Jewish Literature in New Testament Times

The Zuggoth


What was the Zuggoth in Judaism?

Jerusalem Temple CoinA new method that rivaled the Midrash method beginning in the middle of the 3rd century B.C. Five great "pairs" of teachers promoted this method during the period between the 3rd and 1st centuries B.C. The most famous were Shammai and Hillel at the end of the 1st century B.C. The Zugoth method involved the teaching of the oral law without reference to the order of the Hebrew Scriptures. Divorced from the established sequence of the Hebrew Scriptures, the oral law could be taught by means of repetition. Thus the name "Mishnah" (from the Hebrew snh, "to repeat") was attached to this oral teaching of the Law.

After the relative calmness of the period of Persian rule, the Greek occupied Eretz Yisrael. For over a century the land was the battlefield for warring armies of the Ptolemies and Seleucids. As a result, the Jewish homeland was politically, economically, and spiritually torn apart. During these times, Jewish leadership was in the hands of the Zugot.

The term 'Zugot' refers to the two heads of the Sanhedrin (Great Assembly). The Sanhedrin was the successor to the Great Assembly, and it functioned as the legislative body of the Jewish people. At the head of the Sanhedrin was the Nasi (President) and second to him was the Av Bet Din (Father of the Assembly). For a period of about two hundred years, these Zugot were the spiritual guides of Jewish life and the transmitters of the Oral Law. These Zugot were:

Yose ben Yoezer of Sereda, Yose ben Yohanan

Yehoshua ben Perahyah, Mattai (or Nittai) or Arbel

Yehudah ben Tabbai, Simeon ben Shetah

Shemayah, Abtalion

Hillel the Elder, Shammai


Jewish Literature

Esther Scroll

John 10:34 "Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law.."

Rabbinical Literature and Second Temple Judaism

Jerusalem Temple CoinThe Rabbinic Writings, The Mishnah, and the Talmud. During the first century A.D. the Pharisaic rabbis created many commentaries on the Torah. When Jesus began his ministry He attacked the Pharisees for putting their traditions above the word of God. All the writings and commentaries of the first two centuries A.D. were compiled and organized into a collection by a man named Judah Hanasi around 200 A.D. forming a collection called the Mishnah. The Pharisaic rabbis were known as the "Tannaim" which in Hebrew is translated teachers, and these men were the teachers who regulated the law. There was another collection of their commentary which was much smaller, it was known as the Tosefta which in Hebrew means "enlargement". The later commentaries on the Mishnah were made by "expositors".

Brief Historical Background

The Jews and Torah
The Holy Scriptures
The Apocrypha
The Apocryphal Literature
The Oral Law
The Mishnah
The Gemara
The Halakah
The Haggadah
The Midrash
The Zugoth
The Tannaim
The Amoraim
The Tosefta
The Baraitha
The Talmud
The Tractates of the Mishnah
The Palestinian Talmud
The Babylonian Talmud

The Purpose and Heart of the Law - A Heart Message
Rabbinical Writings Chart

Historical Timeline

The Persian Period 430-332 B.C.
The Greek Period 331-167 B.C.
The Period of Independence 167-63 B.C.
The Roman Period 63 B.C. to the time of Christ
The Old Testament Canon
The Apocrypha
Other Writings
The Septuagint
The Text of the Old Testament
The Aramaic Language
The Targums
The Talmud
The Great Synagogue
The Sanhedrin
The Dispersion
Preparation for Christ




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