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Religious & Political Groups in Israel. Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Qumran, Zealots, etc. Pharisees. Term comes from “parush” – “separated” Popular with the common people – yet they separated themselves from the people Emphasized correct observance of the Law

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Religious & Political Groups in Israel

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religious political groups in israel

Religious & Political Groups in Israel

Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes,

Qumran, Zealots, etc.

  • Term comes from “parush” – “separated”
  • Popular with the common people – yet they separated themselves from the people
  • Emphasized correct observance of the Law
  • Emphasized tradition – application of the Law
  • Oral tradition was important (interpretation of the law)
  • Strictly observed the laws of purity in OT
  • Ceremonial washings; proper preparation of food; careful observance of agricultural laws; meticulous tithing
  • Believed in resurrection (life after death)
  • Believed in last judgment; reward/punishment after death; fate and freewill
  • Worked primarily through the synagogues
  • Significant 1st cen. Pharisees:
    • Hillel – more liberal in interpretation of Law
    • Shammai – very literal in interpretation
  • Their followers argued about:
    • Divorce, which foods could be eaten on certain holy days, books of the Bible
  • Many of their teachings gathered in Mishnah
  • Mostly from priestly and wealthy families
  • Collaborated with the Hellenists/Romans
  • Rejected the oral traditions (Pharisees)
  • Not as popular with the common people
  • Controlled the Temple -- sacrifices
  • Controlled most of the Sanhedrin
  • Debated with Pharisees a lot
  • Had more political power than Pharisees
  • Produced no literature – unlike Pharisees
  • After destruction of Temple in AD 70, they became powerless and faded away.
  • Disagreed with Pharisees on almost everything
  • Did not believe in: a coming Messiah, angels, resurrection, the last judgment, life after death
  • A separatist group – lived isolated from others
  • Many lived near the Dead Sea – Qumran
  • Required to give up their possessions and turn them over to the group
  • Thought the Temple cult was corrupt
  • Offered their own sacrifices
  • Strict on purity laws & practices
  • Frequent ritual baths
  • Strict Sabbath observance
  • Strict social order and rank within group
  • Initiation ceremony: ritual washing, sacred meal presided over by leader
  • Believed in resurrection, immortality of soul
  • Devoted much time to Bible study
  • Wrote several books – Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Josephus (1st cen. Historian) – 4,000 Essenes
  • Strongly resisted Roman intervention
  • Very strict, more than Pharisees
  • No organized resistance until 60’s
  • Sicarii assassinated official collaborating with Romans
  • Extremist group
apocalyptic movement
Apocalyptic Movement
  • “Apocalyptic” – to reveal
  • Writings that encouraged the Jews to remain faithful during times of persecution
  • Used symbolism (book of Revelation)
  • God is all powerful and will overcome evil
  • Strong expectation of Messiah to deliver them from oppression
apocalyptic movement1
Apocalyptic Movement
  • Many apocalyptic books written between time of Old Testament and New Testament
  • Some books written in the name of an Old Testament character, perhaps in their honor
    • Pseudepigrapha – collection of these writings
    • Apocrypha – another collection of Jewish writings not included in Old Testament
  • In the 1st cen. AD the Temple was the focal point of the Jewish religion.
  • The presence of God on earth was symbolized by the Temple/.
  • The Temple was where sacrifice for sin took place.
  • Ceremonies were held each day and special ceremonies on the Sabbath and other holy days.
  • The original Temple was built by king Solomon.
  • It was destroyed by the Babylonians and later rebuilt.
  • The Romans then destroyed it again in AD 70. It was never rebuilt.
  • The priests were responsible for keeping the Temple and officiating at all its ceremonies.
  • The importance of the Temple is difficult to overestimate.
  • It symbolized God’s presence, God’s control of everything, and God’s blessings on Israel.
  • Court of Gentiles
  • Court of Women
  • Court of Israel
  • Holy Place
  • Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies)
  • Only High Priest could enter Holy of Holies; only on one day a year
  • Synagogues had been built around Israel and even outside of Israel.
  • Focal point for studying the scriptures, worship, social functions, education for young boys, etc.
  • Places that symbolized their community spirit, their heritage, their national pride, etc.
  • The official law making body for Jewish people
  • Had 71 members
  • Originally primarily Sadducees
  • Pharisees later added
  • Rome allowed it to function, with some limitations (e.g. death penalty)
  • Final court for hearing legal disputes
  • Heard both civil and criminal cases
  • No real distinction between these and religious matters (It was ALL religious)
  • Had its own police force; made arrests
  • Usually met on Monday and Thursday
  • Geographically they lived where the Northern kingdom of Israel was in the Old Testament
  • They were a mixed race; originally Jews that married other nationalities that were resettled in their homeland – Samaria
  • Developed different religious practices from Jews, yet had several similar practices
  • Built their own Temple at Mt. Gerizim
  • Offered sacrifices there
  • John Hyrcanus (Maccabee) destroyed it
  • Much hatred between Jews & Samaritans
  • Accepted only the first 5 books of OT
  • Believed in only one God (same as Jews)
  • Believed in a coming Messiah
  • Jews would have no associations with them
  • Jesus had a special interest in them
  • Jesus sent his disciples out from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and beyond (Acts 1:8)
religious festivals
Religious Festivals
  • Day of Passover – celebrated deliverance from Egyptian slavery
  • Day of Atonement – (Yom Kippur)
    • Day of repentance
    • Celebration of God as Redeemer of His people
    • Day of forgiveness
    • Scapegoat ceremony
    • Only day High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies
Feast of Weeks – (Pentecost)
    • Late spring – end of early grain harvest
    • Also celebrated the giving of the law to Moses
  • Feast of Tabernacles –
    • Fall – Completion of harvest
    • Commemorated God taking care of their ancestors in the wilderness after leaving Egypt
    • Men ate and slept in small huts for 8 days
    • Most important holy day
    • Weekly observance – day of rest from work
    • Worship in recognition of God as creator
  • Hanukkah – Feast of Dedication (of Temple)
    • Maccabean cleansing and rededication of Temple
    • 8 days
    • Also known as Festival of Lights