Persons characterized by hesed, loyalty, especially to God, in the community of the faithful. They are ‘the holy ones in the land’ (Ps. 16: 3, NRSV), ‘his faithful ones’ (Ps. 30: 4; Prov. 2: 8, NRSV). At one time the fact of belonging to the people of Israel was equivalent to being one of the Hasidim, but later they were ethically and spiritually ‘the righteous’ contrasted with the ‘wicked’, as is implied by the parallelism of Ps. 37: 28–9.
In the 2nd cent. BCE the Hasideans were a group of Jewish zealots for the Law who were opposed to the spread of Hellenistic culture (1 Macc. 2: 42; 2 Macc. 14: 6). As students of scripture they gave intellectual support for a time to Judas Maccabaeus. A self-portrait of a member of the group may be drawn by Ben Sirach in Ecclus. [= Sir.] 38: 34c–39: 5. They are thought by some to have been forerunners of the Pharisees.