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seven years after which he was removed from Judea."
However severe the authority which the Romans exercised over the jews, yet it did not extend to the entire suppression of their civil and religious privileges. The jews were in some measure governed by their own laws, and permitted the enjoyment of their religion. The administration of religious ceremonies was committed as before to the high priest, and to the sanhedrim; to the former of whom the order of priests and levites was in the usual subordination ; and the form of outward worship, except in a very few points, suffered no visible change. But, on the other hand, it is impossible to express the disquietude and disgust, the calamities and vexations, which this unhappy nation suffered from the presence of the Romans, whom their religion obliged them to regard as a polluted and idolatrous people; particularly from the avarice and cruelty of the pretors, and the frauds and extortions of the publicans: so that, all things considered, their condition who lived under the government of the other sons of Herod, was much more supportable than the state of those who were įmmediately subject to the Roman jurisdiction.t
It was not, however, from the Romans only that the calamities of this miserable people proceeded. Their own rulers multiplied their vexations, and debarred them from enjoying any little comforts which were left them by the Roman magistrates. The leaders of the people, and the chief priests, were, according to the account of Josephus, profligate wretches, who had purchased their places by bribes, or by other acts of iniquity, and who maintained their ill-acquired
uthority by the most abominable crimes. The inferior priests, and those who possessed any shadow of authority, were become dissolute and abandoned to the highest degree. The multitude, excited by these corrupt examples, ran headlong into every kind of
* Encyc, Brit. vol, ix. p. 136,
iniquity; and by their endless seditions, robberies, and extortions, armed against themselves both the justice of God and vengeance of man.*
About the time of Christ's appearance, the jews of that age concluded the period pre-determined by God to be then completed, and that the promised Messiah would suddenly appear. Devout persons waited day and night for the consolation of Israel ; and the whole nation, groaning under the Roman yoke, and stimulated by the desire of liberty or of vengeance, expected their deliverer with the most anxious impatience.
Nor were these expectations peculiar to the jews. By their dispersion among so many nations, by their conversation with the learned men among the heathens, and by the translations of their inspired writings into a language almost universal, the principles of their religion were spread all over the east. It became the common belief that a prince would arise at that time in Judea, who would change the face of the world, and extend his empire from one end of the earth to the other.
The whole body of the people looked for a powerful and warlike deliverer, who they supposed would free them from the Roman authority. All considered the whole of religion as consisting in the rites appointed by Moses, and in the performance of some external acts of duty. All werè unanimous in excluding the other nations of the world from the hopes of eternal life.
Two religions flourished at this time in Palestine, the Jewish and Samaritan. The Samaritans blended the errors of paganism with the doctrines of the jews.
* Mosheim, vol. i. p. 38. + Robertson.--About this period the pagans expected some great king of glorious person to be born. Hence Virgil, the Roman poet, who lived at This time, in his fourth eclogue, describes the blessings of the government of some great person, who was, or should be born about this time, in langaage agreeable to the jewish proptret's description of the Messiah and his kingdom.
among the jews were divided into a great variety of sects: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and Essenes, eclipsed the other denominations.
The most celebrated of the jewish sects was that of the Pharisees. It is supposed by some that this denomination subsisted about a century and a half before the appearance of our Saviour. They separated themselves not only from pagans, but from all such jews as complied not with their peculiarities. Their separation consisted chiefly in certain distinctions respecting food and religious ceremonies. It does not appear to have interrupted the uniformity of religious worship, in which the jews of every sect seem to have always united.*
This denomination, by their apparent sanctity of manners, had rendered themselves extremely popular, The multitude, for the most part, espoused their interests; and the great, who feared their artifice, were frequently obliged to court their favour, Hence they obtained the highest offices both in the state and priesthood, and had great weight both in public and private affairs. It appears from the frequent mention which is made by the evangelists of the Scribes and Pharisees in conjunction, that the greatest number of jewish teachers, or doctors of the law, (for those were expressions equivalent to scribe) were at that time of the Pharisaical sect.
The principal doctrines of the Pharisees are as follow :-That the oral law, which they suppose God
* Percy's Key to the New Testament. + The dissensions between the schools of Hillel and Shammai, a little before the christian æra, encreased the number and power of the Pharisees: Hillel and Shammai were two great and emiment' teachers in the jewish schools. Hillel was born a hundred and twelve years before Christ, Having acquired profound knowledge of the most difficult points of the law, he became master of the chief school in Jerusalem, and laid the foundation of the Talmud. Shammai, one of the disciples of Hillel, deserted his school, and formed a college, in which he taught doctrines contrary to his master, He rejected the oral law, and followed the written law only in its literal sense. These different schools long disturbed the jewish church by violent contests. However the party of Ihillel was at last victorious, Ercyc, vol. xvii. p, 104,
delivered to Moses by an archangel on Mount Sinai, and which is preserved by tradition, is of equal authority with the written law. That by observing both these laws a man may not only obtain justification with God, but perform meritorious works of supererogation. That fasting, alms-giving, ablutions, and confessions, are sufficient atonements for sin. That thoughts and desires are not sinful, unless they are carried into action. This denomination acknowledged the immortality of the soul, future rewards and punishments, the existence of good and evil angels, and the resurrection of the body.*
(* According to Josephus this was no more than a Pythagorean resurrection; that is of the soul, by its transmigration into another body, and being born anew with it. From this resurrection, he says, they excluded all who were notoriously, wicked ; being of opinion that the souls of such persons were transmitted into a state of everlasting woe. As to lesser criines, they held they were punished in the body, which the souls of those who committed them were next sent into.
There seems indeed to have been entertained amongst the jews in our Saviour's time a notion of the pre-existence of souls, How else could the disciples ask concerning the blind man, “Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind ?". (John ix. 2.) And when they told Christ that some said he was Elias, Jeremias, or one of the prophets,” (Matt, xri. 14.) the meaning seems to be, that they thought he was come into the world with the soul of Elias, Jeremias, or some other of the old prophets, transmigrated into him.
It does not appear, however, that these notions were at all peculiar to the Pharisees; and still less, that in them consisted their doctrine of the resurrection. It is a well-known fact that the resurrection of the same body, as taught in the new testament, was commonly believed among the jews; and this not only in the purest, but most degenerate periods of their history. This is manifest from the story of the seven brethren, who with their mother, were put to death by Antiochus Epiphanes in one day; (2 Mac, vii, xii, 43, 44.) to which story the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, in chap. xi, 35, clearly alludes, saying, “ Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.". And when Martha, the sister of Lazarus, was told that her brother should rise again, she answered, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day; (John xi. 23, 24.) which implies that this doctrine was at that time a wellknown and acknowledged truth, Luke also says expressly, that the Pharisees confess the resurrection. (Acts xxiii. 8.) And Paul, speaking before Felix of his hope towards God, says, “Which they themselves (the Pharisees) also allow, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust. (Acts xxiv, 15,) If the doctrine of the resurrection, as held by the . Pharisees, had been nothing more than the Pythagorean transmigration, it is beyond all credibility that such testimony would have been borne of it. Josephus therefore must either have grossly mistaken the faith of his coun trymen, or, which is more probable, wilfully misrepresented it, to render their opinions more respected by the Roman philosophers, whom he appears to have been on every occasion desirous to please.)
The peculiar manners of this sect are strongly marked in the writings of the evangelists, and confirmed by the testimony of the jewish authors. The former are well known. According to the latter, they fasted the second and fifth day of the week, and put thorns at the bottom of their robes, that they might prick their legs as they walked. They lay upon boards covered with flint-stones, and tied thick cords about their waists. They paid tithes as the law prescribed, and gave the thirtieth and fiftieth part of their fruits ; adding voluntary sacrifices to those which were commanded. They were very exact in performing their vows.- The Talmudic books mention several distinct classes of Pharisees, among whom were the Truncated Pharisee, who, that he might appear in profound meditation, as if destitute of feet, scarcely lifted them from the ground; and the Mortar Pharisee, who, that his contemplations might not be disturbed, wore a deep cap in the shape of a mortar, which would only permit him to look upon the ground at his feet. Such expedients were used by this denomination, to captivate the admiration of the vulgar ; and under the appearance of singular piety, they disguised the most licentious manners.
The sect of the Sadducees derived its origin and name from one Sadoc, who flourished in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about two hundred and sixtythree years before Christ. The chief heads of the Saducean doctrine are as follow :- All laws and traditions, not comprehended in the written law, are to be rejected as merely human inventions. Neither angels nor spirits have a distinct existence, separate from their corporeal vestment; the soul of man therefore expires with the body. There will be no resurrection of the dead, nor rewards and punishments
Enfield, (Whether they rejected all the sacred books, except the pentateuch of Moses, has been disputed. Prideaux contends that they did. The arguments for the contrary may be seen in Parkhurst's Gr. Lex. under Σαδδουκιοι.