Who Were the Sadducees?

While the Sadducees were one of the major Jewish sects at the beginning of the Common Era, relatively little is known about them with any certainty. It seems that they rejected the oral, extrabiblical traditions and practices embraced by their rivals, the Pharisees, which later became the foundations of rabbinic Judaism. Michael Satlow argues, however, that the sect’s origin owes as much to politics as to doctrine:

The Jewish historian Josephus mentions [the Sadducees] in the context of John Hyrcanus, the Hasmonean high priest and ruler of Judah from 135 to 104 BCE. According to Josephus, a guest at a banquet for the Pharisees accused Hyrcanus of being a bastard child, unfit for the high priesthood. In the uproar that ensued, a Sadducee convinced Hyrcanus to abandon the Pharisees for the Sadducees.

Whether true or not, this story might point to the Sadducees’ origin as a political party allied with the Hasmoneans. . . .

The group that Josephus calls “Pharisees,” [therefore], was what was left of the old guard, [representatives of] the status quo. The Sadducees, on the other hand, were a coalition of Hasmonean supporters who sought to challenge Pharisaic power with recourse to Scripture. Raw politics, not abstract claims to authority, were more important in the Hasmonean decision (soon reversed) to align with the Sadducees.

Read more at Bible Odyssey

More about: ancient Judaism, Hasmoneans, Josephus, Pharisees, Sadducees

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict