The Egyptian was a 1st-century messianic Jewish revolt leader. His uprising was quelled by the Roman procurator of Judea, Antonius Felix (ruled 52–60 CE), and the Egyptian fled, while many of his followers were killed and captured, with the remainder managing to flee and hide.

Flavius Josephus says in his Jewish War (2.261-262)

There was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to rule them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him.

In the Christian text, The Acts of the Apostles, the commander (chiliarch) of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, Claudius Lysias, mistakes Paul for this Egyptian,[citation needed] saying "Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?".[2]

Belgian Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx (1914–2009) characterised this Egyptian as an 'Egyptian Jewish eschatological miracle-working prophet' who predicted the destruction of Jerusalem's walls akin to the falling walls of Jericho in Joshua 6, and compared the Egyptian to Theudas during Roman procurator Cuspius Fadus (44–46 CE), and another 'eschatological prophet who led his followers into the wilderness while promising miracles and liberation from all misery' during Roman procurator Porcius Festus (r. 59–62 CE).[3]


  1. ^ "Messianic claimants (10) The Egyptian prophet".
  2. ^ Acts 21:38.
  3. ^ Schillebeeckx, Edward (1974). Jezus, het verhaal van een levende (in Dutch). Baarn: Uitgeverij H. Nelissen B.V. pp. 365–366. ISBN 90-244-1522-5. Retrieved 11 July 2020.