The Sicarii

Second Temple Jewish Sectarianism

Within the complex landscape of ancient Judaism, the Sicarii emerge as a radical group known for their fierce opposition to Roman rule and unwavering commitment to preserving Jewish sovereignty. In this post, we delve into the origins, beliefs, and actions of the Sicarii, shedding light on their unique role in the historical narrative of ancient Judaism.

Remains of Food Left Behind by the Sicarii at Masada

The Sicarii, derived from the Latin word “sicarius” meaning “daggermen,” were a militant faction that operated during the first century CE. They were primarily active in Jerusalem and Judea, and their name alluded to their use of concealed daggers (sicae) to assassinate individuals they perceived as enemies.

Second Temple Jewish Sectarianism
Second Jewish Temple Jerusalem Model Israel Museum
Second Temple Model of Jerusalem (Israel Museum)

The Sicarii were driven by a zealous commitment to Jewish independence and resistance against Roman occupation. They fervently believed armed rebellion was the only path to liberating the Jewish people from foreign rule. They viewed compromise and cooperation with the Romans as betrayal, advocating for uncompromising loyalty to Jewish law and sovereignty instead.

Masada Museum Tour
One of The Lots, With the Name Ben Yair, was Found at the Excavations at Masada.

The Sicarii engaged in acts of violence and insurgency against Roman officials, collaborators, and perceived enemies of the Jewish cause. They targeted individuals in public spaces, often blending into crowds and using their concealed weapons to carry out assassinations swiftly. They aimed to create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among Roman forces and collaborators, hoping to provoke a widespread uprising against Roman rule.

The Sicarii Famous Events and Leaders

The Sicarii were involved in significant historical events during the first century CE. They played a crucial role in the lead-up to the Jewish Revolt (66-73 CE), which resulted in the eventual destruction of the Second Temple. Notable leaders among the Sicarii included Menahem Ben Judah and Eleazar Ben Yair, who became key figures during the Siege of Masada, the final stronghold against Roman forces.

Masada Ultimate Guide
Masada Ultimate Guide - Birdseye View (1)

The Sicarii, while relatively small in number, left an indelible mark on the history of ancient Judaism. Their radical actions and unwavering dedication to resistance against Roman rule demonstrated the extreme measures some were willing to take for Jewish independence. While their methods were controversial and often condemned by other Jewish groups, the Sicarii’s fierce determination and refusal to compromise symbolized resistance and martyrdom.

The Sicarii
Comb, Braid, and Sandal Found at Masada Belonging to the Sicarii Women (On Display at Masada Museum)

The Sicarii stand as a distinct group within the diverse landscape of ancient Judaism, characterized by their radicalism, militancy, and commitment to Jewish sovereignty. Although their tactics and approach were divisive, their actions highlight the complex historical context and the range of responses to Roman occupation.

Studying the Sicarii provides valuable insights into the diversity of ancient Jewish movements and the struggles faced by Jewish communities during this tumultuous period. While their ultimate goals were not achieved, the Sicarii left a lasting legacy symbolizing resistance and the unwavering spirit of Jewish independence.


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

Did you know the Hoopoe is Israel's national bird?! For more cool info about Israel, join our ever growing community and get exclusive travel tips, and giveaways!

Simon Peter



Hashomer was a Jewish defense organization in Palestine founded in April 1909. It was disbanded after the founding of the Haganah in 1920.

Al-Qastal Battle in 1948

Al-Qastal was a village near Jerusalem, used as a military base by the Palestinians. The village was captured by the Palmach in the 1948 War

Sursock Purchases

Sursock Purchases were a major milestone in the Zionist movement and played a significant role in the establishment of the State of Israel

War of Independence

Israel's War of Independence, was a pivotal conflict that led to the establishment of the State of Israel. To learn more click here!

The Rise and Fall of the Nabataeans

So, how can we explain the rise and fall of the Nabataeans? Here is the most updated information about the ancient kingdom!

The Wannsee Conference

This post is about the infamous Wannsee Conference. Every visit to the Holocaust museum is an emotional visit for me.  One of the climactic moments ...


Philistine Gath was one of the five main cities of the Philistines, a group of people who inhabited the coast of Israel in the Iron ...

The Six-Day War

In the Six Day War Israel defeated once more its rivals and ended with a great victory. And yet, till today it's the source of ...

Legio X Fretensis

The Roman Tenth Legion, also known as Legio X Fretensis, had a vital role in the Land of Israel. Mainly by crushing the First Jewish ...

Emperor Titus

Before becoming Emperor; Titus gained renown as a military commander; serving under his father in Judea during the First Jewish–Roman War.

Need help?