(Ga·maʹli·el) [recompense of God].
1. The son of Pedahzur of the tribe of Manasseh and the chieftain of his tribe. (Num. 1:10, 16) Gamaliel was one of the twelve chieftains designated by Jehovah to aid Moses and Aaron in numbering the sons of Israel for the army, from twenty years old upward. (Num. 1:1-4, 10) He was over the army of his tribe, which was a part of the three-tribe division of the camp of Ephraim. (Num. 2:18, 20; 10:23) After the setting up of the tabernacle the chieftains made their presentations, directed by Jehovah to be used for carrying on the service of the tent of meeting. Gamaliel also represented his tribe in presenting his offering on the eighth day for the inauguration of the altar.—Num. 7:1-5, 10, 11, 54-59.
2. A member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee and a Law teacher, at whose feet the apostle Paul had been instructed according to the strictness of the ancestral Law. (Acts 5:34; 22:3) Gamaliel is generally regarded as identical with Gamaliel the Elder. Gamaliel the Elder was greatly esteemed, being the first one to have the title of “Rabban” bestowed upon him. This honorary title was even higher than that of “Rabbi.” Concerning him the Mishnah says: “When Rabban Gamaliel the Elder died, the glory of the Law ceased and purity and abstinence died.” (Sotah, 9. 15) Gamaliel evidently was broad-minded and not fanatical in his views, as reflected by the counsel he gave on the occasion that Peter and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin. By citing examples from the past, Gamaliel illustrated the wisdom of not interfering with the work of the apostles, and then added: “If this scheme and this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them . . . you may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.”—Acts 5:34-39.