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Messianic claimants (1)


Judas, son of Hezekiah (4 BCE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.56 and Jewish Antiquities 17.271-272.

Story: In 4 BCE, king Herod the Great died. Immediately, there were several revolts against the rule of his son and successor, Herod Archelaus.

There was Judas, the son of that Hezekiah who had been head of the robbers. (This Hezekiah had been a very strong man, and had with great difficulty been caught by Herod.) Judas, having gotten together a multitude of men of a profligate character about Sepphoris in Galilee, made an assault upon the palace there, and seized upon all the weapons that were laid up in it, and with them armed every one of those that were with him, and carried away what money was left there. He became terrible to all men, by tearing and rending those that came near him; and all this in order to raise himself, and out of an ambitious desire of the royal dignity, for he hoped to obtain that as the reward not of his virtuous skill in war, but of his extravagance in doing injuries.
[Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 17.271-272]
Comment: Josephus does not tell what happened to Judas, but he was probably caught by the Roman governor of Syria, Publius Quinctilius Varus, who marched into Archelaus' realm to restore order (see below). Although Judas had 'an ambitious desire of the royal dignity', there are no indications in this story that his aspirations were messianic in nature.
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