Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
a designation (in the N.T. and Josephus) of one of the three sects or orders of Judaism in the time of Christ, the other two being the Essenes and the Sadducees. The following account of them is from Scriptural and Talmudical notices, with whatever light the comparison affords.
I. Name of the Sect, and its Signification. — The name Φαρισαῖος — Pharisee is the Greek form of the Hebrew פָּרוּשׁ (parush, passive participle of פָּרִשׁ, to separate, plur. פְּרוּשַׁים, Aramaic פְּרוּשְׁין ), and properly denotes one who is separated, i.e., by special practices; or, as the dictionary called Aruch (s.v.) defines it, "one who separated himself from Levitical impurity and Levitically impure food" (comp. also Talmud, Chagigah, 18 b; Sabbath, 13 a). The derivation of it from פָּרִשׁ, in the sense of unfolding, explaining, and the assertion that the followers of this sect were called Pharisees — interpreters of the Bible, in contradistinction to the Sadducees, who adhered to the letter of the Scriptures, as well as the more generally received notion that they were so called because they separated from the rest f the people, believing themselves to be more holy, are at variance with the most ancient and most trustworthy authorities upon this subject. Besides, to take פָּרוּשׁ as meaning interpreter is contrary to its grammatical form, which, if transitive, ought to be מפרש Of course the separation from that which was Levitically impure necessarily implied separation from those who were defiled by Levitically impure objects. It must be observed that the name Pharisees is given to'them in the Mishna (Jebamoth, 4:6, etc.) by their opponents the Sadducees, and that the names by which they were designated among themselves are חֲכָמַים, sages, or, more modestly תִּלְמַידֵי חֲכָמַים, disciples of the sages, but more generally
חֲבִרְים, associates. By the term Pharisees, פְּרוּשַׁים, or its equivalent Claberim, חֲבֵרַים, i.e., associates, is therefore meant all those Jews who separated themselves from every kind of Levitical impurity, and united together to keep the Mosaic laws of purity. As it was natural that all the students of the law would, as a matter of course, be the first to join this association, the appellation Chaber, חָבֵר, member, associate, or פָּרוּשׁ , Pharisee, became synonymous with student, disciple, lawyer, scribe, while those who refused to unite to keep the laws were regarded as עִם הָאָרֵוֹ, country people, common people, illiterates, irreligious.
II. The Qualfications for Menbership of the Pharisaic Association. — The most essential conditions which were enacted from every one who wished to become a Chaber or member of the Pharisaic association were two. Each candidate was required to promise in the presence of three members that —
(i) He would set apart all the sacred tithes on the produce of the land, and refrain from eating anything which had not been tithed, or about the tithing of which there was any doubt; and
(ii) He would scrupulously observe the most essential laws of purity which so materially affected the eating of food and all family affairs.
To understand these laws, which may seem trivial and arbitrary, as well as to see the extraordinary influence which they exercised upon the whole religious and social life of the Jewish nation in all its ramifications, the following facts must be borne in mind: The Mosaic law enjoins that besides the priestly heave-offering (תְּרוּמָה ) every Israelite is annually to give to the Levites a tithe of all the produce (Numbers 18:21-24), which the Jewish canons call the first tithe ( רָאשׁוֹן מִעֲשֵׂר ); that a second tithe (מִעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנַי), as it is termed in the same canons, is to be taken annually from the produce to Jerusalem, either in kind or specie, and consumed by the owner in the metropolis in festive celebration (Deuteronomy 12:5-18), and that every third year this second tithe is to be given to the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29), whence it is denominated the poor tithe (עָנַי מִעֲשֵׂר ) in the ancient canons. Moreover, as each seventh year was a Sabbatic or fallow year, which yielded no harvest, it was fixed that in the first. second, fourth, and fifth years of the septennial cycle the second tithe is to be eaten by the owner in Jerusalem, while in the third and sixth years it is to be distributed among the poor, and be the poor tithe. When it is remembered that these tithal laws, which were originally enacted for Palestine, were in the post-exilian period extended to Egypt, Ammon, Moab, and to every land in which the Jews had possessions, that they had more of a religious than civil import, that the portion of produce reserved as tithes was holy, that the eating of holy things was a deadly sin, and that the non-separation of the tithes rendered the whole produce unlawfuil, thus affecting every article of food, the paramount importance of the first condition which the Pharisees, who were the conservators of the divine law, exacted from the candidates for fellowship will readily be understood (comp. Mishna, Bekoroth, 30 b).
Of equal importance, and equally affecting the whole fabric of social and religious life, are the Mosaic laws upon the strength of which the second condition was exacted. These laws, which so rigidly enforce the eschewing of unclean food and defiling objects, even without the amplifications and expansion which obtained in the course of time, extend to and affect almost every actioi in public life and every movement in family intercourse. Thus not only are numbers of animals proscribed as food, but their very carcasses are branded as unclean, and he who touches them is temporarily de. filed, and pollutes every one and everything wherewith he comes in contact (Leviticus 5:2; Leviticus 11). A man that has an issue not only defiles everything upon which he lies, sits, or which he touches, but his very spittle is polluting (Leviticus 15:1-13). The same is the case with a man who comes in contact with a corpse (Numbers 19:14-22), with a woman in menstruum and childbirth (Leviticus 12:1-8; Leviticus 15:19-31), and with a husband after conjugal intercourse (Leviticus 15:18). Individuals thus defiled were forbidden to come into the sanctuary (Numbers 19:20), and were visited with the severe punishment of excision if they ate the flesh of peace-offering (Leviticus 7:20-21). Now the slightest reflection upon the workings of these laws will show that thousands upon thousands were daily unclean according to the Mosaic institutions, that these thousands of unclean men and women legally defiled myriads of people and things by contact with them, either wittingly or unwittingly, and that it therefore became absolutely necessary for those who were conscientiously desirous of discharging their religious duties in a state of legal purity to adopt such precautionary measures as would preclude the possibility of violating these laws. Hence the Jewish canons ordained that since one does not know whether he has been defiled by contact with any unclean person or thing, every Chaber or member of the Pharisaic association is "to wash his hands before eating his ordinary food, second tithes, or the heave- offering; to immerse his whole body before he eats the portions of holy sacrifices; and to bathe his whole body before touching the water absolving from sin, even if it is only his hands which are unclean. If one immersed himself for ordinary food, and designed it only for ordinary food, he could not eat second tithes; if he immersed for second tithes, and meant it only for second tithes, he could not eat of the heave-offering; if he immersed for the heave-offering, and meant by it the heave-offering, he was not allowed to eat the portions of the holy sacrifice; if he immersed for the holy sacrifice, and meant it for the holy sacrifice, he could not as vet touch the water absolving from sin; but he who immersed for the more important could share in the less important" (Mishna, Chagigah, 2:5, 6).
This gave rise to four degrees of purity, and to four divisions in the Pharisaic associations, so that every Chaber or member belonged to that rank whose prescriptions of purity he practiced. Each degree of purity required a greater separation from the above-named Mosaic defilements. The impure subjects themselves were termed the fathers of impurity, that which was touched by them was designated the first generation of impurity, what was touched by this again was called the second generation of impurity, and so on. Now ordinary food, the first degree of holiness, became impure when touched by the second generation; heave-offering, the second degree of holiness, became defiled when touched by the third generation; the flesh of sacrifices, the third degree of holiness, when coming in contact with the fourth generation, and so on. These degrees of purity had even to be separated from each other, as the lower degree was impure in respect to the higher one. The same removal, both from defilement without and the different gradations within, was required of each member of the Pharisaic order corresponding to the degree to which he belonged. Hence "the garments of an עִם הָאָרֶוֹ , Antha-Aretz ['man of earth,' or a publican, a sinner, as he is termed in the N.T., who neglected to pay the tithes and observe the laws of Mosaic purity], defile the Pharisee [i.e., him who lived according to the first degree of purity], the garments of a Pharisee defile those who eat of the heaveoffering [i.e., the second degree], the garments of those who eat the heave-offering defile those who eat the sacred sacrifices [i.e., the third degree], and the garments of those who eat the sacred sacrifices defile those who touch the water absolving from sin [i.e., the fourth degree]" (comp. Mishna, Chagigah, 2:7, with Taharoth, 7:5).
The above-mentioned two conditions exacted from candidates for membership of the Pharisaic association are thus expressed in the Mishna: "He who takes upon himself to be conscientious, tithes whatever he eats, and whatever he sells, and whatever he buys, and does not become the guest of an Amha-Aretz [i.e., a non-Pharisee]; . . . and he who takes upon himself to become a member of the Pharisaic association must neither sell to an Amha-Aretz moist or dry fruit, nor buy of him moist fruit, nor become the guest of an Amha-Aretz, nor receive him as guest, in his garments, into his house" (Demai, 2:2, 3; comp. Matthew 23:23; Luke 17:12). It is in accordance with this regulation that Christ enjoins that an offender is to be regarded "as a heathen man and publican" (Matthew 18:17), that the apostle Paul commands "not to eat" with a sinner (1 Corinthians 5:11), and it is for this reason that Christ was upbraided by the Pharisees for associating and eating with publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:9-11; Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 5:30; Luke 7:34), with the neglecters of tithes and the transgressors of the laws of purity, which was not only in violation of the then prevailing Pharisaic and national law, but contrary to the Mosaic enactments. But he came to teach that "not that which goeth into the mouth [i.e, untithed food or edibles handled by Levitically unclean persons] defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man" (Matthew 15:11); and that it is not outward washing but inward purity which is acceptable. For this reason "he sat down to meat with a Pharisee, and did not first wash before dinner" (Luke 11:37-40); which, as we have seen, was in contravention of the very first degree of purity among the association. It must, however, be remarked that the Jews were not peculiar in their laws of purity and defilement. Other nations of antiquity had similar statutes. Thus, among the ancient Indians, one who had an issue was obliged to bathe and pray to the sun (Maunu, 2:181); among the Hierapolytans in Syria every inmate of the house in which a death took place was thirty days unclean, and could not go to the temple during that time (Lucian, De Syr. dea, 53); the Greeks, too, were defiled by contact with a corpse, and could not resort to the temple (Theophrast. Charact. 16; Elurip. Iphig. Taur. 367; Diog. Laer. 8:33); both the Parsees and the Greeks regarded a woman in childbirth as unclean (Kleuker, Zend-Avesta, 3:222, 223; Eurip. Iphig. Taur. 367); and "no Egyptian would salute a Greek with a kiss, nor use a Greek knife, spits, caldrons, nor taste the meat of an ox which had been cut by a Greek knife. They drank out of bronze vessels, rinsing them perpetually. And if any one accidentally touched a pig he would plunge into the Nile without stopping to undress" (Herodot. 2:37, 41, 47).
III. The Tenets and Practices of the Pharisees. — To state the doctrines and statutes of the Pharisees is to give a history of orthodox Judaism; since Pharisaism was after the return from the Babylonian captivity, and is to the present day, the national faith of the orthodox Jews, developing itself with and adapting itself to the ever-shifting circumstances of the nation. (See RABBINISM).
Of the other two sects, viz. the Essenes and the Sadducees, the former represented simply an intensified form of Pharisaism, (See ESSENES), while the latter were a very small minority. (See SADDUCEES).
The Pharisees, as the erudite Geiger has conclusively shown. were the democratic party, the true representatives of the people, whose high vocation they endeavored to develop by making them realize, both in their practices and lives, that "God has given to all alike the kingdom, priesthood, and holiness" (2 Maccabees 2:17); in opposition to the small caste of the priestly aristocracy of Sadducees, who set the highest value upon their spiritual office, and who, by virtue of their hereditary rights, tried to arrogate everything to themselves, and manifested little sympathy with the people at large. Hence the Pharisaic enactments were such as to make the people realize that they were a people of priests, a holy nation; that by becoming a diligent student of'the law, and by preparing one's self for the office of a rabbi or teacher, every such person. though not literally of the priestly caste, may be a priest in spirit, and occupy quite as important and useful a position as if he were actually of the Aaronic order, and even arrange his mode of life according to the example of those who minister in holy things. Thus the very name חֶבֶר, ἐταιρία , which in olden times denotes a priestly fraternity (Hosea 4:17; Hosea 6:9), and was so used by the Jews on the Maccabaean coins (חבר היהודים ), was adopted by the Pharisees for their lay association. Their social meals were invested with a solemn character to resemble the social meals of the priests, made up from the sacrifices in the Temple. If the priests took care that the sacrifices which they offered.up, and portions of which constituted their social meal, especially on the Sabbath and festivals, should be clean and without blemish, the Pharisees also took the utmost precaution that their meals should be free from the different degrees of defilement: they washed before partaking thereof, recited prayers before and after the repast, had a cup of blessing, and offered incense. It is only from this point of view that some of the differences between the Pharisees and the Sadducees can be explained; as, for instance, the ideal connection of places for Sabbatic purposes, called עֵירוֹב, mixture, adopted by the former and rejected by the latter.
In consequence of the rigorous laws about the observance of the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29; Jeremiah 17:21, with Nehemiah 13:15, etc.), it was enacted that no Israelite is to walk on the Sabbath beyond a certain distance, called a Sabbath-day's journey, nor carry anything from one house to another. The Sadducees, or priestly party, who celebrated their meals on the Sabbath in different places, could go from one place to another, and carry to and fro anything they liked, because they regarded these meals as constituting part of their priestly and sacrificial service, which set aside the sanctity of the Sabbath. But the Pharisees, who made their Sabbatic repast resemble the priestly social meals, had to encounter difficulties arising from the rigorous Sabbatic laws. The distance which they had sometimes to walk to join a company in the social meal was more than a Sabbath-day's journey; the carrying from one place to another of the things requisite for the solemnities was contrary to the'enactments about the sanctity of the day. Hence they contrived the ideal connection of places (עֵירוֹב ), which was effected as follows: Before the Sabbath commenced (i.e. Friday afternoon), an article of food was deposited by each member in the court selected for the social gathering, so that it might thereby become the common place for all; the streets were made to form one large dwellingplace with different gates, by means of beams laid across on the tops of the houses, and doors or gates put in the front; and meals were put in a house at the end of the distance permitted to walk, in order to constitute it a domicile, and thus another Sabbath-day's journey could be undertaken from the first terminus. By this means the Pharisees could evade the law, and, like the priests, meet together in any place to celebrate their social meals on the Sabbath, and carry anything that was wanted for its sacred festival, as they had three common meals on the Sabbath (שלוש סעודות ). On the Friday eve the entrance of the Sabbath was greeted with a cup of wine, or the cup of blessing, over which every member recited benedictions (קידוש ), expressing the holiness of the day as well as the holiness of Israel; whom God sanctified to himself and made a people of priests, a royal nation; and then the sacred and social meal was eaten. The second meal was eaten on noon of the Sabbath, and the third began with the setting sun, and in the middle of it the Sabbath departed.
When lights were kindled a blessing was again pronounced over a cup of wine (הבדלה ), and burning incense was offered up to accompany the exit of the holy day, which was regarded as a departing friend. The paschal meal was the model for these social and sacred repasts. But the light in which this very model sacrifice is to be viewed was a point of dispute between the priestly party or the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Because the paschal lamb formed the social meal of the laity, the priestly party maintained that it is not to be regarded as a sacrifice for the congregation, urging ill support of their notion the fact that the lambs were not numerically fixed like the other sacrifices in the Temple, but were regulated accordiung to the number of families, and that they must therefore be viewed simply as family sacrifices, to be eaten by the respective owners, and must not set aside the sanctity of the Sabbath, i.e., ought not to be offered on the 14th of Nisan, if the first dlay of the Passover falls on the Sabbath. Hillel, however, or the Pharisaic party whom he represented, succeeded in carrying their point, and in putting the sacred but private offerings of the Passover on an equality with the Temple sacrifices, and it was ordained, in opposition to the priestly party, that they are to set aside the sanctity of the Sabbath; thus making the social family meal of the laity, which the Passover constituted, as sacred as the fraternal meal of the priests, consisting of the sacred sacrifices offered in the Temple (Jerusalem Pesachim, cap. 6; Babylon Pesachim, 66 a; Geiger, Judische Zeitschrift [Breslau, 1863], 2:42 sq.). Having carried this point, the Pharisees also gave to their meals of the Sabbath and other holy days a sacrificial character after the model of the Passover.
As a people of priests and kings, the Pharisees considered themselves the guardianls of the divine law and the ancestral customs, trusting implicitly that he who selected them to be his peculiar people would protect and shield them and theirs from all outward dangers which threatened the state. They were firmly penetrated by the conviction that as long as they were faithful to their God no power on earth, however formidable, would be permitted successfully to ravish his holy heritage. Hence they repudiated the time-serving policy of the aristocratic Sadducees, who maintained that a man's destiny was in his own hands, and that human ingenuity and state- craft ought to be resorted to in political matters.
Practicaliy, Josephus represents the Pharisees as leading a temperate life, renouncing both excessive riches and immoderate pleasure, and striving above all to acquire a knowledge of that law and to practice those precepts which would fit them for the life to come (Ant. 18:1, 3); the same may be seen from the following declaration of the Talmud: The more flesh on the body the more worms [when it is (lead], the more riches the more cares, the more wives the more witches, the more handmaids the more unchastity, the more manservants the more robbery; but the more meditation in the divine law the better the life, the more schooling the more knowledge, the more counsel the more intelligence, the more benevolence the more satisfaction; he who acquires a good name acquires it for himself in this world, but he who acquires a knowledge of the divine law acquires for himself life in the world to come" (Aboth, 2:17). In aiding the people to realize their high vocation, and to prepare themselves for the kingdom of heaven by obedience to the divine law, the Pharisees endeavored to facilitate that obedience by putting a mild interpretation upon some of the rigorous Mosaic enactments, and to adapt them to ever-changing circumstances. Thus they explain the expression נְבֵלָה carcass, in Leviticus 7:24, literally, and maintain that the statute in the verse in question only declares the flesh of an animal which was torn and died a natural death to be defiling by contact, but not the skin, bones, etc.; and that, except the human corpse and the dead bodies of a few reptiles in which the skin and flesh are to a certain extent identical, the skin and bones of all animals, whether clean and legally slaughtered for meat, or unclean and dying accidentally, do not defile, but may be made up into parchment, different utensils, etc.
The haughty and aristocratic Sadducees, on the other hand, who stood on their priestly dignity, and cared little for the comforts of the people, took the term נְבֵלָה in the unnatural sense of an animal approaching the condition of becoming a carcass, i.e., being so weak that it must soon expire, and maintained that an animal in such a condition may be slaughtered before it breathes its last; that its flesh must then be considered as a carcass, and is defiling, while the fat, skin, bones, etc., may be used for divers purposes (Jerusalem Megilla, 1:9; Babylon Sabbath, 108 a). It requires but little reflection to perceive how materially and divergently these different views must have affected the whole state of society, when it is remembered that according to the Sadducees the touching of any book written upon the parchment made from the skin of an unclean animal, or contact with one of the numerous utensils made from the leather, bones, veins, etc., of animals not Levitically clean and not legally slaughtered, imparted defilement. Again, the Pharisees, with a due regard for the interests of the people, and following the requirements of the time, explained the right of retaliation, "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot," etc. (Exodus 21:23, etc.), as requiring pecuniary compensation, while the Sadducees took it literally (Baba Kama, 83 b; 84 a, b; Megillath Taanith, cap. 4, Tosephta). The same consideration for the spiritual and temporal well-being of the people led the Pharisees to enact that in cases of danger, when the prescribed prayers cannot be offered, they are to offer a short prayer as follows: "Do thy will in heaven above, and give peace of mind to those who fear thee on earth, and whatsoever pleaseth thee do. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hearest prayer!" (Berakoth, 29 b). What a striking resemblance between this and some parts of the Lord's prayer! It was this humane and pious care for the interests of the people that made the Pharisees so popular and beloved, and accounts for the remark of Josephus that they had such influence with the multitude that if they said anything, against a king or a high-priest they were at once believed (Ant. 13:10, 5).
On a few leading theological points the Pharisees were decidedly pronounced, and to these we particularly call attention, as they were largely influential under the Christian economy.
a. In regard to a future state, Josephus presents the ideas of the Pharisees in such a light to his Greek readers that, whatever interpretation his ambiguous language might possibly admit, he obviously would have produced the impression on Greeks that the Pharisees believed in the transmigration of souls. Thus his statement respecting them is, "They say that every soul is imperishable, but that the souls of good men only pass over (or transmigrate) into another body — μεταβαίνειν εἰς ἕτερον σῶμα — while the souls of bad men are chastised by eternal punishment" (War, 2:8,14; comp. 3:8, 5; Ant. 18:1, 3; and Bottcher, De Inferis, page 519, 552). There are two passages in the Gospels which might. countenance this idea: one in Matthew 14:2, where Herod the tetrarch is represented as thinking that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead (though a different color is given to Herod's thoughts in the corresponding passage, Luke 9:7-9); and another in John 9:2, where the question is put to Jesus whether the blind man himself had sinned, or his parents, that he. was born blind? Notwithstanding these passages, however, there does not appear to be sufficient reason for doubting that the Pharisees believed in a resurrection of the dead very much in the same sense as the early Christians.
This is most in accordance with Paul's statement to the chief priests and council (Acts 23:6) that he was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, and that he was called in question for the hope and resurrection of the dead-a statement which would have been peculiarly disingenuous if the Pharisees had merely believed in the transmigration of souls; and it is likewise almost implied in Christ's teaching, which does not insist on the doctrine of a future life as anything new, but assumes it as already adopted by his hearers, except by the Sadducees, although he condemns some unspiritual conceptions of its nature as erroneous (Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:34-36). On this head the Mishna is an illustration of the ideas in the Gospels, as distinguished from any mere transmigration of souls; and the peculiar phrase "the world to come," of which ὁ αἰὼν ὁ ἐρχόμενος was undoubtedly only the translation, frequently occurs in it ( הָעוֹלָם הִבָּא Aboth, 2:7; 4:16; comp. Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30). This phrase of Christians, which is anterior to Christianity, but which does not occur in the O.T., though fully justified by certain passages to be found in some of its latest books, is essentially different from Greek conceptions on the same subject; and generally, in contradistinction to the purely temporal blessings of the Mosaic legislation, the Christian ideas that this world is a state of probation, and that every one after death will have to render a strict account of his actions, were expressed by Pharisees in language which it is impossible to misunderstand: "This world may be likened to a court-yard in comparison of the world to come; therefore prepare thyself in the antechamber that thou mayest enter into the dining-room" (Aboth, 4:16). "Everything is given to man on security, and a net is spread over every living creature; the shop is open, and the merchant credits; the book is open, and the hand records; and whosoever chooses to borrow may come and borrow: for the collectors are continually going around daily, and obtain payment of man, whether with his consent or without it; and the judgment is true justice; and all are prepared for the feast" (3:16). "Those who are born are doomed to die, the dead to live, and the quick to be judged; to make us know, understand, and be informed that he is God; he is the Former, Creator, Intelligent Being, Judge, Witness, and suing party, and will judge thee hereafter. Blessed be he; for in his presence there is no unrighteousness, forgetfulness, respect of persons, nor acceptance of a bribe; for everything is his. Know also that everything is done according to the account, and let not thine evil imagination persuade thee that the grave is a place of refuge for thee: for against thy will wast thou formed. and against thy will wast thou born; and against thy will dost thou live, and against thy will wilt thou die; and against thy will must thou hereafter render an account, and receive judgment in the presence of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy God, blessed is he" (4:22). Still it must be borne in mind that the actions of which such a strict account was to be rendered were not merely those referred to by the spiritual prophets Isaiah and Micah (Isaiah 1:16-17; Micah 6:8). nor even those enjoined in the Pentateuch, but included those fabulously supposed to have been orally transmitted by Moses on Mount Sinai, and the whole body of the traditions of the elders. They included, in fact, all those ceremonial "works," against the efficacy of which, in the deliverance of the human soul, Paul so emphatically protested. (See RESURRECTION).
b. In reference to the opinions of the Pharisees concerning the freedom of the will, a difficulty arises from the very prominent position which they occupy in the accounts of Josephus, whereas nothing vitally essential to the peculiar doctrines of the Pharisees seems to depend on those opinions, and some of his expressions are Greek, rather than Hebrew. "There were three sects of the Jews," he says, "which had different conceptions respecting human affairs, of which, one was called Pharisees. the second Sadducees, and the third Essenes. The Pharisees say that some things, and not all things, are. the work of fate; but that some things are in our own power to be and not to be. But the Essenes declare that fate rules all things, and that nothing happens to man except by its decree. The Sadducees, on the other hand, take away fate, holding that it is a thing of naught, and that human affairs do not depend upon it; but in their estimate all things are in the power of ourselves, as being ourselves the causes of our good things, and meeting with evils through our own inconsiderateness" (Ant. 18:1, 3; comp. War, 2:8, 14). On reading this passage, and the others which bear on the same subject in Josephus's works, the suspicion naturally arises that lie was biassed by a desire to make the Greeks believe that, like the Greeks, the Jews had philosophical sects among themselves. At any rate his words do not represent the opinions as they were really held by the three religious parties. We may feel certain that the influence of fate was not the point on which discussions respecting free-will turned, though there may have been differences as to the way in which the interposition of God in human affairs was to be regarded.
Thus the ideas of the Essenes are likely to have been expressed in language approaching the words of Christ (Matthew 10:29-30; Matthew 6:25; Matthew 6:34), and it is very difficult to believe that the Sadducees, who accepted the authority of the Pentateuch and other books of the O.T., excluded God, in their conception, from all influence on human actions. On the whole, in reference to this point, the opinion of Gratz (Geschichte der Juden, 3:509) seems not improbable, that the real difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees was at first practical and political. He conjectures that the wealthy and aristocratical Sadducees in their wars and negotiations with the Syrians entered into matters of policy and calculations of prudence, while the zealous Pharisees, disdaining worldly wisdom, laid stress on doing what seemed right, and on leaving the event to God; and that this led to differences in formal theories anil metaphysical statements. The precise nature of those differences we do not certainly know, as no writing of a Sadducee on the subject has been preserved by the Jews, and on matters of this kind it is unsafe to trust unreservedly the statements of an adversary.
c. In reference to the spirit of proselytism among the Pharisees, there is indisputable authority for the statement that it prevailed to a very great extent at the time of Christ (Matthew 23:15); and attention is now called to it on account of its probable importance in having paved the way for the early diffusion of Christianity. The district of Palestine, which was long in proportion to its breadth, and which yet, from Dan to Beersheba, was only 160 Roman miles, or not quite 148 English miles long, and which is represented as having been civilized, wealthy, and populous 1000 years before Christ, would under any circumstances have been too small to continue maintaining the whole growing population of its children. But, through kidnapping (Joel 3:6), through leading into captivity by military incursions and victorious enemies (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11; 2 Kings 24:15; Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9), through flight (Jeremiah 43:4-7), through commerce (Josephus, Ant. 20:2, 3), and probably through ordinary emigration, Jews at the time of Christ had become scattered over the fairest portions of the civilized world. On the day of Pentecost, that great festival on which the Jews suppose Moses to have brought the perfect law down from heaven (Festival Prayers for Pentecost, page 6), Jews are said to have been assembled with one accord in one place in Jerusalem, "from every region under heaven." Admitting that this was al Oriental hyperbole (comp. John 21:25), there must have been some foundation for it in fact; and the enumeration of the various countries from which Jews are said to have been present gives a vivid idea of the widely-spread existence of Jewish communities. Now it is not unlikely, though it cannot be proved from Josephus (Ant. 20:2, 3), that missions and organized attempts to produce conversions, although unknown to Greek philosophers, existed among the Pharisees (De Wette, Exegetisches Handbuch, Matthew 23:15). But, at any rate, the then existing regulations or customs of synagogues afforded facilities which do not exist now either in synagogues or Christian churches for presenting new views to a congregation (Acts 17:2; Luke 4:16). Under such auspices the proselytizing spirit of the Pharisees inevitably stimulated a thirst for inquiry, and accustomed the Jews to theological controversies. Thus there existed precedents and favoring circumstances for efforts to make proselytes, when the greatest of all missionaries, a Jew by race, a Pharisee by education, a Greek by language, and a Roman citizen by birth, preaching the resurrection of Jesus to those who for the most part already believed in the resurrection of the dead, confronted the elaborate ritual-system of the written and oral law by a pure spiritual religion; and thus obtained the cooperation of many Jews themselves in breaking down every barrier between Jew, Pharisee, Greek, and Roman, and in endeavoring to unite all mankind by the brotherhood of a common Christianity. (See PROSELYTE).
IV. Origin, Development, Classes, and general Character of the Pharisees. — The name does not occur either in the O.T. or in the Apocrypha; but it is usually considered that the Pharisees were essentially the same with the Assidweans (i.e., chasidim — godly men, saints) mentioned in 1 Maccabees 2:42; 1 Maccabees 7:13-17; and in 2 Maccabees 14:6. Those who admit the existence of Maccabsean Psalms find allusion to the Assideans in Psalms 79:2; Psalms 97:10; Psalms 132:9; Psalms 132:16; Psalms 149:9, where chasidim is translated "saints" in the A.V. (see Fiirst, Handworter' buch, 1:420 b). After the return from the Babylonian captivity the priesthood formed the centre of the new religious life, and the pious in Israel who were anxious to practice the commandments of the Lord naturally attached themselves to the divinely - appointed and time-honored tribe of Levi. Besides the keeping pure from intermarriage with heathen, great and vital importance was attached to the setting aside of the soil and Temple taxes (Nehemiah 10:33; Nehemiah 10:36, etc.; Sirach 7:31; Sirach 45:20; Tobit 1:6; Tobit 5:13; Judith 11:13; 1 Maccabees 3:49), to the due observance of the Sabbath (Nehemiah 10:31; Nehemiah 13:19), the three pilgrim festivals. viz. the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:35; Ezra 6:19-22), Pentecost (Tobit 2:1), and Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:14), as well as the Sabbatic year (Nehemiah 10:31; 1 Maccabees 6:49; 1 Maccabees 6:53), and to the abstinence from unclean food. He who allied himself to the national party with the solemn resolve to keep those ancestral laws divinely given to the nation was called "one who had separated himself unto them from the impurity of the country people" (Ezra 6:21), or "one who had separated himself for the law of the Lord from the country people" (Ezra 9:1; Ezra 10:11; Nehemiah 9:2; Nehemiah 10:28).
Hence the phrase מַןנַבְדָּל, "separated from," obtained during this period aparty signification. This name became the standing appellation for those who had thus separated themselves for the service of God, and continued to be the conservators of their ancestral religion, as may be seen from the taunt of the antinational party, who warned them to join the Greek party, telling them in the davs of the Maccabees that "since we have separated from them (ἐχωρίσθημεν ἀπ αὐτῶν, the translation of נַבְדָּל ) many evils have come upon us" (1 Maccabees 1:11). Those who yielded to the temptation, and, relinquishing the national party, joined the antinational portion, were denominated (הַתְעָרֵב ) the mixed (Ezra 9:1), or (עֵרֶב ) the mixture (Nehemiah 13:3). Hence the period before Alcimus was afterwards regarded as the non-mixture (ἀμιξία), while his own was looked upon as the mixture (ἐπιμιξ, 2 Maccabees 14:3; 2 Maccabees 14:38). Afterwards, when the priestly party, or the Sadducees, who were at first the centre of the national movement, assumed a haughty position, stood upon their sacerdotal dignity, cared little for the real spiritual and temporal wants of the people, but only sought their own aggrandizement and preservation, allying themselves for this purpose with foreign nations, and espousing antinational sentiments, the real national portion of the people united themselves more firmly than ever, independently of the priests, to keep the law, and to practice their ancestral customs; and it is this party whom the opposite section called by the Aramaic name פְּרוּשַׁין - Φαρισαῖοι, instead of its original Hebrew equivalent נַבְדְּלַים, the separated (Ezra 6:21; Ezra 9:1; Ezra 10:1; Nehemiah 9:2; Nehemiah 10:28).
In the time of queen Alexandra (q.v.) the Pharisees attained almost supreme power. By the appearance of piety and thorough knowledge of the law, which they well knew how to affect (so as even to pass for prophets, Josephus, Ant. 17:2, 4), the Pharisees at an early day secured the popular favor (Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 5; 13:15, 5; 18:1, 3; War, 1:5, 2; comp. Luke 11:43), and that of the women (Josephus, Ant. 17:2, 4, where, however, only the wives of king Herod are spoken of; but comp. Lightfoot. Hor. Hebr. page 230 sq.), and thereby acquired considerable political influence, which became very manifest even during the history of the Jewish dynasty (Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 6; 13:16, 2; War, 1:5, 2). This influence became greatly increased by the; extension of the Pharisees over the whole land (Luke 5:17), and the majority which they composed in the Sanhedrim (comp. Acts 5:34; Acts 23:6 sq.). In political conflicts they generally followed democratic principles, and sometimes carried them to an extreme, trusting to their combined influence for success. (Their number reached more than six thousand under the Herods, Josephus, Ant. 17:2, 4.) Many of them must have suffered death for political agitation (Josephus, Ant. 17:2, 4). In the time of Christ they were divided doctrinallv into several schools, among which those of Hillel and Shammai were most noted, the former being more moderate, the latter more strict, in their observances.
Of the history of the Pharisees after the resurrection of Christ and the foundation of the Christian Church little need be said. Their opposition to the Gospel continued as eager as before, and, though they are seldom mentioned by name in the Acts of the Apostles, that opposition is frequently brought before us when "the council" is spoken of (Acts 4:15; Acts 5:27; Acts 6:12; Acts 22:30; comp. Acts 23:6). That "council" is the Sanhedrim, and of the seventy-two doctors of which it was composed, the more influential part appears to have consisted of Pharisees. We see then the same spirit of enmity to Christian truth manifested by it as had been displayed during the life of the Redeemer; and the history of Paul before his conversion is only a more marked illustration than ordinary of the manner in which the whole body would have "persecuted the Church of God and wasted it." It is not to be imagined that this enmity would abate as the infant Church grew stronger. Everything that we know of human nature and religious bigotry leads to the opposite conclusion; and in the terrible fanaticism with which, when Titus besieged Jerusalem, the Jewish people rushed upon their fate, in the unflinching zeal which they displayed, in the desperate efforts which they made to avert the destruction which was "the wrath come upon them to the uttermost," and in the awful frenzy with which they sacrificed themselves amid their falling palaces and burning Temple, it is impossible not to recognise the last convulsive outburst of Pharisaic heroism and despair.
With the definitions and explanations of such an extensive and gorgeous ritual as that of the Mosaic law; with the application and adaptation thereof to all the vicissitudes of the commonwealth, with the different degrees of holiness and uncleanness attached to the performance or neglect of each precept and rite, with the diverse dispositions and idiosyncrasies of the multitude about the respective merits of outward observances and a corresponding inward feeling, the Pharisees would have been superhuman if they had escaped the extravagances which in the course of time have more or less developed themselves in the established religions based upon a more spiritual code and a less formal ritual. Thus the enactment that " the flesh of quadrupeds must not be cooked or in any way mixed with milk for food," deduced from injunctions in Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21; or the enactment about the compulsory recitation of the Shema twice a day," i.e., the declaration about the unity of the Deity (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), at a stated time; or the discussion on "the lighting of candles on the eve of the Sabbath," which is the duty of every Jew; or "the interdict to eat an egg which had been laid on any feast-day, whether such day was or was not the day after the Sabbath," has its parallel in other and later systems.
The Christian Church, without any basis for it in the N.T., has at times employed a casuistry which may fairly compete with that of the Pharisees, who had to define an inspired code of minute rites and ceremonies. From Peter Lombard to Gabriel Biel the question was warmly discussed among all the Christian casuists, What is to be done with a mouse which has eaten of the consecrated wafer? The Established Church of England has deduced from the words "Let all things be done decently and according to order" (1 Corinthians 15:40) the petty regulation that "no man shall cover his head in the ohurch or chapel in the time of divine service, except lie have some infirmity, in which case let him wear a nightcap or coif" (Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical, 18); has enacted that "no minister, when he celcbrateth the communion, shall wittingly administer the same to any but to such as kneel under pain of suspension" (ibid. 27); that "upon Wednesdays and'Fridays weekly, though they be not holy-days, the minister, at the accustomed hours of service, shall resort to the church or chapel, and, warning being given to the people by tolling of a bell, shall say the litany prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer: whereunto we wish every householder dwelling within half a mile of the church to come or send one at the least of his household fit to join with the minister in prayers" (15); and that "no ecclesiastical person shall wear any coif or wrought nightcap, but only plain nightcaps of black silk, satin, or velvet; . . . in private houses and in their studies the said persons ecclesiastical may use any comely and scholar-like apparel, provided that it be not cut or pinkt; and that in public they go not in their doublet and hose, without coats or cassocks; and that they wear not any light-colored stockings" (74).
This, however, only shows the tendency of all ritualism to degrade the human intellect by minute requisitions. That the multitudinous and detailed rites and ceremonies imposed by the Mosaic law, and amplified by the requirements of time, should have given rise among many Pharisees to formalism, outward religiousness, self-complacency, ostentation, superstition, and hypocrisy, was to be expected, judging from the general tendency of gorgeous ritualism in more modern days. A learned'Jew charges against them rather the holiness of works than hypocritical holiness ("Werkheiligkeit, nicht Scheinheiligkeit," Herzfeld, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, 3:359). At any rate they must be regarded as having been some of the most intense formalists whom the world has ever seen; and, looking at the average standard of excellence among mankind, it is nearly certain that men whose lives were spent in the ceremonial observances of the Mishna would cherish feelings of selfcomplacency and spiritual pride not justified by intrinsic moral excellence. The supercilious contempt towards the poor publican, and towards the tender penitential love that bathed Christ's feet with tears, would be the natural result of such a system of life. We are therefore not surprised that our Savior saw these pernicious features in the ranks of Pharisaism, and that he found occasion to expose and to reprove most unsparingly their externalism (Matthew 23:27; Luke 7:39) and hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13). But to conclude from this that all the Pharisees were either self-righteous and superstitious, or a set of hypocrites, is as unjust as it would be to brand every section in modern churches with the infirmities and extravagances of which individual members are guilty, and which are either denounced by their own more enlightened and spirituallvminded brethren, or exposed by the opposing sections. The language which the Pharisees themselves employed to denounce the proud, the formalists, the self-righteous, and the hypocrites in their own sect, is, to say the least, quite as strong as that which our Saviour used. In confirmation of this, we need only give the poignant Talmudic classification of the Pharisees. "There are seven kinds of Pharisees," says the Talmud:
"1. The Shechemite Pharisee (פרוש שכמי), who simply keeps the law for what he can profit thereby, just as Shechem submitted to the rite of circumcision that he might thereby obtain Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (Genesis 34:19);
2. The Tumbling Pharisee (נקפי פרוש ), who, in order to appear humble before men, always hangs down his head, and scarcely lifts up his feet when he walks, so that he constantly tumbles;
3. The Bleeding Pharisee (פרוש קוזאו ), who, in order not to look at a woman, walks about with his eyes closed, and hence injures his head frequently, so that he has bleeding wounds;
4. The Mortar Pharisee (פרוש מדוכיא ), who wears a cap in the form of a mortar to cover his eyes, that he may not see any impurities and indecencies;
5. The What-am-I-yet-to-do Pharisee (פרוש אדעה מה חובתי ), who, not knowing much about the law, as soon as he has done one thing, asks, 'What is my duty now? and I will do it' (comp. Mark 10:17-22);
6. The Pharisee from Fear (פרוש מיראה ), who keeps the law because he is afraid of a future judgment; and
7. The Pharisee from Love (פרוש מאהבה ), who obeys the Lord because he loves him with all his heart" (Babylon Sota, 22 b; comp. Jerusalem Berachoth, cap. 9). It must also be admitted that it was among the Pharisees the glorious ideas were developed about the Messiah, the kingdom of heaven, the immortality of the soul, the world to come, etc. It was the Pharisees who, to some extent at least, trained such men as the immortal Hillel, "the just and devout Simeon, who waited for the consolation of Israe
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Pharisee'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/pharisee.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.