What World Religions Teach

By E. G. Parrinder | Go to book overview

Chapter 18
JUDAISM: (2) RABBIS AND REFORMERS

The names Judaism and Jew are derived from the tribe of Judah, and are only properly applied to the Hebrews after the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes of Northern Israel in 722 B.C., and especially after the return of some Jews from exile in Babylon in 536 B.C. Nehemiah and Ezra in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. restricted marriages to those of Jewish birth only, and the Maccabean revolt in the second century B.C. was a further assertion of Jewish individuality and independence.

At the beginning of the Christian era Israel was under Roman rule, with Judea governed by Roman procurators, like Pilate, and Galflee under Herods Antipas and Agrippa. The Sadducces, successors of Zadok, were priests of the Jerusalem temple; and the Pharisees, 'separated ones' or 'expounders of the law,' taught the law in the country synagogues. Josephus, the Jewish historian, said that "while the Sadducess are able to persuade none but the rich . . . the Pharisees have the multitude on their side." It has been powerfully argued that it was the Sadducces alone who were responsible for the death of Jesus, fearful for their authority and of Roman displeasure. There were other important groups: Essenes who lived a semi-monastic life and from whom the Dead Sea Scrolls came, Apocalyptists who despaired of the present and waited for a heavenly Messiah, and Zealots who prepared to fight the Romans to regain national independence.

In A.D. 66 the Zealots rose in open revolt against the Romans and appealed to the public for support. The Pharisees had taught submission, but their moderating counsels failed to check the rising. The Romans undertook a firm subjugation of the land; Galilee was subdued in 67 and Judea in 68. The siege of Jerusalem

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