Bible Dictionary

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A party or caste among the Jews. The name is probably derived from Zadok, the high priest in Solomon’s time. The party consisted of old high-priestly families who came to the front during the Maccabean war. They formed the Jewish aristocracy and were powerful, though quite small in numbers. In their treatment of religious questions they held to the letter of the Mosaic revelation and denied the authority of ancient tradition; they taught complete freedom of the will in moral action; they were opposed to the Pharisees as to the belief in angels and spirits; they refused also to accept the doctrine of immortality as a necessary part of the Jewish faith. It was through their influence that Greek culture spread in Israel. Their opposition to our Lord was the result of His action in cleansing the temple, which they regarded as an infringement of their rights. They opposed the work of the Apostles because they preached the Resurrection (Acts 4:1–3; 23:7–8; see also Mark 12:18–27).