Ishmael ben Phiabi II

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ISHMAEL BEN PHIABI (Phabi) II , high priest, appointed by Agrippa ii in 59 c.e. He is not to be confused with a high priest of the same name appointed by the procurator Valerius Gratus in 15 c.e. The Phiabi family was one of the few from whose ranks the high priests were chosen. The name suggests an Egyptian origin and the immigration of the family to Ereẓ Israel seems to have taken place in the time of Herod, when Joshua b. Phiabi held office as high priest (Jos., Ant. 15:322). According to Josephus, Ishmael was a member of the delegation sent to Rome in connection with Agrippa ii's opposition to the wall erected at the Temple by the priests (see Sabina *Poppaea). Though Nero upheld the appeal (Jos., Ant. 20:194–6), Ishmael was detained in Rome as one of the hostages and Joseph b. Simeon was appointed to succeed him. He apparently held office for a period of two years only. An Ishmael b. Phiabi is mentioned on various occasions in the Talmud as a righteous man, but it is not clear which of them is referred to. A well-known baraita (Pes. 57a; Ker. 28b; Tosef., Men. 13:21) states: "Woe is me because of the house of Ishmael b. Phiabi, woe is me because of their fists," etc., but it continues that "the Temple court cried out, 'Lift up your heads, Oye gates, and let Ishmael the son of Phiabi, Phinehas' disciple, enter and serve as high priest.'" The Mishnah also states that with his death the glory of the high priesthood departed (Sot. 9:15). He was one of those who prepared the ashes of the *red heifer, of which only seven (or nine) were prepared in the whole history of the Second Temple (3:5). A slightly different version is given in the Tosefta (Par. 3:6; cf. Num. R. 19:10), which suggests that he prepared two, the first not in accordance with the Pharisaic requirements, whereupon he prepared the second. According to Buechler, this accounts for the favorable mention of a Sadducean priest by the Talmud. Derenbourg is of the opinion that this act is to be ascribed to the first Ishmael.


Derenbourg, Hist, 237ff., 250; Hyman, Toledot, 838–9, s.v.; A. Buechler, Das Synedrion in Jerusalem (1902), 96; Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (19074), 269, 272; A. Zacut(o), Sefer Yuḥasin ha-Shalem, ed. by H. Filipowski (19252), 24; Graetz, Hist, 2 (1949), 246; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (19512), 21–22, 24–26.

[Lea Roth]