Choosing the Twelve

& LOY Commentary 30 Comments

One day Yeshua called his disciples together and chose twelve of them to be his emissaries to Israel. Their names were Shimon Petros and Andrai (his brother), Yaakov, Yohanan, Pelipah, Talmai’s son, Matai, Tomah, Yaakov Halfi’s son, zealous Shimon, Yehudah Yaakov’s son, and Yehudah from Keriyot, who was a traitor.

Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13

(Huck 72; Aland 49; Crook 72, 103)[1]

Updated: 25 February 2022

וַיְהִי הַיּוֹם וַיִּקְרָא לְתַלְמִידָיו וַיִּבְחַר מֵהֶם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה שְׁלִיחִים שִׁמְעוֹן פֶּטְרוֹס וְאַנְדְּרַיי אָחִיו וְיַעֲקֹב וְיוֹחָנָן וּפְלִיפּוֹס וּבַר תַּלְמַי וּמַתַּי וְתוֹמָה וְיַעֲקֹב בֶּן חַלְפִי וְשִׁמְעוֹן הַקַּנַּאי וִיהוּדָה בֶן יַעֲקֹב וִיהוּדָה אִישׁ קְרִיּוֹת שֶׁהָיָה מָסוֹר

One day Yeshua called his disciples together and chose twelve of them to be his emissaries to Israel. Their names were Shimon Petros and Andrai (his brother), Yaakov, Yohanan, Pelipos, Talmai’s son, Matai, Tomah, Yaakov Halfi’s son, zealous Shimon, Yehudah Yaakov’s son, and Yehudah from Keriyot, who was a traitor.[2]


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Reconstruction

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Conclusion

One might have expected that the Choosing the Twelve pericope, which is so short and seemingly so straightforward, would be easy to reconstruct in Hebrew. However, the complex interrelationship of the Synoptic Gospels and the difficult issues raised in this pericope have made the reconstruction and the accompanying commentary quite challenging. Despite the imprint each synoptic author left on this pericope, the names of Jesus’ emissaries to Israel have been carefully preserved. For all the editorial activity we have detected in this pericope, the agreement of all four apostolic lists is striking.

Among the most important issues raised in this pericope is Jesus’ attitude towards Israel. Jesus’ choice of twelve emissaries to Israel exemplifies his positive and open attitude toward Israel. Rather than founding a “new” Israel as a replacement for “old” Israel,[3] the appointment of the Twelve signaled the restoration of the twelve tribes and a redemption that embraced everyone in Israel, not only those who accepted the “right” doctrine or who practiced the “correct” halachah.

Yeshua's twelve apostles as depicted in a 17th-cent. illuminated Ethiopian manuscript containing the first eight books of the Hebrew Bible, the Gospels, and various records of Church councils. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The twelve apostles as depicted in a 17th-cent. illuminated Ethiopian manuscript containing the first eight books of the Hebrew Bible, the Gospels, and various records of Church councils. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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Comments 30

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  20. Do you discount Josephus’ account of the Zealots? “Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities states that there were three main Jewish sects at this time, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. The Zealots were a “fourth sect”, founded by Judas of Galilee (also called Judas of Gamala) in the year 6 CE against Quirinius’ tax reform….”

    1. Joshua N. Tilton

      We think it is a mistake to equate Josephus’ “Fourth Philosophy” with the Zealots. The “Fourth Philosophy” probably refers to the Sicarii or to the ideology that gave birth to them. Whereas the Sicarii were a non-priestly group close to the Pharisees who championed the cause of the under-privileged classes (by, for instance, burning the records of debts), the Zealots were a group of priests closer to the Sadducees whose focus was on the Temple and who even attracted members of the privileged classes (the son of a high priest was numbered among their ranks). Despite their differences, both the Sicarii and the Zealots were religious extremists who espoused nationalist views and embraced violence. Their religious nationalist extremism was a major factor that led to the outbreak of the revolt in 66 C.E.

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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). Joshua continued his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree in 2005. After seminary…
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