Jews under Roman Rule - W. D. Morrison

The Pharisees and Sadducees

The great difficulty which has to be confronted in all attempts at gaining an accurate conception of the two Jewish parties which came into prominence in the time of the Maccabees, and existed together in a state of silent or pronounced hostility till the downfall of Jerusalem, consists in the dearth and untrustworthiness of the information we possess respecting them. The canonical books of the Old Testament posterior to the Exile make no mention of either Pharisees or Sadducees; the New Testament only refers to them in so far as they took up an attitude of opposition to the rise and progress of Christianity. Equally scanty are the materials contained in the apocryphal and non-canonical literature, both Jewish and Christian; and although the Mischna and the Targums are full to overflowing of the Pharisaic spirit, they shed very little historical light on the growth of the two parties, and their true relations to one another. What these documents do pretend to tell is disfigured by the conceptions of a later age, and for all historical purposes is almost as untrustworthy as the statements on the same subject of patristic writers like Origen, Epiphanius, and Jerome. Josephus, himself a Pharisee, is by far the weightiest authority on the two parties. But his assertions require to be controlled by a knowledge of the lines of development on which Jewish life proceeded, and also by a recognition of the fact that he was writing for Greek and Roman readers. This latter circumstance led him to present a distorted view of the divisions among his countrymen, and to find a fictitious parallel to the Sadducees and Pharisees in the philosophic schools of the ancient world.

[Illustration] from The Jews Under Roman Rule by W. D. Morrison


Long before the names Pharisee and Sadducee appear in the pages of history the divergent tendencies which these two parties represented were in existence within the Jewish community. It has, in fact, been contended that the foundation of their differences goes back into pre-exilian times, and that the priests and prophets of the old Israelitish monarchy are the true precursors of the Sadducees and Pharisees. But the complete transformation which Jewish society underwent after the return from Babylon, not to mention other serious difficulties, is an almost insuperable obstacle to the acceptance of such a theory. On this question it is safer to regard the post-exilian period as an essentially new epoch in Jewish history, and to look for some of the causes which ultimately produced the Pharisees and Sadducees in the nature and structure of the new theocracy.

The central thought on which the theocracy was reared consisted of two parts the utter uprooting of idolatrous practices; and the establishment of the worship of Israel's God in accordance with the precepts of the Law. The class which worked most strenuously for the realization of this thought was unquestionably the scribes. It was principally through their efforts that Judaism had been kept alive in the disastrous days of the Exile. It was they who had collected and preserved the sacred literature of the race. It was they who came into practical contact with the people when expounding the doctrines of the Law; and their experience in Babylon had no doubt taught them that the only way to make the Jews a people of the Law was to separate them and isolate them as completely as possible from all contact with surrounding nations. In this effort they were not thoroughly supported by the Jewish notables. These men were, for the most part, members of the high-priestly families who had survived the wreck of the old Jewish state, and when the community was reorganized in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, they at once assumed the most prominent position within it, and formed a sort of petty aristocracy. Secular power as well as priestly privileges was in the hands of these notables soon after the establishment of the new order of things; and although their civil functions were very restricted, the exercise of these functions brought them into contact both with the high officials of the Persian monarchy and with the heads of the neighbouring populations. These notables were not deliberately opposed .to the ideal which the scribes had set before themselves. Up to a certain point they must have supported the scribes in upholding a high standard of reverence for the teachings of the Law, for the Law not only exalted their prerogatives and made their incomes a matter of religious obligation, but also elevated the high priest into the supreme medium of communication between God and man. It was their intercourse with foreign peoples which made them antagonistic to the separatist doctrines of the scribes, and they did not consider that a state of national isolation was necessary to the complete enforcement of the pentateuchal code. Two tendencies were accordingly face to face in the Persian period; the scribes, the theorists, the men of study, were at the head of the current which wished, in the interests of monotheism and the Law, to preserve the Jews of Palestine from all contact with the outer world. The high priests, the men of affairs and of action, were less afraid of the evils which might flow from intercourse with the stranger, and were more disposed to live on a friendly footing with the nations among which their lot was cast:.

In the Persian period (B.C. 586—332) these opposing tendencies produced a certain amount of friction within the community, but it was neither so constant nor so pronounced as to involve the formation of distinct and consolidated parties. But the overthrow of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and the opening up of Palestine as well as the rest of Western Asia to Greek colonists and Greek ideas had the effect of accentuating the divergencies between the scribes and the notables, and eventually resulted in the formation of two parties within the theocracy—the Hellenists and the Assidaeans, or pious ones (B.C. 332-167). The Hellenists were essentially the same men who had in the past been resisting the separatist ideas of the scribes, and the Assidaeans constituted a class within the circle of the scribes, which pushed exclusive principles to their utmost limits, and made the rigorous practice of the Law the sole aim and object of existence. The Hellenists were composed of the priestly aristocracy and the official classes, and the genius and civilization of Greece swept them in a short time within its folds. What the scribes had dreaded at length came to pass. Contact with the stranger was proving fatal to Judaism in the persons of its highest representatives. The priestly aristocracy was carried away by the fascinations of Greek life; they became ashamed of their Jewish names, and not only adopted the habits and customs of the Greeks, but their faith was in many cases shattered by Greek philosophy. The extreme section of the Hellenists was partially responsible for the Maccabaean revolt; it was at their instigation that Antiochus Epiphanes decreed the abolition of Judaism, and set up a heathen form of worship in the Temple of Jerusalem. The Assidaean; were utterly indifferent to politics, but this crowning act of apostasy involved the very existence of their faith and compelled them as the servants of God to take the field. As soon as the Syrians saw the mistake they had committed they restored religious liberty to the Jews, and the Assidaeans immediately withdrew from the contest. But the insurrection aroused a spirit of patriotism among the great body of the people, and the Maccabees were supported in the conflict for complete independence not only by the masses, but also by the more moderate among the scribes and Hellenists as well. The Assidaeans and the apostate Hellenists disappeared from the scene; but when national independence was at last secured, the old antagonistic tendencies which had been at work in the community for so many years began to assert themselves afresh, and were for the future represented by the Pharisees and Sadducees.

One of the results of the Maccabaean insurrection was to infuse a certain spirit of patriotism into all classes of the community, and to heighten the respect of the whole people for the Law. But within the limits of loyalty to the Law and the new constitution there was ample room for very serious diversity of opinion. This diversity, although it did not assume the same extreme forms as had been the case with the Assidaeans and Hellenists, continued to run in the same channels as formerly, and was represented by a similar class of men, the Sadducees being the successors of the Hellenists and the Pharisees of the Assidaeans. The Sadducees, like their predecessors, were the Jewish aristocracy. They were partly the courtiers, the soldiers, the diplomatists, and other superior officials who had risen into prominence in the Maccabaean war, and partly the old high-priestly families who had fallen into the background in the early stages of the revolt, but who came once more to the front under Simon Maccabaeus. It is highly probable that the Sadducees owe their party name to the old high-priestly aristocracy. From the time of David till the establishment of Maccabaean supremacy the high priesthood had almost always been in the hands of the family of Zadok. But at the close of the Greek period the doings of the Zadokites made them highly unpopular, and in the Maccabaean period a widespread dislike of their religious indifference, and of their Greek mode of life existed in the public mind. The same Greek tendencies however soon reappeared among the Maccabees and the high officials who surrounded them. The party of the scribes profoundly disapproved of these tendencies, and stigmatized the men who adopted them as Zadokites or Sadducees. Such at least is the most probable explanation of the origin of the word.

Just as the Sadducees inherited the characteristics of the Hellenists, so did the Pharisees inherit the essential ideas of the Assidaeans, and become for the future the representatives of the main current of post-exilian Judaism. It is, in fact, very difficult to point out any substantial difference between the Pharisees and their predecessors. On all religious questions they were entirely at one, and the only point on which any distinction can be said to have existed between them consisted in the fact that the Pharisees were not quite so indifferent to the existence of Judaea as an independent state as had been the case with the Assidaeans. The connection between the Pharisees and the scribes was also remarkably close. Nearly all the scribes were Pharisees, and many of the Pharisees were scribes. The similarity did not, however, proceed so far as to make the two identical, and the difference between them may be best described by saying that the Pharisees were a party, while the scribes were in most respects a class. What makes it certain that the scribes and Pharisees are not to be confounded together is the existence of scribes who were manifestly not Pharisees. These scribes either took up a position of neutrality with respect to the rival parties, or were adherents of the Sadducees; for it is very improbable that the Sadducees had no one to represent them among the doctors of the Law. The relation between the Pharisees and scribes was practically the same as that which exists between teachers and taught. The Pharisees were the men who endeavoured to reduce the teachings and theories of the scribes to practice, and all those scribes who in addition to the written law also believed in the binding authority of tradition were Pharisees as well as scribes.

[Illustration] from The Jews Under Roman Rule by W. D. Morrison


The attitude of superiority and disdain which the Pharisees assumed towards the great body of the people must have been fatal to the formation of any close bonds of sympathy between them. It is true the people generally supported the Pharisees in their conflict with the Sadducees, but it would be a mistake to infer from this circumstance that the Pharisees were at the head of a popular movement. There is every reason to believe that the people listened to them with respect, though they did not always follow their advice, and that they admired the scrupulous, if ostentatious, manner in which the Pharisees fulfilled the innumerable and burdensome precepts of the Law. But in the main they appear to have looked on the Pharisees rather as a body of holy men, than as national leaders who were drawing their strength and inspiration from the great fountains of popular feeling, and whose hearts were beating in unison with the desires and aspirations of the whole community. Out of the entire population of Palestine the Pharisees only amounted to six thousand men, and these numbers conclusively prove that the Pharisaic party had no attractions for the great bulk of the population. The principles professed by the Pharisees were adverse to their popularity as a party, and compelled them to hold aloof from the multitude. To them the ordinary Jew was an unclean being, and they avoided him as if he were no better than a heathen. It was from the circle of the Pharisees that the contemptuous words proceeded, "This people who knoweth not the Law is cursed." The Pharisees separated themselves from all who failed to come up to their standard of legal purity, and as this was the case with the great majority of the community, it followed that. there was as little intercourse as possible between them and the vast body of the people. It was an article in the Pharisaic creed that the Jewish heathen (Amhaarez), who in their eyes were almost synonymous with the masses, would not participate in the resurrection of the dead, and it was regarded as better for their daughters to fall into the lion's mouth than to marry them. That a class of men holding such ideas as these should be popular is hardly conceivable, and the history of the party shows that they never attained a permanent hold upon the people's heart.

The first actual rupture between the Pharisees and the Sadducees took place towards the end of the reign of John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135-106). It took the shape on the part of the Pharisees of an objection to the competence of the Maccabaean princes for the office of high priest. The Pharisees did not dispute the right of the Maccabees to wear the crown, but they contended that the office of high priest was of a different character, and that it could only be filled by the legitimate representatives of a high-priestly family. The contention of the Pharisees was perfectly justified from a strictly legal point of view. It was notorious that the Maccabees, not being of high-priestly descent, had no legal title to the high priesthood; but it is probable that the Pharisees would have allowed this irregularity to remain in abeyance if the political conduct of the Maccabees had been more in accordance with the Pharisaic policy of isolating Judaea from the rest of the world. The Maccabees were too well aware of the precarious nature of Jewish independence, and of the unstable state of international politics, to commit themselves to such a perilous line of action. On the contrary, John Hyrcanus allowed the ideas and aims of the Pharisees to remain in the background, and devoted the energies of his long reign to augmenting the glory of the country. In this course he was supported by the Sadducees. But the palpably secular aspect which the Jewish state assumed under this prince—its worldly diplomacy, its battles and conquests, its intimate relations with heathen peoples, its love and tolerance of foreign customs 1—repelled the Pharisees, and deeply wounded their religious susceptibilities. To them it was unbearable that the most sacred rites of public worship should be performed by men whose lives were spent in the council chamber or on the battlefield, and they set themselves to compel the Maccabees to renounce the high priesthood and to rest contented with the crown. The Sadducees stoutly resisted the assaults of their opponents on the privileges of the dynasty, and the struggle grew in intensity between the two parties till it finally culminated in civil war. Hyrcanus, during his reign, was able to ward off this crowning misfortune, but the Pharisees broke out into revolt in the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (B.C. 105-79), and for many years the unhappy country became a prey to anarchy, bloodshed, and massacre. After many vicissitudes the victory ultimately remained with the Sadducees, and Jannaeus showed little mercy to his adversaries; but in the succeeding reign of Alexandra Salome (B.C. 79-69) the Pharisees acquired the upper hand, and avenged themselves on their opponents for their miseries under Jannaeus. On the death of Alexandra, the Sadducees, led by her younger son Aristobulus, again asserted their supremacy, and the renewed rivalries of the two factions once more led to civil war. Both sides called in foreign help the Pharisees the Nabataeans, and the Sadducees the Romans with the usual result that all power over the nation was taken from both. Rome, the mistress of so many peoples, now added Judaea to the number of her conquests and the political character of the conflict between the two parties practically came to an end (B.C. 63).

Under Herod the Great the Sadducees had very little influence over the national fortunes, and the opposition which the Pharisees had so long shown towards their political tendencies to a great extent died away. Herod was not the kind of man to share his power with any Jewish party, and during his reign the Sadducees had to be contented with the exercise of their priestly privileges in the Temple. The high priesthood was in the hands of the Sadducees, and Herod did his best to minimize its influence by conferring it upon obscure creatures of his own, whom he set up and deposed at will. Of the two parties, however, he appears to have preferred the Sadducees. An evidence of this preference is seen in the constitution which the Sanhedrin assumed in Herod's reign. Before his accession to the throne most of the members of this body were Pharisees, but after his death the Sadducees formed the majority. It cannot be doubted that Herod, who kept a watchful eye upon everything which was done in the country, was the instigator of this change. The reason of the king's preference for the Sadducees consisted in the fact that they were at once less hostile to his supremacy, and more disposed to support his Hellenic tendencies than their opponents. When Judaea was placed under the control of a Roman procurator, the Sadducees acquired a slight addition to their somewhat shadowy authority. In return they became for the most part the docile and devoted instruments of Caesarism. As they had lost all hold upon the affections of the people, it was Rome only which maintained them in a position of eminence, and it was to Rome that their gratitude was paid. When the revolt of the Jews under Vespasian deprived the Sadducees of Roman support, they suffered severely at the hands of their countrymen, and the destruction of the Jewish state which soon after ensued put a final termination to the party.

The fate which befell the Pharisees was somewhat different. The mantle of their old opponents had fallen upon Herod, and in his efforts to permeate the population with Hellenistic modes of life, the hostility which the Pharisees had in the past vented on the Sadducees was now transferred to him. Even those Pharisees who counseled submission to Herod evidently regarded his rule in the light of a Divine chastisement which it became a pious duty to tolerate till the vengeance of heaven was appeased. As a body the Pharisees not only refused to regard him as their legitimate ruler, but many among them were eager to intrigue against him whenever an opportunity presented itself. To Romanize Palestine was the keystone of Herod's policy; it was essentially the same process as to Hellenize it; and in resisting the measures of the king, the Pharisees were simply resisting another and more radical form of Sadducaism. It is true that the rebuilding of the Temple and the effective manner in which Herod was able to protect Jews resident abroad helped his popularity. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that in rebuilding the Temple the king was as much influenced by a Roman fashion of the time for huge architectural constructions as by a desire to conciliate the Pharisees. Intervals of apparent harmony between Herod and the Pharisees occurred at certain periods of his long reign, but the normal attitude of both parties towards each other was one of ill-concealed hostility and distrust. The execution of some zealous Pharisees for pulling down the imperial eagle which the king had placed over the gate of the Temple is merely one instance of the strained relations which frequently existed between them.

Herod's death, the banishment of his son Archelaus, and the incorporation of Judaea into the administrative structure of the empire brought the Pharisees into immediate conflict with Rome. The object of Roman policy was to obliterate as far as practicable the national peculiarities of the provincials. Such a purpose was diametrically opposed to the whole spirit of Pharisaism, which aimed at perpetuating and accentuating Jewish peculiarities so as to construct an impregnable barrier of religious custom between themselves and the rest of mankind. The Roman system was a direct assault upon this principle, and the Pharisees had to begin again with Rome the same battle as they had formerly fought with the Sadducees and Herod. The teaching of the Pharisees on the subject of Roman supremacy was understood by the masses and by many of their own followers as an incitement to rebellion. The rise of the Zealots was the direct result of it, and Sadduk, one of the originators of this new party, was himself a Pharisee. The Zealots were simply the fighting wing of the Pharisaic party, for they held no principle which distinguished them from the body out of which they had sprung, except a profound belief that the yoke of Rome must be shaken off by force of arms. In the hopeless effort to withdraw themselves from the immense imperial machine which held the ancient world in its grasp, the Zealot section of the Pharisees was practically exterminated. With the fall of Judaea as an organized community, the other section gave up the attempt to realize their aims by political action. They henceforth devoted themselves to codifying the vast accumulation of unwritten law which had grown up in the course of centuries. It was on the precepts of this code, which they now committed to writing, that they relied as a means for keeping the Jews apart from the rest of the world, and up to the present day they have not relied on it in vain.

[Illustration] from The Jews Under Roman Rule by W. D. Morrison


From the political differences which separated the Sadducees and Pharisees, we shall now pass to an examination of the controversies which arose among them on the question of Judaism itself. The first and most important point on which the two parties were divided was the standard of faith. According to the doctrines of the Pharisees the oral, as well as the written Law, was the ultimate rule by which every faithful Jew should regulate his belief and life. The theory that the Law was intended to be applicable to the whole course of human existence, down even to its smallest details, compelled the Pharisees to supplement the silence of the written Law, or its meagre and general statements, by the traditions of the elders. And in order to gain acceptance for these traditions, and to place them on an equality with the written Law, they were obliged to refer their origin to Moses, who was asserted to have received them from God. The Sadducees, on the other hand, maintained that the oral Law possessed no binding force whatever, and that the only rule of faith for the descendants of Abraham was the written canonical code, or, in other terms, the laws which are contained in the Pentateuch. Some of the Fathers of the Church are of opinion that the Sadducees not only rejected oral tradition, but that they rejected the prophetical books of the Old Testament as well. It is impossible to offer a direct refutation of this opinion, but at the same time there is nothing to support it in the literature which was contemporaneous with the activity of the two parties. And as the Jews themselves very soon forgot the distinctive characteristics of the Sadducees, it is not likely that they would be better remembered by Christian writers. On the whole, it is more probable that the Sadducees accepted all those books of the Hebrew Bible which were admitted into the canon, but refused to be bound by anything outside of them.

What were the grounds on which the Sadducees refused to acknowledge the authority of oral tradition? In the first place, because the written Law alone was the old orthodox standard of Judaism, and an aristocracy has always been inclined to hold fast by the established customs and institutions of the country. Other considerations besides the sanction of antiquity also affected their judgment. The traditions of the elders were, in many cases, opposed to the view of life which was entertained by the Sadducees. A rigorism and an austerity were enjoined in them which must have been obnoxious to men whose career lay in the profession of arms; and the laws restricting intercourse with the foreigner were not likely to be popular with statesmen who knew that the continued independence of Judaea rested, to a large extent, on the skillful management of external affairs. Not only were the Sadducees opposed to the principle and the contents of tradition in themselves, they were also hostile to them because of the additional power which tradition placed in the hands of their opponents. A knowledge of the laws of tradition was mainly confined to Pharisaic circles. It was accordingly to the Pharisees that the people were obliged to have recourse on all perplexing points of faith and practice. Such a state of things the Sadducees could not regard with indifference. Whatever increased the influence of the Pharisees diminished their own, and to admit the law of tradition as of Divine obligation would have meant the handing over to the Pharisees of the supreme direction of affairs.

The fundamental difference which existed between the Pharisees and Sadducees concerning the acceptance or rejection of oral tradition as an absolute standard of belief necessarily led to controversy on other subjects connected with the Law. In certain purely civil matters the Pharisees were at variance with their opponents, as, for example, on the law of inheritance and the laws relating to damage. The penal code was also a subject of dispute. By the use of traditional interpretations, the Pharisees strove in the main to mitigate the severity of the more rigorous statutes of the Pentateuch. The Sadducees, on the other hand, faithful to their principle of adhering to the written Law only, were determined to apply these statutes in a literal sense. Differences likewise existed between the two parties as to the proper time and manner of celebrating some of the principal Jewish festivals, such as the day of Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Puerile evasions were resorted to by the Pharisees to overcome the limits attached by the Law to a sabbath day's journey; the Sadducees would have none of it, and stuck to the original signification of the statute. In burning the ashes of the red heifer, the Sadducees, contrary to their general tendencies, but probably in the interests of the priesthood, required of the officiating priest the highest possible degree of legal purity. On this point the Pharisees were comparatively indifferent, but were in their turn full of zeal for the scrupulous purification of the vessels used in the service of the sanctuary—a zeal which caused the Sadducees to remark mockingly that the Pharisees would cleanse the sun. The attitude of the disputants in these controversies shows that the general bent of the Sadducees was towards an obstinate adherence to the strict letter of the Law, while the Pharisees aimed more at modifying it to suit the altering requirements of the times. This, however, was not always the case. In many instances no question of principle was involved on either side, and the chief outcome of these disputes was to be found in a luxuriant display of scholastic subtleties.

In the domain of religious dogma a profound diversity of opinion separated the two Jewish parties. The most important difference between them arose on the doctrine of the resurrection. According to Josephus, the Pharisees believed that "souls are of immortal vigour, and that there will be rewards or punishments under the earth to those who in this life have devoted themselves to virtue or to vice; the latter will be shut up in an everlasting prison, the former will have the power of coming back to life." From this passage of Josephus it is evident that the prophet Daniel is giving expression to the Pharisaic conception of the resurrection when he says, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and forever." On the other hand, both the New Testament and Josephus are at one in asserting that the Sadducees denied the doctrine of the resurrection. In fact, Josephus says that the Sadducees did not believe in a future life at all. "The souls die with the bodies," and there are neither rewards nor punishments in the underworld. In this respect the Sadducees were in harmony with the old Hebrew view concerning the state of the dead; for the dim, sad, and shadowy existence of the departed in Scheol was not worthy the name of immortality. The Sadducees contended that the Law was silent on the resurrection, and their position may be summed up in the celebrated maxim of Antigonus of Sochoh, "Be not as slaves that minister to the lord with a view to receive recompense; but be as slaves that minister to the lord without a view to receive recompense, and let the fear of Heaven be upon you."

Belief in the existence of angels and evil spirits—a subject closely related to the doctrine of the resurrection—was also a matter of dispute between the Pharisees and Sadducees. In the centuries posterior to the Exile, a belief in this doctrine steadily developed into a general conviction among the Jewish masses. It was adopted and upheld by the Pharisees, but the Sadducees opposed it. Traces of this doctrine are to be found both in the historical and prophetical books of the Old Testament, but it occupied a very insignificant and subordinate place in old Hebrew theology, and no doubt the reason why the Sadducees rejected it is to be found in the immense proportions which the belief assumed in Maccabaean and New Testament times.

On the perplexing problems of Divine Providence and the freedom of the will, there was likewise a conflict of opinion between the Pharisees and Sadducees. How far the differences between them extended it is very difficult to say. Josephus is our chief witness, but his testimony is so completely Greek in form, and, in some particulars, so alien to Jewish habits of thoughts that it cannot be accepted without modifications. The Pharisees, he relates, say that "certain things, but not all, are the work of Fate; and that other things are in our own power to be or not to be. The Sadducees, on the other hand, take away Fate, holding that it is a thing of nought, and that human affairs do not depend upon it; but they place all things in our own power, so that we are the authors of our own good, and receive evils through our own inconsideration." The Jews knew nothing of Fate as it is here described by Josephus, but if by Fate we are to understand Divine Providence, and then make a comparison of these and other statements of the historian with the Old Testament and the Psalms of Solomon, it will be found that the differences of the two Jewish parties on these mysterious matters were not of a fundamental character. The Old Testament was the standard of faith with the Sadducees, and one of its fundamental ideas is the influence of Providence on human affairs. It cannot be supposed that the Sadducees departed from the teaching of their own creed in one of its most essential particulars, and the contention of Josephus therefore loses the greater part of its meaning. On the other hand, the Pharisees did not deny free will. On this point the Pharisaic doctrine of works is in complete harmony with Josephus and the Psalms of Solomon. "Our actions depend upon our own will," says this Psalmist, "and the power of the soul to work righteousness or iniquity is in our own hands."

Both parties adhered to the doctrines of Providence and of free will; the true nature of the dispute between them was evidently one of degree and not of kind. The Pharisees, while admitting the existence of free will, laid greatest stress on the action of Providence; the Sadducees, on the other hand, did not deny the overruling power of Providence, but their bent of mind led them, at the same time, to give unbounded scope to the supremacy of the will. Just as the Psalms of Solomon represent the views of the Pharisees on these insoluble mysteries, so does the Book of Ecclesiasticus, in the following passage, give expression to the sentiments of the Sadducees: "When at the beginning He (God) created man, He left him to the counsel of his own will. If thou wilt thou canst keep His commandments, and to continue faithful depends on thy good pleasure. He hath set fire and water before thee, thou canst stretch forth thy hand unto whither thou wilt."