Pages 665 and 666 - Pharisees



The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906)


in 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. (Mainstream doctrine and teaching) The same was the case with regard to the belief(S) in angels and demons. As Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus indicate, the upper classes (Of the Sadducees) adhered for a long time 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, (Talmudic writings) not only to amplify the Biblical account, (Read this as to enhance and alter text) but (Also) to remove from the Bible anthropomorphisms (God speaking, God walking, God having hands, God sitting on a throne etc) and similarly obnoxious verbiage concerning the Deity (God personally visiting Abraham, God bodily appearing to Moses) by referring them (These attributes and events) to angelic and intermediary powers (for instance, Gen. 1.26), and thereby to gradually sublimate and spiritualize the conception of God. (Converting God into an invisible, impersonal, unknowable, unapproachable, and in post WWII times -- an aloof Deity.)


So here we have a concrete statement that the so called “liberal doctrines teaching” that have plagued denominational churches and in more recent times Evangelicalism and Methodist-ism and even Fundamentalist church concerning God’s so called anthropomorphic attributes spoken of the bible are not liberal doctrine and teaching at all but are actually Pharisaic doctrines and teachings from the Mishnah and the Babylonian Talmud that have been pawned off to believers as “mainstream Christian Doctrine.”  


In these false doctrines it is specifically stated that we are not created in God’s Image and Likeness -- because God is a gaseous vapor with no shape or form – Rather in their eyes He is an enlightening energy, or a cosmic consciousness.  Note that these same teachings while completely separating God from men; are also more or less the cornerstone of New Age teaching in which people through wearing crystals and such things, through meditation, chats and whatnot are able to tap into that cosmic consciousness, that gaseous eternal energy and become empowered. 


   We strongly believe that man was created in God’s image and likeness as it states in both the Hebrew and Greek. We strongly believe that God is a person, a physical and Spiritual being. We strongly believe that God has hands feet a body a head fingers eyes a nose a mouth, He sits on a literal throne, He speaks, He moves, He has concrete desires and purposes, that God had emotions He loves, He hates, He gets angry, He has also concrete rules and laws that He judges men over their obedience or lack thereof.


   We also strongly believe that God Himself visits men personally where it declares he has done so in Scripture, and He has sent men and angels to intervene in the affairs of men where Scripture so declares.  We strongly believe as revealed in scripture that God is a loving God and reveals Himself, manifests himself to those that obey His words and commandments and seek diligently after Him.


The Pharisees are furthermore described by Josephus as extremely virtuous and sober, and as despising luxuries; (Josephus said these things of “True Pharisees” not of the Pharisees of his day) 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., Kedoshim, 1; Mek., Shirah, 8; Sifra, 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 he the principal Law (Shal. 30a: Ab. R. N., text B, xxvi. [ed. Schechter, p. 53]: Sifra, Kedoshim, 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 (Sbir ha-Shirim Zuta, i.; Sifra, Num. 184, Deut. 31, 40). Heathenism is hated on account of the moral depravity to which it leads (Sifra, Num. 157), but the idolater who becomes an observer of the Law ranks with the high priest (Sifra, Ahare 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 d: see ETHICS).


Nothing could have been more loathsome to the genuine Pharisee than HYPOCRISY. “Whatever good man does he should do it for the glory of God” Sb. 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 Annaeus warned his wife not against the Pharisees, his declared enemies, but against “the chameleon — or Hyena — like hypocrites who act like Zimri and claim the reward of Phinehas” (Sotah 22b).


The Charge

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”; (8) “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; Sotah 22b; Ab.R. N.. text A, xxxvii.; text B, xlv. [ed. Schechter, pp. 55, 62]; the explanations in both Talmuds vary greatly; see Chwolson, “Des Letzte Passahmahl,” p. 116). R. Joshua b. Hananiah, at the beginning of the second century, calls eccentric Pharisees “destroyers of the world” (Sotah iii. 4); and the term “Pharisaic plagues” is frequently used by the leaders of the time (Yer. Sotah iii. 19a).


It is such types of Pharisees that Jesus had in view when hurling his scathing words of condemnation against the Pharisees, whom be denounced as “hypocrites,” calling them “offspring of vipers” (‘hyenas”; see ZEBU’IM); “whited sepulchers which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones”; “blind guides,” “which stain 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 zizit, 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 zizit, 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, Sec. 1).


Only in regard to intercourse with the unclean and “unwashed” multitude, with the ‘am ha-arez, 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 (117-138 AD Rabbi Johanan was apparently a Pharisee and here he was apparently trying to clear his order of the changes of Christ and lay it at the feet of one of the other rabbinical orders that he left for dead in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD), “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.


It is difficult to state at what time the Pharisees, as a party, arose. Josephus first mentions them in connection 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

History of

(“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 Jannaeus (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 Shetah, 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, Behukkotai, 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. 8, §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 hatter, 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; l1, §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.


We note here that the Jewish Encyclopedia that has so readily quoted Josephus as speaking of “the rising state of the Pharisees and the falling star of the Sadducees failed to recount the story recorded by Josephus as to exactly how the Pharisees illegally and divisively took the seat of Moses that is the head seat of the Sanhedrin away from the Sadducees – that is that they petitioned the widow of Alexander the Great –So that the got the seat illegally according to their Talmudic law in their own words “from a Niddah (A unclean gentile woman) .


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 (In particular the Pharisaism of Rabbi Johanan) 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 time midst of the downfall of the old world and the deluge of barbarism which swept over the medieval world.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Elbogen. Die Religionsanschauung der Pharisaer. Berlin1904; Geiger, Urschrift. Breslau 1857; Idem. Sadduceier und Pharisaer, in Jud. Zeit. 1863; Schurer, Gesch. 3d ed.. ii. 380-419 (where list at the whole literature is given); Welibausen, Die Pharisaer und Sadducaer, Gottlngen, 1874.