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Son of the Short Swords

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Topic: Zealot, Definition

Eli Zeldovich from Mainz, Germany wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

My question is genealogical. In tracing my family name Zeldovich, son of Zel, I have come to Josephus' coining of the word Zealot to describe the defenders of Masada. What is the root of this word zealot? Were the women and children survivors of Masada taken to Rome as "zealots?" Thank you for your time. Shalom.

Dear Eli Zeldovich,

According to Josephus, the only survivors of Masada were a woman and two children.

It's unlikely that there's any connection between your name and the zealots. Zeldovich is a Russian name. Josephus refers to the zealots by the Greek word "sicarii" which means "the short swords," because they carried with them short swords.

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