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