Bible Study - Matthew Chapter 1 : Lesson 3
- High priests and Scribes
===================================================We have discussed about high priests before. Scribes literally
means writers or scholars. They Composed of more active laymen
Pharisees, but also some Priests and Sadducees. Their beginning is
from Ezra. At the time of Ezra and probably for some time after,
this was chiefly the business of the priests. Ezra was both priest
and scholar (copher) and the guardians of the Law. ( Ezra 5:6,10) .
But in the course of time this was changed. The more highly esteemed
the Law became in the eyes of the people, the more its study and
interpretation became a lifework by itself, and thus there developed
a class of scholars who, though not priests, devoted themselves
assiduously to the Law. These became known as the scribes, that is,
the professional students of the Law. They became responsible for
preserving the law, copying the law, translating and more
interpreting the law. Thus hence, they became (spiritual) teachers
of the people! At the time of Christ, this distinction was complete.
They also held position as priests and they settled disputes
regarding interpreting law or practicing law among people. The
extraordinary honors bestowed on these scholars on the part of the
people are expressed in their honorary titles. Most common was the
appellative "rabbi" == "my lord" (Matthew 23:7 and otherwise). This
word of polite address gradually became a title. The word "rabboni"
(Mark 10:51; John 20:16) is an extensive form, and was employed by
the disciples to give expression to their veneration of Christ. In
the Greek New Testament "rabbi" is translated as (kurie). Besides
these, we find (pater), "father," and (kathegetes), "teacher"
(Matthew 23:9 .). They were very closely related to Pharisees but
were not associated with them. Their responsibilities are found in
(Matthew 2:4, 17:10, Mark 12; 15,). From B.C 200 onwards they
started interpreting the Laws and instituted many rules and
procedures. The taught that these procedures were as important as
Laws. (Mathew 15:1). Our Lord strongly condemned these created
spiritless laws and procedures. To become a scribe one has to be
trained under a scribe for four years. When he turns 30, other
scribes would examine him. They would lay their hands over to give
the scribe-hood. Then they would be given a writing plank and a key.
(Luke 11:52). The key was the symbol of authority to revel the
mystery of the Law. Until up to AD 200, they commanded nobility in
The Scribes were not all Pharisees, as in practice not all Pharisees
were Scribes, since one might not have had the necessary education.
The Scribe was the most educated in the Law -- he could be priest or
layman, Pharisee or Sadducee. At the time of Jesus, only very few
Scribes were priests and Sadducees, being mostly laymen of Pharisaid
V 5-6 "Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the
prophet has written:"
This is a fulfillment of Micah 5:2. The scholars knew the correct
information. But it did not change their mind. They used the
information for wrong reasons.
"And the star they had seen in the east  went ahead of them until
it stopped over the place where the child was"
That place as per verse 11 was a "house". St. Joseph had found a
home in Bethlehem by that time.