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Josephus, War I, 110-12: The Pharisees in Power

Salome_AlexandraExcerpted from Lawrence H. Schiffman, Texts and Traditions, Ktav, Hoboken 1998, p.512.

Josephus here gives his opinion about how the Pharisees came to be the dominant party in the time of the Hasmonean queen, Salome Alexandra (76-67 B.C.E.). Again we see the Pharisaic role in political affairs.

(110) And now the Pharisees joined themselves to her, 39 to assist her in the government. These are a certain sect of the Jews that appear more religious than others and seem to interpret the laws more accurately. (111) Alexandra hearkened to them to an extraordinary degree, being herself a woman of great piety towards God. But these
Pharisees artfully insinuated themselves into her favor little by little, and became themselves the real administrators of public affairs. They banished and reduced whomever they pleased and bound and loosed [men] at their pleasure. In short, they enjoyed royal authority, while the expenses and the difficulties of it belonged to Alexandra. (112) She was a sagacious woman in the management of great affairs, and intent always upon gathering soldiers, she doubled her army, and collected a great body of foreign troops, so that her nation became not only very powerful at home, but a formidable foe even to foreign potentates. But while she governed other people, the Pharisees governed her.

39. The Pharisees became allies of Queen Salome Alexandra, after the death of her husband, Alexander Janneus, who ruled between 103 and 76 B.C.E.

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