A school among the Jews at the time of Christ, so called from the Aramaic Perushim, Seperated, because they held themselves apert from the rest of the nation. They claimed to have a mysterious knowledge unknown to the mass of the people, and pretended to the exclusive possession of the true meaning of the Scriptures, by virtue of the oral law and the secret traditions which having been recieved by Moses on Mount Sinai, had been transmitted to successive generations of initiates. They are supposed to have been essentially the same as the Assideans or Chasidim. The character of their organization is interesting to the Masonic student. They held a secret doctrine, of which the dogma of the resurrection was an important feature; they met in sodalities or societies, the members of which called themselves chabirim, fellows or associates; and they styled all who were outside of their mystical association, yom haharetz, or people of the land.
An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: By Albert Mackey, M.D. 1894 (pg.578)