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Yeshua in Context » Essenes, Pharisees » Seekers of Smooth Things

Seekers of Smooth Things

Although modern readers often (erroneously) think of Pharisees as hardliners, bent on interpreting the rules as strictly as possible, even in the early days (before the rabbinic movement which developed in continuity with them) they were thought of by some as liberal, compromisers, making the way of the law too easy.

See E.P. Sanders, Judaism: Practice and Belief. Trinity Press International, 1992.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the Commentary on Nahum, the writer (probably an Essene, a much stricter sect that the Pharisees) refers to an incident in which a “furious young lion” (Jannaeus, the Hasmonean king of Israel from 103 to 76 BCE) killed the “seekers of smooth things.” The reference is to a dispute between the Pharisees and Jannaeus which led to a public crucifixion of some 800 of them.

“Seekers of smooth things” is a pun in Hebrew: dorshei hachalakot instead of a title the Pharisees perhaps used for themselves: dorshei hahalachot, seekers of the way to keep Torah.

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