After the first temple was destroyed in 560BCE, Israelites were taken as captives in Babylon. However, some of them were allowed to return by king Dariusafter 70 years in exile .They returned to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple.During the second temple,several upheavals took place.
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In the process, Jerusalem and its temple underwent several renovations, dismantling and rebuilding until its destruction in 70AD. During this period, foreignerswho took charge of Jerusalem included Ptolemic Egypt, Seleucids, Greeks, Romans and Armenians, among others. It is also during this period that factions emerged. Hardship was paramount as Roman empire imposed tough conditions on inhabitants.
In fact, survival was quite difficult. This promoted growth of factions. There were five factions namely, Pharisees, Essenes, Sicarii, Sadducees and Zealots. This paper will list four main factions during the second Temple and provide thoughts of Sicarii faction in detail (Yaron 2).
Thefour main factions during this period were Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and Sicarii. Depending on their philosophical thoughts,they could be divided into two broad categories namely religious and political sects. The latter was sometimes known as a criminal faction and composed of Zealots and Sicarii. The former included Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees, also known as separatists in Hebrew, emphasized purity.
To achieve this, they separated themselves from all pleasures and follies of that period. They also detached themselves from people who did not uphold ritual purity. They were led by rabbinical courts, through rabbis as well as Sanhedrin. Even though Pharisees disliked Roman rule, they opted for peace, this is mainly because they feared Roman reprisals, which could destroy the whole nation (Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center 1).
The second faction (Sadducees) was mainly composed of rich priests who rejected leadership of rabbis as well as oral Torah. Their activities included corruption as they bought their way into offices. Moreover, they were closely liked to Romans. The third faction was composed of nationalists (Zealots).
This group of people had broken away from the first faction( Pharisees).They did this in order to fight Roman invasion. Even though Pharisees wanted to work without Romans, they resisted the temptation of fighting themopenly, instead, they opted for peace. On the other hand, Zealots purposed to fight them at all cost (Yaron 2).
The other faction(Sicarri), was initially against Roman rule. However, later on, they fought against any government. They were also known as dagger men because they used daggers to stab those they considered enemies. Their enemies were wealthy Jews seen to sympathize with Romans, Romans, as well as elites that known to have close links with priests. The Sicarii were led by Judas’s descendants (Judas from Galilee).
They believed in God’s sole rule over the Jews. They therefore undertook several assassinations in order to resist any other rule. The sect started off with resistance towards Roman rule but later developed foughtagainst all forms of governance. They were mostly predominant in Judea. They wereled by Judas’ grandson Ben Jair, who was later succeeded by his brother Eleazor. Their main objective was to put an end to direct rule of Romans over Jews.
To achieve this, they employed guerilla tactics. They also ensured that Roman sympathizes and collaborators were punished by death, among other ways. Most of their victims included Jewish elites who were associated with priesthood. Their main areas of activity were within Jerusalem, even though it extended to villages (Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center 1).
Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center. “The Factions of the Second Temple Era”. chabad.org. Chabad, 17 Oct. 2011. Web. <https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/953558/jewish/The-Four-Factions.htm>.
Yaron, Yoseif. “Second Temple: A Brief History of Jewish Sects”. judaism.about.com.Judaism, 17 Oct. 2011. Web.