These two words, while similar in appearance, differ in signification. "Apostolé" was a term given to certain moneys or taxes for Palestine; "Apostoli," the designation of the men or apostles sent forth to collect it. The first record of them is in a joint edict of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius in the year 399 ("Codex Theodosianus," xvi. 8, 14) ordering the discontinuance of the custom of the patriarch of the Jews in Palestine to send out learned men, called Apostoli, to collect and hand to the patriarch money levied by the various synagogues for Palestine; that the sums already received be confiscated to the imperial treasury, and that the collectors be brought to trial and punished as transgressors of the Roman law. Five years later Honorius revoked the edict ("Cod. Theod." xvi. 8, 17). At about the same time Jerome (Comm. on Gal. i. 1) mentions the Apostoli (called in Hebrew sheliaḦ), showing that in his day they were still sent out by the patriarch; and in the first half of the fourth century Eusebius (Commentary on Isa. xviii. 1) writes of them as vested with authority by the patriarch.Apostoli were Jews of Highest Rank.
In the letter—the genuineness of which is not unimpeached—written by Emperor Julian to the Jews in 362-63, he orders the patriarch Julos to discontinue the so-called ἀποστολή. The matter is most fully treated by the church father Epiphanius ("Adversus Hæreses," i. xxx. 4-11). He describes an apostolos, Joseph of Tiberias, of the first half of the fourth century, with whom he had associated and who later embraced Christianity. According to Epiphanius, the Apostoli were Jews of the highest rank, that took part in the councils of the patriarch which convened to decide questions of religious law. The aforesaid Joseph, provided with letters from the patriarch, went to Cilicia, collected the taxes of the Jews in every city, and removed a number of teachers and precentors from their positions. Thus the direction of affairs in the Jewish communities apparently fell under the authority of the Apostoli.
From Talmudic accounts (Yer. Hor. iii. 48a; Pes. iv. 31b; Giṭ. i. 43d; Meg. iii. 74a) it appears that the Apostolé was used to support teachers and disciples in Palestine. Another evidence that it was so used is that a similar system, doubtless tracing its origin to Palestinian examples, obtained in the Babylonian schools during the gaonic period ("Seder 'Olam Zuṭṭa," ed. Neubauer, in "Medieval Jewish Chron." ii. 87). The same point is made clear by an edict of the emperors Theodosius II. and Valentinian, of the year 429 ("Cod. Theod." xvi. 8, 29). It ordered that the annual contributions, which, since the extinction of the patriarchate, had been delivered to the heads of the Palestinian academies, should in future be collected for the imperial treasury, each congregation to be taxed to the amount formerly paid to the patriarch as coronarium aurum. The moneys paid by western provinces to the patriarchs were also to be handed over to the emperor.Relation to the Temple Tax.
The exact date of the Apostolé is not known; but the account in the Talmud of the money-collections by teachers in the first century gives rise to the conjecture that the Apostolé was instituted upon the establishment of the school at Jabneh, in the year 70, though its organization may not at once have been fully developed. It probably grew out of the former Temple tax, with which it possesses several features in common. The Temple tax, however, was brought from the congregations to Jerusalem by messengers of high rank; while the Apostolé, in consequence of conditions due to the fall of the Temple, was collected by teachers sent to the various countries. See Apostle and Apostleship.
These teachers may at the same time have conveyed to the Jews outside of Palestine the arrangement of the calendar decided upon by the council of the patriarch. As the insertion of an extra month for the leap-year had to be determined upon, at the latest, in Adar ('Eduy. vii. 7), the messengers communicating the order of the calendar possibly found ready the contributions that were collected in Adar as the Temple tax of former days had been. The institution of the Apostoli continued after the introduction of the fixed calendar (359) until Emperor Theodosius II., in 429, forbade it in the Roman empire. The messengers probably journeyed to lands not belonging to Rome, even to South Arabia, if the account (525) of the Syrian bishop, Simon of Bet-Arsham, may be trusted (compare Halévy in "Rev. Et. Juives," xviii. 36, and "Rev. Sém.," 1900, p. i.).
- Grätz, Gesch. der Jud., iv. 304 and note 21;
- compare Schürer, Gesch. des Jüd. Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu, iii. 77;
- Gans, in Zunz' Zeitschrift für die Wissenschaft des Judenthums, i. 260-276.