The ancient historian Flavius Josephus identifies four rival religious philosophies among the Jews at the time of Jesus: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots.
- The Zealots were a revolutionary movement that arose in response to Jewish oppression by the Roman empire (but they were not the only revolutionary movement).
- They hated the misconduct by Jewish and Roman officials, the burdensome taxation, the fact that occupying forces pilfered their natural resources and enslave the people.
- Zealots were found by Judas the Galilean about 6 AD and were active through the Jewish war of 66-73 AD.
- Masada was Zealot community.
- Luke mentions Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) but this could refer to his character rather than his political party.
- In belief and practice, they were similar to the Pharisees, except while the Pharisees thought they could oust Rome if everyone returned to the law, the Zealots believed Rome would be ousted only through revolt.
- They believed if they could throw off Roman rule the Messiah would come.
- They were anti-Rome, anti-Sadducee and anti-establishment.
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Zealot
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: Zealot
Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Zealots
Fausset Bible Dictionary:
Holman Bible Dictionary: Jewish Parties in the New Testament
Holman Bible Dictionary: Zealot
Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible: Zealot
Kitto’s Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature: Zealots
Morrish Bible Dictionary:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Zealot; Zealots
McClintock and Strong: Zealots
The Nuttall Encyclopedia: Zealots, The
The Jewish Encyclopedia: Zealots