MENAHEM SON OF JUDAH

MENAHEM SON OF JUDAH
MENAHEM SON OF JUDAH, patriot leader at the outset of the Roman War (66–70 C.E.). He was the son of Judah of Galilee, leader of the insurgents against the census of quirinus in 6 C.E. and must therefore have been well on in years at the time of the outbreak of the war. His most successful exploit was the capture of masada in the early stages of the war and his subsequent distribution of the contents of the armory to his followers. Menahem now led his forces to Jerusalem where the insurgents were besieging the royal palace and forced the Romans to surrender. Convinced that he could act as the leader of the rebels, he proceeded with a purge of the army, putting to death the former high priest ananias and his brother hezekiah . His assumption of power, however, was unacceptable to the Jerusalem insurgents (headed by Eleazar son of ananias ) who, according to Josephus, were unwilling to fight for their freedom against the Romans only to become enslaved under a despot of lowly origin. When Menahem came to pray in the Temple Court, dressed in royal garb   and accompanied by an armed guard, Eleazar and his men attacked him. Menahem was killed, and his followers forced to flee (Jos., Wars 2:443ff.). They regrouped themselves at Masada under eleazar son of Jair, a relative of Menahem, where they held out even after the fall of Jerusalem. The opposition of the Jerusalemites to Menahem and his followers was apparently due to a number of factors, among them the opposition of the Jerusalemites to revolutionary social changes and to the alleged messianic pretensions of Menahem. Geiger identifies Menahem with the Menahem mentioned in talmudic sources (TJ, Ḥag. 2:277d; Ḥag. 16b) and with the Menahem b. Hezekiah mentioned in the aggadah as the Messiah, born on the date of the destruction of the Temple (TJ, Ber. 2:4, 5a). Following the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, attempts have been made to identify the teacher of righteousness mentioned there with Menahem the insurgent leader or his relative Eleazar son of Jair. These suggestions must be treated with reserve, pending further research. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Graetz, Hist, 2 (1949), 260–1; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (19502), 149, 175; 5 (19512), 145–8; M. Hengel, Die Zeloten (1961), 365ff.; M. Stern, in: Ha-Ishiyyut ve-Dorah (1964), 70–78; G.R. Driver, The Judean Scrolls (1965), 276f.; 366f.; C. Roth, The Dead Sea Scrolls (1965), index. (Lea Roth)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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