Simon of Peraea
Simon of Peraea or Simon son of Joseph was a former slave of Herod the Great who rebelled and was killed by the Romans in between 4 BC and 15 AD. Some have identified him as possibly being the messiah of Gabriel's Revelation, but this is disputed. He is mentioned by Flavius Josephus.
According to Josephus:
- "There was also Simon, who had been a slave of king Herod, but in other respects a comely person, of a tall and robust body; he was one that was much superior to others of his order, and had had great things committed to his care. This man was elevated at the disorderly state of things, and was so bold as to put a diadem on his head, while a certain number of the people stood by him, and by them he was declared to be a king, and he thought himself more worthy of that dignity than any one else."
- "He burnt down the royal palace at Jericho, and plundered what was left in it. He also set fire to many other of the king's houses in several places of the country, utterly destroyed them, and permitted those that were with him to take what was left in them for a prey. He would have done greater things, but care was taken to repress him immediately. [The commander of Herod's infantry] Gratus joined himself to some Roman soldiers, took the forces he had with him, and met Simon. And after a great and a long fight, no small part of those that had come from Peraea (a disordered body of men, fighting rather in a bold than in a skillful manner) were destroyed. Although Simon had saved himself by flying away through a certain valley, Gratus overtook him, and cut off his head."
A tablet, known as the Gabriel's Revelation or The Jeselsohn Stone, was likely found near the Dead Sea some time around the year 2000. It has been associated with the same community which created the Dead Sea scrolls, but does not mention Simon. Israel Knohl formerly read the inscription as a command from the angel Gabriel "to rise from the dead within three days". He took this command to be directed at a 1st-century Jewish rebel called Simon, who was killed by the Romans in 4 BC. Knohl believed that the finding "calls for a complete reassessment of all previous scholarship on the subject of messianism, Jewish and Christian alike". In 2009 the National Geographic Channel aired The First Jesus? which addressed the claims and controversy.
Knohl has eventually abandoned this reading, in favor of Ronald Hendel's reading (followed by Qimron & Yuditsky): "By three days the sign".:43 n. 12 He still maintains the historical background of the inscription to be as mentioned above. He now views Simon's death, according to the inscription, as "an essential part of the redemptive process. The blood of the slain messiah paves the way for the final salvation".:47-48
Christians interpret the stone not as referring to Simon of Peraea or any other messianic figure, but as part of the flood of prophetic revelations that accompanied the fervent messianic hope that was present in the first century. This is seen to them as tantamount to further evidence for the expected resurrection of the messiah.
- "Simon of Peraea (4 BCE)" www.livius.org
- Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.57-59 and Jewish Antiquities 17.273-277
- Knohl, Israel (April 19, 2007). "In three days, you shall live". Haaretz. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- "THE FIRST JESUS FACTS" channel.nationalgeographic.com Archived 2010-08-19 at the Wayback Machine
- Israel Knohl, "The Apocalyptic and Messianic Dimensions of the Gabriel Revelation in Their Historical Context", in Matthias Henze (ed.), Hazon Gabriel: New Readings of the Gabriel Revelation (Early Judaism and Its Literature 29), Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011.