Subject: קנאי kanai zealot
Setting: Jewish revolts, Roman Judea 1st-2ndc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Faulkner 2002 p73-74
"There were ... in Palestine during the first century AD, strong traditions of Pharisaic traditionalism and Jewish nationalism. But these essentially upper-class perspectives were contradictory and fractious, and their histories had been chequered. To preserve an independent Jewish kingdom within a Balkanised region contested by the great powers, the Hasmonaean rulers had been driven towards centralised administration, a professional army and imperial expansion, policies which imposed heavy burdens on the population and provoked strong opposition. Direct Roman intervention then drove deep wedges into the fractures, splitting the Hasmonaean royal house into pro- and anti-Roman factions. For 30 years (67-37 BC) the strife continued, erupting thrice into full-scale war (63, 57 and 40-37 BC) as Hasmonean nationalist claimants to the throne attempted to drive out the Romans and their Jewish clients. (This, of course, was the conflict that raised Herod the Great to power, first as the pro-Roman Hasmonaean faction's leading lieutenant, then later in his own right.) THough weakened by defeat, defections and purges, aristocratic nationalism survived as an oppositional current -- poisoning the Herodian court with its plotting, using the Sanhedrin as a platform for populism, and seeking to exploit mass protests when they arose. Now, in AD 66, the aristocratic nationalists were in power again, and -- even without direct testimony in teh ancient sources -- we can guess that the aim was to construct an independent state on the Hasmonaean model. Past experience suggested that this was a pipedream -- that the project would be torn apart by internal dissension and superpower intervention. To this, though, was now added the nationalist aristocracy's paralysing fear of their own people -- paralysing because defending the revolution meant mobilising the masses, and mobilising the masses meant empowering the dispossessed. The nationalists had needed the Zealots to defeat the counter-revolution; but then, in fear for their property and position, they had destroyed them. Though this had purchased a breathing-space, the aristocratic regime remained narrowly based, riddled with contradiction, and highly unstable. It was, moreover, about to face a far sterner challenge than that of the Herodian counter-revolution. Cestius Gallus, Governor of Syria, leading Roman general in the East, was on the march to restore order and authority in the troublesome little province of Judaea. The legions were coming."
* Matyszak 2004 p195-196
"When Josephus returned to Palestine, it was to a land seething with plots and incipient rebellion. The rural poor had suffered a series of famines, and many of those unable to work their lands had taken to banditry, adding a further level of unpleasantness to country life already strained by the demands of Roman taxation. Relations between the Jewish elite and the Roman authorities had never recovered from the unsuccessful procuratorship of Pontius Pilate (AD 26-35) or the attempt of the emperor Caligula to have his statue installed in the Temple of Jerusalem; and a series of successive ineffectual procurators had failed to restore trust.
"In these circumstances, the philosophy of the Zealots appealed to many. It combined religion with violent nationalism and had been about for decades (it is possible that two of the disciples of Jesus -- Judas Iscariot and Simon [--] were Zealots). Mostly their activities had been limited to attacks on Roman outposts and attempts to disrupt the tax collection, but a new generation of leaders, including the charismatic Eleazar bin Jair, advocated even more open resistance. Yet more extreme and violent than the Zealots were the Sicarii, who were not only anti-Roman but equally opposed to any Jews whom they suspected of collaborating with the Romans. This latter group were more vulnerable, and accordingly made up the bulk of the Sicarii's victims. The name of this group came from the short curved knife, the sica, favoured by the assassins. often victims were killed in the middle of a crowd and the assassin, his knife tucked under his tunic, made his getaway in the confusion. Among the Sicarii's victimas was Jonathan, the High Priest, whose murder heightened the atmosphere of fear and tension."
* Barker 1981 p34-35
"The Jewish rebels of 66 A.D. started with only a minimal amount of military organisation. One of their area commanders, the historian Josephus, tried to put his own forces on a logical footing. He finally disposed of 250 cavalry, a picked bodyguard of 600 infantry, 4,500 full time fighting men with a modicum of drill and training, and 60,000 other infantry of whom only half served at a time. Most of the other leaders seem to have contented themselves with raising large numbers of infantry with little organisation or training and frequently fought each other. A certain amount of illegal weaponry already existed and more was acquired from garrisons that the rebels overcame. Military skills were less easy to acquire. The client king, Herod Agrippa had had a small army of which one unit, the so called 'Royal Spearmen' may have been Jewish. His other three units were Thracians, Germans and Gauls respectively. The temple guard must have provided at least a few instructors though.
"Although the Jews could soon field large armies, their pitiful lack of cavalry prevented them standing up to the Romans in open battle, and the war quickly became a matter of sieges. The Jewish defenders of the cities fought extremely hard. On two occasions, fanatical garrisons chose suicide rather than surrender.
"The majority of the rebel warriors fought as loose formation infantry with javelins, side arms such as a sword or long curved knife, and a long shield. A large minority substituted a bow for javelins and shield, and there were probably also some javelin skrimishers who may have had smaller shields of any of a variety of types. A sprinkling of captured auxiliary equipment was available, but nothing like enough to go round. Probably only officers regularly wore armour."
* Dougherty 2010 p96
"The Romans intervened in a political dispute between Hebrew princes to help ensure that their favoured candidate would win. This helped make sure that Judea would remain friendly towards Rome. Not many years later, in 37 BC, the Judean kings were finally deposed and a puppet answering to a Roman governor was installed.
"A series of uprisings failed to dislodge the Romans despite great heroism such as the defence of Jerusalem and the fortress of Masada (AD 66-74), and by AD 135 the Hebrew people, also known as Jews or Israelites, were dispersed yet again."
* Keller 1980 p
* Sheppard/Dennis 2013 p
*Powell/Dennis 2017 p23
"Consistent with an insurgent guerrilla war strategy, the Jewish militiaman was typically lightly armed and ideally equipped for quick 'hit-and-run' attacks. Wearing a short tunic of homespun wool or linen, he may have fought with or without body armour according to his means. Examples of highly coloured fabrics -- in up to 34 hues -- have been found wonderfully preserved in the refuge caves at Ein Gedi. Tunics were simply two rectangular sheets of woven textiles stitched together at the shoulders with a slit for the head. The tunics often featured a contrasting stripe from the shoulder to knee on each of the left and right sides. For wear they could be tied at the waist with a belt or worn without one."
* Yadin 1971 p69-73 (describing Dead Sea excavations of 1st-2ndc Judean settlements)
"Not even once is there an occurrence of mixing diverse kinds of fibres, that is wool and linen or vice versa, as prohibited by the law of Moses. At the same time it was evident that the weaving as such was of very high quality. The most important contribution of these textiles -- in addition to what they taught us about techniques in antiquity -- was in giving us for the first time a complete set of clothes of the first and second centuries AD, worn by the Jews of Palestine, which, as we shall see, reflect also the fashions throughout the Roman Empire of those days.
"Among the woollen textiles there was a large group of rectangular sheets with two parallel bands woven of weft threads differing in colours from those of the web. The bands ran from selvedge to selvedge, with a goodly space between them. Several double sheets were found, i.e. twin sheets -- with bands identical in both width and colour -- joined together along one selvedge. The section between the bands was left unsewn, forming a slit between the two sheets, which served as the neck opening. Thus was formed a tunic, with two bands running down from the shoulders on both front and back. These tunics are of great interest in several respects: not only are they the oldest tunics of the Roman period to have been found both in a relatively good condition and in a precisely dated context, but they are also the only tunics extant from Mishnaic times known definitely to have been worn by Jews. Hitherto all our knowledge had come from either literary descriptions, or from depictions of clothing in paintings or sculpture. Now we had a good example of the Roman tunica which had two bands (clavi) descending from the shoulders of the bank and the front. Since our tunics have bands of varying widths, maybe they too, like the Roman tunics, designated the rank of the wearer of the garment. We found out later that the people in the cave belonged to the upper classes of local society. This type of tunic, sewn from two separate but identical sheets, is a good illustration of what Varro says about the tunics of the first century BC. In his treatise on the Latin language, this ancient writer has the following to say when he wants to clarify the term analogia: 'If anyone were to sew together a tunic so that on one sheet of it the clavi were narrow and on the other wide, each would lack analogy in its nature.' This description can only fit two-sheet tunics, for the above passage has no meaning with a one-sheet tunic. The latter type was used as well but was less common, and it deserved special mention: 'The soldiers, having crucified Jesus, took possession of his clothes, and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier, leaving out the tunic. The tunic was seamless, woven in one piece throughout; so they said to one another: "We must not tear this; let us toss for it"' (John 19:23-3, The New English Bible). The Mishnaic sources indicate that our type of tunic was the common one, called haluq (its literal meaning 'divided' is thus better understood): 'and so two leaves of a haluq, on one of which a defect is visible -- the other is ritually clean' (Nega'im X 1:9) or: 'R.Jose said: and the 'opening' of a haluq which is made like two leaves' (Palestinian Talmud, Shabbath I 5a). In our tunics the sheets are identical and so are the bands. Similar to Varro's description, we also have in the Talmud the following: 'Which is the unskilled and which is the skilled [tailor]? Said R.Jose ben Haninah: he who matches the clavi [Hebrew 'imrah] is the skilled one and he who does not match them is the unskilled' (Palestinian Talmud, Mo'ed Qatan 80d).
"In addition to the tunics we found a great number of rectangular sheets which have no clavi or bands running from selvedge to selvedge, but rather patterns in the shape of bands with notched ends, which begin and end within the web (see below). The identification of these as mantles or outer garments worn over the tunic is proved, inter alia, by the depictions on the famous murals from the Jewish synagogue of the third century AD at Dura Europos in Syria, where the men are seen quite clearly wearing mantles like ours with the patterns of notched bands. This type of mantle is like the Roman pallium and the Greek himation, i.e. rectangular, and thus different from the toga which was semicircular in shape. Knowing that the wearers were pious Jews, it was surprising not to find on the mantles, or even on the floor of the niche, any traces of the sisith (fringe); but this, I believe, is not accidental for, as is evident from Talmudic sources, it was customary to remove the sisith from the mantles of persons about to be buried. It is interesting to note the force of tradition from the fact that even the talithoth of today are adorned in bands."
* Barker 1981 p121-122
"The recent 'Bar Kochba' excavations have demonstrated that the costumes illustrated by the synagogue wall paintings at Doura were also being worn earlier, at the time of the revolts against Roman rule. The tunic was usually bleached wool with purple stripes, but sometimes dyed, with or without stripes of other colours. Cloaks were either a dark natural shade or dyed, those of extrovert or richer individuals often in bright colours. Legs were bare, complexion medium, hair usually brown or black, but with occasional redheads or mouse blondes.
"The Jews fought on foot, some carrying bows, but most with javelins and long curved daggers. A few had swords, and a sprinkling including some officers wore captured mail or scale corselets. Josephus the Romano-Jewish quisling historian, describes them as carrying shields, probably the flat oval or chopped oval with spiked boss shown in the Doura paintings."
* Sheppard/Dennis 2013 p
* Faulkner 2002 p124-125
"... Jewish irregulars ... were lightly equipped, with only a shield for protection, and they fought with stones, slings and javelins in a loose formation, hanging on the flanks and rear of the column to pelt it with missiles, but scurrying away up the hillsides when threatened, avoiding a close-quarters clash at all costs. Their weapons were home-made or improvised: slings made from strips of leather; pebbles or baked-clay slugs as slingshot; javelin with iron heads hammered out in village forges; rocks hurled by hand. The sling had many advantages. It was cheap and easy to make, required virtually no maintenance, and there was always ammunition to hand (although proper lead shot was much more effective than stones scavenged on a hillside). It was a traditional weapon of the Jewish peasantry, so many men were skilled in its use, and, in ideal conditions, an experienced slinger could probably put several stones in the air inside a minute, each aimed with the precision of a trained archer. Effective range was perhaps 100m or so (though more with proper shot). Javelins had much shorter effective ranges -- perhaps 35m -- but their metal points and greater weight made them more destructive. Javelins, like slings, were low-tech weaposn easy to produce in quantity, and, since they could be handled readily by inexperienced fighters, many men came to Beth-Horon armed with a bundle; when they had thrown these, they could continue with weapons salvaged from the battlefield, or with hand-hurled rocks, effective at a similar range. Scattered among the thousands of irregular slingers and javelinmen on the slopes, there were probably also some hundreds of army deserters equipped with the composite bow, the professional long-range missile weapon of the East, effective at up to 150-200m."
* Daugherty 2010 p97
"[T]he Hebrews involved in the revolts of their later history would be unlikely to be able to field well-equipped forces with a large chariot arm. They would have to rely on captured weapons and the same sort of irregular, guerrilla warfare that their ancestors had used to defeat the cities of Canaan."