n Journal for Semitics - Jewish banditry and peasant protest movements 6-66 CE : a comparative approach

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1013-8471


Banditry was not unique to the Jews of the first century. Peasant rural unrest as a form of violent protest was a common occurrence in antiquity and has been a recurring phenomenon throughout history and down to modern times. The study of peasant protest movements is a relatively new field in historical / social studies and only a few attempts have been made to create models and frameworks to deal with the complexities of trying to explain and understand how societies disintegrate and resort to extralegal activities in challenging the status quo. An interesting sociological model was first proposed by Eric Hobsbawm which he called social banditry, in which he typecast certain kinds of bandits. This paper will examine whether Hobsbawm's model is applicable to the Jewish bandits of the first century. It will be further argued that the brigandage and descent into political chaos and violence should be seen not merely as isolated bandit attacks and provocations, but against the wider backdrop of a society at odds with itself and its inability to adapt to the exigencies imposed on it by a foreign occupying power. An alternative framework will be proposed by which it will be suggested that the Jewish bandits and their activities should rather be seen as part of a process of a widespread rural protest movement. Although this framework was developed for use in examining modern peasant movements, it will be demonstrated that it is remarkably applicable to the political, economic, social and ideological circumstances of first century Palestine.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error