This post continues the series, “The Beast of Revelation Was Zealot-Led Israel.” The introduction and outline to this series can be seen here.
In the previous post we looked at Revelation 13:1-2. We considered how the beast in John’s day had Babylonian, Persian, and Greek traits. We also looked at how the Zealots and Jewish leaders in the first century followed the same pattern as Satan, who gave his power, throne, and authority to the beast. They frequently accused others, especially the brethren, just like Satan did (Rev. 12:10).
This post will examine Revelation 13:3 and the wounded head, and it includes an extensive overview of the Zealot movement and 12 key leaders of that movement. This is a long post, but even if you disagree that Zealot-led Israel was the beast of Revelation, I believe you’ll find it to be resourceful and informative.
“I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”
The seven heads of the beast are first mentioned in Revelation 13:1, and are later spoken of in more detail in Revelation 17:9-11. Here in verse 3, John tells his readers that one of those heads would be mortally wounded. Although I would prefer to wait until we reach Revelation 17 to discuss the seven heads, it’s necessary to do so at this point in order to try to identify the wounded head. It’s in Revelation 17 that John told his readers that:
- five of the seven heads had already fallen;
- one was;
- one hadn’t come yet, and he would only “continue a short time”;
- “the beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.”
An Overview of the Zealots/Sicarii
In this post I will propose that the seven heads were seven leaders of the Zealot movement, which Josephus also called “the Fourth Philosophy.” While examining an overview of the movement and its key figureheads, we will consider who the seven heads of the beast were. My proposal is that they all belonged to the family dynasty of Hezekiah (mid-1st century BC) which dominated the Zealot movement for 120 years. This post will discuss the following Zealot/Sicarii leaders (members of Hezekiah’s family dynasty are in bold font):
1. Hezekiah (mid-1st century BC)
2. Judas the Galilean (early 1st century AD; son of Hezekiah)
3. Zadok the Pharisee (early 1st century AD: worked with Judas)
4. Jacob (mid-1st century AD; son of Judas)
5. Simon (mid-1st century AD; son of Judas)
6. Jair (mid-1st century AD; son of Judas)
7. Eleazar ben Ananias (AD 66)
8. Eleazar ben Jair (AD 66-73)
9. Menahem (AD 66; son or grandson of Judas)
10. Eleazar ben Simon (AD 66-70)
11. John Levi of Gischala (AD 66-70)
12. Simon Bar Giora (AD 66-70; uncle of Eleazar ben Simon)
Ray Vander Laan is an author and a teacher who “has been actively involved in studying and teaching Jewish culture” since 1976. In his book, “Life and Ministry of the Messiah,” he includes the following outline of the Zealot movement’s key leadership (p. 130). Even though Eleazar ben Simon, John Levi of Gischala, and Simon Bar Giora held positions of great power in Jerusalem during the Jewish-Roman War, Ray’s outline of the Zealot leadership is limited to the family dynasty of Hezekiah:
Here Ray lists seven Zealots, all within the family of Hezekiah, extending from 47 BC to AD 73, a period of 120 years:
2. Judah (son of Hezekiah)
3. Jacob (son of Judah)
4. Simeon (son of Judah)
5. Yair (son of Judah)
6. Eleazar ben Yair
In 1961 Martin Hengel, a German historian and professor, published a book titled, “The Zealots: Investigations into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Period from Herod I until 70 A.D.” Hengel listed these same seven Zealots on page 332 of his book, where he outlined “the dynasty that began with Hezekiah the ‘robber captain’”:
The Zealot movement is defined by Wikipedia as follows:
“The Zealots were originally a political movement in 1st century Second Temple Judaism which sought to incite the people of Judaea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land by force of arms, most notably during the First Jewish–Roman War (66-70). Zealotry was the term used by Josephus for a ‘fourth sect’ during this period.”
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin (a Jewish scholar, lecturer, author, and senior associate of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership) gives the following summary of the political undercurrents which fueled the Zealots’ opposition toward Rome. This summary is adapted from his 1991 book, “Jewish Literacy,” and is archived at the Jewish Virtual Library:
No one could argue with the Jews for wanting to throw off Roman rule. Since the Romans had first occupied Israel in 63 B.C.E., their rule had grown more and more onerous. From almost the beginning of the Common Era, Judea was ruled by Roman procurators, whose chief responsibility was to collect and deliver an annual tax to the empire… Equally infuriating to the Judeans, Rome took over the appointment of the High Priest… As a result, the High Priests, who represented the Jews before God on their most sacred occasions, increasingly came from the ranks of Jews who collaborated with Rome…
The Jews’ anti-Roman feelings were seriously exacerbated during the reign of the half-crazed emperor Caligula, who in the year [AD] 39 declared himself to be a deity and ordered his statue to be set up at every temple in the Roman Empire. The Jews, alone in the empire, refused the command… Only the emperor’s sudden, violent death saved the Jews from wholesale massacre…
In the decades after Caligula’s death, Jews found their religion subject to periodic gross indignities, Roman soldiers exposing themselves in the Temple on one occasion, and burning a Torah scroll on another…
In the year 66, Florus, the last Roman procurator, stole vast quantities of silver from the Temple. The outraged Jewish masses rioted and wiped out the small Roman garrison stationed in Jerusalem. Cestius Gallus, the Roman ruler in neighboring Syria, sent in a larger force of soldiers. But the Jewish insurgents routed them as well. This was a heartening victory that had a terrible consequence: Many Jews suddenly became convinced that they could defeat Rome, and the Zealots’ ranks grew geometrically…
When the Romans returned, they had 60,000 heavily armed and highly professional troops. They launched their first attack against the Jewish state’s most radicalized area, the Galilee in the north [in 67 AD]. The Romans vanquished the Galilee, and an estimated 100,000 Jews were killed or sold into slavery… The highly embittered refugees who succeeded in escaping the Galilean massacres fled to the last major Jewish stronghold—Jerusalem. There, they killed anyone in the Jewish leadership who was not as radical as they. Thus, all the more moderate Jewish leaders who headed the Jewish government at the revolt’s beginning in 66 were dead by 68—and not one died at the hands of a Roman. All were killed by fellow Jews… The scene was now set for the revolt’s final catastrophe.
Zealots and Sicarii
The Sicarii were famous for hiding their daggers in their cloaks and using them to secretly target their enemies during the festivals (Antiquities 20.8.10). Some sources make a sharp distinction between the Zealots and the Sicarii, while others do not. It seems fair to say that the Sicarii were part of the Zealot movement, but not all Zealots were Sicarii. Thus, “Zealot” was an umbrella term for the revolutionaries who rebelled against Rome.
Some sources say that those who belonged to the family dynasty of Hezekiah were all Sicarii. Wikipedia designates the Sicarii as “a splinter group of the Jewish Zealots.” The Sicarii are mentioned in Acts 21:38, where Paul was asked if he was the Egyptian who had led 4000 assassins (or “dagger-bearers”) into the wilderness. According to Encyclopedia Judaica,
“The name [‘Sicarii’] derived from the Latin word sica, ‘curved dagger’; in Roman usage, sicarii, i.e., those armed with such weapons, was a synonym for bandits. According to Josephus, the Jewish Sicarii used short daggers, μικρἁ Ξιφίδια (mikra ziphidia), concealed in their clothing, to murder their victims, usually at religious festivals (Wars, 2:254–5, 425; Ant., 20:186–7). The fact that Josephus employs the Latin sicarii, transliterated into Greek as σικαριοι (sikarioi) suggests that he adopted a term used by the Roman occupation forces; his own (Greek) word for ‘bandit,’ which he more generally uses to describe the Jewish resistance fighters, is λησταί (lestai).”
“Sicarii.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Encyclopedia.com. 4 Mar. 2017.
Photo Source: Pinterest (Sicarii Dagger)
A classic article by the Israeli historian, Menahem Stern (1925-1989), “Zealots and Sicarii,” proposed a distinction between the Sicarii and the Zealots in terms of their loyalty:
“The Sicarii continued to be loyal to the dynasty of Judah the Galilean, their last leaders being Menahem and Eleazar b. Jair, who were scions of that house; in contrast the Zealots showed no particular loyalty to any house or dynasty.”
This article also pointed out that a “revolutionary government” was set up in Jerusalem near the beginning of the Jewish-Roman War (AD 66-73), but lasted for only about six months. This was the same temporary government that, just after the Jews defeated Cestius Gallus in November AD 66, appointed 10 Jewish generals to lead the inevitable war with Rome (Wars 2.20.3-4):
“Just before the war, ‘a kind of enmity and factionalism broke out among the high priests and leaders of the Jerusalem populace’ who joined hands with ‘the boldest revolutionaries’ to carry out their high-level power feuds (Ant. 20:180, cf. Pes. 57a)… And significantly, the first revolutionary government formed in Jerusalem in 66 C.E. and lasting about six months was composed of high priests, noble priests, and lay nobility: the roster of noble rebels is long. These rebellious aristocrats joined the struggle for a variety of motives, including desire to protect their local power and influence, a feeling of genuine outrage at abuses by the Roman procurators, and infection by the messianic fervor and eschatological hopes pervading Judea before the war.”
This revolutionary government soon gave way to the Zealot leaders who seized control of Jerusalem over the following 3.5 years: Eleazar ben Simon, John Levi of Gischala, and Simon Bar Giora. Momentarily we’ll look at these three characters, but let’s start at the beginning and look at 12 Zealot/Sicarii leaders, beginning with Hezekiah.
On page 313 of his book, “The Zealots,” Martin Hengel explained why a Jewish hero by the name of Hezekiah should be considered the first head of the Zealot movement:
“A historical outline of the Jewish freedom movement between the reign of Herod I and 70 A.D. has to begin at the point where Josephus speaks for the first time about Jewish ‘robbers,’ which is the most general term that he uses to include all the groups opposing foreign rule. We come across these ‘robbers’ quite abruptly in connection with the sending of the young Herod to Galilee as commander-in-chief.”
Hengel then cited the first occasion where Josephus spoke of these “robbers” in his works. In 46 BC Herod captured “the robber captain Hezekiah,” took him prisoner, and “had him put to death with many of his robbers” (see Josephus, Antiquities 14.9.2-3). In Wars 1.10.5, Josephus says that Hezekiah had “a great band of men.” It may be noteworthy that Josephus calls Hezekiah “the head,” the same term that John used in Revelation 13:1, 3; 17:3, 7, 9-11:
“Now Herod was an active man, and soon found proper materials for his active spirit to work upon. As therefore he found that Hezekias, the head of the robbers, ran over the neighboring parts of Syria with a great band of men, he caught him and slew him, and many more of the robbers with him; which exploit was chiefly grateful to the Syrians…”
Kaufmann Kohler, PHD, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth-El (New York) and President of Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati, Ohio), also agrees that the Zealot movement began in the time of Herod the Great and Hezekiah. He says that the Zealots were an “aggressive and fanatical war party from the time of Herod until the fall of Jerusalem and Masada. The members of this party bore also the name Sicarii… The reign of the Idumean Herod gave the impetus for the organization of the Zealots as a political party.” (Jewish Encyclopedia: Zealots).
Menahem Stern also saw Hezekiah as the founder of a movement which eventually spread throughout the entire Jewish Diaspora:
“Hezekiah and his son were the founders of a dynasty of leaders of an extremist freedom movement, a dynasty which it is possible to trace until the fall of Masada… They, the proponents of the Fourth Philosophy, were the first to raise the standard of revolt…and preached rebellion throughout the length and breadth of the Diaspora.”
1st Century Jewish Diaspora (Jewish Virtual Library)
The following description of “Hezekiah (The Zealot)” in The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906) reveals that his rebellion was in response to the actions of Pompey the Great, who conquered Judea in 63 BC. It also reveals that Hezekiah was beheaded:
“He fought for Jewish freedom and the supremacy of the Jewish law at the time when Herod was governor of Galilee (47 B.C.). When King Aristobulus, taken prisoner by the Romans, had been poisoned by the followers of Pompey, Hezekiah (‘Ezekias’ in Josephus, ‘Ant.’ xiv. 9, §§ 2 et seq) gathered together the remnants of that king’s army in the mountains of Galilee and carried on a successful guerrilla war against the Romans and Syrians, while awaiting the opportunity for a general uprising against Rome. The pious men of the country looked upon him as the avenger of their honor and liberty. Antipater, the governor of the country, and his sons, however, who were Rome’s agents in Palestine, viewed this patriotic band differently. In order to curry favor with the Romans, Herod, unauthorized by the king Hyrcanus, advanced against Hezekiah, took him prisoner, and beheaded him, without the formality of a trial; and he also slew many of his followers. This deed excited the indignation of all the patriots. Hezekiah and his band were enrolled among the martyrs of the nation.”
Because many of the Jews were angry with Herod, an effort was made by the Sanhedrin to bring him to trial over what he had done to Hezekiah.
Judas the Galilean (Hezekiah’s son) and Zadok
Over the next half century, more robbers followed in Hezekiah’s trail throughout Galilee and Judea, but it was his son, Judas the Galilean, who took the movement to the next level. Kaufmann Kohler said this about the period after which Herod the Great repeatedly crushed the rebellions of Hezekiah and those who rose up after him:
“The spirit of this Zealot movement, however, was not crushed. No sooner had Herod died (4 C.E.) then the people cried out for revenge (“Ant.” xvii. 9, § 1) and gave Archelaus no peace. Judea was full of robber bands, says Josephus (l.c. 10, § 8), the leaders of which each desired to be a king. It was then that Judas, the son of Hezekiah, the above-mentioned robber-captain, organized his forces for revolt, first, it seems, against the Herodian dynasty, and then, when Quirinus introduced the census, against submission to the rule of Rome and its taxation.”
According to Josephus, “the Fourth Philosophy” was founded by Judas of Galilee. Martin Hengel, however, didn’t believe that Josephus provided evidence that Judas, rather than his father, was the founder. He pointed out that Josephus merely noted a “great increase” of robbers because of the exploits and teachings of Judas: “[All] that [Josephus] says of the founding of the fourth sect of philosophy by Judas the Galilean is that it led to a great increase in the scourge of robbers” (Hengel, p. 41).
Like the “robbers” before him, Judas seemed to concentrate his activities around Sepphoris (Antiquities 14.15.4 and Antiquities 17.10.5), the capital of Galilee which was not far from Nazareth. Here’s how Josephus described “the Fourth Philosophy” of the Zealots, and how Judas of Galilee laid the groundwork for this movement near the time of Jesus’ birth (Antiquities 18.1.1-6):
“1. NOW Cyrenius, a Roman senator… came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus’s money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-persuaded by Joazar’s words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it. Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc [Zadok], a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty;
…so men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people, (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left,) and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also coming upon us, reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities; nay, the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemies’ fire.
Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made, as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which these men occasioned by their thus conspiring together; for Judas and Sadduc, who excited a fourth philosophic sect among us, and had a great many followers therein, filled our civil government with tumults at present, and laid the foundations of our future miseries, by this system of philosophy, which we were before unacquainted withal, concerning which I will discourse a little, and this the rather because the infection which spread thence among the younger sort, who were zealous for it, brought the public to destruction.
2. The Jews had for a great while had three sects of philosophy peculiar to themselves; the sect of the Essenes, and the sect of the Sadducees, and the third sort of opinions was that of those called Pharisees; of which sects, although I have already spoken in the second book of the Jewish War, yet will I a little touch upon them now…
6. But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord… And it was in Gessius Florus’s time that the nation began to grow mad with this distemper, who was our procurator, and who occasioned the Jews to go wild with it by the abuse of his authority, and to make them revolt from the Romans” (See also Wars 2.8.1).
The Jewish Virtual Library adds this about Judas:
“He had put himself at the head of a band of rebels near Sepphoris and had seized control of the armory in Herod’s palace in the city. According to Josephus, he had even aspired to the throne (Ant., 17:271–2; Wars, 2:56). Though the rebels were defeated, Judah apparently succeeded in escaping (Jos., Ant., 17:289ff).”
Judas is mentioned in Acts 5 by Gamaliel when he addressed the council of the high priests and elders concerning Peter and the other apostles:
“And he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed…’” (Acts 5:35-37; see Antiquities 20.5.1 for the account of Theudas, the magician).
Robert Travers Herford (1860-1950), a British scholar of rabbinical literature, made an interesting comparison between Mattathias of the Maccabean revolt (167 BC) and Judas of Galilee nearly 175 years later:
“There is no certain trace of the Zealots as a party until the end of the reign of Herod; but even at the beginning of his reign there were those whose actions were of a kind precisely like the deeds of the somewhat later Zealots. Hezekiah, whom Josephus called a robber-chieftain, was put to death by Herod at the beginning of his reign. His son was that Judas of Galilee who was the real founder of the Zealot party; but Hezekiah only did much what Judas did, and the so-called robber-chieftain, though he failed, sounded the first note of the rebellion, which became the great war of A.D. 66-70.
It is no doubt true that the Zealot party took definite shape as an organised body under Judas, about the year A.D. 6, when the census was taken by of Quirinius; but their origin can be traced to an earlier date, with considerable probability. The Maccabean revolt had begun, in 167 B.C., by the sudden call of the priest Mattathias to resist the agents of the tyrant who would compel the Jews to disown their religion and disobey their God. Mattathias cried, ‘Whoso is zealous for the Torah…let him follow me’ (I Macc. ii. 27).
The word translated ‘zealous’ is (in Greek as well as in English) practically the same as the word ‘zealot.’ Moreover the Hebrew name ‘Kannaim,’ which was the name of the party as organised by Judas of Galilee, is used in a law which dates from the Maccabean times. It would seem probable that Judas, when he organised the Zealots into a party, made it his object to repeat the exploits of the first Maccabeans, by violent measures against all who were disaffected in their adherence to the Torah and ready to submit to the heathen king. The rebellion begun by Judas Maccabaeus had led to the liberation of the people from the foreign yoke and the establishment of an independent kingdom. That kingdom had only passed out of Maccabean hands when Herod acquired the throne; and the fact that every later attempt to recover it by his descendants found support amongst the people, shows that the memory of what the Maccabeans had done was still able to fire the popular mind in the time of Judas of Galilee.”
(Herford, Judaism in the New Testament Period [London: The Lindsey Press, 1928], pp. 66-67)
Less information seems to be known about Zadok, the Pharisee, who worked with Judas in heading “a large number of Zealots.”
Jacob, Simon, and Jair (sons of Judas)
Judas the Galilean had three sons: Jacob (also called James), Simon (also called Simeon), and Jair (or Jairus or Yair). While Tiberius Alexander was the Roman procurator of Judea (AD 46-48), he had Jacob and Simon crucifed because of the rebellions they led:
“…the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain; I mean of that Judas who caused the people to revolt, when Cyrenius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews, as we have showed in a foregoing book. The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified” (Antiquities 20.5.2).
It’s difficult to find information on Jair, but (as we will see) his son, Eleazar, was a prominent leader during the Jewish-Roman War who led the final rebel holdout at Masada until AD 73.
Zealots in Jesus’ Lifetime
One of the 12 disciples whom Jesus chose was a Zealot. Luke mentions “Simon called the Zealot” when he names the disciples (Luke 6:15), and “Simon the Zealot” is again included in his list of those who stayed in an upper room after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:13).
Barabbas was another Zealot. He was the “notorious prisoner” (Matthew 27:16) who was released by Pilate instead of Jesus (Matthew 27:16). Barabbas and “his fellow insurrectionists” had recently “committed murder in the insurrection” (Mark 15:7) which took place in Jerusalem (Luke 23:19).
Some scholars believe that the two thieves who were crucified on either side of Jesus were also Zealots. Mark 15:27 refers to them as “two robbers,” using the same term that Josephus often used to describe the Zealots. It’s also the same term that John used to describe Barabbas: “Now Barabbas was a robber” (John 18:40).
Herford believed that Judas Iscariot was also a Zealot. He pointed out that “the headquarters of the Zealots were in Galilee,” where Jesus spent a lot of His time and where He chose His first disciples: “Of all the types of Judaism…the Zealots are the only ones with whom Jesus would have much opportunity of coming in contact” when He was in Galilee (Herford, Judaism in the New Testament Period, p. 71). Gary J. Goldberg, editor of “The Flavius Josephus Home Page,” shares a similar idea: “Judas Iscariot is thought by some to have derived his name from the Sicarii, the terrorists prior to the war” (Goldberg, Causes of War).
Martin Hengel (p. 340) says that when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, He apparently asked why He was being arrested as if He were a Zealot. “Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me?’” (Mark 14:48).
Eleazar ben Ananias (AD 66)
Eleazar ben Ananias was not in the family dynasty of Hezekiah and Judas the Galilean, but he was the son of Ananias the high priest. When the Jewish-Roman War began, he was the governor of the temple, (Antiquities 20.9.3, Wars 2.17.2), the second highest position in the temple other than high priest. It’s suggested that he obtained this position in 62 AD. This position was known as “segan” (Aramaic) or “sagan” (Hebrew). According to Rabbi Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim (40-80 AD), “In case the high-priest became unfit for service, the ‘Segan’ [Deputy] should enter at once to do the service” (Talmud, Tractate Sota 42a).
Eleazar’s father, Ananius ben Nedebaios, was the high priest from roughly 46-52 AD. He’s the one who commanded Paul to be struck on the mouth during his appearance before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:2), prompting Paul to prophesy that Ananias would also be struck (verse 3). Ananius also gave evidence against Paul to the governor Felix at Caesarea (Acts 24:1). Ananias was pro-Roman, unlike his son, Eleazar.
When Albinus was the Roman Procurator of Judea (AD 62-64), Eleazar was kidnapped by the Sicarii and was eventually let go when their demand was met:
“But now the Sicarii went into the city by night, just before the festival, which was now at hand, and took the scribe belonging to the governor of the temple, whose name was Eleazar, who was the son of Ananus [Ananias] the high priest, and bound him, and carried him away with them; after which they sent to Ananias, and said that they would send the scribe to him, if he would persuade Albinus to release ten of those prisoners which he had caught of their party; so Ananias was plainly forced to persuade Albinus, and gained his request of him. This was the beginning of greater calamities; for the robbers perpetually contrived to catch some of Ananias’s servants” (Antiquities 20.9.3).
In the book, Final Decade before the End (p. 219), Ed Stevens says that Eleazar ben Ananias led a challenge against Roman troops in May AD 66. “When the Roman Procurator Gessius Florus brought his soldiers to Jerusalem to confiscate all the gold from the Temple,” Yosippon recorded the following:
“[Eleazar b. Ananius]… being a youth and very stout of heart, saw the evil that Florus did among the people. He sounded the shofar, and a band of youths and bandits, men of war, gathered around him, and he initiated a battle, challenging Florus and the Roman troops [Sepher Yosippon, ch. 59].”
In August AD 66 Eleazar made a decision which Josephus said marked “the true beginning” of the Jewish-Roman War. He put a stop to all the sacrifices and offerings of the Gentiles, something which had never been done since the days of Moses and Aaron:
“At the same time Eleazar, the son of Ananias the high priest, a very bold youth, who was at that time governor of the temple, persuaded those that officiated in the Divine service to receive no gift or sacrifice for any foreigner. And this was the true beginning of our war with the Romans; for they rejected the sacrifice of Caesar on this account; and when many of the high priests and principal men besought them not to omit the sacrifice, which it was customary for them to offer for their princes, they would not be prevailed upon. These relied much upon their multitude, for the most flourishing part of the innovators assisted them; but they had the chief regard to Eleazar, the governor of the temple” (Wars 2.17.2).
At that time, as this quote reveals, Eleazar was considered to be the chief leader of the temple guard and those in the temple complex who wanted to revolt against Rome. Josephus also mentioned that Eleazar and his colleagues had “brought up novel rules of a strange Divine worship” (Wars 2.17.3).
He was mentioned again in Wars 2.17.5 as being among “the seditious” (the Zealots) who “had the lower city [of Jerusalem] and the temple in their power,” while “the men of power, with the high priests, as also all the part of the multitude that were desirous of peace, took courage, and seized upon the upper city [Mount Sion].” Under Eleazar, the seditious “joined to themselves many of the sicarii,” burned the palaces of Agrippa and Bernice as well as the house of Ananias the high priest, burned the contracts of creditors (“in order to gain the multitude of those who had been debtors”), drove the moderate leaders out of the upper city, and slaughtered the Roman garrison at the Fortress of Antonia (Wars 2.17.6-7).
Soon after this, Eleazar’s father, Ananius was killed by “Manahem, the son of Judas, that was called the Galilean” (Wars 2.17.8-9). Menahem “became the leader of the sedition” in September AD 66, according to Josephus, but only for about a month. “Eleazar and his party” avenged his father’s death and killed Menahem. In December AD 66, Eleazar was named as one of the 10 generals for war against Rome, and he was assigned to Idumea, a region south of Judea (Wars 2.20.4). It appears that, after this, Josephus never mentioned him again.
Eleazar ben Jair (AD 66–73)
A different Eleazar also played a key role in the Zealot cause near the beginning of the Jewish-Roman War. Eleazar ben Jair (or Jairus) was a grandson of Judas the Galilean, and part of Hezekiah’s family dynasty. Josephus mentioned him for the first time in Wars 2.17.9 as one of the people who tried to defend Menahem (his relative) after he had killed Ananias:
“A few there were of them who privately escaped to Masada, among whom was Eleazar, the son of Jairus, who was of kin to Manahem, and acted the part of a tyrant at Masada afterward.”
However, Josephus later provided information which shows that Eleazar played a key role in the Zealot cause before Menahem rose to prominence. This is what Josephus said when he introduced the topic of Masada’s overthrow in AD 73:
“This fortress was called Masada. It was one Eleazar, a potent man, and the commander of these Sicarii, that had seized upon it. He was a descendant from that Judas who had persuaded abundance of the Jews, as we have formerly related, not to submit to the taxation when Cyrenius was sent into Judea to make one” (Wars 7.8.1).
Here’s how Josephus described the Sicarii’s successful assault upon Masada in August AD 66, which resulted in the deaths of the Romans who had been stationed there. By inference, this is where Josephus first spoke of Eleazar ben Jairus:
“And at this time it was that some of those that principally excited the people to go to war made an assault upon a certain fortress called Masada. They took it by treachery, and slew the Romans that were there, and put others of their own party to keep it” (Wars 2.17.2).
Fortress of Masada, Built by Herod I (Source: National Geographic)
So when Menahem stole arms from king Herod’s armory at Masada to use in Jerusalem [Wars 188.8.131.523-434], Eleazar had already captured Masada, which was located about 60 miles southeast of Jerusalem. After trying to defend Menahem in Jerusalem in September AD 66, and fleeing to Masada when their operation failed, Eleazar apparently remained there until he led hundreds of others in a mass suicide in AD 73.
The Jewish Encyclopedia says that Eleazar succeeded Menahem “as master of Masada” and that he “took up the war of rebellion against Rome and carried it to the very end.” Masada was the final holdout in the Jewish-Roman War. Josephus said that the time came when “all the rest of the country was subdued” and “there was but one only stronghold that was still in rebellion,” i.e. Masada (Wars 7.8.1).
Eleazar built a wall around the entire fortress, and placed guards in various places (and later hastily built a second wall when the Romans were about to breach the first one). It was painful and difficult for Eleazar and his followers to obtain food and water (Wars 7.8.2), but they were determined not to surrender. However, the Roman commander, Silva, burnt down the second wall and Eleazar determined that all of them had to kill themselves rather than be captured, tortured, and killed by the Romans. His speeches to his followers are rather revealing, and can be seen in Wars 7.8.6-7, and the rather graphic details of how they committed mass suicide can be seen in Wars 7.9.1. Only a group of women, who had managed to hide themselves in an underground cavern, lived to tell the story of what happened at Masada (Wars 7.9.2).
Menahem (AD 66; grandson of Judas)
As we’ve already seen, Menahem was a relative (likely a cousin) of Eleazar ben Jairus. He was also a grandson* of Judas the Galilean and a part of Hezekiah’s family dynasty. (*Josephus referred to him as “the son of Judas,” but scholars believe he was actually Judas’ grandson.) Menahem was first mentioned by Josephus in Wars 2.17.8, where it’s said that he raided Herod’s armory at Masada, “returned in the state of a king to Jerusalem” and became the leader of the Zealot revolt. This was in late August AD 66:
“In the meantime, one Manahem, the son of Judas, that was called the Galilean, (who was a very cunning sophister, and had formerly reproached the Jews under Cyrenius, that after God they were subject to the Romans) took some of the men of note with him, and retired to Masada, where he broke open king Herod’s armory, and gave arms not only to his own people, but to other robbers also. These he made use of for a guard, and returned in the state of a king to Jerusalem; he became the leader of the sedition, and gave orders for continuing the siege.”
“The siege” was a reference to the Zealot/Sicarii assault on the Antonia Fortress, which began on the 15th of Ab (August) AD 66, resulting in the massacre of the Roman garrison that had been stationed there (Wars 2.17.7). Eleazar ben Ananias led the seditious in that attack, and they had also moved on to attack the very well-fortified palace and Agrippa’s soldiers.
Menahem, having taken over as leader, caught and killed many of Agrippa’s soldiers and set fire to their camp (Wars 2.17.8). He also overthrew “the places of strength” and killed the high priest, Ananias, and his brother. This puffed him up and made him “barbarously cruel,” so that “he thought he had no antagonists to dispute the management of affairs with him.”
Martin Hengel said that the revolution was greatly successful under Menahem and the Sicarii who followed him:
“The battle for Jerusalem was not decided until the Sicarii, who were tested in battle and were Menahem’s elite troops, had intervened. The entry of their lord into the city followed their initial successes. This was the sign that the revolution had really succeeded. The Zealots had worked for two generations towards and had now achieved their aim. Almost the entire population had joined in the Holy War against Rome” (The Zealots, p. 363).
However, Eleazar, the son of Ananias, plotted together with his party against Menahem. Part of Eleazar’s motivation was likely to avenge his father’s death, though Josephus gives other reasons (Martin Hengel also provides a good analysis on pp. 364-365 of “The Zealots”; a PDF of this book can be read or downloaded here). Eleazar and his men attacked Menahem while he was pompously worshipping in the temple, even though they knew their actions could cause the entire revolt to fail:
“They made an assault upon [Menahem] in the temple; for he went up thither to worship in a pompous manner, and adorned with royal garments, and had his followers with him in their armor. But Eleazar and his party fell violently upon him, as did also the rest of the people; and taking up stones to attack him withal, they threw them at the sophister, and thought, that if he were once ruined, the entire sedition would fall to the ground” (Wars 2.17.9).
Menahem and his men tried to resist, but they eventually fled and some were caught while others hid. Menahem was caught, taken alive and tortured, and then killed along with all of his captains. Many of the Sicarii were also caught and killed at this time, and other Sicarii fled to Masada where they were led by Eleazar ben Jairus. According to the Israeli historian, Menahem Stern,
“From this time on the Sicarii ceased to be the guiding factor in the events in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, they continued to exist and it was they who were destined to be the last to hold aloft the standard of rebellion… In addition, the considerable number of the warriors who fought under Simeon bar Giora at the time of the siege is easily explained on the assumption that many Sicarii were included in his army, since they felt themselves more in sympathy with him than with the other leaders in besieged Jerusalem. Their extreme social views bridged the gap between them and Simeon.”
Martin Hengel, author of “The Zealots” (p. 295), pointed out that Menahem’s “temporary stay as a leader in Jerusalem lasted barely four weeks,” from 15 Ab to 17 Elul in AD 66 (late August to late September). Indeed, Menahem’s quick rise to prominence and his death are recorded in just two consecutive small sections in Wars of the Jews (Wars 2.17.8-9). I believe that Menahem was the seventh king who had “not yet come” when John wrote Revelation, and who would only “continue a short time” (Revelation 17:10).
Seven Kings of Revelation 17:10 (Family Dynasty of “Hezekiah the Zealot”)
|“There are also seven kings. Five have fallen…||1. Hezekiah (47 BC)|
|2. Judas of Galilee (led rebellion from AD 6-8)|
|3. Jacob (son of Judas; crucified around AD 47)|
|4. Simon (son of Judas; crucified around AD 47)|
|5. Jair (son of Judas; father of Eleazar)|
|…one is…||6. Eleazar ben Jair (rebel leader from AD 66-73)|
|…and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time” (Rev. 17:10).||7. Menahem (rebel leader for only a month in AD 66)|
Martin Hengel said that it was evident Menahem “had both special authority and a position of power.” He added:
“He was probably not only the leader of one of the many ‘robber bands’ that were in control of the open country, but also the head of the Zealot movement in the whole of the country. His authority was based on his descent from the founder of the sect, Judas, on his own military power, which he had increased by his successful attack against Masada, and, last but not least, on his personal experience in battle and his own forceful personality” (The Zealots, p. 362).
Numerous sources say that Menahem was a Messiah figure, and even that he claimed to be the Messiah. Martin Hengel points out that, in the rabbinic Haggadah, Menahem was regarded as “the Messiah” (The Zealots, p. 295). This source also relates a legend in which a peasant heard Menahem’s mother say, “His omen is disastrous, because the Temple was destroyed on the day that he was born.” The peasant then answered, “We believe that, just as it (the Temple) was destroyed because of him, so too will it be rebuilt because of him.” Hengel interprets this legend as meaning that, to the Zealots who followed Menahem, the death of such a Messiah-figure in the temple was like sealing the doom of the temple itself.
According to the Dutch historian, Jona Lendering (at Livius),
“There is no need to doubt whether Menahem claimed to be the Messiah. He was a warrior, entered Jerusalem dressed as a king, quarreled with the high priest (who may have entertained some doubts about Menahem’s claim), and worshipped God in the Temple. We can be positive that Menahem wanted to be the sole ruler of a restored Israel.”
Kaufmann Kohler, Ph.D, a Rabbi and theologian, adds:
Rabbinical tradition alludes to Menahem’s Messiahship when stating that the Messiah’s name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah (Sanh. 98b); and according to Geiger (“Zeitschrift,” vii. 176-178), he is the one who went up with eighty couples of disciples of the Law equipped with golden armor and crying out: “Write upon the horn of the ox, ‘Ye [yielding Pharisees] have no share in the God of Israel!'” (Yer. Ḥag. ii. 77b).
In the immediate aftermath of Menahem’s death, the remaining Zealots “hoped to prosecute [the war] with less danger, now they had slain Menahem,” and the common people “earnestly desired” that they would stop attacking the Roman soldiers. Eleazar ben Ananias and his men made oaths to the soldiers that they would be spared, but it was a trick. After the soldiers laid down their swords and shields, the Zealots “attacked them after a violent manner, and encompassed them around, and slew them” (Wars 2.17.10).
Josephus adds that “men made public lamentation” when they saw this, and “the city was filled with sadness, and every one of the moderate men in it were under great disturbance.” At this time tragedies also came upon the Jews in Caesarea, Syria, Alexandria, and other places as cities and regions rose up against them. Soon, Cestius Gallus swept through Galilee in partnership with Agrippa and with thousands of soldiers, planning to capture Jerusalem and put down the rebellion. This plan was a terrible failure for Cestius Gallus, though, as we will see in the next post.
Was Menahem the wounded head of Revelation 13:3, 12? This question will be discussed at the end of this post.
Eleazar ben Simon (AD 66-70)
Eleazar ben Simon came from a priestly family (Wars 184.108.40.206), and was not part of the family dynasty of Hezekiah. He was the nephew of Simon Bar Giora (Wars 6.4.1), who will be discussed below. Eleazar was first introduced by Josephus in Wars 2.20.3 as a war hero in the victory over Cestius Gallus in November AD 66. According to Josephus, he “had gotten into his possession the prey they had taken from the Romans, and the money they had taken from Cestius, together with a great part of the public treasures.”
Soon after this victory, the rebels appointed 10 “generals for the war” (Wars 2.20.3-4). Josephus speaks of Eleazar ben Simon as a natural choice for one of those positions due to his bravery and success in the battle against Cestius Gallus. Instead he was kept out of that office because of his terrible temper and the extreme loyalty of his followers, but he managed to become the main leader of the Zealots anyway:
“They did not ordain Eleazar the son of Simon to that office… because they saw he was of a tyrannical temper; and that his followers were, in their behavior, like guards about him. However, the want they were in of Eleazar’s money, and the tricks by him, brought all so about, that the people were circumvented, and submitted themselves to his authority in all public affairs” (Wars 2.20.3).
This was still true almost 1.5 years later, in early AD 68. Josephus said that among the Zealot leaders, he was “the most plausible man, both in considering what was fit to be done, and in the execution of what he had determined upon” (Wars 4.4.1). John Levi of Gischala, who will be discussed next, joined forces with Eleazar ben Simon at this time, and, after killing Ananus ben Ananus and other high priests in February-March AD 68 AD, together they seized control of the entire city of Jerusalem (Wars 4.4.1 – 4.6.3).
Eleazar made the temple his headquarters for nearly 3.5 years, from late AD 66 until he was defeated by John Levi’s forces in mid-April AD 70. Josephus said that it was “Eleazar, the son of Simon, who made the first separation of the zealots from the people, and made them retire into the temple” (Wars 5.1.2). Around December AD 67, Eleazar and the other Zealots made the sanctuary of the temple “a shop of tyranny” by casting lots to select a fake high priest named Phannias. He was chosen against his will from a village in the countryside, fitted with “a counterfeit face” and the sacred garments, and “upon every occasion [they] instructed him what he was to do” (Wars 4.3.6-8).
In the spring of AD 69, Eleazar “was desirous of gaining the entire power and dominion to himself” and he “revolted from John [Levi].” He and his followers “seized upon the inner court of the temple” and made use of the sacred things in there (Wars 5.1.2). At this time, he led one of three Zealot factions, with the other factions being led by John Levi and Simon Bar Giora (Wars 5.1.1, 4; Revelation 16:19).
Source: Mark Mountjoy, New Testament Open University (June 9, 2015)
Eleazar ben Simon was tricked and defeated by John Levi’s forces in mid-April AD 70, just as the Roman general Titus began his siege. This happened at the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Eleazar opened the gates to the inner court of the temple
“and admitted such of the people as were desirous to worship God into it. But John made use of this festival as a cloak for his treacherous designs, and armed the most inconsiderable of his own party, the greater part of whom were not purified, with weapons concealed under their garments, and sent them with great zeal into the temple, in order to seize upon it; which armed men, when they were gotten in, threw their garments away, and presently appeared in their armor… These followers of John also did now seize upon this inner temple, and upon all the warlike engines therein, and then ventured to oppose Simon. And thus that sedition, which had been divided into three factions, was now reduced to two” (Wars 5.3.1).
After this treachery, Josephus records that Eleazar ben Simon’s 2,400 men stopped opposing John Levi and joined forces with him, but Eleazar remained as their commander:
“John, who had siezed upon the temple, had six thousand armed men, under twenty commanders; the zealots also that had come to him, and left off their opposition, were two thousand four hundred, and had the same commander that they had formerly, Eleazar, together with Simon the son of Arinus” (Wars 220.127.116.11).
Eleazar ben Simon is mentioned one last time in Wars of the Jews. Josephus described the state of affairs as of the 8th of Av (late July or early August) in AD 70 when two of the Roman legions completed their banks. Josephus mentioned that Eleazar was still involved in the fighting at this time: “Of the seditious, those that had fought bravely in the former battles did the like now, as besides them did Eleazar, the brother’s son of Simon the tyrant” (Wars 6.4.1).
Eleazar’s death is not mentioned in Wars of the Jews, but there is also no mention of his survival or capture (unlike the other two main Zealot leaders, John Levi and Simon Bar Giora). Various online sources seem to be unanimous that Eleazar died in AD 70 around the time when the temple was burned and destroyed.
John Levi of Gischala (AD 66-70)
John Levi was from Gischala in Galilee, and was not part of Hezekiah’s family dynasty. Josephus wrote extensively about him in his book, “The Life of Flavius Josephus.” John was not a Zealot from the beginning. At one point, when the people of Gischala wanted to revolt against the Romans, John tried to restrain them and he urged them to “keep their allegiance to [the Romans]. However, Gischala was then attacked, set on fire, and demolished by non-Jews from neighboring regions. At that point, John became enraged, “armed all his men,” joined the battle, but also rebuilt Gischala “after a better manner than before, and fortified it with walls for its future security” (Life 10.43-45).
In Wars of the Jews, John was first mentioned in Wars 2.21.1 as “a treacherous person,” a “hypocritical pretender to humanity,” and as one who “spared not the shedding of blood” and “had a peculiar knack of thieving.” According to Josephus, John gathered together a band of four hundred men mostly from Tyre, who were greatly skilled “in martial affairs,” and they “laid waste all Galilee.” These things took place while Josephus was “engaged in the administration of the affairs of Galilee,” beginning around December AD 66, since he had been appointed as a general for the war (Wars 2.20.3-4).
Josephus said that John Levi became wealthy through an oil scheme, and he also wanted to “overthrow Josephus” and “obtain the government of Galilee” for himself. He had a number of “robbers” under his command. He spread a rumor that Josephus was planning to give Galilee to the Romans and engaged in other plots against him (Wars 2.21.2), including a murder attempt that Josephus barely escaped (Wars. 2.21.6).
The Encyclopedia Judaica summarizes John’s last unsuccessful plot against Josephus (Wars 2.21.6-8) and his failed attempt almost a year later to save Gischala from the Romans (Wars 4.2.1-5):
“John dispatched a delegation to Jerusalem, demanding that Josephus be dismissed from his position for failing to fulfill his tasks loyally. This request was acceded to, according to Josephus, as a result of John’s bribery and exploitation of his friendship with Simeon b. Gamaliel. Emissaries were sent to dismiss Josephus from his command and advise the citizens of Galilee to support John. Josephus ignored all this and went so far as to threaten John’s supporters…
John’s efforts to organize Galilee for war were unsuccessful and, with the exception of his native city, the whole province fell to the Romans. In the winter of 67, when Titus was at the gates of Giscala and offered terms of surrender, John seized on the intervening Sabbath as a pretext for delaying negotiations and escaped to Jerusalem.
“John of Giscala.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Encyclopedia.com. 3 Mar. 2017.
John escaped to Jerusalem in November AD 67, a year and three months after the Jewish-Roman War began. He and his followers immediately told tall tales about their fight with the Romans at Gischala:
Now upon John’s entry into Jerusalem, the whole body of the people were in an uproar, and ten thousand of them crowded about every one of the fugitives that were come to them, and inquired of them what miseries had happened abroad, when their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself it declared the great distress they were in; yet did they talk big under their misfortunes, and pretended to say that they had not fled away from the Romans, but came thither in order to fight them with less hazard; for that it would be an unreasonable and a fruitless thing for them to expose themselves to desperate hazards about Gischala, and such weak cities, whereas they ought to lay up their weapons and their zeal, and reserve it for their metropolis. But when they related to them the taking of Gischala, and their decent departure, as they pretended, from that place, many of the people understood it to be no better than a flight; and especially when the people were told of those that were made captives, they were in great confusion, and guessed those things to be plain indications that they should be taken also. But for John, he was very little concerned for those whom he had left behind him, but went about among all the people, and persuaded them to go to war, by the hopes he gave them. He affirmed that the affairs of the Romans were in a weak condition, and extolled his own power. He also jested upon the ignorance of the unskillful, as if those Romans, although they should take to themselves wings, could never fly over the wall of Jerusalem, who found such great difficulties in taking the villages of Galilee, and had broken their engines of war against their walls.
These harangues of John’s corrupted a great part of the young men, and puffed them up for the war; but as to the more prudent part, and those in years, there was not a man of them but foresaw what was coming, and made lamentation on that account, as if the city was already undone; and in this confusion were the people…” (Wars 4.3.1-2).
Soon after this, Phannias was chosen by lots and installed as a fake high priest and a puppet of the Zealots (Wars 4.3.6-8). Ananus ben Ananus and the other priests shed tears as they watched this mockery take place. Ananus gathered a multitude of the people and gave a speech rebuking them for allowing the Zealots to fill the temple with abominations, plunder houses, shed the blood of innocent people, etc. Ananus said that nothing they could undergo from the Romans would be harder to bear than what the Zealots had already brought upon them. He urged them to rise up together against the Zealots, and said that he was willing to die leading them in that effort (Wars 4.3.10).
Ananus and his followers attacked the Zealots and tried to trap many of them in the temple complex (Wars 4.3.12). John Levi pretended to share their opinion and “at a distance was the adviser in these actions.” He consulted with Ananus and other moderate leaders every day and “cultivated the greatest friendship possible with Ananus, but “he divulged their secrets to the zealots.” His deceit became so great that “Ananus and his party believed his oath” to them, and “sent him as their ambassador into the temple to the zealots, with proposals of accommodation” (Wars 4.3.13).
John betrayed Ananus and falsely claimed that he had invited the Roman general, Vespasian, to conquer Jerusalem (Wars 4.3.14). In response, the Zealot leaders, Eleazar ben Simon and Zacharias ben Phalek, requested help from the Idumeans, who lived south of Judea, and the Idumeans quickly prepared an army of 20,000 directed by four commanders (Wars 4.4.2). The day they arrived (in late February AD 68) they were prevented from entering the city, but the next day they managed to hunt down and kill Ananus and Jesus (Wars 4.5.2). Their deaths marked a significant turning point for Jerusalem, according to Josephus:
“I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city… to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived they had certainly compounded matters… And the Jews had then put abundance of delays in the way of the Romans, if they had had such a general as he was” (Wars 4.5.2).
After their deaths, the Zealots and the Idumeans “fell upon the people as upon a flock of profane animals, and cut their throats.” Others endured “terrible torments” before finally meeting their deaths. At least 12,000 died in that massacre (Wars 4.5.3). Then one of the Zealots told the Idumeans that they had been tricked, and that Ananus and the high priests never did plot to betray Jerusalem to the Romans. So the Idumeans regretted their actions, saw “the horrid barbarity of [the Zealots who] had invited them,” and left Jerusalem (Wars 4.5.5). The Zealots, no longer hindered by the high priests or even the Idumeans, then increased their wickedness (Wars 4.6.1). John Levi began to tyrannize, didn’t want anyone to be his equal, and he gradually put together “a party of the most wicked” of all the Zealots and started his own faction (Wars 4.7.1).
By the time that there were “three treacherous factions in the city” (Wars 5.1.4), John had the second largest contingent of Zealot fighters (Wars 5.6.1):
 Simon Bar Giora: 10,000 men and 50 commanders; 5000 Idumeans and eight commanders
 John Levi: 6,000 men and 20 commanders
 Eleazar ben Simon: 2,400 men
As we’ve already seen, John’s forces tricked and killed Eleazar ben Simon in mid-April AD 70 (Wars 5.3.1), just as Titus was laying siege to Jerusalem. He then had access to the inner court of the temple and didn’t hesitate to commit sacrilegious acts during the siege (fulfilling Revelation 6:6):
“But as for John, when he could no longer plunder the people, he betook himself to sacrilege, and melted down many of the sacred utensils, which had been given to the temple; as also many of those vessels which were necessary for such as ministered about holy things, the caldrons, the dishes, and the tables; nay, he did not abstain from those pouring vessels that were sent them by Augustus and his wife; for the Roman emperors did ever both honor and adorn this temple; whereas this man, who was a Jew, seized upon what were the donations of foreigners, and said to those that were with him, that it was proper for them to use Divine things, while they were fighting for the Divinity, without fear, and that such whose warfare is for the temple should live of the temple; on which account he emptied the vessels of that sacred wine and oil, which the priests kept to be poured on the burnt-offerings, and which lay in the inner court of the temple, and distributed it among the multitude, who, in their anointing themselves and drinking, used [each of them] above an hin of them” (Wars 5.13.6).
Toward the end of the siege, as Jerusalem was on fire, John joined “the tyrants and that crew of robbers” whose last hope was to hide “in the caves and caverns underground” (Wars 6.7.3; Revelation 6:15-17). Due to great hunger, he surrendered to the Romans, was taken captive, and was “condemned to perpetual imprisonment” (Wars 6.9.4). Among the captives who were carried off to Italy for a triumphal parade, John was considered to be their second leader, after Simon Bar Giora, “the general of the enemy” (Wars 7.5.3, Wars 7.5.6).
Simon Bar Giora (AD 66-70)
Simon Bar Giora was not a member of Hezekiah’s family dynasty, but it seems that he fit in with them better than the other Zealot leaders around the time of the war who were not part of this dynasty. Simon was the uncle of Eleazar ben Simon. In Wars 6.4.1 Josephus refers to Eleazar ben Simon as “the brother’s son of Simon the tyrant.” He was originally from Gerasa (Wars 4.9.3). Martin Hengel remarks:
“As his name indicates, Simon Bar Giora was the son of a proselyte. He came originally not from the Jewish motherland, but from Gerasa in the Hellenistic Decapolis. This was a town which had dealt with its Jewish inhabitants not by killing them, but by simply expelling them from its territory. We do not know when Simon left his home town” (The Zealots, p. 374).
Cecil Roth, a Jewish historian from Britain (Oxford), said this in a 1960 article about Simon’s name:
“The form of the name “bar Giora” derives not from Josephus but from Tacitus, who in his brief account of the war refers to him under this name, although confusing him with his rival John of Gischala (‘Ioannes, quern et Bargioram vocabant’) . Josephus speaks of him always as “son of Giora” or the like. ‘Bar Giora’ is of course the form in the Aramaic language, already at this time current in Palestine. Giora is never met with as a proper name, but in Aramaic it means ‘proselyte,’ equivalent to the Hebrew Ger.”
Simon Bar Giora was first mentioned by Josephus in Wars 2.19.2, where he was credited with ambushing the rear of Cestius Gallus’ army in November AD 66 as they retreated from a surprise attack by the Jews: “Simon, the son of Giora, fell upon the backs of the Romans, as they were ascending up Bethoron, and put the hindmost of the army into disorder, and carried off many of the beasts that carded the weapons of war, and led Shem into the city.”
Then in Wars 2.22.2 Josephus says that Simon Bar Giora ravaged the Accrabene Toparchy (at the border of Judea and Samaria), harassing the houses of rich men, tormenting their bodies, and “affecting tyranny in his government” (early AD 67). When an army was sent against him by Ananus ben Ananus (see Wars 4.9.3), he joined “the robbers” (the Sicarii) at Masada “and plundered the country of Idumea with them, till both Ananus and his other adversaries were slain.”
Simon wasn’t spoken of in any detail again until Wars 4.9.3 (early AD 69), with one small exception. In the spring of AD 68, the Idumeans liberated about 2000 people from the prisons in Jerusalem before themselves leaving the city. Interestingly, those prisoners “fled away immediately to Simon” (Wars 4.6.1). This indicates the extent of his fame and influence even when he wasn’t in Jerusalem.
Josephus says that when Simon first came to Masada, the Sicarii were suspicious of him, but they began to trust him when they saw that “his manner so well agreed with theirs.” So “he went out with them, and ravaged and destroyed the country with them about Masada.” Simon was “fond of greatness.”
When he heard the report that Ananus had been killed (late February AD 68), he went into the mountainous part of Judea and “proclaimed liberty to those in slavery, and a reward to those already free, and got together a set of wicked men from all quarters” (Wars 4.9.3). The Jewish historian, Cecil Roth, said that it was as if Simon tried to apply Isaiah 61:1-2 to himself the way that Jesus did in Luke 4:16-21, except that for Simon “the Day of Vengeance for the Lord” had already arrived. In any case, it’s interesting that Simon, located at Masada, cast off restraint upon the death of Ananus just like the Zealots in Jerusalem did (Wars 4.6.1).
Simon, with “a strong body of men,” overran villages and became a threat “to the cities.” He had men of power, slaves and robbers, and “a great many of the populace” who “were obedient to him as their king.” According to Josephus, it was no secret that he was “making preparations for the assault of Jerusalem” (Wars 4.9.4). The Zealots were afraid that he would attack them and so they attacked him first, but unsuccessfully. Simon had 20,000 armed men. Before heading to Jerusalem, he “resolved first to subdue Idumea” (Wars 4.9.5).
When Simon marched into Idumea, he began by capturing the city of Hebron. Then he made “progress over all Idumea, and did not only ravage the cities and villages, but laid waste the whole country.” At that point, he had 40,000 followers besides his 20,000 armed men. As a result, “Idumea was greatly depopulated; and as one may see all the woods behind despoiled of their leaves by locusts, after they have been there, so was there nothing left behind Simon’s army but a desert” (Wars 4.9.7).
The Zealots made the mistake of kidnapping his wife, thinking that he would lay down his arms, but Simon “vented his spleen upon all persons that he met with,” shed a lot of blood, and got his wife back (Wars 4.9.8-10). Then he returned to Idumea and “driving the nation all before him from all quarters, he compelled a great number of them to retire to Jerusalem; he followed them himself also to the city” (Wars 4.9.10).
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem there was an uprising against John Levi “out of their envy at his power and hatred of his cruelty.” So, surprisingly, “in order to overthrow John, they determined to admit Simon, and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city.” Simon, “in an arrogant manner, granted them his lordly protection… The people also made joyful acclamations to him, as their savior and their preserver” (Wars 4.9.11). According to Josephus, Simon “got possession of Jerusalem” around April AD 69 (Wars 4.9.12). Before long, he had “in his power the upper city, and a great part of the lower” (Wars 5.1.3). As we’ve already seen, he had more commanders and armed men with him than John Levi and Eleazar ben Simon had combined (Wars 5.6.1).
In the book, “Simon Son of Man,” published in 1917, the authors (John I. Riegel and John H. Jordan) pointed out the great influence that Simon Bar Giora had during the Jewish-Roman War (AD 66-73), even from its beginning. Although Josephus says that Simon only took control of Jerusalem in AD 69, it was his name that was printed on most of the coins issued by the Zealots beginning in 66 AD (pp. 256 – 259):
The study of Jewish numismatics throws much light upon the personality of Simon Bar Gi’ora and his relations with Eleazar and John during the siege of the Holy City… Of the 36 coins of the period of the great revolt illustrated in Madden’s History of Jewish Coinage, 29 bear the name of Simon. In so great a veneration was he held by his compatriots, even in their defeat, that during the reigns of Titus, Domitian, Trajan and Hadrian his fellow countrymen continued to strike coins bearing his emblems and his venerated name…
The prevailing form is the figure of a seven-branched date tree, with the name ‘Simon’ struck on the obverse, and a three-bunch cluster of grapes, or a similarly shaped tripartite vine leaf on the reverse, with the words ‘First’, ‘Second’ or ‘Third Year of the Deliverance of Israel.’ According to Josephus, Simon Bar Gi’ora did not enter Jerusalem until the third year of the war, yet we possess coins issued by Simon which bear the inscriptions, ‘Second,’ and even ‘First year of the Deliverance of Israel’…
Josephus declares there was a bitter enmity existing between Simon Bar Gi’ora, Eleazar Son of Simon, and John, the three princes of the Jews during the siege. Yet, we have one silver coin bearing the name of Eleazar on the obverse and that of Simon on the reverse. This can only prove that Simon and Eleazar acted conjointly even to the extent of minting coins in common…
The coining of money is always the prerogative of the sovereign power in a state. The extant coinage issued in Jerusalem during the siege, struck from almost identical dies, shows how the sovereign power within was divided and mutually recognized. Of course, the number of extant coins bearing the name of Simon far outnumber those of his coadjutors in power, Eleazar and John, and in proportion as they do so they show the relative influence of each on the government of the state and how the sovereign power eventually became vested in the greatest of the three.”
Source: Simon Son of Man, Riegel and Jordan, p. 257
As the Roman siege began, John Levi was afraid of Simon Bar Giora (Wars 5.6.3). Sometime later, though, the two factions led by Simon and John decided to lay aside their differences and work together (with the result being that several times they “became too hard for the Romans” and Titus was even nearly killed):
“Both sorts, seeing the common danger they were in, contrived to make a like defense. So those of different factions cried out one to another, that they acted entirely as in concert with their enemies; whereas they ought however, notwithstanding God did not grant them a lasting concord, in their present circumstances, to lay aside their enmities one against another, and to unite together against the Romans. Accordingly, Simon gave those that came from the temple leave, by proclamation, to go upon the wall; John also himself, though he could not believe Simon was in earnest, gave them the same leave. So on both sides they laid aside their hatred and their peculiar quarrels, and formed themselves into one body” (Wars 5.6.4).
Simon and John worked together in the most sinister way, falsely accusing people of plotting against them, attempting to betray Jerusalem to the Romans, or attempting to flee to the Romans. Josephus says that they passed these victims back and forth between each other:
“For the men that were in dignity, and withal were rich, they were carried before the tyrants themselves; some of whom were falsely accused of laying treacherous plots, and so were destroyed; others of them were charged with designs of betraying the city to the Romans; but the readiest way of all was this, to suborn [hire] somebody to affirm that they were resolved to desert to the enemy. And he who was utterly despoiled of what he had by Simon was sent back again to John, as of those who had been already plundered by Jotre, Simon got what remained; insomuch that they drank the blood of the populace to one another, and divided the dead bodies of the poor creatures between them; so that although, on account of their ambition after dominion, they contended with each other, yet did they very well agree in their wicked practices” (Wars 5.10.4).
Yet the Jews had the highest regard for, and fear of, Simon. They were also very ready to take their own lives, if he would have given such a command: “Above all, they had a great veneration and dread of Simon; and to that degree was he regarded by every one of those that were under him, that at his command they were very ready to kill themselves with their own hands” (Wars 5.7.3).
Toward the end of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, John Levi and many others had already been captured by the Romans, but Simon was still underground and hoping to escape. Josephus recorded his bizarre behavior when he finally emerged dressed like a king, hoping to trick the Romans, but was captured and kept for the eventual celebration in Rome. Interestingly, he chose to come up out of the ground exactly where the temple had been:
“This Simon, during the siege of Jerusalem, was in the upper city; but when the Roman army was gotten within the walls, and were laying the city waste, he then took the most faithful of his friends with him, and among them some that were stone-cutters, with those iron tools which belonged to their occupation, and as great a quantity of provisions as would suffice them for a long time, and let himself and all them down into a certain subterraneous cavern that was not visible above ground. Now, so far as had been digged of old, they went onward along it without disturbance; but where they met with solid earth, they dug a mine underground, and this in hopes that they should be able to proceed so far as to rise from underground in a safe place, and by that means escape. But when they came to make the experiment, they were disappointed of their hope; for the miners could make but small progress, and that with difficulty also; insomuch that their provisions, though they distributed them by measure, began to fail them.
And now Simon, thinking he might be able to astonish and elude the Romans, put on a white frock, and buttoned upon him a purple cloak, and appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been. At the first, indeed, those that saw him were greatly astonished, and stood still where they were; but afterward they came nearer to him, and asked him who he was. Now Simon would not tell them, but bid them call for their captain; and when they ran to call him, Terentius Rufus who was left to command the army there, came to Simon, and learned of him the whole truth, and kept him in bonds, and let Caesar know that he was taken. Thus did God bring this man to be punished for what bitter and savage tyranny he had exercised against his countrymen by those who were his worst enemies; and this while he was not subdued by violence, but voluntarily delivered himself up to them to be punished, and that on the very same account that he had laid false accusations against many Jews, as if they were falling away to the Romans, and had barbarously slain them for wicked actions do not escape the Divine anger, nor is justice too weak to punish offenders, but in time overtakes those that transgress its laws, and inflicts its punishments upon the wicked in a manner, so much more severe, as they expected to escape it on account of their not being punished immediately. Simon was made sensible of this by falling under the indignation of the Romans. This rise of his out of the ground did also occasion the discovery of a great number of others of the seditious at that time, who had hidden themselves under ground. But for Simon, he was brought to Caesar in bonds, when he was come back to that Cesarea which was on the seaside, who gave orders that he should be kept against that triumph which he was to celebrate at Rome upon this occasion” (Wars 7.2.2).
Among the leaders of the captives taken from Jerusalem, Simon was listed first by Josephus (Wars 7.5.3). The Israeli historian Menahem Stern pointed out that the Roman historian, Tacitus, also listed him first:
“Both Simeon and John are mentioned side by side with Eleazar b. Simeon as the commanders in Jerusalem, not only by Josephus but by the Roman historian Tacitus, who enumerates Simeon first and Eleazar last. Titus also regarded Simeon bar Giora as the leading commander and it was he who was chosen by the Romans to exemplify an enemy commander and lead the triumphal procession in Rome.”
“Judaea Capta” coin from AD 71 (Source)
This triumphal procession is described in Wars 7.5.1-7. Simon was called “the general of the enemy” and his execution was in “the last part of this pompous show…at the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.” A rope was put around his head and he was tormented as he was dragged along. All the people shouted for joy when it was announced that he had been killed (Wars 7.5.6). A Jewish Encyclopedia article written in 1906 by Richard Gottheil (Professor of Semitic Languages, Columbia University) and Samuel Krauss (Professor in Budapest, Hungary) states that he was hurled to his death from the Tarpeian Rock. However, Cecil Roth, the Oxford Jewish historian, stated in a 1960 article that Simon was “was dragged to the Mamertine Prison, where he was strangled in the subterranean chamber.”
A 2007 article in Encyclopaedia Judaica says the following about Simon and his likely “king messiah” role:
“From extant information it would appear that Simeon b. Giora was the leader of a clear eschatological trend in the movement of rebellion against Rome, and possibly filled the role of ‘king messiah’ within the complex of eschatological beliefs held by his followers. His exceptional bravery and daring, mentioned by Josephus, undoubtedly attracted many to him, and won him preeminence among the rebel leaders. In contrast to the bitter hostility that existed between him and John of Giscala, there was a measure of understanding between him and the Sicarii at Masada.”
“Bar Giora, Simeon.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Encyclopedia.com. 3 Mar. 2017.
Martin Hengel, in The Zealots (pp. 290-298), agreed that Simon “made claims to Messianic dignity” (p. 297). According to Hengel,  Judas of Galilee  Menahem, and  Simon Bar Giora were all Messianic pretenders. He cited close similarities between Menahem and Simon Bar Giora in that they both marched into Jerusalem like kings, were both regarded by their followers as kings, and both dressed in royal garments when they were captured by their enemies.
After this long overview of the Zealot movement and its various leaders, we come back to the question: “Who was the wounded head of Revelation 13:3?” Here, again, is what this verse states:
“And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”
Several translations, by the way, including Young’s Literal Translation, say “all the earth marveled…” rather than “all the world marveled…” The Greek word for “the earth” (“ge”) can be translated as “the land.” That is, it was the land of Israel that marveled after the beast on account of its deadly wound being healed.
Almost 120 years after the uprising of Hezekiah, and 60 years after the uprising of Judas of Galilee, another head of the Zealot movement was crushed, which jeopardized the plans of the movement and destroyed its unity and momentum. That head was Menahem, who achieved victories at Masada, came into Jerusalem as a king, and became the leader of the Zealots, only to be killed about one month later. Martin Hengel says this about the ramifications of Menahem’s sudden death, which was especially untimely because it took place only about a month after the Jewish-Roman War officially began:
“This whole sequence of events led to a division in the ranks of the Zealot movement precisely at the moment when a consolidation of all its forces under a single leadership was required. It is probable that Menahem, the son of Judas, the founder of the sect, was the only man possessing the necessary authority and experience to organize a lasting resistance to the Romans based on the Zealot movement throughout the whole country…
Menahem’s most faithful followers and especially the tribe of the Galilean Judas withdrew to Masada and took no further part in the subsequent course of the war… These men believed that the Temple had been desecrated by this bloody act [Menahem’s murder] and was therefore doomed to destruction. They remained faithful to their earlier views, however, and continued to follow Eleazar b. Ari (Jair), a grandson of Judas, as their leader until their mass suicide…in April 73 A.D. The groups of Zealots in the various parts of the territories settled by the Jews lost their common leader and therefore the bond that held them together. They consequently operated without any sensible plan and were deeply distrustful of the authorities in Jerusalem…
Menahem’s death had weakened the Zealots. Their weakness inevitably resulted in a strengthening in Jerusalem of the moderate forces inclined towards a compromise with Rome. There was therefore bound to be a renewed, intensified confrontation with the radical wing, which had been reinforced by the refugees from the frontier territories. The radicals, however, lacked leaders with universally recognized authority, with the result that there were struggles for power. These undermined the strength of the Jewish resistance.
The consideration of the Zealots as a solidly united party ends therefore with the murder of Menahem. It is true that Zealot ideas still persisted until the destruction of the city and even later, until the revolt of Bar Koseba. The ultimate aim of the sect, the ‘eschatological’ struggle of the entire people against Rome which had begun so promisingly, was, however, condemned to failure from the very beginning. The division of the movement into different groups at war with each other enabled Rome to achieve a victory even before the Holy War itself had properly commenced” (The Zealots, pp. 365-366).
The beast’s wound quickly began to heal when the Zealots achieved a surprise victory against Cestius Gallus about two months later in November AD 66 (Wars 2.19.1-9). The Zealots captured the military engines and other supplies from the Romans and “came back running and singing to their metropolis; while they had themselves lost a few only, but had slain of the Romans five thousand and three hundred footmen, and three hundred and eighty horsemen” (Wars 2.19.9). Eleazar ben Simon and Simon Bar Giora, nephew and uncle to one another, emerged as war heroes and played key roles in leading the revolt over the next 3.5 years. Martin Hengel remarks:
“Even though it would be wrong to place too high a value on the purely military success achieved against Syrian legions, which were notorious for their lack of discipline, the Jewish victory was nonetheless of decisive importance for the continuation of the fight for freedom. It led to even moderate groups of Jews either going over to the side of the war party or else leaving the city [Wars 2.20.1]. The radicals saw in this victory God’s confirmation of their cause and the beginning of the Holy War of annihilation against Rome. Typically enough, two of the new leaders who were, with their groups, to determine the fate of Jerusalem in the years ahead emerged for the first time during these battles before Jerusalem. The leader of a band, Simon Bar Giora, seized hold of the Roman baggage-train on the ascent of Beth-Horon and took it to Jerusalem, while a certain Eleazar b. Simon appeared as the leader of the radical and probably predominantly priestly ‘Zealots.’ To judge from the latter’s large share in the booty, he had played a leading part in the battle itself” (The Zealots, p. 369).
The Israeli historian, Menahem Stern, also emphasized the importance of Simon Bar Giora’s uprising for the Zealot movement after the sudden loss of Menahem and Eleazar ben Jair’s permanent flight to Masada. He saw Simon’s rise to the challenge as a satisfactory resolution after the Sicarii, the party of Hezekiah’s family dynasty, suddenly lacked “a recognized Sicarii leader in Jerusalem”:
“With the murder of Menahem and the departure of Eleazar b. Jair to [Masada, the Sicarii] had lost their traditional leadership. It is a fact that no less than 10,000 out of the 23,400 fighters who defended besieged Jerusalem were directly under the command of Simeon, and to them are to be added 5,000 Idumean soldiers who were associated with them, as against only 6,000 men under the direct command of John of Giscala and 2,400 Zealots who accepted the leadership of Eleazar b. Simeon (War 5:248–50). It thus emerges that under Simeon there were about two-thirds of the total of the defenders of Jerusalem, and the Romans were naturally justified in regarding him as the commander of the enemy forces.”
…many of the Sicarii found it difficult to recognize the leadership of someone who did not belong to the family of Judah the Galilean. Nevertheless the differences were straightened out to some extent as a result of the absence of a recognized Sicarii leader in Jerusalem after the death of Menahem.”
Menahem was regarded as a king and a capable leader, but his sudden death came at a bad time for the Zealot movement and left a big hole in its leadership. The surprising victory over Cestius Gallus two months later brought healing to the movement. Before long, Simon Bar Giora brought further healing to the movement as he cozied up to the Sicarii, adopted their way of thinking, and had “men of power”, “slaves and robbers,” and “a great many of the populace” showing obedience to him “as their king” (Wars 4.9.4).
In the next post we will look at Revelation 13:4, and why these questions were asked: “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
All of the posts in this series can be found at this page.
24 thoughts on “Revelation 13:3 and the Wounded Head of the Zealot Movement”
looks like to me you did a great job in condensing and consolidating zealot history around the time of christ
i appreciate the effort and am delighted to spend the time going thru your supposition
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Thank you, brother. If you have any other thoughts after reading this, I’ll be glad to hear them.
Thank you for sending me this interesting post my brother Adam. I’ll stay at home today and enjoy it and then send you my comments.
May the Lord keep blessing you and your precious family !
In His glorius Name.
El 16/03/2017, a las 4:28 p.m., Pursuing Truth <firstname.lastname@example.org> escribió:
Adam Maarschalk posted: “This post continues the series, “The Beast of Revelation Was Zealot-Led Israel.” The introduction and outline to this series can be seen here. In the previous post we looked at Revelation 13:1-2. We considered how the beast in John’s day had Babylonian, “
Hi Luis. You’re welcome. I’ll look forward to your thoughts later. May the Lord bless you and your family as well.
I’d like to add my appreciation for the considerable labor you are putting into your research on these subjects. While I cannot agree with you that this Revelation 13 Beast from the Sea is of Judean origin, (since the sea typically represents a Gentile source), I can certainly share in the emphasis you place on the details of Zealot history and the degree of importance it has on eschatology. Glad to see you are bringing it to the forefront.
For instance, you have mentioned, in your subheading of “Zealots in Jesus’ lifetime”, the proposal that not only Barabbas, but the “two robbers” which were crucified on either side of Jesus happened to be Zealots. This information (which I believe is accurate) helps to prove that the Zealot Menahem, son or grandson of Judas the Galilean, truly was the Man of Lawlessness in II Thess. 2.
Here is how the scriptures link these seemingly disconnected things together. In Isaiah 53:12, the Messianic prophecy telling of Christ’s sacrifice predicted that Christ would be “numbered among the transgressors” (anomois – THE LAWLESS ONES). This prophecy is pronounced as being fulfilled in Mark 15:28 (Interlinear) at the crucifixion, when Christ had the “two robbers” crucified on either side of Him. “And was fulfilled the scripture which says And with THE LAWLESS He was reckoned.” Barabbas, we know, had done murder in the “insurrection” in Jerusalem, and the “two robbers”, his “associates” who had participated with him in the insurrection were also bound with him (Mark 14:7). Zealot activity, for certain.
Fast forward to II Thess. 2:8 (Interlinear) and the description of the “Son of Perdition” (from II Thess. 2:3), who is also given the epithet of “THE LAWLESS [one]” (ho anomos). Both this man and the brightness of his own coming on the scene in the temple of Jerusalem were destroyed together, just after the rebellion – the “apostasy” – had broken out against Rome in AD 66. Menahem the Zealot – “THE LAWLESS ONE” – fits the timing and the details of this scenario exactly. As the “Son of Perdition”, he was only carrying on the heritage of his Galilean Zealot ancestors from Hezekiah on down.
The “mystery of LAWLESSNESS” (anomias) was already operating in II Thess 2:7 (Zealotry), but would burst out in flaming revolt in AD 66, with Menahem the Zealot being the very first one with Messianic pretensions to actually get into the temple and present himself there (however briefly) as the long-awaited Messiah-king. Once that had occurred, this was the signal that alerted the saints of Thessalonica and elsewhere that the coming of Christ was at hand in their very near future (i.e. AD 70).
In addition to identifying Menahem the Zealot / Sicarii leader as the II Thess. 2 Man of Sin, there is also a stack of evidence proving that Simon of Gioras, #12 on this post’s list of Zealot / Sicarii leaders, is the much-debated “chief prince” of the Gog / Magog prophecy. He fits the template exactly. Much of what you have described about him in this post above, Adam, contributes to his identification as the leader of that battle. From the tenor of this post, perhaps you are even leaning towards that interpretation yourself in some of your future postings?
With your permission, I would like to expand on how Simon of Gioras headed up the Gog / Magog conflict, but since the topic is rather lengthy, and not quite on target with the theme of this post, would you prefer that I enter those comments on your Gog / Magog post entry instead?
It’s good to hear from you, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this. That’s very interesting about the translation “the lawless ones” from both Isaiah 53 and Mark 15.
Regarding the man of lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2), I’ve been leaning toward Eleazar ben Simon being the best candidate, since he had access to the temple for 3.5 years, oversaw the establishment of Phannias as the fake high priest, and was killed at the very time that Titus began the siege of Jerusalem in April AD 70. However, I’m open to considering Menahem as a candidate as well. His story is certainly significant.
I’ll be glad to hear your thoughts on Simon Bar Giora, and I think it would be best to include them under this post because  there are already a lot of comments under my Gog/Magog entry and  Simon is discussed extensively in this post and it would be more convenient to compare what you’d like to share to what is above.
Hi brother Adam.
One question, please the answer.
With this new correct vision anout the zealot movement (not been Rome/Cesar)…who then, would be the beast (13:18) who’s # is 666?
Thank’s a lot & blessings !
Luis Gudiño, your mexican brother !
El 16/03/2017, a las 4:28 p.m., Pursuing Truth <email@example.com> escribió:
Adam Maarschalk posted: “This post continues the series, “The Beast of Revelation Was Zealot-Led Israel.” The introduction and outline to this series can be seen here. In the previous post we looked at Revelation 13:1-2. We considered how the beast in John’s day had Babylonian, “
Hi brother Luis,
That’s a very big question, and not an easy one. 🙂 I’m currently looking at some interesting information, presented 100 years ago by a couple of not-so-well-known authors, that Simon Bar Kokhba was represented by the number “666.” They made an interesting case, and they even appeared to show that all three parts of Simon’s name were intentionally scattered throughout Revelation 13 by John in the Aramaic translation of Revelation. By the time I reach that part of this study (Revelation 13:18), I plan to present that information, if I haven’t found a reason to discount it, and ask for people to evaluate it (among other points that I will also bring up). Blessings to you as well!
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Thank you for graciously permitting some feedback on this subject. You are a generous host. This won’t be exactly a scholarly attempt, since much of this is my own observations and connections between Josephus and scripture texts, and I am somewhat sloppy on footnotes. It wasn’t my intention to submit a full-scale study on the entire Gog / Magog theme, but I’m afraid my focus on Simon bar Giora turned into that. It’s rather like working on the house plumbing; before you realize it, you are sitting in a puddle of water and are having to give attention to more than just one PVC pipe section. So here goes….
The usual texts referring to Gog / Magog are the Ezekiel 38-39 and Rev. 20:7-10 passages. However, we should also include the Numbers 24 chapter that addresses the identity of Gog and the battle (albeit somewhat indirectly). This disregarded text is Balaam’s prophecy, using the LXX version in particular. He mentions the kingdom of Gog there, and unmistakably equates it with Israel. Here is the text of Numbers 24:3-9 LXX. “And he took up his parable and said, Balaam son of Beor says, the man who sees truly says, he says who hears the oracle of the Might One, who saw a vision of God in sleep; his eyes were opened: How goodly are thy habitations, Jacob, and thy tents, Israel! as shady groves, and as gardens by a river, and as tents which God pitched, and as cedars by the waters. There shall come a man out of his seed, and he shall rule over many nations; and THE KINGDOM OF GOG SHALL BE EXALTED, and his kingdom shall be increased. God led him (Gog, that is) out of Egypt; he has as it were the glory of a unicorn: he shall consume the nations of his enemies, and he shall drain their marrow, and with his darts he shall shoot through the enemy. He lay down, he rested as a lion, and as a young lion; who shall stir him up? they that bless thee are blessed, and they that curse thee are cursed.”
So, here we see that Gog was originally meant to portray an entire nation – the nation of Israel – but would later serve as the title for an individual leader of that nation as its “chief prince”.
In your post entries concerning Gog / Magog, Adam, you put forth 3 points that we really should consider before launching a Gog / Magog discussion.
#1) Is Ezekiel 38-39 a PRECEDENT for Rev. 20:7-10, or does it describe the same event? I maintain that they are one and the same battle, with additional particulars in Revelation’s account of this battle from Satan’s perspective, to expand the narrative that actually includes part of Rev. 19 as well – verses 11-21.
#2) Is Ezekiel written in chronological order, with chapters 40-48 following in time after chapter 38-39? NO, it isn’t. God switched gears after Ezekiel 39:24 where he finished describing the Gog / Magog war that would eventually come at the “END OF YEARS” (Ezekiel 38:8 LXX – the end of the Old Covenant age, that is). Then He back-tracked in Ezekiel 39:25-29, and resumed talking about His immediate post-exilic return plans for Israel. “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; NOW will I bring again the captivity of Jacob…” Ezekiel 40-48 is a continuation of God’s plans for reconstructing Jerusalem’s temple under Zerubbabel’s hands, and the division of the land to the tribes after the post-exilic return.
Some have labeled this the “Millennium temple” in Ezekiel 40-48, and actually, IT IS. A past millennium temple, that is. It is part of the literal 1,000-year millennium of a physical temple worship system, stretching from Solomon’s temple foundation being laid in 968 / 967 BC, past the post-exilic return and the period of Israel’s independence established by the Maccabees, and finishing up with Christ’s True Temple foundation laid down with a New Covenant after His AD 33 First Resurrection. The Zerubbabel temple of the post-exilic return, described in Ezekiel 40-48, was the revival of God’s work “in the MIDST OF THE YEARS” (the millennium years, that is) which Habakkuk 3:2 prophesied. The post-exilic return literally came at the CENTER of these millennium period years.
#3) The third consideration you proposed, Adam, rightly emphasized how one’s millennial view impinges on one’s interpretation of the Gog / Magog war. Since Gog / Magog’s warfare comes after the 1,000 years are “FINISHED”, the millennium is a time marker that must figure largely in any discussion of who and / or what Gog / Magog is. Since I claim the literal 1,000-year millennium ENDED after the AD 33 First Resurrection which included Christ and those Matthew 27:52-53 saints, that left Satan to be loosed to exercise his deception in that “short time” and “little season” between AD 33 and the “END OF YEARS” (Ez. 38:8 LXX) – the AD 66-70 period. During those ending years of AD 66-70, Satan and every unclean spirit was imprisoned in Jerusalem (Rev. 18:2) and finally disposed of in that city’s fiery climax (Jerusalem’s second death).
Now for Gog’s identity.
My firm conviction is that Simon bar Giora fits the “Gog, Chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” title that Ezekiel 38-39 presents. His biography aligns with the time markers and the activities described in the Ezekiel 38-39 chapters, Revelation 19:11-21, 20:7-10, and part of Balaam’s prophecy as well.
Here is the main feature pinpointing Gog’s origin: no less than 3 times are Gog, “the Chief prince”, and his troops said to come from a NORTHERN direction.
#1) Ezekiel 38:6 – “Gomer and all his bands, the house of Togarmah of THE NORTH QUARTERS, and all his bands: and many people with thee.”
#2) Ezekiel 38:15 – “And thou (Gog) shalt come from thy place out of THE NORTH PARTS, thou and many people with thee.”
#3) Ezekiel 39:2 – “…and [I] will cause thee to come up from THE NORTH PARTS, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:”
Just what “NORTH QUARTER” is scripture referring to? Gog and Magog are identified as the nations in the “FOUR CORNERS / QUARTERS OF THE LAND” in Rev. 20:8. This is not to be understood in global, planetary terms. Originally, the tribes of Israel were “DIVIDED INTO CORNERS” of the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership (Neh. 9:22-24). Ezekiel also clearly gives the same description of Israel in Ezekiel 7:2-3 as follows:
“Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God unto THE LAND OF ISRAEL; An end, the end is come upon THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE LAND. Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways…”
So, we should scale down our interpretation of this term – “the four corners of the land” – and confine it to the extent of the land of Israel’s dimensions instead. But within the land of Israel, we have a distinction made between the NORTH and the SOUTH quarters in Ezekiel 20:44-48, and especially in Ezekiel 21:1-4 as follows:
“And the word from the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against THE LAND OF ISRAEL, And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh FROM THE NORTH TO THE SOUTH:”
The NORTHERN QUARTER, or THE NORTH PARTS of the land of Israel are GALILEE and its surrounding districts. In the AD 66-70 Great Revolt against Rome, the ever-radical Galilee would serve as a launching pad for at least 3 major rebel leaders – Eleazar ben Simon, John of Gischala, but most notably Simon bar Giora, who was able to gather more guerrilla troops than his competitors – 40 thousand men who followed him, in addition to some 20 thousand armed warriors at the peak of his activity (Wars 4.9.7 – 534). To keep this large of an army supplied, Simon was well known for his pillaging, plundering, and confiscating goods from all over the land of Israel. During AD 68, he stockpiled much of these spoils at Nain – his headquarters in Galilee (“his place” in the NORTH PARTS). The level of thievery Simon and his army was engaged in at this time compares exactly to Gog taking a spoil of “silver, gold, cattle and goods” from the land in Ezekiel 38:10-13. Robbery and pillaging was a hallmark of Simon’s faction, on a greater scale than any other Zealot leader.
The particular nations mentioned that were represented among Gog’s army do not necessarily mean that those ENTIRE nations participated in this Gog / Magog conflict. All that the language in Ezekiel 38:5-6 LXX requires is that citizens who happened to come from each of those nations ended up in the collection of armed warriors that joined Gog. This was true of Simon bar Giora’s army. They were a mixed bag, “clothed with all sorts of armor” (Ez. 38:4), and “ALL OF THEM HANDLING SWORDS”. The particular word for “sword” here is “machaira” – by definition a short, dagger-like blade. Somewhat like the Sicarii weapon of choice, which you have supplied a photo of in your post, Adam.
In this same Ezekiel 38:4 verse, we have a note about Gog’s army of “horses and horsemen”. It may be just another coincidence, but the city of Gaba in Galilee, according to Josephus’ Wars 3.3.1; 35-36, is called ” ‘The City of Horsemen’ because those horsemen that were dismissed by Herod the king dwelt therein;” Gaba is about 14 miles from Nain, Simon’s headquarters in “the North Parts”. Gaba is also only a couple miles from Megiddo. Which is also 15 or so miles from Ceasarea on the coast, Rome’s headquarters for the war. This cluster of cities around the Hill of Megiddo (Har Megiddo – Armageddon) was a place where the unclean spirits would work at gathering together the “kings of the earth” (the land of Israel) and the kings of “the whole world” (Rome’s forces) as found in Rev. 16:14-16. From those headquarters, they would all “go up on the breadth of the earth” – spreading out over all of Israel to do battle.
Everywhere Simon went in the land of Israel from AD 66-69, (Masada, Idumea, Galilee, Acrabattene), he picked up mercenaries and malcontents who were itching to cast off the Roman yoke. “Persians, Ethiopians, and Libyans” are mentioned in particular in Ezekiel 38:5, as well as Gomer and the house of Togarmah – descendants of Japheth’s line. We know of at least one Egyptian in Acts 21:38 who led 4,000 murderous men into the Judean wilderness, inciting a rebellion against Rome in Paul’s days. So it would not have been an unheard-of phenomenon for people from nations just outside the perimeter of Israel to join in Israel’s rebellion against the Romans in “the last days” (Ez. 38:16 LXX).
Consider the Ethiopian eunuch under Queen Candace who came to participate in the Jewish feast celebration. Consider all the nationalities represented on the day of Pentecost in AD 33. This illustrated that Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, was a crossroads where “peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues” converged.
Among these nations, one of particular importance to Balaam’s prophecy came under Simon’s control during AD 68: Idumea. Vespasian had already invaded Idumea in early spring of AD 68 and subdued parts of it, but after Nero’s death in July AD 68, his attention was diverted for the time being by the chaotic affairs in Rome. Simon (and other rebel contenders) took advantage of this brief interlude of relaxed vigilance by the Romans. To bolster his personal status, and add to his provisions, one of Simon’s goals was to conquer whoever remained in Idumea. With the assistance of a traitor among the Idumeans (Wars 4.9.6), Simon gained the upper hand and began ravaging and laying waste the cities and villages in Idumea to supply the needs of his troops which by then had swollen to that massive number of 40 thousand plus 20,000 armed warriors (Wars 4.9.5-7).
This point in the historical narrative is where Simon bar Giora’s participation in Balaam’s prophecies from Numbers 24 finds fulfillment. We remember from Ezekiel 38:17 that Gog’s activities had been prophesied LONG BEFORE – “Thus saith the Lord God; Art thou he of whom I have spoken IN OLD TIME by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee (Gog) against them?” I believe Balaam’s prophecy was one of these ancient sources from “old time” whose predictions of Simon’s actions were quoted by Israel’s prophets from antiquity. How else would we have gotten a record of this entire story about Balaam?
Gog (Simon) would not only come against Israel, but before then, he would also be coming against Idumea. In Balaam’s final words to Balaak, he predicted “what this people (Israel) shall do to thy people IN THE LAST DAYS” (Numbers 24:14). Before the end of those last days came, King David would have been “the Sceptre” to arise out of Israel and conquer both Moab and Edom (Numbers 24:17-18 compared with II Sam. 8:2, 14). Consequently, Edom and Esau (Idumea and Mount Seir) then became “an inheritance” of Israel’s (Numbers 24:18 LXX). After the Maccabean victories, under Hyrcanus I, Idumea was annexed and compelled to observe Mosaic Laws. “Israel shall do valiantly”, Numbers 24:28 says (under Maccabean leaders). This was the time when “the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32).
Following this period of Idumea’s subjugation and incorporation into Jewish culture, the prophecy in Numbers 24:19 concludes with Idumea’s final extinction. “Out of Jacob shall come HE THAT SHALL HAVE DOMINION (this is Simon, I believe), and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.” This city under discussion is Mt. Seir, standing for all of Idumea, from the preceding verse Numbers 24:18. Idumea would cease to exist as a nation after the close of the AD 70 era.
This final desolation of Idumea / Edom / Mt. Seir was also spoken of earlier in Ezekiel 35:7-9, 15. It was to be a judgment because of their ancient, perpetual hatred for Israel. “Thus will I make Mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth. And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword. I will make thee perpetual desolations, and THY CITIES SHALL NOT RETURN: and ye shall know that I am the Lord…As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
It was after June AD 68 when Simon bar Giora and his troops worked their ruin on whatever remained of this nation once Vespasian’s army had been through this region previously in AD 68. As Adam’s post references indicate, in Wars 4.9.7, Josephus described how Simon wasted the region of Idumea and depopulated it with his 40 thousand followers and his army of around 20 thousand. This compares with Gog’s actions in Ezekiel 38:9, 16, as he comes “like a storm” and “like a cloud to cover the land”.
Simon’s escalating power after gaining control of Idumea alarmed those Zealots in Jerusalem to the degree that they decided to capture Simon’s wife in an ambush. There was hope of using her as a means of forcing Simon to disarm himself and plead for her return. This only infuriated Simon, causing him to come to Jerusalem, capture and torture a number of those who happened to be outside the gates, sending them back into the city with threats that he would do the same to all in Jerusalem if his wife was not released. Those in Jerusalem backed down and released his wife, only to have Simon return to Idumea and drive whatever members of that nation remained towards Jerusalem. This remnant group of Idumeans, plus Simon’s army and the rest of his followers, set up camp just outside of Jerusalem and “encompassed the wall all round again” (Wars 4.9.10; 557). This was what Revelation 20:9 spoke of, with Gog / Magog compassing the beloved city.
Gog / Magog at that point was said to be numbered “as the sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8). This is not an infinite number that cannot be calculated, because we have he same term applied to the Philistine’s army of men and chariots in I Sam. 13:5 – “three thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude: and they came up and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethhaven.” The metaphoric term simply stands for an intimidating, multitudinous army, which Simon certainly had at this point of the war, parked outside of Jerusalem’s gates.
Ezekiel 39:1-2 predicted that God would cause Gog, the Chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, to “come up from the NORTH PARTS” (Simon’s former headquarters in Nain of Galilee) and “bring thee upon the mountains of Israel” (the famous 7 mountains that Jerusalem is situated among). As Simon’s army waited outside, a sedition arose within the ranks under the tyrannical John of Gischala in Jerusalem, leading to a decision to open the gates and allow Simon and his army inside, with the deluded hope that he would curtail John’s tyranny. Unfortunately, this merely introduced a 3-way division of power for the city (Rev. 16:19), with Simon’s larger army serving as the predominant faction.
As Adam’s post indicates, coins were minted having Simon’s name with these inscriptions: “Simon – Liberator of Israel”, or “Simon – Messiah-king”, or “Simon – Messiah-king of Israel”. I cannot read Hebrew myself, but I’ll rely on the numismatic record in Adam’s source – Riegel and Jordan’s book “Simon, Son of Man” pp 257-264. This matches with the designation of Gog being called the “CHIEF PRINCE of Meshech and Tubal”.
And why exactly were the “Meshech and Tubal” names used? Because those two were sons of Japheth’s line which gave rise to the Gentiles (Genesis 10:2-5). Simon bar Giora was the son of a PROSELYTE, and as such was not a physical descendant of Shem’s line. By his physical, Gentile ancestry, he could fulfill the title “Chief prince of (descended from) Meshech and Tubal”. But in addition, as the son of a proselyte, he could also fulfill the title name of “Gog” which stood for Israel, according to Numbers 24:5-8 LXX (Balaam’s prophecy) as well as nominally being the one coming out of Jacob who would have dominion over Idumea (Numbers 24:19). Simon was uniquely qualified to fulfill all 3 roles.
As the leader of the conglomerate army in Israel, Simon led them against their fellow Israelites in Jerusalem. This explains the meaning behind that significant phrase in Ezekiel 38:21 – “EVERY MAN’S SWORD (machaira – that Sicarii-type weapon again) SHALL BE AGAINST HIS BROTHER.” Not only was it a civil war with Israelite against Israelite, but it was also , in a symbolic sense, a fraternal struggle between the descendants of Noah’s 3 sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After all, civil war in Jerusalem and Israel was the ultimate underlying cause of its collapse, and not primarily the Roman armies.
This bloodshed of civil war was a curse that Niger of Perea (once governor of Idumea – Wars 2.20.4) had called down on the Zealots in early AD 68. Once the Idumean nighttime attack on Jerusalem which killed Ananus and Joshua was over, and the Idumeans’ army of 2 myriads had left the city, the Zealots were free to dispose of anyone they thought would be a threat to them. Niger of Perea was one such valiant man who fell under Zealot suspicion. He had once been appointed by Ananus as one of the 10 generals in Jerusalem (one of the 10 horns on the beast, as Adam has pointed out). In spite of his courageous service, the Zealots condemned him to be killed outside Jerusalem with no burial, which he begged them to provide for him. “Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both FAMINE, and PESTILENCE in this war, and besides all that, they might come to THE MUTUAL SLAUGHTER OF ONE ANOTHER; all of which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came most justly upon them, when not long afterward they tasted of their own madness in their MUTUAL SEDITIONS ONE AGAINST ANOTHER.” (Wars 4.6.1; 359-362)
Ezekiel 38:21’s Gog / Magog prophecy is not the only time this “brother against brother” battle was predicted for Israel. We have the same prophetic language expressed in Haggai 2:22-23 LXX. “Speak to Zerubbabel the son of Salathiel, of the tribe of Judah, saying I shake the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;” (like the shaking in the land of Israel in Ezekiel 38:19-20) “and I will overthrow the thrones of kings” (Daniel’s statue crumbling to dust) “and I will destroy the power of the kings of the nations;” (no more ethnic boundaries in the New Jerusalem – Christ wears those “many crowns” and would reign supreme) “and I will overthrow chariots and riders; and the horses and their riders shall come down, EVERY ONE BY THE SWORD STRIVING AGAINST HIS BROTHER.”
Here is another text with the same theme, found in Zechariah 14:12-14, where the details of the AD 70 siege of Jerusalem include fraternal warfare. “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” (which pictures the severe and sudden famine during the last of the AD 70 siege that started after Passover) “And it shall come to pass in that day that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor. And Judah also shall fight at (or against) Jerusalem;….” All this is describing the civil war taking place in Jerusalem during the AD 70 era.
Josephus says that once Simon had established himself within Jerusalem in AD 69, that John’s Zealots used their war engines against him to cast darts and stones from the 4 tower positions they held (Wars 4.9.12 – 583, and 5.1.1 – 14). This sounds like the “great hailstones” rained upon Gog and his bands in Ezekiel 38:22. “And I will plead against him (Gog) with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him an overflowing rain and great hailstones, fire and brimstone.” This is also the same fire sent on Gog that we find in Revelation 20:9-10, which is the abbreviated “Cliff’s Notes” version of Ezekiel 38-39’s battle – “…and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.”
Speaking of God’s judgment by fire, between John and Simon’s warring factions, most of the grain stockpiled in the city was burnt, in an effort to damage each other’s food supplies. This was the direct cause of the famine which soon broke out after Titus’ arrival in April of AD 70. As Josephus wrote of their destructive arson in Wars 5.1.4; 25-26, “Accordingly, it so came to pass, that all the places that were about the temple were burnt down, and were become an intermediate desert space, ready for fighting on both sides, and that almost all the corn was burnt, which would have been sufficient for a siege for many years. So they were taken by the means of the famine, which it was impossible they should have been, unless they had thus prepared the way for it by this procedure.” So, it would seem that the curse of the dying Niger of Perea had been fully realized upon those who murdered him.
Gog’s final fate in Ezekiel 39:1-7 was for him and his bands (Sicarii warriors) and the people that were with him (those regular citizens who followed Simon) to fall upon the mountains of Israel (Jerusalem’s mountains) and be given to the vultures and beasts of the open field to consume. This is the “supper of the Great God” for the fowls of heaven in Revelation 19:17 – to eat the flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, horses and horsemen (Gog’s horsemen of Ez. 38:4), and all men, both free and bond, small and great. There was very little of Simon’s intimidating army left at the end of the siege.
As Adam’s post brought out, Simon and a few of his warriors hid in underground passages beneath the temple area, but were forced to emerge from hiding and surrender to the Romans when their food supply ran out. Dressing himself as a king, Simon to the very last maintained his pretense of being Israel’s Messiah-king. The Romans evidently agreed that he was the assumed leader of the rebellion, because Simon was reserved for the Roman triumph as the titular head of the revolt – the “Chief prince”. After this, he was either executed by beheading in the Mamertine prison, (as shown by the Mamertine plaque listing notable prisoners), or he was thrown from the Tarpeian rock – an ignominious execution reserved for traitors to the empire.
Even Balaam’s prophecy caught the profound drama of these “last days” of the Old Covenant age. The end of his prophecy in Numbers 24:23-24 LXX concludes with his anguished cry as follows:
“And he looked upon Og and took up his parable and said, Oh, oh, who shall live when God shall do these things? And one shall come forth from the hands of the Citians” (Chittim – the Romans) “and shall afflict Assur and shall afflict the Hebrews” (or men of Heber) “and they shall perish together ” (both Assur and Eber – sons of Shem in Genesis 10:21-24). It certainly sounds as if God stamped out all the significance of the genealogical line of Shem at the end of the Old Covenant age.
The finality of the judgment on Gog / Magog (the land of Israel) is sounded forth in the singular phrase “Behold, it is come and it is done”, spoken by God using the “prophetic perfect tense” in Ezekiel 39:8. Though it had not yet happened, it was spoken of as completed – as sure to happen as if it were an already accomplished fact. The same phrase is echoed in Revelation 16:17 – “It is done” – as the final 7th vial of judgment is poured out into the air over the city of Jerusalem, when the city was divided into the 3 parts or factions under Simon, John, and Eleazar.
The post-siege cleanup process follows in Ezekiel 39:9-24. Decomposing bodies were found littering the landscape from one end of the land of Israel to the other, not just in Jerusalem. for those Jews who were still attempting to observe Mosaic laws, even touching a piece of bone from a dead body was supposed to cause ritual defilement (see Numbers 19:16). For this reason, Ezekiel says in 39:14-16 that there would be men given the continual job of doing nothing but burying the bodily remains for 7 long months. There was meticulous care taken not to touch any man’s bones, but to put a marker beside them until they could be disposed of properly by the official “undertakers”. After 7 months, the land would finally be considered “cleansed” of its corpses, according to their observance of the Old Covenant law, which the remaining Israelites left in the land were still stubbornly trying to follow to the letter.
The weapons of war took even longer to dispose of after AD 70. Every tree around Jerusalem for a distance of over 10 miles had been cut down to use for crucifixion crosses, war engines, and the wall of circumvallation which had completely surrounded the city (Wars 6.1.1; 5-6). It is no wonder that the wooden weapons, etc, were used as fuel for a literal 7 years after the war (Ez. 39:9-10). There wasn’t a stick of regular firewood to be found for miles around Jerusalem, and much of the land of Israel’s trees had suffered similarly over this 3 1/2 year period (Rev. 7:3, 8:7).
God had said that the “heathen” who looked upon all this astounding carnage would understand that it was a judgment on the house of Israel for their iniquities. “So fell they all by the SWORD” (machaira – there’s that Sicarii-type dagger again). “According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions” (LAWLESSNESS – there’s that Zealot activity again) “have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.” (Ezekiel 39:23-24) This is the last verse in Ezekiel devoted to the Gog / Magog battle. God then abruptly changes the topic in Ezekiel 39:25 and returns to the subject of His ongoing plans to re-establish the returning exiles in their homeland after their Babylonian captivity. “Therefore, thus saith the Lord God; NOW will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel.” His plans for their post-exilic return included the designs for Zerubbabel’s rebuilt temple of the millennium found in Ezekiel 40-48. In spite of the dreadful AD 70 desolation He had just finished describing for Israel’s future in chapters 38-39, His program to bless and prosper them during the middle of those millennium years (968 / 967 BC – AD 33) was still on track, and would be used to set the stage for the later Gog / Magog events in AD 66-70.
Okay, now I’ve got writer’s cramp, and your readers are probably snoring at this point. Thank you again for your indulgence, Adam. I have a limited audience who cares to hear any of my ramblings (like one or two – maybe). It’s a relief to be able to pass this on for someone’s inspection and critique. Some of this material I have covered on that other grace centered forum website under their “Gog & Magog” topic in the End Times section, but of course, they didn’t provide the Zealot history background that you are covering so thoroughly. It really is one of the more underestimated factors in this whole epoch.
And anyone, please feel free to call any errors or amateurish mistakes in these comments to my attention. Tiptoeing off Adam’s stage now…
Brother Adam, who then was the 666 entity acording to this zealot perspective?
Thank’s a lot
God’s blessings !
El 16/03/2017, a las 4:28 p.m., Pursuing Truth <firstname.lastname@example.org> escribió:
Adam Maarschalk posted: “This post continues the series, “The Beast of Revelation Was Zealot-Led Israel.” The introduction and outline to this series can be seen here. In the previous post we looked at Revelation 13:1-2. We considered how the beast in John’s day had Babylonian, “
https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsWhere did you get the idea of Zealots playing into Revelation? I had presented this idea years ago to Don K. Preston based on my own research trying to weigh Rome Beast vs. Internal Affairs
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It’s great to hear that you’ve had this idea for a while now. Do you have any writings anywhere on this subject?
I think a precursor to this idea was first realizing that the “man of lawlessness” in II Thessalonians 2 was one of the Zealot leaders. Previously, I thought that was Nero. Well, many see a close link between the man of lawlessness and the beast, and perhaps rightfully so. After all, the man of lawlessness is consumed at the Lord’s coming just like the beast and false prophet are (Revelation 19:20; Daniel 7:12).
The two verses I just cited were also key in leading me to see that, whoever the beast was, he (or it) was slain and cast into the lake of fire. It seems to be a simple fact that this didn’t happen to Rome, but it did happen to Israel, and the Zealots in particular led Israel to this slaughter and were also taken captive (Revelation 13:10).
Actually, before I became convinced of this idea, I had seen that someone else who administrates a Facebook group was talking along these lines. For whatever reason, though, I brushed it off at the time and didn’t pay close attention to (or seriously consider) what he was saying.
How did Don respond, if you can recall, when you presented to him the idea that the Zealots played into the book of Revelation? I know he has taught that the little horn of Daniel 7 was Israel, but I don’t know where he stands on the beast.
I put this together back in 2014, though your scope is much more indepth, Don said it was interesting but we didn’t communicate further as he’s really into covenant eschatology and I am an irreconcilable heretic, having adopted every devil’s advocacy none could refute.
The “Scarlet Beast” (High-Priest Clothing) adorned in jewels (Breastplate Ephod) heads with blasphemous names (“Holy to the Lord” inscribed Turbans)
8 heads – High Priests
1. Ananias (Brings accusations against Paul)
2. Ishmael ben Fabus
3. Joseph Cabi ben Simon
4. Ananus ben Ananus (Stones James the Just)
5. Jesus son of Damneus
6. Jesus son of Gamla (Is during Rev authorship)
7. Matthias Ben Theophil (Overthrown in the Jewish Rebellion, Zealots threaten to destroy temple, all Jerusalem wonders about the Scarlet Beast
8.Phannias ben Samuel (Priest elected by Zealots, wasn’t a real priest, was considered a mockery of the laws, was considered the dissolution of sacred dignity [â€œa man not only unworthy of the high priesthood, but that did not well know what the high priesthood was.â€ (Josephus, JW, 4.151-158).]) – Killed in 70AD with the temple destruction.
You and I are in sync regarding the link between the 8 heads as kings representing 8 members of the high priesthood. We agree on that point. But there are a couple issues with the particular high priests you have listed above in the chronological order in which they served as high priests. For one thing, #4 on the list, Ananus ben Ananus, had not died yet as of John’s writing Revelation. Ananus ben Ananus and the #6 high priest on your list, Jesus son of Gamla, (who you say IS in existence during Revelation’s authorship), would both be murdered by the Zealots at the SAME TIME during the Idumean invasion of Jerusalem. The way you have these two men listed, Ananus would have been included in the group of 5 who had already “fallen” before Jesus son of Gamla served as high priest, and that doesn’t match with the historical record in Josephus or with scripture’s Revelation 11 description of Ananus and Jesus as the Two Witnesses dying together.
And the #8 high priest on your list, elected by lot by the Zealots – how does Phannias possibly fit the description of being OF THE SEVEN, found in Revelation 17:11? Also, how does he fit the description of being the beast in Revelation 17:11 that once WAS, but then IS NOT, as John wrote Revelation? Adam differs with my view on this, but I still see a good match between the 7 “kings” being the 7 high priest family members of the house of Annas, with an 8th high priest, (Mattathias, grandson of Annas) being OF THE SEVEN, since he was related by genealogy.
Adam, the rest of these comments I’m sending in your direction. I would like to retract a bit of my position on this House of Annas being the Scarlet Beast itself, as I have presented before in a couple of comments here on your site. I have come to see that the Beast itself that the woman rides – the Scarlet Beast who, according to Revelation 17:8 WAS, AND IS NOT, AND IS ABOUT TO ASCEND OUT OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT, and is also ABOUT TO GO INTO DESTRUCTION after that, is defined as AN INDEPENDENT KINGDOM OF ISRAEL. This differs just slightly from your labeling the Scarlet Beast “Zealot-led Israel”.
You have spent some time covering the history of the Maccabean times when Israel became an independent nation, starting with Simon Maccabeus, which lasted about 80 years. For the first time, Israel started minting its own currency, a definite sign of a sovereign nation operating. This time period would be when an independent nation of Israel (the Scarlet Beast) “WAS” in existence. Later on, after Pompey entered the picture in 63 BC, Israel lost that independence; especially under Herod when they were subjected to taxation and tribute again – this time to the Romans. This time period would be when an independent nation of Israel “IS NOT” in existence. They lost their Hasmonean / Maccabean kingdom; as the disciples freely admitted that the kingdom was NOT in Israel’s possession in Acts 1:6 (“Lord, wilt thou at this time RESTORE AGAIN the kingdom to Israel?”). That was in AD 33.
Enter the Zealots in August of AD 66. With the open rebellion jump-started by Eleazar ben Ananias, the governor who halted any Gentile sacrifices in the temple, and when that Roman garrison in the Antonia fortress was slaughtered, Jerusalem effectively broke off the yoke of Roman subjugation, and re-emerged as an independent nation once more. Once again, it was minting its own currency and electing its own generals (the 10 horns on the Scarlet Beast). This independent nation of Israel would be the Scarlet Beast who was “ABOUT TO ASCEND out of the bottomless pit” (a state of death) as John was writing Revelation in AD 59/60.
This Scarlet Beast of an independent Israel would re-emerge along with “AN EIGHTH” king / high priest over it, who was Mattathias ben Theophilus, serving from AD 65 until he “went into destruction” with his murder in late AD 66. As I said above, Mattathias was “OF THE SEVEN” kings/high priests of the House of Annas, since he was related by blood. This House of Annas may not have been the Scarlet Beast itself, but it was featured as the 7-8 kings PART of it. So the woman riding the Scarlet Beast is Jerusalem, reigning over the “kings of the earth” / high priests, riding in a dominant position over the 7 mountains of Jerusalem and also the 7-8 kings/high priests of Israel. These were PART of the Scarlet Beast – the independent nation of Israel that alternately WAS, IS NOT, and then finally IS once again in existence in AD 66.
This revival of Israel’s independence truly would have caused those on the earth (the land of Israel) to marvel (Rev. 17:8) when they saw a reinstatement of their kingdom, similar to the glorious days of the Maccabean victories. These “children of the (restored) kingdom” would be those who would soon be cast out of the true kingdom of God by the close of AD 70 when the Scarlet Beast / the independent nation of Israel would go into destruction. The true kingdom of God would then be given to those bringing forth fruit (Matthew 8:12, 21 43).
This independent kingdom-nation of Israel with its 10 horns / generals would not last very long at all, just as the 10 toes of iron and clay didn’t represent a very large segment of the Daniel 2 image, before those 10 horns / generals with power resembling a king were all eventually crushed by the rock cut without hands by the end of the AD 70 siege.
Adam, there is one more point I would like to address in the comment you made above regarding the II Thess. 2 Man of Lawlessness. There is no way possible for the “brightness of his coming” mentioned there to be the coming of CHRIST being spoken of there. The Man of Sin was not destroyed at the time of Christ’s coming, however you may interpret that coming to be. “And then shall that Wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the brightness of HIS coming:” Just what is the referent for the pronoun “HIS” in this verse? Is it the LORD’S coming, or is it that WICKED one’s coming referred to? All you need to do is go to the end of the sentence in the very next verse to find out. “Even HIM whose COMING is after” (according to the manner of) “the working of Satan with all power and signs and LYING wonders, and with all DECEIVABLENESS of UNRIGHTEOUSNESS in them that perish…” There is no way possible this could be Christ’s coming, because the “coming” described there is like Satan’s, with lying and deception and unrighteousness – none of which could be attributed to Christ’s coming. So, it has to be the WICKED one’s coming being spoken of in that II Thess. 2 text.
This frees up the interpretation of who the Man of Sin is, since he doesn’t have to operate until Christ’s coming in the year AD 70; he could have been destroyed by the Lord BEFORE that day ever came. The brightness of the Man of Sin’s own coming when he presented himself to Israel as her Messiah was destroyed at the same time the Man of Sin himself was killed. This is why I attach the Man of Sin label to Menahem the Zealot who was killed in AD 66, and not a Zealot member who lived until late AD 70 – such as Eleazar ben Simon that you have suggested as your best choice for this. The details, and particularly the time-markers, in II Thess. 2 fit Menahem’s biography the best of any of the Zealot candidates for the Man of Lawlessness role, as far as I can tell.
Last of all, another point you may want to consider, Adam. You have connected the fate of the Daniel 7 Beast (who is first “SLAIN” and his body then destroyed and “given to the burning flame”) with the fate of the Scarlet Beast in Revelation 19:20. This SLAIN Daniel 7 Beast doesn’t sound like the case of the Land Beast and the Scarlet Beast who are both thrown “ALIVE” into the Lake of Fire. I would say that the “burning flame” that the SLAIN body of the Daniel 7 Beast is given to is the “fiery flame” and “fiery stream” in the same context which was issuing from the throne of God that came forth from before Him (Daniel 7:9-10). This “fiery stream” is seen in heaven, but the Lake of Fire was within Jerusalem’s walls in AD 70. It was the “furnace of fire” mentioned in Matthew 13:42 where the “tares” were cast.
The actual Beast destroyed in Daniel 7 had to be the Sea Beast’s Julio-Claudian dynasty under Nero which was “destroyed utterly” (Daniel 7:26), since Nero left no heir. The Sea Beast identity was then taken up with a new dynasty under Vespasian – the Flavian dynasty that God used as “His armies” (Matthew 22:7) to assist in the final stage of the burning destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Okay, Adam, that was rather a mixed collection of comments that don’t relate to each other very well, but at least it lets you know that I am willing to switch a view if I see that it doesn’t match with the flow of scripture as well as another view. God bless your continued research!
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https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsA beast is a nation. A nation out of the sea of humanity; where the Jews were. A nation that was, is not and yet is. 1948 Satan brought this beast back and the world marveled at this event.
The deadly wound inflicted by Roman empire in 70AD. The seven heads are seven mountains and the harlot Jerusalem is on one of them but the head/mountain with the deadly wound was Moriah where the temple was destroyed; this deadly wound will be healed when the third temple is built. Sacrifices will begin again with fire from Satan to burn them on the altar. This means that the law of Moses will be practiced in full. The annual sacrifices were the annual Jewish holy days. Those who go with this system will deny Jesus Christ who died to end it.
Lee you got this all backwards. Jesus handed his kingdom over to his father in 70AD and did not include the heretics which Paul suggests was a capital offense. In Hebrews you’ll notice that Jesus’ function as high priest was only until the age.
So from an unbiased perspective with high complexity understanding, building a 3rd temple in Jerusalem to atone with animal sacrifices for 2000 years of heresy could actually be the proper biblical prescription for our time.
The kingdom was always the Fathers. Jesus rules until this time;
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:24-28
24. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Clearly this has not yet happened.
Jesus put his enemies under his feet destroying Jerusalem, he didnt have any other sworn enemies. Death was defeated in that the church was raptured, there is an exegetical typology that proves Mary was raptured circa Vespasian. Its a bit to cover but you can see Lukes account with elizabeth and Mary parallels Samuels account of David with the Ark, so at the end of Revelation 11 the ark is revealed in heaven and then Mary, thus raptured with the ark and the rest of the church
Note the rapture of the ark is psalms 132:8
[…] study is adapted from a previous post, “Revelation 13:3 and the Wounded Head of the Zealot Movement.” The following is an outline of the study you can find in the PDF […]
Could I possibly test your patience just one more time by asking you to consider an idea I have regarding another set of verses that relate to Gog’s identity? Again, I apologize for this being off-track from the subject of your original post above, but since my theory is connected to the subject of Simon bar Giora being “Gog”, I wasn’t sure where else I could ask you about this. If you think the following has no merit, I would appreciate it if you could give me your reasons for why it isn’t feasible.
Recently, I was reviewing that sticky portion of prophetic material in Daniel 11, particularly the section of Daniel 11:36-45 where nobody can seem to agree on how it should be interpreted. I got down to verse 40 where it talks about “the king of the south” and “the king of the north” both coming against “THE king” in verse 36 at “the time of the end”, and I remembered that Simon bar Giora as “Gog, the CHIEF PRINCE of Meshech and Tubal” came from his place out of the NORTH, as Ezekiel mentions no less than three times in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Then I considered the rest of the actions of this “king of the north” in Daniel 11:40-45, and found that every one of them can apply to Simon bar Giora’s actions in those last few years before AD 70 (with the exception of just a couple words in verse 40 – the “many ships” – that I can’t quite figure out).
First of all, if this “king of the north” in Daniel 11 really was Simon bar Giora (a.k.a. Gog’s “chief prince”), then “THE king” of Daniel 11:36 would have had to be someone or something that Simon bar Giora came into conflict with in Daniel 11:40. I am proposing that “THE king” described in Daniel 11:36-39 that actually operated from the Maccabean times in Dan. 11:33-35 up until the “time of the end” in Dan. 11:40 was not really a SINGLE individual man, but the actions of ALL THE HIGH PRIESTS that served from Maccabean times until “the time of the end”. It was then that Simon bar Giora came against the last remaining ex-high priests, initially fighting with Ananus, who ran Simon out of the Acrabattene toparchy (Wars 4.9.3-504).
High priests are given the title of “kings of the earth” in Revelation 17:18, and Christ Himself refers to them by that name in Matthew 17:25, so we are free to take this label of “THE king” in Daniel 11:36 and apply it to the high priest position. Besides, one single man called “THE king” could not possibly have lived from Maccabean times all the way until “the time of the end”, so it MUST be referring to many men filling one single office that lasted for that length of time.
I then looked at all the listed activities and characteristics of “THE king” from Daniel 11:36-39, and they all seemed to match with the actions of various high priests from Maccabean times until “the time of the end” in AD 70. For example, in Daniel 11:36, “THE king” (high priest) was going to speak marvelous things against the God of gods. Didn’t Caiaphas “speak against” Christ to Pilate, in order to put Christ to death? Didn’t the high priests Annas and Caiaphas and all their kindred gathered together in Acts 4:6 “speak against” Christ by commanding the disciples not to speak in His name? (Acts 4:17-18 and 5:17, 27-28) We are told that “THE king” (the position of the high priest) would “prosper till the indignation be accomplished”. This indignation” is the same as the “days of vengeance” brought upon Daniel’s people. The position of “THE king” (the high priest) lasted until these days of vengeance / the indignation were done, since Phannias, the last high priest picked by the Zealots, didn’t die until the end of AD 70.
“THE king” was going to “honor the God of forces”, which we clearly see being done by the high priesthood in the days of Rome governing in Jerusalem, as the high priesthood pursued a policy of cooperation and confederacy with Rome in order to preserve their status in the nation. The high priesthood honored Rome, “the strange god” of Daniel 11:39, by offering the agreed-upon daily sacrifice for the well-being of the emperor and the empire.
This honor given to Rome was not only performed during the first century when Judea was under Roman governance. On at least three other occasions that I can find, there were impressive gifts presented to Rome from Judea while it still remained an independent kingdom nation in the days following the Maccabean victories.
In 139 BC, Simon the high priest honored Rome, the “God of forces”, by sending that massive 1,000 lb. gold shield as a gift to confirm Judea’s alliance with the Roman people. (Ussher’s Annals notes # 3691 for 139 BC)
In 127 BC, in the 9th year of the high priest John Hyrcanus, he sent envoys to Rome with a chalice and a buckler of gold as a testimony of continued friendship with the Roman people. (Ussher’s Annals notes # 3801 for 127 BC)
In 65 BC, Alexander Jannaeus sent a wonderfully-crafted gift of gold and pearls to Pompey called “The Delight”, as one of 12 kings giving gifts of homage to the general of Rome. It was described by Pliny in this way: “It was a square mountain of gold, with deer, lions and every variety of fruit on it and a golden vine entwined around it; and a grotto of pearls, on top of which there was a sundial.” It bore the inscription “From Alexander, the king of the Jews”. (Ussher’s Annals, notes #4463-4464 for 65 BC)
In further demonstration of “THE king” giving homage to Rome, the silver Tyrian shekel and half shekel that the high priests required of the citizens of Judea was the only currency they would accept for the payment of the annual Temple Tax and for the sale and purchase of sacrificial animals in the temple. This Tyrian shekel had the Roman demi-god Herakles / Hercules on the front, and the Roman eagle on the reverse with the initials “KP” standing for “Kratos Romaion”, or “power of the Romans”.
All these above are examples from Daniel 11:38 of “THE king” honoring the “God of forces…with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things”.
“THE king” in Daniel 11 was also predicted to “magnify himself above every god” (Daniel 11:36) and to “magnify himself above all” by not regarding “the God of his fathers” (Daniel 11:37). First of all, this “God of his fathers” phrase limits “THE king” to be of ISRAELITE descent, since “the fathers” mentioned in the Old Testament typically referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:15). The particular way the high priest “kings” disregarded the God of their fathers during this period was by flouting the Mosaic law when they combined the roles of both civil ruler “king” and high priest “king”. Josephus even went so far as to say that Hyrcanus had held the 3 offices of the kingship over the Jews, the high priesthood and the prophetic office. (Ussher’s Annals notes # 3846 for the year 107 BC)
When King Uzziah attempted to do this very thing on one occasion by offering incense on the altar as if he were a high priest, the high priest Azariah and 80 other valiant men rebuked him, and God turned King Uzziah into a leper on the spot (II Chron. 26:16-21). Civil rulers were not to presume they were advanced to the role of a high priest, because that role was to be specifically reserved for the descendants of Levi alone. Furthermore, in the post-exilic return, only those of Zadok’s family genealogy were allowed to serve as high priests at God’s altar. This restriction was broken by the high priests in the Maccabean / Hasmonean era when the leader began to claim the honor of both positions of civil ruler “king” as well as high priest “king” simultaneously. This was to “magnify himself above all”, and to disregard the rules that the “God of his fathers” had laid down.
Adam, I could dig further into this section about “THE king” in Daniel 11:36-39, but this should give you the general idea of the high priesthood as “THE king” that would collaborate with Rome, the “god of forces” and “increase with glory” the Roman republic as it grew stronger and eventually began to “rule over many” in Judea with the cooperation of the high priest / king ruler.
Next, we come to “the time of the end” in Daniel 11:40, when the “king of the south” (which is the nation of Idumea that attacked Ananus in Jerusalem in AD 68) came in conflict with “THE king” of Daniel 11:36 (the high priest). The “king of the north” would likewise come against “THE king” of Daniel 11: 36, but his attack would be even more intense – “like a whirlwind”. This is a duplicate of Gog’s attack against Israel in Ezekiel 38:9, who would “come like a storm”, and “be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee”.
As for this “king of the north” in Daniel 11:40, (Gog, the chief prince coming out of his place in the north of the land of Israel, which I believe to be Simon bar Giora), he would come with chariots, and with horsemen (like Gog’s horsemen in Ezekiel 36:4) and with many ships to “enter into the land; and he shall break in pieces, and pass on” (Daniel 11:40 – LXX). This is what Simon bar Giora accomplished by ravaging the entire “glorious land” of Israel with his guerilla warfare, including Masada, the Acrabattene toparchy, Idumea, and finally Jerusalem, leaving only the land east of the Dead Sea unmolested (which is why Daniel 11:41 lists only the combined Nabatean section of Edom, Moab, and Ammon as being able to “escape out of his hand”).
Daniel 11:42 (LXX) tells us that this king of the north would “stretch forth his hand over the land; and the land of Egypt shall not escape”. The name of “Egypt” in Revelation is the spiritual name of JERUSALEM. To supply his vast army, Simon bar Giora would pillage and confiscate treasure of silver, gold, and precious things from the land of Israel (just as Gog was predicted to do in Ezekiel 38:12-14), and when he got to Jerusalem, he took over the resources of the city. Daniel 11:43 (LXX) says that this king of the north would “have the mastery over the secret treasures of gold and silver and over all the desirable possessions of Egypt…” (Egypt being the spiritual name of Jerusalem – Revelation 11:8). Also, the “Libyans and Ethiopians” would be following in his steps behind the king of the north, just as Gog’s army in Ezekiel 38:5 would include Libyans and Ethiopians among the members serving in the chief prince’s army.
Next, Daniel 11:44 says that the “tidings out of the east, and out of the north shall trouble him”, causing this king of the north to “go forth with great fury to destroy and to take away many”. The rumor or “tidings out of the east” that troubled Simon bar Giora was the news that those in Jerusalem had captured his wife and were holding her as a hostage in an attempt to make Simon back down from his plans to conquer all opponents to his faction. Instead of backing down, Simon became infuriated, and when he got to Jerusalem’s gates, he killed or tortured anyone coming out of the city and sent them back inside with the message that he would do the same to all in Jerusalem if his wife was not released (Wars 4.9.8).
The “tidings out of the north” that troubled him at that same period was the news that Vespasian had left Caesarea on the northern coast and was marching against any cities that were not yet completely overthrown (the two toparchies of Acrabattene and Gophnitick, then Bethel and Ephraim, then Caphethra in upper Idumea, and Capharabim, and Hebron – Wars 4.9.9). This left only Herodium, Masada, Macherus, and Jerusalem to be vanquished.
Knowing that his choice of a defensive, fortified position was limited, Simon returned to Idumea and “driving the nation all before him from all quarters, he compelled a great number of them to retire to Jerusalem; he followed them himself also to the city, and encompassed the wall all round again;” (This was Gog surrounding the beloved city in Revelation 20:9) “and when he lighted upon any laborers that were coming thither out of the country, he slew them”. (This is more of the king of the north going forth in great wrath to “destroy many” in Daniel 11:44).
Finally, the king of the north “shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain;” (Daniel 11:45). This was Gog, the chief prince, being “brought upon the mountains of Israel” in Ezekiel 39:2. Simon bar Giora fulfilled this by coming in AD 69 with his massive army, tents and all, to surround the city of Jerusalem – the glorious holy mountain situated between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. “Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him”, we are told of this king of the north. In like manner, only one year later in AD 70, Simon bar Giora “came to his end” by being captured by the Romans in Jerusalem at the end of the siege. At that point, Simon’s formidable “army” had been decimated, and there was no one left that could help him avoid being captured and eventually executed after the Roman triumph. This was the same dismal end predicted for Gog, the chief prince, and his army in Ezekiel 39:1-3. Gog’s army would fall on the mountains of Israel and be devoured by the birds.
This end of Gog, the chief prince, (a.k.a. Simon bar Giora, a.k.a. the “king of the north” in Daniel 11:40) leads seamlessly and chronologically without interruption into Daniel 12:1-2. “At that time” (kairos / the season when the king of the north, Simon bar Giora was active) “shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time…” This is the unequaled Great Tribulation of Daniel’s people (Matthew 24:21) during the AD 66-70 period, which dovetails perfectly with the Simon bar Giora / Gog / king of the north epoch, which I have just described from Daniel 11:40-45.
A resurrection also took place at this same time (Daniel 12:1-2) with bodies arising from the dust of the earth, which is describing the bodily resurrection at the return of Christ on Pentecost day in AD 70. Simon bar Giora did not get to participate in this 2nd resurrection, since his execution in Rome took place after that day, but if any in his army had died before that Pentecost day and were one of those “found written in the book”, they would have been one of those “delivered” in a bodily resurrection along with Daniel on that 1335th day when the 2nd resurrection took place.
EVERYTHING prophesied in Daniel has been fulfilled, since the man in linen tells us that “all these things shall be finished” when the “POWER of the holy people” is “shattered” (Daniel 12:7) This “POWER” Daniel himself defines for us as being the “sanctuary of STRENGTH” in Daniel 11:31. This “sanctuary of strength” is undoubtedly the temple itself – the nerve center and the heart and soul of Old Covenant Judaism. Once this “POWER” that had been centered in their temple structure was “shattered” in the close of the AD 70 siege, all Daniel’s prophesies were finished. This eliminates any significance that one might try to put on Masada’s fall in AD 73, or the later Bar Kokhba revolt in AD 132, since by then, the holy people’s POWER (the temple) had been torn down to the last stone.
Let me know Adam, if you spot some holes in this theory of mine that make it an impossible interpretation. As far as I can tell, though, Simon bar Giora is not only “Gog, the chief prince” of Ezekiel 38 and 39, but he is also this “king of the north” in Daniel 11:40-45.
Excellent essay!!! Extremely enlightening good sir
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The seven heads are the leaders of the Zealots.
Eighth – Simon Bar Giora.
The ten horns are the generals of the beast.
Eleazar ben Simon – the little horn.
Who is John Levi then?
You foolishly wasted our time. In order to understand the Book of Revelation, you must understand the Old Testament, know who is the author of the Book of Revelation, understand how it is read, understand Daniel specifically, and know the two beasts that chapter 13 talks about. Not to read Josephus or Martin Hengel.