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Rabbi Gamaliel I was the grandson of Rabbi Hillel, president of the Sanhedrin, and the teacher of the Apostle Paul.[1] It is said that "when he died the honor [outward respect] of the Torah ceased, and purity and piety became extinct".[2]

He classified four kinds of pupils:[3]

  1. A son of poor parents who has learned everything by study, but who has no understanding;
  2. A son of rich parents who has learned everything and who possesses understanding;
  3. A pupil who has, learned everything, but does not know how to reply;
  4. a pupil who has learned everything and knows also how to reply.

When the Twelve Apostles were on trial before the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel spoke in their favor, saying that there was a possibility that they were sent from God:

Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. Acts 5:35-39

An early Christian tradition says that Gamaliel later became a Christian but "by a dispensation remained amongst" the Sanhedrin.[4]


  1. Acts 22:3
  2. Soṭah xv: 18
  3. Ab. R. N. xl., as quoted in Jewish Encyclopedia
  4. The Recognitions of Clement, 1:66