Zealot , member of a Jewish sect noted for its uncompromising opposition to pagan Rome and the polytheism it professed. The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religious life of the Jewish people led them to despise even Jews who sought peace and conciliation with the Roman authorities. A census of Galilee ordered by Rome in ad 6 spurred the Zealots to rally the populace to noncompliance on the grounds that agreement was an implicit acknowledgment by Jews of the right of pagans to rule their nation. They frequented public places with hidden daggers to strike down persons friendly to Rome. In the first revolt against Rome ad 66—70 the Zealots played a leading role, and at Masada in 73 they committed suicide rather than surrender the fortress, but they were still a force to be reckoned with in the first part of the following century. A few scholars see a possible relationship between the Zealots and the Jewish religious community mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. See also Masada. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.
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To save this word, you'll need to log in. In the 1st century A. Known as the Zealots, they fought their most famous battle at the great fortress of Masada, where 1, defenders took their own lives just as the Romans were about to storm the fort. Over the years, zealot came to mean anyone who is passionately devoted to a cause. The adjective zealous may describe someone who's merely dedicated and energetic "a zealous investigator", "zealous about combating inflation", etc. But zealot like its synonym fanatic and zealotry like its synonym fanaticism are used disapprovingly—even while Jews everywhere still honor the memory of those who died at Masada.
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Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. In Jesus' world, zealot referred to those Jews who adhered to a widely accepted biblical doctrine called zeal.