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Holman Bible Dictionary [1]


Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

See Assassins.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [3]

( Σικάπιοι , Grsecized from the Lat. Sicarius, an assassin; "robber,"  Acts 21:38; so Josephus, Ant. 20:8, 6; War, ii, 13, 5), the special title of a band or sect of Jewish fanatics who fomented the last war with the Romans, and on the downfall of Masada retired to Egypt, where they still maintained their stubborn resistance to the Roman authority (ibid. 7:10, 1). They only appear in the New Test. in the person of Judas (q.v.) of Galilee, the leader of a popular revolt "in the days of the taxing" (i..e. the census, under the praefecture of P. Sulp. Quirinus, A.D. 6, A.U.C. 759), referred to by Gamaliel in his speech before the Sanhedrim ( Acts 5:37). According. to Josephus (Ant. 18: 1, 1), Judas was a, Gaulonite of the city of Gamala, probably taking .his name of Galilaean from his insurrection having had its rise in Galilee. His revolt had a theocratic character, the watchword of which was "We have no lord nor master but God," and he boldly denounced the payment of tribute to Caesar, and all acknowledgment of any foreign authority, as treason against the principles of the Mosaic constitution, and signifying nothing short of downright slavery. His fiery eloquence and the popularity of his doctrines drew vast numbers to his standard, by many of whom he was regarded as the Messiah (Origen, Homil. In Luc. xxv), and the country was for a time entirely, given over to the lawless depredations of the fierce and licentious throng who had joined themselves to him. But the might of Rome proved irresistible: Judas himself perished, and his followers were "dispersed," though not entirely destroyed till the final overthrow of the city and nation. With his fellow-insurgent Sadoc, a Pharisee, Judas is represented by Josephus as the founder of a fourth sect, in addition to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (A nt. 18:1, 1, 6; War, ii, 8, 1). The only point which appears to have distinguished his followers from the Pharisees was their stubborn love of freedom, leading them to despise torments or death for themselves or their friends rather than call any man master.

The Gaulonites, as Judas's followers were called, mar be regarded as the doctrinal ancestors of the Zealots and Sicarii of later days, and to the influence of his tenets Josephus attributes all subsequent insurrections of the Jews and the final destruction of the city and Temple. James and John, the sons of Judas, headed an unsuccessful insurrection in the procuratorship of Tiberius Alexander, A.D. 47, by whom they were taken prisoners and crucified. Twenty years later, A.D. 66, their younger brother, Menahem, following his father's example, took the lead of a band of desperadoes, who, after pillaging the armory of Herod in the fortress of Masada, near the "gardens of Engaddi," marched to Jerusalem, occupied the city, and after a desperate siege took the palace, where he immediately assumed the state of a king, and committed great enormities. As he was going up to the Temple to worship, with great pomp, Menahem was taken by the partisans of Eleazar the high-priest, by whom he was tortured and put to death, Aug.15, A.D. 66 (Milman, Hist. of the Jews. ii, 152, 231; Josephus, loc. cit.; Origen, in Matthew T. 17: § 25. (See Zelotes).