These persons (called in Heb. סוֹפרִים, sopherim; Gr. γραμματεῖς) were originally merely writers or copyists of the law, who followed this business as a mode of livelihood; but eventually they rose to the rank of a learned profession — becoming the doctors of the law and interpreters of the Scriptures. As such they frequently appear in the New Test., and occasionally in the later books of the Old; and their office gradually became of still more importance after the dissolution of the Jewish commonwealth. (The following article embraces both the Scripture allusions and the Talmudical references to the subject.)
The prominent position occupied by the scribes in the Gospel history would of itself make a knowledge of their life and teaching essential to any clear conception of our Lord's work. It was by their influence that the later form of Judaism had been determined. Such as it was when the "new doctrine" was first proclaimed, it had become through them. Far more than priests or Levites, they represented the religious life of the people. On the one hand, we must know what they were in order to understand the innumerable points of contrast presented by our Lord's acts and words. On the other, we must not forget that there were also, inevitably, points of resemblance. Opposed as his teaching was, in its deepest principles, to theirs, he was yet, in the eyes of men, as one of their order — a scribe among scribes, a rabbi among rabbins (Joh 1:49; Joh 3:2; Joh 6:25, etc. Comp. Schottgen, Hor. Heb. 2," Christus Rabbino-rum Summus").
The rise, progress, and influence of the Jewish doctors and interpreters of the law are properly divided into five distinct periods, which are indicated by the special appellations under which they were designated in successive times.
I. The sopherim, or "Scribes," properly so called. —
1. The Name and its Signification. — In the earlier records of the Old Test. the name Sopher (סֹפֵר, participle of סָפֵר, to write, to count) is given to officers of state whose functions were to write the king's letters, draw up his decrees (2Ki 12:10; 2Ch 24:11), and to number and write down the military forces as well as the prisoners (Jg 5:14; 2Ki 25:19; Isa 33:18; Jer 52:25). As learning was intimately connected with the art of writing, and as these two accomplishments were always associated together in ancient days, these scribes occupied a distinguished position. Hence they are mentioned side by side with the high-priest and the captain of the host (2Ki 12:10; 2Ch 24:11); and hence, too, the term Sopher (ספר) became in the post-exile period the honorable appellation of one who copied the law for himself or others, one skilIed in the divine law, an interpreter of the Scriptures (Jer 8:8; Ezr 8:6,12; Ne 8:1, etc.). The authority of most Hebrew scholars is with this etymology of the word (Gesen. s.v.). Ewald, however (Poet. Buch. 1:126), takes סֹפֵר as equivalent to שֹׁפֵט, "a judge." In their anxiety to preserve the text of Holy Writ as well as to point out the import of its injunctions, these scribes counted every letter and classified every precept of the law. To indicate this, the Talmud, in accordance with Its general practice always to deduce from the name the various actions of the man, derives the appellation sopher from ספר, to count, maintaining that this name was given to those who counted the letters of the law (Kiddush. 30 a), as well as from ספר, to number, to arrange, to classify, submitting that the name was also given to them because they classified the precepts of Scripture (Jerus. Shekalim, 5:1). They had ascertained that the central letter of the whole law was the ray of גָּחוֹן in Le 11:42, and wrote it accordingly in a larger character (Lightfoot, On Luke x). They counted up, in like manner, the precepts of the law that answered to the number of Abraham's servants or Jacob's descendants.
The Greek equivalent answers to the derived, rather than the original, meaning of the word. The γραμματεύς of a Greek state was not the mere writer, but the keeper and registrar, of public documents (Thucyd. 4: 118; 7:10; so in Ac 19:35). The scribes of Jerusalem were, in like manner, the custodians and interpreters of the γράματτα upon which the polity of the nation rested. Other words applied to the same class are found in the New Test. Νομικοί appears in Mt 22:35; Lu 7:30; Lu 10:25; Lu 14:3; νομοδιδάσκαλοι in Lu 5:17; Ac 5:34. Attempts have been made, but not very successfully, to reduce the several terms to a classification. All that can be said is that γραμματεύς appears the most generic term; that in Lu 11:45 it is contrasted with νομικός; that νομοδιδάσκαλος, as in Acts v, 34, seems the highest of the three. Josephus (Ant. 17:6, 2) paraphrases the technical word by ἐξηγηταὶ νόμων. Lightfoot's arrangement, though conjectural, is worth giving (Harm. § 77). The "scribes," as such, were those who occupied themselves with the Mikra. Next above them were the "lawyers," students of the Mishna, acting as assessors, though not voting in the Sanhedrim. The "doctors of the law" were expounders of the Gemara, and actual members of the Sanhedrim. (Comp. Carpzov, App. Crit. 1:7; Leusden, Phil. Hebr. c. 23; Leyrer, in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. s.v. "Schriftgelehrte.")
2. Date and Institution. — The period of the Sopherim begins with the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, and ends with the death of Simon the Just (B.C. cir. 458-300), embracing nearly a hundred and sixty years. Though there were popular teachers of the law in the Babylonian captivity, as is evident from Ezr 8:16, where these official instructors are denominated skilled in the law (מבינים), and from the fact that Ezra himself was at the head of such a class (Ezr 7:12,21; comp. Ne 13:13); yet the language in which the sacred oracles were written was gradually dying out, and Hebrew ceased, in many instances, to be the language of the people (ver. 24). This rendered the understanding of the Scriptures by the people at large a difficult matter. Besides, the newly altered state after the return from the Babylonian captivity, which called for new enactments as well as for the expansion and modification of some Pentateuchal laws, imperatively demanded that an authoritative body of teachers should so explain the law, which was regarded as the only rule of practice, as to adapt it to present circumstances. Hence Ezra, who reorganized the new state, also organized such a body of interpreters, of which he was the chief. It is for this reason that he is called Sopher =one occupied with books, interpreter of the Book (vii, 6, 11, 12, 21; Ne 8:1,4,9,13; Ne 12:26,36), that he is denominated the second Moses (Sanhedrin, 21 b; Tosiphta, ibid. cap. iv; Jerus. Megilla, i, 9); and that it is said "when the Thora was forgotten by Israel, Ezra came from Babylon and restored it again" (Succa, 20 a; comp. 2 Esdras 14:21-47). The skilled in the law, both from among the tribe of Aaron and the laity, who, with Ezra, and after his death to the time of the Tanaim, thus interpreted and fixed the divine law, are denominated Sopherim — "scribes," in the strict sense of the word. Many of these Sopherim were members Of the Great Synagogue which was formed by Nehemiah after the death of Ezra; hence the terms Sopherim and the men of the Great Synagogue (אנשׁי כנסת הגדולה) are frequently interchanged; and hence, too, the canons which were enacted during this period are sometimes recorded in the name of the former and sometimes in the name of the latter, though they proceed from one and the same body. Reserving those enactments which are recorded in the name of the Great Synagogue for that article, SEE SYNAGOGUE, THE GREAT], we shall here specify the most important acts and monuments which have come down to us as proceeding from the Sopherim.
3. The Work of the Sopherim. — At the outset, the words of Ezr 7:10 describe the high ideal of the new office. The scribe is "to seek (דָּרשׁ) the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." This, far more than his priesthood, was the true glory of Ezra. In the eyes even of the Persian king he was "a scribe of the law of the God of heaven" (Ezr 7:12). He was assisted in his work by others, chiefly Levites. Publicly they read and expounded the law, perhaps, also, translated it from the already obsolescent Hebrew into the Aramaic of the people (Ne 8:8-13). In the succeeding age they appear as a distinct class'' the families of the scribes," with a local habitation (1Ch 2:55). They compile, as in the two books of Chronicles, excerpta and epitomes of larger histories (1Ch 29:29; 2Ch 11:23). The occurrence of the word midrash (" the story" [margin, "the commentary''] "of the prophet Iddo"), afterwards so memorable, in 2
Chronicles 13:22, shows that the work of commenting and expounding had already begun.
In the later period, it is not too much to say that the work of these Sopherim embraces the whole field of civil and religious law, both as it is contained in the written Word of God and as it obtained in the course of time; and that it is most essential to the criticism and interpretation of the Old Test. to understand these enactments, inasmuch as they materially affect the text of the Hebrew Scriptures. This will be evident from the following brief description of some of the Sopheric work.
(1.) In accordance with the primary meaning of their name, the scribes, or Sopherim, copied the Pentateuch, the phylacteries, and Mezuzoth for the people (Pesachim, 50 b), since it was only the codices which proceeded from these authoritative teachers that could be relied upon.
(2.) They guarded the Bible against any interpolations or corruptions, and for this purpose counted the letters of the Scriptures. Thus the scribes tell us that in five instances (Ge 18:5; Ge 14:24; Nu 31:2; Ps 36:7; Ps 48:14), a vav crept into the text through a vitiated provincial pronunciation, for which reason these Sopheric corrections are called the emendations of the scribes (עטור סופרים Nedarimi 37 b, SEE KERI AND KETHIB; SEE MASORAH; Ginsburg's translation of Jacob ben- Chajim's Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, p. 12).
(3.) They read the law before the people in the synagogues on stated occasions, for which reason Ezra, the chief scribe, is denominated (ἀναγνώστης) the praelector of the law (1 Esdras 8:8). Hence the usage of the word scribe, or Sopher (ספר), in post-Biblical Hebrew to denote a public reader of the law (Sabbath, 31 a). Moreover, they indicated to the people when words were in pause or when they were in the plural or simply had dual forms, as is the ease with ארצ. מצרים, etc. These indications are called the reading of the scribes (מקרא סופרים).
(4.) They propounded the duties inculcated in the Scriptures to the people at large on Sabbath and festivals, and delivered lectures to their disciples in the weekdays in the colleges, on the profounder import Of Holy Writ. These expositions are called Sopheric comments (פירושׁי סופרים).
(5.) They defined the limits of each precept, and determined the manner in which the sundry commands of the divine law are to be performed — e, g. they fixed the passages of Scripture meant by "the words of command'' which the Lord enjoined the Israelites "to bind for a sign upon their hands, and to be as frontlets between their eyes" (Ex 23:9,16; De 6:8; De 11:18, with Menachoth, 34 b SEE PHYLACTERY); the portions of the Bible to be recited at morning and evening prayer as indicated in the words "thou shalt talk about them when thou liest down and when thou risest up" (De 7:7), etc. These definitions of the injunctions are denominated the measures of the scribes (סופרים שׁיעורי), which, though in theory they are distinguished from the letter of the Bible (דברי תורה), yet in authority are equal to it, and are regarded as divinely legal מדאוריתא(6.) They fixed the traditional law, which was in the mouth and memory of the people,
(7.) They enacted prohibitory laws, called fences (גדר סיג גזרה), to guard the Biblical precepts from being violated, and these enactments are styled the precepts of the scribes or the Sopherim, the injunctions of the elders; and in the New Test,. the traditions of the elders (Mt 15:2; Mr 7:3), the traditions of the fathers (Ga 1:14). Hence, as the phrase דברי סופרים is not only used to express the Sopheric expositions of the Pentateuch, but more especially to denote the definitions and hedges of the scribes superadded to the divine law, it is frequently identical with the phrase oral law (שׁבעל פה תורה) Hence, too, the remark which often occurs in the Talmndic writings, "a subject the basis of which is in the words of the Pentateuch, but the definition or superstructure of which is from the words of the scribes" (Sanhedrin, 87 a; Jerus. ibid. 11:4 ; Kiddush. 77 a); when the simple letter of the inspired code is spoken of in contradistinction to the definitions and hedges of the scribes.
(8.) They removed anthropomorphisms and other indelicate expressions from the Scriptures by introducing alterations into the text, of which the following seventeen instances are especially recorded:
1. For the original reading, ויהיה עודני עמד לפני אברהם, and Jehovah still stood before Abraham" (Ge 18:22), they substituted ואברהם עודנו עמד לפני יהוה, "and Abraham still stood before Jehovah," because it appeared offensive to say that the Deity stood before the patriarch,
2. For the remark of Moses in his prayer, "Kill me, I pray thee,.., that I may not see (ברעתד) thy evil" (Nu 11:15) — i.e. the punishment wherewith thou visitest Israel — they substituted "that I may not see (ברעתי) my evil," because it might seem as if Moses ascribed evil to the Deity.
3. They altered "Let her not be as one dead, who proceeded from the womb of (אמו) our mother, and half of (בשׁרנו) our flesh be consumed" (Nu 12:12) into "Let her not be as one dead-born, which, when it proceeds from the womb of (אמנו) its mother, has half (בשׁרו) its flesh consumed."
4. They changed "For his sons cursed (אלתים) God" (1Sa 3:13), which is still retained in the Sept., into "for his sons cursed (להם) themselves," because it was too Offensive to say that the sons of Eli cursed God, and that Eli knew it and did not reprove them for it.
5. "Will God see (בעינו) with My eye ?" (2Sa 16:12) they altered into "Will God look (בעוני) at my affliction?" because it was too anthropomorphitic,
6. "To his God (לאלהיו), O Israel,... and Israel went (לאלהיו) to their God" (1Ki 12:16), they altered into "To your tents (לאהליד, O Israel,... and Israel departed (לאהליו) to their tents;" because the separation of Israel from the house of David was regarded as a necessary transition to idolatry, ,it was looked upon as leaving God and the sanctuary for the worship of idols in tents,
7. For the same reason they altered 2Ch 10:16, which is a parallel passage.
8. "My people have changed (כבודי) my glory for an idol" (Jer 2:11) they altered into "have changed (כבודם) their glory into an idol," because it is too offensive to say such a thing,
9. "They have put the rod to (אפי) my nose" (Eze 8:17) they changed into "They have put the rod to (אפם) their nose."
10. "They have changed (כבודי) my glory into shame" ( Ho 4:7) they altered into "I will change their glory into shame" (כבודם בקלון אמיר), for the same reason which dictated the eighth alteration,
11. "Thou diest not" (תמות), addressed by the prophet to God (Hab 1:12), they altered into" We shall not die" (נמות), because it was deemed improper,
12. "The apple of (עיני) mine eye" (Zec 2:12) they altered into "The apple of (עינו) his eye," for the reason which called forth the ninth emendation,
13. "Ye make (אותי) me expire" (Mal 1:13) they altered into "Ye weary (אותו) it," because of its being too gross an anthropomorphism,
14. "They have changed (כבודי) my glory into the similitude of an ox" (Ps 106:20) they altered into "They have changed (כבודי) their glory into the similitude of an ox," for the same reason which called forth the alterations in Jer 2:11 and Ho 4:7, or emendations eighth and ninth,
15. "Am I a burden (עליד) to thee?" (Job 7:20), which Job addresses to God, they altered into "So that I am a burden (אלי) to myself," to remove its offensiveness,
16. "They condemned (את אלתים, or את הדין) God, or the divine justice" (Job 32:3), they altered into "They condemned (איוב) Job," for the same reason which called forth the fifteenth emendation,
17. "Thou wilt remember, and thy soul will mourn over me" (נפשֶׁך ותָשִׁיח עָלי [La 3:20]), they altered into "and my soul is humbled within me" (ותשׁוּח עָלי נפשִׁי), because of the seeming impropriety on the part of the sacred writer to say that God will mourn.
These alterations are denominated the seventeen emendations of the scribes (תקון סופרים חֹ מלין), or simply Tikun Sopherim (סופרים תקין) — the emendations of the scribes, and are given in the Massora Magna on Nu 1:1; Nu 11:15; Ps 106:20; Eze 8:17; Hab 1:12; and in the Massora Finalis (ספ), 13. (Camp. Pinsker in the Kerem Chemed [Berlin, 1856], 9:52 sq.; Geiger, Urschrift und Uebersetz-ungen der Bibel, p. 308 sq.; Frensdorff, Ochlah W'ochlah' [ Hanover, 1864], p. 37 sq.; Ginsburg, The Introduction of Jacob ben- Chajim to the Rabbinic Bible, Hebrew and English [Land. 1865], p. 28, etc.; Wedell, De Emenda-tionibus a Sopherim in Libris V. T. Propositis [Vratis-laviae, 1869].)
4. The Manner in which the Sopherim Transmitted their Work. Their great reverence for the divine law, their extraordinary modesty and humility, as well as their fear lest any of their writings should be raised to the dignity of Holy Writ, prevented the scribes, or Sopherim, from embodying their expositions and enactments in separate treatises. This is the reason why there are no books of the scribes extant, and why they most scrupulously abstained from dogmatizing, so much so that the phrase the laws of the scribes (הלכות סופרים) does not occur. It was the later doctors of the law (תנאים=νομοδιδάσκαλοι) who canonized the opinions of the scribes (דברי סופרים), which, it was claimed, had been transmitted orally and through diverse signs.
These signs (סמנים) or indications (רמזים) the scribes are said to have put down in the margins of the copies of the Hebrew Scriptures to indicate to them the interpretations and definitions which their predecessors, contemporaries, and they themselves put on certain passages, and these signs are held to have formed the foundation of the Keri and Kethib, pkne and defective, etc., of later times. Thus, for instance, from Ex 21:8 they deduce that it is the bounden duty of the master to marry his maiden who was sold to him for this purpose, though the law tolerates an alternative, and to indicate this opinion the scribes put in the margin against אשׁר לא יעדה, "whom he will not betroth," the word לו with ו instead of א, i.e. whom he ought to betroth (camp. Bekoroth, 13 a; Rashi on Exodus 21:8). Again, in Le 25:29-30, it is enacted that if a house in a walled city has been sold and is not redeemed within a year, it becomes the absolute property of the purchaser. Now, the scribes defined the phrase walled city to mean a city which had walls in the time of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, though these walls were afterwards removed; and to indicate this they put in the margin against אשׁר לא חומה, "which had a wall," the word לו with ו instead of א, i.e. which has no wall now (camp. Erachi,, 32 a; Shebuoth, 16 a; Rashi on Leviticus 25:30, 31; Maimonides, Iad Ha-Chezaka Hilchoth Shemita Ve-Jobel, 21:15).
They concluded from Le 23:4 that the proclamation or fixing of the new moon devolved upon the supreme court at Jerusalem (Mishna, Roshhashanah, i, 8, 9; 2:5, 7), and to indicate this the scribes wrote the defective אַתֶּם "ye shall pronounce," i.e. מקודשׁ, "it is sanctified" SEE NEW MOON, instead of the plene אותם. The scribes also indicated that certain commandments are not to be restricted to Jerusalem, but are to be kept wherever the Jews reside, by writing in such instances the defective מִשׁבַּתֵּיכֶם, i.e. in your desolations, instead of the plene מושׁבתיכם, your dwellings (Le 23:14,31). These signs are the basis of the Masorah, and account for many of the various readings which obtained in the course of time. For further information on this most important branch of the Sopheric work, we must refer to the elaborate treatise of Krochmal, entitled More Neboche Ha-Zeman, sec. 13:p. 161, etc.
5. The Authority of the Sopherim. — Though the scribes of this period themselves did not issue their expositions of what they believed to be the doctrines of Holy Writ with the declaration that "except every one do keep them whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly," or "except a man believe them faithfully, he cannot be saved," but simply stated them as their opinions about the teachings of the divine law, yet the doctors of the law who succeeded the Sopherim accepted these expositions as final, and decreed that whosoever gainsays their authority commits a capital offence. As the penalty attached to the violation of some of the Mosaic injunctions and prohibitions was not very serious, inasmuch as the law distinguished between the diverse kinds of transgression, while there is no distinction made in the Sopheric enactments, since the same amount of guilt and the same kind of punishment were incurred in case any one of their precepts was violated, the sages of the Mishna remark, "To be against the words of the scribes is more punishable than to be against the words of the Bible; he who, in order to transgress the Scriptures, says phylacteries are not enjoined in Holy Writ, is acquitted, but he who says that there ought to be five compartments in the phylacteries, thus adding to the decisions of the scribes, is guilty" (Sanhedrim, 11:3). Hence also the Talmudic exposition of Ec 12:9, which is as follows: "Above these, my son, beware; of making many books there is no end ;" i.e. my son, take care of the decisions of the scribes above the words of the Bible, for in the words of Scripture there are both (עשׁה) injunctions and (תעשׁה לא) prohibitions [the transgression of some of these involves only a slight punishment], while the transgression of any one of the precepts of the scribes is a capital offence. And if thou shouldest say, seeing that they are so weighty, Why are they not written down? [reply] "To make many books there is no end" (Erubin, 21 b). It is probable, however, that these bold statements, which appear to exalt the expositions of men above the Word of God, are really due to the succeeding period, which we will characterize in its place, and to which we relegate much that relates to the office and its influence.
II. The Tanaim or Teachers of the Law of New-Test. Times. —
1. Name and Date of the Tanaim. — The appellation Tanaim is Aramaic (תָּנָאִים, sing. תנאי, frequentative of the Chaldee תנה=Hebrew שׁנה, to repeat), and literally denotes repeaters of the law, or teachers of the law. The Hebrew equivalent for this title is הלכות שׁוני, while in the New Test. this class of teachers are denominated νομοδιδάσκαλοι (Lu 5:17; Ac 5:34). These teachers of the law are also called the sages, the wise (חכמים, σοφοί, elders (זקנים, πρεσβύτεροι, Succa, 46; Sabbath, 64), and in later times rabbanan (רבנן) =our teacher, rabbani (=Ραββουνί, Mr 10:51; Joh 20:16), rabbon, and rabbi. SEE RABBI. It is only rarely that the great doctors of this period are called צּצּצּ, scribes (comp. Kelim, 13 b). The period of the Tanaim begins with the famous Antigonus of Soho (B.C. 200), and terminates with Gamaliel III ben-Jehudah I (A.D. 220), in whose presidency the Sanhedrim, and with it the college, was transferred from Jabneh to Tiberias, thus extending over 420 years.
2. The Work of the Tanaim. — The labors and tenets of these doctors of the law are of the greatest interest to the Christian student of the New Test., inasmuch as it was in their midst that our Saviour appeared; and as both Christ and his apostles frequently refer to the teaching and often employ the very language of the Tanaim. The chief aim of the doctors of the law during this period Was —
(1.) To fix and formularize the views and expositions of their predecessors, the Sopherim, and to pass them as laws. Thus fixed and established, these views were termed Halachoth (הלכות) = laws: they are composed in Hebrew and expressed in laconic and often enigmatical formulae. The formularizing of these Halaehoth was especially needed, since the successive ascendency of the Persians, Egyptians, Syrians, and Romans over Palestine greatly influenced the habits and conduct of the Jewish people, and since the scribes themselves, as we have seen, did not set forth their opinions as final. The relation which the work of the Tanaim, or the νομοδιδάσκαλοι in this department bears to that of the scribes will be better understood by an example. The scribes deduced from the words "When thou liest down and when thou risest up" (בשׁכבך ובקומך, De 6:7), that it is the duty of every Israelite to repeat both morning and evening the sections of the law (i.e. Deuteronomy vi 4-9; 11:13-21) which proclaim the unity of God, without specifying the hours during which the passages are to be recited; while the νομοδιδάσκαλοι, accepting this deduction of the scribes as law (הלכה), fixed the time when this declaration about the unity of God is to be made by every Israelite, without mentioning the length of the section to be recited, or that it is a duty to do so, because they founded it upon the interpretation of the Sopherim (Mishna, Berakoth, i, 1-5).
(2.) The Tanaim compiled exegetical rules (מדות) to show how these opinions of the scribes, as well as the expansion of these views by doctors of the law, are to be deduced from the Scriptures. SEE ISHMAEL BEN- ELISA; SEE SCRIPTURE, INTERPRETATION AMONG THE JEWS. The study of the connection between the opinions of the scribes formularized into Halachoth and the Bible was called the Midrash, or exposition of the Scriptures (מדרשׁ הכתובים).
(3.) They developed the ritual and judicial questions hinted at in the Pentateuch in accordance with the requirements of the time and the ever- changing circumstances of the nation. As the period over which the work of these teachers of the law extended was very long, and as the older doctors of this period expressed their definitions of the Halachoth in extremely concise and Sometimes obscure formulae, many of these Hala-
choth, like the Scriptures, needed further elucidation, and became the object of study and discussion among the later Tanaim. These discussions, as well as the different modes of exposition whereby the sundry Hala-choth were connected with the Bible, which reflect the mental characteristics and idiosyncrasies of the particular teachers and schools, were gradually collected and rubricated, and now constitute the contents of the Mishna and the commentaries on the Pentateuch entitled Mechilta, Siphra, and Siphri, a description of which is given in the article SEE MIDRASH. For the other work of the most distinguished among these doctors of the law, we must refer to the article SEE SANHEDRIM. It must be remembered that this supreme court and chief seat of learning dates from the commencement of the Tannic period.
3. Development of Doctrine under the Tanaim. —
(1.) It is characteristic of the scribes of the earlier period that, with the exception of Ezra and Zadok (Ne 13:13), we have no record of their names. A later age honored them collectively as the men of the Great Synagogue, the true successors of the prophets (Pirke Aboth, i, 1); but the men themselves by whose agency the Scriptures of the Old. Test. were written in their present character, compiled in their present form, limited to their present number, remain unknown to us. Never, perhaps, was so important a work done so silently. It has been well argued (Jost, Judenthum, i, 42) that it was so of set purpose. The one aim of those early scribes was to promote reverence for the law, to make it the groundwork of the people's life. They would write nothing of their own, lest less worthy words should be raised to a level with those of the oracles of God. If interpretation were heeded, their teaching should be oral only. No precepts should be perpetuated as resting on their authority. In the words of later Judaism, they devoted themselves to the Mikra (i.e. recitation, reading, as in Ne 8:8), the careful study of the text, and laid down rules for transcribing it with the most scrupulous precision (comp. the tract Sopherim in the Jerusalem Gemara).
(2.) A saying is ascribed to Simon the Just (q.v.) (B.C. 300-290), the last of the succession of the men of The Great Synagogue, which embodies the principle on which they had acted, and enables us to trace the next stage of the growth of their system. "Our fathers have taught us," he said, "three things: to be cautious in judging, to train many scholars, and to set a fence about the law" (Pirke .4 both, i, 1; comp. Jost, i, 95). They wished to make the law of Moses the rule of life for the whole nation and for individual men. But it lies in the nature of every such law, of every informal, half- systematic code, that it raises questions which it does not solve. Circumstances change, while the law remains the same. The infinite variety of life presents cases which it has not contemplated. A Roman or Greek jurist would have dealt with these on general principles of equity or polity. The Jewish teacher could recognise no principles beyond the precepts of the law. To him they all stood on the same footing, were all equally divine. All possible cases must be brought within their range, decided by their authority.
(3.) The result showed that in this, as in other instances, the idolatry of the letter was destructive of the very reverence in which it had originated. Step by step the scribes were led to conclusions at which we may believe the earlier representatives of the order would have started back with horror. Decisions on fresh questions were accumulated into a complex system of casuistry. The new precepts, still transmitted orally, more precisely fitting into the circumstances of men's lives than the old, came practically to take their place. The "Words of the Scribes" (דִּברֵי סוֹפרִים, now used as a technical phrase for these decisions) were honored above the law (Lightfoot, Harm. vol. i, § 77; Jost, Jualeph, i, 93). It was a greater crime to offend against them than against the law. They were as wine, while the precepts of the law were as water. The first step was taken towards annulling the commandments of God for the sake of their own traditions. The casuistry became at once subtle and prurient, evading the plainest duties, tampering with conscience (Mt 15:1-6; Mt 23:16-23). The right relation of moral and ceremonial laws was not only forgotten, but absolutely inverted. This was the result of the profound reverence for the letter which gave no heed to the "word abiding in them" (Joh 5:38).
(4.) The history of the full development of these tendencies will be found elsewhere. SEE TALMUD. Here it will be enough to notice in what way the teaching of the scribes in our Lord's time was making to that result. Their first work was to report the decisions of previous rabbins. These, as we have just seen, were the Halackoth (that which goes, the current precepts of the schools) — precepts binding on the conscience. As they accumulated, they had to be compiled and classified. A new code, a second corpus, juris, the Mishna (δευτερώσεις), grew out of them, to become in its turn the subject of fresh questions and commentaries. Here ultimately the spirit of the commentators took a wider range. The anecdotes of the schools or courts of law, the obiter dicta of rabbins, the wildest fables of Jewish superstition (Tit 1:14), were brought in, with or without any relation to the context, and the Gemara (completeness) filled up the measure of the institutes of Rabbinic law. The Mishna and the Gemara together were known as the Talmud (instruction), the "necessary doctrine and erudition" of every learned Jew (Jost, Judenth. it, 202-222).
(5.) Side by side with this was a development in another direction. The sacred books were not studied as a code of laws only. To search into their meaning had from the first belonged to the ideal office of the scribe. He who so searched was:secure, in the language of the scribes themselves, of everlasting life (Joh 5:39; see Pirke Aboth, it, 8). But here also the book suggested thoughts which could not logically be deduced from it. Men came to it with new beliefs, new in form, if not in essence, and, not finding any ground for them in a literal interpretation, were compelled to have recourse to an interpretation which was the reverse of literal. The fruit of this effort to find what was not there appears in the Midrashim (searchings, investigations) on the several books of the Old Test. The process by which the meaning, moral or mystical, was elicited was known as Hagadah (saying, opinion). There was obviously no assignable limit to such a process. It became a proverb that no one ought to spend a day in the Beth-ham-Midrash (" the house of the interpreter") without lighting on something new. But there lay a stage higher even than the Hagadah. The mystical school of interpretation culminated in the Cabala (reception, the received doctrine). Every letter, every number, became pregnant with mysteries. With the strangest possible distortion of its original meaning, the Greek word which had been the representative of the most exact of all sciences was chosen for the wildest of all interpretations. The Gematria (= γεωμετρία) showed to what depths the wrong path could lead men. The mind of the interpreter, obstinately shutting out the light of day, moved in its self-chosen darkness amid a world of fantastic images (comp. Carpzov, App. Crit. i, 7; Schottgen, Hor. Heb. de Mess. i, 4; Zunz, Gottesdienstl. VortrSge, p. 42-61; Jost, Judenth. iii, 65-81).
4. Some of the Distinguished Doctors of the Law of this Period and their Tenets. — As the presidents and vice-presidents of the chief seat of learning during the whole of this period are given in chronological order in the article SCHOOLS (HEBREW), we shall here only mention such of the doctors of the law as have influenced the Jewish mind and the religious opinions of the nation, and by their teaching prepared the way for Christianity. Foremost among these doctors of the law are to be mentioned:
a. Antigonus of Soho (B.C. 200-170), whose famous maxim, according to tradition, gave rise to Sadduceeism and Boethusianism, SEE SADDUCEE, and who received the traditions of the fathers from Simon the Just, and transmitted them to his successors (Aboth, i, 3). The tenet of the Sadducees, however, never commanded the adhesion of more than a small minority. It tended, by maintaining the sufficiency of the letter of the law, to destroy the very occupation of a scribe, and the class, as such, belonged to the party of its opponents. The words "scribes" and "Pharisees" were bound together by the closest possible alliance (Matthew 23, passim; Lu 5:30). SEE PHARISEE. Within that party there were shades and subdivisions, and to understand their relation to each other in our Lord's time, or their connection with his life and teaching, we must look back to what is known of the five pairs (זוּגוֹת) of teachers who represented the scribal succession. Why two, and two only, are named in each case we can only conjecture, but the Rabbinic tradition that one was always the hast, or president, of the Sanhedrim as a council, the other the ab-beth-din (father of the House of Judgment), presiding in the supreme court, or in the Sanhedrim when it sat as such, is not improbable (Jost, Judenth, i, 160).
b. Jose ben-Joeser of Zereda and his companion, Jose ben-Jochanan of Jerusalem, who were the first of the four pairs (זוגות) that headed the Sanhedrim and the doctors of the law as president and vice-president (B.C. 170-140). Jose ben-Joeser was a priest, and played AN important part in the Maccabaean struggles. He was the spiritual head of the Chasidim (Mishna, Chagigah, ii, 7), also called scribes (γραμματε¡ις, 1 Macc. 7:12, 13; 2 Macc. 6:18), who afterwards developed themselves into the Essenes, SEE CHASIDIM; SEE ESSENES; was among the "company of Assidseans who were mighty men of Israel, even all such as were voluntarily devoted unto the law," and the high-priest of the sixty who were slain by Bacchides through the treachery of Alci-mus (1 Macc. 2:42; 7:12-16, with Chagigah, 18 b; Bereshith Rabba, תולדות, § lxv). The grand maxim of Jose ben- Joeser was, "Let thy house be the place of assembly for the sages, sit in the dust of their feet, and eagerly drink in their words" (Aboth, i, 4). Bearing in mind the distracted state of the Jewish people at that time, and the fearful strides which Hellenism made among the highest sacerdotal functionaries, and which threatened to overthrow the ancestral doctrines, thia solemn admonition of the martyr that every household should form itself into a band of defenders of the faith, headed by sages — i, e. scribes, or doctors of the law — and that every Israelite should strive to be instructed in the religion of his forefathers (the phrase "to be enveloped in the dust of their feet" has its origin in the ancient custom of disciples sitting on the ground and sometimes in the dust at the feet of their teachers), will be appreciated. This will also explain the maxim of his colleague Jose ben-Jochanan: "Let thy house be wide open, let the poor be thy guests, and do not talk too much with women" (Aboh, i, 5). To erect a wall of partition between the apostate Hellenists, who desecrated the sanctuary, and the faithful, as well as to prevent the residence of Jews among the Syrians, and check Hellenistic luxuries, these two doctors of the law enacted that contact with the soil of any foreign country, and the use of glass utensils, impart Levitical defilement (Sabbath, 14 b). These rigorous laws of Levitical purity laid the foundation of the withdrawal of the Essenes from the community at large, and of the ritual and doctrinal difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees, as hitherto the differences of these two parties were chiefly political. Hence the remark in the Mishna: "Since the death of Jose ben-Joeser of Zere-da and Jose ben-Jochanan of Jerusalem, the unity in the schools has ceased" (Sotah, 9:9). The precepts ascribed to them indicate a tendency to a greater elaboration of all rules connected with ceremonial defilement. Their desire to separate themselves and their disciples from all occasions of defilement may have furnished the starting- point for the name of Pharisee. The brave struggle with the Syrian kings had turned chiefly on questions of this nature, and it was the wish of the two teachers to prepare the people for any future conflict by founding a fraternity (the Chaberim. or associates) bound to the strictest observance of the law. Every member of the order, on his admission, pledged himself to this in the presence of three Chaberim. They looked on each other as brothers. The rest of the nation they looked on as "the people of the earth." The spirit of scribedom was growing. The above precept associated with the name of Jose ben-Joeser pointed to a further growth (Jost, i, 233). It was hardly checked by the taunt of the Sadducees that "these Pharisees would purify the sun itself" (ibid. i, 217). SEE PHARISEE.
c. Jochanan, the high-priest and governor of Jerusalem, ben-Simon, beu- Mattathias, commonly called John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135-106), was a distinguished Pharisaic scribe or doctor of the law. The enactments which he passed, as recorded in the Mishua, show his endeavors to render the Temple service uniform, his humane feelings, and his desire to alleviate the unnecessary burdens of the law. Though Ezra, to punish the Levites for their backwardness in returning from Babylon, deprived them of their tithes or transferred them to the priests (Ezr 2:36-42; Ezr 8:15; Ne 7:43-45; comp. with Mishna, Maaser Shell, v, 15; Sotah, 9:10; Babylon Talmud, Yebamoth, 86 b; Kethuboth, 26 a), yet the formula consisting of De 26:13-15, and called confession (ורוי), in which the Israelite had to declare in the Temple before God that he had paid the tithes to the Levite, continued to be recited at the time of the evening sacrifice on the last day of Passover. There was also a custom of singing every morning in the Temple Ps 44:23-26 as part of the hymnal service, and of wounding the sacrifices on their head for the blood to run into their eyes, so as momentarily to blind them in order that they might be bound easily. Moreover, up to the time of Jochanan the high-priest=John Hyrcanus, the people worked during the middle days of the festivals. SEE PASSOVER; SEE TABERNACLES, FEAST OF.
"NOW Jochanan the high-priest did away- with the confession about the Levitical tithes (because it was now inapplicable); he also ordered the discontinuance of chanting 'Awake !' (Ps 44:23, etc., because the singing of it every morning made it appear as if God were asleep) and the wounding of the sacrifices (because it was cruel); interdicted working on the middle days of the festivals, since up to his days the hammer was busily at work in Jerusalem, and ordered buyers of questionable produce, whether it had been tithed or not, to tithe it" (Mishna, Maaser Sheni, v, 16; Sotah, 9:10).
d. Jehoshuah ben-Peraehja and his colleague, Natal of Arabela, who were the second of the four pairs (זוגות) that headed the Sanhedrim and the doctors of the law as president and vice-president (B.C. 140-110). Though their surviving maxims are very few, yet they are indicative of the irreparable breach which was then made between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In harmony with the wisdom, humanity, consistency, and leniency of John Hyrcanus, under whose pontificate and rule these two distinguished doctors of the law taught, Je-hoshuah ben-Perachja propounded the maxim," Procure for thyself a teacher, gain to thyself a friend, and judge every man by the rule of innocence" (Aboth, i, 6). If, however, we render this saying thus: "Take to thyself a teacher (Rub), get to thyself an associate (Chaber), judge every man on his better side," we shall see that, while its last clause attracts us by its candor, it nevertheless shows how easily even a fair-minded man might come to recognise no bonds of fellowship outside the limits of his sect or order (Jost, i, 227- 233). His colleague, Natal of Arabela, at all events, who regarded the foreign policy of the Sadducees as desecration of God's holy heritage, SEE SADDUCEE, and as working into the hands of those very enemies whom they had only just driven from the holy city (1 Macc. 13, etc.), taught: "Keep aloof from wicked neighbors, have no fellowship with sinners, and reject not the belief in retribution'' (Aboth, i, 7). It was this maxim which brought about the final separation between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in the time of Hvrcanus. The gulf thus created was deepened by an unhappy circumstance which made John Hyrcanus desert the ranks of the Pharisees and go over to the Sadducees, and which gave the first impulse to the bloody sufferings and the ultimate destruction of his country and people, for whose independence and religion he and his family fought so bravely. The circumstance is as follows: Having returned from a glorious victory, and being pleased with the condition of the people at home, Hyrcanus gave a banquet, to which he invited both Pharisees and Sadducees. As he was enjoying himself in the midst of his guests, he, instigated by the Sadducees, asked the pharisees to tell him whether there was any command which he had transgressed, that he might make amends, since it was his great desire to make the law of God his rule of life. To this one of the Pharisees replied: "Let Hyrcanus be satisfied with the regal crown and give the priestly diadem to some one more worthy of it; because before his birth his mother was taken captive from the Maccabrcan home, in a raid of the Syrians upon Modin, and it is illegal for the son of a captive to officiate as a priest, much more as high-priest." The Sadducees, who had thus far succeeded, tried to persuade Hyrcanus that the Pharisees did this designedly in order to lower him in the eyes of the people. To ascertain it, Hyrcanus demanded of the Sanhedrim to sentence the offender to capital punishment. But the Pharisaic doctors of the law, who had no special enactment against indignities heaped upon a sovereign, who believed and taught that all men are alike in the sight of God, and whose very president at this time propounded the maxim of leniency, said that according to the law they could only give him forty stripes save one, which was the regular punishment for slanderers. It was this which made Hyrcanus go over to the Sad-ducees, massacre many of the Scribes, and fill the Sanhedrim with Sadducees (comp. Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 5, 6, with Kiddushin, 66 a; Gratz, Geschichte der Juden (2d ed.), iii, 453.
e. This deplorable condition, however, soon passed by, and the Scribes were again in the ascendency in the reign of Alexander Jannaeus, son of John Hyrcanus, when Simon ben-Shetach (q.v.), brother of queen Salome (Berakoth, 48 a), was the president of the Sanhedrim, and Jebudah ben- Tabai vice-president (B.C. 110-65). Though Simon ben-Shetach had for a time to quit the court and hide himself, because he was accused of treason against the sovereign, yet Alexander Jannaeus reinstated him upon the solicitation of the Parthian ambassadors, who missed at the royal table the wisdom of this scribe, which they had so much enjoyed on a former occasion. He allowed himself to be elected member of the Sanhedrim, which was then filled with the Saddu-cees whom John Hyrcanus had put there, and by his wisdom repeatedly in the presence of the queen and king confounded these Sadducees by puzzling questions about the treatment, without tradition, of such legal cases as are not mentioned in the Mosaic law, so much so that they gradually quitted the supreme court, and Simon filled the vacancies with the scribes. The calamitous event which happened at the Feast of Tabernacles while Alexander Jannaeus was officiating in the Temple, SEE TABERNACLES, FEAST OF checked for a time the progress of the scribes, but it was more than made up by the fact that this sovereign, on his deathbed, committed his wife to the care of the Pharisees (Josephus, Ant. 13:16, 1, 2). Under Simon ben-She-tach and Jehudah ben-Tabai the Sanhedrim was entirely cleared of the Sadducees, and a festival day was instituted (March 17, B.C. 78) to commemorate the return of the residue of the scribes (פליטת סיפריא) who went into exile in the days of John Hyrcanus. The reconstruction of the Sanhedrim, however, was not the only important work effected by these two doctors of the law. To render divorce difficult, Simon ben-Shetach decreed that the money of marriage- settlement, which was at first deposited with the wife's father, and afterwards laid out in household furniture — thus being no loss to the husband in case he divorced his wife — should amount at least to two silver mince (about 710s.) if the bride Were a maiden, and half that sum to a widow; that the husband should invest it in his business, so as to render it a matter of great inconvenience and difficulty to draw it out, and that the whole of his property should be pledged for the payment of this settlement (כתובה, συγγραφή), thus precluding the possibility of her being defrauded of it by unprincipled heirs (Babylon Kethuboth, 82 b; Jerusalem
Kethuboth, cap. 8:end; Sabbath, 14:6; 16:6). SEE MARRIAGE. Simon ben-Shetach, moreover, introduced superior schools into every provincial town, and ordained that all the youths from the age of sixteen should visit them (Jerusalem Kethuboth, 8:11), which created a new epoch in the education of the nation. SEE SCHOOLS. Their zeal, however, to uphold the law in opposition to the Sadducees led them to commit rigorous acts towards their antagonists (Josephus, Ant. 13:16, 1); and on one occasion Jehudah ben-Tabai, to eradicate the Sadducean notions from the people, SEE SADUCEE, condemned to death a false witness in a capital trial (Maccoth, v, b). But when Simon ben-Shetach reprimanded his colleague for this unlawful act, Jehudah ben-Tabai, .who was then president of the Sanhedrim, was so truly penitent that he at once gave up the presidency, threw himself on the grave of the man he had condemned, .crying most bitterly, and beseeching God to take his own life as an atonement for the one he had judicially taken away (ibid.). This rash act taught him greater leniency for the future, and accounts for his precept to judges: "Only as long as the accused stand before thee regard them as transgressors of the law; but regard them as innocent immediately after they are released, and have suffered the penalty of the law" (Aboth, i, 8). The following may be mentioned as an instance of Simon ben-Shetaeh's extraordinary conscientiousness, which must have greatly impressed itself upon the minds of the people, and prepared the way for the reception of the truth as it is in Jesus. The Sadducees, out of revenge for his rigorous measures against them, suborned two witnesses, who testified that his son committed a capital crime. He was accordingly sentenced to death. As he was led to the place of execution, the witnesses, being filled with horror that they had condemned innocent blood, confessed that they had borne false witness, But as the law from time immemorial bad enacted that "the evidence once given and accepted cannot be revoked" (Maimonides, Iad Ha-Chezaka Hilchoth Eduth, iii, 5), and though Simon's fatherly feelings for a moment made him hesitate about the propriety of the execution, yet his son, to uphold the dignity of the law, exclaimed to him, "Father, if thou wishest that salvation should come to Israel through thee, pay no regard to my life," and accordingly the son died a martyr to the honor of the law (Jerusalem Chagigah, ii, 2; Sanhedrin, i, 5; 7:3). This noble sacrifice on the part of Simon ben-Shetach evidently made him lay down the maxim, "Test witnesses most carefully, and be cautious in questioning them, lest they learn therefrom how to impart to their falsehood the garb of truth" (Aboth, i, 9). No wonder that tradition celebrates Simon ben-Shetach as "the restorer of the divine law to its pristine glory" (Kiddushin).
f. Shemaja (=Σαμέας, Josephus, Ant. 14:9, 4) and Abtalion (=Πολλίων, ibid. 15:1, 1, 10, 4) are the two great doctors of the law who now succeeded to the presidency and vice-presidency (B.C. 65-30) as the fourth pair (זוגות). They are generally considered as having been proselytes; but this is precluded by the fact that they were at the head of the Sanhedrim, and that according to the Jewish law no proselyte could even be an ordinary member of the seventy-one. Indeed, Gratz (iii, 481) has shown that they were Alexandrian Jews, and that the notion of their having been proselytes rests upon the misinterpretation of a passage in the Talmud. Though very few of their enactments have come down to us, yet the influence which their great learning and unflinching integrity gave them among the people at large, and especially among the succeeding doctors of the law, was such as to Secure for any question an authoritative reception if it could be traced to have been propounded by Shemaja and Ab-talion (Mishna, Edayoth, i, 3; Pesachim, 66 a), who were styled the two masmates of their day (גדולי הדור). The two maxims of these distinguished scribes which have survived reflect the deplorable condition of the Jews under the Roman yoke. Thus Shemaja urged on his disciples, "Love a handicraft, hate the rabbinate, and befriend not thyself with the worldly powers" (Aboth, i, 10); while Abtalion said, , Sages, be careful in your utterances, lest ye draw upon yourselves the punishment of exile, and ye be banished to a place where the water is poisonous [i.e. of seductive influence], and the disciples who go with you drink thereof and die, and thus bring reproach upon the sacred name of God" (ibid. i, 11). Some idea may be formed of Shemaja's unflinching integrity from his conduct at the trial of Herod before the Sanhedrim. When this magnate was summoned before the supreme tribunal to answer the accusation of the mothers whose, children he had slain, and when his armed appearance and his retinue of soldiers frightened the other members of the court into silence, Shemaja, the president, had the courage to pronounce the sentence of death against him (Josephus, Ant. 14:9, 4). When he showed himself to be irresistible, they had the wisdom to submit, and were suffered to continue their work in peace. Their glory was, however, in great measure gone. The doors of their school were no longer thrown open to all comers so that crowds might listen to the teacher. A fixed fee had to be paid on entrance. The regulation was probably intended to discourage the attendance of the young men of Jerusalem at the scribes' classes; and apparently it had that effect (Jest, i, 248-253). On the death of Shemaja and Abtalion, there were no qualified successors to take their place. Two sons of Bethera, otherwise unknown, for a time occupied it, but they were themselves conscious of their incompetence. A question was brought before them which neither they nor any of the other scribes could answer. At last they asked, in their perplexity, "Was there none present who had been a disciple of the two who had been so honored?" The question was answered by Hitlel the Babylonian, known also, then or afterwards, as the son of David. He solved the difficulty, appealed to principles, and, when they demanded authority as well as argument, ended by saying, "So have I heard from my masters Shemaja and Abtalion." This was decisive.
The sons of Bethera withdrew. Hillel was invited by acclamation to enter on his high office. His alleged descent from the house of David may have added to his popularity.
g. The name of Hillel (born cir. B.C. 112) has hardly received the notice due to it from students of the Gospel history. The noblest and most genial representative of his order, we may see in him the best fruit which the system of the scribes was capable of producing. It is instructive to mark at once how far he prepared the way for the higher teaching which was to follow, how far he inevitably fell short of it. The starting-point of his career is given in a tale which, though deformed by Rabbinic exaggerations, is yet fresh and genial enough. The young student had come from Golah, in Babylonia, to study under Shemaja and Abtalion. He was poor and had no money. The new rule requiring payment was in force. For the most part, he worked for his livelihood, kept himself with half his earnings, arid paid the rest as the fee to the college porter. On one day, however, he had failed to find employment. The doorkeeper refused him entrance; but his zeal for knowledge was not to be baffled. He stationed himself outside, under a window, to catch what he could of the words of the scribes within. It was winter, and the snow began to fall, but he remained there still. It fell till it lay upon him six cubits high (!) and the window was darkened and blocked up. At last the two teachers noticed it, sent out to see what caused it, and, when they found out, received the eager scholar without payment. "For such a man," said Shemaja, "one might even break the Sabbath" (Geiger, in Ugolini Thesaur. xxi; Jost, i, 254). In the earlier days of his activity, Hillel had as his colleague Menaehem, probably the same as the Essene Ma-naen of Josephus (Ant. 15:10, 5). He, however, was tempted by the growing power of Herod, and, with a large number (eighty in the Rabbinic tradition) of his followers, entered the king's service and abandoned at once his calling as scribe and his habits of devotion. They appeared publicly in the gorgeous apparel, glittering with gold, which was inconsistent with both (Jost, i, 259). The place thus vacant was soon filled by Shammai. The two were held in nearly equal honor. One, in Jewish language, was the Nasi, the other the Ab-beth-din, of the Sanhedrim. They did not teach, however, as their predecessors had done, in entire harmony with each other. Within the party of the Pharisees, within the order of the scribes, there came for the first time to be two schools with distinctly opposed tendencies — one vehemently, rigidly orthodox, the other orthodox also, but with an orthodoxy which, in the language of modern politics, might be classed as liberal-conservative. The points on which they differed were almost innumerable (comp. Geiger, ut sttf.). In most of them — questions as to the causes and degrees of uncleanness, as to the law of contracts or of wills — we can find little or no interest. On the former class of subjects the school of Shammai represented the extremest development of the Pharisaic spirit. Everything that could possibly have been touched by a heathen or an unclean Israelite became itself unclean. "Defilement" was as a contagious disease which it was hardly possible to avoid even with the careful scrupulosity described in Mr 7:1-4. They were, in like manner, rigidly sabbatarian. It was unlawful to do anything before the Sabbath which would in any sense be in operation during it, e.g. to put cloth into a dye- vat, or nets into the sea. It was unlawful on the Sabbath itself to give money to the poor, or to teach children, or to visit the sick. They maintained the marriage law in its strictness, and held that nothing but the adultery of the wife could justify repudiation (Jost, i, 257-269). We must not think of them, however, as rigid and austere in their lives. The religious world of Judaism presented the inconsistencies which it has often presented since. The "straitest sect" was also the most secular. Sham-mai himself was said to be rich, luxurious, self-indulgent.
Hillel remained to the day of his death as poor as in his youth (Geiger, loc. cir.). The teaching of Hillel showed some capacity for wider thoughts. His personal character was more lovable and attractive. While on the one side he taught from a mind well stored with the traditions of the elders, he was, on the other, anything but a slavish follower of those traditions. He was the first to lay down principles for an equitable construction of the law with a dialectic precision which seems almost to imply a Greek culture (Jost, i, 257). When the letter of a law, as e.g. that of the year of release, was no longer suited to the times, and was working, so far as it was kept at all, only for evil, he suggested an interpretation which met the difficulty or practically set it aside. His teaching as to divorce was in like manner an adaptation to the temper of the age. It was lawful for a man to put away his wife for any cause of disfavor, even for so slight an offence as that of spoiling his dinner by her bad cooking (Geiger loc. ct.). The genial character of the man comes out in some of his sayings, which remind us of the tone of Jesus the son of Sirach, and present some faint approximations to a higher teaching: "Trust not thyself to the day of thy death." "Judge not thy neighbor till thou art in his place." "Leave nothing dark and obscure, saying to thyself, I will explain it when I have time; for how knowest thou whether the time will come ?" (comp. Jas 4:13-15). "He who gains a good name, gains it for himself; but he who gains a knowledge of the law, gains everlasting life" (comp. Joh 5:39; Aboth, ii, 5-8). In one memorable rule we find the nearest approach that had as yet been made to the great commandment of the Gospel: "Do nothing to thy neighbor that thou wouldest not that he should do to thee." The contrast showed itself in the conduct of the followers not less than in the teachers. The disciples of Shammai were conspicuous for their fierceness, appealed to popular passions, used the sword to decide their controversies. Out of that school grew the party of the Zealots, fierce, fanatical, vindictive, the political bigots of Pharisaism (Jost, i, 267-269). Those of Hillel were, like their master (comp. e.g. the advice of Gamaliel, Ac 5:34-42), cautious, gentle, tolerant, unwilling to make enemies, content to let things take their course. One school resisted, the other was disposed to foster, the study of Greek literature. One sought to impose upon the proselyte from heathenism the full burden of the law, the other that he should be treated with some sympathy and indulgence. SEE PROSELYTE. One subject of debate between the schools exhibits the contrast as going deeper than these questions, touching upon the great problems of the universe. "Was the state of man so full of misery that it would have been better for him never to have been? Or was this life, with all its suffering, still the gift of God, to be valued and used as a training for something higher than itself?" The school of Shammai took, as might be expected, the darker, that of Hillel the brighter and the wiser, view (Jost, i, 264).
Outwardly the teaching of our Lord must have appeared to men different in many ways from both. While they repeated the traditions of the elders, he "spake as one having authority," "not as the scribes" (Mt 7:29; comp. the constantly recurring "I say unto you"). While they confined their teaching to the class of scholars, he "had compassion on the multitudes (Mt 9:36). While they were to be found only in the council or in their schools, he journeyed through the cities and villages (Mt 4:23; Mt 9:35; etc.). While they spoke of the kingdom of God vaguely, as a thing far off, he proclaimed that it had already come nigh to men (Mt 4:17). But, in most of the points at issue between the two parties, he must have appeared in direct antagonism to the school of Shammai, in sympathy with that of Hillel. In the questions that gathered round the law of the Sabbath (Mt 12:1-14; 2 John 5:1-16; etc.) and the idea of purity (Mt 15:1-11, and its parallels), this was obviously the case. Even in the controversy about divorce, while his chief work was to assert the truth, which the disputants on both sides were losing sight of, he recognised, it must be remembered, the rule of Hillel as being a true interpretation of the law (Mt 19:8). When he summed up the great commandment in which the law and the prophets were fulfilled, he reproduced and ennobled the precept which had been given by that teacher to his disciples (Mt 7:12; Mt 22:40-46). So far, on the other hand, as the temper of the Hillel school was one of mere adaptation to the feeling of the people, cleaving to tradition, wanting in the intuition of a higher life, the teaching of Christ must have been felt as unsparingly condemning it.
h. It adds to the interest of this inquiry to remember that Hillel himself lived, according to the tradition of the rabbins, to the great age of 120, and may therefore have been present among the doctors of Lu 2:46, and that Gamaliel, his grandson and substantially his successor, was at the head of this school during the whole of the ministry of Christ, as well as in the early portion of the history of the Acts. We are thus able to explain the fact which so many passages in the gospels lead us to infer the existence all along of a party among the scribes themselves more or less disposed to recognise Jesus of Nazareth as a teacher (Joh 3:1; Mr 10:17), not far from the kingdom of God (12:34), advocates of a policy of toleration (Joh 7:5l), but, on the other hand, timid and time-serving, unable to confess even their half-belief (12:42), afraid to take their stand against the strange alliance of extremes which brought together the Sadduccean section of the priesthood and the ultra-Pharisaic followers of Shammai. When the last great crisis came, they apparently contented themselves with a policy of absence (Lu 23:50-51), possibly were not even summoned, and thus the council which condemned our Lord was a packed meeting of the confederate parties, not a formally constituted Sanhedrim. All its proceedings, the hasty investigation, the immediate sentence, were vitiated by irregularity (Jost, i, 407-409). Afterwards, when the fear of violence was once over, and popular feeling had turned, we find Gamaliel summoning courage to maintain openly the policy of a tolerant expectation (Ac 5:34).
5. Education and Life. —
(1.) The special training for a scribe's office began, probably, about the age of thirteen. According to the Pirke A both (v, 24), the child began to read the Mikra at five and the Mishna at ten. Three years later every Israelite became a child of the law (Bar-Mitsvah), and was bound to study and obey it. The great mass of men rested in the scanty teaching of their synagogues, in knowing and repeating their Tephillim, the texts inscribed on their phylacteries. For the boy who was destined by his parents, or who devoted himself, to the calling of a scribe, something more was required. He made his way to Jerusalem, and applied for admission to the school of some famous rabbi. If he were poor, it was the duty of the synagogue of his town or village to provide for the payment of his fees, and in part also for his maintenance, His power to learn was tested by an examination on entrance. If he passed it, he became a "chosen one" (בחוֹר, comp. Joh 15:16), and entered on his work as a disciple (Carpzov, App. Crit. i, 7). The master and his scholars met, the former Sitting on a high chair, the elder pupils (תלמידים) on a lower bench, the younger (קטנים) on the ground, both literally "at his feet." The class-room might be the chamber of the Temple set apart for this purpose, or the private school of the rabbi. In addition to the rabbi, or head master, there were assistant teachers, and one interpreter, or crier, whose function it was to proclaim aloud to the whole school what the rabbi had spoken in a whisper (comp. Mt 10:27). The education was chiefly catechetical, the pupil submitting cases and asking questions, the teacher examining the pupil (Luke 2). The questions might be ethical, "What was the great commandment of all? What must a man do to inherit eternal life?" or casuistic, "What might a man do or leave undone on the Sabbath?" or ceremonial, "What did or did not render him unclean?" We are left to wonder what were the questions and answers of the schoolroom of Lu 2:46; but those proposed to our Lord by his own disciples, or by the scribes, as tests of his proficiency, may fairly be taken as types of what was commonly discussed. The Apocryphal gospels, as usual, mock our curiosity with the most irritating puerilities. (Comp. Evangel. Infant. c. 45, in Tischendorf, Codex Apoc. N.T.). In due time the pupil passed on to the laws of property, of contracts, and of evidence. So far he was within the circle of the Halachah, the simple exposition of the traditional "words of the scribes." He might remain content with this, or might pass on to the higher knowledge of the Beth-ham-Mid-rash, with its inexhaustible stores of mystical interpretation. In both cases, pre-eminently in the latter, parables entered largely into the method of instruction. The teacher uttered the similitude, and left it to his hearers to interpret for themselves. SEE PARABLE. That the relation between the two was often one of genial and kindly feeling we may infer from the saying of one famous scribe, "I have learned much from the rabbins my teachers, I have learned more from the rab-bins my colleagues, I have learned most of all from my disciples" (Carpzov, App. Crit. i, 7).
(2.) After a sufficient period of training, probably at the age of thirty, the probationer was solemnly admitted to his office. The presiding rabbi pronounced the formula, "I admit thee, and thou art admitted to the chair of the scribe," solemnly ordained him by the imposition of hands (the סמיכה=χειροθεσία), and gave to him, as the symbol of his work, tablets on which he was to note down the sayings of the wise, and the "key of knowledge" (comp. Lu 11:52), with which he was to open or to shut the treasures of divine wisdom. So admitted, he took his place as a Chaber, or member of the fraternity, was no longer ἀγράμματος καὶ ἰδιώτης (Ac 4:13), was separated entirely from the multitude, the brute herd that knew not the law, the "cursed" "people of the earth" (Joh 7:15,49). (For all the details in the above section, and many others, comp. the elaborate treatises by Ursinus, Antiq. Heb., and Heubner, De A ca-demiis Hebraeorum, in Ugolini Thesaur. ch. 21.)
(3.) There still remained for the disciple after his admission the choice of a variety of functions, the chances of failure and success. He might give himself to any one of the branches of study, or combine two or more of them. He might rise to high places, become a doctor of the law, an arbitrator in family litigations (Lu 12:14), the head of a school, a member of the Sanhedrim. He might have to content himself with the humbler work of a transcriber, copying the law and the prophets for the use of synagogues, or Tephillim for that of the devout (Otho, Lex. Rabbin. s.v. "Phylacteria"), or a notary writing out contracts of sale, covenants of espousals, bills of repudiation. The position of the more fortunate was, of course, attractive enough. Theoretically, indeed, the office of the scribe was not to be a source of wealth. It is doubtful how far the fees paid by the pupils were appropriated by the teacher (Buxtorf, Synag. Judaic. c. 46). The great Hillel worked as a day-laborer. Paul's work as a tentmaker, our Lord's work as a carpenter, were quite compatible with the popular conception of the most honored rabbi. The indirect payments were, however, considerable enough. Scholars brought gifts. Rich and devout widows maintained a rabbi as an act of piety, often to the injury of their own kindred (Mt 23:14). Each act of the notary's office, or the arbitration of the jurist, would be attended by an honorarium.
(4.) In regard to social position, there was a like contradiction between theory and practice. The older scribes had had no titles, SEE RABBI; Shemaja, as we have seen, warned his disciples against them. In our Lord's time the passion for distinction was insatiable. The ascending scale of Rab, Rabbi, Rabban (we are reminded of our own Reverend, Very Reverend, Right Reverend), presented so many steps on the ladder of ambition (Serupius, De Tit. Rabbi, in Ugolino, ch. xxii). Other forms of worldliness were not far off. The later Rabbinic saying that "the disciples of the wise have a right to a goodly house, a fair wife, and a soft couch" reflected probably the luxury- of an earlier time (Ursini Antiiq. Heb. c. 5, ut sup.). The salutations in the market-place (Mt 23:7), the reverential kiss offered by the scholars to their master, or by rabbins to each other, the greeting of Abba, father (vet. 9, and Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. ad loc.), the long στολαί, as contrasted with the simple χίτων and ἰμάτιον of our Lord and his disciples, with the broad blue zizith or fringe (the κράσπεδον of Mt 23:5), the Tephillim of ostentatious size — all these go to make up the picture of a scribe's life. Drawing to themselves, as they did, nearly all the energy and thought of Judaism, the close hereditary caste of the priesthood was powerless to compete with them. Unless the priest became a scribe also, he remained in obscurity. The order, as such, became contemptible and base. For the scribes there were the best places at feasts, the chief seats in synagogues (ver. 6; Lu 14:7).
(5.) The character of the order in this period was marked, under these influences, by a deep, incurable hypocrisy, all the more perilous because, in most cases, it was unconscious. We must not infer from this that all were alike tainted, or that the work which they had done, and the worth of their office, were not recognised by Him who rebuked them for their evil. Some there were not far from the kingdom of God, taking their place side by side with prophets and wise men among the instruments by which the wisdom of God was teaching men (Mt 23:34). The name was still honorable. The apostles themselves were to be scribes in the kingdom of God (Mt 13:52). The Lord himself did not refuse the salutations which hailed him as a rabbi. In "Zenas the lawyer" (νομικός, Tit 3:13) and Apollos mighty in the Scriptures," sent apparently for the special purpose of dealing with the μάχαι νομικαί which prevailed at Crete (Tit 3:9), we may recognise the work which members of the order were capable of doing for the edifying of the Church of Christ.
III. The AMORAIM, or Later Doctors of the Law. —
1. Name and Date. — The name Amoraim (אָמוֹרָאִים, sing. אמורא, from אמר, to say, to hold forth, to expound), like the appellation Tanaim, is Aramaic; it literally denotes recorders, expositors, and was given, after the redaction of the Mishna, to those "wise men" and "doctors of the law" who alone constituted the authorized recorders and expositors of the received Halachah. The period of the Amoraim begins with the immediate disciples of R. Jehudah the Holy (A.D. 220), and terminates with the completion of the Babylonian Talmud (cir. A.D. 500), embracing nearly 270 years.
2. The Work of the Amoraim. — As the title implies, these Amoraim had to examine, decide, and expound the import of the Mishna for general practice. After the redaction of the Mishna by Jehudah the Holy (A.D. 163- 193), this corpus juris became the canonical code, and constituted the source of study and the rule of practice, both in Babylon, whither it was imported immediately after its appearance by the celebrated Rab (q.v.), and in Palestine. These commentaries and discussions on the Mishna in the two countries are embodied in the two Talmuds, or more properly Gemaras, which are named after them — viz. Jerusalem and Babylon. The Jerusalem Talmud was made up in Tiberias about A.D. 400, because the Christian government took away from the doctors of the law the right of ordination, thus causing the extinction of the patriarchate and the declension of the Palestinian school; while the Babylonian Talmud was not closed finally till the period of the Saboraim, as the schools were still greatly flourishing in Babylon under the presidency of Resh Methibta (רישׁ מתיבתא), or heads
of schools, and the Resh Galutha (רישׁ גלותא), or the princes of the exiks, as they were called. SEE MIDRASH; SEE TALMUD. For the distinguished doctors of the law who occupied the patriarchate, and were the presidents and vice-presidents of colleges during this period, we must refer to the article SEE SCHOOLS, JEWISH, where they are enumerated in chronological order.
IV. The SABORAIM, Or the Teachers of the Law after the Conclusion of the Talmud. —
1. Name and Date.-
The appellation Saboraim (סָבוֹרָאִים from the Aramaic סבר, to think, to discern, to judge) properly signifies decisores, and was given to those doctors of the law who determined the law (הלכה) from a careful examination Of all the pros and cons (סברא) urged by the Amoraim in their controversies on divine, legal, and ritual questions contained in the Talmud. Hence the remark of Sherira Gaon (A.D. 968-998), "Though no independent legislation existed after the cessation of the Amoraim, yet there continued exposition and weighing of the transmitted and prevalent opinions; and it is from this weighing of opinions that the doctors derive their name, Saboraim" (Gratz, v, 426). The period of the Saboraim extends from about A.D. 500 to A.D. 657. This period, however, is divisible into two parts, and it is only the first part — i, e. from the death of Rabina, A.D. 500, to the death of R. Giza and R. Simuna, A.D. 550 — which can properly be denominated the real Saboraim epoch; while the second part, which consists of the interval between the real Saboraim and the rise of the Gaonim, from A.D. 550 to 657, has no proper designation, because the doctors who lived at this time and the work which they did are alike unimportant and desultory.
2. The Work of the Saboraim. — Unlike their predecessors the Tanaim and Amoraim, and their successors the Gaonim, these doctors of the law neither formed a succession of teachers nor were they engaged in any new work. They were a circle of literati and teachers, who supplemented and completed the work of the Amoraim. They explained all doubtful questions in the Talmud, made new additions to it both from oral traditions and MS. notes, inserted into it all the anecdotes which were current in the different schools, closed it, and wrote it down in the form in which we now have it. Hence their work had nothing to do with theories, but was pre-eminently practical. The chief men among these Saboraim which have come down to us by name are R. Giza, the president of the college at Sofa, and R. Simuna, the president of the college at Pumbaditha and Rabai of Rob. Their disciples and successors who belong to this period are unknown (Gratz, v, 15 sq.; 422 sq.).
V. The GAONIM, Or the Last Doctors of the Law in the Chain of Rabbinic Succession. —
1. Name and Date. — It is now difficult to ascertain the etymology of Gaon (גָּאוֹן), the title of the chief doctors of the law who succeeded the Saboraim. One thing, however, is certain — namely, that it is not Hebrew, since both in the Bible and in the Talmud this word signifies pride, haughtiness, while here it is an honorable appellation given exclusively to the presidents of the two distinguished colleges at Sora and Pumbaditha. Now, the period in which it originated may throw some light on the etymology of this title. Griitz (v, 139, 477) has shown that this title obtained A.D. cir. 658. When All, the son-in-law and vizier of Mohammed, was elected caliph (655), and the Islamites were divided into two parties, one for and the other against him, both the Babylonian Jews and the Nestorian Christians decided in his favor and rendered him great assistance. Maremes, who supported Ali's commander-in-chief in the siege of Mosul, was nominated Cathollcos, while 11. Isaac, the president of the college at Sora, who at the head of several thousand Jews aided All in the capture of Firuz-Shabur (May, 657), was rewarded with the title Gaon (excellence). Accordingly the title גאון is either of Arabic or Persian origin, and properly belonged to the presidents of the Sofa college, who alone bore the appellation at the beginning. The president of the subordinate sister college at Pumbaditha was called the head of the college (Heb. ראשׁ ישׁיבה, Aramaic רישׁ מתיבתא) by the Babylonians; and the appellation Gaon, whereby they were sometimes styled, obtained at first among the non- Babylonian Jews, who were not thoroughly acquainted with the dignities of the respective colleges in Babylon. It was only after 917, when Pumbaditha became of equal importance with Sofa, and especially after 942-1038, when Sora, after the death of Saadia, began to decay altogether, and Pumbaditha continued alone to be the college of the doctors of the law, that the presidents of its college, like those of Sora, were described by the title Gaon. The period of the Gaonim extends from A.D. 657 to 1034 in Sots, and from 657 to 1038 in Pum-baditha, during which time the former college had no less than thirty-five presidents and the latter forty-three. SEE PUMBADITHA; SEE SORA.
2. As to the organization of these colleges, the president of each school sat in front; next to him in rank was the superior judge (Heb. אב בית דין; Aramaic דבבא דיינא), who discharged the judicial functions, and was presumptive successor to the Gaonate. Then came the ten who constituted the more limited synod, seven of whom were at the head of the assembled students (ראשׁי כלות), and three associates (חברים); these sat with their faces towards the president. Then came the college of one hundred members, subdivided into two uneven bodies — the one consisting of seventy members and representing the Great Sanhedrim (q.v.), the other consisting of thirty members and representing the Smaller Sanhedrim. Of these hundred, the seventy only were ordained; they bore the title of teachers (אלופים, magistri), or the ordained sages (חכמי הסמוכים), and were capable of advancing to the highest office, while the other thirty were simply candidates (בני קיומי), and do not seem to have been legally entitled to a seat or voice. The seventy sat in seven rows, each consisting of ten, and being under one of the seven heads of the college. They transmitted their membership to their sons.
3. The Work and Authority of these Colleges. — In later times these colleges assembled together for two months in the year — viz, in Adar (=March) and Elul (=September). In these sittings the members explained difficult points in the Talmud, discussed and answered all the legal and ritual questions which were sent in during the vacation from the different Jewish communities abroad, and enacted new laws for the guidance and regulation of the dispersed congregations, in accordance with the requirements of the ever-shifting circumstances of the nation and the sundry localities. Each member of the college took part in the discussions; the president summed up the various opinions, decided the question, and ordered the secretary to write down the decision. All the decisions which were passed through the session were read over again by the president before the assembly was dissolved, were signed in the name of the college, sealed with the college seal, and forwarded by special messengers to the respective communities, who, in return, sent gifts to the college, which constituted the extraordinary revenue of these schools for training the doctors of the law. Their ordinary income was derived from regular taxes which the college fixed for those communities which were under their jurisdiction. Thus the jurisdiction of Sofa extended over the south of Irak, with the two important cities Wasit and Basra, to Ophir (= India), and its annual income, even when it began to decline, amounted to 1500 ducats; while that of Pumbaditha extended over the north of Irak up to Khorassan. The president, with the superior judge and the seven heads of the college, appointed judges for each district, and gave them regular diplomas. As these judges, or dayanim (דינים), had not only to decide civil questions, but also to settle religious matters; they were also the rabbins of the respective communities, and selected for themselves, in each place, two learned members of the congregation, who were styled elders (זקנים), and with them constituted the judicial and rabbinate college. This local college had to issue all the legal instruments — such as marriage contracts, letters of divorce, bills of exchange, business contracts, receipts, etc.. Though each of the two imperial colleges had the power of governing itself and of managing its own affairs and dependencies, yet the College of Sora was, at first, over that of Pumbaditha, as may be seen from the following facts:
(1.) In the absence of the prince of the exiles, the gaon of Sora was regent, and called in the taxes from all the Jewish communities.
(2.) The College of Sofa got two shares of the taxes, while Pumbaditha only got one share.
(3.) The president of Sora took precedence of the president of Pumbaditha, even though the former happened to be a young man and the latter an old man. In later times, however, the College of Pumbaditha rose to the dignity of Sora, and eventually eclipsed it. These seats of learning, in which were trained the doctors of the law — the successors of the ancient scribes — and which represented the unbroken chain of tradition and ordination, were extinguished in the middle of the 11th century.
VI. Literature. — Krochmal, More Neboche Ha-Seman (Lemberg, 1851), p. 161, etc.; Frankel, Monatsschrifit fur Geschichte und Wissensehaft des Judenthums (Dessau, 1852), i, 203 sq., 403 sq.; Steinschneider, Jewish Literature (Lond. 1857), p. 9, etc.; Catalogus Libr. Hebr. in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, p. 2615, etc.; Gratz, in Frankel's Monatsschrift (Leips. 1857), 7:336 sq., 381 sq.; Ge-schichte der Juan, vols. iv and v; Frankel, Hodegetica in Mischnam (Lips. 1859); and the Latin monographs of Svrbius (Vitemb. 1670), Georgius (ibid. !734), and Hect (Francof. 1737);
also Pick, The Scribes in the Time of Christ (in the Lutheran Quarterly, 1878, p. 249 sq.).