Matthias ben Theophilus II, High Priest of Iudaea

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Matthias ben Theophilus II, High Priest of Iudaea

Hebrew: מתתיהו בן תיאופילוס השני, כהן גדול
Immediate Family:

Son of Theophilus ben Ananus, High Priest of Iudaea
Brother of Jonathan ben Theophilus

Managed by: Sharon Doubell
Last Updated:

About Matthias ben Theophilus II, High Priest of Iudaea



By: Isidore Singer, Samuel Krauss, in Jewish Encyclopedia

Name of two high priests.

1. Matthias ben Theophilus, I: The successor of Simon ben Boethus, and, unlike the other high priests appointed by Herod, who were foreigners, a native of Jerusalem (Josephus, "Ant." xvii. 4, § 2).

On the eve of a Day of Atonement—for the priest the most important time in the year—he had become ritually unclean, and consequently was unable to perform the duties of his office, which were discharged instead by his kinsman Joseph ben Ellem ("Ant." xvii. 6, § 4). This occurrence is mentioned in the Talmud (Tosef., Yoma, i. 4; Yoma 12b; Yer. Yoma 38d), although the name of Matthias ben Theophilus is omitted. His deposition, however, was not due to this cause, but to the fact that he was supposed to have been implicated in the insurrection when the golden eagle (emblem of the Roman Empire) was pulled down from the gate of the Temple (see Judah ben Zippori). His tenure of office lasted only one or two years (5-4 B.C.).

2. Matthias ben Theophilus, II: A descendant, apparently, of the preceding, and the last high priest but one. He was in office in 65 C.E., when the war against the Romans broke out (Josephus, "Ant." xx. 9, § 7).

During the troubles in Jerusalem which preceded the siege by Titus ("B. J." iv. 3, § 7) he was deposed, since he, like the other aristocrats, belonged to the peace party, one of his sons having even sought refuge with the Romans. Matthias was put to death as a dangerous character by the very Simon ben Gioras whom he had invited to Jerusalem to subdue the revolutionists ("B. J." vi. 2, § 2). According to Grätz, it is he who is referred to in a Talmudic story which relates that once, on a Day of Atonement, a high priest remained in the Holy of Holies a longer time than usual praying for the Sanctuary, which was in danger of destruction by the Zealots (Tosef., Yoma, ii. 5; Yoma 53b; Yer. Yoma 42c).


  • Derenbourg, Histoire de la Palestine, p. 160;
  • Grätz, in Monatsschrift, 1881, pp. 51 et seq.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 737, 750;
  • Schürer, Gesch. ii. 217-220.


Matthias ben Theophilus II (c. 60 CE)

was the Jewish High Priest (Kohen Gadol) at the start of the Jewish Revolution, and was overthrown by Revolutionary forces. A minority of scholars believe him to be the same as the Theophilus mentioned in the Bible. One author argues that Mattathias ben Theophilus was the father of Josephus.[2

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