Judas of Galilee

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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 AD.[1] The revolt was crushed brutally by the Romans. These events are discussed by Josephus in The Jewish War and in Antiquities of the Jews and mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

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 being 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[who?] 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.[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 referred to in Acts of the Apostles, in which a speech by Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin, identifies Theudas and Judas as examples of failed Messianic movements, and suggests that the movement emerging in the name of Jesus of Nazareth could similarly fail.[5]

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

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