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The term Zealot (from ancient Greek ζηλωτής zelotes , zealots'; Hebrew קנאי kanai ) is derived from the biblical person Pinchas ben Eleazar , a grandson of Aaron , who was a religious zealot and with a spear in hand "jealously for his God". He did this by following another Israelite who had become involved with a strange woman into his tent and piercing him and the woman with his spear ( Numbers 25 ). Certain Jewish religious zealots have been referred to as Zealots for centuries.

In the German educational language , the term zealot is sometimes used generally for a zealot or fanatic , but still usually for a religiously motivated one.

In connection with the so-called syncretistic dispute , the Orthodox Lutherans (as one of the two parties to the dispute) are referred to as Zealots.

Main usage of the term

The Zealots were one of Judas the Galilean ( Hebrew יהודה בן חזקיה Jehuda ben Ezechias (Hezekiah) ) and a Pharisaic Rabbi or Chacham with the name Zadok (also: Sadduk, too Hebrew צדיק ṣaddīq , German for “righteous” or “righteous”) was a paramilitary resistance movement of the Jews against the Roman occupation founded in 6 AD . In Jewish War fell in (70 n. Chr.) Conquest of Jerusalem by Roman legionnaires many of them. The last rebels, who had withdrawn to the mountain fortress Masada after the fall of the city , were able to oppose the Roman legions until 73 AD. When they realized that their resistance could no longer be sustained, according to tradition, they decided to pass away as free citizens, killed all women and children present, and tossed the lot to determine who had the duty, his comrades to be promoted to death.

The Zealots were, so to speak, the 'militant arm' of the Pharisaic movement.

Zealots in the Byzantine Empire

  • In Byzantine historiography of the 8th and 9th centuries, the irreconcilable wing of the admirers of the image is called the zealot , who rejected any compromise with the enemy of images. Its leader was Theodoros von Studios around 787.
  • Also in Byzantine historiography, the term appears again as a self-designation of a group of radical politicians who had established a city republic and an autonomous "revolutionary government" in Thessaloniki 1342-49 / 50. Their guides were Michael and Andreas Palaiologos , their main pillars were the seamen, and support came from the farmers in the area. Opponents of the Zealots were the so-called Magnate Party around John VI. Kantakuzenos and the hesychasts , within the Zealots the merchants and anti-oligarchic forces rivaled each other. The merchants faction, overthrown in 1343 , tried in vain to regain power in 1345 under the leadership of Johannes Apokaukos , who killed Michael Palaiologos. From then on, the radical Zealots under Andreas Palaiologos followed a socio-political reform program, which also resulted in expropriations from the wealthy and a bloody tyranny. This largest popular movement of the late Byzantine Empire was put down in 1349 with the help of Turkish troops.

Well-known zealots

See also


  • Martin Hengel : The Zealots. Investigations on the Jewish freedom movement from Herod I to 70 AD. AGJU 1. Brill, Leiden a. a. 1961, 2nd, verb. and exp. Edition 1976, ISBN 90-04-04327-6 .
  • René Gehring: The ancient Jewish religious parties. Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and therapists. Writings of Research: Historical Theology, Volume 2. St. Peter / Hart 2012, ISBN 978-3-900160-86-9 .
  • Morton Smith: The Troublemakers . In: W. Horbury, WD Davies, J. Sturdy (eds.): The Cambridge History of Judaism . Vol. 3, Cambridge 1999, pp. 501-568.

Web links

Wiktionary: Zealot  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Yinon Shivti'el: Hidden in caves and ravines. Rebels and zealots at Lake Gennesaret . In: Jürgen K. Zangenberg , Jens Schröter (Ed.): Farmers, fishermen and prophets. Galilee in the time of Jesus . Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4543-9 , pp. 65–82.
  2. Flavius ​​Josephus: History of the Jewish War , Book VII, Chap. 9
  3. Hyam Maccoby : Jesus and the Jewish struggle for freedom. Ahriman, Freiburg 1996, ISBN 3-89484-501-5 , p. 34