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JUDAS, JUDA (Heb. yehûdhâh, praised, Gr. Ioudas)

JUDAS, JUDA (̓Ιούδας, G2683) meaning praised. Judas(a) represents the Gr. form of the Heb. יְהוּדָ֑ה, the name of Judah, son of Jacob (Israel). It was one of the names most frequently used by the Jews, and it is not surprising that in the NT it designates a considerable number of different men.

2. It is the name of another ancestor of Christ mentioned in Luke 3:30.

3. At Luke 3:26 it is used of still another ancestor of Christ in TR (Juda in KJV). RSV, following a better text, has Joda.

4. Judas of Galilee. Gamaliel in Acts 5:37 is quoted as referring to a Judas of Galilee who arose “in the days of the census, and drew away some of the people after him.” He says also that this Judas perished and “all as many as obeyed him, were scattered.” The enrollment or assessment for tax purposes here in view was that under Quirinius (KJV Cyrenius) during his second governorship of Syria in a.d. 6, 7. For reference to his earlier term see Luke 2:1-3. Josephus also in a number of places calls this Judas a Galilean (see, for example, Antiq. XVIII. i. 6), but in Antiq. XVIII. i. 1, evidently referring to his place of birth, calls him a Gaulanite from a city whose name was Gamala.

Josephus regards Judas of Galilee as a founder of a fourth sect or school of philosophy among the Jews (Antiq. XVIII. L. i. 6; War II. viii. 1). Those in this party agreed with the position of the Pharisees in all matters, he reports, except that they acknowledged God alone to be their governor and lord and were passionately devoted to liberty.

Josephus also recounts that Judas, with the support of a Pharisee named Saddok, vigorously opposed the enrollment under Quirinius and engendered strife, violence, and bloodshed (Antiq. XVIII. i. 1). From Judas’ incendiary activity and teaching the Zealots and the Sicarii would seem to have sprung.

Josephus mentions the violent deaths which a number of Judas’ descendants suffered. Two of his sons, James and Simon, were sentenced by Tiberius Alexander to be crucified (Antiq. XX. v. 2). Another son, Menahem, prominent and influential shortly before the fall of Jerusalem, was tortured and put to death (War II. xvii. 8, 9). A descendant of Judas, perhaps a grandson of his, named Eleazar, was a leader of the Zealots or Sicarii who urged death at their own hands on his followers rather than capture by the Romans at Masada. Practically all of them accepted his counsel in the matter (War VII. viii. ix).

Josephus also mentions a Judas son of a notorious bandit in the days of King Herod (Antiq. XVII. x. 5; War II. iv. 1). There is some question as to whether this Judas is to be identified with Judas of Galilee.

5. Judas, a brother of the Lord. In Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 a Judas is listed as one of the brothers of Jesus. A strong reason for not identifying him with one of the twelve apostles is that the brothers of Jesus did not believe in Him (John 7:5). They, however, after the Resurrection, are represented as believers (Acts 1:14; where, it is to be noted, they are distinguished from the apostles). They appear to have gone about in the interests of the Gospel, some at least accompanied by their wives (1 Cor 9:5).

The author of the Epistle of Jude was in all probability this Judas. He does not designate himself as one of the apostles, and seems to distinguish himself from them (see Jude 17, 18 and cf. 3). His designation of himself as brother of James (who would be James the Lord’s brother) is confirmatory of this view.

Eusebius quotes Hegesippus to the effect that two grandsons of Jude were required to appear before Domitian, but on their explaining that the kingdom which they were awaiting was not of this world, but heavenly and would come with Christ’s return, they were released. It would seem from this account that Jude himself must have died no later than the beginning of Domitian’s reign.

6. Judas of James. One of the twelve apostles is called “Judas the son of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). This has been interpreted as either Judas the brother of James or more plausibly as Judas the son of James. In favor of the latter rendering see Plummer on Luke (ICC, ad loc.) Actually the same construction is used in designating this Judas as is used in the case of James the son of Alphaeus in the same lists of the apostles (see Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13). In the lists of the Twelve given in Matthew and Mark, instead of Judas of James, a Thaddaeus is mentioned and in some texts Lebbaeus (cf. Matt 10:3 in KJV: “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus”). Judas of James may well have been called by both these names.

In John 14:22 this Judas is sharply distinguished from Judas Iscariot and is reported to have asked a question of Jesus: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’”

7. Judas Iscariot (see separate article).

8. Judas of Damascus. After the Lord had appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Saul was led into the city and stayed in the house of a man named Judas (Acts 9:11). The Lord directed Ananias to go to the street called Straight and inquire for Saul in Judas’s house.

9. Judas Barsabbas. At the Jerusalem Council the apostles and the elders selected out of their company Judas called Barsabbas and Silas, “chief men among the brethren,” to go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:22) to confirm by word of mouth the contents of the letter containing the decree of the Council (15:27). The epistle from the Council was delivered to the brethren in Antioch, and Judas and Silas, “who were themselves prophets, exhorted the brethren with many words, and strengthened them” (15:32). After they had been some time in Antioch, “they were sent off in peace by the brethren to those who had sent them” (15:33). Possibly this Judas was a brother of the Joseph called Barsabbas, surnamed Justus, who was chosen with Matthias as a candidate for the place from which Judas fell away (1:25).

10. Outside of the NT various other persons named Judas are mentioned. Among them are Judas Maccabaeus (see the article on the Maccabees), Judas son of Chalphi (1 Macc 11:70), and Judas son of Simon Maccabaeus (1 Macc 16:2). A writer named Judas is referred to by Eusebius (Hist. VI. vii) as having dealt with the seventy weeks of Daniel and worked out a chronology to the tenth year of Severus. Eusebius reports that he believed that the coming of Antichrist was near at hand.


I, II Macc; Jos. War; Jos. Antiq.; E. Schürer, HJP. Various Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias provide useful treatments of Judas (Juda). Among them are A Dictionary of the Bible by John D. Davis, ISBE, and IDB. On Masada and the Zealots see the review by William White, Jr., in WTJ, XXXI (1968-1969), 187-191; M. Avi-Yonah et al., Masada Survey and Excavations (1955-1956, 1957); Y. Yadin, Masada. Herod’s Fortress and the Zealot’s Last Stand (1966).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Ioudas; Greek form of Hebrew "Judah"):

(1) A Levite mentioned in 1 Esdras 9:23 = JUDAH (3).

(2) Judas Maccabeus, 3rd son of Mattathias (1 Macc 2:4).

See Maccabees.

(3) Judas, son of Chalphi, a Jewish officer who supported Jonathan bravely at the battle of Hazor (1 Macc 11:70; Ant, XIII, v, 7).

(4) A person of good position in Jerusalem at the time of the mission to Aristobulus (2 Macc 1:10); he has been identified with Judas Maccabeus and also with an Essene prophet (Ant., XIII, xi, 2; BJ, III, 5).

(5) Son of Simon the Maccabee, and brother of John Hyrcanus (1 Macc 16:2). He was wounded in the battle which he fought along with his brother against Cendebeus (1 Macc 16:1 ff; Ant, XIII, vii, 3), and was murdered by Ptolemy the usurper, his brother-in-law, at Dok (1 Macc 16:11 ff).

(1) The name of an ancestor of Jesus (Lu 3:30). In the King James Version it occurs also in Lu 3:26, but the Revised Version (British and American) has "Joda" (Westcott-Hort, Ioda).

(2) Judas Iscariot (see separate article).

(3) One of the brothers of Jesus (Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3).

See Jude.

(4) An apostle, "not Iscariot" (Joh 14:22). He is generally identified with Lebbaeus (Mt 10:3) and Thaddeus (Mr 3:18). See Lebbaeus; Thaddaeus. He is called JUDAS OF JAMES (which see) (Lu 6:16; Ac 1:13), which means "the son of James" not (the King James Version) "the brother of James."

(5) A Galilean who stirred up rebellion "in the days of the enrollment" (Ac 5:37).

See Judas of Galilee.

(6) One with whom Paul lodged in Damascus, whose house was in "the street which is called Straight" (Ac 9:11). Nothing further is known of him. A house is pointed out as his, in a lane off the Straight Street.

(7) Judas Barsabbas (Ac 15:22,27,32; see separate article).