The readings today introduce us to the Sadducees. And to get a fix on them, we must go back to 967 B.C. when King David was dying. He had promised the throne to Solomon, but a stronger son named Adonijah had raised a private army, and he was forcing people to recognize him as the new king.
To forestall Adonijah, a dying King David ordered the priest Zadoc to anoint Solomon king. Zadoc, although he was certain he would be killed for doing it, out of reverence for King David, anointed Solomon king.
Surprisingly, the whole nation began shouting, “Long live King Solomon,” and Adonijah had to run for his life. The people chose Zadoc to be their high priest, and for the next eight hundred years, only a direct descendent of Zadoc could be acceptable as high priest.
Then, in 152 B.C. there was no worthwhile man among Zadoc’s descendents, and so the post was given to Jonathan, the brother to Judas Maccabeus, and a national hero.
Now, Jonathan had a group of irreligious young friends who were very good businessmen. With their buddy Jonathan taking over as high priest, they used his position to gain valuable temple contracts for themselves.
Their answer, when the conservatives complained about Jonathan not being a descendent of Zadoc, was: “Zadoc was the high priest back then, now Jonathan is the high priest. So, if not by blood, at least by his sharing the same office, Jonathan is Zadoc’s descendent.”
They went further, saying, “Since Jonathan is the new Zadoc, we, his buddies, are the Zadoc-ites.” In time that title Zadoc-ites, morphed into the word Sadducees.
The Sadducees, who were rich from profits from the temple, did not want Jesus and the Apostles rocking their dreamboat.