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Seven Types of Pharisees

A former member
Post #: 64
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The Seven Types of Pharisee

Within the Pharisee circles, just prior to the coming of Jesus, it was taught that there were (at least) seven ‘types’ of Pharisees, of which six were bad and one was truly good. A number of scholars now believe that Jesus’ criticisms were primarily aimed at the “bad” types of Pharisees – who were cursed more deeply and violently by Hillel and other Rabbis, than even Jesus did – and that he drew a large number of his followers from the ranks of the “good” Pharisees and their followers.

The Shoulder (or Shechemite) Pharisee: This type of pharisee was one who wore his good deeds on his shoulder – on display for all men to see. Jesus opens his primary criticism of Pharisees in Matthew, with the mention of the shoulder – possibly a reference to this commonly-labelled type of Pharisee
They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:4)

The Wait-a-little Pharisee: This type of pharisee would want to wait to see how a situation played out before acting in any matter. While he agreed with Pharisee theology, he would always fall short in practice of his “belief” because he wasn”t sure if he should/could/wanted to act. This type of Pharisee liked the prestige brought about by being a religious leader, but didn’t like what it actually required.
Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them “Rabbi.” (Matthew 23:5-7)

The Blind (or Bruised and Bleeding) Pharisee: This type of Pharisee was typified by the idea of him walking with his head down or turned away to avoid looking at, or bumping into women (who might be on their menstrual cycle) or other unclean folks. So, because they weren’t looking where they were going, they would end up bruised or bleeding from their avoidance of small things (cleanliness laws) – all the while forgetting the more important laws. Jesus refers to some Pharisees as ‘blind guides’, possibly referring to this type of Pharisee.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:23-24)

The Pestle (or Hump-backed) Pharisee: Similar to the Blind Pharisee, the Pestle Pharisee was known for walking around with his eyes averted for the purpose of avoiding visual temptations. Avoiding temptation is one thing, but this type of Pharisee’s heart was wrong, because it was the importance of making a show of his avoidance of temptation (and piety) which was to be criticized.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:27-28)

The Ever-Reckoning Pharisee: Here was a religious person who was always keeping score – trying to make sure that his good deeds always outnumbered his bad ones. He wanted this so that God would be in his debt with the attitude of God owing him something for being good. Their belief was truly one of works-based righteousness.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!” (Matthew 23:29-32)

The God-fearing (or Timid) Pharisee: He was considered to be a “God-fearer” in the manner of Job. While he had great reverence and respect for God, it was out of fear of punishment, he made sure to follow all of God’s commands in order avoid curses from God and, ultimately, hellfire. Unlike the previous types of Pharisees, both his belief and practice were correct, but his motivation was out of fear of God. It is possible that Jesus’ expressed woe in Matthew 23:13 is directed at this spirit of fear that then prevents others from enjoying the eternal life provided by God
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (Matthew 23:13)

The God-loving Pharisee: This type of Pharisee was considered to be the ideal – a person who obeyed God out of true love and affection for Him, as in the manner of Abraham. A minority of Pharisees were believed to have been of this type, though Pharisees from the School of Hillel (who died in 10 A.D.) may have comprised a majority of this type of Pharisee. Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and Paul (and most likely Gamaliel, as well, from both Biblical and extra-Biblical accounts) were all Pharisees who would have fit into this category.
A former member
Post #: 83
Thanks for posting, Steve. Interesting information.
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