Talmud

“For the Talmudic rabbis, Gedaliah was a prototype for how to deal with the most extreme political complexities”

Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, was the Jewish governor of biblical Judah. He was set in place by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar following his conquest of Judah and destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 586 BCE. The Prophet Jeremiah describes what came next in detail, how a member of the Judean royal family — a descendant of King David — came with 10 men and murdered Gedaliah and his entourage, “because the king of Babylon had appointed him governor in the land” (Jeremiah 41).

Jeremiah decried the murder, and the ancients instituted a fast in memory of the day when Jewish zealots ended the last vestiges of Jewish self-rule in the holy land.

For the Talmudic rabbis, Gedaliah was a prototype for how to deal with the most extreme political complexities. He was a martyr, worthy of memory, yearly fasting and introspection.

Gedaliah was also a model for sages and patricians who fought to avoid the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 CE, a conflagration that resulted in the destruction of the Temple of Herod — the one visited both by Hillel and Jesus — and the largest Temple compound in the Roman world.

Gedaliah is the great warning against extremism, against Sicarii, and against the murder of leaders willing to confront complexities, even at the cost of their lives.

Steven Fine, “Time To Heal Wounds of Rabin Assassination”, The Jewish Week (30 October 2015), 24.