Joshua ben Perachiah

Joshua ben Perahiah or Joshua ben Perachya (Hebrew: יהושע בן פרחיה, Yehoshua Ben Perachia) was Nasi of the Sanhedrin in the latter half of the 2nd century BC.[1]

With Nittai of Arbela, second of five pairs of scholarsEdit

He and his colleague Nittai of Arbela were the second of the five pairs (Zugot) of scholars who received and transmitted Jewish tradition.[2]

At the time of the persecution of the Pharisees by John Hyrcanus (c. 134-104 BC), Joshua was deposed — a disgrace to which his words in Menachot 109b apparently allude. However in Sanhedrin 107b and Sotah 47a it was during the persecutions of Pharisees 88-76 BC by Alexander Jannaeus, not John Hyrcanus whose persecution he fled. He fled to Alexandria, Egypt, but was recalled to Jerusalem when the persecutions ceased and the Pharisees again triumphed over the Sadducees.[3]

Teachings and adviceEdit

The following ethical maxim found in the Ethics of the Fathers shows his gentle judgment of his fellow men and his eagerness to spread knowledge among the people:

Joshua ben Perahiah and Nittai the Arbelite received [the Torah] from them. Joshua ben Perahiah says, "Set up a teacher [rav] for yourself. And get yourself a companion-disciple. And give everybody the benefit of the doubt."[4]

Only a single halakhah of Joshua's has been preserved: he objected to the import of wheat from Alexandria as impure because, with no rain falling on it, it was watered by still water in conflict with Leviticus 11:38.[5][6][7][8][9]

In other traditions he was known in Jewish magical papyri as an exorcist,[10][11] and his name was used in incantations inscribed on magical bowls.[12]


In another tradition he is also the teacher of Yeshu (in uncensored manuscripts of the Talmud), where he and Yeshu flee to Egypt. In other manuscripts his student is Judah ben Tabbai. The account as it appears in the Talmud is as follows:

What was the incident with R. Joshua b. Perahiah? — When King Jannaeus put the Rabbis to death, Simeon b. Shetah was hid by his sister, whilst R. Joshua b. Perahiah fled to Alexandria in Egypt. When there was peace, Simeon b. Shetah sent [this message to him]: 'From me, Jerusalem, the Holy city, to thee Alexandria in Egypt. O my sister, my husband25 dwelleth in thy midst and I abide desolate'. [R. Joshua] arose and came back and found himself in a certain inn where they paid him great respect. He said: 'How beautiful is this 'aksania'! Yeshu said to him, 'My master, her eyes are narrow!' He replied to him, 'Wicked person! Is it with such thoughts that thou occupiest thyself!' He sent forth four hundred horns and excommunicated him. [The disciple] came before him on many occasions, saying'Receive me'; but he refused to notice him. One day while [R. Joshua] was reciting the Shema', he came before him. His intention was to receive him and he made a sign to him with his hand, but the disciple thought he was repelling him. So he went and set up a brick and worshipped it. [R. Joshua] said to him, 'Repent'; but he answered him, 'Thus have I received from thee that whoever sinned and caused others to sin is deprived of the power of doing penitence'. A Master has said: The disciple practised magic and led Israel astray.[13]

Dunn (1992) considers this to be a story of Jesus from the late Amoraic period, which contains old polemical elements that were already current in New Testament times.[14] His story is parallel to that of Elisha and Gehazi.[15] However: Gustaf Dalman, Joachim Jeremias (1935, 1960), and others do not consider the Yeshu mentioned as Joshua's pupil to be Jesus.[16][17]


  1. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia; Weiss, Dor, i. 125-128; Heinrich Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, iii. 73, 87, 113, Leipzig, 1888.
  2. ^ Avot 1:6; Haggigah 16a
  3. ^ Sotah 47a
  4. ^ Pirkei Avot 1:6
  5. ^ Tosefta Makhshirin 3:2
  6. ^ The Halakhah: its sources and development 1996 "THE GEZEROT OF R. JOSHUA BEN PERAHIAH Not all the laws which originated in gezerot were transmitted in formulations ... Perahiah said: Wheat which comes from Alexandria is impure because of their [ie, the Alexandrians'] water-wheel.
  7. ^ The Jewish quarterly review: 42 Cyrus Adler, Solomon Schechter, Abraham Aaron Neuman - 1951 -Indeed, one of the conservatives of the Pharisee group, Joshua ben Perahiah, declared that the grain imported from Egypt was unclean, but the Pharisees interpreted the word seed to refer only to that detached from the ground.
  8. ^ Solomon Zeitlin's Studies in the early history of Judaism: 4 Solomon Zeitlin - 1978 "Similarly they disposed of the objection that Joshua ben Perahiah made to importing wheat from Egypt, where, as no rain falls, water is necessarily poured upon the seed, making it, according to that teacher, susceptible of uncleanness. ...
  9. ^ CCAR journal: 19-20 Central Conference of American Rabbis - 1972 Nittai the Arbelite occurs only alongside Joshua ben Perahiah, two traditions in two pericopae, Mishnah Avot and Mishnah Hagigah. Joshua in addition has three traditions in six pericopae: a saying on wheat from Alexandria, ...
  10. ^ Dunn "well known in Jewish magical tradition as an exorcist"
  11. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J 243 Geoffrey W. Bromiley - 1982 I have fenced you out by the ban which Joshua ben Perahiah sent against you" ( Neusner and Smith, p. 335). This evidence indicates the continuous existence and practice of exorcism in Judaism from the later post- exilic period into the ..."
  12. ^ Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur 1547 Wolfgang Haase - 1980 "... the name of a famous first century BC rabbi, Joshua ben Perahiah was used in incantations inscribed on magical bowls "
  13. ^ Sotah 47a, Sefaria
  14. ^ Jews and Christians: the parting of the ways, A.D. 70 to 135 p17 James D. G. Dunn - 1992 "D. What was the case of Rabbi Joshua ben Perahiah? E. When King Yannai put the Rabbis to death. [Shim'on ben Shetah was hidden by his sister and] Rabbi Joshua ben Perahiah and Yeshu fled to Alexandria in Egypt. F. When there was peace. ... The story of Jesus and Joshua ben Perahiah comes from the late Amoraic period but it contains old polemical elements that were already current in New Testament times"
  15. ^ Fashioning Jewish identity in medieval western Christendom p71 Robert Chazan - 2004 "and his mentor Elisha and the second involving Jesus the Nazarene and his teacher Rabbi Joshua ben Perahiah (to be dealt with shortly).14 Since the story of Gehazi and Elisha is followed by that of Jesus and Rabbi Joshua ben Perahiah, ..."
  16. ^ Die Abendmahlsworte Jesu 1935, 3rd Edition 1960 / Eucharistic Words of Jesus English translation 1966 "Footnote: "On the other hand, as Gustaf Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua, London and New York, 1922 (ET of Jesus-Jeschua, Leipzig, 1922), 89, rightly supposed, the often quoted passage b. Sanh. 43a (Bar.) : 'on the day of preparation Jeshu was hanged' does not refer to Jesus but to a namesake, a disciple of R. Joshua ben Perahiah (c. 100 bc), cf. b.Sanh. 107b ( Bar.) par. b.Sot 47a. 8 E. Schwartz, 'Osterbetrachtungen', ZNW 1 (1906)
  17. ^
    • Roger T. Beckwith, Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian, Brill Academic Publishers, 2005, p. 294. "... the rest of the baraita, which states he was first stoned, and that his execution was delayed for forty days while a herald went out inviting anyone to say a word in his favour, suggest that it may refer to a different Yeshu altogether." footnote citing Jeremias 1966.
    • Mark Allan Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, Westminster John Knox, 1998, p. 34. "Scholars debate whether there may be obscure references to Jesus in some of the collections of ancient Jewish writings, such as the Talmud, the Tosefta, the targums, and the midrashim... 'On the eve of Passover, they hanged Yeshu [= Jesus?] and the herald went before him 40 days... (Sanhedrin 43a)."
    • Amy-Jill Levine, The Historical Jesus in Context, Princeton University Press, 2008, p. 20. "Similarly controversial is the Babylonian Talmud's account of Jesus' death (to the extant that some Rabbinic experts do not think the reference is to the Jesus of the New Testament!)".
    • John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, p. 98. "…I think we can agree with [ Johann Maier ] on one basic point: in the earliest rabbinic sources, there is no clear or even probable reference to Jesus of Nazareth."
  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Joshua b. Perahyah". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
Preceded by Nasi
140 BC - 100 BC
Succeeded by