The Sadducees looked at themselves as the guardians of tradition. Quoting from the Joachim Jeremias book, p. 265-266 it says, “They held strictly to the literal interpretation of the Torah, in particular to the precepts on the cultus and the priesthood, and thus found themselves in direct opposition to the Pharisees and their oral halakah which declared that the rules of purity for priests were binding on the pious laity, too. The Sadducees had formulated this theology in a fully developed halakah based on exegesis (Matt 16.18 and the “teaching of the Sadducees). In addition, they had their own penal code, and we have much evidence of its extreme severity. We have already met a Sadducee tribunal of chief priests, and we are reminded in several places of sentences passed according to Sadducean laws (Ant. 20-199; b.Sanh 52b). This makes the existence of Sadducean scribes quite definite.”
“Whereas the Torah laid down rules of purity and rules on food for the officiating priests alone, the Pharisaic group made these rules a general practice in the everyday life of the priests and in the life of the whole people. In this way they meant to build up the holy community of Israel, the ‘true Israel’ (for this is the meaning of the word ‘Pharisee’, see p. 246). The Sadducean group, on the other hand, was conservative and held that the priestly laws were limited to the priests and the cultus, in conformity with the text of Scripture.”
“The conflict between the Pharisees and the Sadducees sprang from this opposition. It dominated the profound religious revolution in Judaism between the Maccabean wars and the destruction of Jerusalem, and we may judge for ourselves the bitterness of the conflict by reading the Psalms of Solomon. The champions of the ancient orthodox theology and tradition, inflexible defenders of the letter of the written biblical text wrestles with the champions of the new tradition, the unwritten law.”
“The struggle became particularly severe because social opposition was added to religious; the old conservative nobility, i.e. the priestly as well as lay nobility, opposed the new ruling class of scriptural interpreters and community members who were drawn from all walks of life, but especially from the priestly bourgeoisie. They voluntarily submitted themselves to rule and thus prepared the way for a universal priesthood.”
“We see, therefore, that doubtless the Pharisees were the people’s party; they represented the common people as opposed to the aristocracy on both religious and social matters. Their much respected piety and their social leanings towards suppressing differences in class, gained them the people’s support and assured them, step by step, of the victory.”
In Biblical Archeology Review magazine, Sept/Oct 1998, p. 50, in an article called “Ancient Israel’s Stone Age” it says, “Laws of ritual purity and impurity are of biblical origin during the Second Temple Period. However the rules were greatly expanded. Most of the purity laws relate to the rites in the Temple, but the territory of the Temple was at least metaphysically “expanded” beyond the Temple confines, and ritual cleanliness was not limited to the bounds of the Temple, but spread through the Jewish community.”
Now, this brings up some questions. If its an “oral law” why did they write it down? Isn’t that rebellion if God wanted it oral in the first place? Doesn’t it now violate Deut 4.2 where it says they were not to add to or detract from the written word he was giving them? In truth, the oral law is just the words of men. There is no “Thus says the Lord” or signs or miracles in relation to it. One person says something is permitted, and another says it isn’t. If the oral law is inspired, why are their disagreements and controversies? Why doesn’t it quote “Moses” all the time if God gave it to him on Sinai instead of quoting different rabbis? The bottom line is this, there is no divinely inspired oral law.
This is important to understand because many believers in Yeshua blindly follow the rabbis and their oral laws, not knowing about these controversies. They don’t understand that these laws are not biblical and as we have said, we are only dealing with the purity laws. We haven’t even touched on other areas like the food laws, festivals, immersions and sprinkling and the Temple itself. That is why we are p[resenting some of the dissenting views because we can pick up some very interesting concepts.
In Deut 31.16-18 the words for “the holocaust” is found in Hebrew. It is the words “Ha Shoah.” You take the letter “hey” from the word “Moshe” and count 49 letters. Then you take the next letter “Shin” from the word “shama” and count 49 letters again. Then take the “aleph” and count 49 letters again. Then take the “hey” and put it together. It spells “Ha Shoah” or “the holocaust.”
This is what the text says where “Ha Shoah” is found in English, “And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the lands, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake me and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they shall be consumed and many evils and troubles shall come upon them; so that they will say in that day, “is it not because our God is not among us?” But I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.”
In Part 29 we will pick up here and we will talk about an on-going conflict between Karaism (“the readers”) and Rabbinic Judaism, founded by the Pharisees. This has been going on for centuries. Basically, the Karaites is a branch of Judaism that accepts what is written in Scripture. The “Rabbanites” (Rabbinic Judaism) accept written Scripture, but they also accept an oral law in addition, as we have seen. At times, the Rabbanites will say the oral law supersedes the words of God himself (“The Stove of Akhnai” in the Talmud, Bava Metzia 59a-b).