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Name"Pharisee" is from a Greek word (pharisaios) taken from the Heb/Aramaic "Perisha" meaning "Separated one." In the time of Jesus the Pharisees were one of the three chief Jewish sects, the others were the Sadducees and the Essenes. Of the three, the Pharisees were the most separated from the ways of the foreign influences that were invading Judaism, and from the ways of the common Jewish people in the land.
"There was probably no town or village inhabited by Jews which had not its
Pharisees, although they would, of course, gather in preference about Jerusalem
with its Temple, and what, perhaps would have been even dearer to the heart of a
genuine Pharisee--its four hundred and eighty synagogues, its Sanhedrims (great
and small), and its schools of study. There could be no difficulty in
recognising such an one. Walking behind him, the chances were, he would soon
halt to say his prescribed prayers. If the fixed time for them had come, he
would stop short in the middle of the road, perhaps say one section of them,
move on, again say another part, and so on, till, whatever else might be
doubted, there could be no question of the conspicuousness of his devotions in
market-place or corners of streets. There he would stand, as taught by the
traditional law, would draw his feet well together, compose his body and
clothes, and bend so low "that every vertebra in his back would stand out
separate," or, at least, till "the skin over his heart would fall into folds" (Ber.
28 b). The workman would drop his tools, the burden-bearer his load; if a man
had already one foot in the stirrup, he would withdraw it. The hour had come,
and nothing could be suffered to interrupt or disturb him. The very salutation
of a king, it was said, must remain unreturned; nay, the twisting of a serpent
around one's heel must remain unheeded." – Alfred Edersheim
Origin and History
The Pharisees were the most numerous and influential of the religious sects
of Jesus’ day. The were strict legalists. They stood for the rigid observance of
the letter and forms of the Law, and also for the Traditions. There were some
good men among them, no doubt, but for the most part they were known for their
covetousness, self-righteousness and hypocrisy.
Scribes were copyists of the Scriptures and because of their minute acquaintance with the Law they became recognized authorities. They were sometimes called "lawyers." Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the nation.
The incredible influence of the Pharisees among the masses cannot be mistaken. The were the most honored in Judaism at the time of Christ. When Christ won the favor of the people.
"But the great crowd of people went on hearing Him gladly."
The Words spoken by Jesus in Matt 23 constitute the most bitter denunciation that ever fell from His lips. The enemies of Jesus could not answer Him a word, nor did anyone ever again dare to ask Him anything. The Pharisees were unrepentant, hypocritical, and more determined than ever to seek His destruction. In His final public discourse in the Temple, it was fitting that He should warn His disciples against the hypocrisy of these corrupt and wicked men. Even while He denounced their spiritual blindness, ritualism, and wickedness, He wept over Jerusalem, and ended His discourse with a lamentation, addressed to the beloved but doomed city which had sinned away its day of opportunity.
The Story of the Bible
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