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
For a long time before Christ all the high priests of the Temple and the other priests, with the Levites and the lower ministers of the Temple, were almost to a man Sadducees. The wealthy families belonged to them, and the leaders of society favored the party. The influence of the Sadducees has survived to our day. The Jew is inclined to look on this world, its blessings and business prosperity, as the only end of life.
The priestly Sadducees, occupying every office in the Temple, deriving their living from its revenues, were most devoted to it. They counted in their party, high priests like Josue, Simon the Just, Manasse, Menelaus, Nehemias, the younger Onias, Anas, Joseph Caiphas, who condemned Christ, and a long line of illustrious priests celebrated in Jewish history.
This polished, polite and educated priesthood, had in the time of which we write turned the Temple into a club, or a family mansion. They had coquetted with conquering kings, favored the Greek and Latin languages, fostered foreign ideas and customs, yielded to the Ptolemies to win their favors, held back from taking part in the Machabean uprising lest they might lose their positions in the Temple, and now truckled with Roman procurators and legates, in order to preserve their vested interests, their wealth and their positions.
To please Herod they bowed to the expulsion of Jesus, son of Phabi, a strict Israelite, and admitted in his place Simon Boethus of Alexandria, Herod's father-in-law. They preached submission to Rome, favored every liberal doctrine, promoted their relatives, sons and friends to vacant Temple offices, refused to received instructions from the Pharisees, spurned the Scribes, bought their positions in the Temple by money or favors of the rulers, lived easy lives, went through the elaborate Temple ceremonial without hardly believing in it, looked on this world as their heaven, and on death as the end of man. With the destruction of the Temple and the rise of Christianity, the Sadducees as a party disappeared, but their spirit remains, and is found to-day in the liberal or reformed Jew. The Pharisees remained, founded synagogues in all nations, taught the Israelites in every land, held them isolated from all other peoples and preserved them to our day, as the most remarkable and peculiar nation under the sun.
With the destruction of their city by the Romans the ruin of their beautiful Temple, and the scattering of the whole nation, the Jewish dream of the Messiah, whom they looked for to restore the kingdom of David and Solomon, became dim. The Passover Service and the synagogue prayers still mention Him as yet to come; but the people are divided regarding Him or His coming. The great national misfortune brought on them by Titus and his Roman armies, the poverty, and the persecutions they suffered daring the middle ages, turned their minds to the future life, and the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul revived under the fostering teachings of the Pharisees. The writing of the Talmud crystallized their traditions, united them as a people, satisfied their religious instincts and prevented their conversion to Christianity. Thus they live in every city and town, always engaged in trade, following the professions, producing nothing, never farming, doing no laboring work, living on society—they are the money-makers of the world.
The Rabbis were the religious teachers and ministers of the synagogues. They were all Pharisees and followed the strict puritanical regulations of these fanatics. The great questions settled by the Rabbis were ceremonial purity and legal defilements. They had laid down thousands of rules and regulations. From the time that they became the religious teachers of Israel in Babylon, where the synagogues were first established, up to the time of our Lord, they had built up a remarkable code or set of rules, regulations and human laws, which made the Jew a slave.
According to them, uncleanness could be contracted not only by a person, but also by vessels used in eating, drinking, cooking and using. Hollow dishes of clay or pottery might become unclean on the inside, but not on the outside, and they could only be cleaned by being broken. But the pieces would still remain unclean. There were great disputes among them as to how small a piece might defile a person touching it. If a dish contained a log of oil, that is a little over half a pint, or a broken piece of a dish which would hold enough to anoint the big toe, they disputed if these dishes would or not defile. If the dish held a seah a fragment which could hold the fourth of a log would defile it. But as hollow vessels contracted uncleanness only on the inside, flat plates without a rim, an open shovel, a sieve, a brick mould, etc., could not be defiled. But anything with a rim, or any kind of a hollow dish could become defiled, and they must be broken, and the broken pieces would be defiled if they could hold a pomegranate.
If a chest, table, or cupboard loses a foot, it could not become defiled; but if the top was used as a dish it could. A bench with one of the sides off is all right, but if a piece, a hand breadth wide, remains attached to it, it can become unclean. A goblet on the outside may become unclean, but if taken by the foot the hands do not become unclean, but the hands will if they touch the cup in any other way. Trumpets made straight cannot become unclean, but can if they are curved. Every metal utensil used in the house, synagogue, or Temple, except a door-bolt, lock, hinge, or knocker, may become defiled. But the mouthpiece of a trumpet, if of metal, may be denied. If a wooden key have metal teeth it may defile, but if the key be of metal and the teeth of wood it is all right, etc.
This whole book would not contain the rules of uncleanness alone. Besides they had hosts of other regulations, which take up hundreds of pages of the Talmud, and the way of getting rid of defilement was as rigid and as minute. The kind of water used for the different kinds of defilement was laid down. Six kinds of water are given. Of water in a pool, pit, cistern, ditch, lake, etc., not less than forty seahs 1 is required for preparing the dough for the Temple offerings, or for washing the hands. Water that flows, Terunia, may be used for the heave-offerings and the washing of hands, of collected water sixty gallons must be used for a bath of purification, and for dipping vessels into to purify them. A little spring, from which water does not flow, may be used if a little legal water be added to it. Water of warm springs or mineral spring water may do for certain rites, but pure spring water must be used by those afflicted with sores, for sprinkling lepers, and it may be mixed with the ashes of the red heifer.
The Mishna at tiresome length treats of these things. Water collected by pipes from roofs, rains, springs, etc., may be used for bathing; a cupful of water drawn mixed with it makes it unclean, but three logs, 2 would make the water all right for a bath. But if any vessel is de signedly put under running water, Shammai's school said, would make it unfit for a bath, while Hillel's party claimed that if it was forgotten, or not placed there pur posely, the water was fit for the bath and could be use to cleanse defiled articles.
1 Sixty gallons
2 About a quart and a pint.
1 Sixty gallons
2 About a quart and a pint.