By Robert Wurtz II
The term Am Ha Eretz means the 'People of the Land' as in 'the people of the land of Israel. As the Pharisees made their metamorphosis into Rabbi's they changed that word to describe people who refused to accept the Rabbi's authority. While the Pharisee's were working at Yavneh (Jamnia) a series of events took place in which cooperation with Rome gave the Pharisee's great political power as they made to jump (as it were) to Rabbinic Judaism. Most Jews before the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE did NOT accept Rabbinic authority so a series of strong arm tactics began to FORCE the Jews into obedience. The authority granted to Yohanan ben Zakkai gave the Rabbi's the necessary power to alienate everyone who would not accept their authority. The Sanhedrin, for example, would allow testimonies against an 'am ha eretz', but would not allow testimony FOR them in their defense. They could not testify for anyone including themselves. They had no rights before the court of the Sanhedrin. The Rabbis then took to publicly shunning those who would not accept their rule, and began to interfere in their personal lives. In Yeb.90b the Rabbi's reserved the right to ANNUL any marriage because they were contracted in accordance with Rabbinic statutes. The Rabbis also reserved the right to confescate their possessions as did Ezra (see Ezra10:8 Strange how they appeal to the written law when convenient). The Rabbis were so cruel to the people that if anyone desired to marry an am ha eretz they considered it as beastiality. They used the reasoning 'cursed be anyone who lies with a beast.' Dan Gruber quotes R. Meir in this regard saying... 'whoever marries his daughter to an am ha eretz is as though he has laid her before a lion.' They depicted them as LESS than human. It was even permitted to kill an am ha eretz in the holiest of times as though he were a beast (The cruelty is depicted by Gruber on P.135-139 of his book 'Rabbi Akiba's Messiah.')
It is important to note that there were MANY Jews and Pharisees that believed in Jesus as their Messiah and that the systematic methodology and travesty of Akiba all but stamped them out in time. Everything under the sun was done, and there was no limit to the madness of the Rabbis in securing their authority and eliminating ANY threats against them. For this cause the numbers of Christian Jews dwindled down and down and down. Soon the Gentiles would begin to believe that the Jews had rejected Jesus. And when this happened the seeds of Anti-Semitism began to be sown and a vicious cycle of abuse towards the Jews came into full swing. The believers in Jesus were hated by the Rabbis and the gentiles despised their Jewishness and stereotyped them all until the fire of evangelism was stamped out into a mere remnant. It is God's desire to turn this around for His good and the souls of them for whom Christ died-yet they are sorely deceived.