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Hillel, son of Gamaliel III

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hillel, son of Gamaliel III, was a Jewish scholar in the 3rd century CE (second generation of amoraim).

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The A.D. Series has highlighted a number of historical figures that we know from sources outside of the Bible. One of those is the great teacher of Israel, Rabban Gamaliel, or Gamaliel as he is often referred to. He appears in the book of Acts, and, what's interesting to note is that these historical figures that walk into the bible It's not just to know that a historical figure is in the bible and Oh, we hear about them in Josephus, or Rabbinic sources or Roman sources But what's important for us as students of the Bible is that we would actually learn about them through these other sources because those things bear importance for us in understanding their role in the Gospels or in the New Testament. Like with Gamaliel in the book of Acts. We know about Gamaliel from other Jewish sources Rabbinic sources particularly. Gamaliel belongs to a very specific stream of piety, within the camp of the Pharisees. This group was of the house of Hillel. Hillel was a great sage who lived and actually died around the time of Jesus' birth. He was a sage who taught his disciples to focus on a very humane stream of piety. meaning, that you value each and every individual life. Now, in the First Century not everybody looked at the world that way. not all of Judaism looked at the world that way. You have for example, members of a group Josephus calls the "Fourth Philosophy" that believe that by spilling roman blood that they would not only kick Rome out, but bring about God's rule and reign on the earth. They didn't care about loving the individual. But Gamaliel belonged to that stream of piety that saw the value of each and every individual, So when we find him, in the book of Acts, in Chapter five. When Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin. We see Gamaliel acting in very specific ways that fit with what we know about him from Rabbinic sources. One of the things that Josephus tells us Is there was a tension between the Pharisees, like Gamaliel, and the Saduccess which are represented by the Chief Priest and Caiaphas. Now, some people have questioned weather or not Josephus is just creating this to be the reality, but we actually see this in the book of Act's. Because, clearly the Chief Priest are against Peter and John in the early church. But, Gamaliel comes in and stands up to defend the early followers of Jesus. Actually his word carries the day. So, what does he say in this .. hearing in front of the Sanhedrin? He say's look We know that we have had other Messianic pretenders and their movements and lets be honest, they have never amounted to anything. But, if this is from God, you don't want to be on the wrong side of this. It's never a good thing to oppose God. But, on the other hand If it's not from God, it will come to nothing. The people listened to him. They saw the wisdom in this. One of the things that is interesting Is he presents a very honest, Jewish representation of how you handle the messianic figures. You see, Jesus wasn't the only person in the First-Century with claims to being the Messiah. There were others. Some of them were military leaders, Some of them were prophetic figures, In fact, we hear it in Gamaliel's speech, a mention of an egyptian, who lead people astray. The thing is though, The messiah is going to be the messiah based upon what he does. Notice that in the gospel of Matthew that John the Baptist is in prison, and he send disciples to Jesus saying, are you the one who is to come? Or should we look for someone else? Jesus points go and tell John what you see and hear. The blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. The dead are raised. Jesus' points to God's working through His ministry. Notice, in the preaching in the book of Acts. What is it that the disciples point too as proof to that Jesus is the Messiah. Not where He was born, Not the star, not the wise men but, they point to Jesus of Nazareth a man anointed by God Who went about doing works, and signs, and healing all who were oppressed. They point to what Jesus did. But, even in the book of Acts after the resurrection, in chapter One. We hear the disciples asking Jesus Is it now that you are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel? They recognize that He still has to finish out His role as the Messiah. Jesus didn't argue with them He didn't deny that In fact, He said.. "Now is not the time. Only the Father knows the time." So, another words that is to come into the future. So, what we find With Gamaliel, is basically he is sitting here and saying Guy's, lets wait and see. Lets wait and see if this thing Is of God It's not going to be stopped. It's not going to be throated. But at the same time, if it is not, it will come to nothing. This is the way that many people. Within Jewish, History and tradition have responded to messianic figures. The thing we also see with Gamaliel, Who, Paul claims was his teacher. Is we see this very humane approach that says Even these guys Peter and John They have value and do not deserve cruelty and punishment Which is more the attitude of the Sadducees Chief priests, like Caiaphas. It's interesting, We hear a story about Gamaliel on his wedding night, from rabbinic sources He had taught his disciples that on their marital night they were permitted not to recite the "Hear, O' Israel" The Deuteronomy 6:4-9. What is called, the Shema. But, yet, on his wedding night, he chose to do it. His disciples asked him, why? He said, I will not for one moment seek to take off from myself God's rule and reign in my life. In this, was Gamaliel not only very close to the piety of Jesus, and the early church. But, he showed once again His view that God's reign is something that penetrates every moment of our lives And by him speaking about God's reign it also say's that he is not part of these blood thirsty individuals like the Fourth Philosophy like, the Zealots eventually become in the First Jewish Revolt that sought to spill roman blood as a way to bring about God's rule and reign


He was son of Gamaliel III, brother of Judah II, and probably a pupil of his grandfather Judah I.

Of his early history nothing is known. As illustrating his modesty the following incidents may be quoted: He and his brother were once at Biri, where people remonstrated against their walking on the Sabbath in shoes with golden buckles, which was not customary at that place: they resignedly removed their shoes and handed them over to their accompanying slaves. On another occasion at Kabul they were about to bathe together when the people informed them that they did not consider it moral for brothers to bathe together: Hillel and his brother thereupon desisted. In either case they could have shown the people that their acts were perfectly legal, but they preferred to comply with the local customs.[1]

While Hillel is not often quoted in connection with Jewish law, he was an able interpreter of the Hebrew Bible; this accounts for Origen seeking his society and consulting him frequently on difficult Biblical passages.

It was probably this Hillel that declared, "The Jews have no Messiah to expect, for they have already consumed him in the days of Hezekiah".[2]

Some credit this Hillel, and not his better-known namesake, with the authorship of the following maxims: "Separate not yourself from the community"; "Be not confident in thyself until the day of your death"; "Condemn not your neighbor until you have been placed in his condition"; "Use no unintelligible expressions assuming that ultimately they will be understood"; "Say not 'When I have leisure I shall study': you may never be at leisure".[3]


  1. ^ Tosefta Moed Kattan 2:15,16; Pesachim 51a
  2. ^ Sanhedrin 99a
  3. ^ Pirkei Avot 2:4; see Tosafot Yom Tov, ad loc.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "HILLEL BEN GAMALIEL III". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

External links

This page was last edited on 21 August 2019, at 17:51
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