The Hellenistic Age: 330 BCE - 30 CE

I. Alex the Great

A. From base in Macedonia, conquers most of the ancient world by 323; dies at the age of 33

B. Tutored by Aristotle; admired Greek culture

C. Aim to spread Greek cultural and political institutions in conquered lands

II. After Alexander: Empire split among 3 generals: Macedonia and

A. Seleucids: Syria (Antioch)
B. Ptolemies: Egypt (Alexandria)
C. Judea is the battleground between the two

1. Under the Persians, Judea had been culturally left alone

a.Persians encouraged strengthening of ethnic and religious boundaries

2. In the Hellenistic era, garrisons of soldiers all over Judea
3. Every city established along Greek lines
4. Encouragement to adopt Greek culture

D. Greek cultural features

1. Adoption of Greek as first language

a. Production of Greek Bible, the Septuagint

2. Re-organization of city life

a. Introduction of gymnasium, the schools

3. Greek philosophy

a. Emphasis on individualism
b. Emphasis on fate and chance
c. Less personal deity
d. Syncretism

III. Reactions to Hellenism

A. The Hasidim (Pious Ones)

1. Resistance to Greek influence
2. Strict adherence to Mosaic code
3. Tend to come from lower and rural classes
4. An opposition movement in the third century when Judea was ruled by the Ptolemies

IV. The Maccabean Revolt: Reaction to Seleucid Rule (174 - 141 BCE)

A. Jason buys the office of high priest from the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV (175)

1. Agrees to structures Jerusalem like a Greek polis and establish gymnasium and school

2. Jason's rival, Menelaus, likewise buys high priesthood by plundering the Temple treasury

C. Antichus IV visits Jerusalem to restore order (and Menelaus): 169-168

1. Plunders the Temple and destroys part of the city

2. Appoints military commander in charge of Jerusalem; installs foreign troops in city at Akra

3. Antichus bans circumcision, religious study of Torah and observance of the Sabbath

4. Orders desecration of the Temple by building altar to Zeus there

D. Revolt breaks out in the town of Mo'din the following year, organized by the Maccabee family

1. Guerilla war 166-164

2. Temple captured, purified (leads to festival of Hannukah)

3. Intermittent warfare for the next 20 years

V. The Hasmonean Dynasty: 142-37 BCE

A. Coincides with weakness in both Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empires

B. Hasmoneans combined both priesthood and political rule

C. Synthesis of Jewish and Hellenistic cultures

VI. The Romans