A Jewish faction which arose in Judea, in the days preceding the Roman siege of Jerusalem. They pretended great zeal for the Jewish rights, but this was a mere pretense. In reality they were lawless murderers and robbers, who made use of the calamitous times to practice all manner of violence. Flavius Josephus, their contemporary, accurately described their character and their deeds (Jewish War, IV, iii, 9; VII, viii, 1). They were led by John of Gischala, an unscrupulous and cunning man, who invited the Idumseans to come to their help in their career of crime. In the destruction of Jerusalem many of the zealots were destroyed. Some fled into other lands. The Apostle Simon is called Zelotes in Luke, 6. Some believe that before his call he belonged to the Zealots; it is far more probable that he received his surname from his sincere love of the Mosaic law.

MLA Citation

  • “Zealots”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 November 2018. Web. 21 April 2021. <>