Hebrew for 'senseless hatred' or 'baseless hatred'. The Talmud attributes sin'at chinam
as the cause of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Beit HaMikdash
At that time there were four groups of Jews:
- Pharisees: The rabbis who often clung to the letter of the law. Jesus was said to have been a Pharisee.
- Saducees: A group of priests who were corrupted by the ruling Romans. They were often paid off to cast various laws, as the High Priest was the spiritual leader of the people. They were also the puppets of the Romans, useful only for a short time as needed.
- Zealots: Right-wing radical Jews who were determined to destroy the Roman rulers as well as any of their followers. Fanatically defended Israel, though often with little foresight. The Hasmonean Dynasty can be considered part of the beginnings of this group, as could the defenders of Masada.
- Essenes: A mystical sect that actually dwelt in caves by the Dead Sea. They are thought to be the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A small group, known as the Sicarii
, were a shoot-off of the Zealots and were the political assasin
s, their name derived from their method of killing: hiding a dagger under their cloaks.
As the Romans' siege of Jerusalem came to a critical point, the inhabitants quarreled over what to do. The Pharisees reasoned that they could outlive the siege, as the city had 27 years' worth of food supplies and an underwater source of water. The Zealots, however, wanted to fight the Romans to the death to show that the Jews would not be trampled as were so many other indigenous populations conquered by Rome.
Not willing to compromise and afraid that the tide would turn against their favor, the city's food supplies were burnt by the Zealots, forcing the Jews to fight to save themselves. The city crumbled quickly, the inhabitants having much spiritual sustenance but little in the way of physical sustenance. The last defenders barricaded themselves inside the walls of the Temple. On Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, the Temple's walls were set on fire. It, along with it's defenders, were obliterated on the 10th. Survivng Jews were either tortured and killed as examples or sold into slavery (see the Arch of Titus). This was the beginning of the Jews' exile from Israel into Galut, the Diaspora.