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Historical Palestine


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#81 Bonita

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 04:19 PM

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.



#82 Bonita

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 02:28 PM

Even though Judas Maccabee had purged the Temple, Judah essentially remained under Seleucid rule in that the Syrian king continued to have the power to appoint high priests. Judas was succeeded by Jonathan who proceeded to steer Judah toward independence by diplomacy and making deals with the Seleucid rulers in exchange for political concessions. For this reason Jonathan was given the high priesthood, a position for which he had no hereditary right. In time, Jonathan's brother Simon was made governor of Judah and the two began to secure Judah's political position in the world. Because of their efforts, Seleucid rule of Judah effectively ended in 142 BC and the Hasmonean (Maccabean) Jewish dynasty governed until 30 BC.

This era of Palestinian history had a profound effect upon the Jewish people laying a firm foundation of racial longing for the Messiah. It was also during this time that the various religious sects and parties arose.

121.2.7  The Jewish people of this time, although under Roman suzerainty, enjoyed a considerable degree of self-government and, remembering the then only recent heroic exploits of deliverance executed by Judas Maccabee and his immediate successors, were vibrant with the expectation of the immediate appearance of a still greater deliverer, the long-expected Messiah.



The Pharisees had originally arisen in the second century BC in opposition to the Jewish dynasty of the day, the Hasmonaeans or Maccabees, because its monarchs had decided to combine the Kingship of Israel with the high-priesthood in their own persons. (1. pgs. 111-112)


They legitimated the Hasmonean monarchy by allowing it to control the Temple and subsequently sought to influence the monarchy both at court and in the Sanhedrin, the council in Jerusalem that was the continuation of the great synagogue. . . . As their authority at the royal court diminished they sought to influence the people through the local courts and synagogues where they enjoyed considerable success. (7. pg. 588)



#83 Bonita

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 05:25 PM

The authority of the Pharisees diminished at the high court when they were expelled from membership in the Sanhedrin under John Hyrcanus (135-104 BC), (who is mentioned in TUB as the individual who destroyed the Samaritan's temple on Mount Gerizim). It was this episode of being expelled which scholars believe the title "Pharisee" arose, being derived from the Hebrew word pĕrűšîm, which means "to separate".

The idea of separatists is supported by the party's ideology of purity and their desire to avoid all ritual uncleanness. They promoted the faithful observance of Jewish law, and although they were ultraconservative concerning the law, they did allow interpretation of Torah with written and oral debates among the elders, which is what the Sadducees objected to so vehemently. For the most part, the elders and their oral interpretation of the law were responsible for the transfer of Jewish law to the community through the synagogues where they had considerable hold on the common people.

175:4.8-9 The Pharisees had different motives for wanting to see Jesus put to death. They feared him because:
1.He was arrayed in telling opposition to their traditional hold upon the people. The Pharisees were ultraconservative, and they bitterly resented these supposedly radical attacks upon their vested prestige as religious teachers.



#84 Bonita

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 03:42 PM

There are two things essential to understanding the Pharisees. One is their belief that God had imparted to Moses an oral Torah as well as the inscribed tablets. Second is the belief that God had revealed the norms of purity through the written and oral tradition. The Sadducee's chief complaint against the Pharisees was that they enforced a collection of rules and regulations which they had interpreted from all of Jewish scripture as well as their own religious debates, rather from just the Mosaic Law of the Pentateuch.

For while duly stressing their passionate love of the Law and its obligatory application to all human problems, and while showing keen anxiety to preserve the distinctively religious character of Jewish life, the Pharisees were also eager to adapt their faith to modern needs. This made them insist that the written canon had to be augmented by oral interpretations. . . . Yet at the same time the unique seriousness with which they regarded their religion, expressed in the desire to 'put a hedge round the Law'- to leave a margin of safety by going at all points a little further- could sometimes lead to a dry, puritanical formalism. (1. pgs. 112-113)


Putting a hedge or a fence around the Law meant to protect it from infringement by surrounding it with cautionary rules which could act as a warning to stop people before they got close to actually breaking any God-given commandment. This resulted in a list of 613 rules of living which onerously affected all levels of Jewish life. Such sober restraint certainly prevented the joyous celebration of God's goodness and we also know that the Jews suffered from a lack of humor.

163.4.8  7. Teach that man’s whole duty is summed up in this one commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself. (This they were to teach as man’s whole duty in place of the 613 rules of living expounded by the Pharisees.)

121.7.3  The scribes, the Pharisees, and the priesthood held the Jews in a terrible bondage of ritualism and legalism, a bondage far more real than that of the Roman political rule. The Jews of Jesus’ time were not only held in subjugation to the law but were equally bound by the slavish demands of the traditions, which involved and invaded every domain of personal and social life. These minute regulations of conduct pursued and dominated every loyal Jew, and it is not strange that they promptly rejected one of their number who presumed to ignore their sacred traditions, and who dared to flout their long-honored regulations of social conduct. They could hardly regard with favor the teachings of one who did not hestitate to clash with dogmas which they regarded as having been ordained by Father Abraham himself. Moses had given them their law and they would not compromise.

156.2.8  Jesus greatly enjoyed the keen sense of humor which these gentiles exhibited. It was the sense of humor displayed by Norana, the Syrian woman, as well as her great and persistent faith, that so touched the Master’s heart and appealed to his mercy. Jesus greatly regretted that his people — the Jews — were so lacking in humor. He once said to Thomas: “My people take themselves too seriously; they are just about devoid of an appreciation of humor. The burdensome religion of the Pharisees could never have had origin among a people with a sense of humor. They also lack consistency; they strain at gnats and swallow camels.”



#85 Rick Warren

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 06:02 AM

Did you find any other references to Norana in your historical research, Bonita? Google search returned little to nothing outside UB.

#86 Bonita

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 10:04 AM

Only in the Bible, and not by name. Norana is referred to as a Syrophoenician gentile woman.

#87 Bonita

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 04:08 PM

The Pharisees referred to themselves as "associates".

137:7.6 The scribes and rabbis, taken together, were called Pharisees. They referred to themselves as the "associates." In many ways they were the progressive group among the Jews, having adopted many teachings not clearly found in the Hebrew scriptures, such as belief in the resurrection of the dead, a doctrine only mentioned by a later prophet, Daniel.



Reicke describes what is meant by "associates":

Pharisaism, then, was an attempt to transfer concretely to the covenant people the purity revealed by God through scripture and tradition. The Pharisees therefore not only took part in government, administration of justice, and legal instruction, but also formed associations dedicated to the practical realization of the Levitical ideals. Such corporate bodies are behind the rabbinic term for an adherent of organized Pharisaism: ḥābēr, "associate, comrade," i.e., a member of a ḥabűrậ, an "association", which lived according to Levitical and Pharisaic law and custom. During a period of probation, which lasted for a month according to Hillel but sometimes for a year according to his contemporary Shammai, the novices had to demonstrate their obedience to the ritual prescriptions governing purity. Then, upon taking an oath, they were received into the association by a scribe -- later by three associates (Josephus Vit.10;Tosefta Dem. ii. 10-13:48) . . . among the obligations of the Pharisaic bretheren were strict observance of cultic purity (Mishna Dem. ii. 3), such as the washing of hands (Matt. 15:2 parallels), as well as scrupulous obedience to the commandments. Conspicuous phylacteries were worn on the left upper arm and tassels on the four corners of the cloak (Matt. 23-5); such trifles as mint, dill, and cummin were tithed (Matt. 23:23). Special meals on the Sabbath constituted part of the observance (Luke 14:1), as well as diligent execution of works of charity, including participation in family meals of joy or mourning (Tosefta Meg. iv. 15, 226). In this sense the Pharisaic movement with its associations may be called "social" (Josephus Bell. ii. 1266: the Pharisees emphasize mutual love and a social disposition). They did not take political ideas as their models, however, but rather the Mosaic ideal of the covenant community, including the ordinances of the Pentateuch relating to groups of one hundred, fifty or ten associates under one scribe (Exod. 18:25; Deut. 1:15). (4. pgs 159-160)


I doubt very much that Jesus used phylacteries since he railed against them; but did he wear the tassels on the corners of his cloak?

175.1.9 “Furthermore, these self-centered rulers delight in doing their good works so that they will be seen by men. They make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their official robes. They crave the chief places at the feasts and demand the chief seats in the synagogues. They covet laudatory salutations in the market places and desire to be called rabbi by all men. And even while they seek all this honor from men, they secretly lay hold of widows’ houses and take profit from the services of the sacred temple. For a pretense these hypocrites make long prayers in public and give alms to attract the notice of their fellows.



We know that Nalda recognized that Jesus was a Jew because of the way he was dressed.

143.5.2 The water of Jacob’s well was less mineral than that from the wells of Sychar and was therefore much valued for drinking purposes. Jesus was thirsty, but there was no way of getting water from the well. When, therefore, a woman of Sychar came up with her water pitcher and prepared to draw from the well, Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” This woman of Samaria knew Jesus was a Jew by his appearance and dress, and she surmised that he was a Galilean Jew from his accent.



We know that Jesus did not approve of the Pharisaic notion of tithing:

166:1.7 There were just three things to which the Pharisees paid particular attention:
1. The practice of strict tithing.
2. Scrupulous observance of the laws of purification.
3. Avoidance of association with all non-Pharisees.

166:1.8 At this time Jesus sought to expose the spiritual barrenness of the first two practices, while he reserved his remarks designed to rebuke the Pharisees' refusal to engage in social intercourse with non-Pharisees for another and subsequent occasion when he would again be dining with many of these same men.



Nor did he approve of ostentatious acts of charity which are described in TUB:

147:5.2 The wealthy Pharisees were devoted to almsgiving, and they did not shun publicity regarding their philanthropy. Sometimes they would even blow a trumpet as they were about to bestow charity upon some beggar. It was the custom of these Pharisees, when they provided a banquet for distinguished guests, to leave the doors of the house open so that even the street beggars might come in and, standing around the walls of the room behind the couches of the diners, be in position to receive portions of food which might be tossed to them by the banqueters.

166.1.4 Think not that the giving of alms and the paying of tithes will cleanse you from unrighteousness and enable you to stand clean in the presence of the Judge of all men. Woe upon you Pharisees who have persisted in rejecting the light of life! You are meticulous in tithing and ostentatious in almsgiving, but you knowingly spurn the visitation of God and reject the revelation of his love. Though it is all right for you to give attention to these minor duties, you should not have left these weightier requirements undone. Woe upon all who shun justice, spurn mercy, and reject truth! Woe upon all those who despise the revelation of the Father while they seek the chief seats in the synagogue and crave flattering salutations in the market places!”

140.8.26 Jesus always insisted that true goodness must be unconscious, in bestowing charity not allowing the left hand to know what the right hand does.

140.6.11 Do your good deeds in secret; when you give alms, let not the left hand know what the right hand does.



Jesus also disliked insincere mourning.

168.1.4 2. He was perturbed in his mind by the presence of the crowd of mourners, some sincere and some merely pretenders. He always resented these outward exhibitions of mourning.



#88 Bonita

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 01:58 PM

137.7.6 The scribes and rabbis, taken together, were called Pharisees. They referred to themselves as the “associates.” In many ways they were the progressive group among the Jews, having adopted many teachings not clearly found in the Hebrew scriptures, such as belief in the resurrection of the dead, a doctrine only mentioned by a later prophet, Daniel.



Because they were concerned for the sanctification and purification of the covenant people, the Pharisees taught immortality of the soul, resurrection of the dead, a last judgment and a new world to come, ideas which had evolved during the Babylonian exile. The belief in the resurrection made its first appearance around 200 BC when apocalyptic Jewish literature, particularly the Book of Daniel, began to proliferate.

Saldarini describes the differences between the Sadducees and the Pharisees concerning life after death. (Although the Sadducees did not belief in an actual resurrected afterlife, they did believe that deeds of the fathers lived on in the lives of their sons.):

Their positions on life after death and on divine providence are consistent with one another and probably derive from their eschatology and apocalyptic expectations. The Sadducees picture humans as independent and distant form [sic] God both in life and after it; the Pharisees picture God and humans as in a close relationship both in this life and the next. (14. Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Palestinian Society, Anthony J. Saldarini, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 2001, pg. 121)


The resurrection was necessary in order to explain the ongoing injustice experienced by the righteous. Every soul was imperishable, but only the soul of the righteous person would be judged capable of passing into another body after death. The souls of the wicked were damned to suffer eternal punishment. Rewards and punishments were also anticipated in a future age when God himself would act decisively to establish his rule over men. This view lent itself to radicalization with expectation of a new age instigated by revolution. Hence, the Zealots appeared as an outgrowth of Pharisaism.

The lineaments of Pharisaic political commitments are less easy to perceive but indirect evidence suggests that they were as much touched by eschatological hopes as most other Jewish groups, the Sadducees excepted, in this period. It was a Pharisee named Zadok who led the tax revolt in 6 CE together with Judah the Galilean; and it was a rabbi (and hence heir to the Pharisaic traditions), Akiva, who more than a century later declared Bar Kochba the messiah. From the example of Paul and the attestations in Acts, it would seem that some Pharisees found the message of the early Jesus community, itself a variant messianic movement, congenial enough to join. (6. pgs. 88-89)


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.



#89 Bonita

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:50 PM

Jesus was adamant that he was neither a Nazarite or an Essene.

137.7.12 All of these parties and sects, including the smaller Nazarite brotherhood, believed in the sometime coming of the Messiah. They all looked for a national deliverer. But Jesus was very positive in making it clear that he and his disciples would not become allied to any of these schools of thought or practice. The Son of Man was to be neither a Nazarite nor an Essene.



Why is this important? What is the difference between Nazarites and Essenes? Both John the Baptist and Abner were Nazarites. Saul of Tarsus had taken Nazarite vows and scholars believe that James, the brother of Jesus, did as well. Why then would Jesus separate his message from these groups?

Both the Nazarites and the Essenes were obsessed with purity. Those who took the Nazarite vow for life were considered ritually pure and, along with the high priest, the only persons allowed into the holy of holies. The Essenes isolated themselves in monasteries and performed daily ritual bathing, never allowing themselves to come in contact with that which was considered unclean.

135.1.2 John took the same life vows that had been administered to his illustrious predecessors, Samson and the prophet Samuel. A life Nazarite was looked upon as a sanctified and holy personality. The Jews regarded a Nazarite with almost the respect and veneration accorded the high priest, and this was not strange since Nazarites of lifelong consecration were the only persons, except high priests, who were ever permitted to enter the holy of holies in the temple.

137.7.8  The Essenes were a true religious sect, originating during the Maccabean revolt, whose requirements were in some respects more exacting than those of the Pharisees. They had adopted many Persian beliefs and practices, lived as a brotherhood in monasteries, refrained from marriage, and had all things in common. They specialized in teachings about angels.



The Essenes abandoned the Temple in Jerusalem, whereas Jesus did not. The Essenes isolated themselves in the desert in order to avoid contact with the world, whereas Jesus plunged himself into the world and taught extensively against isolation of personality. The Essenes believed that they were the only ones who truly understood that God desires absolute purity and goodness in order to eradicate evil. Jesus taught that God is no respecter of persons, that true goodness is unconscious and evil is merely immature choosing. The Essenes believed in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus believed in the kingdom of God within.

The Nazarite vow was threefold: 1.) Abstinence from intoxicating beverages; 2.) Allowance of the hair to grow uncut; 3.) Avoidance of touching the dead.

135.1.1 John had no school from which to graduate at the age of fourteen, but his parents had selected this as the appropriate year for him to take the formal Nazarite vow. Accordingly, Zacharias and Elizabeth took their son to Engedi, down by the Dead Sea. This was the southern headquarters of the Nazarite brotherhood, and there the lad was duly and solemnly inducted into this order for life. After these ceremonies and the making of the vows to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, to let the hair grow, and to refrain from touching the dead, the family proceeded to Jerusalem, where, before the temple, John completed the making of the offerings which were required of those taking Nazarite vows.



We know that Jesus did drink wine; we don't know for sure what he did with his hair, but we know that the average Jewish male did cut his hair, and we know that Jesus did touch the dead. We also know that the Nazarite vows were the old way to divinity. John the Baptist knew that he was the last of the old prophets and was called to introduce a new way to divinity which would be taught by Jesus.

135.3.4 The feeling grew in John’s heart that he was to be the last of the old prophets and the first of the new. And he fairly vibrated with the mounting impulse to go forth and proclaim to all men: “Repent! Get right with God! Get ready for the end; prepare yourselves for the appearance of the new and eternal order of earth affairs, the kingdom of heaven.”

135.4.2 On returning to Engedi from his mother’s funeral, he presented his flocks to the brotherhood and for a season detached himself from the outside world while he fasted and prayed. John knew only of the old methods of approach to divinity; he knew only of the records of such as Elijah, Samuel, and Daniel. Elijah was his ideal of a prophet. Elijah was the first of the teachers of Israel to be regarded as a prophet, and John truly believed that he was to be the last of this long and illustrious line of the messengers of heaven.






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