Who were the Scribes and the Pharisees?

Tuesday, 8/25/15

With the Scribes and the Pharisees jointly challenging Jesus, it might help for us to have a clear idea about these two groups, the Scribes and the Pharisees.

The origins of the Scribes go back to 450 b.c.. In that year Jewish leaders moved to make the Law of Moses the civil law for Jerusalem; and for that to be legal, they had to publically read the whole of the law; going on then, to its gaining acceptance from all of Jerusalem’s people. The people approved, but they requested the right to add amendments. At first, three amendments were accepted, but over the centuries thousands more of amendments were added, and the legal class of the Scribes emerged to keep those amendments straight.

The Pharisees as a class of religious Jews, went back just to 152 b.c., but their roots went back to 977 b.c.. What happened back then was that King David was dying, and although he had promised the kingship to Solomon, the son of Bathsheba; his renegade son Adonijah had raised a private army, and was acting like the next king. David on his deathbed, hearing about that usurpation, ordered the priest Zadoc to crown Solomon.

Zadoc was certain that if he did that, Adonijah’s henchmen would kill him. Feeling he would certainly die from anointing Solomon, Adonijah, out of obedience to David, bravely went ahead with it. Surprisingly, the anointing of Solomon raised such an acceptance from all the people that Adonijah had to flee for his life.

In recognition of Zadoc’s bravery, the people swore themselves to accepting only direct descendents of Zadoc as their high priest. That became the rule for them over the nxt seven hundred years. Then, in 152 b.c. the only available descendent of Zadoc was a most unfit man; and rather than condemning themselves to being ruled by a nitwit, the people gave the high office to Jonathan, the brother of their hero, Judas Maccabeus.

However, a small group of arch conservatists, holding to the tradition that the high priest had to be a descendent of Zadoc, separated themselves; coming to be known as the Pharisees, or the “separated.” They also backed up the Scribes by adhering to all the precepts that had been added to the Law of Moses.      

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