Who Was Nicodemus?
The Rest of the Story
James Scott Trimm
You all know that Nicodemus visited Yeshua one night to discuss ask Yeshua to ask Yeshua about his teachings (John 3:1–21). And you all know that he reminded his colleagues in the Sanhedrin that the Torah requires that a person be heard before being judged (John 7:50–51). And you all know that Nicodemus appeared after the Crucifixion of Yeshua to provide the customary embalming spices, and assisted Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the body of Yeshua for burial (John 19:39–42).
What you may not have known is that “Nicodemus” (Jn. 7:45-52; 19:39) was almost certainly Nakdimon ben Gorion one of the three leading councilors in Jerusalem at the time of Yeshua. According to the Talmud Nakdimon was wealthy enough to feed the entire city of Jerusalem for ten years (b.Gittin 56a).
One rather lengthy Talmud story tells us that once, during a drought, Nakdimon made a deal with a Roman General so as to procure twelve wells of water for the Jewish people. According to the story, Nakdimon promised the General to repay him either twelve wells or twelve talents of silver (a tidy sum) before the expiration of one year. On the last day of the year it still had not rained, so Nakdimon went to the Temple to pray. His prayer was answered and it began to rain and refill the wells. The Roman General, however, demanded the silver, saying that the cloud-cover had caused the day, and thus the year, to expire prematurely. Nakdimon returned to the Temple and prayed again, this time the clouds removed and the sun shined out, thus the General was satisfied. (b.Ta'anit 19b-20a)
The Talmud also tells us that "Nakdimon" was only his nick-name and that his real name was Buni (b.Ta'anit 20a). The Talmud also relates that a certain Buni was a student of Yeshua and was himself martyred sometime after Yeshua's death (b.San. 43a).
The Talmud suggests that the nickname Nakdimon was taken from NAKAD meaning "to shine" "because the sun shined out for him" (b.Ta'anit 20a). A more likely source is NAKI DAM "innocent of the blood" based upon his actions recorded in Jn. 7:45-52; 19:39. The Greek equivalent name Nicodemus has a meaning all of its own NIKOS DEMOS "victorious people". There would be no reason for Buni to have this Greek name as a nickname, but the sound-alike Greek name may have been used by the Roman occupiers in there dealings with this very wealthy man, as the Talmud does record that he had dealings with the Roman General stationed at Jerusalem (b.Ta'anit 19b-20a).
So now you know the rest of the story!
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