The Different Sects of Jews, And Their Belief
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21
“And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.” Zech. 14:9
CHRIST’S PRAYER FOR UNITY
The burden of the prayer of Christ, as recorded in John 17, was for unity and harmony. He longed and hoped and prayed for oneness. He said:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one
in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and
that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
2. Not only in this chapter do we have Him breathing these sentiments, but all through His life’s experience we find the same truth taught and lived. For instance, in another place, He said:
“I and my Father are one.”
“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
“There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you
all.” (John 10:30; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:4-6)
When the Jewish teachers came to Him, on one occasion, seeking for information upon the subject of divorce, he referred them to the oneness between man and wife, the plan of God in the beginning. (Matt. 19:3-6) There was to be the same relation between people as between Christ and God; and this bond of unity was designed of God to bind every person in Jesus Christ. Thus would be fulfilled that prayer of the apostle Paul, as recorded in Ephesians:
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” (Eph. 3:14,15)
4. Hence Paul made that statement which we find recorded in another place in Ephesians:
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” (Eph. 1:10)
5. After the Saviour went away, the same thought of oneness was ever kept before the church of Christ by His apostles, in teaching, in preaching, and in writing.
WHY GOD WISHED UNITY AMONG THE PEOPLE
The Lord sought to keep the Jews together as a people, in order to impress them with the thought of unity, that the true God was one, (Deut. 6:4; Zech. 14:9) and that He desired the same unity to exist between Himself and His people, as well as among the people themselves. This was to be an object-lesson both to the Jews, and to the world through them, of the harmony which was to be brought about through the blessed Messiah. (a)
This oneness and harmony could only be maintained by strict obedience to the word of God, - by always following the truth as God gave it. It is a fact, familiar to every reader of the Bible, that the Jews were most united when they strictly followed the word of God; (Ps. 81:13; Isa. 48:18) when they failed to comply with His wishes, there followed division, diversion, confusion.
CAUSE FOR DIVISION
It can easily be understood why there existed so many different beliefs and sects among the Jews when Christ came to earth. It was because of so many traditions, opinions, halacoth, laws, haggadoth, discussions, and other fanciful notions of the Scriptures. Every prominent teacher had the opportunity of hearing the Bath-kol, the substitute for the spirit of prophecy; while if several learned men held opposite views, they could all be easily reconciled by this poor substitution. Their decisions and legal maxims became law; even should another person or set of men arise, and speak altogether contrary to their predecessors. Still these decisions must also be respected as the word of God. (b) So at the time of Christ there existed various classes of thought; each claiming supreme authority; each claiming to be right and true; each claiming that its laws and statutes must be followed; and yet no two of them agreeing. It is but natural then that the Saviour should make the following statement concerning the people:
“And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34;
Matt. 9:36; 14:14)
SECTS AMONG THE JEWS
Of the ten classes of religionists that existed at the time of Christ, entirely or in part Jewish, four distinct sects will cover them all. Three of the sects are mentioned in the New Testament. These are the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Samaritans. The other is mentioned by Josephus, (Antiquities of the Jews, book 13, chapter 5) the Essenes. While there are other classes or parties, in matter of belief and religious views, they held to some one of the four sects mentioned. It might be well to notice these other classes for the information of the reader. They are as follows: The Galileans, the Nazarites, the Proselytes, the Publicans, the Herodians, the Scribes.
10. Of the Galileans the New Testament says but little, though the historian Josephus, who lived during the first century of the Christian era, gives us slightly more information. They are
mentioned but a few times in the New Testament; (Mark 14:70; Luke 13:1; 22:59; 23:6; Acts 5:37; 2:7; John 4:45) and from the inferences drawn from these scriptures, it would appear that they were considered a turbulent and
seditious people. Josephus conveys the idea that nearly all the troubles that came to the Jews were due to them. From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 13, verse 1, it would seem that the Jews in general thought them a very wicked
and sinful class, because of Pilate’s treatment of them. The Saviour, in His reply, recognized them as sinners; (Luke 13:2,3) though He said that they were no worse than others who did not believe God. In their flourishing
period they had for a leader one Judas, (Acts 5:37) who drew a great following after him, especially from among the Pharisees. They were soon scattered, and came to naught. Their religious belief was similar to the Pharisees,
though they offered sacrifices by themselves. They claimed that civil governments had nothing whatever to do with religion, and they would not concede any rights to any foreign power.
11. The Nazarites had been in existence for many centuries, though they could not exactly be termed a sect. There were two divisions even of this class. The term, Nazar, separated, was given to
those people who were to be especially separated to God. The origin of the people is found in the laws given to Moses, recorded in the book of Numbers. (Num. 6:1-21)
12. The one class were dedicated to God from the birth. Such were Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. (Judges 13:1-7; 1 Sam. 1:11; Luke 1:15) Three things especially were to be observed by this
class: they must not drink wine, must not eat any unclean food, and must not shave the head. The other class were those who devoted themselves to God for a certain period, during which time they made vows which they must
perform; they shaved their heads. We find an illustration of this class in Paul, also in Paul and four other men. (Acts 18:18; 21:23-26) In essential belief they were classed with the Pharisees.
13. The term, proselyte, is used in the New Testament a number of times. (Matt. 23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43) It is derived from a Hebrew word Ger, stranger. It was the coming over of a person
into the Jewish faith who was formerly a Gentiles. The Jews were not desirous of having people of other nationalities come and join themselves to them, though the Lord had repeatedly said in the Old Testament that he had made
special provisions, if the stranger wished to join himself to the people of God and be one with them. (Ex. 12:48,49; Num. 9:14; Lev. 19:33,34; Isa. 56:3) When a Gentile, however, did wish to become a proselyte, the Jews caused
him to pass through some severe experiences, among which were circumcision, a mode of baptism, the acceptation of the Mosaic laws, with many other rites. However, they were generally informed that they could not become true
Israelites or Jews, or ever think to share in the fullness of the promise to Abraham.(c) How different are the teachings of the Saviour, when he declares that there shall be one Shepherd and one fold. (John 10:16) Paul, also,
in his epistle to the Galatians, plainly states that if we are Christ’s, we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:29, 7-9; Rom. 4:11-13)
14. When the Pharisees succeeded in gaining a Ger, a proselyte, they often made him ten times worse than he was before, as he was apt to be taught many of their vices, as well as their supposed
virtues. This is evident from the following words of the Saviour:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Matt. 23:15)
However, there were many proselytes who were good men, men of God, men who longed to be free from much of the form and tradition that surrounded their teaching, and to understand the pure truth. This is
clear from the following scripture:
“Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” (Acts 13:43)
One of the proselytes became a member of the seven deacons (Acts 6:5) chosen in the early church. In belief they generally followed the Pharisees.
15. The publicans were a class of Jews who were social outcasts. They were not considered a sect, neither had they any special belief. What religious views they held leaned toward the Pharisees,
though the latter regarded them with a terrible hatred. This class, however, is frequently spoken of in the New Testament, and the cause of their being so lightly esteemed is, in brief, as follows:
16. After Palestine and other Jewish territory came under the Roman jurisdiction, the country was divided into districts, and the right to gather taxes upon all taxable goods was sold to the
highest bidder. These rights were generally bought by the Roman senators, who in turn resold them to another class. The latter were generally non-Jews, who resided in districts away from the Jewish quarters. Hence these, in
turn, resold their rights to the Jews, who followed as a profession the gathering of taxes from their fellow countrymen. The reader will perhaps better appreciate why this contempt by their fellow men, when he considers that
the Romans were regarded as extremely hostile to the Jews, and their most-to-be-dreaded foes. This being true of the Romans, how much more terrible must it have been for these Jews to become willing tools in the hands of Rome.
They were therefore looked upon as the vile, the refuse, the outcast. They were associated with the lowest classes of people, with the heathen and with the sinners. (Matt. 9:10; 11:19; 18:17; 21:32; Luke 18:11) The Pharisee,
therefore, thought he had a right, when going to the temple, to thank God he was not like the publican. (Luke 18:11)
17. The publicans were apt to take advantage of their countrymen, because of this deep-seated hatred, and would naturally extort money unjustly, by charging an exorbitant amount per tax. Rome,
however, generally sympathized with the publicans, when complaints were offered by the Jews, because of the surplus the lawmakers received as a lion’s share.
18. Being ostracized by their fellow countrymen, they were naturally led to form a social order among themselves. In this social familiarity they were very strong, and were highly esteemed by one
another. This is no doubt why the Lord made the mention He did in the following text:
“And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?” (Matt. 5:46,47)
HOW THE PHARISEES REGARDED THE PUBLICANS
19. We find, however, that these people were strongly drawn toward John the Baptist (Luke 3:12; 7:29) and toward Jesus. (Matt. 9:10) Not having the social comforts of the Jewish religion; not
having permission to attend any of the religious services; not even being privileged to attend the temple service, or to contribute toward the support of the worship of God; not being allowed any of the society of the Jews with
their families, - it can be readily seen why they would welcome the teachings of the Baptizer and of Jesus. The Pharisees on the other hand, not only refused to associate with them, but anathematized every one who had any
dealings with them. They went so far as to teach that it was impossible for a publican to be saved, or to have any share in the world to come. They would not even give him a Jewish burial, in order to keep him from defiling
Jewish soil. This naturally in the estimation of the pious Jew, would exclude him from a resurrection, as only those Jews would be revived in the last day who were laid in sacred soil. (d) They were susceptible to religious
truth. They realized that they were sinners; (Luke 18:13) and if they could secure any other occupation, many were ready to accept it.
MANY PUBLICANS RECEIVED THE MESSAGE
OF JOHN AND JESUS
20. Large numbers of them were baptized by John, and they believed his message; consequently, when Jesus came, they were prepared to receive Him. Jesus saw in them honest souls hungry for His
truth, ready to follow Him. While their business naturally was a profitable one, thus giving many of them great wealth, there were those among them who were prepared at the call of Jesus to leave their post, cast aside the
garments, and follow Him. Hence Matthew, (Luke 5:27) the publican, was one of the twelve, the writer of the wonderful Gospel by that name. Then we find Zacchaeus, (Luke 19:5-10) another wealthy person of the same class,
who received the Saviour very cordially, and was prepared to devote half of his wealth to the cause of Christ. To him Jesus brought salvation, which he eagerly and gladly accepted.
21. Frequently the Saviour would receive invitations to dine with them, and to attend other social gatherings. (Matt. 9:10,11) Jesus nearly always accepted the invitation; for He knew it would be
a grand opportunity to feed these people with the bread of life, while they supplied His physical needs. This, however, angered the Pharisees and the scribes, and led them to conclude that Jesus could not be sent of God. If He
were, they reasoned, He never would associate with such a class. Jesus understood the needs of these people, and this no doubt explains why He answered the Pharisees as He did. (Matt. 9:12; 11:16-19) As a result of the life,
the teachings, and the labors of Jesus and His disciples, a large number of this class (Luke 15:1) were firm and devoted followers of Christ.
22. This class of people received their name from Herod, the king, the father of the house of that name. He was the one who reigned when Jesus was born, and to whom the wise men came, and inquired
for the location of the birthplace of Jesus. (Matt. 2:1-3) The Herodians were a sort of political party, though their faith was Jewish. They, however, had no special regard for the laws of Moses nor for the traditions of the
fathers; yet they always prepared to adopt them when, by so doing, their ends could be best served. They had strong hope that Herod would found so great and powerful a dynasty that the Jews would eventually be brought under the
permanent rule of the Herod family.
23. They mingled the heathen practices of Rome with their politico-religious ideas of the Jews. Every opportunity they had they would introduce some evil practice among the Jews, and thus lower
the religious tone of the people. By so doing, they hoped to gain in favor and in power with those whom they so influenced. They would gladly unite with any class of the Jews in any plot, in order to accomplish their purpose
for gaining prestige. Thus we find them uniting with the Pharisees in a plot to put Christ to death. (Mark 3:6) At another time we find them used as willing spies for the Pharisees and the Sadducees to entrap (Matt. 22:15,16)
the Saviour. Jesus, however, knew their design, and He sternly rebukes them. They had not a long existence after the rule of the Herods. Like other religio-political parties, their own hypocrisy helped to bring about their
24. These people were not an independent sect, but were a branch of the Pharisees. The term, scribe, is from the Hebrew word, Sofer, meaning, one who writes, or transcribes. (Ezra 7:6,11; Esther
3:12; Jer. 8:8) This is why the term is applied to this class. As a party they began to flourish after the passing away of Ezra, and were prominent for several centuries in influencing the people by their writings and
teachings. Having so great an advantage by virtue of their position, they used it largely for self-aggrandizement. Instead of being true teachers and writers, imparting the knowledge of God and His law, they were denounced by
the Saviour as hypocrites. (Matt. 23:13-15,23,25,27,29) They were inclined toward strong Pharisaical tendencies, and were feared, reverenced, and highly esteemed by the people. With this class can also be reckoned the lawyers.
More will be said concerning them when describing the sect of the Pharisees.
25. Of this sect of the Jews, nothing is said directly in the Scriptures; but Dr. Ginsburg, in Kitto’s Encyclopedia, thinks that this is the class referred to by the Saviour in Matt. 19:12. They
disbelieved in marriage, and placed very little confidence in womankind. They would take the children of different classes of Jews at an early age, and instruct them in their teachings, which prolonged the life of the sect.
Their main teaching was piety, holy living, and a low regard for wealth. Josephus gives a lengthy description of them in his “Second Book of Jewish Wars” (e); as a result of which some are inclined to think that he leaned in
that direction himself. They believed very much as did the Pharisees concerning the Scriptures and the laws of Moses; but they rejected absolutely the traditions and maxims of the rabbis. They did not have a very long
existence, and never became influential among the Jews.
26. This class is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, and they often came in contact with the Saviour and with the apostles. They were a large and powerful faction, though they did not have
the following of the masses. They were very wealthy and quite influential, but were strongly inclined toward infidelity. They held a similar relation to the Pharisees of the time as the destructive critics hold to the orthodoxy
of the present, who not only discard many of the popular theological errors, but also seek to undermine faith in the word of God.
27. Of their origin nothing definite can be determined, though it is claimed by some that they were the offspring of one, Zadok, which word means righteousness, a disciple of Antigonos of Socho.
He succeeded Simon the Just, the last member of the Great Synagogue, who lived about the middle of the second century before Christ. While like the Pharisees they claimed to be closely following the word of God, they in fact
thrust aside many of the fundamental truths of the Bible. They claimed to teach and interpret the law of Moses according to the strict letter; and took the position from their standpoint that many of the beliefs the Pharisees
held could not be proved from the Scriptures. True the Pharisees did adhere to views which were anti-scriptural and man-made only. Nevertheless, there were many things they did believe which the Sadducees rejected, that were in
harmony with the word of God. The idea of the resurrection of the literal body from the dead, they ridiculed; (Acts 23:8) and thought it almost preposterous to think that when a person once was dead he could rise again with a
material body. Being rather extreme literalists on much of the letter of the Bible, they reasoned that such a view was neither philosophical nor logical.
28. The Pharisees, however, regarded this doctrine of the resurrection as a fundamental belief, without which they considered they could not have hope in God. (Acts 23:6) (f) This view of things
will explain many passages of scripture, showing why the Sadducees came to Christ as they did. At one time, be it remembered, they came to Christ, and thought they would cite an instance which came under their observation, to
show Him the fallacy of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, if He did believe in it as did the Pharisees. (Matt. 22:23-31) The Saviour revealed to them their ignorance, and put them to silence.
PAUL TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SADDUCEES
29. On another occasion, when Paul was before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council or tribunal to determine law cases among the Jews, composed of both Pharisees and Sadducees, he noticed there was a
discussion going on among them on this very point. He seized the opportunity to declare himself on the side of the Pharisees; this of course gave him great advantage for the time being, as there was constant and bitter hatred
between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. (Acts 23:1-6) Not believing in the resurrection of the dead, it is easy to see why they did not believe in angelic ministrations, or in spiritual beings of any kind; hence their belief
on this point can be readily known whenever the subject would come under consideration. For this reason we read the following:
“For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit.” (Acts 23:8)
OPPOSED TO ALL TRADITIONS
30. Against traditions of every kind they were bitterly and relentlessly opposed. They claimed that it was sufficient to believe the teachings of Moses as they were, without adding any further
burden; though these teachings were not regarded by the Sadducees from their truly inspired standpoint. They considered the Pharisees hypocrites, ridiculing them, constantly seeking to sow strife and discord among them; pulling
their believers from them at every opportunity. They would often say and do things against the Pharisees which were very foul and bitter. They used every means in their possession to cause the rivalry between these two sects to
continue. So the Saviour warned the people of His time of the leaven or malice of the Sadducees. (Matt. 16:6)
SADDUCEES WOULD OFTEN UNITE WITH PHARISEES TO OPPOSE JESUS
31. While it is true that they were bitterly opposed to the other religious sect, whenever the common cause of opposing Christ gave opportunity, they would always join with the Pharisees. For the
Saviour made bare their iniquities, and showed their true character before the people. Jesus would read their hearts, and open their true condition as religious leaders and teachers. This angered them greatly, and they would
stoop to almost anything to get revenge. And so we find them joining hands with the Pharisees in tempting Christ. (Matt. 16:1) and also taking part in condemning Him to death. (Matt. 26:59-67)
32. We find them later persecuting the apostles by imprisoning them, forbidding them to preach the gospel of Christ, and especially condemning them for preaching about the resurrection of the
dead. (Acts 4:1,2) In nothing concerning religious belief were they as strict as the Pharisees, though claiming to be the proper kind of Jews, and the true idealists of the worshipers of God. However they had very little use
for the blessed Saviour, because His life was so pure and holy, as contrasted with their pompous, outward show, and their laxity of morals. While they assisted in the crucifying of Christ, and in persecuting the apostles, the
truth of the gospel continued just the same, with the power of the Spirit accompanying it. Many believed in the Lord Jesus through the preaching of the risen Saviour from the dead. (Acts 4:1-4)
33. They did not continue long after the early church began to flourish, though they did all in their power to stop its progress. Sad to say, however, Sadduceeism, or non-resurrectionism, is in a
measure extant at the present time; but the same power of the Christ that conquered error then, will again do likewise. (2 Cor. 13:8)
34. The greatest, most powerful, more influential, most scrupulous, most religious sect of the times, and the most bitter enemy to the gospel of Christ, was the sect of the Pharisees. From the
opening of the New Testament, from the beginning of the work of John the Baptist, till the close of the earthly ministrations of Christ, continuing through to the work of the early church, even when it was quite well advanced,
we constantly meet with this class of Jews. While claiming to be the true children of God, the Saviour said they were the children of the devil. (John 8:44) While professing to be leaders of the religious thought of the day,
their lives and conduct, when compared with their profession, showed them to be the most irreligious.
35. The subject is one of importance, and deserves much attention, especially since the Pharisees were the chief actors against the work of the Saviour and the early church. Many of the
traditions, customs, and ceremonies of the Jewish people at the time of Christ originated with them; by an understanding of these we can better appreciate the sayings of Christ. We shall therefore consider them, their belief,
their teachings, and some of their customs, in a chapter by themselves.
a. (Paragraph 6) Here are two passages from the Jewish Prayerbook, used by the Jews of today, showing how they view this idea of the one God and the unity of this individual God:
“He is One, and there is no unity like unto His unity; inconceivable is He, and unending is His unity.” – Morning Service
“And He is One, and there is no second to compare with Him, to consort with Him.” – Ibid.
b. (Paragraph 8) To illustrate this idea, the following laws are given from the Talmud:
“The Great Council in Jerusalem is the foundation stone of the oral law, and the pillars of the doctrine: and from them the statute and the judgment goes forth to all Israel. They have the warrant
of the law, for it is said, ‘According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee.’ This is an affirmative precept, and every one who believes in Moses our master, and in his law, is bound to rest the practice
of the law on them, and to lean on them.” – Hilchoth Mamrim
“When a Great Council has decided by one of the rules, and according to the best of their judgment, that the judgment is so and so, and has passed sentence; if there arise after them another Council
of a contrary opinion, the latter may reverse the sentence, and pass another according to their best judgment, for it is said, ‘Unto the judge that shall be in those days.’ Thou art, therefore, not bound to follow any other
but the existing Council. But if a Council decree a decree, or ordain an ordinance, or sanction a custom, and the thing has spread in all Israel; and there arise after them another Council which wishes to abrogate the
former things, and to root out that ordinance, decree, or custom, it is not permitted, unless they excel the former in wisdom and in number.” – Ibid.
c. (Paragraph 13) Here are a few of the Talmudic laws with regard to the proselyte:
“What is meant by a sojourning proselyte? Such an one is a Gentile, who has taken upon himself not to commit adultery, together with the remaining commandments given to the sons of Noah, but is not
circumcised nor baptized. Such an one is received, and is of the pious of the nations of the world. And why is he called a sojourner [literally, Ger, a proselyte]? Because it is lawful for us to let him dwell amongst us in
the land of Israel, as we have explained in the laws concerning idolatry. But a sojourning proselyte is not received when the Jubilee can not be observed.” Hilchoth Issure Biah
“He [the Gentile] is not to pass through our land, until he take upon him the seven commandments given to the children of Noah; for it is said, ‘They shall not dwell in thy land, not even for an
hour.’ But if he take upon himself the seven commandments, then he is a proselyte permitted to sojourn.” Hilchoth Accum
“And thus Moses, our master, has commanded us, by divine tradition, to compel all that come into the world to take upon themselves the commandments imposed upon the sons of Noah, and whosoever will
not receive them is to be put to death.” Hilchoth Melachim
Now what these seven commandments were which were said to be given to the sons of Noah, is stated as follows:
“The first Adam was commanded concerning six things, - idolatry, blasphemy, shedding of blood, incest, robbery and administration of justice. Although we have these things as a tradition from
Moses, our master, and reason naturally inclines to them, yet from the general tenor of the words of the law, it appears that he was commanded concerning these things. Noah received an additional command concerning the limb
of a living animal, as it is said, ‘But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, yet shall not eat.’ Here are the seven commandments, and thus the matter was in all the world until Abraham.” Hilchoth Issure
“He that receives them, these seven commandments of the sons of Noah, is called universally a sojourning proselyte.”
“Whosoever receives the seven commandments, and is careful to observe them, he is one of the pious of the nations of the world, and has a share in the world to come.” Hilchoth Melachim
Thus far the Gentile is only a sojourning proselyte. He is simply a Noahite. But that he might become a religious proselyte, and not merely a sojourning proselyte, there is yet more to do. Here is what
the Talmud teaches further on this subject:
“A Noahite who has become a proselyte, and been circumcised and baptized, and afterwards wishes to return from after the Lord to be only a sojourning proselyte, as he was before, is not to be
listened to. On the contrary, let him be an Israelite in everything, or let him be put to death.” Hilchoth Melachim
From the above statement is would seem that a baptized Gentile would be allowed the privileges given to the Jews, if he remained a believer. This was in harmony with the word of God. But after the
Gentile has done all that the rabbis tell him, and has shown his willingness to follow the Lord, the proselyte is to be instructed as follows:
“As they are to make known to him [the proselyte] the punishments attached to the commandments, so they are also to inform him of the rewards for keeping them. They should inform him that, by
the doing of these commandments he will be worthy of everlasting life; and there is no perfectly righteous man, except that possessor of wisdom who does and knows them. And they are to say to him, Be assured that the world
to come is laid up for none but the righteous, and they are Israel; and as to this that thou seest Israel in trouble, in this world, their good things are laid up for them, for they can not receive an abundance of good
things in this world, like the nations. … All the nations shall be utterly destroyed, but they shall abide.” Hilchoth Issure Biah
From this teaching it would seem that however much a Gentile might want to serve the Lord, there is no eternal life for him. He is not an Israelite; and at best, he is only a proselyte. The Talmud
teaches further concerning the future world, as follows:
“All Israel have a part in the world to come.” Perka Avoth
Thus when a Gentile was made a proselyte, he was tormented and tortured, and then not really offered any hope. He was made worse after he professed belief than he was before he came into the fold. Can
we not therefore understand the Saviour’s words in a clearer light, as He addressed Himself to those Pharisees in their dealings with the proselyte?
(Paragraph 19) The rabbis taught that all soil outside of Palestine was unclean and defiling. They would permit plants to be brought from other soil; but before the person could bring the plant into the city, he was obliged to shake off every bit of soil attached to it. To do otherwise, would be accounted sinful. This thought lends force to the Saviour’s exhortation to the disciples, when they were sent to preach the gospel. He said:
“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet, for a testimony against them.” Mark 6:11. See also Acts 13:51.
When this was done, the Jew would learn that he was regarded as unworthy of being put in Jewish soil. To him it would also mean he would not sleep with his fathers, nor have any resurrection in the last
day. In other words, it would be to him practically the loss of the world to come.
At the present time the orthodox Jews have special, consecrated soil as being the nearest they can have to the original, the blessing upon it being substituted for the holy city in location.
(Paragraph 25) In chapter eight of the Second Book of Wars, Josephus gives quite a lengthy description of this class of people. The reader is referred to this chapter should he wish an extended knowledge of this sect.
Even to the present day the orthodox Jew confesses his firm faith in the resurrection of the dead. Their prayerbooks abound with the idea. Frequently we find this thought closely associated with the coming of the Messiah. As for instance, on the first page of the daily prayer service, we find the following:
“At the end of the days, He will send our Messiah, to redeem those who hope to the end for salvation. God will raise the dead, according to His abundant mercy. Blessed be the name of His praise to
all eternity.” Morning Service