Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Who were the “dagger men” mentioned in connection with Paul’s arrest by the Romans?
▪ According to the Acts account, during a tumult at the temple in Jerusalem, a Roman military commander took the apostle Paul into custody, believing that he was the leader of a seditious band of “four thousand dagger men.” (Acts 21:30-38) What is known about these dagger men?
The Greek word for “dagger men” is derived from the Latin sicarii, which means “users of the sica,” or dagger. First-century historian Flavius Josephus describes the Sicarii as a band of fanatic Jewish patriots, unrelenting enemies of Rome, who engaged in organized political killings.
Josephus recounts that the Sicarii “slew men in the daytime, 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.” When their victims fell down dead, the Sicarii feigned indignation at the killings and escaped detection. Josephus adds that the Sicarii later played a leading role in the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66-70 C.E. Thus, the Roman commander would be anxious to detain the supposed leader of such a group.