Against the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mt 3:7-3:7)

“But when John saw

Many of the Pharisees,

And many of the Sadducees,

Coming for baptism,

He said to them.

‘You brood of vipers!

Who warned you

To flee

From the wrath to come?’”

 

Ἰδὼν δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς

 

Matthew is the only one who had this warning against the many Pharisees (δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων) and the many Sadducees (καὶ Σαδδουκαίων) who were coming to be baptized by John (ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς). Unlike Mark, Matthew described John as critical of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions. This, they might be considered proto-Rabbis. The Sadducees were priestly, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications. They were less concerned about oral traditions. There may have been about 6.000 in each group. John the Baptist, as presented by Matthew, was against both groups, so that he may have favored the ascetic Essenes, who were another small group of Jews. John told them that they were like a group of vipers (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν,) who would kill young people. They should be warned to flee from the wrath to come (τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς). This might be allusion to the prophet Amos, chapter 5:18-20. Amos saw the day of Yahweh as an angry day of judgment.

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