Judas of Galilee
Judas of Galilee or Judas of Gamala was a Jewish leader who led an armed resistance to the census imposed for Roman tax purposes by Quirinius in Iudaea Province around 6 CE. The revolt was crushed brutally by the Romans. These events are discussed by Josephus in Jewish Wars and in Antiquities of the Jews.
Judas and Zealotry
In Antiquities of the Jews Josephus states that Judas, along with Zadok the Pharisee, founded the "fourth sect" of 1st century Judaism (the first three are the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes). Josephus blamed this fourth sect, which he called the Zealots, for the Great Jewish Revolt of 66-73 CE, though some modern scholars think they were actually different groups. The Zealots were a group of theocratic nationalists who preached that God alone was the ruler of Israel and urged that no taxes should be paid to Rome.
Josephus does not relate the death of Judas, although he does report that Judas' sons James and Simon were executed by procurator Tiberius Julius Alexander in about 46 CE. He also reports that Menahem, one of the early leaders of the Jewish Revolt in AD 66, was Judas' "son", but most scholars doubt this. Menahem may have been Judas' grandson, however. Menahem's cousin, Eleazar ben Ya'ir, then escaped to the fortress of Masada where he became a leader of the last defenders against the Roman Empire.
Judas is mentioned in the New Testament Book of Acts of the Apostles. The author has Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin, describe him as an example of a failed Messianic leader. This appears to be an error, since it refers to the revolt of Theudas - which would not actually take place for another ten years - as happening before that betrayal by Judas. Paul Barnett speculates that this might have been another leader of an uprising, who had the same name. This issue is referred to as the Theudas problem.
- Raymond Brown, An Adult Christ at Christmas: Essays on the Three Biblical Christmas Stories, Matthew 2 and Luke 2 by Raymond E. Brown (Liturgical Press, 1978), page 17.
- Flavius Josephus, Antiquities Book 18 Chapter 1
- Flavius Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.2 102
- Messianic claimants (12) Menahem
- Acts 5:37
- Paul Barnett, The Birth of Christianity, (Eerdmans, 2005), page 199.