Posted by / Wednesday 22 March 2017 / No comments

The party of the Pharisees

The Pharisees are believed to be people who have separated themselves from national affairs and every form of ceremonial uncleanliness, hence their name “The separated ones” coming from the Hebrew word ‘Parash”. Their reason for separating themselves from people is that they considered others as unclean and therefore, mingling with them would cause them to become unclean too. Their main aim is the purification of the Jewish religion.

The Pharisees are believed to have emerged during the time of the attempt by Antiochus Epiphanes to Hellenize the Jewish religion in Judea. This was around the time the Jews had formed a party to opposed Epiphanes. It is also linked to the time of the Maccabees revolt.

The great historian, Josephus, recorded that around the time of Jesus, the Pharisees were made up of about six thousand people.

Hatred of foreign rule
The Pharisees were a group of people who were opposed to every form of foreign rule. They therefore hated the Romans’ domination of their political lives.

Belief in the Messianic promise
The Pharisees also believe that there is a Messiah who would come one day to deliver them from the hands of the Romans, drive the Romans away and establish an earthly kingdom of the Jews.

Opposed to violence
The Pharisees did not, however, believe in personally fighting the Romans and driving them away for that Messianic kingdom to come. That one, they left to God to accomplish. They believe that once they kept the law faithfully, God would drive the Romans away eventually.

Immortality of the soul and transmigration of souls
The Pharisees believe that after the death of a good person, his or her soul passes into another person’s body. On the other hand, when a bad person dies, his or her soul goes into eternal punishment.

Other religious beliefs
The Pharisees believe in the law and the Prophets. They also believe in the elaborate interpretations that were added to the written law.

Attributes things to God 
They believe that everything that happens to man is attributable to fate and to God. They also believe that everything is predestined to happen at one point in one’s life. They believe that there is resurrection of the body and that angels exist.

Other practices
The Pharisees consider the law to be very important so they were legalistic in their approach to issues. They believe they were very righteous people, more righteous than sinners, the poor, the prostitutes and tax-collectors. They think these groups of people do not come anywhere near them in purity. They fasted twice every week, that is, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tithes and others
They believe in the principle of tithing so they gave tithe on everything they earned. They gave alms but they were ostentatious about it. They did it with pomp and pageantry. They prefer to pray in public to be seen by others and to display their purity. They also love to sit at the places of honour at public functions.

1. a. Trace the origin of the party of the Pharisees.
    b. Highlight any six of their beliefs.

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