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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Name from High Priest Zadok.
Name given to the party representing views and practises of the Law and interests of Temple and priesthood directly opposite to those of the see See PHARISEES. The singular form, "áºadduá¸³i" (Greek, Î£Î±Î´Î´Î¿Ï ÎºÎ±á¿Î¿Ï), is an adjective denoting "an adherent of the Bene áºadoá¸³," the descendants of Zadok, the high priests who, tracing their pedigree back to Zadok, the chief of the priesthood in the days of David and Solomon (1 Kings 1:34, 2:35; 1 Chronicles 29:22), formed the Temple hierarchy all through the time of the First and Second Temples down to the days of Ben Sira (2 Chronicles 31:10; Ezek. 46, 44:15, 48:11; Ecclus. [Sirach] 51:12 , Hebr.), but who degenerated under the influence of Hellenism, especially during the rule of the SeleucidÃ¦, when to be a follower of the priestly aristocracy was tantamount to being a worldly-minded Epicurean. The name, probably coined by the á¸¤asidim as opponents of the Hellenists, became in the course of time a party name applied to all the aristocratic circles connected with the high priests by marriage and other social relations, as only the highest patrician families intermarried with the priests officiating at the Temple in Jerusalem (á¸²id. 4:5; Sanh. 4:2; comp. Josephus, "B. J." 2:8, Â§ 14). "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"âthese words, put into the mouth of Nadab and Abihu (Tan., Aá¸¥are Mot, ed. Buber, 7; Pesiá¸³. 172b; Midr. Teh. to Psalms 78:18), 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." 13:10, Â§ 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"âthe Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadduceesâdated back to "very ancient times" (ib. 18:1, Â§ 2), which words, written from the point of view of King Herod's days, necessarily point to a time prior to John Hyrcanus (ib. 13:8, Â§ 6) orthe Maccabean war (ib. 13:5, Â§ 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. 1:3); 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. ).
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." 15:9, Â§ 3; 19:6, Â§ 2; 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 "áºedeá¸³" or " áºedaá¸³ah" (= "righteousness"; Epiphanius, "Panarium," 1:14; Derenbourg, "Histoire de la Palestine," p. 454) deserve any more consideration than the creation by GrÃ¤tz ("Gesch." 3d ed., 3:88,697) 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 PharisÃ¤er und die SadducÃ¤er," p. 45), is very generally approved to-day (see SchÃ¼rer, "Gesch." 3d ed., 2:408); 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 5:17; comp. ib. 23:6 with ib. 22:30, and John 7:30, 11:47, 18:3 with the Synoptic Gospels; see also "Ant." 20:9, Â§ 1).
The views and principles of the Sadducees may be summarized as follows:
- Representing the nobility, power, and wealth ("Ant." 18:1, Â§ 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." 2:8, Â§ 14; "Ant." 13:5 Â§ 9).
- As the logical consequence of the preceding view, they would not accept the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection (Sanh. 90b; Mark 12:12; Ber. 9:5, "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," 9:29; "Ant." 10:11, Â§ 7).
- According to Josephus (ib. 13:10, Â§ 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.
- According to Acts 23:8, 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.
- 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. Shetaá¸¥'s leadership, during the reign of Salome Alexandra, was celebrated as a festival (Meg. Ta'an.; comp. Ket. 105a). They insisted on the literal execution of the law of retaliation: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Exodus 21:24; Meg. Ta'an.; B. á¸². 84a; comp. Matthew 5:38). 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. 1:8; Tosef., Sanh. 6:6, where "Bocthusians" stands for "Sadducees").
- 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. 4:7).
- They also insisted, according to Meg. Ta'an. , upon a literal interpretation of Deuteronomy 22:17 (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 TÃ¼rkische Reise," 1876, p. 235), while most of the Pharisaic teachers took the words figuratively. The same holds true in regard to Deuteronomy 25:9: "Then shall his brother's wife . . . spit in his [her deceased husband's brother's] face," which the Pharisees explained as "before him" (Yeb. 12:6; see Weiss, "Dor," 1:117, note).
- 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.; Tos. Yad. 2:20; B. B. 8:1,115b).
- They contended that the seven weeks from the first barley-sheaf-offering ("'omer") to Pentecost should, according to Leviticus 23:15-16, be countedfrom "the day after Sabbath," and, consequently, that Pentecost should always be celebrated on the first day of the week (Meg. Ta'an.; 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.
- 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 Numbers 28:4, 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-á¸³alim" collected from the whole people were paid (Meg. Ta'an. 1:1; Men. 65b; Sheá¸³. 3:1,3; GrÃ¤tz, c. p. 694).
- They claimed that the meal offering belonged to the priest's portion; whereas the Pharisees claimed it for the altar (Meg. Ta'an.; Men. 6:2).
- 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 3:7; Tos. Parah 3:1-8).
- 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 Leviticus 16:2; whereas the Pharisees, denying the high priest the claim of such super-natural vision, insisted that the incense be kindled within (Sifra, Aá¸¥are Mot, 3; Yoma 19b, 53a, b; Yer. Yoma 1:39a, b; comp. Lev. R. 21:11).
- They extended the power of contamination to indirect as well as to direct contact (Yad. 4:7).
- 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. 3:16; comp. "Ant." 13:13, Â§ 5).
- 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. 4:6).
- 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. 6:2).
- 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.; Yad. 4:8; see Geiger, 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 4:2), and what object they had in opposing the determination by the Pharisees of the appearance of the new moon (R. H. 2:1,22b; Tos. R. H. 1:15), 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." 18:1, Â§ 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 HÃ¦resium," 9:29; Epiphanius, c.; and other Church Fathers, who ascribe to the Sadducees the rejection of the Prophets and the Hagiographa; comp. also Sanh. 90b, where "áºadduá¸³im" stands for "Kutim" [Samaritans]; Sifre, Num. 112; Geiger, c. pp. 128-129), and by the Karaites (see Maimonides, commentary on Ab. 1:3; Geiger, "Gesammelte Schriften," 3:283-321; 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 á¸¤asidim (Ecclesiastes 7:16, 9:2; see P. Haupt, "Koheleth," 1905; GrÃ¤tz, "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." 12:536). This view is partly confirmed by the above-cited blessing of "the Sons of Zadok" (Hebrew Ben Sira, 51:129; see also C. Taylor, "Sayings of the Fathers," 1897, p. 115). Also the first Book of Maccabees is, according to Geiger (c. pp. 217 et seq.), the work of a Sadducee. Allusion to the Sadducees as "sinners" is found in the Psalms of Solomon (1:1, 4:1-10); they are "severe in judgment" (comp. "Ant." 13:10, Â§ 6; 20:9, Â§ 1), "yet themselves full of sin, of lust, and hypocrisy"; "men pleasers," "yet full of evil desires" (ib. 8:8; see H. E. Ryle and M. R. James, "Psalms of the Pharisees Commonly Called 'Psalms of Solomon,'" 1891, - and elsewhere; Kautzsch, "Apokryphen," pp. 128 et seq.). Still more distinctly are the Sadducees described in the Book of Enoch (94:5-9, -, 99:2, 104:10) 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 (1:16-2:22), where the Hellenistic nobility, which occupied high positions likewise in Alexandria, is addressed.
In the New Testament the Sadducees are mentioned in Matthew 3:7 and 16:1,6,11, where they are identical with the HERODIANS (Mark 12:13), that is, the Boethusians (Matthew 22:23,34; Mark 12:18; Acts 4:1, 5:17, 23:6-8). In John's Gospel they simply figure as "the chief priests" (7:23,45; 11:47,57; 18:3).
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 GrÃ¤tz, "Gesch." 3:693, and BOETHUSIANS). In the amoraic period the name "áºadduá¸³i" signifies simply "heretic," exactly like the term "min" = "gnostic"; in fact, copyists sometimes replaced, it may be intentionally, the word "min" by "áºadduá¸³i," especially when Christian gnostics were referred to. However, in many cases in which "áºadduá¸³im" 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 áºadduá¸³i 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. á¸¤anina concerning the Holy Land in the Messianic time (Giá¹. 57a; Ket. 112a) and regarding Jesus ("Balaam," Sanh. 106b), were Christian gnostics; so were also the two áºadduá¸³im in the company of R. Abbahu (Suk. 48b). But the áºadduá¸³im who argue in favor of dualism (Sanh. 37a [the original version of the Mishnah had "apikoresin" or "minim"], 38b-39a; á¸¤ul. 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-áºadduá¸³im" (Ber. 28b, 29a). "The writings of the áºadduá¸³im" (Shab. 116a) are gnostic writings, the same as "Sefarim á¸¤iáºonim" (Sanh. 10:1; "Sifre ha-Minim," Tos. Shab. 13:5). So it is said of Adam that he was a áºadduá¸³i, that is, a gnostic who did not believe in God as the Giver of the Law (Sanh. 38b). "The áºadduá¸³im and informers" (Derek Ereáº Rabbah; Derek Ereáº Zuá¹a ) are Christian gnostics. In Hor. 11a a áºadduá¸³i is declared to be a transgressor of the dietary and other Mosaic laws, nay, an idolater. On the other hand, the áºadduá¸³im who conversed with Rab Sheshet (Ber. 58a), with Raba (Shab. 88a), and with R. Judah (Ned. 49b) seem to have been Manicheans. PHARISEES.
- See that given under Pharisees.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Sadducees'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/s/sadducees.html. 1901.