The Hasidean party was responsible for the Maccabean revolt and out of these arose the Zealots. Judas and the Pharisee Zadok called for an insurrection in the name of Jehovah. Nothing much became of it then, but the fierce dedication of Judas and his followers inspired a group of alienated patriots to break from the Pharisees and form a clandestine rebel party intended to bring down the Roman occupation. Judas and the Maccabees were the heroes and role models of the Jews in their fierce determination to be free. Their politics and tactics may not be agreed upon but the people admired their cunning and bravery. These lawless men were considered fugitive freedom fighters and the stories of their sensational exploits would keep alive the idea that only Jehovah and the Jews could govern in Israel.

These militant patriots were looking forward to a leader in the form of the Messiah to overthrow Roman domination and establish God's kingdom on earth. The Zealots were the leaders of the rebels, a sworn fraternity of fanatics straightforwardly challenging the Romans who had by military force occupied the Holy Land and the City of David. The Messiah would insure that God was on the side of Israel and bring them to victory and vanquish their enemies. Jesus had disappointed the Zealots by wanting to change the heart of man, not the political structure. His was a message of peace and the sword of the spirit, not armed revolt, and certainly was not what the Zealots were looking for.

The Zealots were the Jewish revolutionaries of Jesus' day, now they would be considered urban guerilla fighters, paramilitary religious fanatics and fierce nationalists. Their agenda would entail the liberation of God's people by force from foreign rule and included violence, assassinations, murder and terrorism. Josephus describes them as being bandits and a crowd of partisans. By the inference of his name, Simon Zelotes, one of the disciples, was of the Zealot party as well as Jesus Barabbas. If Judas Iscariot was a Sicarii, we can include him also.

The Zealots were at first strongest in the Galilean hills engaging in sporadic guerrilla warfare and being a general nuisance. This escalated into an uprising in 6 AD. The people and the religious groups did not generally support them then and their numbers were at first small. The Pharisees looked for liberation in God's own time but the Zealots wanted to accelerate the process by direct action. As the prophetic vision of the Messiah increased, so did the tension from Roman oppression. More and more of the religious institutions would be profaned and more and more of the Peace Party would join the ranks of the Zealots.

Hiding out in the countryside, they would come into the cities with their right-wing death squads and included the Sicarii, or dagger bearers. There was a Roman garrison at Caesarea and open conflict started there and especially in Jerusalem in Jesus' time. Agrippa I was the last Herodian to rule Israel, when he died in 44 the country came under direct Roman rule and the rebellion intensified. Romans ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion but zeal was the more inflamed and they were infused with the messianic vision and a theocratic state. As the numbers of Zealots increased so did the resistance movement and by doing so provoked the Roman military even more. More stupid Roman atrocities and Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes would join them and preach total war. The Zealots killed Roman soldiers, ambushed sentries, broke into the military stores, stole horses and sabotaged new roads and water works. Many would be caught and executed. The final destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the siege of Masada put an end to the Zealots and the other parties as well. The Messiah they were waiting for was completely overlooked.
[311, 315, 319, 322, 327, 320, 330, 345, 376, 390]

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