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Pharisees

means “separatists” (Heb. parash, to separate), men who looked upon themselves as holier than other men, and therefore refused to hold social intercourse with them. The Talmud mentions the following classes:—

(1) The “Dashers,” or “Bandy-legged” (Nikfi), who scarcely lifted their feet from the ground in walking, but “dashed them against the stones,” that people might think them absorbed in holy thought (Matt. xxi. 44).

(2) The “Mortars,” who wore a “mortier,” or cap, which would not allow them to see the passers-by, that their meditations might not be disturbed. “Having eyes, they saw not” (Mark viii. 18).

(3) The “Bleeders,” who inserted thorns in the borders of their gaberdines to prick their legs in walking.

(4) The “Cryers,” or “Inquirers,” who went about crying out, “Let me know my duty, and I will do it” (Matt. xix. 16–22).

(5) The “Almsgivers,” who had a trumpet sounded before them to summon the poor together (Matt. vi. 2).

(6) The “Stumblers,” or “Bloody-browed” (Kizai), who shut their eyes when they went abroad that they might see no women, being “blind leaders of the blind” (Matt. xv. 14). Our Lord calls them “blind Pharisees,” “fools and blind.”

(7) The “Immovables,” who stood like statues for hours together, “praying in the market places” (Matt. vi. 5).

(8) The “Pestle Pharisees” (Medinkia), who kept themselves bent double like the handle of a pestle.

(9) The “Strong-shouldered” (Shikmi), who walked with their back bent as if carrying on their shoulders the whole burden of the law.

(10) The “Dyed Pharisees,” called by our Lord “Whited Sepulchres,” whose externals of devotion cloaked hypocrisy and moral uncleanness. (Talmud of Jerusalem, Berakoth, ix; Sota, v. 7: Talmud of Babylon, Sota, 22 b.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Pharisees