title of any pericope numbered in red to access the original language text.
||For among Judeans there are
three forms of philosophy.
Now Pharisees are one sect, Sadducees
but in fact the third, called Essenes, seems
to be the most reverential discipline.
Argument over Oral Torah
||For now I wish only to explain
that the Pharisees transmit to the people
some rules in line with the fathers, which were not
written in the laws of Moses. And because of this,
the line of the Sadducees reject these
things. They say that it is necessary to hold those rules that
have been written but it is not (necessary) to observe what is
(only) from the fathers' tradition.
||And, as a
consequence, controversies and great disagreements have occurred
between them. The Sadducees persuade only the
well-to-do and have no popular following. But the Pharisees
have the masses as allies.
Popularity of Pharisees
live thriftily, giving in to no luxury. For
they follow what the Word*
in its authority determines and transmits as good.
They believe that to keep what (God) wished to counsel is
worth fighting for. Out of respect, they
defer to those advanced in years. Nor are they so bold as to
stand in opposition to what (the elders) have proposed.
||While claiming that
everything is affected by destiny, they do not deprive human
will of power in these things. For it occurred to God to make a
combination and to admit to his counsel the will of men---with
its virtue and its vice.
||Their belief is that there is an undying power in souls
and that, under the ground, there is an accounting to reward
and punish those who were righteous or unrighteous in
(this) life. Eternal punishment is offered to the latter, but re-creation
in a new life to the former.
||Because of these
ideas, (the Pharisees) are the most persuasive
among the citizens. And all the sacrifice and prayer offered
to God happens to be according to their exegesis (of
scripture). In this way, those who live in the cities
have witnessed to their virtue in devoting themselves to all
the best in their words and way of life.
||[or "Reason", Greek: logos]
||Now the Sadducees,
the second party, deny destiny altogether and
place God beyond doing or seeing anything bad. They say that
good and bad are dependent on human choice;
and one may allow each of these according to one's own
||They deny the soul's
permanence as well as rewards and punishments in the
||Now the Pharisees
love one another and practice consensus
in their community. But the Sadducees behave
rather aggressively even towards each other.
And they are as harsh in debates among themselves as with
over Sadducean Brutality
||Abba Saul ben Betnith and Abba
Jose ben Johanan of
-- "Woe to me from the house of Boethus! woe to me from
-- "Woe to me from the house of Qadros!**
woe to me from their pens!"
-- "Woe to me from the house of Elhanan!***
woe to me from their house of whispers!"
-- "Woe to me from the house of Elisha! woe to me from
-- "Woe to me from the house of Ishmael ben Phiabi!
For they are high priests and their sons, treasurers
sons-in-law (temple) officers!"
"And their servants come and beat us up with
||Mistaken attribution. Jose b.
Johanan was an early Pharisaic leader [z1 ;
ca. 150 BCE] but this lament refers to high priests from the
time of Herod into the 1st c. CE. Saul is unknown.
= cHanan I [in Greek: Ananus or Annas]
Tradition of the
||Moses received the Torah
from Sinai and committed it to Joshua,
and Joshua to the
elders and the elders to the prophets;
and the prophets
committed it to the men of the Great Congregation.
--"Be deliberate in judgment";
--"Raise up many disciples"; and
--"Make a hedge for the Torah."
||"And raise up many
The school of Shammai
--"Do not teach a man unless he is wise and meek and the
son of wealthy parents!"
The school of Hillel
--"Teach every man! For there were many sinners in Israel
who were led to study Torah, from whom came righteous and
pious and worthy men."
Talmud (supplement) Aboth
de R. Nathan A 3
||Our rabbis taught:
It happened that a certain foreigner came to Shammai
and said to him:
--"How many Torahs are there for you?"
He told him:
--"Two! A written Torah
and an oral Torah."
He said to him:
--"I will trust you on the written but I will not trust
you on the oral. I will be a proselyte
providing you teach me (only) the written Torah."
(Shammai) rebuked him and drove him out in anger.
(The foreigner) came before Hillel
who made him a proselyte. The first day (Hillel) told him:
--"Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth [= ABCD]"
The next day he turned them around for him.
(The disciple) said to (Hillel):
--"But yesterday you did not tell me like this!"
(Hillel) told him:
--"Did you not then trust what I said orally? Trust me likewise
The Yoke of Torah
Nechonia ben HaQanah
--"He who takes the yoke of Torah
shall have lifted from him the yoke of kingdom and
the yoke of the world's way.
But he who takes the yoke of
Torah off himself
shall find laid on himself the yoke of
kingship and the yoke of the world's way."
of Modi'im said:
--"He who profanes holy things
and spurns the set times,
he who exposes his colleague in public,
he who voids the
covenant of our father Abraham,
he who discovers parts of the Torah
he has no share in the world to
even if he has a grasp of Torah and good deeds."
(Simeon) ben 'Azzai
-- "He who does not engage in reproduction and
spills blood and diminishes the
Image (of God).
For it says:
-- 'For in the image of God he made man" (Gen
-- 'be fruitful and multiply!' (Gen 1:7)."
Eleazar ben 'Atzariah
said to him:
-- "Fine words when they come from the mouth of one who
A man may interpret well and not perform well,
(or) perform well and not interpret well;
ben 'Azzai interprets well, but he does not perform
(Rabbi Simeon) ben 'Azzai said to him:
-- "What am I to do? My soul thirsts for Torah!
And the preservation of the world is with
Seven Types of
||There are seven (types of)
-- (a) the superficial Pharisee [sheikmi; lit:
-- (b) the critical Pharisee [nikphi; lit:
-- (c) the calculating Pharisee [qitzai;
-- (d) the troubled Pharisee [mikubai; lit:
-- (e) the Pharisee for whom existence is work;
-- (f) the Pharisee concerned with his (own) strengths; and
-- (g) the Pharisee from inclination or the Pharisee from
Talmud (supplement), Aboth
de R. Nathan 37.4
||[NOTE: This list is found with
some variation in the Palestinian Talmud (Berakoth
9.7) and the Babylonian Talmud (Sota 22b). The first
six were traditionally considered the "plagues" of
the Pharisees, i.e., false followers. Though well-established
by tradition, the nicknames were obscure enough in rabbinic
circles that Palestinian and Babylonian amoraim had
to devise varying explanations. The original meaning of many
of the nicknames is beyond proof. The translations presented
here at points differ from traditional interpretations.]
Jannai said to his wife
-- "Do not be afraid of the Pharisees or the
non-Pharisees [i.e., Sadducees]
but of the wildcats who mimic the Pharisees.
For their deeds are like the deeds of Zimri [cf. Num 25:14]*
but they seek the reward of Phineas [Num 25:11]."*
||Zimri: a Simeonite who
had illicit relations with a Moabite woman & submitted to
the rites of Ba'al Peor. His deeds violated Torah.
Phineas: son of Moses' brother, Aaron. By slaying
Zimri he ended the slaughter of Israelites. He was rewarded
for his zeal for Torah by succeeding his father as