If zeal is defined as earnest enthusiasm, especially for a cause, why is a zealot considered a fanatic? Because the original Zealots were dedicated to protecting a piece of ground, even at the expense of their lives. The Zealots, first-century fundamentalists, were a Jewish sect founded by Judas of Gamala, who fiercely fought for God's law against the Romans, who opposed it. After the Romans razed Jerusalem—despite the fanatic defense of the Zealots in A.D. 70—a thousand of them bravely held out on the great rock on the edge of the Judean desert. It was the site of Herod the Great's palace, now known as Masada. When the heroic stand by the Zealots appeared doomed, and only 960 Zealots remained to face the 6,000-man Tenth Roman Legion, their leader, Eleazar ben Ya'ir, persuaded them to draw lots to select ten men to kill the remaining defenders. Each of these ten finally slew nine fellows and then punched his sword through his own body. The Zealots preferred to die as free men than to live as slaves.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zeal — • From delos, a derivative of deo to boil , to throb with heat Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Zeal     Zeal     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • zeal — zeal; zeal·less; zeal·ot·ism; zeal·ot·ry; zeal·ous; zeal·ous·ly; zeal·ous·ness; zeal·ot; un·zeal·ous·ly; …   English syllables

  • zeal — [zi:l] n [U] [Date: 1300 1400; : Late Latin; Origin: zelus, from Greek zelos] eagerness to do something, especially to achieve a particular religious or political aim religious/revolutionary/missionary etc zeal ▪ He approached the job with… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Zeal — eal (z[=e]l), n. [F. z[ e]le; cf. Pg. & It. zelo, Sp. zelo, celo; from L. zelus, Gr. ?, probably akin to ? to boil. Cf. {Yeast}, {Jealous}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Passionate ardor in the pursuit of anything; eagerness in favor of a person or cause;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Zeal — may refer to: * Zealotry, excessive ideological zeal * Zeal (web), an internet directory * Kingdom of Zeal, a kingdom in the Chrono Trigger video game * ZeAL indie rock band from Toronto, Ontario Canada * USS Zeal , a U.S. Navy minesweeper …   Wikipedia

  • Zeal|ot — «ZEHL uht», noun. a person who shows too much zeal; immoderate partisan; fanatic: »A band of zealots…is pushing his candidacy hard (Wall Street Journal). SYNONYM(S): bigot. ╂[< Latin zēlōtēs < Greek zēlōt < zēloûn be zealous < zêlos… …   Useful english dictionary

  • zeal — [ zil ] noun uncount FORMAL a lot of energy, effort, and enthusiasm: religious/revolutionary zeal In their zeal to industrialize, they got rid of too many farms …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • zeal — (n.) late 14c., from L.L. zelus zeal, emulation (Cf. O.Fr. zel, It. zelo, Sp. celo), a Church word, from Gk. zelos zeal, ardor, jealousy, which is of uncertain origin …   Etymology dictionary

  • zeal — [zēl] n. [ME zele < LL(Ec) zelus, zeal, emulation < Gr zēlos, zeal, ardor < IE base * yā , to be excited, praise > OSlav jaru, furious] intense enthusiasm, as in working for a cause; ardent endeavor or devotion; ardor; fervor SYN.… …   English World dictionary

  • zeal|ot|ry — «ZEHL uh tree», noun, plural es. 1. action or feeling characteristic of a zealot; too great zeal; fanaticism. 2. an instance of this …   Useful english dictionary

  • Zeal — eal, v. i. To be zealous. [Obs. & R.] Bacon. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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