The Other Jesuses

Joshua was the Jewish leader who, according to the Jewish religious texts, led the Israelites in a brutal campaign to conquer Canaan. Because he was a national hero, many young men were named in his honor, as is still done with many names today. The historian, Titus Flavius Josephus, mentions around 20 of them in his histories.

The histories of these men is very interesting, and some of their stories have fascinating elements.

The most famous of these is Joshua ben Yosef, or in Greek, Jesus Christos. His story is covered in the four Gospels, so you should be familiar with them.

Joshua ben Gamla was a high priest whose rich wife bought his the post in 64 AD, but he was forced out of his post in less than a year. During the Jewish revolt against the Romans, there was also a civil war between various Jewish factions for dominance (68 AD). Joshua tried to peacefully prevent the Idumeans from entering Jerusalem. Once they took over, they brutally murdered him and others, his body thrown to the dogs and carrion birds.

Another was Joshua ben Ananias. He was a holy man who came to Jerusalem in 62 AD. I will supply the entire part of story from Josephus because it is so interesting.

“Four years before the war, when the city was enjoying profound peace and prosperity, there came to the feast at which it is the custom of all Jews to erect tabernacles to God, one Jesus, son of Ananias, a rude peasant, who suddenly began to cry out, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the sanctuary, a voice against the bridegroom and the bride, a voice against all the people.” Day and night he went about all the alleys with this cry on his lips. Some of the leading citizens, incensed at these ill-omened words, arrested the fellow and severely chastised him. But he, without a word on his own behalf or for the private ear of those who smote him, only continued his cries as before. Thereupon, the magistrates, supposing, as was indeed the case, that the man was under some supernatural impulse, brought him before the Roman governor (actually Roman Procurator of Judea); there, although flayed to the bone with scourges, he neither sued for mercy nor shed a tear, but, merely introducing the most mournful of variations into his ejaculation, responded to each stroke with “Woe to Jerusalem!” When Albinus, the governor (actually Roman Procurator of Judea), asked him who and whence he was and why he uttered these cries, he answered him never a word, but unceasingly reiterated his dirge over the city, until Albinus pronounced him a maniac and let him go. During the whole period up to the outbreak of war he neither approached nor was seen talking to any of the citizens, but daily, like a prayer that he had conned, repeated his lament, “Woe to Jerusalem!” He neither cursed any of those who beat him from day to day, nor blessed those who offered him food: to all men that melancholy presage was his one reply. His cries were loudest at the festivals. So for seven years and five months he continued his wail, his voice never flagging nor his strength exhausted, until in the siege, having seen his presage verified, he found his rest. For, while going his round and shouting in piercing tones from the wall, “Woe once more to the city and to the people and to the temple,” as he added a last word, “and woe to me also,” a stone hurled from the ballista struck and killed him on the spot. So with those ominous words still upon his lips he passed away.” – Book 6, Chapter 5, Section 3

The last one I will mention is Joshua ben Pandira. He was considered a miracle-worker who lived at the time of King Alexander Jannaeus (106-79 BC). He may be the founder or an early member of the Essenes, a small Jewish sect of which the Nazarenes were a later sub-group. He got himself in trouble with the authorities preaching about the soon to come end of times. He was captured and executed by being hung on a tree at the eve of Passover.

History can be fun, and I hope that you will discover more interesting things.


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