The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings
by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
A gate of Jerusalem was called the Essene Gate after them. They used to come up to~ the sacred city in their white habits to the feasts of the Temple. They had houses in different cities, where the members lodged, but they seldom or never mingled with the people, lest they might be defiled. They devoted a third of the day to study and prayer, a third to labor and a third to rest and sleep. They are not mentioned in the Bible nor in Talmudic writers, and we are indebted almost entirely to Josephus for our knowledge of these peculiar men. 1
After the Greek conquest a new element was introduced into Judaism, and those who favored the party were called Hellenistic Jews. Antiochus Epiphanes favored the move, and it was the first breaking down of the isolation of the Jews from all other nations, and the infusing into them the spirit of broad-minded ideas. But it was opposed by the Chasidim, " the Pharisees." The Jews scattered into all nations since the Babylonian Captivity and engaged in trade in every city of the world, favored the breaking down of national, narrow-minded ideas. The result was the formation of a party called the Sadducees, from Zadok, high priest of Solomon's Temple, whose family in the days of Hezekiah were called Cadukim, "sons of Zadok."
Nearly all the wealthy Jews of both Palestine and other countries belonged to this party. The high priests, the priests or Cohens, and officers of the Temple, were mem bers of the party, although a few of them were Pharisees. The two parties were in continual opposition, like the political parties of Europe and America to-day, and they strove for every office in the Temple and synagogue in the days of Christ.
The Pharisees held, that with the written revelation given to Moses there was also an unwritten tradition, which had come down, and which was equally divine and to be followed, while the Sadducees taught that the only revelation was that contained in the written word, the Old Testament. Some of the Sadducees rejected all the Books of the Old Testament except the Five Books of Moses. In Moses' writings, they said, we find no reference to the immortality of the soul, hence the Sadducees rejected the future life, heaven and hell, and looked to the present life for all rewards and punishments.
"But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this. That souls die with the bodies, nor do they regard the observance of anything besides what the law enjoins them, for they think it an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy, whom they frequent. But this doctrine is received only by a few, yet by those of the greatest dignity, but they are able to do almost nothing of themselves. For when they become magistrates, as they unwillingly and by force sometimes become, they addict themselves to the notions of the Pharisees, because the multitude otherwise would not bear them." 2
They denied the existence of angels, of the spirit world, of heaven and hell, looking on the angels as pure manifestations of Jehovah, but not as personal beings. While their great opponents, the Pharisees, denied the freedom of the will, holding that fate governed all our deeds, the Sadducees taught that man is free, and the master of his own acts. They were rationalistic and all of them inclined to infidelity. The Pharisee was the conservative, the Sadducee the liberal; one the puritan, the other the broad-minded.
1 See Josephus, Antiq. XIII., v. 9; XVIII., i. 5. Wars of the Jews, II., viii. 2, 5; Antiq. IL, viii. 4, n. 7. to 12.
2 Josephus, Antiq. B. xviii.. C. i. n. 4.