Tuesday, September 27, 2011


"Sicarii (Latin plural of Sicarius 'dagger-men' or later contract-killer) is a term applied, in the decades immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, (probably) to an extremist splinter group of the Jewish Zealots, who attempted to expel the Romans and their partisans from Judea using concealed daggers (sicae)." (quote from wikipedia)

Royal Sceptre
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples."
Genesis 49:10

 לא־יסור שׁבט מיהודה ומחקק מבין רגליו עד כי־יבא שׁילה ולו יקהת עמים
The traditional English translation of this prophetic verse from Hebrew is a bit difficult "until Shiloh comes"  According to my understanding the word shiloh could also be read "to whom it (the sceptre) belongs". That would make more sense in this context.

The scepter would be the Royal Scepter of the King of Israel. This verse is often connected with another prophecy in the Torah

“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth."
Numeri 24:17

This is another difficult prophecy with its violent military content. Rabbi Akiva Ben Yosef (17-137 AD) famously used it to endorse the Messianic leader of the second Jewish war against occupying Rome  - the tragic Bar Kochba Revolt (132-136 AD) that ended in the utter destruction of the Jewish state in the Holy Land and the diaspora. bar kochba is Aramaic for "Son of Star".

After the Second Revolt sceptre departed from Judah.

For a Jewish believer this is a huge problem, how come Messiah did not come and yet the Kingdom ended?

For a Christian believer Messiah did come before the sceptre was removed from Judah and the Temple destroyed.

Rejection of military role by Jesus
The King of Israel rejected the burning Messianic hope that He would redeem the People of God from the hated Kittim, as Dead Sea Scrolls called the Roman occupiers.

So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
John 6:13-15

In contrast, Bar Kochba did not reject the military role of the Messiah and led his people to fight in the name of God of Israel who had given the Maccabeans such a victory against the Greeks and Syrians.

Jesus and swords
Jesus rejected, apparently after some hesitation, the use of swords in His defence at that hard Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Valley of Kidron east of Jerusalem.

And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.”
And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.
For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.”
They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
Luke 22:35-38

In the Gospel of Matthew the King of Israel famously said
“Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."
Matthew 26:52

Simon the Zealot
Two swords were enough, and even too much, as the story of the night continues. It is therefore interesting that among the disciples of the King of Israel there was a zealot, belonging to an extremist nationalistic group we today would call terrorists.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.
Matthew 10:2-4

"Simon who was called the Zealot"
Luke 6:15

Matthew uses the Aramaic word Κανανίτης kananites and Luke the Greek word Ζηλωτής zelotes.

Nationalism, daggers and Uzis
Obviously modern Israel needs plenty of swords to protect itself against her enemies and in order to conquer the Promised Land from its current inhabitants.

There are zealots in the army and among the civilians as there are in every country, United States of America included with the Civil War about abolishing slavery or Indian Wars about conquering the Wild West. Or in England or in Libya or in ...

What is different between the zealots and the sicarii is in the attitude towards fellow citizens and soldiers. The great sin and tragedy of the sicarii was turning against their own people who were considered traitors of the course, unbelievers and unworthy of living.

The hidden daggers were not only used by these Jews against the Roman occupying force and its hated cooperators among the Civil Administration, the publicans.

The Cause, the Idol which is Jerusalem, invites also murderous behaviour in the name of God, to root out the weak and the meek.

Josephus tells about the sicarii and how the wheat stores of surrounded city of Jerusalem were burned down by the inhabitants.

News tell about the sicarii of today who have shown by the tragic murder of the Prime Minsiter of Israel that the Promised Land is for them more sacred than Human life.