Let’s take a look at the Pharisees, and at how they appeared on the scene in the year 152 B.C. They were protesting the Jewish people’s departing from an 800 year old sacred tradition. In 977 B.C. when King David was dying, his roughneck son Adonijah raised a private army, and he began acting like he was the new king.
David, unhappy with that, because he had promised the throne to Solomon, ordered a priest named Zadoc to anoint Solomon king. Zadoc, although he was certain that Adonijah would kill him, in obedience to David, anointed Solomon king. Suddenly the whole nation rose up, shouting, “Long live King Solomon!” And Adonijah fled.
From then on, it was kept as a sacred tradition that only a blood descendant of Zadoc could be consecrated high priest. Then, in 152 B.C. when the only living descendant of Zadoc was a scoundrel not fit to be high priest, the office went to Jonathan, younger brother of the national hero, Judas Maccabeus.
Jonathan was an honorable man, but the young companions who came into power with him were in it for the money. When Jewish Traditionalists complained that Jonathan was not a descendant of Zadoc, his companions said something like this, “Zadoc was high priest, now Jonathan, by reason of holding the same office, is a descendant of Zadoc. And we, as companions of the man replacing Zadoc, can be called ‘Zadocites.’” That name was altered to “Sadducees.”
I am sorry for making this explanation so long, but in 152 B.C. the Traditionalists who could not accept Jonathan as high priest, separated themselves from Jonathan and his followers. They were called “Pharisees” because that is Hebrew for “Separatists.”
The Pharisees were religiously tough on themselves, giving a good example to the Sadducees, and to all Jews. Many of the Pharisees were noble men, but by putting themselves up as models of rectitude they ran the danger of falling into the sin of pride. In the Broadway musical “Carousal” the chorus sang, “Stone cutters cut it in stone. Woodcutters cut it in wood. There’s nothing quite so bad as a man who thinks he’s good.”