The Scribes - Jewish Leaders in the New Testament

Historical Quotes


Hasmonaean Coin

The Scribes and the Septuagint


Root of Wisdom

6 To whom has the root of Wisdom been revealed?

And who knows her subtle ways?

8 Only One is wise: he is to be greatly revered,

the Lord seated on his throne!

9 He himself created her...;

he set her out in all his works.

10 She is with all flesh according to his gift,

and he furnished her to those who love him.

--- Septuagint, Sirach 1:6-10



Limit to Human Understanding

21 Do not seek what is too hard for you;

and what is too strong for you do not examine.

22 Consider what has been set before you,

for you have no need for what is hidden.

23 Do not belabor what is bigger than your business [erga],

for you have been shown what is beyond the understanding of men.

24 Taking up these things has made many err;

and a wrong conjecture has made their thinking slip.

--- Septuagint, Sirach 3:21-24



The Scholar's Life

1 Yet he who dedicates his soul

and keeps his mind on the Torah of the Most High

seeks out the wisdom of all the ancients

and is preoccupied with prophecies.

2 He preserves the statements of famous men

and penetrates the twists of parables.

3 He seeks out things hidden [apocrypha] in proverbs

and dwells on the puzzles [ainigmata] of parables.

4 He serves among great (men)

and is seen in the presence of leaders.

He passes through the land of foreign nations

to test the good and the evil among men.

5 He devotes his heart to rise early for the Lord who made him'

and petition in the presence of the Highest.

He opens his mouth in prayer

and prays for his sins.

6 If the great Lord (so) wills,

he will be filled with a spirit of understanding.

He will pour out words [rhemata] of wisdom

and acknowledge the Lord in prayer.

7 He will correct his counsel and knowledge

and will keep his mind on hidden things.

8 He will reveal discipline in his teaching

and will glory in the Torah of the Lord's covenant.

9 Many will praise his understanding,

it will not ever be blotted out.

Memory of him will not pass away

and his name shall live to the last generations.

10 The nations will describe his wisdom

and the assembly [ekklesia] will proclaim his praise.

11 If he lasts, he will leave a name (greater) than a thousand;

and if he rests, he produced for himself.

--- Septuagint, Sirach 39:1-11


The Scribes - Jewish Leaders in the First Century AD.

The Scribes of New Testament Times The Scribes - Introduction The Scribes - Overview The Scribes - Ancient History The Scribes - Background The Scribes - A Fence Around the Law The Scribes - Teaching The Scribes - Authority The Scribes - New Testament The Scribes - Teachers of the Law The Scribes - Jurists The Scribes - Judges The Scribes - Jesus The Scribes - Halachah and Haggadah The Scribes - Scriptures The Scribes - Historical Quotes The Scribes - Dictionaries The Scribes - Encyclopedias The Scribes - Conclusion

During the time of Jesus Christ there were Jewish teachers who explained the Torah, the law of God, by translating it (The Targums arise from this group), and giving commentary in the form of Haggadah (parables and various sayings) and would carefully show how the instructions of the law, for example, laws relating to the Sabbath and food, were to be lived out in everyday life (Halachah).

At this time, in addition to the written law, volumes of explanations were given, believed to have been handed down orally by men of God. These oral commandments carried with them great authority. It is exactly these oral traditions which is referred to in the New Testament. (Mark 7:9; Matthew 15; Galatians 1:14).

Most of the time the Scribes earned their living by copying and interpreting the law. They were not in absolute agreement as to their explanations of Scripture, which were usually given in the Beth-hamidrash (House of study).

In the New Testament the Scribes are mentioned as the "teachers" of the law, the rabbis and the official leaders of the people, along with the Pharisees, and the Gospels referred to them as "doctors of the Law". According to the New Testament they sat in the Sanhedrin (Matt 16:21).

Jesus came into conflict with the Scribes often because He and His disciples did not observe their traditions. Mark 7 describes an example of Jesus and His followers not observing traditional rules in relation to the Sabbath and cleanness. In Matt. 23, where Jesus pronounces his woes upon the Scribes and Pharisees, He repeated His prophetic curse upon them, "Woe to you" eight times because of their arrogance, hypocrisy, self-seeking ambition and scrupulous observances.




Early History


Fence Around the Law

Their Teaching

Their Authority

NT Scribes




Jesus and the Scribes

Halachah and Haggadah


Bible Dictionaries

Bible Encyclopedias

Historical Quotes