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There can be no question that the "sect" of the Sadducees originated in a reaction against the Pharisees. If the latter added to the law their own glosses, interpretations, and traditions, the Sadducee took his stand upon the bare letter of the law. He would have none of their additions and supererogations; he would not be righteous overmuch. Suffice it for him to have to practise "zedakah,"righteousness." We can understand how this shibboleth of theirs became, in the mouth of the people, the byname of a party--some using it ironically, some approvingly. By-and-by the party no doubt took as kindly to the name as the Pharisees did to theirs. Thus far, then, we agree with those who derive the title of Sadducees from "zaddikim." But why the grammatically-unaccountable change from "zaddikim" to "zaddukim?" May it not be that the simple but significant alteration of a letter had, after a not uncommon fashion, originated with their opponents, as if they would have said: "You are 'zaddikim?' Nay, rather, 'zaddukim'" from the Aramaean word "zadu" (wasting or desolation)--meaning, you are not upholders but destroyers of righteousness? This origin of the name would in no way be inconsistent with the later attempts of the party to trace up their history either to the high-priest Zadok, or to one of the fathers of Jewish traditionalism, whose motto they ostentatiously adopted. History records not a few similar instances of attempts to trace up the origin of a religious party. Be this as it may, we can understand how the adherents of Sadducean opinions belonged chiefly to the rich, luxurious, and aristocratic party, including the wealthy families of priests; while, according to the testimony of Josephus, which is corroborated by the New Testament, the mass of the people, and especially the women, venerated and supported the Pharisaical party. Thus the "order" of the "Chaberim" gradually became a popular party, like the Ultramontanes. Finally, as from the nature of it Pharisaism was dependent upon traditional lore, it became not only the prevailing direction of Jewish theological study, but the "Chaber" by-and-by merged into the Rabbi, the "sage," or "disciple of the sages"; while the non- "chaber," or "am ha-aretz," became the designation for ignorance of traditional lore, and neglect of its ordinances. This was specially the case when the dissolution of the Jewish commonwealth rendered the obligations of the "fraternity" necessarily impossible. Under such altered circumstances the old historical Pharisee would often be no small plague to the leaders of the party, as is frequently the case with the original adherents and sticklers of a sect in which the irresistible progress of time has necessarily produced changes.
The course of our investigations has shown, that neither Pharisees nor Sadducees were a sect, in the sense of separating from Temple or Synagogue; and also that the Jewish people as such were not divided between Pharisees and Sadducees. The small number of professed Pharisees (six thousand) at the time of Herod, the representations of the New Testament, and even the curious circumstance that Philo never once mentions the name of Pharisee, confirm the result of our historical inquiries, that the Pharisees were first an "order," then gave the name to a party, and finally represented a direction of theological thought. The New Testament speaks of no other than these two parties. But Josephus and Philo also mention the "Essenes." It is beyond our present scope either to describe their tenets and practices, or even to discuss the complex question of the origin of their name. From the nature of it, the party exercised no great influence, and was but short-lived. They seem to have combined a kind of higher grade Pharisaism with devotional views, and even practices, derived from Eastern mysticism, and more particularly from the Medo- Persian religion. Of the former, the fact that the one object of all their institutions was a higher purity, may here be regarded as sufficient evidence. The latter is apparent from a careful study of their views, as these have been preserved to us, and from their comparison with the Zoroastrian system. And of the fact that "Palestine was surrounded by Persian influences," there are abundant indications.
As a sect the Essenes never attained a larger number than four thousand; and as they lived apart from the rest, neither mingling in their society nor in their worship, and--as a general rule-- abstained from marriage, they soon became extinct. Indeed, Rabbinical writings allude to quite a number of what may probably be described as sectaries, all of them more or less distinctly belonging to the mystical and ascetic branch of Pharisaism. We here name, first, the "Vathikin," or "strong ones," who performed their prayers with the first dawn; secondly, the "Toble Shachrith," or "morning baptists," who immersed before morning prayer, so as to utter the Divine Name only in a state of purity; thirdly, the "Kehala Kadisha," or "holy congregation," who spent a third of the day in prayer, a third in study, and a third in labor; fourthly, the "Banaim," or "builders," who, besides aiming after highest purity, occupied themselves with mystical studies about God and the world; fifthly, the "Zenuim," or "secret pious," who besides kept their views and writings secret; sixthly, the "Nekije hadaath,"men of a pure mind," who were really separatists from their brethren; seventhly, the "Chashaim," or "mysterious ones"; and lastly, the "Assiim,"helpers" or "healers," who professed to possess the right pronunciation of the sacred Name of Jehovah, with all that this implied.