chapter
R
Pages 30

The rabbinic movement in its earliest phase is to be identified with Pharisaism. The Pharisees are portrayed by Josephus as being critical of the Hasmonean priesthood. Their expression was at first political (Josephus, Ant. 13 §§ 88-298) and could extend to violent action, as in the demand that the counselors who advised Alexander Jannaeus to kill some of their sympathizers should themselves be executed (Josephus, War 1.110113) At base, however, the orientation of the Pharisees was towards the achievement and maintenance of purity. The purity they strived for had fundamentally to do with making offerings, people, and priests fit for the cult of sacrifice in the temple. For that reason, the issues of the personnel of the priesthood, the sorts of animals and goods that might be brought, and their permitted proximity to all sources of uncleanness were vitally important.