The Mysterious Sicarii, Attacking Alexandria Egypt 73 AD

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The Mysterious Sicarii, Attacking Alexandria Egypt 73 AD

Post by billd89 »

What socio-religious controversy led the Sicarii to attack Alexandria? (Sicarii and Zealots are muddled, in history.) I want to know more about the 600-man sally against Alexandria in 73 AD. Palestine was devastated; hadnt they seen enough death? Alexandria as a go-for-broke target looks logical, in a Hollywood-crazy sort of way. I suppose smthg much, much more complex was happening on the ground (I've bolded the section I think most important, italicized the dubious bits.)

Routledge history
Sicarii violence and terror
In a careful analysis of Josephus, two characteristics can be ascertained that distinguish the sect from all other opposition groups in Judaea: their extreme doctrine of “No Lord but God” and their utter commitment to carry out acts of violence against members of the Jewish community that dared reject this belief.


That the conditions that brought about the First Roman–Jewish War – and in consequence local terrorism – were unique to the place and moment is perhaps further illuminated by the fact that in 73 CE some Sicarii fled from Judaea to Egypt where they again sought to incite the Jewish community in Alexandria to revolt against Roman authority. Using the same tactics, they initially murdered some of the moderate Jews of social rank in the city, but this time the actions of the Sicarii failed less to inflame the Egyptian Jews than alarm the community out of fear of Roman retribution. In response, hundreds of Sicarii were seized and turned over to the Romans, ending the threat of insurrection. A second incident in Cyrene likewise failed in its original purpose.

1) 600 men' seems military, an invasion, rather than terrorist 'dozens'. This doesnt seem plausible, where Palestine was crushed, annihilated. If their Alexandrian sympathizers were also betrayed - a few hardline Zealot/ultraorthodox synagogues, lumped in with a few dozen riff-raff pirate-brigands - that pushes the #s up there.
2) The entire event (as described) sounds insane. The 'Sicarii' must have lost so many family members, everything in fact. How did they escape death themselves, in 68-70 AD? So now they just decide to travel hundred miles to go kill more Jews (look what that had just produced in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine?!!!) Again, this event isnt described as a handful of nutters - its hundreds of armed warriors (they say).
3) The supposed plan was to kill the 'elite' moderate Jews. While I can imagine blood-lust revenge on Tiberius Alexander's immediate family, his personal network, a broad attack makes no sense. On what was the imagined 'uprising' predicated: mass murder of your co-religionists? 'Because we can'? The culprits also had to know that Greek citizens & Roman forces wouldnt stand by, idle. Even a sociopathic criminal network has survival impulses. So something is not quite right in this 'story'.
4) I assume something actually happened, but it was much more complex than Josephus records. We don't know why, with any certainty. 'Military adventurism' is usually driven by pecuniary motives, and it seems likely a rival Jewish faction was jockeying for power within the Diaspora marine trade networks. And lost, badly.

Most importantly? I suppose
5) This wouldnt have been an attack on loyal orthodox Jews, but rather upon 'disloyal' Melchizedekians: the old Zadok enemy. Those traitors who always fled to Egypt, and served a foreign master. The Two God apostates must now be destroyed! So the attack was directed against affluent synagogues once attended by Jewish veterans (Melchizedek had appeared in Egypt as their Jewish Warrior God). The now philosophically-inclined Hellenistic Jewish elite had held power through generations. They were now deemed an existential threat to whatever Zealot vestiges remained in coastal Palestine? Why?
6) Other factors, unknown/unspecified.

a) 'Melchizedek' so-named largely disappears from the cult record c. 73 AD.
b) Marginal Jewish Gnosticism turns weird, very dark, apocalyptic in the most negative sense: even anti-semitic. e.g. the defeated Sicarii's god Yahweh becomes the Abortion God Ialdabaoth Saklas: (blind) jealous and somewhat insane.
c) Many Jews turn apostate; 'Logos' Jews break to the apostate camp, and the Christ faith deviates Not Jewish anymore.
d) Whole synagogues defect to the national 'Serapis' cult in whatever syncretistic form(s). 'See ya!' Serapis/Joseph is widely & openly worshipped as a saint.
e) Judaism in Egypt is thereafter declining sharply; filling a void, Gnostic cults proliferate.
f) Beyond Egypt, distrust of the orthodox & dissention in the Diaspora fuels Gnosticism generally.

Just a few thoughts ...
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