Simon the Zealot

11 Aug

Two of Judas (the Zealot) sons, James and Simon, were involved in a revolt and were executed by Tiberius Alexander, the procurator of Iudaea province from 46 to 48 (“Ant.” xx. 5, § 2)

Luke 6:15 σιμωνα τον καλουμενον ζηλωτην (Simon the one called zealot)
Matt 10:4 σιμων ο καναναιος (Simon the Canaanite?)
Mark 3:18 σιμωνα τον καναναιον (Simon the Canaanite?)
Acts 1:13 σιμων ο ζηλωτης (Simon the Zealot)

Matt 15:22 γυνη χαναναια (Canaanite woman) same spelling as in the LXX for Canaan. Canaanite/Canaan in Hebrew is כנען / כְּנַעֲנִי

The Hebrew word qanai (קנאי “kana”), meaning The Zealous.
Exodus 20:4 El Kana (אֵל קַנָּא) “jealous god” in English, but might be “zealous god”.

Jewish Encyclopedia:

The reign of the Idumean Herod gave the impetus for the organization of the Zealots as a political party. Shemaiah and Abṭalion (Ptollion), as members of the Sanhedrin, at first opposed Herod, but seem to have preferred a passive resignation in the end (Josephus, “Ant.” xiv. 9, § 4; xv. 1, § 1; xv. 7, § 10; xv. 10, § 4); though there were those who “could by no torments be forced to call him [Herod] king,” and who persisted in opposing his government. Hezekiah and his so-called “band of robbers,” who were the first to fall as victims under Herod’s bloodthirsty rule (“B. J.” i. 10, § 5; “Ant.” xiv. 9, §§ 2-3), were by no means common robbers. Josephus, following his sources, bestows the name of “robbers” upon all the ardent patriots who would not endure the reign of the usurper and who fled with their wives and children to the caves and fortresses of Galilee to fight and to die for their conviction and their freedom (“Ant.” xiv. 15, §§ 4-6; xv. 8, §§ 3-4; xvii. 10, §§ 5-8; xx. 8, §§ 5-6; “B. J.” i. 18, § 1; ii. 13, §§ 2-4; iv. 4, § 3; and elsewhere). All these “robbers” were in reality Zealots.

In other words, the Zealots were a reaction to Herod the Great’s murder of the last of the Hasmoneans (Antigonus) and taking the throne from them. Herod was actually a convert to Judaism so many saw him as not being a “real” Jew. This was the impetus for the Zealots.

One of Jesus’ disciples being called “Simon the Zealot” might actually have a root in history, since it seems as though the word was transliterated from the Hebrew “kana” to be read phonetically in Greek as kananaios. Bible translators probably translate it as “Canaanite” to cover this up, even though “Canaanite” would be spelled with a Chi, not a Kappa. No other information is given about Simon the Zealot’s actions in the gospel narratives, but it’s curious that a Simon the Zealot is listed as one of Jesus’ disciples and another Simon the Zealot is described by Josephus as being an insurrectionist (or “robber”). The gospel Zealot has no personality, while Josephus’ Zealot does.

The two are also contemporaries.

I think it could be argued that these two Simons are one and the same. What a violent insurrectionist was doing in Jesus’ party is an enigma… unless the supposed historical Jesus was a violent insurrectionist as well, which would explain his crucifixion.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 11, 2010 in simon the zealot


One response to “Simon the Zealot

  1. J. Wagenseil

    October 9, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    These books discuss the probable Zealot affiliation of Jesus.
    SGF Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots : A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive Christianity, 1967
    Also see these books by Joel Carmicheal
    The Death of Jesus (Macmillan, 1963)
    The Birth of Christianity: Reality and Myth (Hippocrene Books, 1989)
    The Unriddling of Christian Origins: a Secular Account (Prometheus Books, 1995)
    Martin Hengle, The Zealots : Investigations into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Period from Herod I until 70 A.D. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989.

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