What are Pharisees?
Pharisees were the most numerous, influential religious sect of Yahushua’s day. They were strict legalists, believed in rigid observance of the letter of the law, also the oral tradition which they believed had as much authority, or more, as the written Torah.
Did they prefer to keep traditions of men?
During Yahushua’s time the oral law was highly revered and was said to go back to Mosheh himself, passed down over the centuries orally, equal to the written law. This is what they believed. It was these “oral traditions” that Yahushua condemned. The evolution of the “oral tradition” continued to grow, and was finally written as the “Mishnah” in 200 AD.
The Pharisees were first mentioned in Matthew 3:7-9 when John the Immerser said to them, “brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not say to yourselves, we have Abraham as our Father…” The first statement Yahushua made concerning them was also negative.
Matthew 5:20: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter into the reign of the heavens.”
Another example is Matthew 15:1-2: “…why do your taught ones transgress the tradition of the elders (not the Torah)? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
The Pharisees were more concerned about “the tradition of the elders” even though there is no Scriptural requirement to wash hands before eating bread. The “oral law” was called the “traditions of the elders” or the “commands of men (Matthew 15:8-9).”