|*Who were the Chief Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and "the Jews" during Jesus' time?
When you understand the "who" of who the chief priests, pharisees, sadducees and scribes are, you will understand the "why" as to why our Lord and Saviour Jesus was so against them, and they also so against Him.
To understand this, we must first understand who was supposed to be the High priest, and the priests of Father YHVH, and then trace the genealogies. Where do we find this information? We have to first go back to the Old Testament to not only understand the "who," but the "why" as well.
In Exodus 12 as Father YHVH was preparing the Israelites for the exodus from Egypt, the last plague that He sent, was the death angel to pass over Egypt in order to smite all the firstborn of those who were not covered by the blood of the lamb. Then in Numbers 3, Father tells us why He chose the Levites:
Numbers 3:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [3:12] "And I, behold I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; -> .
Numbers 3:13 Because all the firstborn are Mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto Me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: Mine shall they be: I am the LORD." -> He—Father YHVH—chose the Levites to be His priests. Why? because He smote the firstborn of the Egyptians. But, Father also says that He chose all the firstborn of all Israel. Yes, and that is true; but, He later chooses the Levites over all the firstborn because of what happened at the base of Mount Sinai as recorded in Exodus 32. While Moses was up on the mountain receiving the first Stone Tablets containing the Ten Commandments, just about all the House of Israel were worshiping/committing fornication with the golden calf they had Aaron fashion for their new god. When Moses descended the mountain and threw down the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments which had been written with the finger of YHVH, Moses asked, "...who will stand on the side with YHVH?" it was only the Levites who sided with Father, and they then went and smote 3,000 of their brethren who would not change and give up their idols, and love Father instead.
In Leviticus 8, Father had Moses anoint Aaron as the high priest. Being brothers, both Aaron and Moses were of the tribe of Levi. From this point on, it would only be Aaron and his sons (Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar) who would be able to serve as the High Priests. The firstborn, Nadab, would have been the high priest after Aaron died; but, he and his brother Abihu offered strange fire before YHVH and they both were taken Home by Father for disobeying Him. Eleazar was then next in line to become the High Priest.
In Numbers 3, Father lays out who will be His Priests and the High Priests.
Numbers 3:5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [3:6] "Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. -> So, we see that Moses was to bring the entire tribe of Levi and cause them to stand before Aaron, and then start to perform their ministerial duties. In other words, they were to attend to and see to Aaron's,--the High Priest's--needs.
Numbers 3:7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. -> We'll now see what the duties of the tribe of Levi are. This "And they shall keep" is a combination of Hebrew words H8104 and H853. H8104 shâmar (shaw-mar'), which is a primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.; to beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man)., meaning then, that they were to protect and hedge about something. What was that something? Add in word H853 'êth (ayth), which is apparently contracted from H226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely); namely the High Priest and the tabernacle. So the responsibilities of the Tribe of Levi included: - hedging about/guarding the High Priest and the tabernacle itself which we know from Hebrew word H4931 which means to act as a guard of sentry, they also had the responsibilities of ministering unto the tabernacle and the priests.
Numbers 3:8 And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. -> Again, they are to maintain and keep all the instruments of the service of the tabernacle.
Numbers 3:9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel." -> Aaron, his sons and their descendants are to be the priests of all the children of Israel, and they were the only ones who were allowed to be the priests, forever. Remember, Aaron, Moses and Miriam were brothers and sister, they also were Levites; but, it was only Aaron's descendants who were allowed to be the priests. Father is saying here that the Levites were to minister to and be in charge of all things that pertain to His tabernacle, including the service and the priests. They were to keep and bear the Ark of Father, maintain the oil and wicks for the candles; wash all the instruments after the services, cut, stack, and store the wood for the fires, set-up, and take-down, and carry the tabernacle whenever they moved, and the scribing of all the services and Father's Word, etc. This is how it can be said, all the priests were of Levi; but, not all Levites could be priests.
The rest of the tribes of the Levites and their responsibilities are can be read in Numbers 3:21-37, beginning with the Gershonites:
Numbers 3:21 Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimites: these are the family of the Gershonites. -> Now we'll see the numbers of all the families of the Gershonites.
Skip down to verse v3:25 with me:
Numbers 3:25 And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, -> .
Numbers 3:26 And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof. -> The duties and responsibilities of the Gershonites are the safeguarding, setting up and taking down, and carrying of the tent, and all the coverings of the tent and doors etc., in other words, all the canvas/cloth items concerning the tent and thereof belong to the Gershonites. We can see the number of "and(s)" within these two verses--just like in Genesis 1--and can know that they are a polysyndeton; meaning, there is much more taking place than just what is being said in these verses.
Now for the Kohathites, and for the reading of their responsibilities we'll continue in verse v3:27.
Numbers 3:27 And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites and the family of the Uzzielites: these are the families of the Kohathites. -> Moving on to the Kohathites, we will now see the number of them.
Numbers 3:31 And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof. -> Again, their duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to the sanctuary and the instruments thereof; but, they also have the responsibility for the Ark of God. Whenever the encampment moves, these are all the things they are responsible for taking down, carrying and then setting up when they stop, plus carrying the Ark of God.
And now the Merarites.
Numbers 3:32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary. -> Aaron's eldest son's duties and responsibilities as we see; include not only being a priest but, also he is to ensure that Elizaphan has the sanctuary taken care properly
Numbers 3:33 Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of the Merari. -> .
Numbers 3:36 And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto. -> .
Numbers 3:37 And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins and their cords. -> Would be priests, but would not ascend to the high priesthood; they would minister to (serve) the high priesthood.
So, to this point, Aaron is the high priest with Eleazar and Ithamar,--Aaron's sons--next in line to be the high priest, while the Gershonites,--responsible for the charge and custody of all the canvas items within the tabernacle of the congregation--the Kohathites,--responsible for keeping the charge of all the items within the sanctuaryand the Merarites--responsible for the charge and custody of all the wood items within the tabernacle of the congregation--are responsible for Serving Father, the High Priest, and the Tabernacle.
Father YHVH laid out very strict instructions that nobody else in all the House of Israel or any other stranger was allowed to approach, or come near unto the sanctuary, or they would be put to death. Turn with me to Numbers 1:50:
Numbers 1:50 But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. -> .
Numbers 1:51 And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." -> .
Turn over to Numbers 3 with me.
Numbers 3:10 "And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, they shall wait on their priests office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." -> .
And lastly Numbers 3:38:
Numbers 3:38 "But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." -> So, as we see, it was ONLY the Levites who were allowed to be the priests of Father YHVH, all those that were not of the house of Levi that approached the tabernacle for service or to the sanctuary that were not of Aaron and his sons were to be put to death. Will the Levites hold fast and stand strong to Father's commandments? Let's see.
Sadly it didn't take long for the Israelites to turn away from Father and commit whoredoms. We read in Numbers 22 that the Israelites allowed themselves to be deceived by the Moabites--just one of the bands of peoples that lived in the land of Canaan--and instead of destroying them as Father commanded, our forefathers allowed them into their camp. In doing so, they made slaves of some, and the Levitical priests then became lazy and turned the captives into temple slaves--nethinims--and forced them to perform some of their duties such as the carrying of the wood for the fire and water for the washing right there at the altar. Later, they allowed them some scribeship of the scrolls, and later still, the Levites even allowed them to perform some of the priestly functions as we read in I Chronicles 2:55 And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites and the Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab. If you think names and genealogies don't matter, click on Kenites and Rechab and see who these prople were. The wolves have been let into the henhouse!
There are many other instances where the Israelites did not follow through on YHVH'S commandments to destroy a nation, but instead made slaves of them, married their sons and daughters, and even followed after their gods. In turn, the Levites brought them in also to do their chores in the temple of Father. Even Solomon, the third king of Israel--after Israel had not had destroyed all the peoples Father said to destroy--made slaves of them as can be read in I Kings 9: I Kings 9:20 And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, -> . I Kings 9:21 Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice (forced labor) unto this day. -> . Further, because Solomon had strayed so far from Father's laws, and had taken so many wives and followed after their gods, Father was totally fed up with him. At the death of Solomon, He divided the House of Israel into two separate houses: the House of Israel (made up of the following families: Reuben, Simeon, some of the Levites, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Naphtali, Ephraim and Manasseh), and the House of Judah (Judah, some of the Levites, and Benjamin.) After this split, the majority of the kings of the two separate nations continued to forsake Father and follow after other gods. In following after these other nations' gods, they had to bring in their priests to worship their gods correctly, and the Israelites then allowed them into the Levitical preisthood. It continued on until Father became so angry (remember, our God is a jealous God--Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 6:15; Joshua 24:19; Ezekiel 39:25; Nahum 1:2; Zechariah 1:14 and 8:2) that He sent them into captivity--first the House of Israel by the Assyrians, and then two hundred years later, the House of Judah by the Babylonians.
The House of Israel, the ten tribes situated in the north who had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians and then were scattered, have yet to be brought back together; while the House of Judah (the "Jews") which was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin stayed together somewhat; but, as they were coming up out of their captivity to the Babylonians, when Ezra and Nehemiah were counting the people, they discovered many who were not of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and even more importantly, there were some who claimed to be the priests of Father but, were found not to be of the tribe of Levi as can be read in Nehemiah 7:
Nehemiah 7:1 Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed, -> .
Nehemiah 7:2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many. -> .
Nehemiah 7:3 And I said unto them, "Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and whiie they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house." -> .
Nehemiah 7:4 Now the city was large and great: but the People were few therein, and the houses were not builded. -> .
Nehemiah 7:5 And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the People, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. (And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first and found written therein. -> .
Nehemiah 7:6 "These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah every one unto his city. -> .
Nehemiah 7:7 Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number, I say, of the men of the People of Israel was this: -> For the next 53 verses, we read the names and numbers of Israelites, and then we come to Nehemiah 7:
Nehemiah 7:60 All the nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two. -> .
Nehemiah 7:61 And these were they which went up also from Tel-melah, Tel-haresha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, nor their seed, whether they were of Israel. -> .
Nehemiah 7:62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two. -> .
Nehemiah 7:63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name. -> .
Nehemiah 7:64 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. -> .
Nehemiah 7:65 And the Tirshatha—the govenor—said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. -> .
And again in Nehemiah 11:
Nehemiah 11:1 And the rulers of the peole dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities. -> .
Nehemiah 11:2 And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. -> .
Nehemiah 11:3 Now these are the chiefs of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants. -> .
Nehemiah 11:4 And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez. -> .
So, as you see, there were other nethinim mixed-in with the children of Israel that over the next 400 years re-slipped into the priesthood, as was also evidenced during the time Jesus walked this earth in the flesh. It was these nethinims that the Romans made into the chief priests and elders. Again, these are only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, along with some of the Levites, and it was only a fraction (of all the House of Israel - all twelve tribes) of what comprised Jerusalem in Jesus' day, and these "Jews" were still mixed with nethinims who became the chief priests, pharisees, sadducees and scribes of Jesus' time. Why do you think the "Jews" conspired so often to murder Jesus?
These were supposed to be the "religious order" and "as such, "they," chastised Jesus many times about not following Moses' law; but, yet, they wanted to murder Jesus, and in the end, they did, thereby fulfilling Father's very first prophesy in His Word, found in Genesis 3:
Genesis 3:14 And the LORD GOD said unto the serpent, "Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: -> .
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it (Jesus Christ) shall bruise thy (satan's) head, and thou shalt bruise His heel." -> Yes, satan's offspring did in fact nail Jesus' feet to the cross, and Father has yet to bruise satan's head; but, that, too, will come to pass on Father YHVH'S time schedule, after he--satan--in his role as the antichrist--which in the Greek is "instead of"--comes, claiming to be Christ, while sitting in the holy place as is prophesied in Daniel 9, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, II Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20.
Father's prophesy of Jeremiah 24 began when those two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD (started in 1948) and Israel again became a nation through proclamation of the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations. The prophesy of Ezekiel 37 though has yet to come to pass and will not until the end of this current age when Father will bring the two Houses -- House of Israel (the ten tribes) and the House of Judah (the two tribes) back together.
The twelve tribes are still scattered as can be read in James 1:1 James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. -> .