EGYPTIAN, THE. An unnamed individual mentioned in the context of Paul’s arrest and removal from the Temple precinct (Acts 21:38). In the narrative the Rom. officer (Gr. χιλίαρχος, G5941, Lat. tribunus) asked Paul if he was not a certain “Egyptian” who was attempting a revolt against Rome. This man was supposed to have led his four thousand dagger-bearers (Gr. σικάριος, G4974, loan word from Lat. sikarius, derived from sica “a dagger”) into the wilderness. Although the Sicarii are mentioned in contemporary accounts such as Jos. Antiq. XX, 186, 204, 208 and Jos. War. II, 254-257 et al., yet the precise identification of the “Egyptian” is unknown. During the years of Rom. imperial occupation of Pal. many such revolutionaries appeared and were brought to judgment by the legions. The last revolt in a.d. 66 engaged the Sicarii and their leaders, and there is strong evidence to associate them with the defense of Masada in a.d. 73. They were the most violent and terroristic of the many national sects which appeared among the Jews under Rom. domination. Undoubtedly these groups adhered to a certain military chiliasm as is demonstrated in the lit. of the much more passive Qumran community such as the 1QM. One of the features of these groups was their abhorrence of Lat., hence the wonder of the tribune at Paul’s use of Gr.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Mentioned in Ac 21:38, by Claudius Lysias as having "before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the ASSASSINS" (which see). Reference to this Egyptian and to the suppression of his rebellion by the procurator Felix is likewise found in Josephus (Ant., XX, viii, 6; BJ, II, xiii, 5).