JOSHUA HA-GARSI (middle of the second century c.e.), mentioned only once, indirectly, in a tannaitic source (Tosef. Makh. 3:13; tb, Bekh. 10b) by R. Jose, who transmits a halakhah in the name of "Onomis, the brother of Joshua the Garsi." The Babylonian Talmud relates that Joshua the Garsi was once asked a question concerning the writing of tefillin, which he answered by means of an aggadah (Shab. 108a, but cf. tj, Meg. 1:9, 71d). According to the Babylonian Talmud (Er. 21b), Joshua attended upon *Akiva when he was sentenced by Tinneius Rufus. Stories about the deeds of Joshua and his ministrations to Akiva when the latter was in prison are also preserved in the Midrash (Lam. R. 3, Mid. Prov., ch. 9). Opinions differ on the meaning of his name. Some hold he was named for his locality Gerasa in Transjordan, one of the towns of the Decapolis; according to others his locality was Garsis (or Doris) in Galilee, near Sepphoris (cf. Jos., Wars, 3:129). A third opinion is that the name refers to his avocation, a grinder of gerisim ("grits").
Hyman, Toledot, 652; S. Lieberman, Tosefet Rishonim, 4 (1939), 119.
[Israel Moses Ta-Shma /
Stephen G. Wald (2nd ed.)]