Tuesday, September 18, 2007

josephus on the pharisees, saducess and essenes

At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, andthe other the sect of the Essens. Now for the Pharisees, (11)they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essens affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befallsmen but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal; butthey suppose that all our actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly.

5. However, this prosperous state of affairs moved the Jews toenvy Hyrcanus; but they that were the worst disposed to him were the Pharisees, (28) who were one of the sects of the Jews, as we have informed you already. These have so great a power over the multitude, that when they say any thing against the king, oragainst the high priest, they are presently believed. Now Hyrcanus was a disciple of theirs, and greatly beloved by them. And when he once invited them to a feast, and entertained themvery kindly, when he saw them in a good humor, he began to say tothem, that they knew he was desirous to be a righteous man, and to do all things whereby he might please God, which was the profession of the Pharisees also. However, he desired, that if they observed him offending in any point, and going out of the right way, they would call him back and correct him. On which occasion they attested to his being entirely virtuous; with whichc ommendation he was well pleased. But still there was one of hisguests there, whose name was Eleazar, a man of an ill temper, anddelighting in seditious practices. This man said," Since thou desirest to know the truth, if thou wilt be righteous in earnest, lay down the high priesthood, and content thyself with the civil government of the people," And when he desired to know for whatcause he ought to lay down the high priesthood, the otherreplied, "We have heard it from old men, that thy mother had beena captive under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. (29)" Thisstory was false, and Hyrcanus was provoked against him; and allthe Pharisees had a very great indignation against him.

6. Now there was one Jonathan, a very great friend of Hyrcanus's,but of the sect of the Sadducees, whose notions are quitecontrary to those of the Pharisees. He told Hyrcanus that Eleazarhad cast such a reproach upon him, according to the common sentiments of all the Pharisees, and that this would be mademanifest if he would but ask them the question, What punishment they thought this man deserved? for that he might depend upon it, that the reproach was not laid on him with their approbation, ifthey were for punishing him as his crime deserved. So the Pharisees made answer, that he deserved stripes and bonds, butthat it did not seem right to punish reproaches with death. And indeed the Pharisees, even upon other occasions, are not apt tobe severe in punishments. At this gentle sentence, Hyrcanus wasvery angry, and thought that this man reproached him by theirapprobation. It was this Jonathan who chiefly irritated him, andinfluenced him so far, that he made him leave the party of the Pharisees, and abolish the decrees they had imposed on thepeople, and to punish those that observed them. From this source arose that hatred which he and his sons met with from the multitude: but of these matters we shall speak hereafter. What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered tothe people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for thatreason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we areto esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from thetradition of our forefathers. And concerning these things it isthat great disputes and differences have arisen among them, whilethe Sadducees are able to persuade none but the rich, and havenot the populace obsequious to them, but the Pharisees have themultitude on their side. But about these two sects, and that ofthe Essens, I have treated accurately in the second book of Jewish affairs.

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