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Israel and what became known as Judea got farther from the precepts of God's kingdom. Because the voice of the people sought a ruler to take authority the prophecy of 1 Samuel 8 would eventually oppress them under tribute and tyranny.

The Hellenized John Hyrcanus in 113 BCE left the control of the kingdom to his wife and the high priesthood to his son Aristobulus. Aristobulus had his mother starved to death and threw three of his brothers in prison and another killed.

Aristobulus was the first Hasmonean to actually crown himself king and then in 103 B.C., died of illness whereupon his wife, Salome Alexandra, released his brothers from prison and married the eldest, Alexander Jannaeus, in accordance with the biblical levirate law (Yibum).

Alexander Jannaeus Hellenic ways were also despised by the people in one incident had over 6,000 men - according to Josephus - put to death. But that was nothing compared to the 50,000 Jews who were killed due to the Pharisees, a powerful school of rabbis, revolt.

Alexander Jannaeus died in 76 BCE, leaving his kingdom to his wife, Queen Salome Alexandra.

Queen Salome secured her power by siding with the Pharisees and establishing a rabbinical council with religious legislative powers and judicial authority which was called the Sanhedrin. This had nothing to do with what Moses had set up back in Numbers 11:16 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee."

The "elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people" are merely heads of families. They are also called by the people to serve as ministers of congregations of the people or even ministers of ministers of the people.

But the phrase "officers over them" does not include the words "over them" in the Hebrew text. They are officers but the question is over what and in what capacity?

The word "officer" VavShemTetReishYodVav וְשֹׁטְרָ֑יו is from [1] which only appear in Exodus 5:10 and refers not to the taskmasters of Pharaoh who ruled over the people but the "officers" who controlled the flow of straw.

The words "that they may stand" is from the Hebrew word[2] but appears as VavHeyTavYodTzadikBeitVav וְהִֽתְיַצְּב֥וּ and in Deuteronomy 31:14 and Jeremiah 46:4. It is also separated by a Vav at the beginning and end as we see with the word officer VavShemTetReishYodVav.

The Pharisees were patriots to the written Godly covenant or constitution of that nation. Their love of legalism brought about a Sanhedrin that made laws, binding the people to the traditions of that body politic, hypocritically[3] stifling if not strangling the very liberty under God's kingdom which they professed.

They were “painfully punctilious about legal trifles and casuistries, while reckless of truth, righteousness, and the fear of God; cleansing the exterior man while full of iniquity within.”[4]

The contrast of Paul's bondage under the Mishna or law of the Pharisee explains his uncompromising stand on Christian justification by faith only. It was that law that had governed every aspect of their life which was nailed to the cross.

When the Pharisees sat in the seat of the government their legalism imposed itself through statutes. But they knew that they could not subject the people without their consent.[5]

  • “A vow is a solemn promise made to God to perform or to abstain from performing a certain thing.”[6]

With the aid of the kings they offered social schemes that spread over the Roman world. All that was required was the consent of the people through some system of application and registered membership under the guise of welfare and care. Soon their temple treasuries filled with the contributions of the people for the care of the widows and orphans, aged and infirm. Though this was a religion, it was not pure religion.

This Public Religion needed to be regulated by the Sanhedrin who function according to a spirit of force.

This is what was meant by:

The Pharisees still had some charity, many rituals and ceremonies, but free offerings were a token of the overall welfare of their society. Most of the benefits of their government were provided by funds collected through taxation. The once charitable offerings of the people had become an accounted and compelled contribution given to the temple. The amount was determined by the legislating powers of the Sanhedrin and the kings. That power to exercise authority over the people grew, as the people applied for the entitlements and benefits of the growing bureaucracy of the Pharisees. What should have been for their welfare had become a snare.[7]

The Pharisees were popular because of their stoic modesty. On the outside they gave the appearance of service and sacrifice but the living quarters of the priests of the temple were more lavish than that of the kings. But it was the participation by the people in the political and religious schemes of the Pharisees that made them mutually implicit in that sin of statutory corban.

In Egypt the people could eat of the flesh pots of the Pharaoh.[8] Since the Egyptians were vegetarians, this reference to flesh pots[9] had nothing to do with their diet. This was a metaphor describing a social welfare system of pharaoh as a benefactor who could exercise authority and it included the governmental structure of corvée and corban which God opposed.[10]

The sons of Jacob had become entangled in Egypt and God said to never return there again.[11] Because they had chosen to throw their brother Joseph into a pit of slavery, they did not have their own provisions and rations when famine came. When hard times were upon them they gave up their God-given rights, and went into bondage, becoming entangled in the elements of the world,[12] making covenants with men[13] who called themselves benefactors, but exercised authority one over the other.[14]

Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place [such] over them, [to be] rulers of thousands, [and] rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: The word "ruler" is said to be from ShemReish[15] but is actually written ShemReishYod. There is another word ShemReishReish which is the verb for "rule" as in rule over us.[16]

The term "pentecontarch" in ancient History was a person in charge of a fifty-oared ship; the commander of a penteconter. The term is used in the Septuagint from πεντήκοντα fifty + -αρχος[17] But again these men who led fifty were not rulers exercising authority one over the other. The same is true of those who served a hundred (hecatontarch) and a thousand (chiliarch).

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  1. 07860 ^רטשׁ^ shoter \@sho-tare’\@ act part of an otherwise unused root probably meaning to write; v/n m; {See TWOT on 2374 @@ "2374a"} AV-officers 23, ruler 1, overseer 1; 25 It appears in 11 different Hebrew forms like וְשֹׁטְרָ֑יו VavShemTetReishYodVav
    1) (Qal) official, officer
  2. 03320 ^בצי^ yatsab \@yaw-tsab’\@ a primitive root; v; {See TWOT on 894} AV-stand 24, present 9, set 6, stand still 2, stand up 2, withstand 1, stand fast 1, stand forth 1, remaining 1, resorted 1; 48
    1) to place, set, stand, set or station oneself, present oneself
    1a) (Hithpael) to station oneself, take one’s stand, stand, present oneself, stand with someone
  3. Matthew 15:7-8; Matthew 23:5; Matthew 23:13-33
  4. Copyright Information, © Fausset's Bible Dictionary
  5. Proverbs 1:10 “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”
  6. Smith's Bible Dictionary - Bible Dictionary
  7. Psalms 69:22 “Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.”
    Romans 11:9 “And David saith, 'Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:'”
  8. Exodus 16:3 “And the children of Israel said unto them, 'Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, [and] when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.'”
  9. Ezekiel 11:3 “Which say, [It is] not near; let us build houses: this [city is] the caldron, and we [be] the flesh.”
  10. Ezekiel 11:7 “ Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; 'Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they [are] the flesh, and this [city is] the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.'”
  11. Deuteronomy 17:16 “ ...nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.”
  12. Galatians 4:3 “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: ... Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”
  13. Exodus 23:32 “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.”
  14. Matthew 20:25 “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, 'Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you...'”
    Mark 10:42 .... “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you....”
    Luke 22:25 “And he said unto them, 'The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But it shall not be so among you...'”
  15. 08269 ^רשׂ^ sar \@sar\@ from 08323; n m; {See TWOT on 2295 @@ "2295a"} AV-prince 208, captain 130, chief 33, ruler 33, governor 6, keeper 3, principal 2, general 1, lords 1, misc 4; 421
    1) prince, ruler, leader, chief, chieftain, official, captain
    1a) chieftain, leader
    1b) vassal, noble, official (under king)
    1c) captain, general, commander (military)
    1d) chief, head, overseer (of other official classes)
    1e) heads, princes (of religious office)
    1f) elders (of representative leaders of people)
    1g) merchant-princes (of rank and dignity)
    1h) patron-angel
    1i) Ruler of rulers (of God)
    1j) warden
  16. 08323 ^ררשׂ^ sarar \@saw-rar’\@ a primitive root; v; {See TWOT on 2295} AV-rule 3, make prince 1, altogether 1; 5
    1) to be or act as prince, rule, contend, have power, prevail over, reign, govern
    1a) (Qal) to rule over, govern
    1b) (Hithpael) to lord it over
  17. 758 ~ἄρχων~ archon \@ar’-khone\@ present participle of 757; TDNT-1:488,81; {See TDNT 102} n m AV-ruler 22, prince 11, chief 2, magistrate 1, chief ruler 1; 37
    1) a ruler, commander, chief, leader