List of Jewish leaders in the Land of Israel

List of Jewish leaders in the Land of Israel

The following is a list of Jewish leaders since the time of Abraham.

For thousands of years, Jews have lived in their homeland, sometimes as an independent polity, sometimes not. Although at times the region was ruled by foreign empires Jews in Israel always maintained their own leadership.

The Patriarchs


ojourn in Egypt

According to the last chapter of Genesis, Jacob moved, with his family, to Egypt, and toward the end of his life, gave the dominant blessing to Joseph's younger son, Ephraim, as opposed to the oldest son Menasseh as was custom. Therefore, it is assumed Ephraim and his descendants (which are mentioned in I Chronicles 7:20-21) held the leadership of the Israelites during the slavery period in Egypt, until the time of Moses, although the Bible never mentions this specifically.


inai Period


The Judges


House of Saul


House of David

*David - who made Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

After Rehoboam

After Rehoboam, the kingdom was divided in two - the northern kingdom of Israel with its capital, first in Shechem (Nablus), then Tirzah, and finally Samaria, and ruled by a series of dynasties beginning with Jeroboam; and the southern kingdom of Judah with its capital still at Jerusalem and still ruled by the House of David. The following list contains the kings of Judah with the kings of Israel in the summaries:

*Asa - under whose reign, the following were kings in Israel: *Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab.
*Jehoshaphat - under whose reign, Ahaziah and Yehoram reigned in Israel.
*Yehoram ben Yehoshaphat
*Ahaziah ben Yehoram - under whose reign, Jehu ruled in Israel.
*Yehoash - under whose reign, Yehoahaz and another Yehoash ruled in Israel.
*Amaziah - under whose reign, Jeroboam II ruled in Israel.
*Uzziah - under whose reign, the following ruled over Israel: Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah.
*Ahaz - under whose reign, Hoshea ruled over Israel.
*Hezekiah - under his reign, the Assyrian Empire conquered and destroyed the northern kingdom 722BCE leaving only the southern kingdom of Judah.
*Zedekiah - last king to rule over, and in, Judah. Overthrown by Babylonia (which succeeded Assyria) and exiled, along with most of the rest of the population, to that kingdom, where he was executed. Yachin resumed the throne as king-in-exile (II Kings 25:27-30) and Gedaliah became governor over the remnant of Judah in their homeland. He was assassinated the next year.

Babylonian Captivity

*Daniel (Book of Daniel 4:48)

Return to Judea Under the House of David

Persia succeeded Babylonia 538BCE and King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their homeland.


The High Priesthood

Beginning c.late 5th century BCE, while Judea was under Persian, and then Greek governors, the Jews maintained their automony through their High Priests who were the descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses and the first High Priest.

*Yehozadak - during the exile
*Yeshua - during the return
*Yaddua - it was possibly during his reign (332BCE) that Alexander the Great conquered Judea and brought it under the rule of the Hellenistic Empire.
*Onias I - Egypt conquers Judea (301BCE).
*Shimon haTzedek
*Onias II - during his time, Judea passed to the overlordship of the Syrian Greeks which lasted 2 years and under:
*Shimon II - Judea passed to Egypt.
*Onias III - Judea conquered by Syrian Greeks.

House of Hasmon (The Maccabees) 168BCE-37BCE

*Mattityahu - who began a war for independence.
*Judah - during whose reign, Alcimus succeeded Menelaeus as high priest.
*Jonathan - assumed the high priesthood.
*Simon - succeeded his brother Jonathan as high priest and was also installed as ethnarch and commander-in-chief. Under his reign, Judea gained its independence.
*John Hyrcanus I - also succeeded as high priest.
*Aristobulus - also high priest.
*Alexander Jannaeus - high priest and king.
*Salome Alexandra
*Hyrcanus II - succeeded Alexander as high priest beginning with the rule of Salome.
*Aristobulus II - succeeded as high priest. During his reign, Judea lost its independence and passed under the rule of Rome (63BCE) who overthrew him and reinstalled:Hyrcanus II as high priest
*Antigonus - also high priest

House of Herod 37BCE-70CE

*Herod - during whose reign, Anan became the 1st in a series of high priests during this period.
*Archelaeus 4BCE-6CE

After Archelaeus

After Archelaeus, there ruled a series of Roman governors over Judea, however, the Jews kept their autonomy. They continued to be ruled in their religious life by the high priests, appointed by the Roman governors, and in their civil life by the Sanhedrin under the Nasi. The Sanhedrin was believed to have begun with Ezra, and continued under the line of the House of David. The following list is that of the Nesiim. The corresponding High Priests are mentioned in the summaries:

*Hillel 20BCE-16CE - under whose rule, the following were High Priests: Matityahu ben Theophilus 20BCE?-4BCE, Yoazar, Eleazar ben Boethus, Joshua, Anan ben Seth, and Ishmael.
*Shimon haNasi - under whose rule, the following were High Priests: Eleazar ben Anan, Shimon ben Camithus, and Joseph Caiaphas.
*Gamliel I - under whose rule, the following were High Priests: Jonathan ben Anan & Theophilus ben Anan. During the rule of Gamliel, the House of Herod was restored and:
*Agrippa I - assumed the throne of Judea. He appointed as High Priest: Shimon Cantheras, Matityahu ben Anan, Aljoneus, and Jonathan ben Anan.
*Herod II - successor to Agrippa I, appointed as High Priests: Josephus ben Camydus, Anan ben Nebedeus, and Jonathan.
*Agrippa II - appointed as High Priests: Ishmael ben Fabus, Joseph Cabi, Anan ben Artanus, Joshua ben Damneus, Joshua ben Gamliel, Matityahu ben Theophilus, and Pinhas ben Shmuel. In 66CE, the great revolt began against Rome ending in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70CE, the abolition of the High Priesthood, and the final defeat at Massada in 73. Agrippa II was exiled to Rome during the revolt where he died.

The Sanhedrin

The Sanhedrin continued to be ruled by the House of David. The majority, but not all Jews were exiled from Judea after the revolt but until the 4th century, the Jews still maintained a majority in the homeland. Afterwards, they became a minority and in that capacity they remained, until the birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948.

*Shimon ben Gamliel - served as Nasi during the last years of the revolt.
*Yohanan ben Zakkai - served after the destruction of the Temple. He moved the Sanhedrin to Yavneh.
*Hanina bar Hama
*Gamaliel II
*Hanina ben Gamliel
*Akiva - during whose reign was the Bar Kochba Revolt against Rome 132-135. The revolt was crushed 135, and Judea was renamed "Palestina" after the long-extinct Phillistines, Israel's implacable enemy, as an attempt to erase any Jewish connection to the country. Jews were banned from entering or living in Jerusalem causing the Sanhedrin to move to the Galilee in, what is today, northern Israel.
*Judah bar Ilai reestablished the Sanhedrin in Usha.
*Nathan ruled from Bet Shearim.
*Shimon ben Gamliel II ruled from Sepphoris.
*Judah haNasi
*Yudan ben Yehudah
*Gamaliel III
*Judah II believed to have moved the Sanhedrin to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee in 235. But certainly:
*Gamaliel IV - ruled from Tiberias.
*Judah III
*Hillel II
*Gamaliel V
*Gamaliel VI - probably during his reign, in 395, Palestine passed under the rule of the Christian Byzantine Empire. In 415, the office of the Sanhedrin was abolished by the Byzantine authorities, but it continued to function secretly. The following leaders are to be found in [The Jews of Egypt and Palestine under the Fatimid Caliphs by Prof. Gerson D. Cohen - "From the Conquest of Egypt by Jauhar to the End of al-Hakim's Reign." pp. 58-9]
*Mar Zutra II
*Haninah (same as Benjamin of Tiberias?) - possibly under his rule, Persia briefly conquered Palestine from the Byzantines 614-628, and installed a Persian Jew, Nehemiah ben Hushiel, as governor of Jerusalem until they overthrew him 617. [Encyclopedia Judaica ed. by Cecil Roth - vol. 9 - "Israel - History - The Persian Invasion" - cols. 258-9] The Byzantines reconquered Palestine in 628.
*Megas - possibly under his rule, the Arabs conquered Palestine from the Byzantines, 636, and allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem.
*Chatzuv - beginning c.767, Anan ben David, the founder of the Karaite movement within Judaism, emigrated from Babylonia and settled in Jerusalem where he, and his descendants styled themselves "Patriarchs" of Israel, effectively making Jerusalem, the renewed seat of Jewish leadership. They were in constant conflict with the rabbis in Tiberias who sought to undermine Anan's authority. But Karaite authority in Palestine continued to hold out for another 2 generations. The Karaite Synagogue in Jerusalem which was built by Anan, legend says, is still in existence. Anan was succeeded by his son Saul, and then by his son Josiah [The Indestructible Jews by Max I. Dimont - p. 201; Encyclopedia Judaica - vol. 10 col. 295 & vol. 14 col. 918] .
*Yehudah ben Alan
*Musa - it was probably about this time, 9th century, that the Karaites were overthrown and the Jewish leadership was transferred from Tiberias back to Jerusalem. Anan's descendants settled, therefore, in Egypt and the office of the Sanhedrin was then transformed to:

Geon Yaacov

Geon Yaacov under the rule of the House of David [Encyclopedia Judaica - vol. 7 - "Gaon" - cols. 321-4]
*Aharon ben Meir
*Avraham ben Aharon
*Aharon ben Avraham
*Yosef ben Ezron
*Shmuel ben Yosef
*Yosi ben Shmuel
*Shemaiah ben Yosi
*Josiah ben Aharon
*Shlomo ben Yosef
*Shlomo ben Yehudah (b. Morocco)
*Daniel ben Azariah (b. Babylonia)

Geon Yaacov in Exile

*Eliahu ben Shlomo - ruled from Jerusalem 1062, fled to Tyre upon the conquest by the Seljuk Turks 1077. Shlomo Hanasi took over leadership in Jerusalem, but was under the authority of Eliahu until the conquest of the Crusaders 1099 [Egypt and Palestine - "Conditions in Palestine and in Syria - Nesiim and Geonim" - p. 199] . Many Palestinian refugees fled the Crusaders and settled in Egypt where they formed a separate community in Fostat (Cairo).
*Aviatar ben Eliahu - split in Geon Yaacov, moved to Tripoli 1103. During his reign, his brother:
*Shlomo ben Eliahu - moved Geon Yaacov to Hadrak near Damascus, and he was later joined by Aviatar 1109.
*Matzliah ben Shlomo - ruled from Hadrak but later moved to Fostat to lead the Palestinian community.
*Avraham ben Matzhir - ruled simultaneously from Hadrak, then moved to Damascus, but later, moved to Fostat where he succeeded Matzliah.
*Ezra ben Avraham - ruled from Damascus.
*Shmuel ben Hananiah - ruled from Fostat.
*Moshe Halevy - ruled from Fostat. During his reign, a Petrus Judeaus swore allegiance to Crusader King Baldwin III in Jerusalem 1156 [ "Jerusalem - During the Crusades"] .
*Netanel ben Moshe - ruled from Fostat.
*Sar Shalom - ruled from Fostat.
*Zadok - ruled from Damascus but was forced to resign, thus, ending Geon Yaacov in Damascus and the remnant of the House of David. The following ruled only from Fostat with the title Nagid. The person who held this title also had authority over the Land of Israel. [Encyclopedia Judaica - vol.2 col. 151; vol.12 col. 759]
*Maimonides 1165-1204 - who came from Spain via Morocco and Israel, succeeded as Nagid in Egypt. During his reign, there were repeated attempts to revive the Jewish community in Jerusalem. Two of the most prominent rabbis there during this time were Hananiah ben Yehudah, and Yehiel ben Yitzhak who inquired of Maimonides how to dispose of a certain amount of money. [Egypt and Palestine - "Egyptian Affairs from about 1050CE to the Period of Maimonides (d. 1204CE)" - pp. 240-1 n. 353] In 1187, Saladin conquered Palestine from the Crusaders resulting in increased tension and violence between Christians and Muslims in Israel. Soon after Saladin's conquest, Jews were invited to return to Jerusalem and it was decided by the rabbis in Egypt that a "vice-Nagid" would be appointed to oversee internal Palestinian affairs. The first two who held this title was Hillel ben Moshe and Ovadiah ben Ulah. [ibid. - "The Communal Organization" - p. 257]
*Avraham ben Moshe under whose rule, Jerusalem, by treaty, passed to the Christians under Frederick II 1228.
*David ben Avraham - under his rule, Jerusalem passed briefly under the Muslims, but then passed under Christian rule 1243, invaded by the Khwarizian Turks 1244, and tenuously held by the Mameluke Egyptians 1250. Yehiel ben Yoseph, who came from Paris in 1257, led the Jews in Palestine from his Midrash haGadol d'Parisi in Acre during which time, the Mongol Hordes invaded Jerusalem 1260. He was succeeded by Moshe ben Nahman (b. Spain) who revived Jerusalem 1267 and built a synagogue which became known as the Nahmanides Synagogue, where the chief rabbinate would preside until the 16th century [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Nahmanides" - v.12 col. 776] . In 1270, he was succeeded by Solomon Petit who came from France [Encyclopedia Judaica - vol. 5 col. 1348, vol. 10 col. 6] . In 1291, the Mameluke Egyptians brought Palestine under their full control and David ben Avraham's son:
*Avraham ben David co-ruled with his father in Egypt until 1300 after which, his ruled alone.
*Moshe ben Avraham - During his rule, the noted geographer Ashturi Farhi came from France in c.1306 and went to Jerusalem where he studied with Baruch Ashkenazi who probably led the Jews of Palestine [ibid. - vol. 6, col. 918] . If this assumption is true, then he was succeeded by Isaac Hatikvah (b. Spain) [ "Jerusalem - Ashkenazim and Sephardim"] .
*Yehoshua ben Avraham
*David ben Yehoshua
*Amram - who mentions in a letter c.1380 a certain rabbi Yoseph ben Eliezer Tov Elem who lived in Jerusalem [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Amram" - vol. 2 col. 890] .

*Yosef ben Ovadiah - during whose reign, Elijah of Ferrara was chief rabbi of Palestine c.1435 [ "Jerusalem - Ashkenazim and Sephardim"] .
*Abd al Latif - at mid century, Abraham Halevy was chief rabbi of Palestine [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Abraham Ha-Levi" - vol. 2 col. 158] .
*Yosef ben Khalifah
*Shlomo ben Yosef - during whose reign, Shalom Ashkenazi was chief rabbi of Palestine [ "Jerusalem - Meshullam of Volterra"] .
*Natan Sholal - during whose reign, Ovadiah di Bertinoro was chief rabbi of Palestine [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Bertinoro, Obadiah" - vol. 4 cols. 698-9] . For a brief period, he was chief rabbi in Hebron and Isaac ibn Haim ruled in Jerusalem in his place [The Jews in Their Land by David ben Gurion] until his return to Jerusalem. Beginning in the last years of Natan's reign, Jacob of Trijal succeeded as chief rabbi of Palestine and under Natan's successor:
*Isaac Sholal - Jacob was succeeded by Judah Albotini (b. Turkey) who ruled Palestine until the conquest by the Ottoman Turks 1516 when the office of Nagid of Egypt was abolished and Isaac sought to make the Palestinian rabbinate more independent of the Egyptian rabbinate. Shortly after the Ottoman conquest, he settled in Jerusalem and became successor to Albotini [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Albotini" - vol. 2 cols. 537-8; "Sholal, Isaac" - vol. 14 col. 1453] .

The Chief Rabbinate

*Levi ibn Habib (b. Spain) - ruled from Jerusalem but in 1538, Rabbi Jacob Berab who came from Spain via Egypt, sought to revive the Sanhedrin, in Safed, thus making that city, the competing capital of Israel. He was opposed and exiled by ibn Habib and the rabbis of Jerusalem but Safed remained the competing capital for a number of years thereafter. Berab was succeeded in Safed by Joseph Caro (b. Spain) who was ordained by him.
*David ibn Abi Zimra of the Egyptian rabbinate - ruled simultaneously in Jerusalem succeeding ibn Habib. In 1575, Moshe Trani (b. Greece) succeeded Caro in Safed.
*Moshe Galante I of Rome - ruled from Jerusalem
*Haim Vital - succeeded Trani in Safed but moved his rabbinate to Jerusalem which, once again, became the sole capital of Israel. In 1586, the Nahmanides Synagogue was confiscated by the Arabs and the ben Zakkai Synagogue was built in its stead.
*Bezalel Ashkenazi - first chief rabbi to preside in the ben Zakkai Synagogue [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Levi ben Habib" - vol. 11 col. 99; "Berab, Jacob" - vol. 4 cols. 582-4; "Caro, Joseph" - vol. 5 col. 194; "Galante, Moses (I)" - vol. 7 col. 260; "Ashkenazi, Bezalel" - vol. 3 col. 723; "Jerusalem - Jacob Berab and ibn Habib"] .
Gedaliah Cordovero [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Cordovero, Gedaliah" - vol. 5 col. 967]
*Isaac Gaon?
*Israel Benjamin [ibid. - "Benjamin, Baruch" - vol. 4 col. 527; "Benjamin, Israel" - vol. 4 col. 528]
*Jacob Zemah (b. Portugal) [ "Jerusalem - Solomon al-Gazi's Description"]
*Samuel Garmison (b. Greece) [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Garmison, Samuel" - vol. 7 col. 329]

Rishon L'Tzion 1665-1842

[ibid. - "Rishon Le-Zion" vol. 14 col. 193; - "Jerusalem - In the Eighteenth Century" "In the Nineteenth Century" "Albert Cohn and Ludwig Frankl"]
*Moshe Galante II
*Moshe ibn Habib who came from Greece, a descendant of Levi ibn Habib
*Moshe Hayun
*Avraham Yitzhaki (b. Greece)
*Benjamin Maali
*Eleazar Nahum (b. Turkey)
*Nissim Mizrahi
*Isaac Rapaport
*Israel Algazy
*Raphael Meyuchas
*Haim ben Asher
*Yom Tov Algazy - during whose reign, the French armies of Napoleon invaded Palestine.
*Moshe Meyuchas
*Jacob Aish of the Maghreb
*Jacob Coral
*Joseph Hazzan (b. Turkey)
*Yom Tov Danon
*Solomon Suzin - in 1831, Palestine was briefly conquered by Egypt under Muhammad Ali.

*Jonah Navon - Palestine returned to the Ottoman Empire.

*Judah Navon

The Haham Bashi 1842-1918

[ibid. "Jews of Jerusalem" "Institutions"; Encyclopedia Judaica - "Israel, State of" - Religious Life and Communities - vol. 9 cols. 889-90]
*Avraham Haim Gaggin (b. Turkey)

*Isaac Covo

*Haim Abulafia

*Haim Hazzan (b. Turkey)

*Avraham Ashkenazi (b. Greece)

*Raphael Panigel (b. Bulgaria)

*Yaacov Eliashar

*Yaacov Meir

*Eliahu Panigel

*Nahman Batito

*Nissim Danon - In 1917, Palestine was conquered by the British. Danon was succeeded as chief rabbi after WWI by Haim Moshe Eliashar who assumed the title of Acting Chief Rabbi. They controlled religious affiars while:

The Va'Ad Le'Umi 1918-1948

The Va'Ad Le'Umi conjointly with the Jewish Agency, controlled civil affiars, as defined by a British Mandatory Ordinance. The office of chief rabbi continues to this day, but the following list only contains the elected chairmen of the Va'ad Le'umi. [Encyclopedia Judaica - "Israel, State of" - Governance - Jewish Communal Organization - The Asefat ha-Nivharim and the Va'ad Le'ummi - vol. 9 cols. 608-9]
*Yaacov Thon (b. Ukraine)
*David Yellin
*Pinhas Rutenberg (b. Ukraine)
*Yitzhak Ben Zvi (b. Ukraine) - elected as chairman in the 1931 elections, held the office until independence in 1948. In 1939, Pinhas Rutenberg was, once again, appointed chairman of the Va'ad while Ben Zvi became President. He held that position until his death in 1942. In the 1944 elections, *David Remez (b. Ukraine), was elected as chairman while ben Zvi assumed the title of President.

The Prime Minister 1948-

*David Ben Gurion (b. Poland)
*Moshe Sharett (b. Ukraine)
*David Ben Gurion
*Levi Eshkol (b. Ukraine)
*Golda Meir who came from Ukraine via the United States
*Yitzhak Rabin
*Menachem Begin (b. Belarus)
*Yitzhak Shamir (b. Poland)
*Shimon Peres (b. Poland)
*Yitzhak Shamir
*Yitzhak Rabin
*Shimon Peres
*Benjamin Netanyahu
*Ehud Barak
*Ariel Sharon
*Ehud Olmert (present)


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