Assidae'an only in the plur. Α᾿σιδαῖοι, Vulg. Assidai, prob. for חֲסִידִים, chasidim', saints) occurs only in the Apocrypha (1 Macc. 2:42; 7:13; 2 Macc. 14:18), where it is applied to the body of zealous and devoted men who rose at the signal for armed resistance given by Mattathias, the father of the Maccabees, and who, under him and his successors, upheld with the sword the great doctrine of the unity of God, and stemmed the advancing tide of Grecian manners and idolatries. The epithet evidently designates a section of the orthodox Jews (1 Macc. 2:42, v. Ι᾿ουδαίων probably by correction), as distinguished from "the impious" (οἱ ἀσεβεῖς, 1 Macc. 3:8; 6:21; 7:5, etc.), "the lawless" (οἱ ἄνομοι, 1 Macc. 3:6; 9:23, etc.), "the transgressors" (οἱ παράνομοι, 1 Mace. i, 11, etc.); that is, the Hellenizing faction. When Bacchides came against Jerusalem, they used their influence (1 Macc. 7:13, πρῶτοι οιΑ῾᾿σιδ. ῏ησαν ἐν υἱοῖς Ι᾿σραήλ) to conclude a peace, because "a priest of the seed of Aaron" (Alcinus) was with him, and sixty of them fell by his treachery. SEE ALCINUS. The Jews at a later period gave the name of Chasidim to those pious persons who devoted themselves to a life of austerities and religious exercises in the hope of hastening the coming of the Messiah, and of making an atonement for their own sins and for the sins of others (see Solomon Maimon. Memoirs, Berlin, 1792). The name of Chasidim has also been assumed by a Jewish sect which originated in Poland about a hundred years since, who took as the basis of their mystical system the doctrines of the cabalistic book Zohar (Beer, in Ersch und Gruber, s.v. Chassidier), and which still subsists (see the Penny Cyclopcedia, s.v. Assidians). The ideas connected with this later appropriation of the term have, by an obvious association, been carried back to and connected with the Chasidim or Assidaeans who joined" Mattathias, and who have generally been regarded as a sect subsisting at that time. No such sect, however, is mentioned by Josephus in treating of the affairs of that period; and the texts in the books of the Maccabees which refer to them afford no sufficient evidence that the Assidseans formed a sect distinct from other pious and faithful Jews. Yet they may have existed as an undefined party before the Maccabaean rising, and were probably thereupon bound by some peculiar vow to the external observance of the Law (1 Macc. ii, 42, ἑκουσιάζεσθαι τῷ νόμῳ). They seem afterward to have been merged in the general body of the faithful (2 Mace. 14:6, οἱ λεγόμενοι τῶν Ι᾿ουδαίων Α᾿σιδαῖοι, ῏ων ἀφηγεῖται Ι᾿ούδας ὁ Μακκαβαῖος . . .). The analogous Hebrew term Chasidim (=οἱ εὐσεβεῖς, οἱ ὅσιοι) occurs in various' passages of Scripture appellatively for good and pious men (Ps 145:10; Ps 149:1; Isa 57:1; Mic 7:2), but is never applied to any sect or body of men. Upon the whole, in the entire absence of collateral information, it seems the safest course to conclude that the Assidaeans were a body of eminently zealous men, devoted to the Law, who joined Mattathias very early, and remained the constant adherents of him and his son Judas-not, like the mass of their supporters, rising occasionally and then relapsing into the ordinary pursuits of life. It is possible that, as Jennings conjectures (Antiq. p. 298), the name άσιδαῖοι, or "saints," came to be applied to them by their enemies as a term of reproach, like "Puritans" formerly, and "saints" very often in the present day. SEE SAINT; SEE CHASIDIM.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.