Christian Churches of God
The Origin and Basis of the Karaite Division
(Edition 1.0 20121108-20121108)
In this paper we will examine the Origin and Basis of the Karaite heresy and its attitude to and conflict with Rabbinical Judaism.
The Origin and Basis of the Karaite Division
Eli Barnavi, the Director of the Morris Curiel Center for International Studies and a Professor of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University has written a useful work on the Karaites but like all Jewish works it lacks a critical aspect of analysis of the Temple system.
According to the article The Karaites: A Medieval Jewish Sect The Karaites, Biblical Fundamentalists, Challenged the Authority of Rabbinic Judaism reprinted from Eli Barnavi’s A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People, (Schocken Books)).
“The Muslim conquest led to the emergence of two such forces, having more than one trait in common: Karaism and activist messianism.”
This assertion has become a major error of modern Judaism. The Messianic activities of the Christian faith go back to Christ and the apostles and Temple Judaism where Messianism was a significant force.
According to Philo, as we have shown in the paper God’s Calendar (No. 156) and elsewhere, the calendar that was observed in the Temple was determined and set according to the conjunction of the New Moon as determined by the academic schools in Judea. The Temple authorities were organised by the Sadducees and the Pharisees had no authority in the Temple, except for nine years under Queen Alexandra. Their so-called “Oral Law” was regarded as completely erroneous and only the written Torah was accepted and used. After the fall of the Temple, one is able to see from the Mishnah how the oral traditions were inserted over the Temple system between the end of the Temple period 70 CE to ca. 200 CE when the Pharisees succeeded the Sadducees. The Pharisees formed the rabbinical system to control Judaism and the operation of their system was based on tradition called the Oral Law. The tradition has no basis in fact and was introduced in second century late Temple Judaism among the proto-Pharisees and runs counter to the written law of God in the Pentateuch. Some of it is based on the Egyptian Mysteries and is reflected in the comments written in The Book of Jubilees and in The Book of Enoch.
Some of those Jews scattered after the fall of the Temple were cut off from the later heresies of the Pharisees. One of these is the Lemba tribe in Zimbabwe along the Limpopo River. They took black wives in the dispersion but the male YDNA is Jewish and their Buba clan is Levite with the Aaronic or Cohenite haplogroup among them as priests. They determine the New Moon from the observance of the waning moon three days in advance of the conjunction from its reflection on water in a dish. That is the tradition of the observance system they used in the dispersion and may well be the basis of David’s comments in Samuel as he knew he was required at the court three days before the New Moon. So any system of observation was by those away from the academic schools referred to by Philo. The academic schools were also found in Issachar as the Pentateuch tells us.
The conflicts that emerged in the post-Temple period came from the remnant left over from the fall of the Sadducees and the conflict with the Samaritans who continued to maintain the calendar according to the Temple period based on the conjunction. The Pharisees developed into the rabbinical system with its court at Jamnia and began to introduce the system of observations with the false witnesses set up to validate the postponement of the system by a day to avoid the so-called problems they saw in the Temple calendar and the inconvenience caused by their traditions. They thus began to light New Moon beacons which could no longer be relied upon by those of the post-Temple system Sadducees (who were depleted and disenfranchised) and by the Samaritans and also by the post-Temple Christians among the Jews in Judea and Galilee. Rabbinical propaganda states that the Samaritans and others began to light misleading beacons, which is a false record. It was the Rabbis themselves that began to light misleading beacons to justify their falsification of the calendar through their traditions. The Samaritans had not changed anything. Before the destruction of the Temple all three elements could rely on the Temple calendar for the New Moons. When the Pharisees took control and established the rabbinical system they began to light beacons to justify their “observations” in the false system they began to set up which was in effect the precursor to the postponements developed finally under the Hillel system and which was not finalised until the twelfth century under Maimonides.
The remnant of the Sadducees, the Samaritans and the Christians rejected rabbinical Judaism as it emerged; and a conflict arose from the end of the first century throughout the Middle East and within Judaism.
Barnavi’s text itself states: “The Karaites are first mentioned in written sources in the late eighth century. They themselves claim to be descendants of dissident sects of the First Temple period, and the rabbinical tradition traces them back to opposition trends of the Second Temple period.
The beginnings of Karaite activity are associated with the figure of Anan ben David--a learned and aristocratic man, probably belonging to a family of exilarchs, the leaders of Babylonian Jewry. His immediate followers were a small group of intellectuals who formulated the sect's tenets and preached them in Jewish centers throughout the caliphate, including Palestine. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Karaite communities were protected by eminent members of the sect who had reached influential positions in the ruler's court. Led by a nasi (prince) claiming Davidic lineage, the Karaites attracted many scholars of distinction in biblical exegesis, law, Hebrew lexicography, and philosophy.” (ibid.)
Yet we are expected to believe that the modern ill-informed Karaites have emerged from such a distinguished lineage. The destruction of the original calendar stems from the desire of post- Temple Judaism to maintain the illusion of rabbinical authority rather than the set calendar of God. The subsequent perversion of the Karaite system stems from the perversion of Judaism itself.
The introduction of the false calendar into Western Christianity through the Athanasians who became the Trinitarians from 325-381 CE from Rome and Egypt at Alexandria as determined at Nicaea (325 CE) and as determined from the Council of Constantinople (381) made no difference to the calculation of the calendar as it was always done from the conjunction as determined from the astronomical schools as had the Sabbatarian Christians and Messianic Jews also. Most Messianic Jews became Sabbatarian Christians.
After the repressions of Hadrian the Jews began to assert themselves as a group among the Arab tribes and began to dominate the disparate tribal groups. The division and dominance was the reason the conflict became entrenched in Arabia. The Jews allied with the Arab pagans in an effort to destroy the Christian groups there. Islam grew out of the Sabbatarian Christian system there and the Jews did their best to destroy the system of Islam and the Sabbatarian Christian system there and elsewhere. They became the Sabbatarian Paulicians in Asia Minor and the system in Arabia that became modern Islam. Most Muslims don’t understand the Koran or their own early history (see the paper Introduction to the Commentary on the Koran (No. Q1))
In 344 CE two Babylonian Rabbis developed the Babylonian calendar with its system of intercalations established in the sixth century BCE from Babylon. That is also the reason why the Jewish calendar is out by a significant amount from the determination of the calendar according to the Bible record (see the paper Outline Timetable of the Age (No. 272)).
As the Jews had not kept the Temple calendar for a couple of centuries they did not care that their calendar was adrift from the Temple calendar for a number of years in the time cycles of intercalations kept by the Temple and was thus out according to the agricultural cycles. It became obvious to any observant Jew in the Middle East that in some years the Passover was early and the barley was not ripe for the Wave Sheaf offering. Hence, the opposition was born to the Hillel system as a false system. That was because the Wave Sheaf could not occur in some years due to the improper intercalations that prevented the Hillel calendar of 358 CE, when Rabbi Hillel II introduced it, from being in synchronisation with the barley harvest, as it always had been in the Temple period, with the Temple calendar as determined according to the conjunctions.
This led the Jews, who had decided that the observations were necessary, to correct the errors introduced from the Babylonian system of intercalations by the rabbinical authorities. They thus had no knowledge of the correct system of calculations. Because they needed the observations to determine the correct ripening of the barley, they accepted that the Rabbis' propaganda was correct that the Temple had no set calendar. The lie, that the Temple system was based on observation, emanated from the Rabbis themselves. They invented it in order to justify their destruction of their own calendar, to justify their postponements. The greatest lie in post-Temple Judaism came from Judaism itself in order to justify the heresy of the Traditions of the so-called Oral Law. It was foisted on Judaism by its own sect of the Pharisees who had become the Rabbis.
These people who rejected rabbinical Judaism were a small but distinct element of Judaism. They survived all the way through until Judaism entered into the Medieval Age when the Hillel calendar was finally re-modeled by Maimonides in order to get the errors out as far as possible. The group that had opposed it from its introduction due to its inherent flaws became known as the Karaite heresy and was of significance at the time and became a creditable alternative to Judaism.
As it was born out of a reaction to a flawed system, and was comprised of Jews who it recruited from rabbinical Judaism itself, it was inevitable that it failed.
Eli Barnavi says of it: “The best part of the Karaite intellectual effort was directed at proving the errors of the Rabbanites. Their critical acuteness and thorough knowledge of rabbinical doctrines ensured the high level of their polemics. And their religious attack was accompanied by bitter social criticism of the Jewish leadership, the exilarchs, the geonim (heads of the academies), and the dignitaries which surrounded them.”
Thus the basis of the opposition was based on that of the Sadducees (comprising the landholding gentry) towards the Pharisees who became the Rabbis. However, their knowledge was limited as was their subsequent power and wealth. From their influence we see that those who formed the groups in Arabia became Islamised. The groups themselves were derived from the Sabbatarian Christians who were spread though Asia Minor as the Paulicians and on into Arabia where the Church or “Muhammad” comprised of the Twelve Elders of the faith under Qasim the prophet was established. It became corrupt after the “Four Rightly Guided Caliphs” and became paganised.
Eli Barnavi says “Islamic influence was apparent in all aspects of Karaism—in their philosophical outlook, in their spiritual views, customs, laws, and judicial processes. The main hallmark of the Karaites is their rejection [of the] authority of the Oral Law and the belief in the necessity of direct, independent, and critical study of the Bible. A "Karaite" reads the Mikra (the Pentateuch) and recognizes the Scriptures as the exclusive source of religious law.
This biblical fundamentalism was the basis of their entire religiosity, and placed them irrevocably in opposition to talmudic Judaism. Some of the Karaite doctrines and customs distinguishing them from the Rabbanites are the literal interpretation of the biblical rules concerning the observance of the Sabbath, celebrating the festivals differently (they do not blow the shofar on Rosh ha‑Shanah nor do they wave the "four species" on Sukkot; and they ignore Hanukkah since it is not mentioned in the Bible). In addition, they are particularly severe with regard to the law on marriage among relatives. Their liturgy is mostly biblical psalmody, and they practice different methods of ritual slaughter--a custom which widened the rift between them and the Rabbanites, as they cannot share the same food.”
Note the Karaites did not accept the traditions regarding kashrut in the food laws even then. It was not powerful enough to destabilise the rabbinical tradition however.
“The Karaite attack was not powerful enough to demolish the rabbinical citadel but it did succeed in breaching its walls, for the sect recruited many converts. Towards the end of the eleventh century, the sect had adherents in most communities within the Muslim world and the Byzantine Empire: in the eastern parts of the caliphate, in Palestine and Egypt, in North Africa, in Spain, and in Asia Minor.” (ibid.)
Their failure was due to their inherent Zionism and as we know from prophecy they would not be allowed back into Jerusalem to reconstruct the Temple and establish the biblical system until it was done under the Witnesses and the Messiah at the end of this Age.
Barnavi refers to this Zionism as follows:
“The Karaites, however, considered the dispersion a calamity. Their doctrine emphatically stressed the obligation to live in the Land of Israel. Residing in Jerusalem, praying at its gates, submitting to severe practices of purification--these concrete measures were to hasten the End of Days: and without them there was no hope of Redemption. Hence the constant propaganda for a Return to Zion. And indeed, many of the sectarians were not content to preach, and sought to realize the ideal. Consequently, between the ninth and eleventh centuries, the ‘roses’--as the Karaites called themselves in contradistinction to the rabbinical ‘thorns’--comprised the majority of the Jewish community in Jerusalem.”
It, however, still has a small minority of Jews and a number of gentiles who know nothing of the Temple system. A number of ministers of the Armstrongite system peddle these rabbinical false claims in order to justify their following the Hillel calendar. That is in spite of the fact that the Rabbis themselves know it is hopelessly incorrect. However, the Rabbis themselves lack the courage to admit the rabbinical system itself is based on a lie.
The Karaite system is just as serious a heresy as the Hillel system it opposes.
The system using the Hillel calendar, especially the Armstrongite system, either does not know any better, and does not want to know any better, or is incapable of researching the matter. Either way they can’t or won’t teach the “members” of their people. We have even had some of these ministers repeat this blatant lie; that there was no Temple calendar. They don’t even seem to know that the creation itself, the heavens and the seasons, stand witness against them. Christ himself stood witness against the traditions of the Pharisees and no one until Armstrong and one of the COG (SD) Deacons had ever had anything to do with the Hillel system until a small element in Transylvania became heretics and finally joined Judaism a couple of centuries ago.
These people have no excuse for following this heresy and those that do corrupt the calendar and do not keep the Lord’s Supper or Atonement on the correct days except for very rare occasions when they have no alternative. They will not enter the First Resurrection. No element of Christianity in the fourth century was fooled by it as they had been keeping the calendar correctly for centuries after the fall of the Temple and were not fooled by it. Nor were the Athanasians who emerged as the Trinitarians after Constantinople in 381. At Nicea in 325 they agreed on the arrangements for Easter which was the pagan festival of Easter or Ishtar they adopted, which disrupted the calendar in some years, but they were never as heretical as Judaism became concerning the calendar.