{Jewish Sects and Orders}

The era of the Jewish captivity was one of the most mysterious and momentous periods in the history of humanity. What were the influences brought to bear upon the captives during that time, we know not. But this we know, that from a reckless, lawless, godless populace, they returned transformed into a band of Puritans. One result of this revival of the Israelite faith, was the firm and organized stand henceforth made against the efforts of their successive heathen rulers to denationalize and paganize the nation.

It is true that some in high places were unable to resist the seduction. Thus, under the influence of Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria (175-164 B.C.), the very high priest, Jason by name, introduced pagan rites into Jerusalem, and sent offerings to Hercules, the god of Tyre. This disgraceful period was afterwards appropriately spoken of as the time of "the mingling." But the heart of the nation was true, and the noble struggles of the Maccabees against the tyrant are familiar to all readers of Jewish history.

In connection with the prolonged contest we meet with a fraternity under the name of Assidaeans, described as "mighty men of Israel," "voluntarily devoted to the Law". Evidently this appellation is a Grecized form of the Hebrew Chasidim, "Pious," or, to adopt a modern term, "Pietists." From this fraternity, whose common bond of union was a resolution to devote their lives to the upholding of the Law in its integrity, appear to have sprung, directly or indirectly, the three great "sects" of after time - the PHARISEES, the SADDUCEES, and the ESSENES. Widely as these eventually diverged from one another, and bitter as were their mutual controversies, they all started from the same point - a firm adherence to the national faith. But while the Pharisees, laying their chief stress upon exact obedience, were led to formalism and an exaggerated estimate of the authority of the Fathers, the Saducees, taking morality as their watchword, lost all sense of the supernatural, while the Essenes, whose great principle was self-control, were led into a mystical and unprofitable asceticism. Only the two former sects are mentioned in the New Testament, although there are clear traces of the third.

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