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Scribes, Jewish.

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These persons (called in Heb. סוֹפְרִים , sopherim; Gr. γραμματεῖς ) were originally merely writers or copyists of the law, who followed this business as a mode of livelihood; but eventually they rose to the rank of a learned profession becoming the doctors of the law and interpreters of the Scriptures. As such they frequently appear in the New Test., and occasionally in the later books of the Old; and their office gradually became of still more importance after the dissolution of the Jewish commonwealth. (The following article embraces both the Scripture allusions and the Talmudical references to the subject.)

The prominent position occupied by the scribes in the Gospel history would of itself make a knowledge of their life and teaching essential to any clear conception of our Lord's work. It was by their influence that the later form of Judaism had been determined. Such as it was when the "new doctrine" was first proclaimed, it had become through them. Far more than priests or Levites, they represented the religious life of the people. On the one hand, we must know what they were in order to understand the innumerable points of contrast presented by our Lord's acts and words. On the other, we must not forget that there were also, inevitably, points of resemblance. Opposed as his teaching was, in its deepest principles, to theirs, he was yet, in the eyes of men, as one of their order a scribe among scribes, a rabbi among rabbins (John 1:49; John 3:2; John 6:25, etc. Comp. Schottgen, Hor. Hebrews 2," Christus Rabbino-rum Summus").

The rise, progress, and influence of the Jewish doctors and interpreters of the law are properly divided into five distinct periods, which are indicated by the special appellations under which they were designated in successive times.

I. The sopherim, or "Scribes," properly so called.

1. The Name and its Signification. In the earlier records of the Old Test. the name Sopher (סֹפֵר, participle of סָפֵר, to write, to count) is given to officers of state whose functions were to write the king's letters, draw up his decrees (2 Kings 12:10; 2 Chronicles 24:11), and to number and write down the military forces as well as the prisoners (Judges 5:14; 2 Kings 25:19; Isaiah 33:18; Jeremiah 52:25). As learning was intimately connected with the art of writing, and as these two accomplishments were always associated together in ancient days, these scribes occupied a distinguished position. Hence they are mentioned side by side with the high-priest and the captain of the host (2 Kings 12:10; 2 Chronicles 24:11); and hence, too, the term Sopher (ספר ) became in the post-exile period the honorable appellation of one who copied the law for himself or others, one skilIed in the divine law, an interpreter of the Scriptures (Jeremiah 8:8; Ezra 8:6; Ezra 8:12; Nehemiah 8:1, etc.). The authority of most Hebrew scholars is with this etymology of the word (Gesen. s.v.). Ewald, however (Poet. Buch. 1:126), takes סֹפֵר as equivalent to שֹׁפֵט, "a judge."

In their anxiety to preserve the text of Holy Writ as well as to point out the import of its injunctions, these scribes counted every letter and classified every precept of the law. To indicate this, the Talmud, in accordance with Its general practice always to deduce from the name the various actions of the man, derives the appellation sopher from ספר , to count, maintaining that this name was given to those who counted the letters of the law (Kiddush. 30 a), as well as from ספר, to number, to arrange, to classify, submitting that the name was also given to them because they classified the precepts of Scripture (Jerus. Shekalim, 5:1). They had ascertained that the central letter of the whole law was the ray of גָּחוֹן in Leviticus 11:42, and wrote it accordingly in a larger character (Lightfoot, On Luke x). They counted up, in like manner, the precepts of the law that answered to the number of Abraham's servants or Jacob's descendants.

The Greek equivalent answers to the derived, rather than the original, meaning of the word. The γραμματεύς of a Greek state was not the mere writer, but the keeper and registrar, of public documents (Thucyd. 4: 118; 7:10; so in Acts 19:35). The scribes of Jerusalem were, in like manner, the custodians and interpreters of the γράματτα upon which the polity of the nation rested. Other words applied to the same class are found in the New Test. Νομικοί appears in Matthew 22:35; Luke 7:30; Luke 10:25; Luke 14:3; νομοδιδάσκαλοι in Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34. Attempts have been made, but not very successfully, to reduce the several terms to a classification. All that can be said is that γραμματεύς appears the most generic term; that in Luke 11:45 it is contrasted with νομικός ; that νομοδιδάσκαλος , as in Acts 5:34, seems the highest of the three. Josephus (Ant. 17:6, 2) paraphrases the technical word by ἐξηγηταὶ νόμων. Lightfoot's arrangement, though conjectural, is worth giving (Harm. § 77). The "scribes," as such, were those who occupied themselves with the Mikra. Next above them were the "lawyers," students of the Mishna, acting as assessors, though not voting in the Sanhedrim. The "doctors of the law" were expounders of the Gemara, and actual members of the Sanhedrim. (Comp. Carpzov, App. Crit. 1:7; Leusden, Phil. Hebr. c. 23; Leyrer, in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. s.v. "Schriftgelehrte.")

2. Date and Institution. The period of the Sopherim begins with the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, and ends with the death of Simon the Just (B.C. cir. 458-300), embracing nearly a hundred and sixty years. Though there were popular teachers of the law in the Babylonian captivity, as is evident from Ezra 8:16, where these official instructors are denominated skilled in the law (מבינים ), and from the fact that Ezra himself was at the head of such a class (Ezra 7:12; Ezra 7:21; comp. Nehemiah 13:13); yet the language in which the sacred oracles were written was gradually dying out, and Hebrew ceased, in many instances, to be the language of the people (Nehemiah 13:24). This rendered the understanding of the Scriptures by the people at large a difficult matter. Besides, the newly altered state after the return from the Babylonian captivity, which called for new enactments as well as for the expansion and modification of some Pentateuchal laws, imperatively demanded that an authoritative body of teachers should so explain the law, which was regarded as the only rule of practice, as to adapt it to present circumstances. Hence Ezra, who reorganized the new state, also organized such a body of interpreters, of which he was the chief. It is for this reason that he is called Sopher =one occupied with books, interpreter of the Book (vii, 6, 11, 12, 21; Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:4; Nehemiah 8:9; Nehemiah 8:13; Nehemiah 12:26; Nehemiah 12:36), that he is denominated the second Moses (Sanhedrin, 21 b; Tosiphta, ibid. cap. iv; Jerus. Megilla, i, 9); and that it is said "when the Thora was forgotten by Israel, Ezra came from Babylon and restored it again" (Succa, 20 a; comp. 2 Esdras 14:21-47). The skilled in the law, both from among the tribe of Aaron and the laity, who, with Ezra, and after his death to the time of the Tanaim, thus interpreted and fixed the divine law, are denominated Sopherim "scribes," in the strict sense of the word. Many of these Sopherim were members Of the Great Synagogue which was formed by Nehemiah after the death of Ezra; hence the terms Sopherim and the men of the Great Synagogue (אנשׁי כנסת הגדולה ) are frequently interchanged; and hence, too, the canons which were enacted during this period are sometimes recorded in the name of the former and sometimes in the name of the latter, though they proceed from one and the same body. Reserving those enactments which are recorded in the name of the Great Synagogue for that article, (See SYNAGOGUE, THE GREAT)], we shall here specify the most important acts and monuments which have come down to us as proceeding from the Sopherim.

3. The Work of the Sopherim. At the outset, the words of Ezra 7:10 describe the high ideal of the new office. The scribe is "to seek (דָּרשׁ ) the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." This, far more than his priesthood, was the true glory of Ezra. In the eyes even of the Persian king he was "a scribe of the law of the God of heaven" (Ezra 7:12). He was assisted in his work by others, chiefly Levites. Publicly they read and expounded the law, perhaps, also, translated it from the already obsolescent Hebrew into the Aramaic of the people (Nehemiah 8:8-13). In the succeeding age they appear as a distinct class'' the families of the scribes," with a local habitation (1 Chronicles 2:55). They compile, as in the two books of Chronicles, excerpta and epitomes of larger histories (1 Chronicles 29:29; 1 Chronicles 11:29). The occurrence of the word midrash (" the story" [margin, "the commentary''] "of the prophet Iddo"), afterwards so memorable, in 2 Chronicles 13:22, shows that the work of commenting and expounding had already begun.

In the later period, it is not too much to say that the work of these Sopherim embraces the whole field of civil and religious law, both as it is contained in the written Word of God and as it obtained in the course of time; and that it is most essential to the criticism and interpretation of the Old Test. to understand these enactments, inasmuch as they materially affect the text of the Hebrew Scriptures. This will be evident from the following brief description of some of the Sopheric work.

(1.) In accordance with the primary meaning of their name, the scribes, or Sopherim, copied the Pentateuch, the phylacteries, and Mezuzoth for the people (Pesachim, 50 b), since it was only the codices which proceeded from these authoritative teachers that could be relied upon.

(2.) They guarded the Bible against any interpolations or corruptions, and for this purpose counted the letters of the Scriptures. Thus the scribes tell us that in five instances (Genesis 18:5; Numbers 31:2; Psalms 36:7), a vav crept into the text through a vitiated provincial pronunciation, for which reason these Sopheric corrections are called the emendations of the scribes ( עטור סופרים Nedarimi 37 b, (See KERI AND KETHIB); (See MASORAH); Ginsburg's translation of Jacob ben- Chajim's Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, p. 12).

(3.) They read the law before the people in the synagogues on stated occasions, for which reason Ezra, the chief scribe, is denominated (ἀναγνώστης ) the praelector of the law (1 Esdras 8:8). Hence the usage of the word scribe, or Sopher (ספר ), in post-Biblical Hebrew to denote a public reader of the law (Sabbath, 31 a). Moreover, they indicated to the people when words were in pause or when they were in the plural or simply had dual forms, as is the ease with ארצ . מצרים, etc. These indications are called the reading of the scribes (מקרא סופרים ).

(4.) They propounded the duties inculcated in the Scriptures to the people at large on Sabbath and festivals, and delivered lectures to their disciples in the weekdays in the colleges, on the profounder import Of Holy Writ. These expositions are called Sopheric comments (פירושׁי סופרים ).

(5.) They defined the limits of each precept, and determined the manner in which the sundry commands of the divine law are to be performed e, g. they fixed the passages of Scripture meant by "the words of command'' which the Lord enjoined the Israelites "to bind for a sign upon their hands, and to be as frontlets between their eyes" (Exodus 23:9; Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18, with Menachoth, 34 b (See PHYLACTERY)); the portions of the Bible to be recited at morning and evening prayer as indicated in the words "thou shalt talk about them when thou liest down and when thou risest up" (Deuteronomy 7:7), etc. These definitions of the injunctions are denominated the measures of the scribes (שׁיעורי סופרים ), which, though in theory they are distinguished from the letter of the Bible (דברי תורה ), yet in authority are equal to it, and are regarded as divinely legal מדאוריתא

(6.) They fixed the traditional law, which was in the mouth and memory of the people,

(7.) They enacted prohibitory laws, called fences (גדר סיג גזרה ), to guard the Biblical precepts from being violated, and these enactments are styled the precepts of the scribes or the Sopherim, the injunctions of the elders; and in the New Test,. the traditions of the elders (Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:3), the traditions of the fathers (Galatians 1:14). Hence, as the phrase דברי סופרים is not only used to express the Sopheric expositions of the Pentateuch, but more especially to denote the definitions and hedges of the scribes superadded to the divine law, it is frequently identical with the phrase oral law (שׁבעל פה תורה ) Hence, too, the remark which often occurs in the Talmndic writings, "a subject the basis of which is in the words of the Pentateuch, but the definition or superstructure of which is from the words of the scribes" (Sanhedrin, 87 a; Jerus. ibid. 11:4 ; Kiddush. 77 a); when the simple letter of the inspired code is spoken of in contradistinction to the definitions and hedges of the scribes.

(8.) They removed anthropomorphisms and other indelicate expressions from the Scriptures by introducing alterations into the text, of which the following seventeen instances are especially recorded:

1. For the original reading, ויהיה עודני עמד לפני אברהם, and Jehovah still stood before Abraham" (Genesis 18:22), they substituted ואברהם עודנו עמד לפני יהוה, "and Abraham still stood before Jehovah," because it appeared offensive to say that the Deity stood before the patriarch,

2. For the remark of Moses in his prayer, "Kill me, I pray thee,.., that I may not see (ברעתד ) thy evil" (Numbers 11:15) i.e. the punishment wherewith thou visitest Israel they substituted "that I may not see (ברעתי ) my evil," because it might seem as if Moses ascribed evil to the Deity.

3. They altered "Let her not be as one dead, who proceeded from the womb of (אמו ) our mother, and half of (בשׁרנו ) our flesh be consumed" (Numbers 12:12) into "Let her not be as one dead-born, which, when it proceeds from the womb of (אמנו ) its mother, has half (בשׁרו ) its flesh consumed."

4. They changed "For his sons cursed (אלתים ) God" (1 Samuel 3:13), which is still retained in the Sept., into "for his sons cursed (להם ) themselves," because it was too Offensive to say that the sons of Eli cursed God, and that Eli knew it and did not reprove them for it.

5. "Will God see (בעינו ) with My eye ?" (2 Samuel 16:12) they altered into "Will God look (בעוני ) at my affliction?" because it was too anthropomorphitic,

6. "To his God (לאלהיו ), O Israel,... and Israel went (לאלהיו ) to their God" (1 Kings 12:16), they altered into "To your tents (לאהליד, O Israel,... and Israel departed (לאהליו ) to their tents;" because the separation of Israel from the house of David was regarded as a necessary transition to idolatry,,it was looked upon as leaving God and the sanctuary for the worship of idols in tents,

7. For the same reason they altered 2 Chronicles 10:16, which is a parallel passage.

8. "My people have changed (כבודי ) my glory for an idol" (Jeremiah 2:11) they altered into "have changed (כבודם ) their glory into an idol," because it is too offensive to say such a thing,

9. "They have put the rod to (אפי ) my nose" (Ezekiel 8:17) they changed into "They have put the rod to (אפם ) their nose."

10. "They have changed (כבודי ) my glory into shame" ( Hosea 4:7) they altered into "I will change their glory into shame" (בקלון אמיר כבודם ), for the same reason which dictated the eighth alteration,

11. "Thou diest not" (תמות ), addressed by the prophet to God (Habakkuk 1:12), they altered into" We shall not die" (נמות ), because it was deemed improper,

12. "The apple of (עיני ) mine eye" (Zechariah 2:12) they altered into "The apple of (עינו ) his eye," for the reason which called forth the ninth emendation,

13. "Ye make (אותי ) me expire" (Malachi 1:13) they altered into "Ye weary (אותו ) it," because of its being too gross an anthropomorphism,

14. "They have changed (כבודי ) my glory into the similitude of an ox" (Psalms 106:20) they altered into "They have changed (כבודי ) their glory into the similitude of an ox," for the same reason which called forth the alterations in Jeremiah 2:11 and Hosea 4:7, or emendations eighth and ninth,

15. "Am I a burden (עליד ) to thee?" (Job 7:20), which Job addresses to God, they altered into "So that I am a burden (אלי ) to myself," to remove its offensiveness,

16. "They condemned (את אלתים, or את הדין ) God, or the divine justice" (Job 32:3), they altered into "They condemned (איוב ) Job," for the same reason which called forth the fifteenth emendation,

17. "Thou wilt remember, and thy soul will mourn over me" ( נפְשֶׁךְ וְתָשִׁיח עָלי [Lamentations 3:20]), they altered into "and my soul is humbled within me" (וְתשׁוּח עָלי נפְשִׁי ), because of the seeming impropriety on the part of the sacred writer to say that God will mourn. These alterations are denominated the seventeen emendations of the scribes (תקון סופרים חֹ מלין ), or simply Tikun Sopherim (תקין סופרים ) the emendations of the scribes, and are given in the Massora Magna on Numbers 1:1; Numbers 11:15, Psalms 106:20; Ezekiel 8:17; Habakkuk 1:12; and in the Massora Finalis (ספ ), 13. (Camp. Pinsker in the Kerem Chemed [Berlin, 1856], 9:52 sq.; Geiger, Urschrift und Uebersetz-ungen der Bibel, p. 308 sq.; Frensdorff, Ochlah W'ochlah' [ Hanover, 1864], p. 37 sq.; Ginsburg, The Introduction of Jacob ben- Chajim to the Rabbinic Bible, Hebrew and English [Land. 1865], p. 28, etc.; Wedell, De Emenda-tionibus a Sopherim in Libris V. T. Propositis [ Vratis-laviae, 1869].)

4. The Manner in which the Sopherim Transmitted their Work. Their great reverence for the divine law, their extraordinary modesty and humility, as well as their fear lest any of their writings should be raised to the dignity of Holy Writ, prevented the scribes, or Sopherim, from embodying their expositions and enactments in separate treatises. This is the reason why there are no books of the scribes extant, and why they most scrupulously abstained from dogmatizing, so much so that the phrase the laws of the scribes (הלכות סופרים ) does not occur. It was the later doctors of the law (תנאים=νομοδιδάσκαλοι ) who canonized the opinions of the scribes (דברי סופרים ), which, it was claimed, had been transmitted orally and through diverse signs.

These signs (סמנים ) or indications (רמזים ) the scribes are said to have put down in the margins of the copies of the Hebrew Scriptures to indicate to them the interpretations and definitions which their predecessors, contemporaries, and they themselves put on certain passages, and these signs are held to have formed the foundation of the Keri and Kethib, pkne and defective, etc., of later times. Thus, for instance, from Exodus 21:8 they deduce that it is the bounden duty of the master to marry his maiden who was sold to him for this purpose, though the law tolerates an alternative, and to indicate this opinion the scribes put in the margin against אשׁר לא יעדה, "whom he will not betroth," the word לו with ו instead of א, i.e. whom he ought to betroth (camp. Bekoroth, 13 a; Rashi on Exodus 21:8). Again, in Leviticus 25:29-30, it is enacted that if a house in a walled city has been sold and is not redeemed within a year, it becomes the absolute property of the purchaser. Now, the scribes defined the phrase walled city to mean a city which had walls in the time of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, though these walls were afterwards removed; and to indicate this they put in the margin against אשׁר לא חומה, "which had a wall," the word לו with ו instead of א, i.e. which has no wall now (camp. Erachi,, 32 a; Shebuoth, 16 a; Rashi on Leviticus 25:30-31; Maimonides, Iad Ha-Chezaka Hilchoth Shemita Ve-Jobel, 21:15).

They concluded from Leviticus 23:4 that the proclamation or fixing of the new moon devolved upon the supreme court at Jerusalem (Mishna, Roshhashanah, i, 8, 9; 2:5, 7), and to indicate this the scribes wrote the defective אַתֶּם "ye shall pronounce," i.e. מקודשׁ, "it is sanctified" (See NEW MOON), instead of the plene אותם . The scribes also indicated that certain commandments are not to be restricted to Jerusalem, but are to be kept wherever the Jews reside, by writing in such instances the defective

מִשְׁבַּתֵּיכֶם, i.e. in your desolations, instead of the plene מושׁבתיכם, your dwellings (Leviticus 23:14; Leviticus 23:31). These signs are the basis of the Masorah, and account for many of the various readings which obtained in the course of time. For further information on this most important branch of the Sopheric work, we must refer to the elaborate treatise of Krochmal, entitled More Neboche Ha-Zeman, sec. 13: p. 161, etc.

5. The Authority of the Sopherim. Though the scribes of this period themselves did not issue their expositions of what they believed to be the doctrines of Holy Writ with the declaration that "except every one do keep them whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly," or "except a man believe them faithfully, he cannot be saved," but simply stated them as their opinions about the teachings of the divine law, yet the doctors of the law who succeeded the Sopherim accepted these expositions as final, and decreed that whosoever gainsays their authority commits a capital offence. As the penalty attached to the violation of some of the Mosaic injunctions and prohibitions was not very serious, inasmuch as the law distinguished between the diverse kinds of transgression, while there is no distinction made in the Sopheric enactments, since the same amount of guilt and the same kind of punishment were incurred in case any one of their precepts was violated, the sages of the Mishna remark, "To be against the words of the scribes is more punishable than to be against the words of the Bible; he who, in order to transgress the Scriptures, says phylacteries are not enjoined in Holy Writ, is acquitted, but he who says that there ought to be five compartments in the phylacteries, thus adding to the decisions of the scribes, is guilty" (Sanhedrim, 11:3). Hence also the Talmudic exposition of Ecclesiastes 12:9, which is as follows: "Above these, my son, beware; of making many books there is no end ;" i.e. my son, take care of the decisions of the scribes above the words of the Bible, for in the words of Scripture there are both (עשׁה ) injunctions and (תעשׁה לא ) prohibitions [the transgression of some of these involves only a slight punishment], while the transgression of any one of the precepts of the scribes is a capital offence. And if thou shouldest say, seeing that they are so weighty, Why are they not written down? [reply] "To make many books there is no end" (Erubin, 21 b). It is probable, however, that these bold statements, which appear to exalt the expositions of men above the Word of God, are really due to the succeeding period, which we will characterize in its place, and to which we relegate much that relates to the office and its influence.

II. The Tanaim or Teachers of the Law of New-Test. Times.

1. Name and Date of the Tanaim. The appellation Tanaim is Aramaic (תָּנָאִים, sing. תנאי, frequentative of the Chaldee תנה =Hebrew שׁנה, to repeat), and literally denotes repeaters of the law, or teachers of the law. The Hebrew equivalent for this title is הלכות שׁוני, while in the New Test. this class of teachers are denominated νομοδιδάσκαλοι (Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34). These teachers of the law are also called the sages, the wise (חכמים, σοφοί , elders (זקנים, πρεσβύτεροι , Succa, 46; Sabbath, 64), and in later times rabbanan (רבנן ) =our teacher, rabbani (=Ραββουνί, Mark 10:51; John 20:16), rabbon, and rabbi. (See RABBI).

It is only rarely that the great doctors of this period are called צּצּצּ, scribes (comp. Kelim, 13 b). The period of the Tanaim begins with the famous Antigonus of Soho (B.C. 200), and terminates with Gamaliel III ben-Jehudah I (A.D. 220), in whose presidency the Sanhedrim, and with it the college, was transferred from Jabneh to Tiberias, thus extending over 420 years.

2. The Work of the Tanaim. The labors and tenets of these doctors of the law are of the greatest interest to the Christian student of the New Test., inasmuch as it was in their midst that our Saviour appeared; and as both Christ and his apostles frequently refer to the teaching and often employ the very language of the Tanaim. The chief aim of the doctors of the law during this period Was

(1.) To fix and formularize the views and expositions of their predecessors, the Sopherim, and to pass them as laws. Thus fixed and established, these views were termed Halachoth (הלכות ) = laws: they are composed in Hebrew and expressed in laconic and often enigmatical formulae. The formularizing of these Halaehoth was especially needed, since the successive ascendency of the Persians, Egyptians, Syrians, and Romans over Palestine greatly influenced the habits and conduct of the Jewish people, and since the scribes themselves, as we have seen, did not set forth their opinions as final. The relation which the work of the Tanaim, or the νομοδιδάσκαλοι in this department bears to that of the scribes will be better understood by an example. The scribes deduced from the words "When thou liest down and when thou risest up" (בשׁכבךְ ובקומךְ, Deuteronomy 6:7), that it is the duty of every Israelite to repeat both morning and evening the sections of the law (i.e. Deuteronomy 6:-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21) which proclaim the unity of God, without specifying the hours during which the passages are to be recited; while the νομοδιδάσκαλοι, accepting this deduction of the scribes as law (הלכה ), fixed the time when this declaration about the unity of God is to be made by every Israelite, without mentioning the length of the section to be recited, or that it is a duty to do so, because they founded it upon the interpretation of the Sopherim (Mishna, Berakoth, i, 1-5).

(2.) The Tanaim compiled exegetical rules (מדות ) to show how these opinions of the scribes, as well as the expansion of these views by doctors of the law, are to be deduced from the Scriptures. (See ISHMAEL BEN- ELISA); (See SCRIPTURE, INTERPRETATION AMONG THE JEWS). The study of the connection between the opinions of the scribes formularized into Halachoth and the Bible was called the Midrash, or exposition of the Scriptures (מדרשׁ הכתובים ).

(3.) They developed the ritual and judicial questions hinted at in the Pentateuch in accordance with the requirements of the time and the ever- changing circumstances of the nation. As the period over which the work of these teachers of the law extended was very long, and as the older doctors of this period expressed their definitions of the Halachoth in extremely concise and Sometimes obscure formulae, many of these Hala- choth, like the Scriptures, needed further elucidation, and became the object of study and discussion among the later Tanaim. These discussions, as well as the different modes of exposition whereby the sundry Hala-choth were connected with the Bible, which reflect the mental characteristics and idiosyncrasies of the particular teachers and schools, were gradually collected and rubricated, and now constitute the contents of the Mishna and the commentaries on the Pentateuch entitled Mechilta, Siphra, and Siphri, a description of which is given in the article (See MIDRASH). For the other work of the most distinguished among these doctors of the law, we must refer to the article (See SANHEDRIM). It must be remembered that this supreme court and chief seat of learning dates from the commencement of the Tannic period.

3. Development of Doctrine under the Tanaim.

(1.) It is characteristic of the scribes of the earlier period that, with the exception of Ezra and Zadok (Nehemiah 13:13), we have no record of their names. A later age honored them collectively as the men of the Great Synagogue, the true successors of the prophets (Pirke Aboth, i, 1); but the men themselves by whose agency the Scriptures of the Old. Test. were written in their present character, compiled in their present form, limited to their present number, remain unknown to us. Never, perhaps, was so important a work done so silently. It has been well argued (Jost, Judenthum, i, 42) that it was so of set purpose. The one aim of those early scribes was to promote reverence for the law, to make it the groundwork of the people's life. They would write nothing of their own, lest less worthy words should be raised to a level with those of the oracles of God. If interpretation were heeded, their teaching should be oral only. No precepts should be perpetuated as resting on their authority. In the words of later Judaism, they devoted themselves to the Mikra (i.e. recitation, reading, as in Nehemiah 8:8), the careful study of the text, and laid down rules for transcribing it with the most scrupulous precision (comp. the tract Sopherim in the Jerusalem Gemara).

(2.) A saying is ascribed to Simon the Just (q.v.) (B.C. 300-290), the last of the succession of the men of The Great Synagogue, which embodies the principle on which they had acted, and enables us to trace the next stage of the growth of their system. "Our fathers have taught us," he said, "three things: to be cautious in judging, to train many scholars, and to set a fence about the law" (Pirke .4 both, i, 1; comp. Jost, i, 95). They wished to make the law of Moses the rule of life for the whole nation and for individual men. But it lies in the nature of every such law, of every informal, half- systematic code, that it raises questions which it does not solve. Circumstances change, while the law remains the same. The infinite variety of life presents cases which it has not contemplated. A Roman or Greek jurist would have dealt with these on general principles of equity or polity. The Jewish teacher could recognise no principles beyond the precepts of the law. To him they all stood on the same footing, were all equally divine. All possible cases must be brought within their range, decided by their authority.

(3.) The result showed that in this, as in other instances, the idolatry of the letter was destructive of the very reverence in which it had originated. Step by step the scribes were led to conclusions at which we may believe the earlier representatives of the order would have started back with horror. Decisions on fresh questions were accumulated into a complex system of casuistry. The new precepts, still transmitted orally, more precisely fitting into the circumstances of men's lives than the old, came practically to take their place. The "Words of the Scribes" (דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, now used as a technical phrase for these decisions) were honored above the law (Lightfoot, Harm. vol. i, § 77; Jost, Jualeph, i, 93). It was a greater crime to offend against them than against the law. They were as wine, while the precepts of the law were as water. The first step was taken towards annulling the commandments of God for the sake of their own traditions. The casuistry became at once subtle and prurient, evading the plainest duties, tampering with conscience (Matthew 15:1-6; Matthew 23:16-23). The right relation of moral and ceremonial laws was not only forgotten, but absolutely inverted. This was the result of the profound reverence for the letter which gave no heed to the "word abiding in them" (John 5:38).

(4.) The history of the full development of these tendencies will be found elsewhere. (See TALMUD). Here it will be enough to notice in what way the teaching of the scribes in our Lord's time was making to that result. Their first work was to report the decisions of previous rabbins. These, as we have just seen, were the Halackoth (that which goes, the current precepts of the schools) precepts binding on the conscience. As they accumulated, they had to be compiled and classified. A new code, a second corpus, juris, the Mishna (δευτερώσεις ), grew out of them, to become in its turn the subject of fresh questions and commentaries. Here ultimately the spirit of the commentators took a wider range. The anecdotes of the schools or courts of law, the obiter dicta of rabbins, the wildest fables of Jewish superstition (Titus 1:14), were brought in, with or without any relation to the context, and the Gemara (completeness) filled up the measure of the institutes of Rabbinic law. The Mishna and the Gemara together were known as the Talmud (instruction), the "necessary doctrine and erudition" of every learned Jew (Jost, Judenth. it, 202-222).

(5.) Side by side with this was a development in another direction. The sacred books were not studied as a code of laws only. To search into their meaning had from the first belonged to the ideal office of the scribe. He who so searched was:secure, in the language of the scribes themselves, of everlasting life (John 5:39; see Pirke Aboth, it, 8). But here also the book suggested thoughts which could not logically be deduced from it. Men came to it with new beliefs, new in form, if not in essence, and, not finding any ground for them in a literal interpretation, were compelled to have recourse to an interpretation which was the reverse of literal. The fruit of this effort to find what was not there appears in the Midrashim (searchings, investigations) on the several books of the Old Test. The process by which the meaning, moral or mystical, was elicited was known as Hagadah (saying, opinion). There was obviously no assignable limit to such a process. It became a proverb that no one ought to spend a day in the Beth-ham-Midrash (" the house of the interpreter") without lighting on something new. But there lay a stage higher even than the Hagadah. The mystical school of interpretation culminated in the Cabala (reception, the received doctrine). Every letter, every number, became pregnant with mysteries. With the strangest possible distortion of its original meaning, the Greek word which had been the representative of the most exact of all sciences was chosen for the wildest of all interpretations. The Gematria (= γεωμετρία ) showed to what depths the wrong path could lead men. The mind of the interpreter, obstinately shutting out the light of day, moved

in its self-chosen darkness amid a world of fantastic images (comp. Carpzov, App. Crit. i, 7; Schottgen, Hor. Heb. de Mess. i, 4; Zunz, Gottesdienstl. VortrSge, p. 42-61; Jost, Judenth. iii, 65-81).

4. Some of the Distinguished Doctors of the Law of this Period and their Tenets. As the presidents and vice-presidents of the chief seat of learning during the whole of this period are given in chronological order in the article SCHOOLS (HEBREW), we shall here only mention such of the doctors of the law as have influenced the Jewish mind and the religious opinions of the nation, and by their teaching prepared the way for Christianity. Foremost among these doctors of the law are to be mentioned:

a. Antigonus of Soho (B.C. 200-170), whose famous maxim, according to tradition, gave rise to Sadduceeism and Boethusianism, (See SADDUCEE), and who received the traditions of the fathers from Simon the Just, and transmitted them to his successors (Aboth, i, 3). The tenet of the Sadducees, however, never commanded the adhesion of more than a small minority. It tended, by maintaining the sufficiency of the letter of the law, to destroy the very occupation of a scribe, and the class, as such, belonged to the party of its opponents. The words "scribes" and "Pharisees" were bound together by the closest possible alliance (Matthew 23, passim; Luke 5:30). (See PHARISEE). Within that party there were shades and subdivisions, and to understand their relation to each other in our Lord's time, or their connection with his life and teaching, we must look back to what is known of the five pairs (זוּגוֹת ) of teachers who represented the scribal succession. Why two, and two only, are named in each case we can only conjecture, but the Rabbinic tradition that one was always the hast, or president, of the Sanhedrim as a council, the other the ab-beth-din (father of the House of Judgment), presiding in the supreme court, or in the Sanhedrim when it sat as such, is not improbable (Jost, Judenth, i, 160).

b. Jose ben-Joeser of Zereda and his companion, Jose ben-Jochanan of Jerusalem, who were the first of the four pairs (זוגות ) that headed the Sanhedrim and the doctors of the law as president and vice-president (B.C. 170-140). Jose ben-Joeser was a priest, and played AN important part in the Maccabaean struggles. He was the spiritual head of the Chasidim (Mishna, Chagigah, ii, 7), also called scribes (γραμματε ¡ ις , 1 Maccabees 7:12-13; 2 Maccabees 6:18), who afterwards developed themselves into the Essenes, (See CHASIDIM); (See ESSENES); was among the "company of Assidseans who were mighty men of Israel, even all such as were voluntarily devoted unto the law," and the high-priest of the sixty who were slain by Bacchides through the treachery of Alci-mus (1 Maccabees 2:42; 1 Maccabees 7:12-16, with Chagigah, 18 b; Bereshith Rabba, תולדות, § lxv). The grand maxim of Jose ben- Joeser was, "Let thy house be the place of assembly for the sages, sit in the dust of their feet, and eagerly drink in their words" (Aboth, i, 4). Bearing in mind the distracted state of the Jewish people at that time, and the fearful strides which Hellenism made among the highest sacerdotal functionaries, and which threatened to overthrow the ancestral doctrines, thia solemn admonition of the martyr that every household should form itself into a band of defenders of the faith, headed by sages i, e. scribes, or doctors of the law and that every Israelite should strive to be instructed in the religion of his forefathers (the phrase "to be enveloped in the dust of their feet" has its origin in the ancient custom of disciples sitting on the ground and sometimes in the dust at the feet of their teachers), will be appreciated. This will also explain the maxim of his colleague Jose ben-Jochanan: "Let thy house be wide open, let the poor be thy guests, and do not talk too much with women" (Aboh, i, 5).

To erect a wall of partition between the apostate Hellenists, who desecrated the sanctuary, and the faithful, as well as to prevent the residence of Jews among the Syrians, and check Hellenistic luxuries, these two doctors of the law enacted that contact with the soil of any foreign country, and the use of glass utensils, impart Levitical defilement (Sabbath, 14 b). These rigorous laws of Levitical purity laid the foundation of the withdrawal of the Essenes from the community at large, and of the ritual and doctrinal difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees, as hitherto the differences of these two parties were chiefly political. Hence the remark in the Mishna: "Since the death of Jose ben-Joeser of Zere-da and Jose ben-Jochanan of Jerusalem, the unity in the schools has cea

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Scribes, Jewish.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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