Who Were The Zealots In Jesus Time

Zealots – Wikipedia

  • Judas of Galilee
  • Menahem ben Judah
  • John of Giscala
  • Simon bar Giora
  • Eleazar ben Simon
  • Eleazar ben Yair
  • Judas of Galilee

The Zealotswere a political movement in 1st-centurySecond Temple Judaism that sought to incite the people of Judea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land by force of arms, most notably during the First Jewish–Roman War(66–70), which took place in the northern kingdom of Israel. During this time period, Josephus used the term “zealotry” to refer to a “fourth sect” or “fourth Jewish thought” that existed.


The termzealot, which is a typical translation of the Hebrew kanai (also known as kana’im, which is usually used in plural form), refers to someone who iszealous on God’s behalf. The phrase comes from the Greek word (zelotes), which means “emulator, enthusiastic admirer or follower.”


There were three primary Jewish sects at this period, according to Josephus’ ‘Jewish Antiquities’: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, according to Josephus. Founded by Judas of Galilee (also known as Judas of Gamala) in the year 6 CE against theCensus of Quirinius, the Zealots were a “fourth faction” that arose shortly after the Roman Empire proclaimed what had previously been thetetrarchy of Herod Archelausto be a Roman province. According to Josephus, they “agree in all other respects with the Pharisaic beliefs; but, they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and declare that God is to be their sole Ruler and Lord,” and that they “have an inviolable attachment to liberty.” (18.1.6) According to the entry on Zealots in the Jewish Encyclopedia: “Judah of Gaulanitis is considered as the founder of the Zealots, who are characterized as the proponents of the Fourth Philosophy,” according to the Jewish Encyclopedia.

  1. However, in the original sources, no such identification is made, and the subject of the link between the Sicarii, who are the upholders of the Fourth Philosophy, and the Zealots is never broached explicitly.
  2. In addition, some have contended that the group was not as firmly defined (before to the first world war of 66–70/3) as others have claimed.
  3. According to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:18), two of Judas of Galilee’s sons, Jacob and Simon, were implicated in an uprising against Tiberius Alexander, the procurator of the province of Iudaea from 46 to 48, and were killed by Tiberius Alexander.
  4. The Zealots were opposed to Roman government and actively attempted to overthrow it via violence, mostly targeting Romans and Greeks.
  5. Prior to the demolition of the Jewish Temple, Josephus paints a very grim image of their operations, describing them as having launched a homicidal “reign of terror” before the collapse of the Temple.

Their conquest of Jerusalem was successful, and they controlled the city until 70, when Titus, the son of Roman EmperorVespasian, retook the city and demolished Herod’s Temple as part of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem.

In the Talmud

Those who are non-religious (who do not follow religious leaders) are referred to as theBiryonim (), which means “boorish,” “wild,” or “ruffians” in the Talmud. They are condemned for their aggression, their refusal to compromise in order to save the survivors of besieged Jerusalem, and their blind militarismagagainst the rabbis’ opinion to seek treaties for peace with the Romans. In one version, however, the rabbis originally backed the uprising until the Zealots launched a civil war, at which time it was determined that any prospect of defeating the Romans had been extinguished.

Gittin:56b of the Babylonian Talmud states that the Biryonim burned decades’ worth of food and fuel in besieged Jerusalem in order to push Jews to battle the Romans out of desperation in order to drive the Jews to attack the Romans.

Using raids for food and other actions to further their cause and promote violence against the Romans and their Jewish collaborators as well as the Sadducees, the Zealots were successful in gaining support for their cause.


Sicarii were a Jewish Zealot breakaway organization who, in the decades leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 CE, fought against Roman domination of Judea and sought to exile them as well as their sympathizers from the region. The Sicarii carriedsicae, or smalldaggers, concealed under their cloaks, which they used to defend themselves. They used these daggers to attack Romans and putative Roman sympathizers alike in public meetings, slipping into the throng after the attack to avoid being discovered.

Paul the Apostle

Despite the fact that most English translations of the Bible render the Greek wordzelotes in Acts 22:3 and Galatians 1:14 of the New Testament as the adjective ” zealous “, an article by Mark R. Fairchild takes it to mean a Zealot and suggests that Paul the Apostlemay have been a Zealot, which might have been the driving force behind his persecution of Christians (see the stoning of Saint Stephen) before his conversion to Christianity and theincident at Antioch, Although Paul the Apostle actually professes himself to be one who is faithful to God or a devout follower of the Law in the two lines listed above, the link between Paul the Apostle and Jewish Christianity is still up for question.

This does not rule out the possibility that Paul was exposing himself as a Zealot in this manner.

Green) is how the phrase is spelled.

It is said in Galatians 1:14 of The Unvarnished New Testament (1991) that Paul was “an extreme enthusiast for the traditions.” These translations may or may not be accurate, but they are contested by some who contend that they convey the incorrect relationship with the “Zealots.”

See also

  • In addition to Eifert and Knanaya, Sicarii (1989), a modern group influenced by the Sicarii, is worth mentioning. Sikrikim, a contemporary group that draws inspiration from the Sicarii
  • Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, a biography of Jesus written by Reza Aslan, is a must-read.


  1. AbH.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, ISBN0-674-39731-2, page 275
  2. AbZelot, Online Etymology Dictionary
  3. AbZelotes, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, “A Greek-English Lexicon,” at Perseus
  4. Ab”Josephus, Antiquities Book XVIII”
  5. Ab” (2008). 66–73, The Jews Against Rome: The War in Palestine, is a book about the Jews under the Roman Empire. ISBN 9781847252487
  6. Bloomsbury Publishing, p. 98.ISBN 9781847252487
  7. Martin Goodman (2008). It was a clash of ancient civilizations between Rome and Jerusalem. Vintage Books, New York City, p. 407.ISBN 978-0375726132
  8. Paul Christian, Who Were the Sicarii?, Vintage Books, New York City, p. 407.ISBN 978-0375726132
  9. M. R. Fairchild’s article “Paul’s Pre-Christian Zealot Associations: A Re-examination of Gal. 1:14 and Acts 22:3” appeared in Meridian Magazine on June 7, 2004. New Testament Studies, volume 45, number 4, pages 514–532

External links

Look upzealotin Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Look upzealotryin Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Look upZealotin Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  • Sydney F. Smith is the author of this work (1913). 1905
  • “Zeal” in the Catholic Encyclopedia
  • “Zealot” in the New International Encyclopedia
  • “Zeal” in the New International Encyclopedia

Who were the Zealots in the Bible?

QuestionAnswer Simon the Zealot was the name given to one of Jesus Christ’s disciples in the New Testament, according to the Bible (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). What exactly was a Zealot? The Zealots were members of a political organization among Judean Jews in the first century CE who aspired to destroy the Roman authority that was occupying their homeland. It is thought that the wordzealot comes from the Greek term zelotes, which means “emulator or (zealous) follower.” There were three major Jewish organizations in existence around the time of Christ, according to Jewish historian Josephus: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, to name a few.

  • “They agree in all other respects with the Pharisaic beliefs; but, they have an inviolable commitment to liberty, and declare that God is to be their sole Ruler and Lord,” writes Josephus of the Zealots (Antiquities18.1.6).
  • In the year 66 A.D., the Great Jewish Revolt started.
  • The Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem, as well as the temple, in the year 70 A.D.
  • A result of their frequently violent tactics, the Zealots have been referred to be “the first terrorists” in the history of the world.
  • Jesus picked Simon the Zealot, a man who was likely motivated by a desire to overthrow the Roman authority, as well as Matthew, a tax collector who worked for the Roman authorities.
  • What a lovely representation of the peace that Jesus offers!
  • Those who have a violent history or extreme inclinations can be converted when God uses them to communicate the good news of Christ’s love for all people, regardless of their background or beliefs.
  • Who were the Zealots in the Bible, and what did they look like?

Who were the Zealots?

Theology 101 continues its look behind the scenes at some of the most famous persons, groups, and events mentioned in the New Testament by taking a look at their lives today. The purpose is to give us a better understanding of the drama of salvation as it is communicated to us via the Scriptures. He went up to the mountain to pray during those days, and he stayed up all night in prayer to the Almighty. He gathered his disciples to himself when the day came, and from among them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, John, Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus; Simon who was called a Zealot; Simon who was called a traitor; and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

(See Luke 6:12-16.) It appears that at least one of Jesus’ apostles was expressly labeled as a Zealot, as we can see from the paragraph above. It’s possible that the Gospel writer believed it was vital to mention Simon’s association with this particular group. So, who exactly were they?


Zionist passion for the Law (Torah) and for the Jewish people propelled the Zealots to high heights. However, these facts did not serve as defining traits of the group on their own. About example, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes were all enthusiastic for the Torah as were other groups of people. Neither of these faiths was pleased with the Roman occupation of Palestine. In terms of response to Roman dominance and authority, however, the parallels are broken when we look at the responses of each group.

The Pharisees, on the other hand, accepted the Roman occupation and made an effort to live and remain clean, at least in theory, in the environment in which God had put them, despite their opposition to the Romans.

The Zealots, on the other hand, chose direct confrontation.


This sentence may very easily have served as the Zealots’ slogan, had they chosen to do so. “Rome must be destroyed,” according to the phrase, which is an adaption of the trademark statement of a Roman senator, Cato the Elder, who used it on a regular basis in place of Rome to refer to Carthage rather than Rome. It perfectly expresses the attitude at the heart of the Zealot movement, which was formed exactly as a reaction against Roman dominance over the Jewish people and the Jewish homeland movement in the first century CE.

  1. They were fervent advocates for Jewish law and for the preservation of the Jewish people’s heritage.
  2. It was believed that cooperating with the census would be tantamount to surrendering to Roman authority.
  3. However, when the Zealots were unable to prevent the census from taking place, they turned on their fellow Jews.
  4. Cooperation with Rome, in the view of the Zealot, was idolatry in the sense of acknowledging Caesar as lord in the place of God.
  5. Judaea was officially recognized as a Roman province in 44 A.D.
  6. Many of them went on to become assassins, known as Sicarii.
  7. A substantial number of Zealots were among those who took part in the Jewish uprising against Rome, which occurred between 66 and 70 AD.
  8. The Roman conquerors spent the following several years annihilating any remnants of the indigenous population.

A siege had taken place before the Romans were able to break the fortress’s defenses. They learned, however, that approximately 1,000 individuals who had been trapped there had committed suicide rather than surrendering to the Romans.


The Zealots were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Messiah. In order to expel the Romans, as well as any other foreign country from Palestine, this Messiah would lead them into war and defeat them. The Messiah would physically restore the Kingdom of God to the chosen people, in the shape of the Promised Land, by his death and resurrection. This notion that Jesus was the Messiah in this sense may have been what originally drew Simon’s attention to Jesus. There is little doubt that the presence of the Zealots had an influence on Jesus’ life, ministry, and, potentially, death on the cross.

It’s possible that the Romans regarded him to be a member of the Zealot movement.

Pilate eventually enables the mob to swap Jesus’ life for Barabbas’ life, which leads to a riot.

See also:  What Did Jesus Say About Feeding The Poor

Last but not least, Jesus was crucified between two revolutionaries with the words “King of the Jews” written across his chest.

Did You Know…

In one interpretation, the surname Iscariot suggests that Judas was a Zealot, which is supported by other interpretations. According to this interpretation, the name Iscariot is a variant of the title Sicarii, which literally translates as “dagger-men.” In ancient Rome, the Sicarii were an extreme group of Zealots who carried a blade with them at all times. They were essentially assassins who preyed on both Romans and Jews who allied themselves with the Roman government. Others believe that Iscariot is a reference to Judas’ hometown of Kerioth, which is located in southern Judea.

Bible Quiz

Some believe that this individual was responsible for the founding of the Zealots, which occurred in reaction to a census performed by the Roman ruler of Syria in 6 A.D., which was the same census that Luke cites to confirm Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. A.Simon the Zealot; B.John of Giscala; C.Simon the Zealot Judas of Galilee (C.Judas of Galilee) D.Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was a Roman general who served under Emperor Diocletian. Judas of Galilee is the answer to question C.


The Zealots represented a set of principles and a set of policies that were not shared by the other organizations. The Sadducees led a comfortable existence and aspired to positions of authority. In the Pharisees’ eyes, it was God’s desire that they lived in the world in which God had put them, that they remained clean, and that they faced the challenges of temptations, perils, and hardships.

1 And the Essenes just escaped the fighting and took sanctuary in their desert commune, where they have remained since. The Zealots, on the other hand, were in direct opposition to the Essenes and were prepared to combat any resistance.

The Name “Zealot”

It was Josephus who coined the term “Zealot” to designate the Jewish militants who fought in the War of 66-70 AD. However, the term has come to be used to refer to anybody who used force to revolt against the Roman Empire. It is not difficult to understand the meaning of the word; it refers to someone who is filled with fervor or ardent intensity in order to fight for a vulnerable institution or ideal. 3The name has connotations of a zealot, someone who was willing to resort to extreme violence against Gentile oppressors in order to achieve his goals.

Descriptions of the Rebel Groups

In his book Josephus on the Jews, he refers to the Zealots as the “fourth Jewish philosophy,” which was formed by Judas the Galilean (in 6 A.D.) and asserts that all subsequent crises, including the fire of the Temple, can be traced back to his teaching. In his observation that Josephus, who had converted to the Romans, is most likely presenting a politically acceptable evaluation of these sworn opponents of Rome whom he refers to as “bandits,” Gowan is absolutely true. 5When the sole source for knowledge about the zealots is Josephus, who was a harsh opponent of them, it is difficult to get solid information about them.

  1. 6 Judas’ father, Hezekiah, was beheaded by Herod in the year 46 BCE, according to tradition.
  2. Herod’s execution must have been a big event since the Sanhedrin sought to bring him to trial for it.
  3. Herford connects Judas to Mattathias (167 B.C.
  4. 8However, there is one significant difference: at the time of Judas, the Jews were mostly free to practice their religion as they chose.
  5. Gamaliel mentions Judas’ death in Acts 5:37, and this is the first time he mentions it.
  6. In the reign of Felix, a gang of rebels known as theSicarii (from the Latinsicarius, a small blade or dagger) fought and murdered the High Priest Jonathan before fleeing to the desert and holding Masada until the year 73.
  7. 11The son of Judas gathered weapons from Masada and traveled to Jerusalem, where he attempted to establish some sort of rule.

During the years 70-73, Eleazar, the son of Jairus and a distant relative of the prophet Menahem, retreated to Masada and conducted a failed resistance movement.

Their primary mission was to engage in terrorist actions.

15Simon bar Giora sought to conquer Jerusalem, and he had control of the southern region.

The Zealots were led by Eleazar, the son of Simon, when they rose up in insurrection against John the Baptist.

Eleazar and the Zealots held the Temple, John controlled the upper city, and Simon held the lower city.

Gowan finds that it may be classified as a movement for two reasons: (1) Josephus refers to it as the fourth philosophy, and (2) it was a dynasty of rebels, with the majority of them appearing to be linked to one another in one way or another.

They were essentially zealots who waged war on anybody and anything that stood in their way. However, they exhibited courage in that they withstood sieges and torture rather than acknowledge any other “master” but God. 18

The Beliefs of the Zealots

The movement was religious in nature, but it was also an activist movement. The Torah served as a unifying principle for all of these Jewish political groups. Unlike the Pharisees, however, the Zealots did not propose a new interpretation of the Law; rather, they were only concerned with fighting for it and asserting everything that it commanded. He describes the simple notions that they thought were required by the Torah as follows: Jews would recognize only one king, YHWH;202) they would establish His dominion by rooting out paganism and breaking the yoke of oppression;3) the Torah mandated separation from Gentiles, elevated Israel as God’s chosen people, and promised victory.

But in the end, they lost their sense of order as well as their high levels of enthusiasm.

In many ways, they were certainly in agreement with the Pharisees—but they were driven by a desire for liberty.

They may have been more sympathetic at the onset, but they were not sympathetic during the final struggles, which eventually resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the establishment of the Jewish state.

Concluding Observations

The Zealots do not appear in any significant number in the biblical accounts. There are, however, allusions to them. Simon Zelotes (Mk.3:18), one of the twelve, was most likely a member of some sort of organization before he became a member of the Twelve. Clearly, Barabbas belonged to the Zealot movement, as indicated by the epithet used to describe him in John 18:40, which was also used by Josephus to designate the Zealots. And it’s possible that Judas Iscariot was sympathetic to their viewpoints.

  • Man has taken Jesus’ remark in Matthew 11:12 that men are attempting to take the kingdom by force to be a rebuke of such misplaced devotion.
  • 22 There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm, of course; it is founded on biblical teachings23and is very necessary for Christianity to be successful in the modern world.
  • However, passion for the work of the Lord is diametrically opposed to the attitudes and actions of the zealots, who were not carrying out the will of the Lord at the time.
  • Individuals who have grabbed political power in addition to their ecclesiastical authority have also marred the Church’s historical record in other ways.
  • Moreover, Jesus taught that His kingdom was not of this world, or else His servants would fight; and that the work of His kingdom must not be accompanied by violence, no matter how much zeal the participants may possess.
  • 1Herford (1994), p.
  • 2See, for example, Martin Hengel’s The Zealots (Edinburgh: T.T.

24-75, which discusses the formation of groups.

If it is used in a negative context, it would indicate to jealousy or a burning desire for something that is not available to them.




The Wars of Josephus are found in 2.254-457 and 4.400-405.

Warfare in the Twelveth Century, 2.433-448.

14Josephus,Wars, 4.160ff, and so forth.

in the Book of Wars.

Gowan (1995), p.

Ibid., p.

18Ibid., p.

Herford, pp.

19 A full explanation of this conviction may be found in Hengel’s book The Zealots, on pages 90-99.

Specifically, he asserts that a reference to the zealots would be out of place in this context, that the timing (“from the days of John till now”) would be inappropriate, and that the verbs would indicate “storming” rather than “pushing” (The Zealots, p.

23See, for example, Hengel, pp.

Who were the Zealots in the New Testament?

Simon the Zealot was a nickname given to one of Jesus’ twelve followers (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Who were the Zealots, and what were their goals? The Zealots were a political movement among Jews that aspired to overthrow the Roman authority that occupied their homeland. The term “Zealots” derives from the Greek word zelotest, which literally translates as “emulator” or “zealous adherent.” The Zealots were a Jewish political movement that began in AD 6 with the founding of Judas of Galilee and Zadok the Pharisee, according to the first century Jewish historian Josephus.

  • Because Josephus was personally opposed to these Zealots, his literature stressed their bad characteristics to an extreme degree.
  • They were described in this way because they adhered to Torah principles, but felt that they needed to be enforced via activity and even acts of violence in order to be considered legitimate.
  • When imperial cult worship was established in Israel in AD 66, the Zealots had a role in leading a military insurrection against the Romans that was ultimately defeated.
  • Some have compared the attitudes and acts of the Zealots during this time period to those of modern-day terrorists, and others have concluded that they are not dissimilar.
  • Understanding the Zealots, on the other hand, aids in illuminating the significance of Simon the Zealot’s selection as one of Jesus’ first twelve disciples.
  • When Simon the Zealot was in the middle of preaching about being a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9) and talking about a kingdom that is not of this world, he discovered that his worldview was in direct conflict with his likely desire to overturn the government that he had been occupying.
  • Truths that are related: That were the twelve (12) disciples / apostles who followed Jesus?

Who were the Herodians according to the New Testament narrative? When it comes to civil disobedience, what does the Bible have to say about it? Is it appropriate for a Christian to serve in the military? Return to the previous page: The Truth About Everything Else

What Is A Zealot? Who Were The Zealots In The Bible?

What Exactly Is A Zealot? Who Were the Zealots in the Bible, and What Did They Look Like? The 26th of October, 2015 Jack Wellman is a writer who lives in New York City. What or who is a Zealot, and what motivates them? Who were the Zealots mentioned in the Bible, and what did they look like?

Who are the Zealots?

When Josephus first used the term “Zealot,” he was referring to militant Jews during the War of 66-70. Since then, the term has come to refer to anyone who rebelled against Rome, and these men were filled with zeal or a passionate desire to such an extent that they were willing to fight against any threatened institution or ideologie. They believed that the Torah was the foundation of all things and fought any attempts by foreign powers to impose their will on their people. Simon the Zealot was one of Jesus’ disciples who was chosen by the Lord (Matt 10:4).

However, all Zealots were united in their intention to violently remove the Roman authority from Judea, and if violence was necessary to accomplish this goal, so be it.

Zealous for the Lord

It is one thing to be enthused about a cause, but it is quite another to be enthused about the Lord and His commandments. The apostle Paul stated, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day” (Acts 22:3), but in his youth he stated, “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I It is God’s goal for all of us to be enthusiastic for Christ, as Peter put it: “For who can stand between you and what is good if you are zealous for what is good?” (3:13; 1 Pet 3:13).

According to the Book of Revelation, while Jesus was writing to the churches, he stated, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent.” As a result, being zealous is defined as having a strong love for the things of God, which includes living in obedience to God; yet, the Zealots were filled with a passion for the Law but not for Christ, as well as a desire to destroy those in authority over them (Rev 3:19).

(the Romans).

The Zealots

The Zealots were created by Judas of Galilee and Zadok the Pharisee, who were both followers of Jesus. They are described as “agreeing in all other respects with the Pharisaic beliefs; yet they have an inviolable devotion to liberty, and claim that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord,” according to Josephus, the Jewish historian (Antiquities 18.1.6). The Zealots were one of four Jewish organizations that existed during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and they were zealous in their goal to depose the Romans from their position of authority over Judea and the surrounding region.

See also:  How Many Years Was It Between Moses And Jesus

In the New Testament, he makes a clear reference to the Zealots.

For it was before these days that Theudas came up, pretending to be someone, and a group of men, numbering around 400, joined him.

He, too, perished, and all others who followed him were spread throughout the world.

You may even be discovered to be in opposition to God!” As a result, they followed his instruction” (Acts 5:37-39).

The Zealot’s End

960 fanatical Jews took shelter in Masada, which had been a Roman stronghold until it was captured by the Jews in 70 A.D. after Jerusalem had been destroyed and the Temple had been burnt to the ground. This was the beginning of the end of the Zealots. However, despite the fact that Rome had dispatched a Legion to recapture Masada, the Legion failed to do so in the first few years of the campaign, and the Zealots, who had taken up residence in the fortress, were able to repel the mighty Roman army even after the development of new weapons to use against them.

When the Romans ultimately assaulted the castle, they discovered that all of the inhabitants had committed suicide.


God, not a military force like as the Zealots, is our actual sanctuary and protector. When it comes to the Lord, we might be zealous, but we must exercise prudence, for even the Jews were zealous for the Law. When Paul talked to the church leadership in Jerusalem, he told them about how God had brought many Gentiles to faith in Christ. When they heard this, they were filled with awe and praise for God. “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed,” they explained to him.

Shouldn’t we be more ardent in our pursuit of pure living and the proclamation of the gospel for the glory of God?

Jack Wellman contributed to this article.

Jack also serves as the Senior Writer for What Christians Want To Know, a website whose aim is to equip, encourage, and excite Christians, as well as to answer concerns regarding the believer’s daily walk with God and his or her relationship with the Bible.

Who Were the Zealots? — The Thorncrown Journal

Pompey, the Roman commander, conquered Jerusalem in 63 BCE. The occupation of the Holy City by the Romans had begun. After a little more than 130 years, Jerusalem and its most hallowed structure, the temple, were reduced to shattered ruins. It is incredible that the Jews and the Romans were able to cohabit for such a long period of time. The Romans were pagans who had taken up residence in the promised land. In addition to unusual gods, they carried strange ways of thinking and living with them.

  • On top of the great gate of the temple, Herod had a massive golden eagle, representing Rome, installed, and the priests performed a daily sacrifice in honor of the Roman emperor.
  • Together with Roman harshness, this created an environment that made Jewish insurrection inevitable.
  • Unknown to us is whether or not one of Jesus’ disciples belonged to the zealous group.
  • They were under the impression that God would deliver Israel by the sword.
  • What did David do when there was an issue with the gentiles?
  • God would surely rise forth a new Son of David who would carry out the same functions.
  • Given the fact that Jesus was opposed to violent insurrection against Rome, many people were presumably perplexed as to why Jesus would chose a guy like him.

Tax collectors were very much in cahoots with the Roman government.

Jesus, on the other hand, picked one of each.

The Lord, on the other hand, was not.

The sheer fact that Jesus picked two individuals who were diametrically opposed in their worldviews was a sign of its authority and effectiveness.

Rebels sprang up in a variety of ways, and at times they found themselves in conflict with one another.

On the contrary, there were a large number of people who believed they were the ones who would save Israel.

The vast majority of people did not think that the Messiah would be divine in nature.

According to popular belief, the genuine Messiah would do at least three things.

Most people, on the other hand, viewed these events through the lens of the ancient covenant.

He would put a violent stop to the presence of gentiles and other sinners in the promised land, and he would restore a resurrected old covenant Israel to its rightful place.

If they were to die on a Roman cross, that would be the end of the matter.

The cross symbolized failure.

Consequently, it begs the issue of how Jesus could possibly be referred to be The Christ after dying at their hands in the first century.

The resurrected Christ.

The book of Acts has a list of those who claimed to be the messiah.

Acts also mentions an Egyptian who led four thousand men into the desert, where they were slaughtered by the Israelites (Acts 21:38).

The following is a quotation from Simon that is not found in the Bible: “I am the Word of God, I am the Comforter, I am Almighty, I am all that there is of God.” Following Jesus’ death and resurrection in the first century, two of the most dreadful false messiahs were on the scene.

Judas believed the Jews should have no ruler but God, and of course murder was the way to accomplish this.

He overpowered his opponents who preferred peace with the Romans and made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem dressed as a king.

He committed all sorts of abominations.

John of Gischala: Late in AD 67 John of Gishala rose to power.

He had tens of thousands of people put to death.

The priesthood supported peace with the Romans, so they became his enemies.

So fierce was the fighting that 8,500 died on the temple grounds.

John of Gischala continued his murderous rampage until Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D.

Jesus was the only one that fulfilled the Messianic expectations, only He did it in a way many misunderstood.

His temple was not build by hands but made by God with living stones.

He did deal with the gentiles and the sinners.

He did not come to destroy folks like the Romans.

He came to make the Jew and the gentile into one new man.

It would dwell in the hearts of His people.

There were certain folks that were known as bandits or robbers.

They were insurrectionists who robbed from the wealthy who supported Rome.

Another group of rebels were the Sicarii or dagger men.

At opportune times the Sicarii would assassinate Roman sympathizers.

However, rebellion reached a fever pitch in AD 60 to AD 70.

This was the final offence that brought the wrath of Rome upon all of Palestine.

In AD 66 Cestius led Roman armies against Jerusalem.

The Jews pursued and killed many Romans thus humiliating the Roman army.

In AD 67 Vespasian led armies in siege against Jerusalem.

InAD 70 Titus, the son of Vespasian, began the final siege of Jerusalem.

It was one of the most horrific sieges in history.

Various factions inside the city began to fight one another.

Normally, Jerusalem had enough in reserve to endure a lengthy siege.

Josephus records that bands of cutthroats roamed the streets murdering entire families for even a morsel of food.

In time Titus breached Jerusalem’s defenses and surrounded the temple.

Titus ordered his soldiers not to harm the temple itself.

Some say it was overzealous Roman soldiers.

After the fire had run its course, the Romans tore the stone structures of the temple apart in order to recover the vast quantities of gold that the fire melted.

Some believe this was a fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24.

26:52).” Some say He was condemning all military action throughout time.

Everyone who has taken the sword in conflict has not died violently.

He was saying if you try to bring the kingdom of God by violence, you will all die.

Those who rebelled against Rome died often in a very cruel manner.

It was not an act of violence but an act of love.

Sources used in this series on first century history: Holman Bible Dictionary.

Horsley, Richard.

Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1999.

The Message and the Kingdom.

Maier, Paul.

Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1988.

The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot.

Stegemann, Ekkehard and Wolfgang Stegemann.

Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999.

Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. The Christians Their First Two Thousand Years, Vol. 1. Canada: Christian Millennial History Project, Inc., 2002. Wright, N.T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. _. The New Testament and the People of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.

Who are the Zealots?

Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem in 63 BCE. During this time frame, Rome began to occupy the Holy City. The city of Jerusalem, as well as its most sacred structure, the Temple Mount, lay in ruins more than 130 years later. That Jews and Romans were able to coexist for such a long period of time is incredible. The Romans were pagan invaders who had taken up residence in the promised land of Palestine. They brought strange gods as well as strange ways of thinking and living with them. Roman paganism and Caesar worship were constantly invading Jewish religious beliefs, despite the fact that Rome permitted Jews to practice their faith.

  • Aside from that, the Romans subjected the Jews to an intolerable tax burden.
  • When it comes to the conflict between Rome and the Jews, there is little to be found in the New Testament.
  • In their view, armed rebellion against Rome was the only way to achieve their objectives.
  • Their reasoning could be traced back to the time of King David, according to them.
  • And God was on his side as he took his sword and dealt with the situation.
  • Simon, one of Jesus’ disciples, was a zealot, which is an interesting fact to consider (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13).
  • Adding the fact that Matthew worked as a tax collector only serves to heighten the irony.

Perhaps no two groups of Jews in Palestine were more antagonistic toward one another than the tax collectors and the zealots.

It’s likely that the majority of people were concerned that these two gentlemen would turn on one another and murder one another.

He understood that the kingdom of God was far more powerful than human hatred.

In first-century Palestine, there was no unified movement against Rome to speak of.

The notion that Jesus was the only one in his day who declared himself to be the Messiah may have persisted in our minds for a time.

In fact, the number increased significantly following Christ’s death and resurrection.

They were under the impression that their savior would be similar to the deliverers of ages past.

In addition to constructing the true temple of God, he would address the problem of the gentiles, and he would establish the kingdom of God.

In their minds, their savior/king would construct a temple out of stone for them.

For the purpose of determining whether someone was a genuine or a false Messiah, the people were given only one test to complete.

Romans crucified Israel’s would-be messiahs on the cross because they were traitors to their country.

This implied that you were a fraud and that you were only receiving what was due to your actions.

Obviously, there is only one possible reason for this.

For this reason, many academics believe that the fact that Jesus’ following grew so quickly after the cross is one of his most compelling proofs that he rose from the dead.

‘Theudas, who claimed to be someone, and approximately 400 men rallied to him,’ said Gamaliel, who was a Pharisee.

Also mentioned in the book of Acts is an Egyptian who led four thousand men into the wilderness to be slaughtered by the Israelites (Acts 21:38).

The following is a quote from Simon that was not found in the Bible: “I am the Word of God, I am the Comforter, I am Almighty, I am everything that God is.” Following Jesus’ death and resurrection in the first century, two of the most heinous false messiahs appeared on the scene.

Judas felt that the Jews should have no ruler other than God, and he believed that murder was the best way to achieve this goal.

He defeated his opponents, who supported peace with the Romans, and made a victorious entry into Jerusalem, clothed as a king, in order to establish himself as a legitimate ruler.

See also:  What Happened To Judas After He Betrayed Jesus?

He was involved in a variety of heinous crimes.

Late in the year AD 67, John of Gishala ascended to the throne of the Roman Empire.

He ordered the execution of tens of thousands of people.

Because the priesthood was in favor of peace with the Romans, they became his adversaries.

The conflict was so intense that 8,500 people lost their lives on the temple grounds.

In 70 A.D., John of Gischala maintained his murderous spree until the city of Jerusalem was destroyed.

Jesus was the only one who could fulfill the Messianic expectations, and He accomplished it in a way that many people mistook for something else.

His temple was not constructed by human hands, but rather by God himself using live stones.

He did deal with both gentiles and sinners at the same time.

He did not come to destroy people in the way that the Romans did.

He came to unite the Jew and the Gentile into a single new human being.

It would be a permanent fixture in the hearts of His people.

There were several individuals who were referred to be bandits or robbers.

They were insurrectionists who pillaged the homes of the affluent who backed the Roman government.

The Sicarii, sometimes known as dagger men, were another group of insurgents.

The Sicarii would kill Roman sympathizers when the opportunity presented itself.

Rebellion, on the other hand, reached a fever pitch between AD 60 and AD 70.

This was the ultimate act of defiance that brought the wrath of Rome onto all of Palestine at the hands of the Jews.

Cestius was the Roman general who commanded the army against Jerusalem in AD 66.

The Jews chased and slaughtered a large number of Romans, causing the Roman army to seem foolish.

In the year AD 67, Vespasian led soldiers in a siege of the city of Jerusalem.

It was in the year AD 70 when Titus, Vespasian’s son, started the last siege of Jerusalem.

Heavily fortified, it was one of the most horrifying sieges in history.

Various groups within the city began to engage in combat with one another.

Normally, Jerusalem had enough supplies to last for a long period of time under siege.

Bands of cutthroats roamed the streets, killing entire families for the sake of a scrap of bread, according to Josephus’ account.

Titus was successful in breaching Jerusalem’s walls and encircling the temple.

Titus instructed his men not to cause any damage to the temple itself.

Some believe it was the result of overzealous Roman troops.

In order to reclaim the massive sums of gold that had been melted by fire after it had burned out, the Romans demolished the temple’s stone buildings once it had finished its course.

Some think that Jesus’ statements from Matthew 24 were fulfilled in this event.

because those who take the sword will perish by the sword (Matt.

Some believe He was expressing his opposition to all military operations throughout history.

Everyone who has fought with a sword in a war has not perished in a bloody manner.

He was implying that if you attempt to bring God’s kingdom to earth via bloodshed, you would all perish.

Those who revolted against Rome were frequently killed in a gruesome manner.

No, it was not a violent act, but rather a loving gesture.

The following sources were utilized in this series on the history of the first century: The Holman Bible Dictionary is a resource for anyone who want to learn more about the Bible.

Richard Horsley is the author of this work.

Trinity Press International (Harrisburg, PA) published The Message and the Kingdom in 1999.

Paul Maier’s Josephus: A Biography (Paul Maier’s Josephus: A Biography).

Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988.

What Happened to the Temples that Jerusalem Forgot?

Stegemann, Ekkehard, and Wolfgang Stegemann are three brothers from Germany.

Fortress Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1999.

Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 2005.

The Christian Millennial History Project, Inc., based in Canada, published the book in 2002. N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God is available online. It was published by Fortress Press in 1996 and is titled The New Testament and the People of God. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1992.

Beliefs and practices

Those who belonged to this group were defenders of the Law (Torah) and of the Jewish people’s national life. They were vocal in their opposition to the Roman occupation of Israel. Their goal was to incite people to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel the Romans from Palestine by force, which they accomplished. As a result, they resisted paying tribute to the Romans, believing it to be a violation of the principle that God was the sole king of Israel. They also demonstrated their dissatisfaction with Roman rule by committing acts of violence against Romans and Greeks.

They were also known for raiding Jewish habitations and killing Jews whom they considered to be apostates or collaborators with the Roman Empire.

A zealot would use such weapons to stab anyone who was found to be performing a sacrilegious act or doing anything that would arouse anti-Jewish sentiment.

and lasted until 67 A.D., the Zealots played a crucial role.

A last stand at Masada

In 70 A.D., after Jerusalem had been demolished and the Temple had been destroyed, 960 zealous Jews sought sanctuary in a Roman fortress named Masada, which they captured. Despite the fact that Rome dispatched a Legion to reclaim Masada, the Legion failed to achieve so during the first several years of the battle. Even with the advent of new weaponry to employ against it, the citadel managed to stave off the power of the Roman army. The Romans completed a massive earthen siege ramp leading to Masada in 73 A.D., which was a major victory for them.

When the Romans eventually assaulted the castle, they discovered that all of the fanatics had committed themselves.

Jesus calls a rebel

Did you know that one of the zealots was personally chosen by Jesus to be one of his disciples? In the Bible, he is referred to as Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13 NKJV). From Strong’s ConcordanceG2208, we learn that the Hebrew name for this sort of individual denotes a supporter of Jewish political independence. In Matthew 10:4 and Mark 3:18, this disciple is sometimes referred to incorrectly as Simon the Canaanite, which is a misnomer.


ZEALOTS. During the first century of Israel’s history, the Zealots were Jewish rebels whose religious fervour drove them to fight to the death against Roman dominance and to assault or kill other Jews who collaborated with the Romans. According to scholars, the nameZealotsdesignates all revolutionary parties active in the first century, or it designates one of the factions engaged during the Roman-Jewish War, which took place between 66 and 70 ce. Despite the fact that Josephus Flavius (37–c.

  • References in the New Testament, the Pseudepigrapha, and rabbinic literature all contribute to the muddled state of affairs.
  • He and his supporters strove to purify the area by wreaking retribution on Jews who had collaborated with the Romans in their efforts to conquer it.
  • By executing such revenge, he and his supporters hoped to placate God, who they hoped would recognize their right to resist the Romans.
  • After all of Judaea was united as a Roman province in 44 ce, Judah’s descendants reappeared in the region.
  • Josephus refers to Judah’s faction as the Sicarii, which is derived from thesikkah (a “dagger”), which was employed in assassinations.
  • Many Jews saw “zealous activity” as a form of piety, and they looked to the biblical hero Phineas as a model (Num25:1–15) for this concept.
  • A number of individuals, like Simon the “zealot” (a follower of Jesus:Luke6:15; Acts1:13), were ardent for God on a wide range of jurisprudential matters.
  • On the other hand, not all fanatics turned out to be revolutionary leaders, and not all revolutionaries were driven by passion.

The growing unrest in the decades leading up to the war was accompanied by widespread resistance to Roman occupation, which included demonstrations against provocative actions by the procurator Pilate (who reigned 26–36 ce), a threatened strike against raising crops for the Romans in response to the emperor Gaius Caligula’s desire to place a statue of Zeus in the Temple (41 ce), rioting at feast time in Jerusalem in response to offenses by Roman soldiers, and official delegations to Rome protest There was extensive and pervasive resistance to Roman control, which extended across all areas of society.

It was in 66 CE when the procurator Florus attempted to confiscate money from the Temple’s treasury, prompting the public to drive Florus from Jerusalem and successfully repel Cestius Gallus, the Legate of Syria, when he arrived to restore Roman authority to the city.

Following this, the customary high priests took charge of the wartime government and began preparing for the return of the Romans to the land.

Not all of the factions had a “zealous” mindset, and they were frequently at odds with one another, except when confronted with the common Roman adversary, which brought them together. The Zealots are the last group of people to be mentioned by Josephus.

  1. The Sicarii battled for “No Lord but God” under the messianic leadership of Judah the Galilean’s descendants, who were themselves descendants of Judah the Galilean. They were forced out of Jerusalem by other revolutionary groups in 66 ce, but they remained on the fortress Masada for the remainder of the war, where they committed suicide rather than be captured by the Romans in 74 ce
  2. John of Giscala (Yohanan ben Levi), leader of a Galilean contingent, gained the confidence of the wartime government, which he then betrayed to the Zealots
  3. Simeon bar Giora, from Gerasa in the In 69 CE, he was joined by a group of lords and took control of the majority of Jerusalem. Simeon, a messianic strongman, led a coalition of revolutionary groups in the defense of Jerusalem in 70 CE
  4. The Idumeans, a local militia, assisted the Zealots in overthrowing the provisional government
  5. And the Zealots, primarily priests from Jerusalem and the Judaean peasantry, declared war by refusing to participate in the official sacrifices for Caesar
  6. And the Idumeans, a local militia, assisted the Zealot Afterwards, under democratic leadership, they occupied the Temple and picked a high priest by lot before overthrowing the wartime government in 68 ce.

The war lasted for four years in all. From 66 to 68 CE, the Roman commander Vespasian overran the region of Galilee and Judaea, cutting off the city of Jerusalem from the rest of the world. The siege of Jerusalem was assumed by his son Titus when he became emperor in 69 ce. After a triumphant march through Rome in 69 ce., Titus ended up destroying the city in 70 ce., burning the Temple, murdering Jewish fighters, and consigning many families to slavery. By 74 CE, Flavius Sylva had led Roman forces to victory over Jewish holdouts in a handful of fortifications, notably Masada, in the Middle East.

Several major scholarly debates have arisen, primarily in response to Josephus’s biased and often unreliable accounts of the Jewish War (in hisJewish Antiquities andThe Life, as well as hisJewish Antiquities andThe Life), and have centered on the ancient usage of the term “Zealot,” the extent of religious zeal among the revolutionaries and the populace, the nature and makeup of each revolutionary group, whether the wartime government was moderate or revolutionary, and the relative


The Currency of the Term ‘Zealot,'” Journal of Theological Studies, no. s. 22 (October 1973), pp. 504–512. Borg, Marcus. “The Currency of the Term ‘Zealot.'” The author concludes that the phrase did not become widely used as a title until the outbreak of World War II. Martin, thank you so much. From the Ruling Class of Judea: The Origins of the Jewish Revolt Against Rome, AD 66–70 (The Ruling Class of Judea). Cambridge University Press, 1987. This book examines the role of the Jewish elite class, their achievements and failures, and their participation in the war effort during World War II.

From Herod I to AD 70, The Zealots: Investigations into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Period from Herod I to AD 70 is a collection of essays on the Jewish freedom movement in the ancient world.

Smith was in charge of the translation.

Probably the most comprehensive representation of the “zeal” mentality available, culled from a variety of sources.

Richard Horsley and John Hanson are co-authors of this work.

Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.

Rhoads, David M., “Israel in Revolution, 6–74 C.

E.: A Political History Based on the Writings of Josephus, edited by David M.

The year is 1976, and Philadelphia is the setting.

Zionists, by David M.

VI, pp.

The year is 1992, and the city is New York.

An extensive bibliography is included at the end of the paper.

One hundred and forty-fourth Harvard Theological Review (January 1971): 1–19.

Menachem Stern’s “Zealots” appeared in the 1973 edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica Yearbook, published in Jerusalem.

David M. Rhoads is an American author (1987 and 2005)

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