Gama'liel (Heb. Gamliel', גִּמלִיאֵל reward of God; Sept. and N.T. Γαμαλιήλ), the name of two men in Scripture.

1. Son of Pedahzur, and chief (נָשׂיא) of the tribe of Manasseh at the census at Sinai (Nu 1:10; Nu 2:20; Nu 7:54,59), and at starting on the march through the wilderness (10:23). B.C. 1657.

2. A Pharisee and celebrated doctor of the law, who gave prudent and humane advice in the Sanhedrim respecting the treatment of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth (Ac 5:34 sq.), A.D. 29. We learn from Ac 22:3 that he was the preceptor of the apostle Paul. He is generally identified with the very celebrated Jewish doctor Gamaliea, who is known by the title of "the glory of the law," and was the first to whom the title "Rabban," "our master," was given. The time agrees, and there is every reason to suppose the assumption to be correct. He bears in the Talmud the surname of הזקן, "the elder" (to distinguish him from a later rabbin of the same name), and is represented as the son of Rabbi Simeon, and grandson of the famous Hillel: he is said to have occupied a seat, if not the presidency, in the Sanhedrim during the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius, and to have died eighteen years after the destruction of Jerusalem (see Lightfoot, Centuria chorographica Matthaeo praemissa, chapter 15). But, as this statement would give him an extreme old age, it may perhaps refer to the later Gamaliel; and the elder probably died about A.D. 50. Ecclesiastical tradition makes him become a Christian, and be baptized by Peter and Paul (Phot. Cod. 171, page 199), together with his son Gamaliel, and with Nicodemus; and the Clementine Recognitions (1:65) state that he was secretly a Christian at this time. But these notices are altogether irreconcilable with the esteem and respect in which he was held even in later times by the Jewish rabbins, by whom his opinions are frequently quoted as an all-silencing authoritv on points of religious law (see Thilo, Codex. Apoc. page 501; Neander, Planting and Training, 1:46, Bohn). Neither does his interference in behalf of the apostles at all prove — as some would have it — that he secretly approved their doctrines. He was a dispassionate judge, and reasoned in that affair with the tact of worldly wisdom and experience, urging that religious opinions usually gain strength by opposition and persecution (Ac 5:36-37), while, if not noticed at all, they are sure not to leave any lasting impression on the minds of the people, if devoid of truth (verse 38); and that it is vain to contend against them, if true (verse 39). That he was more enlightened and tolerant than his colleagues and contemporaries is evident from the very fact that he allowed his zealous pupil Saul to turn his mind to Greek literature, which, in a great measure, qualified him afterwards to become the apostle of the Gentiles; while by the laws of the Palesn tinian Jews, after the MaccabEean wars, even the Greek language was prohibited to be taught to the Hebrew youth (Mishna, Sotah, 9:14). Another proof of the high respect in which Gamaliel stood with the Jews long after his death is afforded by an anecdote told in the Talmud respecting his tomb, to the effect that Onkelos (the celebrated Chaldaean translator of the Old Testament) spent seventy pounds of incense at his grave in honor of his memory (Yuchasin, 59). These last notices, however, have been shown to refer to Gamaliel II, the grandson of the apostle's teacher (comp. Gratz, in Frankel's Monatschrift, 1:320; Geschichte der Juden [Lpz. 1856], 3:289; 4:114, 152; Jost, Gesch. der Judenthums [Lpz. 1857], 1:281; and especially Frankel's Hodegetien in Mischnam [Lips. 1859], page 57 sq., where all the fragments about Gamaliel are collected). See Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. in loc.; Pfaffreuter, Diss. de conisil. Ganzal. (Jen. 1680); Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, 1:56, 67; Graun, Hist. Gamalielis (Vitemb. 1687); Baier, De consilio Gamalielis (Jen. 1680); Bucher, De θεομάχοις (Viteb. 1681); Chladenius, De θεομάχοις (Viteb. 1715); Lange, Judicium Ganmalielis (Hal, 1715); Menlengracht, De religione Gamalielis (Hafn. 1698); Palmer, Paulus u. Gamaliel (Giess. 1806).

Bible concordance for GAMALIEL.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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