Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Joshua ben Perachiah

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Rabbi Joshua ben Perahiah or Joshua ben Perachya (Hebrew: יהושע בן פרחיה‎‎) was Nasi of the Sanhedrin in the latter half of the 2nd century BCE.


With Nittai of Arbela, second of five pairs of scholars

He and his colleague Nittai of Arbela were the second of the five pairs (Zugot) of scholars who received and transmitted Jewish tradition (Avot i.6; Haggigah 16a).

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 Men. 109b apparently allude. However in Sanhedrin 107b and Sotah 47a it was during the persecutions of Pharisees 88-76 BCE 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 (Sotah 47a).

Teachings and advice

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia the following ethical maxim which shows his gentle judgment of his fellow men and his eagerness to spread knowledge among the people:

1:6 Joshua ben Perahiah and Nittai the Arbelite received [the Torah] from them. Joshua ben Perahiah says, "Set up a master for yourself. And get yourself a companion-disciple. And give everybody the benefit of the doubt." Pirke Avot: Timeless Wisdom for Modern Life p185 William Berkson - 2010

In one tradition, 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

Only a single halakhah of Joshua's has been preserved (Tosefta Maksh. 3:4). In other traditions he was known in Jewish magical papyri as an exorcist, and his name was used in incantations inscribed on magical bowls.


In another tradition he is also the teacher of Yeshu (in some 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.

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. His story is parallel to that of Elisha and Gehazi. Gustaf Dalman, Joachim Jeremias (1935, 1960), and others do not consider the Yeshu mentioned as Joshua's pupil to be Jesus.


Joshua ben Perachiah Wikipedia

Similar Topics
Vincent Asokan
Steffen Martus
Lydell Sargeant