Joshua 'Jesus' ben Gamla / Gamaliel, High Priest of Iudaea

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Joshua 'Jesus' ben Gamla / Gamaliel, High Priest of Iudaea

Also Known As: "Jesus ben Gamala", "Yehoshua ben Gamla"
Birthdate: (34)
Death: circa 68 (26-42)
Jerusalem, Israel (killed with Ananius by Zealots taking retribution for Ananius' stoning of James the Just)
Immediate Family:

Son of NN father of Joshua 'Jesus' Gamla / Gamaliel
Husband of Martha daughter of Boethus

Managed by: Sharon Lee Doubell
Last Updated:

About Joshua 'Jesus' ben Gamla / Gamaliel, High Priest of Iudaea



A high priest who officiated about 64 C.E. He married the rich widow Martha of the high-priestly family Boethos (Yeb. vi. 4), and she by bribing Agrippa II. (not Jannai, as Talmudic sources say) secured for him the office of high priest (Yeb. 61a; Yoma 18a; comp. "Ant." xx. 9, § 4). Although Joshua himself was not a scholar, he was solicitous for the instruction of the young, and provided schools in every town for children over five years of age, earning thereby the praises of posterity (B. B. 21a). The two lots used on the Day of Atonement, hitherto of boxwood, he made of gold (Yoma iii. 9).

Joshua did not remain long in office, being forced, after a year, to give way to Matthias ben Theophil ("Ant." xx. 9, § 7). Together with the former high priest Anan and other men of rank, he opposed, but without success, the election of Phinehas b. Samuel (68) as high priest ("B. J." iv. 3, § 9). He attempted peaceably to prevent the fanatic and pugnacious Idumeans from entering Jerusalem, then torn by internal dissensions. After they had come into possession of the city, these fanatics took bloody vengeance on him, by executing him, as well as Anan, as traitors to their country (68) ("B. J." iv. 5, § 2).


In addition to the authorities mentioned above,

  • Derenbourg, Histoire de la Palestine, p. 248;
  • Grätz, in Monatsschrift, xxx. 59;
  • Strassburger, Gesch. der Erziehung bei den Israeliten, p. 20;
  • Schürer, Gesch. der Juden, i. 584, 618; ii. 221, 424.


High priest about 62-63 C.E. He was appointed by King Agrippa II., after Anan, son of Anan, had been deposed (Josephus, "Ant." xx. 9, § 1). Joshua also was soon deposed by the king, and in his place Jesus (Joshua) b. Gamaliel (Gamla) received the high-priestly dignity. A strife ensued between the deposed and the new high priest; they insulted each other in the public streets and even threw stones at each other (ib. § 4), but Jesus b. Gamaliel remained the victor.


  • Schürer, Gesch. des Jüdischen Volkes, 3d ed., i. 584, ii. 220.


Joshua ben Gamla (d. 69/70)

High priest. He married one of the wealthiest women in Jerusalem (Martha, daughter of Boethus). He established a universal system of education throughout Palestine. An opponent of the Zealots at the time of the Jewish rebellion against Rome, he was put to death by the Idumeans


JOSHUA BEN GAMLA (d. 69/70 C.E.)

a high priest in the last years of the Second Temple. Joshua was married to one of the wealthiest women of Jerusalem, *Martha, daughter of Boethus (Yev. 6:4; ibid., 61a; Yoma 18a and Tos. ibid.; Git. 56a). He is apparently to be identified with the Joshua b. Gamaliel referred to by Josephus (Ant., 20:213) as a high priest appointed by *Agrippa II. In common with the high priests at the end of the Second Temple period Joshua, too, was appointed to office because of his wealth. Although most of the others were deprecated in rabbinic literature, Joshua was singled out for praise for his establishing a universal system of education after all previous attempts failed. He evolved a system whereby "teachers of young children be appointed in each district and each town," whereas previously they were to be found only in Jerusalem. In addition he laid down sound pedagogical principles. Because of this, it was said of him: "Truly, the name of that man is blessed… since but for him the Torah would have been forgotten in Israel" (BB 21a). Some scholars deny the historicity of this story, maintaining that the establishment of the schools was wrongly attributed to Joshua by later writers. However, Klausner affirms its historical accuracy. The Mishnah also mentions an improvement made by Joshua in the Temple appurtenances. He substituted for the boxwood casket from which the lots were drawn for the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement one of gold, "and his memory was therefore kept in honor" (Yoma 3:9).

Josephus, who describes Joshua as his intimate friend (Life, 204), says he was one of the most vehement opponents of the extremist Zealots at the time of the Roman War (Wars, 4:160). He cites the speech made by Joshua (apparently son of Gamla), the high priest, to the Idumeans who had been invited by the Zealots to assist them against their enemies. He tried unsuccessfully to influence them to desist from this step (ibid., 238ff.). After the Idumeans entered Jerusalem, they put him to death, together with other opponents of the Zealots (ibid., 316). Josephus praises him greatly, saying of him that "he stood far above the rest" (ibid., 322).


  • Graetz, Hist, 2 (1893), 249, 277–8, 294–6;
  • Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19014), 584, 618; 2 (19074), 273, 494;
  • Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 176–7; 5 (19512), 22–24;
  • N. Morris, The Jewish School… (1937), index.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.


Agrippa II might also have been influenced to instate Martha Boethus' husband by the fact that his Aunt, Herodias had married Herod Boethus & produced his cousin, Salome Boethus - of John the Baptist fame - who married his other cousin (child of his uncle Herod of Chalcis), Aristobulus) [Sharon April 2012]


High Priests under Herodians and Romans

During the First Jewish-Roman War

  • Phannias ben Samuel 67-70

The House of Boethus

  • Simon ben Boethus 23-5 BC (his daughter Mariamne was third wife of Herod the Great)
  • Joazar, son of Boethus (4 BC and before 6 AD), unpopular and an advocate of compliance with the Roman census
  • Eleazar, son of Boethus (4-3 BC)
  • Simon Cantheras, son of Boethus (41-42 AD)
  • Elioneus, son of Simon Cantheras (43-44 AD)
  • Joshua, son of Gamaliel (64 AD), whose wife Martha belonged to the house

The House of Ananus

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Joshua 'Jesus' ben Gamla / Gamaliel, High Priest of Iudaea's Timeline

Age 33
Jerusalem, Israel