Zealots Name given to a party of Jewish extremists in first century C.E. JUDAEA; they acted as the main organizers of resistance to Roman rule over the Jews. In 6 C.E., the Romans annexed Judaea and installed procurators to administer local government. Inevitably, small pockets of opposition emerged. From 6 to 66 C.E., the Zealots slowly organized themselves, their presence felt by sporadic incidents of unrest or violence.

By 66, they were sufficiently manned to spearhead a major Jewish uprising, inducing the Judaean districts to rebel against ROME. JOSEPHUS, in his Jewish War, called them the Sicarii (Assassins), clearly depicting them as unrepresentative of the Jewish establishment. They pushed for war and then fought valiantly as the Roman LEGIONS under VESPASIAN and then TITUS reclaimed the country .

In JERUSALEM, the Zealots caused dissension and bloodshed by terrorizing the moderates and murdering opponents, thereby inadvertently weakening morale and giving entrance to the unpopular and harsh Idumaeans. They shared in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 but their cause was not so easily extinguished. At MASADA they fought bravely and survived total extirpation until 132–135, and the revolt of Simon BAR COCHBA.

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