Doctrines "Pharisees" is the term applied in the last two centuries of the Second Temple Period to Jewish lay scholars, teachers and leaders, based in the synagogue with the responsibility of explaining to ordinary Jewish men and women how to live their lives according to the Law (Torah). In contrast to the aristocratic, Temple-based "Sadducees", they accepted the Prophets and other Writings as sacred scripture, in addition to the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), and believed in the divine authority of the Oral Torah, a body of tradition handed down by word of mouth alongside the Written Torah. They developed sophisticated exegetical methods derived from Greek scholarship, to help them find scriptural authority for their beliefs and practices. Closer than the Sadducees to popular beliefs and traditions, they accepted the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, belief in angels and demons, and a form of divine predestination that left room for free will.

History The origin of the Pharisees is probably to be found in the "Hasidim" of the Maccabean period. These were the Jews who remained zealously faithful to their religion despite the pressures of hellenization and religious persecution. They were organized in small brotherhoods or fellowships, and for the most part kept aloof from the ruling powers in Jerusalem. They steadily gained authority among the majority of the Jewish people, however, as a result of their controlling interest in the establishment and development of synagogues throughout the Jewish world. According to one source, by the end of the period there were 400 synagogues in the city of Jerusalem alone, and the Pharisees had a powerful voice in the Sanhedrin. When Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70CE, the Pharisees were the driving force in the Yavneh (Jamnia) community where Palestinian Judaism survived.

Symbols In addition to images derived from the Torah Scroll and the Temple, such as the menorah and the shofar (see Ancient Judaism), the lion of Judah, the dove (which can represent both Israel and the Spirit of God), and the tetragrammaton. Important images of divine communication include the "voice from heaven" (Bat Kol) and the divine presence (Shekinah).

Adherents According to contemporary Jewish literature there were 6000 Pharisees in Herod's reign ( 40-4 BCE), and 400 synagogues in Jerusalem alone.

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