The Talmud defines seven types of Pharisees. *
- The ‘Shoulder’ Pharisee
This type of Pharisee carries all of his ‘good’ deeds on his shoulder so all can see (and it is assumed praise) him.
Make sure when you do good it is not for the praise, but because it is the right thing to do.
- The ‘Wait a Moment’ Pharisee
This type of Pharisee does not attend to the needs of the people who are right in front of him because he needs to go off and do good deeds for others.
This would be the pastor who cares for his flock, but ignores his family. Or the parent who always has to do something for work, the church or friends while their children are begging for attention.
- The ‘Bruised’ Pharisee
This Pharisee runs into a wall while trying not to look at a woman.
This is a person who takes the commands in the Bible too far and does stupid things in order to overly obey God’s laws. We see this person when they refuse to meet with a woman in a normal work situation when she has done nothing inappropriate to warrant this behavior towards her.
- The ‘Reckoning’ Pharisee
This type of Pharisee commits a sin, then performs a good deed to make up for it. He believes he can sin as long as he does something good to balance the scales.
This is the husband who is mean to his wife and then thinks that buying her something makes it all better. This is the wife who is mean to her husband and then thinks that letting him sleep with her makes it all right.
- The ‘Pestle’ Pharisee
This type of Pharisee’s head is bowed in false humility. He is always asking what his duty is, so that he may do it as if he has already done everything else.
This is the person who believes they do nothing wrong. They will say things like, ‘If you tell me what you want, I will do it’ as if it is your fault they are not living up to your expectations. The unreasonableness of your expectations is implied. They are not trying to change because all the fault in the relationship is the other person’s.
- The Pharisee of the ‘Fear of Consequences’
This Pharisee does good because he is afraid of what would happen if he does not do it. There is no love in his actions.
This person does all of the ‘right’ things, but it is empty because he is acting out of fear. It is difficult to explain to the person what they are doing wrong, because while their actions are ‘right,’ they clearly are not enjoying any of it. The fact that they do not want to do what they do is evident.
- The Pharisee of Love
This is the ‘right’ kind of Pharisee to be. Their motivation is love. There are two things they love- people and God in general, and the rewards from doing what is right.
In Jewish culture loving the rewards that are inherent in doing what is right is not wrong. This Pharisee’s goal is not selfish- they are not doing things just for gain, but they do love the things God blesses them with. This is a healthy relationship with God. The prime motivation is love, and there is thanks, praise and enjoyment when God blesses them.
*adapted from Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern 1992 p. 69-70
(please pray for Dr Stern, last report was that he was in very poor health)