Torah and New Testament Foundations-The Pharisees, Sadducees and Yeshua-Part 1

To study this subject, we need to start at the end, at the trial of Yeshua. In many cases, we go through changes when we find out that what we have been taught is wrong. As we learn the truth, we go through separation from our former churches, from family and from friends. This can lead to suspicion of others, and others are suspicious of you. It also can lead us to be suspicious of the new things we are learning. We’ve been duped before and we think it could happen again. You will hear all about the Pharisees and the commandments as you begin to learn the Torah. Then you will hear that Yeshua was tried before the Sanhedrin. The problem is, whenever you hear “Pharisees” and the “Sanhedrin” people will push away with all sorts of statements like “Why should I listen to the Rabbi’s who are the descendants of the Pharisees, I have the Holy Spirit and they don’t.” What we are going to do is develop the political atmosphere in the first century to find out what exactly was going on. This will, in turn, lead us to look at the Sanhedrin and its rules, and to see who the Pharisee’s were that Yeshua will take issue with. This will be essential in understanding the New Testament. So, we are going to look at the trial of Yeshua and that will lead us to taking a closer look at the Pharisees.

Matt 26.1-4, we learn that the elders of the people were gathered in the court of the high priest Caiaphas. His father-in-law is a man named Chanan, or Annas. Two families were competing for the office of high priest, the family of Boethus (leader of the Boethusians) and the family of Chanan, who was a Sadducee. The Boethusians were Sadducee’s, but distinguished themselves as separate from the Sadducees. The Sadducees were “literalists” when it came to the Torah. If something was not written in the Torah, they did not consider it valid. An “eye for an eye” was taken literally. They accepted the written Torah but did not have an “oral Torah.” They di not accept the rest of the Tanak (old testament) as inspired. They were priests and used the Psalms for the Temple choir, but did not see it as inspired. The Beit Ha Shoevah ceremony (House of the Water-pouring) at Sukkot was not accepted by the Sadducee’s because they said it is not in the Torah, but it is alluded to in Num 29. Three extra letters in verses 17,19,31 spell the word “mayim” (water) and this portion of Scriptures deals with the offerings at Sukkot. So a water-pouring ceremony was done because of that, and the Sadducees opposed it. It is also in the Psalms and that dates back to the first Temple period, but the Sadducees did not accept the Psalms, or any other book other than the Torah. There was contempt between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. This contempt is seen in the Mishnah, Sukkah 4.9, where it says concerning this water pour ceremony that they used to say to the priest (usually a Sadducee), “Lift up your hands!” This was because once a certain priest (Alexander Jannaeus, a Sadducee who didn’t recognize this ceremony) poured out the water libation over his feet instead of the Altar, and all the people threw their citrons at him (like a large lemon).

Here is the backround. Judah Maccabee and some of his brothers were killed in the Maccabean War. This left only his brother Shimon, and he declares himself Prince and high priest. He has a son who is “meshuganah” (crazy) and he only lives two years. As we go down the line, we will come to a descendant named Yochanon Hyrcannus. He conquers Edom, the Arameans and expands Israel to the extent that David and Solomon did. Her is succeeded by Alexander Jannaeus, the water on the feet guy. During the time of Yochanon and Alexander, we have the rise of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Alexander dies, and he is succeeded by his wife Alexandra. She will reign for seven years and has two sons, Hyrcannus and Aristobulus. Hyrcannus is a mellow, laid back kind of guy, but Aristobulus is evil and aggressive. Alexandra knows that Aristobulus will take the throne if he has to, and she doesn’t want that. So, she hires an Idumean (Edomite), who have been conquered and forced to convert to Judaism by Yochanon Hyrcannus. His mane is Antipater, who has a son named Herod. Herod will get involved in this civil war between Hyrcannus and Aristobulus. Aristobulus takes the Temple Mount during this war, and Antipater calls on the Romans to come to the aid of Hyrcannus. The Romans come in and they take the Temple Mount back, but the Romans are not going away. This will all play a role in the life of Yeshua. Herod will kill his father, and then he marries the daughter of Hyrcannus named Mariamne. He will have children by her, but he had other wives. He will kill Mariamne and the Hasmonean (the family name of the Maccabees) era ends.

Herod will side with Marc Antony against Octavian (Augustus), but Antony is defeated by Augustus. He then sides with Augustus and it is Augustus who makes him king. When he ascends the throne, he replaces the high priest with a descendant of Aaron, but nobody likes him, so he replaces him with his brother-in-law, a Hasmonean. Everyone likes him because he is a descendant of the Maccabees and of the Hasmonean family. Herod will get jealous and drowns him in Jericho at his palace.

After this, Herod begins to sell the position of high priest, and Chanan (Annas) becomes high priest about 10 BC, about 4 years before Yeshua was born. Then the Romans take over and they will begin to sell the position of high priest after Chanan is removed by the Romans. Whoever has the most money gets the power, so Chanan tries to get all the money he can. At the same time, Boethus does the same thing. We don’t know how many high priests came from Boethus, but Chanan (Annas) had five sons, a son-in-law and a grandson as high priest.

The Talmud talks about Chanan (Annas) and Caiaphas by the names of Chanan and Katros. Excavations were done around the Temple area, in the area where the priest lived, and they found a house, and they called it the “Burnt House.” It was burned during the destruction of the city. The Royal Stoa was on the south side of the Temple complex. Along the base or inside the Stoa, there was what has been called “The Bazaars of Chanan (Annas).” The marketplace was controlled by Chanan or a Boethusian high priest. The marketplace had many shops, and these “spaces” were sold at the highest price and that money was given to Chanan. Because of these high prices, the price for all this was passed on to the consumer/worshipper going into the Temple. When Yeshua turns over the tables of the money changers, it is in this area, most likely inside the Royal Stoa and not outside at the base.

They have found two things from the family of Caiaphas (Katros) around Jerusalem. They have found family tomb in Akeldama, with the ossuary of Caiaphas, with his bones. Also, in the Burnt House, they found a weight with the name “Katros” on it. David Bivin is a top scholar who has a magazine called “Jerusalem Perspective.” A contributing writer for this magazine is a man called David Flusser. Flusser had an article on Caiaphas that talks about his decision to eliminate Yeshua and his Talmudim (see Matt 26.3-4). He says that two spellings exist, “Caiaphas” and “Kaiaphas.” The name “Caiapha” or “Kaiaphas” is the family designation. In the Burnt House, there was a workshop for the priests for the making of incense. They also found human remains and several weights. One weight had “Bar Katros” (son of Caiaphas) on it. Flusser says the name “Katros” is the Hebrew name, and Caiaphas is Greek. The Burnt House is the house of Caiaphas where they took Yeshua during the trial. As a side note about the reputation of these priests, the quarters for the high priests in the Temple became known as the “Palhedrin” chamber, and it means “politicians” because of this buying and selling of the high priestly position.. This indicates that the people had a contempt for these corrupt high priests.

There was another building discovered near the Burnt House called the “Palatial Mansion.” It was the biggest home in the area and belonged to a priest who was very rich. It had 6000 square feet, with “mikva’ot” or immersion baths. The furniture was stone, with several floors. It had a huge reception room, and it is still standing. Some are of the opinion that this was the house of Chanan (Annas). It is a short walk to the “Royal Bridge” used by the priests who lived in this area to cross into the Temple platform. The plan for this house centers around a central courtyard. Next to it, there is a building called the “Peristyle Building” and the Burnt House, the Palatial Mansion and the Peristyle building are all very close to each other (see the Internet on these buildings for more information). So, you had a Burnt house and the Palatial Mansion. IN the middle, we have the Peristyle House. The Peristyle House extended out over the Burnt House.

In Part 2, we will pick here and look at the Peristyle House and this courtyard, show you who we think lived there, and see how these buildings fit into the trial of Yeshua. We will also begin to show you that his trial was not before a formal gathering of the Sanhedrin, but it was a gathering of his enemies in the Sanhedrin, and we will show you who these people were.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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