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Zealot(s)

 

Pronunciation:  ZEHL-uht

Occurrences:  18

First Reference:  Yeshua 2:33

 

Now there came unto John certain of his disciples and one of them, being a Zealot, spoke, saying: “Rabboni, we know that you are sent by God unto the people, tell us, therefore, by what power shall the Anointed One throw off the power of Rome. For at his coming we would lift the sword against the oppressor, that we might establish again in Jerusalem the throne of David.”

 

 

See:  Judas Bar Abbas, Judas of Gamala, Judas of Kerioth, Pharisees, Sicarii, Simon Zelotes

 

Summary:  During the first century CE, the Zealots represented a political party strongly opposed to Roman occupation in Israel. Seeking liberation for the Jewish people, the Zealots worked to overthrow the authority of Rome through violence and armed rebellion. According to Azrael, the Zealot party was founded by Judas of Gamala (notes: 05/18/2008).

 

The group had minimal public support, which led to their interest in Yeshua. Zealot leaders offered to place Yeshua on the throne if he would support their cause. Yet despite their efforts to persuade him, Yeshua would have nothing to do with the political objectives of the Zealots (Y:29:1-62; Y:39:1-50). Prominent members of Yeshua’s following who were Zealots included Simon Zelotes and Judas of Kerioth (Y:29:2).

 

A more extreme sub-faction of the Zealot party was known as the Sicarii. Members of this violent and radical group often worked as paid assassins.

 

The following are listed in scripture as members or leaders of the Zealot party: Eleazar Ben Menachem, Gurion Ben Hadabbi, Judas Bar Abbas, Judas of Gamala, Ezra Ben Onias, Judas of Kerioth, and Simon Zelotes (Y:29:2; Y:29:8).  

 

 

Azrael’s Commentary - Zealots

 

[A] political party opposed to Roman rule within the boundaries of ancient Israel. The Zealots also viewed the leaders of the temple as traitors. It was the Roman authorities who decided who would be High Priest, and this was offensive to the Zealots who wanted Caiaphas dead as much as they wanted the Romans dead.

 

The Zealots had five chief goals:

 

1. The overthrow of Roman authority and their puppet kings

2. Establishing a Monarchy to give credence to Israel as a real nation

3. The expulsion of all non-Jewish people from the lands of Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Perea, Idumea and the area of the Decapolis

4. The purging of the Temple, and the institution of a new High Priest

5. The making of Jewish coins for the purposes of trade and business

 

In addition to this list, some Zealots wanted to annex the port cities of Joppa, Caesarea and Ptolemais. The Zealots wanted Israel for Jews only. But they had no real popular support. This is why the Zealots were interested in Yeshua. They were willing to place Yeshua on the throne of David if he would just support their cause (Yeshua 29).

 

 

Azrael’s Commentary - Eleazar Ben Menachem

Head of the Zealots, Eleazar was a gruff, no-nonsense man whose only goal in life was to throw Rome out of Palestine and re-create the Jewish state of Israel. Once this was achieved, Eleazar wanted to place Yeshua upon the throne of David to be King of Israel. When Yeshua refused his offer, Eleazar began to think of Yeshua as a traitor; and he began to spread the rumor that Yeshua was more of a magician and a charlatan than anything else. Till his dying day, Eleazar Ben Menachem cursed the name of Yeshua and thought all believers to be no more than deluded fools.

 

Azrael’s Commentary - Joseph Caiaphas; para. 1

...The office of High Priest was purchased by Caiaphas from the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. In receiving this office, Caiaphas agreed to aid the Romans in keeping Jerusalem peaceful. This agreement between Caiaphas and the Romans made Caiaphas a prime target for the Zealots, who despised him for aiding Rome in the subjugation of the Jews throughout Judea. Of interest it should be noted that Caiaphas often employed assassins in dealing with political opponents (Yeshua 21:10-25, 42:21-23, 47:15-16, 49:36). [...]

 

Azrael’s Commentary - Judas Bar Abbas; para. 1-2

Chief of the Sicarii, an outlaw and a brigand; one of the most dangerous men in Palestine, possessing a thoroughly ruthless nature. Cold hearted and treacherous, Judas Bar Abbas hated the rulers of the temple in Jerusalem, Caiaphas in particular. This consuming hatred was due in part to two things. One was the custom of Caiaphas to dress in Greek fashion to show his contempt of traditional Jewish custom. And secondly, Caiaphas’ collaboration with Roman authority was suppressing Jewish nationalism.

However, Judas Bar Abbas, along with other nationalistic leaders saw in Yeshua an opportunity to foment a popular uprising against the leaders of the temple and Rome itself. Clearly impressed with Yeshua’s miracles, Judas Bar Abbas argued that Yeshua should join the Zealot cause. When Yeshua refused, Judas Bar Abbas tried to coerce Yeshua through threats, stating that unless he publicly sided with the Zealots, Judas Bar Abbas would begin ordering the assassination of his entire family. On hearing this threat, Yeshua calmly refused, telling Judas Bar Abbas that all those who loved God were his family (Yeshua 13:40), and that if he should kill up to half of Israel, Yeshua would still not support the Zealots. Yeshua’s calm refusal garnered a grudging admiration from the chief of the Sicarii. [...]

 

Azrael’s Commentary - Simon Zelotes

A Zealot who first followed John the Baptizer and later became a disciple of Yeshua. Appointed by Yeshua as one of the first apostles, Simon Zelotes often found it difficult to understand Yeshua. Simon Zelotes wanted revolution; Yeshua spoke of peace. Simon Zelotes wanted war and blood; Yeshua spoke of loving one’s enemies and of turning the other cheek. Simon Zelotes fervently desired the restoration of the kingdom of David; Yeshua preached the kingdom of Heaven which had already descended, even though few could see it. And although Simon Zelotes found it difficult to understand the profound spiritual forces which motivated Yeshua, he could not deny the obvious and profound powers which Yeshua revealed through the healing of the sick and the raising of the dead.

The betrayal of Yeshua by Judas turned Simon Zelotes against the Zealots and towards peace. After the resurrection Simon became a devoted disciple and apostle, working tirelessly in building bridges between Jews and Gentiles. Simon Zelotes was stoned to death in Babylon in 62 CE; his body was thrown in the city dump for wild animals to eat.

 

 

Notes/References:

 

59. Now after Yeshua had said these things, many went again unto their own place; and certain disciples, being Zealots and filled with wrath against the Romans, came and said to him:

60. “Master, we know that God is with you in all things, for no man can do as you have done except he be given power from above.

61. Therefore, if you will but speak the word, even we shall gather unto you all Israel that you might take unto yourself the throne of David.

62. And when we have cast out the oppressor from among us, then shall we more perfectly love him seeing that he is no longer in the land of our fathers, but is returned again to his own place.”

63. And Yeshua, being filled with sorrow because of these things, said: “Why will you not understand? Behold, I tell you truly, that the kingdom of Heaven cometh not with fire and sword, but in peace and joy shall it spread itself upon the earth.

64. Blessed, therefore, is that one who is not offended because of me, for I shall establish him upon the high places of the earth, and in richness and blessing shall he ever dwell.

65. For I tell you truly, that whosoever is filled with love, notwithstanding their own transgressions, even he shall receive in abundance from the Father which is come from above.”

66. Such were the words which Yeshua taught, and many disciples grew troubled because of them, and among themselves did they ever contend.

Yeshua 15:59-66

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