From Josephus, we know of five major sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots and Sicarii. Josephus divides those sects into three groups: Philosophical (religious), nationalist, and criminal. Of those listed, according to Josephus, the first three are religious: The Zealots and Sicarii, described as political or criminal factions by Josephus, were groups of extreme nationalists. Their religious beliefs were inseparable from their political convictions. This is not to say that the Pharisees and Sadducees were not political. All of the sects of the second temple were political, and religious; there was no separation between the two.
The Hebrew name, Sadducee indicates that they are the followers of a descendant the family of the High Priest Zadok, who anointed Solomon king at the start of the First Temple Period.
The Sadducees were a priestly group, Aaronites, associated with the leadership of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sadducees represented the aristocratic group of the Hasmonean High Priests, who replaced the previous High Priestly lineage. The earlier Priestly lineage had been blamed for allowing the Syrian Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes to desecrate the Temple of Jerusalem with idolatrous sacrifices and to martyr monotheistic Jews. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the ousting of the Syrian forces, the rededication of the Temple, and the installment of the new Hasmonean priestly line. The Hasmoneans ruled as “priest-kings”, claiming the titles of high priest and king simultaneously, and like other aristocracies across the Hellenistic world became increasingly influenced by Hellenistic syncretism and Greek philosophies: presumably Stoicism, and apparently Epicureanism in the Talmudic tradition criticizing the anti-Torah philosophy of the “Apikorsus” אפיקורסות (i.e., Epicurus) refers to the Hasmonean clan . Sadducees. Like Epicureans, Sadducees rejected the existence of an afterlife, thus denied the Pharisaic doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead.
The Dead Sea Scrolls community, which is popularly thought to have been Essene, was led by a high priestly leadership who are thought to be the descendents of the “legitimate” high priestly lineage, which the Hasmoneans ousted. The Dead Sea Scrolls bitterly opposed the current high priests of the Temple. Since Hasmoneans constituted a different priestly line, it was in their political interest to emphasize their family’s priestly pedigree that descended from their ancestor, the high priest Zadok, who had the authority to anoint the kingship of Solomon, son of David.
The Sadducees rejected the Oral Torah (Talmud), which the Pharisees claimed to be a continuously passed down oral tradition which Moses received on Mount Sinai as a companion and elucidation of the Written Torah (Five Book of Moses). Instead they insisted on strict literal interpretation of the Five books of Moses, the Written Torah.
Most of what is known about the Sadducees comes from Josephus:
For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essenes…the Sadducees are those that compose the second order, and take away fate entirely, and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil; and they say, that to act what is good, or what is evil, is at men’s own choice, and that the one or the other belongs so to every one, that they may act as they please. They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades…The Sadducees one towards another is in some degree wild, and their conversation with those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them.
The Sadducee sect emerged as major force only after the Hasmonean rebellion. The reason for this was not, in fact, a matter of religion. He claims that as complete rejection of Judaism would not have been tolerated under the Hasmonean rule, the Hellenists joined the Sadducees maintaining that they were rejecting not Judaism but Rabbinic law. Thus, the Sadducees were for the most part a political party and not a religious sect (Dorot Ha’Rishonim).
The Sadducees were rivals of the Herodians, since they had supported the Hasmonean Jewish rulers against King Herod. Closely associated with the Jerusalem Temple and with the ruling council (“Sanhedrin”) of the Jews . The Sadducees were the party of high priests, aristocratic families, and merchants—the wealthier elements of the population. They came under the influence of Hellenism, tended to have good relations with the Roman rulers of Israel, and generally represented the most secular view within Judaism. While their rivals, the Pharisees, claimed the authority of piety and learning, the Sadducees claimed that of birth and social and economic position. During the long period of the two parties’ struggle—which lasted until the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem in 70 ad—the Sadducees dominated the Temple and its priesthood.
The Sadducees and Pharisees were in constant conflict with each other, not only over numerous details of ritual and the Law but most importantly over the content and extent of God’s revelation to the Jewish people. The Sadducees refused to go beyond the written Torah
Did not believe in life after death or in angels or spirits . The Sadducees were unpopular with the common people.
Professor Lawrence Schiffman also cites interpretations of the purity regulations in the Dead Sea scroll “MMT” (ca. 150 BC) which closely parallel Sadducean views recorded by the spiritual heirs of the Pharisees, who authored the Talmud (Oral Law). But more importantly, he identifies very detailed Pharisaic (or proto-Pharisaic) views in the MMT scroll. However there is evidence that there was an internal schism among those called “Sadducees”—some who rejected Angels, the Soul, and Resurrection—and some which accepted these teachings and the entirety of the Hebrew Bible.
In regard to criminal jurisdiction they were so rigorous that the day on which their code was abolished by the Pharisaic Sanhedrin under Simeon ben Shetah‘s leadership, during the reign of Salome Alexandra, was celebrated as a festival. The Sadducees are said to have insisted on the literal execution of the law of retaliation: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”, which pharisaic Judaism, and later rabbinic Judaism, rejected. On the other hand, they would not inflict the death penalty on false witnesses in a case where capital punishment had been wrongfully carried out, unless the accused had been executed solely in consequence of the testimony of such witnesses.
According to the Talmud, they granted the daughter the same right of inheritance as the son in case the son was dead (see chapter Yeish Nochalin of the Babylonain Talmud, tractate Bava Batra). Emet L’ Yaakov explains that the focus of their argument was theological. The question was whether there is an afterlife (see above), and if there is, can the dead person be in the line of inheritance as if they were alive.
According to the Talmud, they contended that the seven weeks from the first barley-sheaf-offering (“omer”) to Shavuot should, according to Leviticus 23:15-16, be counted from “the day after Sabbath,” and, consequently, that Shavuot should always be celebrated on the first day of the week (Meg. Ta’an. i.; Men. 65a). In this they followed a literal reading of the Bible which regards the festival of the firstlings as having no direct connection with Passover, while the Pharisees, connecting the festival of the Exodus with the festival of the giving of the Law, interpreted the “morrow after the Sabbath” to signify the second day of Passover.
In regard to rituals at the temple in Jerusalem:
They held that the daily burnt offerings were to be offered by the high priest at his own expense, whereas the Pharisees contended that they were to be furnished as a national sacrifice at the cost of the Temple treasury into which taxes were paid.
They held that the meal offering belonged to the priest’s portion; whereas the Pharisees claimed it for the altar.
They insisted on an especially high degree of purity in those who officiated at the preparation of the ashes of the Red Heifer. The Pharisees, by contrast, opposed such strictness.
They declared that the kindling of the incense in the vessel with which the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was to take place outside, so that he might be wrapped in smoke while meeting the Shekhinah within, according to Lev. xvi. 2; whereas the Pharisees, denying the high priest the claim of such supernatural vision, insisted that the incense be kindled within.
They opposed the popular festivity of the water libation and the procession preceding it on each night of the Sukkot feast.
They opposed the Pharisaic assertion that the scrolls of the Holy Scriptures have, like any holy vessel, the power to render ritually unclean the hands that touch them.
They opposed the Pharisaic idea of the eruv, the merging of several private precincts into one in order to admit of the carrying of food and vessels from one house to another on the Sabbath.
In dating all civil documents they used the phrase “after the high priest of the Most High,” and they opposed the formula introduced by the Pharisees in divorce documents, “According to the law of Moses and Israel”.
Among the rabbis of the second century the following legend circulated: Antigonus of Soko, successor of Simeon the Just, the last of the Men of the Great Assembly, taught the maxim, “Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of a reward, but be rather like those who serve without thought of receiving a reward” (Avot 1:3); whereupon two of his disciples, Zadok and Boethus, mistaking the high ethical purport of the maxim, arrived at the conclusion that there was no future retribution, saying, “What servant would work all day without obtaining his due reward in the evening?” Instantly they broke away from the Law and lived in great luxury, using many silver and gold vessels at their banquets; and they established schools which declared the enjoyment of this life to be the goal of man, at the same time pitying the Pharisees for their bitter privation in this world with no hope of another world to compensate them. These two schools were called, after their founders, Boethusians and Sadducees . The Boethusiam did not accept that when it says in the Torah to bring the Omer on the day of rest this referred to the first day of Passach. They refused to accept the oral tradition concerning this holding “day of rest” referred to the Shabbath. Responding to this the sages made the harvesting of the Omer a riqual with great fan-fare.
The Sadducees were the first reform movement in Judaism. They desired to relax religious law so that it became easy for them to assimilate among the nation..The Sadducees the political movement of the Hellenists, those who sought to abandon the ways of the Torah and live like the other nations. After the end of the 2nd temple this movement disappeared and there did not appear any other version than true Torah Judaism until right before the Holocaust , shortly before which the “reform movement” of Judaism was started in Germany.
But in truth “Moses received all the mitzvot (commandments) (Ex. 24: 12). ‘And I give to you the Tablets of Stone, and the Law and the Commandment.’ The Law refers to the Written Torah; the Commandment to the Oral Torah, its explanation. Moses taught the whole of it in his court to the Seventy Elders, as well as to Joshua. Pinchas received it from Joshua; Eli from Pinchas; Samuel from Eli; David from Samuel; Ahiyah from David; Elijah from Ahiyah; Elisha from Elijah; Jehoiada from Elisha; Zachariah from Jehoiada; Hosea from Zachariah; Amos from Hosea; Isaiah from Amos; Micah from Isaiah; Joel from Micah; Nahum from Joel; Hebakkuk from Nahum; Zephaniah from Habakkuk; Jeremiah from Zephaniah; Baruch from Jeremiah; Ezra from Baruch; Shimon HaTzaddik from Ezra; Antigonus from Shimon HaTzaddik; Yoseph ben Yoezer and Yoseph ben Yochanan from Antigonus; Yehoshua and Nittai from Yoseph ben Yoezer and Yoseph ben Yochanan; Yehuda and Shimon from Yehoshua and Nittai; Shemaiah and Avtaliah from Yehuda and Shimon; Hillel and Shammai from Shemaiah and Avtaliah; Rabban Shimon from his father, Hillel. and from Shammai; Rabban Gamaliel the Elder from his father Rabban Shimon; Rabbi Shimon from his father Rabban Gamaliel the Elder; our teacher, Rebbe Yehuda the Prince, from his father Rabbi Shimon; Rabbi Yochanan, Rav, and Shmuel from Rebbe Yehudah the Prince; Rav Huna from Rabbi Yochanan, Rav, and Shmuel; Rabbah from Rav Huna; Rava from Rabbah; and Rav Ashi received the Torah from Rav. All the sages mentioned here were the great men of the successive generations. Besides them, there were thousands and myriads of disciples and fellow students. Ravina and Rav Ashi closed the list of the sages of the Talmud. The Talmud is an exposition of the Mishnah, which was compiled by our teacher, Rebbe Yehuda the Prince. The Talmud elucidates the abstruse points of the Mishnah, explaining what is permitted and forbidden, what is unclean and what is clean, what is unfit and what is fit, all in accordance with the traditions received by the sages from their predecessor in unbroken succession up to the teaching of Moses, “father of all prophets.”
The above is the true tradition of the Torah as it was passed down generation to generation.
Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment