The Disciple Simon, the Zealot

Room 304

The Bible does not give us much information about Simon. It is thought that Simon was called the “Zealot” because of his political feelings for the liberation of Israel from the Roman rule. Being aware of Israel’s history and the highly respected King David, the artist depicts this nationalistic movement with the symbol of the “Star of David” on the left side of the mosaic.

The name David is an ancient Hebrew name which is made up of three letters-“Dalet”, “Vav”, “Dalet”.  The “Dalet” is actually written as a triangle.  It is thought that King David used the two triangles as his signature.  The letter “Vav” means six.  The two triangles formed a six pointed star.  The six-points symbolized that God ruled over the universe and protected the ancient Hebrew king and his people from all directions.  King David used this symbol in the battlefield on his shield as a reminder that God was with him. 

Unlike all the other nations of the ancient world, the unique characteristic about the Hebrew nation was their belief in one God. The Star of David was a symbol of their theocracy. They did not worship many different gods.  They recognized only one God.  He was not tangible like all other great leaders, mythological characters, or gods made of wood and stone.  Yet the God of the Hebrews was woven into the lives of their nation.  They experienced the power of God in the development and preservation of their shattered nation and in their own lives, as well. The Hebrew nation was conquered and people were exiled throughout the centuries, but they did not forget the promise of God to send a Messiah to deliver the nation from the hands of their enemies. 

Notice the star is white.  The promised Messiah was to come from the descendents of King David.  The white color indicates that this Messiah would rule with purity and justice. 

On right side of the panel, opposite the Star of David are Roman coins and a balance scale. Above the scale is an eagle sitting on the archway with a gray scepter extending vertically.  This represented the authority of Rome.  Notice the two gray weights hanging below the scale.  The weights tip the scale towards the red cross in the center of the mosaic. 

This cross is the focal point of the panel, and became the center of Simon’s life. This is indicated by the domination of the panel by the cross and by the net (white lines) filled with fish.  The nationalist theme fades and the vocation of “fisher of men” became Simon’s focus.  The “zeal” and enthusiasm of Simon knowing that Jesus was the promised Messiah motivated him to spread that message to many different parts of the known world.  The artist uses fish to indicate the areas where, it is thought, that Simon worked.  Simon “fished for men” in Egypt, Africa, Britain, and Persia. 

We don’t know for sure how politically involved Simon actually was. Maybe the writer, Luke, simply meant that Simon was very committed and “zealous” in whatever he pursued.  But it’s interesting to observe that Simon did not try to change Jesus to fit his expectations as a leader, rather he changed his whole perspective of life when he recognized God’s greater plan for the salvation of the world.   Simon used his talent of enthusiasm and commitment to communicate God’s love throughout the world. 

In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Roehike

Donated by the family and friends

Last Published: November 2, 2013 5:04 PM
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