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themselves, and many wise men were thereby deceived in their judgment. Now, this oracle certainly denoted the rule of Vespasian, who was declared emperor in Judea.1

We have only to bring together the two statements, that the war was brought on by the Zealots, and that incitement to it came from x the messianic hope, to have before us the explanation, luminous and convincing, of the intensity of the Jews in the war, and the understanding, full and satisfying, of the inner life of the Zealot movement. The central tenet and inspiring motive of the Zealot movement was the X bringing-in of the messianic era by an appeal to the sword.


With the fundamental feature of the conception of the Messiah which underlay the Zealot purpose, and with the drastic method by which the Zealots hoped to establish the Messiah's kingdom, Jesus expressed no degree of sympathy. At the opening of his ministry he had cast aside forever that conception. But his attitude went beyond that of negation; he saw and announced that the movement would mean, ultimately, the nation's ruin. Such a form of national hope, tenaciously held, could have only one end under any ordinary circumstances; held and avowed and aggressively expressed under such an opposing power as that of the Romans, its outcome was doubly evident to the clear religious and political vision of Jesus.

The obvious outcome of Zealotism could be averted only by one or the other or both of two factors: (1) Some counter political movement of genuine vitality and power of appeal to the nation as now constituted, or (2) the introduction of some new religious force through which the fundamental position of the Zealot party should be corrected.


Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes stood over against Zealots as factors in the national life. As a political and religious party, the Essenes may be disregarded; they were rather a monastic order.


1 War, vi, 5, 84.

2 Matt. 4:1-11=Mark 1:12, 13=Luke 4:1-13.

From them nothing could be hoped that would offset the propaganda of the Zealots. For the Pharisees, the sad disappointment of their messianic hopes as centered upon successive Asmoneans had led to such a modification in the forms of that hope that now the kingdom of the Messiah was viewed as a product of the direct activity of God, to come in his own time and then only, and without their intervention or aid. This Pharisaic attitude was modified only by the force of events, that is, by the success, among the people, of the Zealot appeal. Pharisees gave themselves reluctantly at last to the attempt to direct the popular movement which they could not suppress. + Josephus was a Pharisee;' at the siege of Jerusalem he acted as mediator between Titus and the besieged; his address counseling cessation of hostility may be taken as an exposition of the Pharisaic position as to the method of advance toward the messianic kingdom, expressed in forms agreeable to his prospective readers, that is, with direct messianic reference omitted. The whole address is illuminating; its summary suffices to exhibit its central contention:

And, to speak generally, we can produce no example wherein our fathers got any success by war, or failed of success without war, when they committed themselves to God. When they stayed at home they conquered, as it pleased their judge, but when they went out to fight, they always met with reverses. ... Thus it appears that warfare is never allowed our nation; but that capture always follows our fighting. For I suppose that such as inhabit this holy place ought to commit the disposal of all things to God, and to disregard the hand of men, when they plead to the judge above."


Such was the theory of Pharisaism-a policy of inaction in all that touched the messianic hope as related to Roman dominance. It was obvious to Jesus that in this policy of negation there lay no effective offset to the policy of aggression and action which characterized the Zealots, for "they said that God would not assist them unless they joined with one another energetically for success, and still further set about great exploits, and did not grow weary in executing the same."3 As for the Sadducean party, they were wealthy, priestly aristocrats, the security of whose possessions and the perpetuity of whose place and power was better assured under the continuance of Roman rule than under any state of society which revolution was likely to bring. 3 Antiquities, xviii, 1, §1.


1 Life, $2.

2 War, v, 9, §4.

They had not the religious conviction in any sphere which could make them national religious forces against the current of a popular movement toward Zealotism; they had no inclination to take a formative place in molding popular opinion; they were ready to act only when action was futile. Within the nation itself, as constituted in Jesus' day, there was no movement, counter to that of the Zealots, which compared with it in power of popular appeal, or which had in it any promise of ability to check the onward rush of that new sect which had arisen during the youth of Jesus.



Jesus himself stood for the introduction into the Jewish national life of a conception of the Messiah and his kingdom which should strike at the fundamental tenets of the Zealots. It was destined, if accepted, to conquer by completely supplanting, by radical reconstruction. Within it lay the power to neutralize those elements of the Zealot position which threatened to be the most deadly to the national life. The messianic ideals of Jesus once accepted in a broad way by his people, Zealotism must die out for want of a motive. The rule of God conceived in the terms of Jesus excludes the conflict of Caesar and God. It is from a mind keenly alive to both political and religious tendencies, and to the presence of their solution, that there springs the words: "If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes thou knowest not the time of thy visitation." The nation sorely needed in those days of factional fanaticism set against factional quiescence or indifference the voice of a prophet who should break the trend toward messianic literalism or scholasticism. The prophet had come and had spoken; for his message he is now brought to the eve of death. He alone has grasped the import of his message and its possible relation to the future political and religious life of his people, its power as a corrective to fatal tendencies. Out of the situation X of the hour there arises within the mind of Jesus the conviction that present movements will run to their bitter end. To this conviction

I Luke 19:42, 446.

he gives expression. That the national disaster had its ultimate. basis in the rejection of the prophetic word in which lay the power of national regeneration through the elimination of political messianism was a constant element of the thought of Jesus. The rejection of the messenger of the true messianism received an added significance, as prophetic of the national future, from the fact that the aggressively vigorous and rigorous form of this rejection was itself dictated, in large measure, by political considerations. It was a move originating in the results of previous uprisings incited by Zealots, and now carried out on the basis of political expediency by Sadducees,3 and acquiesced in and aggravated by Pharisees, doubtless even with them more largely on political than on moral or religious grounds. Well may Jesus ask: "If they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry ?"5 If they ruthlessly dispose of such a life for the supposed preservation of national existence in these days of comparative political quiet, to what lengths may they be expected to go for expediency's sake when the political situation becomes acute ? In those days the last shreds of a moral element in the messianic hope will have vanished.

There is hope left in one word only, "repent," and it is a word of both religious and political content; probably, indeed, for the hour, it has more of political than of religious content. But the mad decision has already been made; militant messianism will stalk on to the doom of the nation.


1 Matt. 23:34-39=Luke 11:49–51 (P §18B) and 13:34, 35 (P §42B). It is believed that document MK, not document P, gives the historical setting of the discourse to which these sayings probably belong, namely, MK 12:38-40-Matt., chap. 23.

2 Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, Mark 12:1-11; and that of the Marriage Feast, Matt. 22:1-10 Luke 14:15-24.

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