Judas of Galilee

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Judas of Galilee or Judas of Gamala was a Jewish leader who led resistance to the census imposed for Roman tax purposes by Quirinius in Iudaea Province around 6 AD.[1] The revolt began by persuading many Jews not to register and was followed by an attack on those who did register, burning their property and stealing their cattle. These events appear in Josephus in Jewish Wars and in Antiquities of the Jews.

Judas and Zealotry[edit]

In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus states that Judas, along with Zadok the Pharisee, founded the "fourth sect" of 1st century Judaism[2] (the first three are the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes). Josephus blamed this fourth sect, which he called the Zealots, for the First Jewish–Roman War of 66-73 AD, although some modern scholars think they[who?] 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.[citation needed]

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 AD.[3] He also reports that Menahem ben Judah, one of the early leaders of the Jewish Revolt in 66 AD, was Judas' "son", but most scholars doubt this. Menahem may have been Judas' grandson, however.[4] 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 Acts of the Apostles as rising up during "the days of the enrollment," which is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (to which Acts is generally recognized as a sequel by the same author) as being near the time of the nativity of Jesus. Josephus likewise links his uprising to the Census of Quirinius around 6 AD. The author of Acts has Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin, describe him as an example of a failed Messianic leader.[5] In the same sentence, Gamaliel also refers to the revolt of Theudas—which according to Josephus's writings would not actually take place for another ten years—as happening before that by Judas, creating a conflict between the two accounts. Paul Barnett speculates that this might have been another leader of an uprising, who had the same name.[6] This issue is referred to as the Theudas problem.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Flavius Josephus, Antiquities Book 18 Chapter 1
  3. ^ Flavius Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.2 102
  4. ^ Messianic claimants (12) Menahem
  5. ^ Acts 5:37
  6. ^ Paul Barnett, The Birth of Christianity, (Eerdmans, 2005), page 199.

External links[edit]