In the Middle Ages the Jewish people was torn asunder by the controversy of the Rabbanites and Karaites.
Ostensibly the conflict was concerned with the authority of the rabbinic tradition, with the Karaites claiming that only what is written in black and white in Scripture is entitled to be called Judaism.
Unfortunately there was also a hidden agenda. The Karaite revolt, though presented as a genuine religious difference of opinion, arose out of personal pique and served sectional political ends.
In a sense, the spiritual forebears of the Karaites were Korach and his followers, who also claimed to be motivated by genuine concern for God and the Torah – Moses and Aaron, they argued, were autocrats, out of touch with the democratic nature of true Judaism; the Korachite slogan was that “The whole congregation, all of them, are holy, and God is in their midst” (Num. 16:3)… but underlying the argument was personal ambition and political status.
The tragedy was that Korach won votes by pretending to be the champion of the people, but if he had succeeded in overthrowing Moses the likelihood is that he would have become not only a demagogue but a dictator.