Binding and Loosing [Akin]

jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/chains-300x225.jpgJust a quick note to keep track of something of apologetic interest.

I’m currently continuing my project of summarizing Josephus’s**Jewish War*, and there is a passage in it in which he refers to “binding and loosing” (a phrase also found in the teachings of Jesus; cf. Matt 16:19, 18:18; and in other Jewish writings).

Josephus records:

(110) And now the Pharisees joined themselves to her Queen Salome Alexandra of Jerusalem], 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) Now, Alexandra hearkened to them to an extraordinary degree, as being herself a woman of great piety towards God. But these Pharisees artfully insinuated themselves into her favor by little and little, and became themselves the real administrators of the public affairs; they banished and reduced whom they pleased; they bound and loosed at their pleasure;*and, to say all at once, they had the enjoyment of the royal authority, whilst 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 together; so that she increased the army the one half, and procured a great body of foreign troops, till her own nation became not only very powerful at home, but terrible also to foreign potentates, while she governed other people, and the Pharisees governed her Jewish War 1:5:2].

Here “binding and loosing” appears to refer to the exercise of government, or of the making of authoritative rules of conduct for the community. William Whiston inserts “[men]” after “they bound and loosed,” suggesting an individual application of this authority (i.e., forgiving and absolving individuals), though this is not suggested by the text itself. It is also not excluded by the text.
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