Simeon ben Gamliel

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Simeon ben Gamliel (I) (Hebrew: שמעון בן גמליאל or רשב"ג הראשון; c. 10 BCE – 70 CE) was a Tanna sage and leader of the Jewish people. He served as nasi of the Great Sanhedrin at Jerusalem during the outbreak of the First Jewish–Roman War, succeeding his father in the same office after his father's death in 52 CE and just before the destruction of the Second Temple.

The great-grandson of Hillel the Elder, he was considered to be a direct descendant of King David.[1][2] He was a contemporary of the high priests Ḥanan ben Ḥanan and Yehoshua ben Gamla.

He is one of the Ten Martyrs mentioned in Jewish liturgy. According to the Iggeret of Rabbi Sherira Gaon he was beheaded, along with Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha the High Priest, prior to the Temple's destruction,[3][4] although the historian Josephus Flavius mentions only the execution of Ishmael in Cyrene during the First Jewish–Roman War (ca. 66-68 CE).[5] The account is mentioned in both Tractate Semachot ch 8, and in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan (38:3), where he is given the title of nasi, along with the dignitary title of "Rabban" ("our Master"). No contemporary Greek or Roman historian has left an account of his beheading by the Romans at Cyrene, but Josephus may have alluded to the cause by writing in his Vita that Simeon, during the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt, gave his verbal support to the warring faction in Galilee under John of Gischala. Before his death, he and his fellow jurists opposed the appointment of Josephus as military governor of the Galilee and sought to remove him from that post, but to no avail.[6]

His tomb is traditionally located in Kafr Kanna, in the lower Galilee of northern Israel.[7]


  • All my life have I been reared among the Sages, but I have found nothing better for the body than silence; 'Tis not the conveyance of teachings which is the principal [aim], but rather the discharge of one's duty (i.e. action). Whosoever is verbose brings on sin.[8]
  • By three things is the world sustained: by judgment, by truth, and by peace.[9]


  1. ^ (Hebrew) "תלמוד ירושלמי - מסכת כלאיים, פרק ט".
    Yitzhak Buxbaum (2008), The Life and Teachings of Hillel, Jason Aronson, Incorporated, p. 304, ISBN 978-0742565876, Ketubot 62b says that Rabbi Judah the Prince, was a descendant of King David on his mother's side, via Shefatiah, David's son by his wife Avital, and Hillel [the Elder].
  2. ^ Wilhelm Bacher, Jacob Zallel Lauterbach, Simeon II. (Ben Gamaliel I.), Jewish Encyclopedia [1]. N.b.: the Jewish Encyclopedia speaks of "his grandfather Hillel", in a generic sense, but the genealogical sequence was Hillel the Elder > Simeon ben Hillel > Gamaliel the Elder > Simeon ben Gamliel.
  3. ^ Gaon, Sherira (1988). The Iggeres of Rav Sherira Gaon. Translated by Nosson Dovid Rabinowich. Jerusalem: Rabbi Jacob Joseph School Press - Ahavath Torah Institute Moznaim. p. 86 (chapter 8). OCLC 923562173.
  4. ^ Cf. Kiara, S. (1987). Ezriel Hildesheimer (ed.). Sefer Halachot Gedolot (in Hebrew). Vol. 3. Jerusalem. p. 339 (Tosefet le-Hilkot Kodashim). OCLC 754744801. These are the nasi'im of Israel: Hillel the Elder, Shimon his son, Gamliel his son, Rabban Simeon ben Gamliel who was killed with R. Ismael ben Elisha. These [lived] during the Second Temple period.
  5. ^ Josephus, The Jewish War (6.2.2.). Emil Schürer (q.v.) and H. St. J. Thackeray thought this high priest to be Ishmael ben Phiabi II.
  6. ^ Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus, (abbreviated Life or Vita), § 38
  7. ^ Tomb of Shimon ben Gamliel vandalized, Jerusalem Post, April 21, 2006 (accessed August 25, 2019).
  8. ^ Pirkei Avot 1:17
  9. ^ Pirkei Avot 1:18
Preceded by Nasi
Succeeded by