Als Zelot oder Sikarier bezeichnete der jüdisch-römische Historiker Flavius Josephus einen Angehörigen der "vier Sekten" der Juden zur Zeit der Kaiser Vespasian (69-79) und Titus (79-81). Titus war als Feldherr für die Zerstörung des Jerusalemer Tempels (70 AD) als Strafe für die Aktionen der Sikarier zuständig.
Die Sikarier gelten vielen als erster Fall eines dokumentierten revoltierenden Terrorismus in der Geschichte.
B.J. II, ch. 13:3 3. When the country was purged of these, there sprang up another sort of robbers in Jerusalem, which were called Sicarii, who slew men in the day time, and in the midst of the city; this they did chiefly at the festivals, when they mingled themselves among the multitude, and concealed daggers under their garments, with which they stabbed those that were their enemies; and when any fell down dead, the murderers became a part of those that had indignation against them; by which means they appeared persons of such reputation, that they could by no means be discovered. The first man who was slain by them was Jonathan the high priest, after whose death many were slain every day, while the fear men were in of being so served was more afflicting than the calamity itself; and while every body expected death every hour, as men do in war, so men were obliged to look before them, and to take notice of their enemies at a great distance; nor, if their friends were coming to them, durst they trust them any longer; but, in the midst of their suspicions and guarding of themselves, they were slain. Such was the celerity of the plotters against them, and so cunning was their contrivance.
"Galil"ische Juden, welche zum Feste nach Jerusalem reisten und ihren Weg durch Samaria nahmen, waren in einem samaritanischen Dorfe ermordet worden. Da Cumanus, der von den Samaritanern bestochen war, sich nicht zur Bestrafung der Schuldigen bewegen Hess, so griff das j"dische Volk zur Selbstrache. Unter Anf"hrung zweier Zeloten Eleasar und Alexander fiel eine grosse bewaffnete Schaar in Samaria ein, metzelte Greise, Weiber und Kinder nieder und verheerte die D"rfer. Nun aber fiel Cumanus mit einem Theil seiner Streitmacht "ber die Zeloten her; viele wurden get"dtet, andere gefangen weggeschleppt. Mittlerweile erschienen samaritanische Abgesandte vor Ummidius Quadrat us, dem Statthalter von Syrien, und beklagten sich bei ihm wegen des Raubzuges der Juden. Gleichzeitig klagte aber auch eine j"dische Gesandtschaft bei Quadratus die Samariter und den Cumanus an, der sich von ihnen habe bestechen lassen. Quadratus kam darauf selbst nach Samaria und hielt strenges Gericht. Alle von Cumanus gefangen genommenen Aufr"hrer wurden gekreuzigt; f"nf Juden, welche ausserdem der Theilnahme am Kampfe "berwiesen waren, enthauptet; die Vornehmsten aber sowohl von den Juden, als von den Samaritanern wurden sammt Cumanus selbst nach Rom geschickt, um sich dort zu verantworten. Der F"rsprache des jungen Agrippa, der gerade zu Rom anwesend war, hatten es die Juden zu danken, dass sie zu ihrem Rechte gelangten. Die Entscheidung des Claudius lautete n"mlich dahin, dass die Vornehmsten der Samariter, welche sich bei ihm eingefunden hatten, als die Schuldigen hingerichtet werden sollten, Cumanus aber seines Amtes entsetzt und in die Verbannung geschickt werden solle" (Schürer 1890).
B.J. II, 17:10. (dt.: 450-456) And, as I said, so far truly the people assisted them, while they hoped this might afford some amendment to the seditious practices; but the others were not in haste to put an end to the war, but hoped to prosecute it with less danger, now they had slain Manahem. It is true, that when the people earnestly desired that they would leave off besieging the soldiers, they were the more earnest in pressing it forward, and this till Metilius, who was the Roman general, sent to Eleazar, and desired that they would give them security to spare their lives only; but agreed to deliver up their arms, and what else they had with them. The others readily complied with their petition, sent to them Gorion, the son of Nicodemus, and Ananias, the son of Sadduk, and Judas, the son of Jonathan, that they might give them the security Of their right hands, and of their oaths; after which Metilius brought down his soldiers; which soldiers, while they were in arms, were not meddled with by any of the seditious, nor was there any appearance of treachery; but as soon as, according to the articles of capitulation, they had all laid down their shields and their swords, and were under no further suspicion of any harm, but were going away, Eleazar's men attacked them after a violent manner, and encompassed them round, and slew them, while they neither defended themselves, nor entreated for mercy, but only cried out upon the breach of their articles of capitulation and their oaths. And thus were all these men barbarously murdered, excepting Metilius; for when he entreated for mercy, and promised that he would turn Jew, and be circumcised, they saved him alive, but none else. This loss to the Romans was but light, there being no more than a few slain out of an immense army; but still it appeared to be a prelude to the Jews' own destruction, while men made public lamentation when they saw that such occasions were afforded for a war as were incurable; that the city was all over polluted with such abominations, from which it was but reasonable to expect some vengeance, even though they should escape revenge from the Romans; so that the city was filled with sadness, and every one of the moderate men in it were under great disturbance, as likely themselves to undergo punishment for the wickedness of the seditious; for indeed it so happened that this murder was perpetrated on the sabbath day, on which day the Jews have a respite from their works on account of Divine worship.
Os sicarios sitiaram uma pequena instalação militar dos romanos; convenceram os romanos de render-se e entregar as suas armas contra a promessa de salvo-conduto. Depois da entrega de armas os sicarios mataram cada um dos romanos com excecao do comandante Metilius que foi forcado a converter-se no judaismo.