Menahem ben Judah was one of several Jewish Messiah claimants around the time of the Jewish War and is mentioned by Josephus. He was the leader of a faction called the Sicarii who carried out assassinations of Romans and collaborators in the Holy Land.
He was the son of Judas of Galilee and grandson of Hezekiah, the leader of the Zealots, who had troubled Herod and was a warrior. When the war broke out he attacked Masada with his band, armed his followers with the weapons stored there, and proceeded to Jerusalem, where he captured the fortress Antonia, overpowering the troops of Agrippa II. Emboldened by his success, he behaved as a king, and claimed the leadership of all the troops. Thereby he aroused the enmity of Eleazar, another Zealot leader, and met death as a result of a conspiracy against him (ib. ii. 17, § 9).
He may be identical with the Menahem ben Hezekiah mentioned in the Talmud (tractate Sanhedrin 98b) and called "the comforter that should relieve", and is to be distinguished from Menahem ben Ammiel, the Messiah of the Sefer Zerubbabel.
- Ancient battle divides Israel as Masada 'myth' unravels; Was the siege really so heroic, asks Patrick Cockburn in Jerusalem, The Independent, 30 March 1997
- Book review digest: Volume 97 H.W. Wilson Company - 2001 "Thanks to David Maisel' s excellent English translation, we can consider Knohl's thesis. ... whom he identifies as Menahem the Essene. Knohl arrives at his hypothesis through an examination of two purportedly messianic hymns from Qumran ..."
- Israel Knohl trans. David Maisel The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls 2002 p.61 "Significantly, the only mention of Menahem in the Mishna occurs immediately after the remarks on the wickedness of slighting God's honor. The protagonist of the messianic hymns, whom we have identified with Menahem, describes himself "
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "article name needed". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. This article is an evolution of the corresponding article which gives the following Bibliography: Grätz, Gesch. passim; Hamburger, R. B. T. s.v. Messiasc; M. Gaster, in Jew. Chron. Feb. 11 and March 11, 1898; A. M. Hyamson, False Messiahs, in Gentleman's Magazine, Ixix. 79-89; Johannis à Lent, De Judœorum Pseudo-Messiis.