. 10a). (6) Especially rigorous were they in regard to Levitical purity ('Eduy. viii. 4; Tosef., Oh. iv. 6, 13, where "zeḳenim ha-rishonim" [the ancient elders] is only another name for "Ḥasidim ha-rishonim"; see Weiss, "Dor," i. 110); they were particularly careful that women in the menstrual state should keep apart from the household, perform no household duties, and avoid attractiveness in appearance (Sifra, Meẓora', end; Shab. 64b; Ab. R. N. ii.; "Baraita di Masseket Niddah," in Horowitz's "Uralte Tosefta," 1890, i. 5, p. 16, iii. 2-3, pp. 24-27; "Pitḥe Niddah," pp. 54 et seq.). (7) This, however, forms only part of the general Ḥasidean rule, which was to observe the same degree of Levitical purity as did the priest who partook of the holy things of the Temple ("okel ḥullin be-ṭohorat ḳodesh"); and there were three or four degrees of holiness, of which the Pharisees, or "ḥaberim," observed only the first, the Ḥasidim the higher ones (Ḥag. ii. 6-7; Tosef., Dem. ii. 2). The reason for the observance of such a high degree of holiness must be sought in the fact that Levites who ate "ma'aser" and priests who ate "terumah" and portions of the various sacrifices had their meals in common with the rest of the people and had to be guarded against defilement.
The "Zenu'im," or Chaste Ones.
Upon the observance of the highest state of purity and holiness depended also the granting of the privilege, accorded only to the élite of the priesthood, of being initiated into the mysteries of the HolyName and other secret lore. "The Name of twelve letters [see God, Names of] was, after the Hellenistic apostasy, entrusted only to the 'Ẓenu'im' [the chaste ones] among the priesthood. The Name of forty-two letters was entrusted only to the 'Ẓanua'' and ''Anaw' [the chaste and the humble] after they had passed the zenith of life and had given assurance of preserving it [the Name] in perfect purity" (Ḳid. 71a; Eccl. R. iii. 11; Yer. Yoma 39d, 40a). There was a twofold principle underlying the necessity of perfect chastity. When God revealed Himself to Moses and to the people of Israel they were enjoined to abstain from sexual intercourse, Israel for the time being, Moses for all time (Shab. 87a; Pes. 87b; Ab. R. N. ii., based upon Ex. xix. 15; Deut. v. 27). Those in hope of a divine revelation consequently refrained from sexual intercourse as well as other impurity (comp. Rev. xiv. 4; Enoch, lxxxiii. 2).
But there was another test of chastity which seems to have been the chief reason for the name of "Ẓenu'im" (Essenes): the Law (Deut. xxiii. 10-15; comp. Targ. Yer. ad loc.; Sifra, 258; Ber. 62a) enjoins modesty in regard to the covering of the body lest the Shekinah be driven away by immodest exposure. Prayer was prohibited in presence of the nude (Ber. 24b), and according to the Book of Jubilees (iii. 30 et seq., vii. 20) it was a law given to Adam and Noah "not to uncover as the Gentiles do." The chastity ("ẓeni'ut") shown in this respect by King Saul and his daughter (I Sam. xxiv. 4; II Sam. vi. 16) gave him and his household a place in rabbinical tradition as typical Essenes, who would also observe the law of holiness regarding diet and distribute their wealth among the (poor) people (Pesiḳ. R. 15; Midr. Teh. vii.; Num. R. xi.; Meg. 13b; Yer. Suk. v. 55c). Every devotee of the Law was expected to be a "ẓanua'" (Abot vi. 1; Niddah 12a; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa vii.), such as were Rachel and Esther (Meg. 13b), Hanan ha-Neḥba, the grandson of Onias the Saint (Ta'an. 23b), R. Akiba (Ket. 62b), and Judah ha-Nasi (Yer. Meg. i. 72b).
The "Hashsha'im," or Secret Ones.
The name "Ẓenu'im," which is replaced or explained by "Kesherim" (the blameless ones), another name for "Ḥasidim" (Yer. Dem. vi. 25d; Yer. Yoma iii. 40d; comp. Tosef., Dem. vi. 6; Ned. i. 1; Ab. R. N., text B, iv., ed. Schechter, p. 14, and comp. note on p. 15), is also applied, like the term "Ḥashsha'im" (see below), to those reticent ones to whom a secret may be confided; e.g., secret scrolls concerning the Temple service were entrusted to them (Tosef., Yoma, ii. 7; Yer. Yoma iii. 41a). It is not always clear, however, whether the name denotes the Essenes or simply the modest ones as a class (see Dem. vi. 6; Ma'as. Sh. v. 1; Tosef., Soṭah, xiii. 6). R. Simeon the Ẓanua', who, while disregarding the Temple practise, shows a certain contempt for the high priest (Tosef., Kelim B. B. i. 6), appears on all accounts to have been an Essene priest. In an old Armenian version of Philo's dictionary of Hebrew names "Essene" is explained as "in silence" (Philo, "De Vita Contempla tiva," ed. Conybeare, p. 247). The suggestion may be made that the Ḥashsha'im, "the observers of secrecy," designated also "the sin-fearing," who "had a chamber called 'lishkat ḥashsha'im' in the Temple, where they deposited their gifts of charity in secret and whence the respectable poor drew their support in secrecy," were the same Essenes from whom "the Gate of the Essenes" in Jerusalem (Josephus, "B. J." v. 42) derived its name. According to Tosef., Sheḳ. ii. 16, these Ḥashsha'im had in every city a special chamber for their charity-box, so that money could be deposited and taken in secret, a thing that could only be done upon the presumption that the money belonged to all alike; and since each city had its administrative body consisting of its best men, who took charge of the collection and distribution of charity (Tosef., Peah, iv. 6, 16; Tosef., Sheb. vii. 9), it is probable that these Essene-like ascetics ("Ẓenu'im": Tosef., Peah, ii. 18) followed their own traditions, though they probably also came under the general administration. The explanation of Εσσάιοι given by Suidas (= ϑεωρήτικοι = "men of contemplation," or "mystics") suggests that the name "Ḥashsha'im," like "Ẓenu'im," denoted men entrusted with the secret lore given in a whisper "(Ḥag. 13a, 14a; Gen. R. iii.).
"Watikim" and "Holy Ones."
Another name denoting a class of pietistic extremists showing points of contact with the Essenes is "Watiḳim," (men of firm principles: Sifre, Num. 92; Sifre, Deut. 13; Müller, "Masseket Soferim," 1878, p. 257, who identifies them with the Essenes). "The Watiḳim so arranged their morning prayer as to finish the Shema' exactly at the time when the sun came out in radiance" (Ber. 9b; comp. Wisdom xvi. 28; II Macc. x. 28); the Watiḳim closed the prayers "Malkiyyot, Shofarot" and "Zikronot" with Pentateuch verses (R. H. 32b). As holders of ancient traditions, they placed their own custom above the universally accepted halakah (Masseket Soferim, xiv. 18). Still another name which deserves special consideration is "ḳadosh" (saint). "Such is he called who sanctifies himself, like the 'Nazir,' by abstaining from enjoyments otherwise permissible" (Ta'an. 11a, b; Yeb. 20a; comp. Niddah 12a, where the word "Ẓanu'a" is used instead). Menahem bar Simai is called "son of the saints" because he would not even look at a coin which bore the image of the emperor or pass under the shadow of an idol (Pes. 104a; Yer, 'Ab. Zarah iii. 42c, 43b, where he is called "Nahum, the most holy one"). In Jerusalem there existed down to the second century a community by the name of "The Holy Congregation" ('Edah Ḳedoshah, or Ḳehala Ḳaddisha), which insisted on each member practising a trade and devoting a third part of the day to the study of the Torah, a third to devotion, and a third to work: probably a survival of an Essene community (Eccl. R. ix. 9; Ber. 9b; Tamid 27b).
In this connection mention should also be made of the "Banna'im" (builders: Miḳ. ix. 6; Shab. 114a), whom Frankel ("Zeitschrift für die Religiösen Interessen des Judenthums," 1846, p. 455) with great plausibility identifies with the Essenes. Originally applied to a gild of builders belonging to the Essenes (see "Polistes," below; comp. Abba Ḳolon "the Builder," Cant. R. i. 6; Abba Joseph the Builder, Ex. R. xiii.; the "Bannai" [Builder] in the companyof R. Gamaliel, who was to hide in the walls the Targum to Job, Tosef., Shab. xiii. 2), their name was given the meaning of builders of a higher world and afterward applied to the Rabbis in general (Ber. 64a; Yer. Yoma iii. 40; Yer. Giṭ. vii. 48d; Ex. R. xxiii.; comp. οἰκοδομεῖν in the "Didascalia" and the Pauline writings). Each hermit built his house himself; hence the names "Banus" and "Bannaia," adopted by men whose type was the legendary Benaiah ben Jehoiada (Ber. 4a; 18a, b).
Survivals of the Hasidim.
The name of the Ḥasidim of olden times is coupled with that of the "Anshe Ma'aseh" (men of miraculous deeds: Suk. v. 4), a fact which shows that both belonged to the same class. Ḥanina b. Dosa is called the last of "the miracle-workers" (Soṭah ix. 15). But the Ḥasidim remained wonder-workers in Talmudic times (Ber. 18b; Lev. R. xxii., where "ish hama'aseh" is translated into "'asḳan bi-debarim"). In fact, there existed books containing miraculous stories of the Ḥasidim, a considerable number of which were adopted by Talmud and Midrash (see Eccl. R. ix. 10), just as there existed secret scrolls ("Megillot Seṭarim") and ethical rules of the Ḥasidim ("Mishnat" or "Megillat Ḥasidim") to which allusion is made here and there in the Talmud (Yer. Ter. viii. 46b; Yer. Ber. ix. 14d), and the contents of which have found their way into the pseudepigraphic and early non-Talmudic, literature (see Horowitz, l.c.). The Ḥasidim mentioned in old baraitas like Temurah (15b) and Soṭah (ix. 15), and in Abot de-Rabbi Natan (viii.), who spent their time on works of charity, are none other but survivals of the ancient Ḥasidim. The Ḥasidean traditions may, therefore, be traced from Jose ben Joezer, the martyr-saint and Ḥasidean leader of the Maccabean time (II Macc. xiv. 37, where "Razis" is a corruption of the name; Gen. R. lxv.; Frankel, in "Monatsschrift," lii. 406 , down to Phinehas b. Jair, who was both in theory and in practise a disciple of the Ḥasidim (see Bacher, "Ag. Tan." ii. 594 et seq.); indeed, there is little in Essene life which does not find its explanation in rabbinical sources.
Viewed in the light of these facts, the description of the Essenes given by Philo and Josephus will be better understood and appreciated. Philo describes them in his earlier work, "Quod Omnis Probus Liber," § 12, as Philo's Account of the Essenes.(comp. Ex. R. xii.: "Moses should not pray to God in a city full of idols").
"a number of men living in Syria and Palestine, over 4,000 according to my judgment, called 'Essæi' (ὂσιοι) from their saintliness (though not exactly after the meaning of the Greek language), they being eminently worshipers of God (θεραπευταί Θεον)-not in the sense that they sacrifice living animals (like the priests in the Temple), but that they are anxious to keep their minds in a priestly state of holiness. They prefer to live in villages and avoid cities on account of the habitual wickedness of those who inhabit them, knowing, as they do, that just as foul air breeds disease, so there is danger of contracting an incurable disease of the soul from such bad associations"
This fear of contamination is given a different meaning by Philo ("De Vita Contemplativa," ed. Conybeare, pp. 53, 206). Speaking of their occupations, he says:(comp. Ḳid. iv. 11; Tosef., Ḳid. v. 15; Masseket Soferim, xv. 10; all these passages being evidences of the same spirit pervading the Pharisaic schools).
"Some cultivate the soil, others pursue peaceful arts, toiling only for the provision of their necessary wants. . . . Among all men they alone are without money and without possession, but nevertheless they are the richest of all, because to have few wants and live frugally they regard as riches [comp. Abot iv. 1: "Who is rich? Who is contented with his lot? for it is said: 'When thou eatest the labor of thy hands happy art thou and it shall be well with thee'" (Ps. cxxviii. 2, Hebr.)]. Among them there is no maker of any weapon of war [comp. Shab. vi. 4], nor any trader, whether huckster or dealer in large merchandise on land or sea, nor do they follow any occupation that leads to injustice or to covetousness" "There is not a single slave among them, but they are all free, serving one another; they condemn masters, not only as representing a principle of unrighteousness in opposition to that of equality, but as personifications of wickedness in that they violate the law of nature which made us all brethren, created alike." [This means that, so far from keeping slaves, the Essenes, or Ḥasidim, made it their special object to ransom captives (see Ab. R. N. viii.; Ta'an. 22a; Ḥul. 7a); they emancipated slaves and taught them the Law, which says: "They are My servants (Lev. xxv. 42), but should not be servants of servants, and should not wear the yoke of flesh and blood" (Targ. Yer. to Deut. xxiii. 16-17; Tosef., B. K. vii. 5; Ḳid. 22b.; comp. 38b; Abot i. 10: "Hate mastership!" Abot vi. 2. In regard to their practise of mutual service comp. Ḳid. 32b; Luke xxii. 27; John xiii. 1 et seq.).]
Study of the Law.(comp. the name of "doreshe reshumot," allegorists, B. Ḳ. 82a).
"Of natural philosophy . . . they study only that which pertains to the existence of God and the beginning of all things ["ma'ase merkabah" and "ma'aseh bereshit"], otherwise they devote all their attention to ethics, using as instructors the laws of their fathers, which, without the outpouring of the divine spirit ["ruaḥ ha-ḳodesh"], the human mind could not have devised. These are especially taught on the seventh day, when, abstaining from all other work, they assemble in their holy places, called synagogues, sitting in rows according to their age, the younger ones listening with becoming attention at the feet of the elder ones. One takes up the holy book and reads aloud, another one from among the most learned comes forward and explains whatever may not have been understood-for, following their ancient traditions, they obtain their philosophy by means of allegorical interpretation" "Thus they are taught piety, holiness, righteousness, the mode of governing private and social affairs, and the knowledge of what is conducive or harmful or indifferent to truth, so that they may choose the one and shun the other, their main rule and maxim being a threefold one: love of God, love of manhood (self-control), and love of man. Of the love of God they exhibit myriads of examples, inasmuch as they strive for a continued, uninterrupted life of purity and holiness; they avoid swearing and falsehood, and they declare that God causes only good and no evil whatsoever [comp. "kol de-abed Raḥmana le-ṭab 'abed," "What the Merciful does is for the good," Ber. 60b]. Their love of virtue is proved by their freedom from love of money, of high station, and of pleasure, by their temperance and endurance, by their having few wants, by their simplicity and mild temper, by their lack of pride, by their obedience to the Law, by their equanimity, and the like. Of their love for man they give proof by their good will and pleasant conduct toward all alike [comp. Abot i. 15, iii. 12: "Receive every man with a pleasant countenance!"], and by their fellowship, which is beautiful beyond description.
Their Communism.(comp. B. M. ii. 11).
"No one possesses a house absolutely his own, one which does not at the same time belong to all; for in addition to living together in companies ["ḥaburot"] their houses are open also to their adherents coming from other quarters [comp. Aboti. 5]. They have one storehouse for all, and the same diet; their garments belong to all in common, and their meals are taken in common. . . . Whatever they receive for their wages after having worked the whole day they do not keep as their own, but bring into the common treasury for the use of all; nor do they neglect the sick who are unable to contribute their share, as they have in their treasury ample means to offer relief to those in need. [One of the two Ḥasidean and rabbinical terms for renouncing all claim to one's property in order to deliver it over to common use is "hefker" (declaring a thing ownerless; comp. Sanh. 49a); Joab, as the type of an Essene, made his house like the wilderness-that is, ownerless and free from the very possibility of tempting men to theft and sexual sin-and he supported the poor of the city with the most delicate food.
Similarly, King Saul declared his whole property free for use in warfare (Yalḳ.,Sam. i. 138). The other term is "heḳdesh nekasim" (consecrating one's goods; comp. 'Ar. vi. ; Pes. 57: "The owners of the mulberry-trees consecrated them to God"; Ta'an. 24a: "Eliezer of Beeroth consecrated to charity the money intended for his daughter's dowry, saying to his daughter, 'Thou shalt have no more claim upon it than any of the poor in Israel.'" Jose ben Joezer, because he had an unworthy son, consecrated his goods to God (B. B. 133b). Formerly men used to take all they had and give it to the poor (Luke xviii. 22); in Usha the rabbis decreed that no one should give away more than the fifth part of his property ('Ar. 28a; Tosef., 'Ar. iv. 23; Ket. 50a).] They pay respect and honor to, and bestow care upon, their elders, acting toward them as children act toward their parents, and supporting them unstintingly by their handiwork and in other ways"
Not even the most cruel tyrants, continues Philo, possibly with reference to King Herod, have ever been able, to bring any charge against these holy Essenes, but all have been compelled to regard them as truly free men. In Philo's larger work on the Jews, of which only fragments have been preserved in Eusebius' "Præparatio Evangelica" (viii.), the following description of the Essenes is given (ch. xi.):
The Essenes Advanced in Years.
"Our lawgiver, Moses, has trained thousands of disciples who, on account of their saintliness, I believe, are honored with the name of Essæi. They inhabit many cities and villages, and large and populous quarters of Judea. Their institution is not based upon family connections, which are not matters of free choice, but upon zeal for virtue and philanthropy. There exist no new-born children, and no youth just entering upon manhood, in the Essene community, since the dispositions of such youth are unstable on account of their immaturity; but all are full-grown men, already declining toward old age [compare the meaning of "zeḳenim"], such as are no longer carried away by the vehemence of the flesh nor under the influence of their passions, but are in the enjoyment of genuine and true liberty." [This is the most essential feature of Essenism (comp. Pliny, l.c.), and has been almost entirely ignored. The divine command to marry and preserve the race is supposed to have been obeyed by every young man before the close of his twentieth year (Ḳid. 29b), and he has not discharged his obligation until he has been the father of at least two children, two sons according to the Shammaites, according to the Hillelites one son and one daughter (Yeb. vi. 6). It was therefore only at an advanced age that it was considered an act of extreme piety "to leave children, wife, and friends behind in order to lead a life of contemplation in solitude" (Philo, "De Vita Contemplativa," ed. Conybeare, p. 49).]
Philo says here also that the Essenes have no property of their own, not house or slave or farm, nor flocks and herds, but hold in common everything they have or obtain; that they either pursue agriculture, or tend to their sheep and cattle, or beehives, or practise some handicraft. Their earnings, he continues, are given in charge of an elected steward, who at once buys the food for their meals and whatever is necessary for life. Every day they have their meals together; they are contented with the same food because they love frugality and despise extravagance as a disease of body and soul. They also have their dress in common, a thick cloak in winter and a light mantle in summer, each one being allowed to take whichever he chooses. If any one be sick, he is cured by medcines from the common stock, receiving the care of all. Old men, if they happen to be childless, end their lives as if they were blessed with many and well-trained children, and in the most happy state, being treated with a respect which springs from spontaneous attachment rather than from kinship. Especially do they reject that which would dissolve their fellowship, namely, marriage, while they practise continence in an eminent degree, for no one of the Essæi takes a wife. (What follows regarding the character of women probably reflects the misogynous opinion of the writer, not of the Essenes.) Philo concludes with a repetition of the remark that mighty kings have admired and venerated these men and conferred honors upon them.
In his "Antiquities" (xiii. 5, § 9), Josephus speaks of the Essenes as a sect which had existed in the time of the Maccabees, contemporaneously with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and which teaches that all things are determined by destiny (εἱμαρμένη), and that nothing befalls men which has not been foreordained; whereas the Pharisees make allowance for free will, and the Sadducees deny destiny altogether. This refers not so much to the more or less absolute belief in Providence (comp. the saying, "Ha-kol hi-yede shamayim" = " All is in the hands of God": Ket. 30a; Ber. 33b; and R. Akiba's words, "Everything is foreseen, but free will is given," Abot iii. 15), which the Sadducees scarcely denied, as to the foreknowledge of future (political) events, which the Essenes claimed (comp. Josephus, "Ant." xv. 10, § 5, et al.); the Pharisees were more discreet, and the Sadducees treated such prophecies with contempt. In "Ant." xviii. 1, §§ 2-6, Josephus dwells at somewhat greater length on what he assumes to be the three Jewish philosophical schools. Of the Essenes he says that they ascribe all things to God, that they teach the immortality of the soul, and that the reward of righteousness must be fought for (by martyrdom).(comp. Strabo, vii. 33).
"When they send gifts to the Temple they do not offer sacrifices because of the different degrees of purity and holiness they claim; therefore they keep themselves away from the common court of the Temple and bring offerings [vegetable sacrifices] of their own. [This certainly does not mean that they opposed animal sacrifices on principle, but that they brought no free-will offerings for reasons of their own; see above.] They excel all men in conduct, and devote themselves altogether to agriculture. Especially admirable is their practise of righteousness, which, while the like may have existed among Greeks or barbarians for a little while, has been kept up by them from ancient days [ἐκ παλαιον]; for they, like the Spartans of old and others, have still all things in common, and a rich man has no more enjoyment of his property than he who never possessed anything. There are about 4,000 men who live in such manner. They neither marry, nor do they desire to keep slaves, as they think the latter practise leads to injustice [comp. Abot ii. 7: "Many men servants, much theft"], and the former brings about quarrels; but, living to themselves, they serve one another. They elect good men ["ṭobim"; See Charity] to receive the wages of their labor and the produce of the soil, and priests for the preparation [consecration?] of their bread and meat. They all live alike, and resemble most the [holy unmarried] city-builders [pioneers] of the Dacæ"
The chief information concerning the Essenes is given in "De Bello Judaico" (ii. 8, §§ 2-13). But this account seems to have been taken from another source and worked over, as the description preserved in Hippolytus' "Refutatio Omnium Hæresium" (ix. 18-28) presents a version which, unobserved by most writers, differs in many respects from that of Josephus, being far more genuinely Jewish, and showing greater accuracy in detail and none of the coloring peculiar to Josephus (see Duncker's ed., Göttingen, 1859, p. 472, note). The following is Hippolytus' version, the variations in Josephus' being indicated by brackets with the letter J:
Hippolytus' Description Compared with Josephus'.(comp. Eccl. ix. 8) "There are three divisions [sects, αἱρετίσται = "philosophical divisions"] among them [the Jews]: the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Essenes. These [last] practise a holier life [J: "Jews by birth"] in their display of love for one another and of continence [comp. Ẓenu'im, above]; they abstain from every act of covetousness [J: "pleasure as an evil deed"] and avoid even listening to conversation concerning such things. They renounce matrimony, but they take children of strangers [J: "when they are still easily instructed"; but comp. Abraham in Gen. R. xxxix. and Targ. Yer. to Deut. xxiii. 17], and treat them as their own, training them in their own customs; but they do not forbid them to marry. Women, however, though they may be inclined to join the same mode of life, they do not admit, as they by no means place the same confidence in women." [This referssimply to questions of Levitical holiness and to the mysteries entrusted to the Ẓenu'im. Josephus has this sentence twisted into the following crude and unjust statement: "They do not forbid marriage and the procreation of children, but they guard against the lasciviousness of women and are persuaded that none preserves fidelity to one man."] Hippolytus continues: "They despise wealth, and do not refrain from sharing what they have with those in need; in fact, none among them is richer than the other; for the law with them is that whosoever joins their order must sell his possessions and hand the proceeds over to the common stock [Josephus adds here remarks of his own]; and the head [archon] distributes it to all according to their need. The overseers who provide for the common wants are elected by them. They do not use oil, as they regard anointing as a defilement, probably from fear that the oil was not kept perfectly pure. They always dress in white garments".
Essenes Travel Constantly.
"They have no special city of their own, but live in large numbers in different cities, and if any of their followers comes from a strange city everything they have is considered as belonging equally to the newcomer; those who were never known before are received as kindred and friends." "They traverse their native land [as "sheluḥe miẓwah," sent for charitable and for politico-religious purposes (comp. Apostles)], and whenever they go on a journey they carry nothing except arms. They find in every city an administrator of the collective funds, who procures clothing and food for them.
Prayers and Meals.
"Their way of dressing and their general appearance are decorous; but they possess neither two cloaks nor two pairs of shoes [comp. Matt. x. 10, and parallels]. At early dawn they rise for devotion and prayer, and speak not a word to one another until they have praised God in hymns. [Josephus has here: "They speak not a word about profane things before the rising of the sun, but they offer up the prayers they have received from their fathers facing the sun as if praying for its rising"; comp. the Watiḳim, above.] Thus they go forth, each to his work until the fifth hour, when, having put on linen aprons to conceal their privy parts [comp. Ber. 24b], they bathe in cold water and then proceed to breakfast, none being allowed to enter the house who does not share their view or mode of holiness [see Ḥag. iii. 2]. Then, having taken their seats in order amid silence, each takes a sufficient portion of bread and some additional food; but none eats before the benediction has been offered by the priest, who also recites the grace after the meal; both at the beginning and at the close they praise God in hymns [comp. Ber. 21a, 35a, in regard to the saying of grace; see, M. Ḳ. 28b; Meg. 28a]. After this they lay aside their sacred linen garments used at their meal, put on their working garments left in the vestibule, and betake themselves to their labor until the evening, when they take supper.
The Law and the Prophets.[comp. Wisdom vii. 20]
"There are no loud noise and vociferation heard [at their assembly]; they speak gently and allow the discourse to flow with grace and dignity, so that the stillness within impresses outsiders with a sense of mystery. They observe sobriety and moderation in eating and drinking. All pay due attention to the president, and whatever he orders they obey as law. Especial zeal they manifest in offering sympathy and succor to those in distress. [Josephus here adds a sentence of his own.] Above all they refrain from all forms of passion and anger as leading to mischief [see Anger]. No one among them swears; a word is regarded as more binding than an oath; and one who swears is despised as one not deserving of confidence. They are very solicitous in regard to the reading aloud of the Law and the Prophets [J: "the writings of the ancient ones"], and of any [apocalyptic?] scroll they have of the Faithful Ones [comp. Tan., Wa'era, ed. Buber, 4; and Eschatology; J: "and they select such as are for the salvation of soul and body"]. Especially do they investigate the magic powers of plants and stones.
"To those desirous of becoming disciples they do not deliver their traditions [παραδόσεις; comp. Cabala] until they have tested them. Accordingly they set before the aspirant the same kind of food, outside the main hall, where he remains for a whole year after having received a mattock, a linen apron, and a white robe [as symbols of Ẓeni'ut (Essene, modesty and purity)]. After having given proof of self-control during this period, he is advanced and his ablutions are of a higher degree of purity, but he is not allowed to partake of the common meal until, after a trial of two years more, he has proved worthy to be admitted into membership.
Then oaths of an awful character are administered to him: he swears to treat with reverence whatever is related to the Divinity [compare Blasphemy and God, Names of]; that he will observe righteousness toward men and do injustice to none; that he will not hate any one who has done him injustice, but will pray for his enemies [comp. Matt. v. 45]; that he will always side with the righteous in their contests [this proves, if anything, that the Essenes were fighters rather than mere quietists]; that he will show fidelity to all and particularly to those in authority; for, say they, without God's decree no one is given power to rule [this refers not to political rulers, as has been claimed with reference to "Ant." xv. 10, § 5, but to the head of the order, whose election is not made without the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Sifre, Num. 92: Ber. 58a, "min ha-shamayim"; comp. Didascalia, in Jew. Encyc. iv. 590a)];
that, if himself appointed to be ruler, he will not abuse his authority, nor refuse to submit to the rules, nor ornament himself beyond what is customary; that he will ever love the truth and reprove him who is guilty of falsehood; that he will neither steal nor pollute his conscience for the sake of gain; that he will neither conceal anything from the members of the order nor disclose anything to outsiders, even though tortured to death. He swears besides that he will not communicate the doctrines differently from the manner in which he received them himself. [Here Josephus has two conditions omitted in Hippolytus: "that he will abstain from robbery (which in this connection probably refers to the teachings which might be misappropriated and claimed for oneself; the rabbinical rule, which has, therefore, an Essene coloring, being: "He who tells a saying in the name of the author brings about the redemption," Abot vi. 6, based upon Esth. ii. 22), and "that he will with equal care guard the books of the order and the names of the angels." These oaths give a better insight into the character and purpose of the Essene brotherhood than any other description, as will be shown later.]
Discipline of the Essene Order.
"If any of them be condemned for any transgression, he is expelled from the order, and at times such a one dies a terrible death [see Anathema and Didascalia], for inasmuch as he is bound by the oaths taken and by the rites adopted, he is no longer at liberty to partake of the food in use among others. [Here Josephus: "and being compelled to eat herbs, he famishes his body until he perishes."] Occasionally they pity those exposed to dissolution ["shammata"], considering punishment unto death sufficient. In their judicial decisions they are most accurate and just; they do not pass sentence unless in company with one hundred persons [this is possibly a combination of the higher court of seventy-two ("Sanhedrin gedolah") and the smaller court of twenty-three ("Sanhedrin ḳeṭannah")], and what has been decided by them is unalterable. After God they pay the highest homage to the legislator (that is to say, to the Law of Moses), and if any one is guilty of blasphemy against him (that is, against the Law), he is punished [J: "with death"]. They are taught to obey the rulers and elders [J: "the majority"].
"When ten [the number necessary to constitute a holy congregation; See Minyan] sit together deliberating, no one speaks without permission of the rest [the rabbinical term is "reshut"; see the Talmudic dictionaries, s.v. ]. They avoid spitting into the midst of them [Ḥag. 5a; Ber. 62b], or toward the right [the right hand is used for swearing; see Brand, "Mandäische Religion," 1889, pp. 110 et seq.]. "In regard to Sabbath rest they are more scrupulous than other Jews, for they not only prepare their meals one day previously so as not to touch fire, but they do not even remove any utensil [rabbinical term, "muḳẓah"]; see Sabbath]; nor do they turn aside to ease nature. Some do not even rise from their couch [comp. Targ. to Ex. xvi. 27; Mek., Beshallaḥ, 5], while on other days they observe the law in Deut. xxiii. 13. After the easement they wash themselves, considering the excrement as defiling [comp. Yoma iii. 3]. They are divided, according to their degree of holy exercises, into four classes."
The following paragraph, omitted by Josephus, is alluded to, in his "Ant." xviii. 1, § 6, as "the philosophy of a fourth sect founded by Judas the Galilean."
Zealots Also Essenes.
"For some of these observe a still more rigid practise in not handling or looking at a coin which has an image, nor will they even enter a city at the gates of which statues are erected [comp. Yer. 'Ab. Zarah iii. 42b, 43b]. Others again threaten to slay any Gentile taking part in a discourse about God and His Law if he refuses to be circumcised [comp. Sanh. 59a, Ex.R. xxxiii.]. From this they were called 'Zealots' [Ḳanna'im] by some, 'Sicarii' by others. Others again will call no one lord except God, even though they be tortured or killed.
"Those of a lower degree of discipline [holiness] are so inferior to those of the higher degree that the latter at once undergo ablution when touched by the former, as if touched by a Gentile. [These are the four degrees of holiness mentioned in Ḥag. ii. 7: "ma'aser," "terumah," "ṭohorot," and "ḥaṭṭat," or "most holy." Another division is: κοινόβια = = "common meal," and "ṭohorot" = "priestly meal Tosef., Dem. ii. 11.] Most of them enjoy longevity; many attain an age of more than a hundred years. They declare that this is owing to their extreme piety [comp. the frequent question: "Ba-meh ha'arakta yamim" (By what merit didst thou attain an old age? Meg. 27b, 28)] and to their constant exercise of self-control. [Josephus instead rationalizes.] They despise death, rejoicing when they can finish their course with a good conscience, they willingly undergo torment or death rather than speak ill of the Law or eat what has been offered to an idol." (Here Josephus adds something of his own experience in the Roman war.)
This leads Hippolytus, exactly as in the "Didascalia," to the Essene view of the future life, a view in which, contrary to the romantic picture given by Josephus, the belief in Resurrection is accentuated:
Essene View of Resurrection.
"Particularly firm is their doctrine of Resurrection; they believe that the flesh will rise again and then be immortal like the soul, which, they say, when separated from the body, enters a place of fragrant air and radiant light, there to enjoy rest-a place called by the Greeks who heard [of this doctrine] the 'Isles of the Blest.' But," continues the writer, in a passage characteristically omitted by Josephus, "there are other doctrines besides, which many Greeks have appropriated and given out as their own opinions. For their disciplinary life [ἄσκησις] in connection with the things divine is of greater antiquity than that of any other nation, so that it can be shown that all those who made assertions concerning God and Creation derived their principles from no other source than the Jewish legislation. [This refers to the Ḥasidean "ma'aseh'merkabah" and "ma'aseh bereshit."] Among those who borrowed from the Essenes were especially Pythagoras and the Stoics; their disciples while returning from Egypt did likewise [this casts new light on Josephus' identification of the Essenes with the Pythagoreans: "Ant." xv. 10, § 4]; for they affirm that there will be a Judgment Day and a burning up of the world, and that the wicked will be eternally punished.(comp. Horwitz, "Baraita di Nidda," i. 2).
"Also prophecy and the foretelling of future events are practised by them. [Josephus has in addition: "For this purpose they are trained in the use of holy writings, in various rites of purification, and in prophetic (apocalyptic?) utterances; and they seldom make mistakes in their predictions."] Then there is a section of the Essenes who, while agreeing in their mode of life, differ in regard to marriage, declaring that those who abstain from marrying commit an awful crime, as it leads to the extinction of the human race. But they take wives only after having, during three years' observation of their course of life, been convinced of their power of child-bearing, and avoid intercourse during pregnancy, as they marry merely for the sake of offspring. The women when undergoing ablutions are arrayed in linen garments like the men in order not to expose their bodies to the light of day"
Purpose of the Essene Brotherhood.
A careful survey of all the facts here presented shows the Essenes to have been simply the rigorists among the Pharisees, whose constant fear of becoming contaminated by either social or sexual intercourse led them to lead an ascetic life, but whose insistence on maintaining the highest possible standard of purity and holiness had for its object to make them worthy of being participants of "the Holy Spirit," or recipients of divine revelations, and of being initiated into the mysteries of God and the future. "Wo to the wives of these men!" exclaimed Zipporah, the wife of Moses, when she heard that Eldad and Medad had become prophets, for this meant cessation of conjugal intercourse (Sifre, Num. 99). Abstinence from whatever may imply the use of unrighteous Mammon was another condition of initiation into the mystery of the Holy Name (Yer. Yoma iii. 40d; comp. Ḥul. 7b; Phinehas b. Jair; Midr. Teh. xxiv. 4, cxxviii. 2; Ḥul. 44b, with reference to Prov. xv. 27). The purpose of their ablutions before every meal as well as before morning prayers, which practise gave them the name of "Ṭobele Shaḥarit" ( = Morning Baptists, Ἡμεροβαπτισταῖ), was to insure the pronunciation of the Name and the eating of holy things in a state of purity (Tosef., Yad. ii. 20; Ber. 2b, 22a). The existence of large numbers of Levites (Yeb. xv. 7) and Aaronites, the original teachers of the Law, whose holy food had to be eaten in holiness, was instrumental in the creation of a state of communism such as the Law prescribes for each seventh year (Peah vi. 1). Fear of defilement led Judas Maccabeus as Ḥasidean leader to live only on herbs (II Macc. v. 27). A glance at the Essene oath of initiation confirms the statement of Philo that love of God, or reverence for His Name, love of man, or pursuit of righteousness and benevolence, and love of virtue, or humility and chastity, were the chief aims of the Essene brotherhood. Successors to the ancient Ḥasidim who instituted the liturgy (Midr. Teh. xvii. 4: "ḥasidim ha-rishonim"), they laid all possible stress on prayer and devotion, opposing the priesthood in the Temple out of mistrust as to their state of holiness and purity rather than out of aversion to sacrifice (Tosef., Ned. i. 1; Ker. 25a). They claimed to possess by tradition from the founders of the Synagogue ("anshe keneset ha-gedolah") the correct pronunciation and the magic spell of the Holy Name (Midr. Teh. xxxvi. 8, xci. 8), and with it they achieved miracles like the men of old (Midr. Teh. lxxviii. 12, xci. 2). They taught Jews and Gentiles alike to cleanse themselves in living streams from their impurity of sin, and return to God in repentance and prayer (Sibyllines, iv. 164; Luke iii. 3; comp. Tan., ed. Buber, Introduction, 153). Ever alert and restless while in hope of the Messianic time, they formed a strong political organization scattered through the Holy Land; and, in constant touch with one another, they traveled far and wide to organize Jewish communities and provide them with the three elements of Judaism: instruction, worship, and charity (Abot i. 2); and they were especially assiduous in pursuit of benevolent work (Ab. R. N. iii., viii.). Each community had its seven good men, called "the Good Brotherhood of the Town" (Ḥeber 'Ir be-Ṭobaḥ: "Ant." iv. 8, § 14; Meg. 27a; Tosef., Peah, iv. 16; Sheb. vii. 9).
Types of Essenes.
Standing under the direction of the "mishmar," or "ma'amad" (the district authority: Tosef., Peah, iv. 7), the Essenes claimed, as direct successors to the Ḥasidim, Mosaic origin for their brotherhood (see Philo and Josephus, l.c., in reference to Ex. xviii. 21; comp. Targ. Yer.; B. M. 30b; Mek., Yitro, 2). Whatever their real connection with the Rechabites (Jer. xxxv.) was, they beheld in Jonadab, the founder of the sect of the "Water-Drinkers," as well as in Jabez (I Chron. ii. 55, iv. 10; see Targ.) and in Jethro the Kenite, prototypes, and possibly founders, of the Jericho colony (Mek., Yitro, 2; Sifre, Num. 78; Sheḳ. v. 48c; Nilus, "De Monastica Exercitatione,"iii.; "J. Q. R." v. 418); likewise in Jesse, the father of David, regarded as sinless and deathless in their tradition (Shab. 55b; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa i.); and in Obed, Boaz, and his father Salma (Tan., Wayeḥi, ed. Buber, 4; Targ. to I Chron. ii. 54 et seq., iv. 22 et seq.). In this manner Ahijah and Ahithophel became types of Essenes (Midr. Teh. v. 8), as well as King Saul, as mentioned above; but, above all, the Patriarchs and protoplasts. Other Essenic types were Abraham, called "Watiḳ," the prototype of the Anawim and Ḥasidim because "he rose early" for prayer (Ber. 6b, after Gen. xix. 27; Shab. 105a; Gen. R. liii.); Shem-Melchizedek as teacher of benevolence and true worshiper of God (Midr. Teh. xxxvii. 1, lxxvi. 3); Job as philanthropist and as teacher of mystic lore (B. B. 15a, b; see Kohler, "Testament of Job," in Kohut Memorial Volume, pp. 265 et seq.); Enoch (see Enoch, Books of); and Adam ('Er. 78b; Pirḳe R. El. xx.). A passage in the Tanḥuma reads: "Only when Abraham separated from Lot and Jacob from Laban did God communicate with them as perushim" (Wayeẓe, ed. Buber, 21). The claim of antiquity for Essene tradition is, accordingly, not the invention of Pliny or Philo; it is essential to the Essene traditional lore. In truth, Abraham, as "'Anaw" (= "the humble one"), and all doers of works of benevolence, learned it from God, "their Father in heaven" (see Yalḳ. Mekiri to Ps. xviii. 36; Yalḳ. to II Sam. xxii. 36; comp. Sifre, Deut. 49). They are "the lovers of God" (B. B. 8b; Yoma 28a). God unites with the brotherhoods of the humble ("ḥaburot ha-nemukin": Tan., Wa'era, ed. Buber, 3). He provides each day's food for them as He provided the manna for Israel (Mek., Beshalalḥ, 2, ed. Weiss, pp. 56 [note] et seq.; Sifre, Deut. 42; Ḳid. 82b; Matt. vi. 25). "When men ceased to hate men's gifts [the Essene] longevity ceased" (Soṭah 47b, based on Prov. xv. 27).
In regard to Sabbath observance the rabbinical tradition traced the more rigid laws, comprising even the removal of utensils, to Nehemiah's time, that is, to the ancient Ḥasidim (Shab. 123b), and the Book of Jubilees (1. 8-12) confirms the antiquity of the Essene view. As the best characteristic of the Essene view the saying of Phinehas ben Jair, the last Essene of note, may be quoted: "The Torah leads to conscientiousness; this to alertness ["zerizut"] for holy work; this to blamelessness ["neḳiyyut"]; this to 'perishut' [Pharisaic separation from common things]; this to purity; this to 'ḥasidut' [Essene piety?]; this to humbleness; this to fear of sin; this to holiness, or to the possession' of the Holy Spirit; and this finally to the time of the Resurrection; but ḥasidut is the highest grade" ('Ab. Zarah 20b).
Traces of Essenism and Anti-Essenism.
Essenism as well as Ḥasidism represents that stage of religion which is called "otherworldliness." It had no regard for the comfort of home life; woman typified only the feebleness and impurity of man. In their efforts to make domestic and social life comfortable and cheerful, the Pharisees characterized the Essene as "a fool who destroys the world" (Soṭah iii. 4), and their ethics assumed an anti-Essene character (see Ethics). Exceptionally, some tannaim, such as R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus (Shab. 153a; Ned. 20b) and Jose ben Ḥalafta (Shab. 118b), favored the ascetic view in regard to conjugal life, while some amoraim and tannaim gave evidence of Essene practise or special Essene knowledge (see Frankel in "Monatsschrift," ii. 72 et seq.). Traces of Essenism, or of tendencies identical with it, are found throughout the apocryphal and especially the apocalyptic literature (see Kohler, "Pre-Talmudic Haggada," in "J. Q. R." v. 403 et seq.; Jellinek, "B. H." ii., Introduction, vii., xviii., et al.), but are especially noticeable in the Tanna debe Eliyahu, above all in the Targum Yerushalmi, where the Essenic colonies of Jericho and of the City of Palms are mentioned as inhabited by the disciples of Elijah and Elisha (Deut. xxxiv. 3); the sons of Levi are singled out as forming brotherhoods for the service of God (Gen. xxix. 34); Joseph, Kohath, Amram, and Aaron, as well as the Patriarchs, are called "Ḥasidim" (Targ. Yer. on Gen. xxix. 13, xlix. 22; Ex. vi. 18, 20; Num. xxi. 1); priest-like and angelic holiness is enjoined upon Israel (Ex. xxii. 30; Lev. xx. 7; Num. xvi. 40); angels are expelled from heaven for having disclosed divine mysteries (Gen. xxvii. 12); the Holy Name and the Holy Spirit play throughout a prominent rôle; and God's own time, like that of the Essenes, appears as divided between studying the Law, sitting in judgment, and providing for the world's support and for the maintenance of the race (Deut. xxxii. 4).
The Essenes seem to have originally consisted, on the one hand, of rigorous Zealots, such as the Book of Jubilees looks for, and such as were under the leadership of men like Abba Taḥna Ḥasida and Abba Sicara (Eccl. R. ix. 7); and, on the other hand, of mild-tempered devotees of the Law, such as were the Essenes at En Gedi (Yer. Soṭah ix. 24c; Pliny, l.c.) and the Therapeutæ of Egypt. Rabbinical tradition knows only that under the persecution of Rome (Edom) the Essenes wandered to the south (Darom: Gen. R. lxxvi.; comp. Pes. 70b; Yeb. 62b; Midr. Teh. xix. 2), and occasionally mention is made of "the brethren" ("ḥabbarayya"), with reference to the Essene brotherhood (Lam. R. iv. 1; see also Levy, "Neuhebr. Wörterb." s.v. and ; Geiger's "Jüd. Zeit." vi. 279; Brüll's "Jahrb." i. 25, 44). It is as charitable brotherhoods that the Essenic organization survived the destruction of the nation.
Relation of Essenism to Christianity.
John the Baptist seems to have belonged to the Essenes, but in appealing to sinners to be regenerated by baptism, he inaugurated a new movement, which led to the rise of Christianity. The silence of the New Testament about the Essenes is perhaps the best proof that they furnished the new sect with its main elements both as regards personnel and views. The similarity in many respects between Christianity and Essenism is striking: There were the same communism (Acts iv. 34-35); the same belief in baptism or bathing, and in the power of prophecy; the same aversion to marriage, enhanced by firmer belief in the Messianic advent; the same system of organization, and the same rules for the traveling brethrendelegated to charity-work (see Apostle and Apostleship); and, above all, the same love-feasts or brotherly meals (comp. Agape; Didascalia). Also, between the ethical and the apocalyptic teachings of the Gospels and the Epistles and the teachings of the Essenes of the time, as given in Philo, in Hippolytus, and in the Ethiopic and Slavonic Books of Enoch, as well as in the rabbinic literature, the resemblance is such that the influence of the latter upon the former can scarcely be denied. Nevertheless, the attitude of Jesus and his disciples is altogether anti-Essene, a denunciation and disavowal of Essene rigor and asceticism; but, singularly enough, while the Roman war appealed to men of action such as the Zealots, men of a more peaceful and visionary nature, who had previously become Essenes, were more and more attracted by Christianity, and thereby gave the Church its otherworldly character; while Judaism took a more practical and worldly view of things, and allowed Essenism to live only in tradition and secret lore (see Clementina; Ebionites; Gnosticism).
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
Frankel, Die, Essäer, in Zeitschrift für die Religiösen Interessen des Judenthums, 1846, pp. 441-461; idem, Die Essäer nach Talmudischen Quellen, in Monatsschrift, 1853, pp. 30-40, 61-73; J. Böhmer, Kitbe Yisrael Böhmer, Warsaw, 1849 (Hebrew); N. L. Weinstein, Beiträge zur Gesch. der Essäer, Vienna, 1892; Mitwoch, Essäer, in Zeit. für Assyr. 1902; Grätz, Gesch. iii. 91 et seq., 697-703; Jost, Gesch. des Judenthums und Seiner Sekten, i. 207-214. Derenbourg, Hist. 1867, pp. 166-175, 460 et seq.; L. Herzfeld, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, iii. 368, 388, 509 et seq.; C. D. Ginsburg, The Essenes, Their History and Their Doctrines, London, 1864 (with summary of previous literature); idem, in Kitto's Dict. of the Bible, and in Smith-Wace, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities; Geiger, Jüd. Zeit, 1871, pp. 30-56; M. Friedländer, Zur Entstehungsgesch. des Christenthums, 1894, pp. 98-142; Kohler, The Essene Brotherhood, in Reform Advocate, anniversary number, 1894, pp. 15-19; J. D. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistles to the Colassians, 1876, pp. 349-419; Wellhausen, I. J. G. 1895, pp. 292-296; Lucius, Der Essenismus in Seinem Verhältniss zum Judenthum; Schürer, Gesch. ii. 556-584; Hilgenfeld, Ketzergesch. des Urchristenthums, 1884, pp. 87-149; F. C. Conybeare, in Hastings, Dict. Bible; Philo, De Vita Contemplativa, ed. Conybeare, Oxford, 1895.K.
This page - -
- - is at
This subject presentation was last updated on - -
Send an e-mail question or comment to us: E-mail
The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html