Notice: I have gone over it to clean up some spelling and some formatting. I have not checked facts in history books.
The History of the Hellenized Jew - Part One
The History of the Hellenized Jew - Part One
(333 - 168 BC) Alexander - Antiochus Epiphanes
1. Alexander, Charging the East
1. Alexander, Charging the East
- The pygmy threatened the giant
- He wanted to link the West (cultural unity) to the East (grandeur and wealth)
- He built new cities (enlarged old ones) populated them with Greeks (esp. his soldiers)
- New: ideas, gods, methods of administration, language, military tactics, markets for trade, etc.
- The Jews were surrounded by a new world
2. Alexander and the Jewish People
- He showed hostility to the Samaritans and kindness to the Jews (granted them self-govt.)
- He didn't compel Jewish men to join his army (respected their Sabbaths, etc.)
3. Dividing Alexander's New Found Kingdom
- Many long and complicated wars followed with the Jews caught in the middle
- Two generals (Ptolemy and Seleucus) established a dynasty (important in Jewish history)
- Ptolemy gained control of Egypt (descendants were called "the Ptolemies") - Seleucus won for himself all the Asian lands that were conquered (the Seleucids)
4. The Fate of Palestine
- Finally Ptolemy seized it and Seleucus let the matter go (though his descendants never really let go)
Hellenization Outside of Palestine
- Jewish settlements began emerging along the Mediterranean and all the areas
- These Jewish emigrants had to learn Greek language, customs, and ideas (Hellenization)
Hellas was the Greek name for Greece
- The community of Alexandria is probably the best example of what happened to the Jews under the influence of Greek or Hellenistic culture.
- The port of Alexandria became one of the most active commercial centers of the world. With many Jews there they formed an important part of the community.
- Citizenship depended upon for the most part your religion (each city had a patron god/goddess) City festivities involved sacrificing to various deities especially if one held an office.
- Jews could not participate so they were not full citizens (yet they could not be called foreigners because they helped found Alexandria and made it prosperous and important)
- The Ptolemies allowed for separate communities for Jews (courts, religion, diet, Synagogue, etc.) They could not lead in festivals or hold a public office (unless they converted to paganism).
- In spite of all this the Jews and Alexandrians were friendly to one another.
7. Cultural Adjustment
- As Alexandria prospered their was more learning and philosophy than in Greece itself
- The Jews were hospitable and also spoke Greek and were somewhat cultured yet they remained Jews
- Eventually very few Jews spoke Hebrew or Aramaic (dangerous to their Jewish roots)
- This is how they dealt with it, first, they began teaching their children Hebrew and second, they translated the Pentateuch and other Jewish literature into Greek to preserve the Jewish spirit
8. The Legend of the Septuagint
- The Jews of Egypt surrounded the translating of the Bible with legend and miracles.
See section on the Septuagint .
Greeks and Jews in Palestine
9. The New Greek Cities
- Greek influence was also spreading in Palestine
- Old cities assumed new Greek names and esp. the non-Jewish cities practiced the Greek way of life
- Greek buildings, gymnasiums, and forms of government
10. Prosperity and Migration
- Non-Jewish cities became very prosperous because they were heavy into commerce (east and west)
- The Jews were big exporters of grain, wine, olive oil, cheese, fruit, and fish - Jewish population increased heavily and many became artisans and merchants and farmers
11. Hellenization in Judea
Note: Almost every ancient people of the Bible disappeared except the Jews
- They rejected the philosophy and culture as inferior to Judaism though respecting it
- The Jews stood more than ever before as a different and unique people
- The priests of Jerusalem and upper class wanted it to be the great trade center. They wanted to externally resemble the people around them and yet maintain their Judaism and not indulge in (barbarianism)
12. The Sons of Tobias (Tax Collectors)
- The chief advocates of Hellenism in Judea were members of a family who were believed to have descended from Tobias the Ammonite who had hassled Nehemiah so much. Though they were not Jewish they had intermarried with the family of the high priest and being important in politics and government
- About 230 BC Joseph ben Tobias bought from the king of Egypt the right to collect the taxes from the entire district of Syria (Judea and all its neighbors).
- The way it worked was one man would pay the royal treasury a lump sum for the privilege of collecting as much as he could from the inhabitants of a district. (Got rich at his neighbors expense...hated).
- Joseph, his family, and his co-workers became a great economic power in Palestine. - They adopted the customs and ways of the Greeks the most and angered even the gentiles around.
You can learn it in Torah
13. A Scribes Advice
- The Jews had no idea what was coming soon (major struggles) as a result of Greek influences.
- At this time a man named Joshua ben Sirach (from Jerusalem) wrote a book on philosophy but his philosophy differed greatly from that of the Greeks. He ignored subjects like the physical universe, government, and society and was primarily interested in giving people practical advice on how to live. - According to him Moses and the prophets, and Proverbs and Ecclesiastes give us all of the answers. The wise man was the one who had no ambition and served God faithfully. He will avoid friendship with the ambitious and wealth seekers.
- Little did he know that tragedy would follow. The poor were dividing from the rich, things were hot. The Maccabees Fight for Survival (The Jews fight a war against astronomical odds)
The Maccabean Age
The next 50 years (200-150 BC) were very important and filled with stirring events. These events forever changed the Jewish people and Judaism even to the present day. Since all that happened, happened outside of Judea we must make mention of the ambitions and fortunes of the empires and kingdoms that controlled the world and their powerful rulers.
Judea Becomes a Syrian Province
14. Syria's Ambition
- The Syrians desired to reunite all of Alexander's conquests.
- By 198 BC Antiochus III, called "the Great" took the first step when he forced Egypt to give up Palestine
- Only one obstacle lay in the path of the Seleucid's march to world dominion----Rome
- Rome had just destroyed the power of Carthage and was gradually dominating the Mediterranean lands
- Antiochus was forced to give up Egypt and give hostages (his royal family) plus large sums of money (which they exacted from the peoples subject to them) as security against any Roman invasions.
- But Antiochus and his successor, Seleucus IV, continued to plan conquests. - Seleucid empire began to crack when most of Asia would no longer submit to the tyranny (esp. Israel)
15. Factions Among the Jews
- Differences of opinion and many factions developed within Judaism. (Some were for the Syrian ambitions and some were against them)
- The family of Tobias and Hyrcanus, son of Joseph, were on the side of Egypt (obviously) and others were on the side of Syria because they thought Syria was too powerful
- The common people didn't really get involved (they knew they would be taxed by either side) until it involved their religion and then real political parties began to develop
The Attack on Judaism
16. The Sanctity of the Temple
- The pro-Syrian group wanting the favor of Seleucus revealed that there was much wealth in the Temple
- In those days (having no banks) all Temples were used for storing treasures. A thief would not dare arouse the anger of a god by taking what the god protected.
- Seleucus dispatched Heliodorus (an official) to confiscate the money in the Temple
- Heliodorus left without taking any of the money (legend tells that a certain Jew beat him to a pulp)
- The Syrian plan was thwarted and the true intent of the Hellenized Jews was revealed
17. The High Priest is Removed and Antiochus Epiphanes
- The pro-Syrian group decided to remove the high priest. (Hoping to control the government)
- They did this because of the change in the government of Syria
- Seleucus IV had died and had been succeeded by his brother Antiochus IV (who usurped the throne)
- Antiochus IV also wanted to conquer Egypt like the others and unite his empire
- Since Palestine bordered Egypt he needed a loyal Hellenized population there
- Then a group of Jews came to him and devised a plan. The high priest Onias III should be removed and his Hellenized brother Jason was to take his place. (set up a Greek Constitution and coin Greek money)
- The plan was followed and all the Jews were outraged. It was the first time since the Babylonian Captivity that a non-Jewish government had interfered with the priesthood (treating the sacred office as though it were nothing other than a governmental office)
- But worse was to come. Now the Hellenizers had full control of the government in Jerusalem and they began to build gymnasiums within the city and encouraged the young to spent all their time there.
- The young priests engaged in sports. Jerusalem was filled with Greek styles, clothes, names, language and worst of all, its religion and loose morals.
- The most radical Hellenizers felt that things were not moving fast enough so they convinced Antiochus to remove Jason (Jason fled) and replace him with Menelaus (not a member of the priestly family)
- Menelaus had no sympathy for the Jewish traditions whatsoever and was only concerned about power
- The Temple treasury did not contain enough money to pay Antiochus what he had promised so he sold some of the holy vessels of the Temple to raise the money he needed.
18. Judaism was to be Destroyed
- To Antiochus to be un-Hellenized was stiff-necked nonsense
- If Judaism stood in the way then Judaism was to be destroyed so he gave the orders
- The Syrian army marched into Jerusalem and many of the people were killed and others escaped to the hills. Only the known Hellenists were allowed to remain
- Orders were given: NO Sabbath, NO Holy Days, and NO Circumcision
- A Statue of Zeus/Antiochus was placed in the Temple above the altar
- The most detestable animals (the pig) were brought and sacrificed on the altar
- An abominable act was perpetrated on Kislev 25, 168 BC according to the Book of Maccabees that "left the Jewish people desolate." (They call this the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel) but Jesus taught that this was a preliminary of the secondary and greater fulfillment coming in the last days and seventieth week of Daniel.