Judas the Terrorist

From Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, p. 841:

Judas Iscariot

Just as Simon Peter is invariably placed first in all the lists of the apostles, Judas Iscariot is always placed last since it is he who, in the end, betrays Jesus:

Matthew 10:4.…Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Usually the word "Iscariot" is taken to mean "man of Kerioth." Kerioth, a city in Judea proper, is listed in the Book of Joshua among the cities in the territory assigned to Judah:

Joshua 15:25. And Hazor, Hadattah, and Kerioth…

It is often stated, then, that Judas was the only Judean in an assemblage of Galileans. One would then be entitled to wonder whether the feeling of being an "outsider" did not play a part in the eventual betrayal.

Actually, though, there is no indication anywhere in the gospels that Judas was a Judean rather than a Galilean—except for this very doubtful interpretation of the word "Iscariot." Actually, a more recent and much more interesting interpretation is that the word "Iscariot" arose out of a copyist’s transposition of two letters and that it should more accurately be "Sicariot." If so, Judas would be a Galilean like all the other apostles, chosen by Jesus from the local citizens of Capernaum and environs.

But then, what is "Sicariot"? This can be someone who is a member of the party of the "Sicarii." These were so called from a Greek word meaning "assassins" because it refers to men carrying little knives, "sicae," under their robes. This was the name given to the most extreme Zealots who believed in outright assassination of Romans and pro-Romans as the most direct and effective means of fighting foreign domination.

Judas Iscariot might be called "Judas the Terrorist," and if we accept this version of the meaning of the name it helps give a useful interpretation to events in the career of the "historic Jesus."

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One Response to Judas the Terrorist

  1. iceberg says:

    In Hebrew, “Sakin” means knife, but can mean both a dinner knife or a razor blade, depending on the context.

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