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APRIL 4, 30 A. D. Jesus returned to Jerusalem early on Tuesday morning, and met the waiting multitude “and all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple to hear him.” There came also a delegation of priests and scribes, who demanded by what authority he had assumed lordship in the temple. Jesus confused the inquirers by asking their opinion of the authority of John. They dared not answer that John was an imposter, and they knew that if they acknowledged John's authority, they could not deny that of Jesus; so they did not reply. Jesus then gave three parables of warning - The Two Sons, The Wicked Husbandmen, and The Marriage of the King's Son, each of which pointed its warning to the Jewish leaders. After this Jesus was met by successive delegations who asked him first, whether it was lawful to give tribute to Cæsar; next a question concerning the resurrection, and finally one concerning the greatest commandment; but he met the questioners with so much of wisdom and tact that no others dared approach him with questions. Then Jesus asked a question which his opponents could not answer, concerning David's honor for his greater son, and followed their silence with a discourse against the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders.
As Jesus and his disciples passed out through the Court of Women, where the treasure chests were, he saw and commended the widow casting in her mite. In the Court of the Gentiles just outside, waited the Greeks, who desired to see Jesus.
Withdrawing from the city to the Mount of Olives, Jesus sat with his disciples, and looked back at the city, which then was resplendent in the light of the declining sun, and there uttered his prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and of events to follow.
We first learn of scribes as a class in the time of Ezra. From the return from exile on there were learned men who were engaged in transcribing, caring for and interpreting the Jewish Scriptures. At first they were from the priests; later laymen joined their ranks, and finally they became an independent class. The most of them belonged to the party of the Pharisees, but there were also Sadducees who were scribes.
They found employment in connection with the Sanhedrin, where they were the experts to decide points of law, and of which body some scribes were members and helped administer the law. In the synagogues they were naturally the chief speakers. They were also teachers in the schools, in which they instructed the youth. They were called scribes, rabbis and lawyers.
As expositors and guardians of the law, the scribes occupied themselves mainly with precepts regarding sacrifices, the festival celebrations, the observance of the Sabbath, the payments to be made to the priests and the temple, and more especially with those relating to levitical purity in the matter of foods and purifications. They laid the greatest stress on those ascetic elements, because they thereby kept Israel separate from the Gentiles.
While their moral precepts were good, their legalism missed the spirit of the law whose letter they so highly esteemed. As a class, they were entirely out of harmony with the spiritual teachings of Jesus.
The Pharisees were a religious body, originating in the reforms of Nehemiah, and dating as an organization from the second century B. C. They held to a complete separation from everything non-Jewish. In their zeal for the letter of the law they often forgot its' spirit. While their earnestness had done much to solidify the front of Judaism against paganism, they had become, in the time of our Lord, a body of pedants, who proved from the outset his most determined enemies.
THE HERODIANS. The Herodians are mentioned twice in the Gospels (Mark 3: 6; Matt. 22: 16), along with the Pharisees, as adversaries of Jesus. Some of the later church fathers (e. g., Tertullian,) regarded them as a religious party who held Herod to be the Messiah; but this is altogether improbable. They were apparently a political party, most probably the adherents of the dynasty of Herod. At the death of Herod (B. C. 4), his kingdom was divided among his sons. When Archelaus was deposed (A. D. 6 or 7), a Roman procurator was put in his place, and thenceforward Judæa continued under procurators, with the exception of a brief interval, during which Herod Agrippa I. united under his sway all the dominions of his grandfather. It was doubtless the constant desire of the family of Herod to restore the kingdom of their father, and the Herodians would seem to have been the party of those who favored their pretensions. They were those among the Jews who, in more or less veiled opposition to the Roman procuratorship, as well as the idea of a pure theocracy, desired the restoration of the national kingdom under one or another of the sons of Herod.
THE SADDUCEES. The Sadducees were a party among the Jews distinguished by birth, wealth, and official position. They first appear about B. c. 100. They repudiated the Pharisaic oral law, hated the Pharisees for their conservative traditionalism, and were the rationalists and materialists of their day (Acts 23:8). The chief priests in the time of Christ were of this party, and rivaled the Pharisees in their hatred and persecution of Jesus. It is to be noted, however, that Jesus never came into direct conflict with the Sadducees till the very close of his ministry, when they joined with their own opponents, the Pharisees, who had long been hostile to him.
CÆSAR. The name Cæsar had become the official name of the emperor. The monarch ruling at the time of the Crucifixion was Tiberius Cæsar, who reigned from 14 to 37 A. D.
TRIBUTE TO CÆSAR. The tribute referred to was the poll-tax, payable to the Roman tax-gatherer in the denarius. Because the coin bore the effigy of the emperor, and because it was a perpetual reminder of the degradation of the Jews, the tax was held in abhorrence, most offensive to the Jews.
The PENNY OF SCRIPTURE. The penny, or denarius, which the Pharisees brought to Jesus, was a Roman coin, and the ordinary day's wage of a
DENARIUS OR PENNY.
working man. It was a silver coin, worth somewhat less than 20 cents. The Roman standard gold coin was the Aurus, worth 25 denarii. On one side of the denarius was the head of the emperor, with his name and title in Latin. The denarius of Tiberius bore on the reverse the seated figure of Livia, the empress.
The denarius of Titus has his name and face on the front, and on the reverse a palm tree, and Titus in military dress with his foot on a helmet.
THE LEVIRATE LAW.
The question of the Resurrection was based on the Levirate Law, so called from the word levir, meaning brother-in-law. This law which is found in Deut. 25:5, 6, required that if a man died childless, his brother, living with him, should marry the widow and their first-born son should preserve the name of the man who died childless. We find from the book of Ruth that if there was no brother, the duty of preserving the name of the deceased extended to kindred farther renroved.
THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE SCRIBES.
Jewish rabbis had enlarged upon the laws of Moses until there came to be recognized by all their schools 613 commandments, the number of letters in the decaiogue. They reckoned 365 negative precepts, as many as the members of the human body, and 248 positive precepts, the number of arteries and veins. Moreover rabbis were wont to distinguish some as heavy, others as light commandments. Jesus taught that there is one all-inclusive commandment, the law of