Patriarch; son of Gamaliel III. and grandson of Judah I.; lived at Tiberias in the middle of the third century. In the sources he is called "Judah," "Judah Nesi'ah" (= "ha-Nasi"), and occasionally "Rabbi" like his grandfather; as Judah III. is also designated as "Judah Nesi'ah," it is often difficult, sometimes impossible, to determine which one of these patriarchs is referred to. In halakic tradition Judah II. was especially known by three ordinances decreed by him and his academy; one of these ordinances referred to a reform of the divorce laws (Yer. Giṭ. 48d; Giṭ. 46b). Especially famous was the decree permitting the use of oil prepared by pagans, incorporated in the Mishnah with the same formula used in connection with decrees of Judah I.—"Rabbi and his court permitted" ('Ab. Zarah ii. 9; comp. Tosef., 'Ab. Zarah iv. 11). This ordinance, which abrogated an old law, was recognized as authoritative in Babylonia by Samuel and, subsequently, by Rab, who at first hesitated to accept it (see Yer. 'Ab. Zarah 41d; 'Ab. Zarah 37a). Simlai, the famous haggadist, endeavored to induce the patriarch to abrogate also the prohibition against using bread prepared by pagans. Judah, however, refused to do so, alleging that he did not wish his academy to be called the "loosing court" ('Ab. Zarah 37a). Judah could not carry out his intentionof omitting the fast-day of the Ninth of Ab when it fell on the Sabbath (Yer. Meg. 70b; Meg. 2b). The patriarch was by no means regarded by his great contemporaries as their equal in scholarship, as appears from a curious meeting between Yannai and Judah II. (see B. B. 111a, b; another version occurs in Yer. Sanh. 16a, where Johanan accompanies Yannai).Relations with Johanan.
Hoshaiah was in especially friendly relations with Judah (see Yer. Yeb. 9b; Yer. Beẓah 60d, bottom; B. Ḳ. 19b); in another version Yer. B. Ḳ. 2d; Yer. Meg. 70d; Meg. 7a, b; in Pes. 87b, where Hoshaiah refutes an inimical opinion on heretics at the request of the patriarch, Judah I. is probably meant; see Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." i. 96). Together with Joshua b. Levi, Judah assisted at Laodicea at the reception of a female proselyte into Judaism (Yer. Yeb. 8d). Jonathan b. Eleazar was his companion at the baths of Gadara (Yer. Ḳid. 64d). The relations between the patriarch and Johanan, the leader of the Academy of Tiberias, seem to have been friendly (Ta'an. 24a); Johanan accepted the regular material support offered to him by the patriarch (Soṭah 21a). He also induced the patriarch to visit Simeon ben Laḳish, who had fled from Tiberias in consequence of having made offensive remarks in regard to the dignity of the patriarchate, and invite him to return (Yer. Sanh. 19d; Yer. Hor. 47a; Midr. to Sam. vii.).
On another occasion it was Simeon ben Laḳish who succeeded in softening Judah's indignation toward a daring preacher, Jose of Maon, who had denounced the rapacity of the patriarchal house (Yer. Sanh. 20d; Gen. R. lxxx.). Simeon ben Laḳish, moreover, seems to have exhorted the patriarch to unselfishness. "Take nothing," said he, "so that you will have to give nothing [to the Roman authorities]" (Gen. R. lxx.). Simeon ben Laḳish also reminded the patriarch of the need of providing for elementary education in the various cities, referring to the saying, "A city in which there are no schools for children is doomed to destruction" (Shab. 119b; see Bacher, l.c. i. 347). Judah was not so unimportant in the field of the Halakah as might appear from some of the details mentioned above, since Simeon ben Laḳish, who was not his pupil, hands down a whole series of halakic sentences in the name of "Judah Nesi'ah" (i.e., Judah II.; see "Seder ha-Dorot," ed. Maskileison, ii. 177; Halevy, "Dorot ha-Rishonim," ii. 30 et seq.). Simeon ben Laḳish doubtless survived Judah and repeated his traditions. Simeon handed down also some of Judah's haggadic sentences (see Shab. 119b; Yer. M. Ḳ. 82c). The passage (Nazir 20c) referring to Simeon ben Laḳish as "sitting before Judah" and explaining a midrash does not refer to him as a pupil, but as a member of the college. This view is supported by 'Ab. Zarah 6b, which speaks of Simeon as "sitting before Judah Nesi'ah"; here the patriarch asks Simeon what to do in a certain case, and Simeon clearly appears as the better halakist, not as the patriarch's pupil.
Judah's relations to the scholars of his time in general appear from the following controversy in reference to Ps. xxiv. 6: "One of them says: 'The time is adapted to the leader ["parnas"]'; another says: 'The leader is adapted to the time'" ('Ar. 17a). It was probably the patriarch who expressed the opinion that the leader is adapted to the time in which he is called to leadership, and that he must not be blamed for his own incapacity. In the above-mentioned meeting between Judah and the daring preacher Jose of Maon (Gen. R. lxxx.; Yer. Sanh. 20d) it is the latter who utters the maxim, "As the time, so the prince." On another occasion Judah openly confessed his incapacity. Once during a drought he had ordered a fast and prayed in vain for rain. Thereupon he said, "What a difference between Samuel of Ramah [referring to I Sam. xii. 18] and Judah, the son of Gamaliel! Wo to the time which has such a tent-peg, and wo to me that I have come at such a time!" Rain soon fell in consequence of this self-abasement (Ta'an. 24a).Relations with Origen.
Various stories of Judah's youth, referring to him and his brother Hillel, have been preserved. "Judah and Hillel, the sons of R. Gamaliel [Gamaliel III.], on their trip to Kabul, in Galilee, and to Biri" (Tosef., Mo'ed, ii., end; Yer. Pes. 30d; Pes. 51a) "offend against the customs of both places. In Kabul they meet with a solemn reception" (Sem. viii.). Grätz identifies this Hillel, Judah's brother, with the "patriarch Joullos" ('Ιοῦλλος πατριάρχης), with whom Origen conversed at Cæsarea on Biblical subjects (Origen on Psalms, i. 414; see Grätz, "Gesch." 2d ed., iv. 250, 483; "Monatsschrift," 1881, pp. 443 et seq.); but as Hillel himself was not a patriarch, it may be assumed that it was Judah who conversed with Origen. Origen probably misread ΙΟϒΛΟΣ for ΙΟϒΔΑΣ. This assumption agrees with the above-mentioned statement about Hoshaiah's close relations with the patriarch, for it may be assumed as a fact that Hoshaiah had intercourse with Origen at Cæsarea (" Monatsschrift," l.c.; "J. Q. R." iii. 357-360; Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." i. 92).
- Grätz, Gesch. 2d ed., iv. 241 et seq.;
- Frankel, Mebo, pp. 92a et seq.;
- Weiss, Dor, iii. 65 et seq.;
- Halevy, Dorot ha-Rishonim, ii. 36 et seq. and passim;
- Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 581.