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III: The Hellenistic Age: A) From Alexander the Great to the Maccabean Revolt
Transcript of III: The Hellenistic Age: A) From Alexander the Great to the Maccabean Revolt
A:The Big Question: What is Hellenism
and how did it impact on the Jews?
: Hellenism = Fusion of East (native cultures of the Near East) and West (Greek culture)
what are the outstanding characteristics
of Hellenistic culture?
the arts and sciences
= vehicle for Hellenization
what are some of the privileges citizens of the polis might enjoy?
B: Alexander the Great and the Jews
(c. 332 B.C.E.)
1: What are our sources for the encounter between Alexander and the Jews?
2. Talmud Bavli
Talmud Bavli, Yoma 69a
Surely it was taught:The twenty-fifth of Tebeth is the day of Mount Gerizim,
on which no mourning is permitted. It is the day on which the Cutheans demanded the House of our God from
Alexander the Macedonian so as to destroy it, and he had given them the permission, whereupon
some people came and informed Simeon the Just.
What did the latter do? He put on his priestlygarments, robed himself in priestly garments, some
of the noblemen of Israel went with him carrying
fiery torches in their hands, they walked all the night, some walking on one side and others on the
other side, until the dawn rose. When the dawn rose he [Alexander] said to them: Who are these [the
Samaritans]? They answered: The Jews who rebelled against you. As he reached Antipatris,
the sun having shone forth, they met. When he saw Simeon the Just, he descended from his carriage and
bowed down before him. They said to him: A great king like yourself should bow down before this
Jew? He answered: His image it is which wins for me in all my battles. He said to them: What have
you come for? They said: Is it possible that star-worshippers should mislead you to destroy the
House wherein prayers are said for you and your kingdom that it be never destroyed! He said to
them: Who are these? They said to him: These are Cutheans who stand before you. He said: They are
delivered into your hand. At once they perforated their heels, tied them to the tails of their horses and
dragged them over thorns and thistles, until they came to Mount Gerizim, which they ploughed and
planted with vetch, even as they had planned to do with the House of God. And that day they made a
And when Jaddus understood that Alexander was not far from the city, he went out in procession,
with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner
of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha, which name, translated i
nto Greek, signifies a prospect, for you have thence a prospect both of Jerusalem and of the temple.
And when the Phoenicians and the Samarians that followed him thought they should have liberty
to plunder the city, and torment the high-priest to death, which the king's displeasure fairly
promised them, the very reverse of it happened; for Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance,
in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high-priest in purple
and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God
was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high-priest.
And when he had said this to Parmenion, and had given the high-priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high-priest's direction, and magnificently treated both the high-priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended.  And as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present.
But the next day he called them to him, and bid them ask what favors they pleased of him; whereupon the high-priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired. And when they asked him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired. And when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army, on this condition, that they should continue under the laws of their forefathers, and live according to them, he was willing to take them with him, many were ready to accompany him in his wars.
*The historiographical problem: There are differences between the two sources. Does this mean we cannot learn anything of real historic value from them?
*Alexander did meet with the Jews
*He respected and gave honor to the cohen gadol
*most importantly, Alexander granted the Jews the right to live according to their ancestral laws
C: The Diadochi period
After Alexander's death, his empire was split into several parts:
can you see why Eretz Yisrael would be
of crucial geo-political importance now?
During the period of the Diadochi, Palestine changed hands between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids five times.
D: Judea under Ptolemaic Rule
*the Cohen Gadol functioned as the religious/political leader of the Jews
1. What are our sources and what do we learn from them?
In 301 B.C.E., after the death of Alexander and the division of his empire, Ptolemy I Soter, who had ruled over Egypt since 323 B.C.E., conquered Palestine.
1: Ptolemy captures Jerusalem:
Josephus: "He also seized Jerusalem and for that purpose made use of deceit and treachery. For he came into the city on a Sabbath day, as if he would offer a sacrifice, and, without any trouble, gained the city; for the Jews did not oppose him as they did not suspect him to be their enemy. He gained it thus because they were free from suspicion of him, and because on that day they were at rest and idle. When he had gained it, he reigned over it in a cruel manner."
2: Ptolemy increases the Egyptian Jewish population
"...But when Ptolemy had taken a great many captives, both from the mountainous parts of Judea and from the places around Jerusalem and Samaria, and the places near Mount Gerizim, he led them all into Egypt and settled them there. (8) Since he knew that the people of Jerusalem were most faithful in the keeping of oaths and covenants, as shown by the answer they gave to Alexander when he sent an embassy to them after he had beaten Darius in battle, he distributed many of them into garrisons. At Alexandria he gave them equal privileges as citizens with the Macedonians themselves, and he required them to take oaths that they would keep faith with the posterity of those who committed these places to their care. (9) Indeed, there were not a few other Jews who, of their own accord, came to Egypt, attracted by the goodness of the soil, and by the liberality of Ptolemy."
Josephus gives us the story of a quarrel about taxation between the high priest Onias II and Ptolemy III Euergetes (246– 221 B.C.E.) Onias refused to pay taxes to Ptolemy.
* The appointment, in 242 B.C.E., of Joseph son of Tobiah, a nephew of the high priest, as tax collector for the entire country.
* the Oniad and Tobiad families become biter rivals. The Tobiads are radical Hellenists who will eventually try to impose extreme Hellenism on Judea.
b: The Zenon papyri
the Zenon papyri are a collection of administrative documents from the archives of an Egyptian finance minister, some of which were sent to him by his agent in the Land of Israel. These documents tell us of Palestine under the rule of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283–246 B.C.E.)
Papyrus 5 70
Toubias to Apollonios greeting. On the tenth of Xandikos I sent Aineias our servant, bringing the gifts for the king which you wrote and asked me to send in the month of Xandikos: two horses, six dogs, one wild mule out of an ass, 71 two white Arab donkeys, two wild mules’ foals, one wild ass’s foal. They are all tame. I have also sent you the letter which I have written to the king about the gifts, together with a copy for your information.
Goodbye. Year 29, Xandikos 10.
To King Ptolemy from Toubias, greeting. I have sent you two horses, six dogs, one wild mule out of an ass, two white Arab donkeys, two wild mules’ foals and one wild ass’s foal.
Papyrus 4 66
Toubias to Apollonios greeting. If you and all your affairs are flourishing. and everything else is as you wish it, many thanks to the gods! I too have been well, and have thought of you at all times, as was right.
I have sent to you Aineias bringing a eunuch and four boys, house-slaves and of good stock, two of whom are uncircumcised. 67 I append descriptions of the boys for your information. Goodbye. Year 29, Xandikos 10. 68
Haimos. About 10 Dark skin
Rather big jaws
with moles on the right jaw
Atikos. About 8
Nose somewhat flat
Black eyes, scar
Audomos. About 10
Curly hair. Nose flat
Scar near the right
what do we learn from the Zenon papyri about the economic role of Palestine during the Ptolemaic period?
we learn about ties between Jerusalem's elite and the wider Hellenistic world
c: Maccabees I/ Josephus
Judea creates an alliance with...
"Areus, King of Sparta, to Onias, the High Priest, greetings. A document has been discovered concerning the Spartans and Jews that they are brothers and that they are both of the seed of Abraham. And now, since these matters have become known to us, please write us concerning your welfare. We in turn write to you that your cattle and property are ours, and whatever belongs to us is yours. We have ordered that you be given a full report on these matters."
The big question: How did Jews fare under the Ptolemaic regime?
Judea was a major export center
E: Judea under the Seleucids:
From Antiochus III to the outbreak of the
The letter of Aristeas vs. Talmud Bavli (Megillah 9a-b)
Demetrius of Phalerum, the president of the king's library, received vast sums of money, for the purpose of collecting together, as far as he possibly could, all the books in the world. By means of purchase and transcription, he carried out, to the best of his ability, the purpose of the king. On one occasion when I was present he was asked, How many thousand books are there in the library? 10 and he replied, 'More than two hundred thousand, O king, and I shall make endeavour in the immediate future to gather together the remainder also, so that the total of five hundred thousand may be reached. I am told that the laws of the Jews are worth transcribing and deserve a place in 11 your library.' 'What is to prevent you from doing this?' replied the king. 'Everything that is necessary has been placed at your disposal.' 'They need to be translated,' answered Demetrius, 'for in the country of the Jews they use a peculiar alphabet (just as the Egyptians, too, have a special form of letters) and speak a peculiar dialect. They are supposed to use the Syriac tongue, but this is not the case; their language is quite different.' And the king when he understood all the facts of the case ordered a letter to be written to the Jewish High Priest that his purpose (which has already been described) might be accomplished.
Both of these sources tell us the story of the translation of the Torah for the first time into Greek during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Let's compare the sources:
Letter of Aristeas:
308 When the work was completed, Demetrius collected together the Jewish population in the place where the translation had been made, and read it over to all, in the presence of the translators, who met with a great reception also from the people, because of the great benefits which they had 309 conferred upon them. They bestowed warm praise upon Demetrius, too, and urged him to have the whole law transcribed and present a copy to their leaders. 310 After the books had been read, the priests and the elders of the translators and the Jewish community and the leaders of the people stood up and said, that since so excellent and sacred and accurate a translation had been made, it was only right that it should remain as it was and no 311 alteration should be made in it. And when the whole company expressed their approval, they bade them pronounce a curse in accordance with their custom upon any one who should make any alteration either by adding anything or changing in any way whatever any of the words which had been written or making any omission. This was a very wise precaution to ensure that the book might be preserved for all the future time unchanged. 312 When the matter was reported to the king, he rejoiced greatly, for he felt that the design which he had formed had been safely carried out. The whole book was read over to him and he was greatly astonished at the spirit of the lawgiver.
The so-called Letter of Aristeas or Letter to Philocrates is a Hellenistic work of the 2nd century BCE, one of the Pseudepigrapha. Josephus, who paraphrases about two-fifths of the letter, ascribes it to Aristeas and written to Philocrates, describing the Greek translation of the Hebrew Law by seventy-two interpreters sent into Egypt from Jerusalem at the request of the librarian of Alexandria, resulting in the Septuagint translation.
according to the letter of Aristeas, how did the Jews of Alexandria react to the king's demand that the Torah be translated into Greek? What can we learn from their reaction?
The Bavli's account:
This was on account
of the incident related in connection with King Ptolemy,
as it has been taught: ‘It is related of King
Ptolemy that he brought together seventy-two elders and placed them in seventy-two [separate]
rooms, without telling them why he had brought them together, and he went in to each one of them
and said to him, Translate for me the Torah of Moses your master.
God then prompted each one
of them and they all conceived the same idea and wrote for him, God created in the beginning, I
shall make man in image and likeness,
And he finished on the sixth day,and rested on the seventh
day, Male and female he created him...
Megillat Taanit :On the eigth day of Tevet the Torah was written in Greek in the days of Ptolemy the king and darkness descended to the world for three days...
Masechet Sofrim: "Maaseh b'heh zekeinim shekatvu le'talmai hamelekh et hatorah leyevanit vehayah hayom kasheh leyisrael k'yom shenaaseh haegel..."
how did chazal react to targum shivim? Why do you think they compared it to chet ha'egel?
The Big Question: Why did the relationship between the Seleucid regime and the Jews deteriorate?
1: Antiochus the III and the Jews
But at length, when Antiochus had beaten Ptolemy, he seized Judea. [201-B.C.E.] When Philopater was dead, 47 his son sent out a great army under Scopas, the general of his forces, against the inhabitants of Celesyria. He took many of their cities, and in particular our nation, (132) which, when he attacked it, went over to him. Yet was it not long afterward that Antiochus overcame Scopas, in a battle fought at the sources of the Jordan (River), and destroyed a great part of his army. (133) But afterward, when Antiochus subdued those cities of Celesyria which Scopas had gotten into his possession, including Samaria, the Jews, of their own accord, went over to him and received him into the city [Jerusalem], and gave plentiful provision to all his army and to his elephants, and readily assisted him when he besieged the garrison which was in the citadel of Jerusalem. (134) For this reason, Antiochus thought it but just to reward the Jews’ diligence and zeal in his service. So he wrote to the generals of his armies and to his friends, gave testimony to the good behavior of the Jews towards him, and informed them what rewards he had resolved to bestow on them for their behavior.
(143) So that the city may recover its inhabitants sooner, I grant an exemption from taxes for three years to its present inhabitants and to whoever shall come to it until the month of Hyperberetus. 55 (144) We also exempt them for the future from a third part of their taxes so that the losses they have sustained may be repaired. As for all those citizens who have been carried away and have become slaves, we grant them and their children their freedom and order that their property be restored to them.”
(145) And these were the contents of this epistle. He also published a decree through all his kingdom in honor of the temple which contained what follows: “It shall be unlawful for any foreigner to come within the enclosure of the temple which is forbidden also to the Jews, except to those who, according to the laws of the country, have purified themselves. 56 (146) Nor let any flesh of horses, mules, or asses, be brought into the city, whether they be wild or tame, nor that of leopards, foxes, or hares; and, in general, that of any animal which is forbidden for the Jews to eat. Nor let their skins be brought into it; nor let any such animal be bred in this city. Let them only be permitted to use the sacrificial animals known to their forefathers with which they have been obligated to make acceptable atonements to God. And the person who transgresses any of these orders shall pay the priests three thousand drachmae of silver.”
wow!!! religious tolerance
to the nth degree!!)
the main purpose of a war elephant is to terrify the enemy and smash through the ranks of their army, creating terrific carnage. In this, the elephant enjoys an advantage over horses: no horse will charge home into a bristling wall of sharp points, but a phalanx-style formation will not halt an elephant’s charge. Also, horses fear the smell of elephants and the presence of elephants on a battlefield often rendered cavalry useless.
A fully grown bull elephant can pick a man up with his trunk and hurl him 30 feet into the air. They can kneel on a prostrate victim to drive a tusk through his body. The sheer bulk of war elephants made them difficult to kill: there are accounts of elephants surviving up to 80 arrow hits. The downside of using elephants was their tendency to go berserk when subjected to too much pain or the loss of their driver. When this occurred, they became as much a danger to their own army as to the enemy.
The damage an elephant - let alone several hundred - could inflict was enormous, but first the beast had to be compelled to fight. In ancient Carthage, elephants were sometimes given copious quantities of wine to drink - elephants enjoy alcohol - and then their legs were prodded with red-hot irons. This helped work the beasts into a rage. Carthaginian drivers carried a spike and mallet - if the elephant became uncontrollable, they would kill it by hammering the spike into its brain before it did too much damage to its own army.
??what are elephants doing on the battlefield??!
(From 'Elephants in War')
2: Who were the Jewish leaders of the day?
= council of elders
function: represented the people as a whole before the government
example: Shimon Hatzaddik
3: Tension in the background:
The growing Hellenization of Judea
where do you think Hellenization was strongest and why?
*occupations:traders and artisans
*Greek everyday language
stage is set for a collision!
occasional visits to cities to buy sell produce and goods
influence of Hellenism limited to material culture
language: Hebrew with some Greek words incorporated into Hebrew
religious identity:some aristocratic Jews willing to compromise with pagan cults and give up on traditional Judaism
religious identity:strong attachment to Torah and mitzvot
in the cities/polei
4: Tension erupts!
written in Greek
in first century B.C.E.
condensed from Jason of Cyrene's 5 volume work
originally written in Hebrew close in time to the maccabean revolt
(cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr
covers the entire history of the revolt from 175-134 B.C.E.
only covers the period from the high priest Onias III and King Seleucus IV (180 BC) to the defeat of Nicanor in 161.
part of Christian canon
part of Christian canon
F: The Hasmonean Revolt: Part 1: Outbreak
the big question: Why did the Jews revolt?
1: The backdrop: Corruption of the High Priesthood and the onset of Hellenistic reform
Source? 2 Maccabees
3:1 While the holy city was inhabited in unbroken peace and the laws were very well observed because of the piety of the high priest, Onias, and his hatred of wickedness, 2 it came about that the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with the finest presents, 3 so that even Seleucus, the king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses connected with the service of the sacrifices. 4 But a man named Simon, of the tribe of Benjamin, who had been made captain of the temple, had a disagreement with the high priest about the administration of the city market; 5 and when he could not prevail over Onias he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia. 6 He reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so that the amount of the funds could not be reckoned, and that they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the control of the king. 7 When Apollonius met the king, he told him of the money about which he had been informed. The king chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs, and sent him with commands to effect the removal of the aforesaid money….
The previously mentioned Simon, who had informed about the money against his own country, slandered Onias, saying that it was he who had incited Heliodorus and had been the real cause of the misfortune. 2 He dared to designate as a plotter against the government the man who was the benefactor of the city, the protector of his fellow countrymen, and a zealot for the laws
4 Onias recognized that the rivalry was serious ...
5 So he betook himself to the king, not accusing his fellow citizens but having in view the welfare, both public and private, of all the people. 6 For he saw that without the king’s attention, public affairs could not again reach a peaceful settlement, and that Simon would not stop his folly.
2:Jason comes to power
things go from...
7 When Apollonius met the king, he told him of the money about which he had been informed. The king chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs, and sent him with commands to effect the removal of the aforesaid money….
24 But when he arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign of spirits and of all authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God, and became faint with terror.
2 Maccabees: When Seleucus died and Antiochus who was called Epiphanes succeeded to the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias obtained the high priesthood by corruption, 8 promising the king at an interview three hundred and sixty talents of silver and, from another source of revenue, eighty talents. 9 In addition to this he promised to pay one hundred and fifty more if permission were given to establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth for it, and to enroll the men of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch. 10 When the king assented and Jason came to office, he at once shifted his countrymen over to the Greek way of life. 11 He set aside the existing royal concessions to the Jews... and he destroyed the lawful ways of living and introduced new customs contrary to the law. 12 For with alacrity he founded a gymnasium right under the citadel, and he induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat.
Jerusalem now "Antioch-in Jerusalem"
= Greek polis!
what do you think is the significance of Jason "setting aside the existing royal concessions to the Jews?"
"There was such an extreme of Hellenization and increase in the adoption of foreign ways because of the surpassing wickedness of Jason, who was ungodly and no high priest, 14 that the priests were no longer intent upon their service at the altar. Despising the sanctuary and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened to take part in the unlawful proceedings in the wrestling arena after the call to the discus, 15 disdaining the honors prized by their fathers and putting the highest value upon Greek forms of prestige."
"When the quadrennial games were being held at Tyre and the king was present, the vile Jason sent envoys, chosen as being Antiochian citizens from Jerusalem, to carry three hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. Those who carried the money, however, thought best not to use it for sacrifice, because that was inappropriate, but to expend it for another purpose. So this money was intended by the sender for the sacrifice to Hercules, but by the decision of its carriers it was applied to the construction of triremes."
The Soap opera continues: Jason gets what's coming to him!
'mida kneged mida'
"After a period of three years Jason sent Menelaus, the brother of the previously mentioned Simon, to carry the money to the king and to complete the records of essential business. 24 But he, when presented to the king, extolled him with an air of authority, and secured the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver. 25 After receiving the king’s orders he returned, possessing no qualification for the high priesthood, but having the hot temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a savage wild beast. 26 So Jason, who after supplanting his own brother was supplanted by another man and was driven as a fugitive into the land of Ammon."
Is it possible to be a true Hellenist and a loyal Jew at the same time?
Can you have your cake and eat it too? Or in other words,
"And Menelaus held the office, but he did not pay regularly any of the money promised to the king. When ... the captain of the citadel kept requesting payment, for the collection of the revenue was his responsibility, the two of them were summoned by the king on account of this issue. 29 Menelaus left his own brother Lysimachus as deputy in the high priesthood....
3: Menelaus in power : (He makes Jason look good!)
how do you think Menelaus responds to this damaging exposure?
he has Onias killed!
"When many acts of sacrilege had been committed in the city by Lysimachus with the connivance of Menelaus, and when report of them had spread abroad, the populace gathered against Lysimachus, because many of the gold vessels had already been stolen. 40 And since the crowds were becoming aroused and filled with anger, Lysimachus armed about three thousand men and launched an unjust attack... 41 But when the Jews became aware of Lysimachus’ attack, some picked up stones, some blocks of wood, and others took handfuls of the ashes that were lying about, and threw them in wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men. 42 As a result, they wounded many of them and killed some, and put them all to flight; and the temple robber himself they killed close by the treasury…. 50 But Menelaus, remained in office, growing in wickedness, having become the chief plotter against his fellow citizens."
It gets even worse...
... Menelaus, thinking he had obtained a suitable opportunity, stole some of the gold vessels of the temple and gave them to Andronicus; other vessels, as it happened, he had sold to Tyre and the neighboring cities. 33 When Onias became fully aware of these acts he publicly exposed them, having first withdrawn to a place of sanctuary at Daphne near Antioch..."
5:1 About this time [168 B.C.E] Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt…. 5 When a false rumor arose that Antiochus was dead, Jason took no less than a thousand men and suddenly made an assault upon the city. When the troops upon the wall had been forced back and at last the city was being taken, Menelaus took refuge in the citadel. 6 But Jason kept relentlessly slaughtering his fellow citizens, not realizing that success at the cost of one’s kindred is the greatest misfortune, but imagining that he was setting up trophies of victory over enemies and not over fellow countrymen. 7 He did not gain control of the government, however; and in the end got only disgrace from his conspiracy, and fled again into the country of the Ammonites. 8 Finally he met a miserable end…. 10 He who had cast out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him; he had no funeral of any sort and no place in the tomb of his fathers.
4: Antiochus IV turns enemy
Not content with this, Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in all the world, guided by Menelaus, who had become a traitor both to the laws and to his country. 16 He took the holy vessels with his polluted hands, and swept away with profane hands the votive offerings which other kings had made to enhance the glory and honor of the place….
21 So Antiochus carried off eighteen hundred talents fromthe temple, and hurried away to Antioch, thinking in his arrogance that he could sail on the land and walk on the sea, because his mind was elated. 22 And he left governors to afflict the people...and besides these Menelaus, who lorded it over his fellow citizens worse than the others did. In his malice toward the Jewish citizens, 24 Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two thousand, and commanded him to slay all the grown men and to sell the women and boys as slaves. 25 When this man arrived in Jerusalem he pretended to be peaceably disposed and waited until the holy sabbath day; then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his men to parade under arms. 26 He put to the sword all those who came out to see them, then rushed into the city with his armed men and killed great numbers of people.
When news of what had happened reached the king, he took it to mean that Judea was in revolt. So, raging inwardly, he left Egypt and took the city 96 by storm.
("Basileus Antiochus, God Manifest, Bearer of Victory").
12 And he commanded his soldiers to cut downrelentlessly every one they met and to slay those who went into the houses. 13 Then there was killing of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, and slaughter of virgins and infants. 14 Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting; and as many were sold into slavery as were slain.
Why would Antiochus leave Egypt in the middle of a successful invasion???
Fascinating fact: Here's where the expression "line in the sand" comes from
Before reaching Alexandria, Antiochus's path was blocked by a single, old Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas, who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider themselves in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around him and said, "Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate" – implying that Rome would declare war if the King stepped out of the circle without committing to leave Egypt immediately. Weighing his options, Antiochus decided to withdraw. Only then did Popillius agree to shake hands with him.
But Judas Maccabeus, with about nine others, got away to the wilderness, and kept himself and his companions alive in the mountains as wild animals do; they continued to live on what grew wild, so that they might not share in the defilement.
Reaction of some of the people?
Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God, 2 and also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus,
The final straw:
why do you think Rome insisted Antiochus leave Egypt?
Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil. 4 For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles .... within the sacred precincts, and [they] brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. 5 The altar was covered with abominable offerings which were forbidden by the laws. 6 A man could neither keep the sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers, nor so much as confess himself to be a Jew.
The stage is now set for a full-blown revolt...
Antiochus appoints a military commnder over Jerusalem, places a garrison there and builds a fortress called the Akra. The soldiers stationed in the Akra are pagans who introduce the worship of Avoda Zara
F: The Hasmonean Revolt: part II: the gezeirot and outbreak of the revolt
1: The big questions:
* Why on earth did Antiochus issue these gezeirot?
religious persecution was unheard of in the pagan population!
1: why the gezeirot? the historiographical debate:
Theory no. 1: The Antiochus "epimanus" explanation
epimanus= madman: Antiochus was called a madman because of his strange behavior. At times he’d run through the streets giving away money. Other times he’d pour oil on the bathhouse floors to take pleasure in watching people fall and injure themselves.
Theory no.2: Antiochus learned religious persecution from the Romans during the years he spent in Rome
The historian Tcherikover argues that:
* Antiochus issued the gezeirot as a punishment for a revolt that had already broken out in Jerusalem.
* He used religious persecution because the revolt had a clearcut religious character.
the chicken or egg debate; or, what came first, the gezeirot or the mered?
1 Maccabees 1-4:
1:43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idol sacrifice swine and unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50 “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”
51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city. 52 Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.
theory no. 3
Theory no. 4
The historian Elias Bickerman uses the following source from Maccabees I to make a radical argument:
In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, "Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us."
 This proposal pleased them,
 and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles.
 So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom,
 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.
According to Bickerman, the gezeirot came first, and it was the mityavnim themselves who requested that the king implement them!!!
* how and why did the revolt begin?
54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty fifth year, 98 they erected a desolating sacrilege 99 upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, 55 and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Where the book of the covenant (the Torah) was found in the) possession of anyone, or if anyone adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned him to death. 58 They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities. 59 And on the twenty-fifth day of the month 100 they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the decree they put to death the women who had their children circumcised 61 and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.
62 But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63 They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64 And very great wrath came upon Israel.
2: The straw that broke the camel's back: the outbreak of the revolt
2:1 In those days Mattathias the son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein. 101 2 He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi, 3 Simon called Thassi, 4 Judas called Maccabeus, 5 Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus. 6 He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem….14 And Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned greatly.
15 Then the King’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to make them offer sacrifice. 16 Many from Israel came to them; and Mattathias and his sons were assembled. 17 Then the King’s officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: “You are a leader, honored and great in this city, and supported by sons and brothers. 18 Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the friends of the King, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.”
19 But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: “Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, 20 yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers. 21 Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. 22 We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.”
23 When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice upon the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command. 24 When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him upon the altar. 25 At the same time he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar….
27 Then Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!” 28 And he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the city. 29 Then many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to dwell there, 30 they, their sons, their wives, and their cattle, because evils pressed heavily upon them....
we meet our hero, instigator of the revolt:
matityahu and his sons were not the only rebels...
42 Then there united with them a company of Hasideans, 102 mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law. 43 And all who became fugitives to escape their troubles joined them and reinforced them. 44 They organized an army, and struck down sinners in their anger and lawless men in their wrath; the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety. 45 And Mattathias and his friends went about and tore down the altars; 46 they forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel. 47 They hunted down the arrogant men, and the work prospered in their hands. 48 They rescued the law out of the hands of the Gentiles and kings, and they never let the sinner gain the upper hand.
49 Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: “Arrogance and reproach have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger. 50 Now, my children, show zeal for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers….” 70 He died in the one hundred and forty-sixth year l03 and was buried in the tomb of his fathers at Modein. And all Israel mourned for him with great lamentation.
3:1 Then Judas his son, who was called Maccabeus, took command in his place….
why did the hasidim fail in their initial attempt to rebel?
mattityahu passes the torch...
*Is one permitted to fight on shabbat?
3:The heroism of ordinary Jews: stories of kiddush Hashem
*under what circumstances is a Jew permitted or even obligated to kill himself rather than transgress the laws of the Torah?
Hannah and her seven sons
what do the highlighted passages remind you of? What does this teach us about Yehudah Hamacabee and his tactics in fighting this war?
G: The course of the revolt
The big questions:
How did Yehudah Hamaccabee defeat the Greeks?
Why did the revolt continue even after the great victory of the Chashmonaim in 164 B.C.E.?
Stage 1: (167-164 B.C.E.)Yehudah wages war and rededicates the bet hamikdash
Battle of Emmaus
*First, the Syrian forces (commanded by Seleucid Generals Nicanor and Gorgias) arrives and camps in Emmaus (red color), while Judas Maccabeus (blue color) gathered 3,000 men and assembled in Mizpah.
*Then, General Gorgias headed at night from Emmaus to Mizpah to seek the camp of Judas.
*When Judas learned about the Syrian split, he exploited this opportunity by moving his forces during the night to the outskirts of Emmaus.
*In dawn they attacked, defeated the surprised Syrian army, and burnt their camp.
* General Nicanor's troops then flee to Gezer. Gorgias, who found an empty camp in Mizpah, returns back to Emmaus to find that their camp on fire, and also flees.
46 So they assembled and went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, 106 because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. 47 They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and rent their clothes....
military genius at work: The battle of Emmaus
'mizpeh' = the hill of 'nebi samuel'
Battle of Emmaus is an example of....
Judah and his army make their way to Jerusalem and conquer the city...
2) chanukat habayit
1:Chanukah in the Talmud: Shabbat 21b
why do we celebrate for 8 days?
What is the reason for Chanukah? For our Rabbis taught: On the 25th of Kislev begin the days of Chanukah, which are eight, during which lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils in it, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they [the Hasmoneans] searched and found only one cruse of oil which possessed the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient oil for only one day's lighting; yet a miracle occurred there and they lit [the lamp] for eight days. The following year these days were appointed a Festival with the recitation of Hallel and thanksgiving.
Why did the battle continue even after the initial victory of the Chasmonaim?
. 164–160 B.C.E.
* the Hashmonaim continued fighting to avenge Jews who had been attacked by gentile neighbors.
* Troops were dispatched to Transjordan, to the Galilee and to the Mediterranean coastal region.
* Many Jews were brought back to Jerusalem for resettlement.
* The success of these campaigns won the Chasmonaim tremendous popularity.
*162 B.C.E. : the Chashmonaim's fortunes plummeted. Antiochus V sent his Seleucid army to crush the rebels, and at a battle near Beth-Zechariah, south of Jerusalem, the Seleucids were victorious.
*But Seleucids can't enjoy their victory: major crisis breaks out in Antioch that required the immediate presence of the commander, Lysias, and his troops.
*A hasty favorable peace treaty was arranged, in which the decrees banning the practice of Judaism were officially revoked.
*Alcimus a moderate Jewish Hellenist is appointed Cohen Gadol. Most of the population accepts this compromise, including the Hasidim.
*Only the Hasmoneans rejected this arrangement, and as a result they were isolated and forced to withdraw from Jerusalem.
*In 161 B.C.E. Maccabean political and military fortunes changed once again, this time for the better. Judah Maccabee defeated the Greek general Nicanor in a major battle.
But then the tide turns:
what happened to eleazar?
why do you think the Chashmonaim succeeded?
13 Adar = 'Yom Nikanor'
(one of holidays listed in Meggilat Taanit)
* Judah's victory was short-lived. A year later a new Syrian army appeared in Judea, this time under the leadership of Bacchides. In a fierce battle, in which the Jews were badly outnumbered, Judah Maccabee was killed.
we interrupt this prezi to bring you...
Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and Jaddus the high-priest,
when he heard that, was in an agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the
Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience. He therefore ordained
that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifice to God,
whom he besought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming
upon them; whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered
sacrifice, that he should take courage, and adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest should
appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits proper
to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent.
Upon which, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced, and declared to all the warning he had
received from God. According to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king.
The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenion alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high-priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, 'I did not adore him, but that God who has honored him with his highpriesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dion in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians; whence it is that, having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the Divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.'
our big question: How did Alexander relate to the Jews and why?
what terrible trend do you see here?
“Since the Jews, upon our first entrance into their country demonstrated their friendship towards us…. (140) ...we have determined, on account of their piety towards God, to bestow on them a pension for their sacrifices of animals that are fit for sacrifice, for wine, oil, and frankincense, the value of twenty thousand pieces of silver, and sacred artabae 53 of fine flour, with one thousand four hundred and sixty medimni 54 of wheat and three hundred and seventy-five medimni of salt. (141) These payments I order to be fully paid to them, as I have sent orders to you. I also order the work on the temple and the porticoes finished and anything else that ought to be rebuilt. For the materials of wood, let them be brought out of Judea itself and out of the other countries and out of Lebanon tax free, and the same shall be done regarding those other materials which will be necessary in order to render the temple more glorious. (142) Let all of that nation live according to the laws of their own country. And let the senate, the priests, the scribes of the temple, and the sacred singers be relieved from the poll tax, the crown tax, and other taxes also.
D. Targum Shivim: the Translation of the Torah into Greek