These were in the majority and were the most popular of all the groups. Their aim was to interpret the Torah in the most literal way and they demanded a strict observance of the Mosaic Law. Apart from the Torah itself, they composed a huge number of what has become known as the “unwritten law”, the oral interpretation of the Torah which has been collected in the Talmud and the Mishnah.
They also formed a group in the Sanhedrin and were quite ready to accept the priestly authority of the Sadducees as long as they were left alone with their interpretation and understanding of the law.
They were very rigorous in their demands and were felt to be laying heavy burdens on the shoulders of the people in terms of requiring them to obey mundane laws which really had no basis for them in the written Torah. They have also been described as hypocrites, people who preached one thing and did another.
They, in spite of all this had a large following among the people and when the temple was destroyed and with the disappearance of the Sadducees that had to follow this since the latter depended solely on the existence of the temple, they are responsible for the continuation of the Judaism the way we know it today.