Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Josephus on the pharisees, saducees and essenes pt 3

Wars of the Jews

Book 1, Chapter 5.2
2. And now the Pharisees joined themselves to her, to assist herin the government. These are a certain sect of the Jews thatappear more religious than others, and seem to interpret the lawsmore accurately..

Book 2, Chapter 8

1. And now Archelaus's part of Judea was reduced into a province,and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, wassent as a procurator, having the power of [life and] death putinto his hands by Caesar. Under his administration it was that a certain Galilean, whose name was Judas, prevailed with hiscountrymen to revolt, and said they were cowards if they wouldendure to pay a tax to the Romans and would after God submit to mortal men as their lords. This man was a teacher of a peculiar sect of his own, and was not at all like the rest of those their leaders.

2. 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 Essens. These last are Jews by birth, andseem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essens reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence, and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind there by continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man.

3. These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found amongthem who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to thewhole order, - insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren.They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body;for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them haveno separate business for any, but what is for the uses of the mall.

4. They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what theyhave lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been everso long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly, there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are infear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of or of shoes till be first torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself;and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed totake what they want of whomsoever they please.

5. And as for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary;for before sun-rising they speak not a word about profanematters, but put up certain prayers which they have received fromtheir forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising. After this every one of them are sent away by their curators, to exercise some of those arts wherein they are skilled, in which they labor with great diligence till the fifth hour. After which they assemble themselves together again into one place; and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over,they every one meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into the dining-room, as into a certain holy temple, and quietly set themselves down; upon which the baker lays them loaves in order; the cook also brings asingle plate of one sort of food, and sets it before every one ofthem; but a priest says grace before meat; and it is unlawful forany one to taste of the food before grace be said. The same priest, when he hath dined, says grace again after meat; and when they begin, and when they end, they praise God, as he that bestows their food upon them; after which they lay aside their[white] garments, and betake themselves to their labors againtill the evening; then they return home to supper, after the samemanner; and if there be any strangers there, they sit down with them. Nor is there ever any clamor or disturbance to pollute their house, but they give every one leave to speak in their turn; which silence thus kept in their house appears to foreigners like some tremendous mystery; the cause of which is that perpetual sobriety they exercise, and the same settled measure of meat and drink that is allotted them, and that such asis abundantly sufficient for them.

6. And truly, as for other things, they do nothing but according to the injunctions of their curators; only these two things aredone among them at everyone's own free-will, which are to assist those that want it, and to show mercy; for they are permitted of their own accord to afford succor to such as deserve it, whenthey stand in need of it, and to bestow food on those that are indistress; but they cannot give any thing to their kindred withoutthe curators. They dispense their anger after a just manner, andrestrain their passion. They are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer thanan oath; but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem itworse than perjury (4) for they say that he who cannot bebelieved without [swearing by] God is already condemned. They also take great pains in studying the writings of the ancients,and choose out of them what is most for the advantage of theirsoul and body; and they inquire after such roots and medicinal stones as may cure their distempers.

7. But now if any one hath a mind to come over to their sect, heis not immediately admitted, but he is prescribed the same method of living which they use for a year, while he continuesexcluded'; and they give him also a small hatchet, and thefore-mentioned girdle, and the white garment. And when he hathgiven evidence, during that time, that he can observe theircontinence, he approaches nearer to their way of living, and ismade a partaker of the waters of purification; yet is he not evennow admitted to live with them; for after this demonstration ofhis fortitude, his temper is tried two more years; and if heappear to be worthy, they then admit him into their society. Andbefore he is allowed to touch their common food, he is obliged totake tremendous oaths, that, in the first place, he will exercisepiety towards God, and then that he will observe justice towardsmen, and that he will do no harm to any one, either of his ownaccord, or by the command of others; that he will always hate thewicked, and be assistant to the righteous; that he will ever showfidelity to all men, and especially to those in authority,because no one obtains the government without God's assistance;and that if he be in authority, he will at no time whatever abusehis authority, nor endeavor to outshine his subjects either inhis garments, or any other finery; that he will be perpetually alover of truth, and propose to himself to reprove those that telllies; that he will keep his hands clear from theft, and his soulfrom unlawful gains; and that he will neither conceal any thingfrom those of his own sect, nor discover any of their doctrinesto others, no, not though anyone should compel him so to do atthe hazard of his life. Moreover, he swears to communicate theirdoctrines to no one any otherwise than as he received themhimself; that he will abstain from robbery, and will equallypreserve the books belonging to their sect, and the names of theangels (5) [or messengers]. These are the oaths by which theysecure their proselytes to themselves.

8. But for those that are caught in any heinous sins, they castthem out of their society; and he who is thus separated from themdoes often die after a miserable manner; for as he is bound bythe oath he hath taken, and by the customs he hath been engagedin, he is not at liberty to partake of that food that he meetswith elsewhere, but is forced to eat grass, and to famish hisbody with hunger, till he perish; for which reason they receivemany of them again when they are at their last gasp, out ofcompassion to them, as thinking the miseries they have enduredtill they came to the very brink of death to be a sufficientpunishment for the sins they had been guilty of.

9. But in the judgments they exercise they are most accurate andjust, nor do they pass sentence by the votes of a court that isfewer than a hundred. And as to what is once determined by thatnumber, it is unalterable. What they most of all honor, after Godhimself, is the name of their legislator [Moses], whom if any oneblaspheme he is punished capitally. They also think it a goodthing to obey their elders, and the major part. Accordingly, iften of them be sitting together, no one of them will speak whilethe other nine are against it. They also avoid spitting in themidst of them, or on the right side. Moreover, they are stricterthan any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on theseventh day; for they not only get their food ready the daybefore, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on thatday, but they will not remove any vessel out of its place, nor goto stool thereon. Nay, on other days they dig a small pit, a footdeep, with a paddle (which kind of hatchet is given them whenthey are first admitted among them); and covering themselvesround with their garment, that they may not affront the Divinerays of light, they ease themselves into that pit, after whichthey put the earth that was dug out again into the pit; and eventhis they do only in the more lonely places, which they chooseout for this purpose; and although this easement of the body benatural, yet it is a rule with them to wash themselves after it,as if it were a defilement to them.

10. Now after the time of their preparatory trial is over, theyare parted into four classes; and so far are the juniors inferiorto the seniors, that if the seniors should be touched by thejuniors, they must wash themselves, as if they had intermixedthemselves with the company of a foreigner. They are long-livedalso, insomuch that many of them live above a hundred years, bymeans of the simplicity of their diet; nay, as I think, by meansof the regular course of life they observe also. They contemn themiseries of life, and are above pain, by the generosity of theirmind. And as for death, if it will be for their glory, theyesteem it better than living always; and indeed our war with theRomans gave abundant evidence what great souls they had in theirtrials, wherein, although they were tortured and distorted, burntand torn to pieces, and went through all kinds of instruments oftorment, that they might be forced either to blaspheme theirlegislator, or to eat what was forbidden them, yet could they notbe made to do either of them, no, nor once to flatter theirtormentors, or to shed a tear; but they smiled in their verypains, and laughed those to scorn who inflicted the torments uponthem, and resigned up their souls with great alacrity, asexpecting to receive them again.

11. For their doctrine is this: That bodies are corruptible, andthat the matter they are made of is not permanent; but that thesouls are immortal, and continue for ever; and that they come outof the most subtile air, and are united to their bodies as toprisons, into which they are drawn by a certain naturalenticement; but that when they are set free from the bonds of theflesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice andmount upward. And this is like the opinions of the Greeks, thatgood souls have their habitations beyond the ocean, in a regionthat is neither oppressed with storms of rain or snow, or withintense heat, but that this place is such as is refreshed by thegentle breathing of a west wind, that is perpetually blowing fromthe ocean; while they allot to bad souls a dark and tempestuousden, full of never-ceasing punishments. And indeed the Greeksseem to me to have followed the same notion, when they allot theislands of the blessed to their brave men, whom they call heroesand demi-gods; and to the souls of the wicked, the region of theungodly, in Hades, where their fables relate that certainpersons, such as Sisyphus, and Tantalus, and Ixion, and Tityus,are punished; which is built on this first supposition, thatsouls are immortal; and thence are those exhortations to virtueand dehortations from wickedness collected; whereby good men arebettered in the conduct of their life by the hope they have ofreward after their death; and whereby the vehement inclinationsof bad men to vice are restrained, by the fear and expectationthey are in, that although they should lie concealed in thislife, they should suffer immortal punishment after their death.These are the Divine doctrines of the Essens (6) about the soul,which lay an unavoidable bait for such as have once had a tasteof their philosophy.

12. There are also those among them who undertake to foretellthings to come, (7) by reading the holy books, and using severalsorts of purifications, and being perpetually conversant in thediscourses of the prophets; and it is but seldom that they missin their predictions.

13. Moreover, there is another order of Essens, (8) who agreewith the rest as to their way of living, and customs, and laws,but differ from them in the point of marriage, as thinking thatby not marrying they cut off the principal part of human life,which is the prospect of succession; nay, rather, that if all menshould be of the same opinion, the whole race of mankind wouldfail. However, they try their spouses for three years; and ifthey find that they have their natural purgations thrice, astrials that they are likely to be fruitful, they then actuallymarry them. But they do not use to accompany with their wiveswhen they are with child, as a demonstration that they do notmany out of regard to pleasure, but for the sake of posterity.Now the women go into the baths with some of their garments on,as the men do with somewhat girded about them. And these are thecustoms of this order of Essens.

14. But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exactexplication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. Theseascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow,that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in thepower of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of goodmen only are removed into other bodies, - but that the souls ofbad men are subject to eternal punishment. But the Sadducees arethose that compose the second order, and take away fate entirely,and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doingwhat is evil; and they say, that to act what is good, or what isevil, is at men's own choice, and that the one or the otherbelongs 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. Moreover, the Pharisees are friendly to one another, and are for the exercise of concord,and regard for the public; but the behavior of the Sadducees onetowards another is in some degree wild, and their conversationwith those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if theywere strangers to them. And this is what I had to say concerning the philosophic sects among the Jews.

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