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JEWISH SECTS, PARTIES, &c.

Essenes (? pure and holy; but derivation very doubtful) were a sect who sprang from Egypt, and numbered about 4,000 devotees, who renounced all pleasures of life; abstained from marriage, the use of meat, wine, and oil: had a community of goods; gave themselves wholly to the reading of Scripture, to united prayer and praise, to works of benevolence and mercy. They all wore white priestly dresses, lived in communities, shared the same toil; had no sacrifices, but daily lustrations; strictly observed the Law of Moses, whom they almost deified.

Galilaeans were a turbulent and seditious sect, to t$iom Josephus attributes a great part of the calamities of his country (see Luke xiii. 1). Their leader was Judas of Galilee (Acts v. 37), who attracted to him a few Pharisees; but eventually they swallowed up almost all the other sects, and were probably the "Zealots" so conspicuous at the siege of Jerusalem (see Acts xxi. 38). They taught that all foreign domination was unscrip-tural; they refused to pray for foreign princes, and performed their sacrifices apart.

Herodians were a political party, rather than a religious sect. They were the partisans of the Idumaean dynasty, which, springing from heathenism, remained in taste, inclination, barbarity, and licentiousness heathen still, though from state policy they outwardly conformed to the Jewish ritual observances. Supported in authority and position solely by Roman might, they endeavoured to repay their benefactors by performing their part of the compact in leavening the Jewish nation with laxity Of moral tone, religious indiffer-entism, and the policy of temporising to Roman ascendancy. Hence they joined the Sadducees in scepticism, the Greeks in licentiousness, pandered to the Herods in vice and cruelty, truckled to the Romans. Of this demoralising leaven our Lord warned His apostles (Mark viii. 15).

Nazarites (Heb. "Nazir," separated). They were of two sorts, viz. those devoted in infancy by their parents to God, and those who so devoted themselves, either for life or for a limited time. Of the former were Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist. The order was instituted by God Himself, and the laws respecting it are prescribed in Numb, yi., and consist mainly of abstinence from intoxicating liquors and from pollutions, and of the culture of an ascetic mien and dress.

Pharisees, a party whose name was derived from the Hebrew "Parush," separated, because they affected very great sanctity (John vii. 49; Acts xxyi. 5). They were strict observers of external rites and ceremonies beyond the requirements of the Law, placing the traditions of the elders on an equal footing with the written oracles. They were exclusive, formal, self-righteous; proud of their unblemished descent from Abraham; abjuring Greek culture, literature, and commerce; adhering to the land, language, and proud self-satisfaction of the ancient Hebrew race, erusalem was their capital, Aramaic their language, the Hebrew Scriptures their literature, the Temple their one centre of devotion. They held to the literal interpretation of the Law and the prophets; believed in spiritual manifestations, in the pre-existence and immortality of the soul, and in the resurrection of the body. They were already an influential body in the time of the Maccabee, John Hyrcanus (B.C. 108).

Proselytes were Gentiles converted to Judaism. They were of two kinds, viz. "Proselytes of the Temple," and "Proselytes of the Gate." The former were circumcised, admitted to the full religious privileges, and charged with the entire obligations of the Mosaic covenant, but were not esteemed to be heirs of the promises made to Abraham and his seed. The latter were allowed to join in the worship of God, standing in the outer "court of the Gentiles;" they were not bound by the ceremonial laws of Moses, but only the moral ones, or, as they were called, the Seven Precepts of Noah. They were uncircumcised, and were admitted into the Jewish Church by baptism. They are usually called "devout men" in the Acts of the Apostles. A difference was made between various nations, no heathens being admitted direct into the condition of Proselytes of the Temple. Edomites and Egyptians had this privilege in the third generation, while Ammonites and Moabites were excluded till the tenth, before which they had none of the civil rights and advantages peculiar to the Jew by descent. This stricture caused the controversy in the Christian Church as to the admission of Gentile converts without circumcision (Acts xv.).

Publicans were neither a sect nor a party, but a social class. They were the tax-collectors of the civil power. The taxes were farmed by rich Roman citizens of the Equestrian Order, or sometimes by a joint-stock company at Rome, who had agents in the provinces to arrange the actual collection from the people. These agents divided the country into districts, and offered each district to public competition, which was farmed by the highest bidder. The purchaser was usually required to pay the purchase-money, either wholly or by instalments, in advance, and he must recoup himself. He was always a native of the country, well versed in its resources and the temper of its people; using his knowledge and power to extort as much as possible for his own profit. In this he was backed by the Equestrian Order at Rome, who carried most oppressive decrees in the Senate against defaulters. Such were the "Publicans;" despised throughout the world, branded as "plunderers," classed as beasts of prey, with "bears and lions;" amongst the "most ferocious of wild beasts" in this world, and with the vilest characters in the next. As much of the tax was an "ad valorem" duty on property and produce, which the publican gauged, there was ample opportunity for unjust exaction. T.o this general odium must be added the peculiar sting to "Abraham's seed, in bondage to no man," that they were no longer free; and the question was ever rife, whether it were "lawful to pay tribute to Caesar." Even our Lord classes them with "heathen men" (Matt. xviii. 17); and the Jews forbade marriage with the family in which there was one publican, which thereby became polluted.

Sadducees, a party who were said to have got their name either from "Tsedek," righteousness, or from Zadok, disciple of Antigonus Sochseus, a president of the Sanhedrin (B.C. 200-170). They were the very opposite of the Pharisees, denying the authority of all revelation and tradition subsequent to Moses; sceptical with regard to the miraculous and supernatural, they denied the existence of spiritual beings, the immortality of the soul, and resurrection of the body. Hence they were Deists, viewing the Supreme Being as a quiescent Providence, calmly surveying and ruling the regular working of natural laws, and the creatures which spontaneously reproduced themselves from the original germs. They gave themselves up to ease, luxury, self-indulgence; accepted Greek culture and intercourse; mingled with foreigners, and were not indisposed to view with indifferent 35 liberality the laxity of heathen morals and profanity of idol worship. They divided, the hierarchy with the Pharisees, and the chief council seems to have been equally balanced between the two (Acts xxiii. 6) • the family of Annas belonging to the Saddu-cean faction in our Lord's time (Acts v. 17).

Samaritans were colonists, sent by the king of Assyria to people the land after he had carried captive the Israelites (2 Kings xvii.). They were a mixed people, from various eastern'nations conquered by him; and they brought with them their various forms of national idolatry, until the plagues sent amongst them by God led them to petition for a priest of the God of the country to teach them the old form of worship. He was stationed at Beth-el, and they endeavoured to combine a formal reverence of God with the practice of their own heathen rites; but after the captivity of Judah they sought an alliance with the returned Jews, with whom they intermarried. On Ezra enforcing the Mosaic law as to mixed marriages, Manasses, a Jewish priest, who had married the daughter of Sanballat, chief of the Samaritans, headed a secession to Shechem, taught them the Mosaic ritual, erected a rival temple on Mount Gerizim; and this mixed community began to claim descent from the patriarchs, and a share in the promises, adopting the Pentateuch and Books of Joshua and Judges as their sacred books. Having the advantage of occupying the most sacred historical ground (Shechem), surrounded by the tombs and memorials of the patriarchs, and intercepting the two portions of the Israelite people (Galilasans and Jews), they held a strong vantage ground, which they used to annoy their neighbours. They erected false beacons to render nugatory the announcements of the great festivals, refused a passage through their territory to pilgrims going up to the feasts, defiled the temple by scattering dead men's bones upon its altar, and finally welcomed the invasion of Alexander the Great, and offered to him their temple for a heathen fane, which resulted in its final destruction by the Jews under John Hyrcanus (B. C. 130).

The old feud between the ten tribes- and the house of David was renewed with double hostility by the Samaritans, Shechem and Jerusalem being the centres of animosity, each having rival claims to sanctity. Hence the point of the Samaritan woman's questions to our Lord (John iv.), and the readiness with which her fellowT-citizens accepted the overture of one "being a Jew" to receive them into full religious communion. The Samaritans now scarcely number 100 persons, living at Nabulus (Shechem), preserving an ancient copy of the Pentateuch, keeping up an annual sacrifice of the Passover on Mount Gerizim, living peaceful, moral lives, and observing, with some peculiar variations, the Mosaic Law.

Sanhedrin, or "The Council" of the Jewish Church and people, was a theocratic oligarchy, which, after the return from the Captivity, ruled the new settlement, being " in all causes and over all persons, ecclesiastical and civil, supreme." It was suggested by the old institution of 72 elders (six from each tribe), appointed by Moses, at Jethro's suggestion, to relieve him in the administration of justice (Ex. xviii. 14; Numb. xi. 16, 17). Having died out in the age succeeding Joshua, and being superseded under the monarchy, it was revived either by Ezra, or after the Macedonian ascendancy. It consisted of an equal number (twenty-four) of priests, scribes, elders, all of whom must be married, above thirty years of age, well-instructed in the law, and of good report among the people. This constituted the Supreme Court of Judicature, and Administrative Council, taking cognisance of false doctrine and teaching, as well as breaches of the Mosaic Law, and regulating both civil and ecclesiastical observances peculiar to the Jewish nation. The power of life and death had been taken from it by the Roman government (John xviii. 31; xix. 7), which in other respects covenanted to respect its decrees; though during the interval between the death of Tiberius and accession of Caligula, and in the absence of Pilate at Rome, the opportunity was seized to stone Stephen, in contravention of this compact.

The Sanhedrin usually met in the hall Gazith, within the Temple precincts, though special meetings were sometimes held in the house of the high priest (Matt. xxvi.*-3), who was generally (though not necessarily) the president. There were also two vice-presidents, and two scribes, or " heralds," one registering the votes of acquittal (or noes), and the other those of conviction (or ayes), and a body of lictors, or attendants (Matt. xxyi. 58). The assembly sat in the form of a semicircle, the president occupying the centre of the arc, the prisoner that of the centre of the chord, while the two heralds sat a little in advance of the president, on his right hand and his left.

Scribes {writers) were a learned profession, neither a party nor a sect. They devoted themselves to the study of the Law, of which they were the authorised expositors and transcribers. They were the lawyers and notaries public of the community (Matt. xxii. 35; Mark vii. 2; Luke v. 17, 21). Such were Gamaliel and Saul. In doctrine and practice they favoured the Pharisees, with whom they are often classed (Matt. xxiii. 2). From being transcribers and expounders of the Law, they supplied, after the Captivity, the place of the prophets and inspired oracles, which had ceased; and from them arose those glosses and interpretations which our Lord rebukes under the term "traditions." These became so numerous, that they were collected by the Ilabbi Judah (A.D. 200) into six books, called the Mishna (Repetition of the oral law), to which was subsequently added a book of comments {Gemara), which completed the whole traditionary doctrine of the Jewish Church. The Mishna and the Gemara together constitute the Talmud, of which there are two, one by the Jews in Judasa (called the Jerusalem Talmud), the other by those in Babylon (called the Babylonian).

The Synagogue was a term applied bo^h to the congregation in a provincial town, and to the room in which it met during the week for mutual instruction, disputation, administration of justice, and on the sabbath for prayer and praise (not sacrifice). These buildings were the schools of the children, debating clubs and libraries of the youths; there were 480 in Jerusalem.

Each Jewish community had its officers, viz.:—

1. Ten Batlanim, or "men of leisure," who devoted themselves to the interests of the community (see Jer. iii. 15). They were the provincial council, administering both ecclesiastical and civil affairs. These were the " rulers of the synagogue," and had special seats of honour assigned them during Divine worship (Matt. xxiii. 6; Acts xiii. 15).

2. The Legate, or Apostle. He was a layman, delegated by the chief shepherd (Parnas) to recite the most sacred portions of the liturgy. The office was not permanently vested in one person, but one so delegated was the mouthpiece, for the time, of the congregation (Heb. iii. 1). In large towns the qualifications were very strict, and 36 became the groundwork of those required for Christian bishops (1 Tim. iii. 1-7). Our Lord seems to have held this office at Nazareth (Luke iv. 16). From hence arose Christian "prophets" or "presbyters."

3. Chazan, the minister or attendant, whose duties were partly ecclesiastical, partly civil:—

(a) To unrobe the priests of their sacerdotal

vestments.

(b) To blow the trumpet for public announce-

ments. ' ' (e) To hand the roll of the Law to the Reader.

(d)  To act as messenger to " the rulers," when

dispensing justice.

(e)  To inflict scourging (40 stripes save one). {/) To take charge of the furniture, light the

sabbath lamp, clean the synagogue.

These Chazanim are mentioned twenty times in the New Testament, but under three different words in our translation:—viz. Officer in eleven passages (Matt. v. 25; John vii. 32, 45, 46; xviii. 3, 12, 18, 22; xix. 6; Acts v. 22, 26). Servant in four passages (Matt. xxvi. 58; Mark xiv. 54, 65; John xviii. 36). Minister in five passages (Luke i. 2; iv. 20; Acts xiii. 5; xxvi. 16; 1 Cor. iv. 1). It was with them Peter sat and warmed himself;

and it was they who smote Jesus with the palms of their hands.

4. Meturgeman (Interpreter). As the synagogue oame mainly into use after the Captivity, when Hebrew was not well known, and Greek was more used in common life, the Law was interpreted to the congregation by an interpreter, selected for his learning and knowledge of languages. To guard against false interpretation, the learned formed a guild of interpreters, who drew up a Book of Paraphrases on the hebdomadal lessons, which from them was called the "Targum;" and the guild of Meturgemans, or Turgemans, has been corrupted into the modern Dragoman.

The Great Synagogue was a council of distinguished men, on whom, after the cessation of prophecy, devolved the authoritative teaching of the Jewish Church. They sat in "Moses' seat;" and it was their duty to watch over the purity of doctrine, and sacred usages, define them more accurately, and pronounce judicial decisions in matters affecting them. To them was due the foundation of the profession of scribes, and those traditionary precepts accompanying the Law which were ultimately incorporated in the Mishna.

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