a Jewish mystical sect somewhat resembling the Pharisees. They
affected great purity. They originated about B.C. 100, and
disappeared from history after the destruction of Jerusalem.
They are not directly mentioned in Scripture, although they may
be referred to in Matt. 19:11, 12, Col. 2:8, 18, 23.
Heb. bakar, "cattle;" "neat cattle", (Gen. 12:16; 34:28; Job
1:3, 14; 42:12, etc.); not to be muzzled when treading the corn
(Deut. 25:4). Referred to by our Lord in his reproof to the
Pharisees (Luke 13:15; 14:5).
a garden herb (Ruta graveolens) which the Pharisees were careful
to tithe (Luke 11:42), neglecting weightier matters. It is
omitted in the parallel passage of Matt. 23:23. There are
several species growing wild in Israel. It is used for
medicinal and culinary purposes. It has a powerful scent, and is
a stimulant. (See MINT ¯T0002560.)
(Gr. heduosmon, i.e., "having a sweet smell"), one of the garden
herbs of which the Pharisees paid tithes (Matt. 23:23; Luke
11:42). It belongs to the labiate family of plants. The species
most common in Syria is the Mentha sylvestris, the wild mint,
which grows much larger than the garden mint (M. sativa). It was
much used in domestic economy as a condiment, and also as a
medicine. The paying of tithes of mint was in accordance with
the Mosiac law (Deut. 14:22), but the error of the Pharisees lay
in their being more careful about this little matter of the mint
than about weightier matters.
a scholar, sometimes applied to the followers of John the
Baptist (Matt. 9:14), and of the Pharisees (22:16), but
principally to the followers of Christ. A disciple of Christ is
one who (1) believes his doctrine, (2) rests on his sacrifice,
(3) imbibes his spirit, and (4) imitates his example (Matt.
10:24; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 6:69).
one who puts on a mask and feigns himself to be what he is not;
a dissembler in religion. Our Lord severely rebuked the scribes
and Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). "The
hypocrite's hope shall perish" (Job 8:13). The Hebrew word here
rendered "hypocrite" rather means the "godless" or "profane," as
it is rendered in Jer. 23:11, i.e., polluted with crimes.
(Gr. hairesis, usually rendered "heresy", Acts 24:14; 1 Chr.
11:19; Gal. 5:20, etc.), meaning properly "a choice," then "a
chosen manner of life," and then "a religious party," as the
"sect" of the Sadducees (Acts 5:17), of the Pharisees (15:5),
the Nazarenes, i.e., Christians (24:5). It afterwards came to be
used in a bad sense, of those holding pernicious error,
divergent forms of belief (2 Pet. 2:1; Gal. 5:20).
a sect of Greek philosophers at Athens, so called from the Greek
word stoa i.e., a "porch" or "portico," where they have been
called "the Pharisees of Greek paganism." The founder of the
Stoics was Zeno, who flourished about B.C. 300. He taught his
disciples that a man's happiness consisted in bringing himself
into harmony with the course of the universe. They were trained
to bear evils with indifference, and so to be independent of
externals. Materialism, pantheism, fatalism, and pride were the
leading features of this philosophy.
a Hebrew word adopted into the Greek of the New Testament and
left untranslated. It occurs only once (Mark 7:11). It means a
gift or offering consecrated to God. Anything over which this
word was once pronounced was irrevocably dedicated to the
temple. Land, however, so dedicated might be redeemed before the
year of jubilee (Lev. 27:16-24). Our Lord condemns the Pharisees
for their false doctrine, inasmuch as by their traditions they
had destroyed the commandment which requires children to honour
their father and mother, teaching them to find excuse from
helping their parents by the device of pronouncing "Corban" over
their goods, thus reserving them to their own selfish use.
(Heb. kammon; i.e., a "condiment"), the fruit or seed of an
umbelliferous plant, the Cuminum sativum, still extensively
cultivated in the East. Its fruit is mentioned in Isa. 28:25,
27. In the New Testament it is mentioned in Matt. 23:23, where
our Lord pronounces a "woe" on the scribes and Pharisees, who
were zealous in paying tithes of "mint and anise and cummin,"
while they omitted the weightier matters of the law." "It is
used as a spice, both bruised, to mix with bread, and also
boiled, in the various messes and stews which compose an
Oriental banquet." Tristram, Natural History.
(Luke 2:46; 5:17; Acts 5:34), a teacher. The Jewish doctors
taught and disputed in synagogues, or wherever they could find
an audience. Their disciples were allowed to propose to them
questions. They assumed the office without any appointment to
it. The doctors of the law were principally of the sect of the
Pharisees. Schools were established after the destruction of
Jerusalem at Babylon and Tiberias, in which academical degrees
were conferred on those who passed a certain examination. Those
of the school of Tiberias were called by the title "rabbi," and
those of Babylon by that of "master."
On the night of his betrayal, when our Lord was in the garden of
Gethsemane, Judas, "having received a band of men and officers
from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with
lanterns and torches and weapons" (John 18:1-3). Although it was
the time of full moon, yet in the valley of the Kidron "there
fell great, deep shadows from the declivity of the mountain and
projecting rocks; there were there caverns and grottos, into
which a fugitive might retreat; finally, there were probably a
garden-house and tower, into whose gloom it might be necessary
for a searcher to throw light around." Lange's Commentary.
(Nahum 2:3, "torches," Revised Version, "steel," probably should
be "scythes" for war-chariots.)
This word is found only in Matt. 23:23. It is the plant commonly
known by the name of dill, the Peucedanum graveolens of the
botanist. This name dill is derived from a Norse word which
means to soothe, the plant having the carminative property of
allaying pain. The common dill, the Anethum graveolens, is an
annual growing wild in the cornfields of Spain and Portugal and
the south of Europe generally. There is also a species of dill
cultivated in Eastern countries known by the name of shubit. It
was this species of garden plant of which the Pharisees were in
the habit of paying tithes. The Talmud requires that the seeds,
leaves, and stem of dill shall pay tithes. It is an
umbelliferous plant, very like the caraway, its leaves, which
are aromatic, being used in soups and pickles. The proper anise
is the Pimpinella anisum.
or washing, was practised, (1.) When a person was initiated into
a higher state: e.g., when Aaron and his sons were set apart to
the priest's office, they were washed with water previous to
their investiture with the priestly robes (Lev. 8:6).
(2.) Before the priests approached the altar of God, they were
required, on pain of death, to wash their hands and their feet
to cleanse them from the soil of common life (Ex. 30:17-21). To
this practice the Psalmist alludes, Ps. 26:6.
(3.) There were washings prescribed for the purpose of
cleansing from positive defilement contracted by particular
acts. Of such washings eleven different species are prescribed
in the Levitical law (Lev. 12-15).
(4.) A fourth class of ablutions is mentioned, by which a
person purified or absolved himself from the guilt of some
particular act. For example, the elders of the nearest village
where some murder was committed were required, when the murderer
was unknown, to wash their hands over the expiatory heifer which
was beheaded, and in doing so to say, "Our hands have not shed
this blood, neither have our eyes seen it" (Deut. 21:1-9). So
also Pilate declared himself innocent of the blood of Jesus by
washing his hands (Matt. 27:24). This act of Pilate may not,
however, have been borrowed from the custom of the Jews. The
same practice was common among the Greeks and Romans.
The Pharisees carried the practice of ablution to great
excess, thereby claiming extraordinary purity (Matt. 23:25).
Mark (7:1-5) refers to the ceremonial ablutions. The Pharisees
washed their hands "oft," more correctly, "with the fist" (R.V.,
"diligently"), or as an old father, Theophylact, explains it,
"up to the elbow." (Compare also Mark 7:4; Lev. 6:28; 11: 32-36;
15:22) (See WASHING ¯T0003788.)
separatists (Heb. persahin, from parash, "to separate"). They
were probably the successors of the Assideans (i.e., the
"pious"), a party that originated in the time of Antiochus
Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. The first
mention of them is in a description by Josephus of the three
sects or schools into which the Jews were divided (B.C. 145).
The other two sects were the Essenes and the Sadducees. In the
time of our Lord they were the popular party (John 7:48). They
were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining
to the law of Moses (Matt. 9:14; 23:15; Luke 11:39; 18:12).
Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed
himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6-8; 26:4, 5).
There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system
of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax
morality (Matt. 5:20; 15:4, 8; 23:3, 14, 23, 25; John 8:7). On
the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they
are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a "generation of
vipers." They were noted for their self-righteousness and their
pride (Matt. 9:11; Luke 7:39; 18:11, 12). They were frequently
rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:39; 16:1-4).
From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed
themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could
not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to
destroy his influence among the people.
a tax imposed by the Romans. The tax-gatherers were termed
publicans (q.v.), who had their stations at the gates of cities,
and in the public highways, and at the place set apart for that
purpose, called the "receipt of custom" (Matt.9: 9; Mark 2:14),
where they collected the money that was to be paid on certain
goods (Matt.17:25). These publicans were tempted to exact more
from the people than was lawful, and were, in consequence of
their extortions, objects of great hatred. The Pharisees would
have no intercourse with them (Matt.5:46, 47; 9:10, 11).
A tax or tribute (q.v.) of half a shekel was annually paid by
every adult Jew for the temple. It had to be paid in Jewish coin
(Matt. 22:17-19; Mark 12:14, 15). Money-changers (q.v.) were
necessary, to enable the Jews who came up to Jerusalem at the
feasts to exchange their foreign coin for Jewish money; but as
it was forbidden by the law to carry on such a traffic for
emolument (Deut. 23:19, 20), our Lord drove them from the temple
(Matt. 21:12: Mark 11:15).
Not found in the Old Testament, but repeatedly in the New. The
Mosaic legislation (Lev. 25:35; Deut. 15:7) tended to promote a
spirit of charity, and to prevent the occurrence of destitution
among the people. Such passages as these, Ps. 41:1; 112:9; Prov.
14:31; Isa. 10:2; Amos 2:7; Jer. 5:28; Ezek. 22:29, would also
naturally foster the same benevolent spirit.
In the time of our Lord begging was common (Mark 10:46; Acts
3:2). The Pharisees were very ostentatious in their almsgivings
(Matt. 6:2). The spirit by which the Christian ought to be
actuated in this duty is set forth in 1 John 3:17. A regard to
the state of the poor and needy is enjoined as a Christian duty
(Luke 3:11; 6:30; Matt. 6:1; Acts 9:36; 10:2, 4), a duty which
was not neglected by the early Christians (Luke 14:13; Acts
20:35; Gal. 2:10; Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-4). They cared not
only for the poor among themselves, but contributed also to the
necessities of those at a distance (Acts 11:29; 24:17; 2 Cor.
9:12). Our Lord and his attendants showed an example also in
this (John 13:29).
In modern times the "poor-laws" have introduced an element
which modifies considerably the form in which we may discharge
this Christian duty.
The origin of this Jewish sect cannot definitely be traced. It
was probably the outcome of the influence of Grecian customs and
philosophy during the period of Greek domination. The first time
they are met with is in connection with John the Baptist's
ministry. They came out to him when on the banks of the Jordan,
and he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned
you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matt. 3:7.) The next time
they are spoken of they are represented as coming to our Lord
tempting him. He calls them "hypocrites" and "a wicked and
adulterous generation" (Matt. 16:1-4; 22:23). The only reference
to them in the Gospels of Mark (12:18-27) and Luke (20:27-38) is
their attempting to ridicule the doctrine of the resurrection,
which they denied, as they also denied the existence of angels.
They are never mentioned in John's Gospel.
There were many Sadducees among the "elders" of the Sanhedrin.
They seem, indeed, to have been as numerous as the Pharisees
(Acts 23:6). They showed their hatred of Jesus in taking part in
his condemnation (Matt. 16:21; 26:1-3, 59; Mark 8:31; 15:1; Luke
9:22; 22:66). They endeavoured to prohibit the apostles from
preaching the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:24, 31, 32; 4:1, 2;
5:17, 24-28). They were the deists or sceptics of that age. They
do not appear as a separate sect after the destruction of
anciently held various important offices in the public affairs
of the nation. The Hebrew word so rendered (sopher) is first
used to designate the holder of some military office (Judg.
5:14; A.V., "pen of the writer;" R.V., "the marshal's staff;"
marg., "the staff of the scribe"). The scribes acted as
secretaries of state, whose business it was to prepare and issue
decrees in the name of the king (2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25; 1 Chr.
18:16; 24:6; 1 Kings 4:3; 2 Kings 12:9-11; 18:18-37, etc.). They
discharged various other important public duties as men of high
authority and influence in the affairs of state.
There was also a subordinate class of scribes, most of whom
were Levites. They were engaged in various ways as writers.
Such, for example, was Baruch, who "wrote from the mouth of
Jeremiah all the words of the Lord" (Jer. 36:4, 32).
In later times, after the Captivity, when the nation lost its
independence, the scribes turned their attention to the law,
gaining for themselves distinction by their intimate
acquaintance with its contents. On them devolved the duty of
multiplying copies of the law and of teaching it to others (Ezra
7:6, 10-12; Neh. 8:1, 4, 9, 13). It is evident that in New
Testament times the scribes belonged to the sect of the
Pharisees, who supplemented the ancient written law by their
traditions (Matt. 23), thereby obscuring it and rendering it of
none effect. The titles "scribes" and "lawyers" (q.v.) are in
the Gospels interchangeable (Matt. 22:35; Mark 12:28; Luke
20:39, etc.). They were in the time of our Lord the public
teachers of the people, and frequently came into collision with
him. They afterwards showed themselves greatly hostile to the
apostles (Acts 4:5; 6:12).
Some of the scribes, however, were men of a different spirit,
and showed themselves friendly to the gospel and its preachers.
Thus Gamaliel advised the Sanhedrin, when the apostles were
before them charged with "teaching in this name," to "refrain
from these men and let them alone" (Acts 5:34-39; comp. 23:9).
commonly a ring engraved with some device (Gen. 38:18, 25).
Jezebel "wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his
seal" (1 Kings 21:8). Seals are frequently mentioned in Jewish
history (Deut. 32:34; Neh. 9:38; 10:1; Esther 3:12; Cant. 8:6;
Isa. 8:16; Jer. 22:24; 32:44, etc.). Sealing a document was
equivalent to the signature of the owner of the seal. "The use
of a signet-ring by the monarch has recently received a
remarkable illustration by the discovery of an impression of
such a signet on fine clay at Koyunjik, the site of the ancient
Nineveh. This seal appears to have been impressed from the bezel
of a metallic finger-ring. It is an oval, 2 inches in length by
1 inch wide, and bears the image, name, and titles of the
Egyptian king Sabaco" (Rawlinson's Hist. Illus. of the O.T., p.
46). The actual signet-rings of two Egyptian kings (Cheops and
Horus) have been discovered. (See SIGNET ¯T0003426.)
The use of seals is mentioned in the New Testament only in
connection with the record of our Lord's burial (Matt. 27:66).
The tomb was sealed by the Pharisees and chief priests for the
purpose of making sure that the disciples would not come and
steal the body away (ver. 63, 64). The mode of doing this was
probably by stretching a cord across the stone and sealing it at
both ends with sealing-clay. When God is said to have sealed the
Redeemer, the meaning is, that he has attested his divine
mission (John 6:27). Circumcision is a seal, an attestation of
the covenant (Rom. 4:11). Believers are sealed with the Spirit,
as God's mark put upon them (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Converts are by
Paul styled the seal of his apostleship, i.e., they are its
attestation (1 Cor. 9:2). Seals and sealing are frequently
mentioned in the book of Revelation (5:1; 6:1; 7:3; 10:4;
The sole fast required by the law of Moses was that of the great
Day of Atonement (q.v.), Lev. 23:26-32. It is called "the fast"
The only other mention of a periodical fast in the Old
Testament is in Zech. 7:1-7; 8:19, from which it appears that
during their captivity the Jews observed four annual fasts.
(1.) The fast of the fourth month, kept on the seventeenth day
of Tammuz, the anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by the
Chaldeans; to commemorate also the incident recorded Ex. 32:19.
(Comp. Jer. 52:6, 7.)
(2.) The fast of the fifth month, kept on the ninth of Ab
(comp. Num. 14:27), to commemorate the burning of the city and
temple (Jer. 52:12, 13).
(3.) The fast of the seventh month, kept on the third of Tisri
(comp. 2 Kings 25), the anniversary of the murder of Gedaliah
(Jer. 41:1, 2).
(4.) The fast of the tenth month (comp. Jer. 52:4; Ezek.
33:21; 2 Kings 25:1), to commemorate the beginning of the siege
of the holy city by Nebuchadnezzar.
There was in addition to these the fast appointed by Esther
Public national fasts on account of sin or to supplicate
divine favour were sometimes held. (1.) 1 Sam. 7:6; (2.) 2 Chr.
20:3; (3.) Jer. 36:6-10; (4.) Neh. 9:1.
There were also local fasts. (1.) Judg. 20:26; (2.) 2 Sam.
1:12; (3.) 1 Sam. 31:13; (4.) 1 Kings 21:9-12; (5.) Ezra
8:21-23: (6.) Jonah 3:5-9.
There are many instances of private occasional fasting (1 Sam.
1:7: 20:34; 2 Sam. 3:35; 12:16; 1 Kings 21:27; Ezra 10:6; Neh.
1:4; Dan. 10:2,3). Moses fasted forty days (Ex. 24:18; 34:28),
and so also did Elijah (1 Kings 19:8). Our Lord fasted forty
days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2).
In the lapse of time the practice of fasting was lamentably
abused (Isa. 58:4; Jer. 14:12; Zech. 7:5). Our Lord rebuked the
Pharisees for their hypocritical pretences in fasting (Matt.
6:16). He himself appointed no fast. The early Christians,
however, observed the ordinary fasts according to the law of
their fathers (Acts 13:3; 14:23; 2 Cor. 6:5).
John the Baptist
the "forerunner of our Lord." We have but fragmentary and
imperfect accounts of him in the Gospels. He was of priestly
descent. His father, Zacharias, was a priest of the course of
Abia (1 Chr. 24:10), and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the
daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5). The mission of John was the
subject of prophecy (Matt. 3:3; Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1). His birth,
which took place six months before that of Jesus, was foretold
by an angel. Zacharias, deprived of the power of speech as a
token of God's truth and a reproof of his own incredulity with
reference to the birth of his son, had the power of speech
restored to him on the occasion of his circumcision (Luke 1:64).
After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what
is mentioned in Luke 1:80. John was a Nazarite from his birth
(Luke 1:15; Num. 6:1-12). He spent his early years in the
mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead
Sea (Matt. 3:1-12).
At length he came forth into public life, and great multitudes
from "every quarter" were attracted to him. The sum of his
preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the
Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned
them of the folly of trusting to external privileges (Luke 3:8).
"As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating.
Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people
at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and
consideration for others. The publicans he cautioned against
extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder." His doctrine
and manner of life roused the entire south of Israel, and the
people from all parts flocked to the place where he was, on the
banks of the Jordan. There he baptized thousands unto
The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth (Matt.
3:5), and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John,
on the special ground that it became him to "fulfil all
righteousness" (3:15). John's special office ceased with the
baptism of Jesus, who must now "increase" as the King come to
his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear
testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus. He pointed him out to his
disciples, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." His public ministry
was suddenly (after about six months probably) brought to a
close by his being cast into prison by Herod, whom he had
reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his
brother Philip (Luke 3:19). He was shut up in the castle of
Machaerus (q.v.), a fortress on the southern extremity of
Peraea, 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, and here he was beheaded.
His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave,
went and told Jesus all that had occurred (Matt. 14:3-12).
John's death occurred apparently just before the third Passover
of our Lord's ministry. Our Lord himself testified regarding him
that he was a "burning and a shining light" (John 5:35).