184.1.1 Annas wanted to make sure that the Master’s trial was kept in the hands of the Sadducees; he feared the possible sympathy of some of the Pharisees, seeing that practically all of those members of the Sanhedrin who had espoused the cause of Jesus were Pharisees.
Next, I will delve into the reasons why the Pharisees were more likely to espouse the teachings of Jesus by highlighting their beliefs. However, I feel that a brief history is necessary in order to further delineate the differences between the Sadducees and Pharisees. This requires that we examine the Maccabean rebelliont and the Hasmoneans.
In 200 BC, Antiochus III of Syria won Palestine for the Seleucid empire from Ptolemy V of Egypt. In order to obtain support from the Jews, he granted tax concessions and continued to allow them the right to practice their religion and live according to Jewish laws. Because of later military losses and the need to pay reparations, the Seleucid empire became financially desperate. As a result, Antiochus IV removed the tax concessions and went to the Jerusalem Temple for money. In addition, Antiochus IV accepted bribes from candidates for the Jerusalem high priesthood.
The rivalry over the high priesthood position was a major factor in the rebellion. The high priest Onias III was usurped by his brother Jason who made a higher bribe offer to Antiochus IV. Jason agreed to turn Jerusalem into a more Hellenistic city-state as well as pay a higher annual tribute. However, he was ousted by Menelaus, who was not a member of a high priest family, because he offered yet a higher tribute to Antiochus IV which required a raid on the Temple income in order to pay it.
In 168 BC, Jason attempted to reinstate himself as high priest by attacking Menelaus. Antiochus IV saw this rivalry as a rebellion and decided to attack Jerusalem and loot the Temple. In 167 BC Antiochus IV decreed that the Jews were forbidden to make their usual burnt offerings and instead demanded that impure animals, such as pigs, be sacrificed at shrines for idols. He also profaned the Sabbath, the festivals, opened the Temple to non-Jews, outlawed circumcision and defiled the sanctuary with idols and swine. He went even further to withdraw the long-standing ability of the Jews to self-rule according to their ancestral laws and made the positive practice of Jewish law punishable.
The result was a rebellion led by Judas Maccabee. After several local military victories, Judas was able to occupy the Temple area and purged it of all non-Jewish cultic activities, rededicating it in December 164 BC, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, or the feast of the Dedication.
123.3.5 Having met John, who came from near Jerusalem, Jesus began to evince an unusual interest in the history of Israel and to inquire in great detail as to the meaning of the Sabbath rites, the synagogue sermons, and the recurring feasts of commemoration. His father explained to him the meaning of all these seasons. The first was the midwinter festive illumination, lasting eight days, starting out with one candle the first night and adding one each successive night; this commemorated the dedication of the temple after the restoration of the Mosaic services by Judas Maccabee.