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The Pharisees were a Jewish religious party during the time of Jesus. They were very strict in obeying the Law of Moses and other regulations which had been added to it through the centuries.
In the New Testament they are portrayed as legalistic. Instead of being compassionate toward others, they were more concerned with keeping all the regulations that had been made up by earlier teachers of the law. Instead of following the spirit of the Law they followed the letter of the laws.
The word Pharisee means something like "someone who is set apart or separated". The Greek word in the New Testament for Pharisee is Φαρισαιος.
The word Pharisee is sometimes used today to describe a person who follows the letter of the law, but doesn't understand or live by the underlying spirit of the law.