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80 deeply offended the Jews, that they banished their priest's brother, and forever excluded him from the succession. The Governor of Samaria took the exile under his protection, built a magnificent temple on Mount Gerizim, similar to that at Jerusalem, and appointed him its High Priest. A powerful body of disaffected Jews went with him, and much care was taken to conform their doctrines and ritual of worship to the Law of Moses. They practised circumcision, and observed the Sabbath with even more strictness than Jews; for in whatever posture a person happened to be when the holy time commenced, so he was obliged to remain until it ended. They expected a great prophet to arise among them, a Messiah, who was to deliver them from calamity, and teach them all things. They insisted that Mount Gerizim was the place Moses intended to designate, when he told the people to offer oblations and sacrifices “in the place that God should choose out of all their tribes, to put his name there.” To prove that it was the actual "hill of blessing," they asserted that it was the place where Abraham and Jacob built altars, and where Joshua erected an altar of twelve stones, on which he inscribed the Law of Moses. Jews considered
. them profane imitators of their religion, and would not admit that they had any part or lot in the God of Israel. A deadly enmity existed between them, which frequently broke out in open hostilities. Several sects arose among the Samaritans; one of them abstained from marriage, and tasted no animal food.
During the persecution of the Jewish religion by Antiochus, Samaritans, fearing to be involved therein, sent him a petition, stating that they were descended from Sidonians, Medes, and Persians, and were in no way related to the Jews. They admitted that they also sacrificed to a God without a name, and observed the same religious rites; but they alleged that it was merely because their fathers had introduced this worship in old times, to free the country from lions. They declared that their temple had as yet been dedicated to no especial deity, and begged that it might be consecrated to Jupiter Xenios, the Protector of Strangers, because they were strangers in the land, and not of the race of Israel. Antiochus forbade his deputies to molest them, and while the persecution lasted, they paid homage to Jupiter. They were finally conquered by Jews, and their temple on Mount Gerizim was destroyed.
After the return from captivity, many changes took place among the Jews themselves in their customs and modes of thinking. When Ezra attempted to restore the Hebrew religion, he not only collected all the fragments he could find of old writings, but he likewise consulted aged people, and gleaned from their memories all that could be gained concerning ancient usages. This was assumed as a standard of practice, under the name of traditions. This Traditionary Law, which related to prayers, fastings, purifications, and other ceremonies of religion, came to be regarded by many as of equal authority with the Written Law. They said, when Moses waited upon God forty days on the mountain, he received a double law. One portion he was commanded to commit to writing. The other portion, likewise spoken to him by the mouth of God, contained a full explanation and detailed application of the more compendious Written Law. When Moses returned to his tent, he repeated this Oral Law, first to Aaron, then to his sons Ithamar and Eleazar, then to the seventy elders constituting the Sanhedrim, and lastly to all the people. Aaron, being always present, heard it four times repeated; and it was repeated again and again, until the whole congregation had heard it four times. Moses, on his deathbed, repeated it to Joshua; he repeated it to the elders; they repeated it to the prophets; the prophets repeated it to the wise men of the Great Synagogue; and the wise men carefully transmitted it to their successors. This succession of Fathers, whom they call Doctors, were regarded with extreme veneration. The accounts given of them abound with miracles. It is said they were often guided by Bath Kol; that they had power to restrain sorcerers, command devils, and speak with angels. Hebrews, from the infancy
of their nation, had always been taught to consider them. selves the only people on earth to whom God revealed divine truth. When circumstances forced them to mix with foreigners, and their habits of thought unavoidably became modified by the process, they were extremely reluctant to acknowledge that they received any ideas, or customs, from others. Everything which commended itself to them as wise or good, they maintained must have been, somehow or other, communicated by God to Moses; because they honestly believed that no important religious truth had ever come into the world through any other medium. From Egypt, Babylon, and neighbouring nations of Syria, they imbibed many ideas concerning successive emanations from God, a hierarchy of Spirits, the transmigration and immortality of the soul, the infestation of devils, occasioning insanfty and other diseases, the magic power of certain sacred formulas, and astronomical predictions concerning the destruction of the world. To acknowledge such notions to be of Gentile origin, would lay them open to condemnation at once. The written Law of Moses contained none of these things. Moreover, being framed for a rude nomadic people, it was in many respects ill adapted to the wants of Jews in later times; yet it was deemed sacrilege to add or alter a single word. Communications of which there was no standard copy, were more elastic in their nature. The Traditionary Law could be stretched to meet any emergency, and made to include everything under its veil of commentaries. But the
process naturally gave rise to various sects. These all agreed in acknowledging themselves bound by the Law of Moses, all conformed to the established ceremonies of religion, all believed that divine revelations were confined solely to the Hebrews, and all expected that a great Deliverer would rise up among them, to restore their former glory, and give them dominion over other nations. Nevertheless, they were always disputing with each other. Their controversies never embraced general questions of literature, science, and philosophy, as did the discussions of Greek or Roman scholars. They were peculiarly exclusive and Jewish in their character, chiefly relating to the comparative value of their written and traditionary Law, the importance of certain ceremonies, and the adaptation of ancient rules to present wants, by means of subtile distinctions and elaborate commentaries.
The most numerous and influential among the sects were the Pharisees, who are supposed to have become prominent about three hundred years before Christ.
Their name signified The Separated; because they were separated from others by their peculiar sanctity. They were chiefly distinguished by their great reverence for the Traditionary Law. They likewise maintained that there was a double meaning in the Written Law; one relating merely to the external words, another to an inward mystical significance. From these two sources, they ingeniously derived arguments to sustain all new opinions and practices. From some source or other, they had received the old Hindoo idea, that a man might perform of meritorious works more than enough for justification with God; that he might lay up an additional fund, like stock in a bank, for future benefit. Hence they were profuse in alms-giving, repeated many more prayers than other men, and were much more scrupulous with regard to numerous washings, purifications, fasts, and other ceremonies. They never, under any circumstances, ate bread with unwashen hands. If there was not water enough to wash and drink, a devout Pharisee preferred to die with thirst, rather than not wash. They had hot controversies with other sects concerning what articles were subject to tithes. Of mint, anise, and cummin, others paid a hundredth part to the priests, but they paid a tenth. They wore their robes longer than common, so that the fringe, which was a peculiarity of Jewish costume, swept the ground. In these fringes they often fixed sharp thorns, to torment them as they walked. Moses had commanded the children of Israel to write certain sentences of his Law on their gates and door-posts, and to bind them upon their hands and between their eyes. These texts were written on strips of parchment and placed in small cases, one bound on the forehead, the other on the left arm. They received the name of Phylacteries, from a Greek word, meaning, I watch, I guard. Pharisees wore these holy badges very large, and conspicuously placed. Some zealots among them always walked very close to the wall, and carefully avoided those that passed, lest they should contract pollution, by touching something morally, physically, or legally unclean. Some wore a deep cap, like a mortar, pulled down so far that they could see nothing but their own feet. Some walked with their eyes shut, lest they should be tempted by the sight of a woman. In this situation they often struck their heads against the wall. This sect believed that everything was predestined, and that man could do nothing without divine influence; but they maintained that they held this doctrine in a way not inconsistent with human freedom. They believed that every good work received its degree of reward, and every bad one its degree of punishment; and these rewards and punishments extended both to the body and the soul. Souls of the very wicked would be confined to a prison under the earth. Those who had been less criminal, were punished by being again sent into bodies, afflicted with disease. Therefore, if a man was born blind or deaf, they regarded it as a penalty for sin committed, either by his progenitors, or by himself, in some previous state of existence. They believed in the resurrection of the body, but confined it to Jews only. Other nations would remain in their graves. Many held the opinion that the soul died with the body, and would be raised with it. But the general belief was that the souls of pious Israelites were transferred at death to a region of Paradise, where they would remain waiting till the Messiah recalled them to their bodies, on the day of resurrection. It was a prevalent opinion, that the valley of Jehoshaphat would be the scene of this great rising; therefore many Jews wished to be buried there. This doctrine was tinged with the national exclusiveness which marked all their opinions. They maintained that