Yeshu and Joshua b. Perachiah

This story cannot be directly connected with any of the traditional events in the life of Jesus, and it is set about 100 years before Jesus presumably lived. Yeshu/Yeshua is not an uncommon name, and it may be that we simply have a story about a Jewish 'bad boy' whose name happens to be the same as Jesus'. But as the last sentence (only in the Sanhedrin version) demonstrates, whatever the original intent of the story, it came to be connected with the Yeshu/Jesus traditions in the early medieval period. Even the historical setting -- the reign of Jannai (Alexander Jannaeus, reigned 103-76 BC) -- seems to have stuck, and is clearly embedded in the Toldoth traditions.

Sanhedrin 107b || Sota 47a (except for the last sentence)
This is mostly a somewhat modernized version of A.M. Streane's translation, quoted in Mead, pp. 137f. My modernization has been informed by Goldstein's translation of the same text (pp. 73f)

The Rabbis taught: The left should always be used to push away, and the right, on the other hand to draw nearer. But one should not do it as Elisha who pushed Gehazi away, nor as R. Joshua ben Perachiah, who pushed away Yeshu with both hands. What was the problem with R. Joshua ben Perachiah? When King Jannai ordered the extermination of the Rabbis, R. Joshua ben Perachiah and Yeshu fled to Alexandria. When it was safe to return, Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach sent him a letter:

From me, Jerusalem the holy city, to the Alexandria in Egypt, my sister. My spouse tarries in your midst, and I sit desolate.
Joshua set off at once. During the trip they happened upon an inn in which they treated him with great respect. Joshua commented, "How fair is this inn[1]." Yeshu replied, "But Rabbi, she[1] has unattractive eyes."[2] Joshua replied, "You godless person, do you fill your mind with such things?" Then he had 400 trumpets sounded and anathematized him. Yeshu often came and said to him, "Receive me back." Joshua paid no attention. One day, while Joshua was reciting the Shema, Yeshu came to him, hoping for a reprieve. Joshua made a sign to him with his hand. [3] Yeshu misunderstood, thinking he had been repulsed, so he went away set up a brick and worshipped it. Joshua said to him, "Repent!" Yeshu replied, "I learned this from you: 'Anyone who sins and causes the people to sin, is not allowed the possibility of repentance.'"

[The Teacher said: "Yeshu practiced sorcery and corrupted and misled Israel."]

[1] akhsanya can mean either 'inn' or 'hostess'. Joshua intends one meaning, Yeshu hears another. On the subject of word plays, it may not be accidental in this story that 'Yeshu' is a diminutive form of 'Joshua'.

[2] Or perhaps "she is near-sighted".

[3] Presumably the hand sign meant that Yeshu should wait until Joshua had finished the Shema.


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