Simeon ben Boethus

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SIMEON BEN BOETHUS (surnamed Cantheras ), high priest, appointed by Agrippa i in succession to Theophilus b. Anan. According to Josephus, Simeon's two brothers were also high priests, as was his father, Boethus, who because of his daughter Miriam (Mariamne) was nominated to the high priesthood by Herod (Jos., Ant. 19:297). This account, however, differs from another statement (ibid. 15:319–322) by Josephus to the effect that Herod married the daughter of Simeon b. Boethus, whom he appointed high priest and whose two brothers (according to another suggestion, his sons), Joezer and Eleazar, were also high priests. Of these two versions, the former is to be preferred, namely, that Boethus was appointed to the high priesthood by Herod, and his son Simeon by Agrippa i. Simeon Cantheras was not high priest for long, being deposed by Agrippa in favor of Matthias b. Anan (ibid. 19:313–6), who was likewise removed by Agrippa after a short while and replaced by Elyehoenai (Elionaeus) b. Cantheras (ibid. 19:342). A high priest of this name is mentioned in the Mishnah (Par. 3:5) as the son, not of Cantheras, but of Ha-Kayyaf (Caiaphas). Since the name Elyehoenai occurs nowhere else, it would appear that both the Mishnah and Josephus refer to the same high priest. Talmudic sources (Pes. 57a; Tosef., Men. 13:21) mention the house of Katros, and despite its similarity to Cantheras the two are not identical, since the Talmud explicitly distinguishes between the house of Boethus and that of Katros: Woe is me because of the house of Boethus, woe is me because of their staves … Woe is me because of the house of Katros, woe is me because of their pens; according to Josephus, however, Cantheras and Boethus refer to the same family.


Derenbourg, Hist, 215 n.2, 232f; Graetz, in: mgwj, 30 (1881), 97ff.; Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (19074), 271, esp. n. 14.

[Lea Roth]