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Matthias ben Theophilus


MATTHIAS BEN THEOPHILUS , the name of two high priests at the close of the Second Temple period.

Matthias ben Theophilus i (early first century c.e.)

matthias ben theophilus i was for all practical purposes the first high priest originating from Ereẓ Israel to be appointed by Herod after *Aristobulus iii. He succeeded *Simeon b. Boethus, the king's father-in-law, and preceded Joezer b. Boethus (see *Boethusians). Josephus notes that Matthias was a Jerusalemite (Ant., 17:78). He also relates that on one occasion Matthias was prevented from officiating on the Day of Atonement through being ritually unclean, and *Joseph b. Elem had to officiate in his place (ibid., 165). This incident is also recorded in the Talmud (Yoma 12b; tj, ibid., 1:1, 38d). Herod, although on his deathbed, replaced Matthias as he held him partially responsible for the disorders in the Temple caused by the two patriots, Judas b. Sepphoraeus and Matthias b. Margalus. It would appear that Matthias was connected in some way with the house of *Anan and presumably it was no coincidence that one of Anan's sons was named Matthias (Jos., Ant., 19:316, 342) and another *Theophilus (ibid., 18:123; 19:297). It is possible that the elder Anan married the daughter of Matthias.

Matthias ben Theophilus ii (late first century c.e.)

matthias ben theophilus ii was appointed high priest by Agrippa ii in succession to *Joshua b. Gamala (ibid., 20:223). It seems probable that he was the son of Theophilus b. Anan. His period of office witnessed the outbreak of the Jewish War (66 c.e.).


matthias ben theophilus i: Derenbourg, Hist, 160; Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (19074), 270 no. 5; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (19502), 163, 165; A. Schalit, Koenig Herodes (1969), 635, 638. matthias ben theophilus ii: Graetz, Hist, 2 (1893), 249ff., 752ff.; Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (19074), 273, no. 27; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (19512), 24, 235.

[Menahem Stern]

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