Period Described, Written     
1
PrimH
2
PatrPd
3
Exd & Cnq
4
Judg
5
UnMon
6
DivMon
7
Judah
8
BabEx
9
PersPd
10
HellnPd
11
PtolPd
12
SelPd
13
MaccPd
14
RomPd


The Maccabean & Roman Periods
 

  • The Maccabees
     

  • [Recall: 167 BC Antiochus IV tries to force all peoples living in his kingdom to adopt Hellenistic religion and culture.
     

  • He commanded the Jews to:

    • ignore or violate Sabbaths and festivals

    • eat and sacrifice unclean foods

    • build altars to pagan idols and worship them

    • leave their sons uncircumcised (1 Macc 1:41-63).
       

  • Most importantly:

    • he invaded Jerusalem and rededicated the temple to the Greek god Zeus, profaning the temple with the "horrible abomination" (1 Macc 1:54),

      • image of Zeus placed on the altar of holocausts in the temple.

    • he had copies of the Torah confiscated and burned.]
       

  • Some Jews tried to remain faithful to the law.

    • the 'Hasideans' or 'Hasidim.' (faithful)

    • After Antiochus profaned the temple, their resistance was seen as inadequate.
       

  • The Maccabean Revolt

    • Various revolts erupted as a result, most important is that of Mattathias the Hasmonean.

    • he died shortly after and his son, Judah the 'Maccabee' (the 'hammerer'?) led the revolt.
       

  • In 164 BC, Judah expelled the Seleucids from Jerusalem.

    • he reconquered and purified the temple,

      • remembered w/ 8-day-long feast of Hanukkah ('Dedication').
         

  • 2 yrs later, all of Antiochus' decrees were overturned, but presence and/or threat of the Seleucids would remain.

    • [To protect himself from the Seleucids, Judah formed an alliance with the Romans.]
       

  • 160 BC, Judah died in battle w/ the Seleucids

    • succeeded by his youngest brother, Jonathan.
       

  • 159 BC, the high priest [Alcimus] died,

    • no successor chosen for 7 years.

    • had never happened in 350 year history of 2nd temple.
       

  • 152 BC, the Seleucid empire was in the middle of a civil war between

    • the king Demetrius I

    • and Alexander Balas,

      • the supposed son of Antiochus Epiphanes IV.
         

  • Jonathan accepted an offer from Balas to be named high priest in return for his loyalty,

    • and he remained high priest for ten years.
       

  • Josephus mentions the existence of Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and a 'fourth philosophy' during his reign.

    • 142 BC, he was tricked, captured, and executed.
       

  • Jonathan's brother Simon became the high priest.

    • created an independent Jewish kingdom,

      • [removed Seleucid troops from Jerusalem.

    • assassinated by his brother-in-law at a banquet to which he had been invited.]
       

  • 134 BC, Simon's son, John Hyrcanus, became high priest.

    • governed from 134-104 BC.

    • expanded the borders of Jewish territory to include:

      • Samaria to the north

        • (destroyed temple at Mt. Gerizim and forced Samaritans to accept Jewish law).

      • Idumea to the south, forcing Idumeans to accept Jewish law.
         

    • Hyrcanus died in 104 BC.

      • succeeded by his son Aristobulus.

        • first to be called 'king'

          • (and, still, 'high priest').

        • reigned for only 1 year (104-103 BC).
           

  • 103 BC, Aristobulus was succeeded by his brother Alexander Jannaeus.

    • reigned from 103-76 BC.

    • a brutal king hated by his subjects.

    • killed thousands of Jews for opposing his reign.
       

    • so brutal that the Jews asked the Seleucid king Demetrius to come to Judea to depose him.

      • Demetrius invaded Judea and forced Alexander to flee,

        • but had to withdraw

      • Alexander returned to power.
         

    • Jannaeus arrested his opponents and had them executed.

      • Over 10,000 people were killed or fled.

      • Josephus mentions 800 (pharisees?) who were crucified.

        • Jannaeus had their wives and children brought out before them and killed as they hung on the cross.
           

  • Jannaeus was succeeded by his wife, Salome Alexandra, in 76 BC

    • reigned from 76-67 BC.

    • Made her son, Hyrcanus II, high priest.

    • She formed an alliance w/ the Pharisees.
       

    • opposed by her son Aristobulus II, who revolted against her.

      • She died before the revolt ended.
         

    • Aristobulus II ruled from 67-63 BC.

      • forced Hyrcanus II the give up the high priesthood.

      • However, Hyrcanus was urged by a wealthy Idumean named Antipater (father of Herod the Great) to resist.

         

  • These 2 brothers were still feuding when the Roman general Pompey arrived in the region.

    • Both sent delegations to Pompey asking for assistance.

    • instead, he took control of Judea for Rome.

    • Hyrcanus II, who supported him, was given back the high priesthood.
       

    • Jerusalem fell to Pompey in 63 BC, after a three month siege.

       

  • During the century in which the Maccabees ruled Palestine,

    • they began by resisting Hellenism,

    • but became increasingly Hellenistic themselves.

      • [consider their names, which become increasingly Greek with each generation]
         

    • they were at first inspired by a desire to be faithful to Judaism,

      • but they took titles for themselves for which many faithful Jews saw them as unfit:

        • high priest, though not Zadokite

        • king, though not Davidic
           

    • Judaism begins to diversify in this period, the most divisive issue being how to respond to Hellenism:
       

      • The Sadducees

        • Priests who served the temple,

        • saw themselves as descended from Zadok

        • largely sympathetic to their Hellenistic neighbors, b/c it preserved their power.
           

        • rejected belief in:

          • angels (not in their existence, but that they still spoke to humans)

          • resurrection of the dead.

          • in divine providence (or Greek 'Fate')

          • immortality of the soul

          • 'oral torah'
             

      • The Pharisees

        • possibly related to the Hasidim,

        • opposed to Hellenistic religious influence,

          • critical of the temple and Sadducees for being too Hellenized.
             

        • Envisioned Judea as a 'nation of priests,'

          • where everyone followed the priestly purity code

        • respected Hellenistic cultural influence, realizing the futility of resisting it.
           

        • embraced an 'oral torah'-

          • a collection of elaborations on the Mosaic Law

          • passed from one generation to next,

          • but not written until the Rabbinic period.
             

        • apocalyptic-

          • believed in:

            • angels,

            • resurrection of the dead.

            • some individual free will,

              • but Divine Providence guided the overall course of history.

            • saw soul as inseparable from body,

              • its immortality a gift from God, not a characteristic of humanity.

          • Paul was a Pharisee b4 his 'conversion.'
             

      • The Essenes

        • monastic priestly sect that left Jerusalem,

          • considering it corrupted by Hellenism.

        • saw themselves as true temple priesthood, living in exile. [recall Ezekiel's 'Wonderful Stream']

        • est. community at Qumran by the Dead Sea

        • apocalyptic & messianic-

          • believed in angels, complete divine providence, immortality of soul.

          • believed God would cleanse the temple at the end time,

            • they would become the temple priesthood.
               

          • expected 2 messiahs:

            • A priestly Aaronic messiah who would lead the temple,

            • and a militaristic Davidic messiah who would re-conquer Jerusalem.
               

          • possibly wrote DSS, found in caves in the walls of the Dead Sea.

            • [possibly, saw Jonathan Maccabee as the 'Wicked Priest,' sect's founder as 'Teacher of Righteousness']
               

      • The '4th Philosophy'

        • begun by Judas the Galilean

        • believed that the Jews should have 'no king but God,' (a return to the time of the Judges)

        • advocated resistance to foreign taxation.
           

      • The Zealots & Sicarii

        • Opposed Hellenism with violent extremism.

        • A Simon the Zealot is listed among Jesus' apostles.

        • the Sicarii ('daggermen') would assassinate non-Jews and their Jewish sympathizers.

        • possibly, 'Iscariot' is a form of 'Sicarii,' though the meaning 'from Kerioth' is more likely.

 

  • The Roman Era
     

    • 44 BC Julius Caesar, Roman emperor, was assassinated.

      • A civil war for control of the empire broke out among his generals.

        • Octavian emerged as victor.
           

    • In 40 BC, by marrying into the Hasmonean family,

      • Antipater's grandson Herod (the Great) became king of Judea,

        • with permission from Octavian

        • invaded Judea, took Jerusalem in 37 BC.

        • ruled from 37-4 BC
           

    • Herod's Accomplishments (compare to Solomon):

      • a great builder. Built many pagan cities (incl. Caesarea Maritima) and temples, and many Jewish cities.

      • massively expanded the temple of Jerusalem.

      • Built a number of fortresses, including

        • the Herodium, where he was buried

        • Masada and

        • Machaerus, where JBapt would die years later. (Mt 14:3-12).
           

    • Herod's Reputation:

      • Idumean, a 'half Jew,' never fully respected by his subjects.

      • $$ for his building projects came from heavy taxes on the Jews.

      • killed members of the Jewish aristocracy whom he feared had more prestige than him.

      • killed some of his own wives and children

        • suspected (often rightly) that they were plotting rebellions against him.
           

    • reputation for brutal cruelty; adds legitimacy to Mt's story of Herod killing the firstborn (Mt 2:16-18),

      • though this story is not recorded outside the Bible.
         

    • 27 BC, the Roman senate bestowed title of "Augustus" on Octavian, proclaiming him Emperor or 'Lord'.

      • declared 'divi filius,' or 'son of god,'

        • b/c his adoptive father, Julius Caesar had been deified by the senate upon his death.

      • began a propaganda campaign throughout the empire labeling himself as a peacemaker.

        • began the 'Pax Romana' or 'Pax Augustus'

      • Inscriptions found from this time describe him as the "savior of the world."
         

    • forms the background of Luke's gospel. (Lk 2:11,14)

      • In Lk, Jesus' birth is placed within the context of a census conducted by Augustus,

      • Jesus is described as 'savior,' 'son of God,' 'Lord,' one who will bring 'peace'

      • If Luke is correct, Jesus must have been born before  4 BC, the year in which Herod the Great dies.

       

    • Upon Herod's death, Octavian divided his kingdom among his sons:
       

    • Herod Archelaus

      • ethnarch of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea.

      • Reigned from 4BC-6AD.

      • Removed from the throne by Augustus [and banished to Gaul.]

      • Replaced by Roman prefects (such as Pontius Pilate)
         

    • Herod Antipas

      • tetrarch of Galilee [and part of the Transjordan (Perea)]

      • Reigned from 4BC-39AD.

      • Called ď'that fox' by Jesus in Lk.

      • Had JBapt beheaded.

      • Acc. to Lk, Jesus went on trial in front of him.
         

    • Herod Philip II

      • receives lands to the E-N-E of Galilee.

      • Reigned from 4BC to 34AD.

      • Probably the most effective ruler of Herodís sons, but least mentioned in the NT.
         

    • Briefly, from 41-44AD, Herod Agrippa I ruled a reunited Palestine.

      • an effective ruler, respected even by his Jewish subjects.

      • After his unexpected death, the entire region fell under the direct control of Roman prefects.

 

  • Palestine in the 1st Century
     

    • During the Roman Era, Jews living in Palestine depended on access to land to survive.

    • [they had to raise enough food:

      • to last until next harvest

      • to seed next year's crop

      • to feed draft animals

      • to trade for necessities

      • for the necessary rituals/celebrations required throughout the year]

         

    • In a typical year, they barely produced enough from the land to survive.

      • [also, they had to pay a tithe to the temple, supporting the priesthood.

      • Under the Romans, a surplus was expected to pay taxes/tribute to the empire]

        • Rome practiced 'tax farming,' a corrupt system that victimized the powerless Jews.
           

      • amounted to a double tax,

        • sometimes as much as 40% of what they produced.

        • impossible demand to meet,

        • seen as robbery/ banditry by the Jews.

        • amounted to slavery.
           

    • To Rome, non-payment =ed rebellion, to which they responded with military force.
       

    • [worse, Romans drew resources from the provinces during times of war (esp. civil war), often demanding funds immediately.]
       

    • Families that did not have enough to live off of after paying the tribute borrowed to survive.

      • [Continued borrowing increased indebtedness- eventually causing complete loss of land.
         

    • they were forced to become sharecroppers/tenant farmers on the very land that had belonged to their families for generations.
       

    • large estates run by stewards/landlords (sometimes absentee) and worked by tenants were common.

      • worked from sunrise to sunset.

      • raised "cash crops" like grapes or olives (for oil).

      • profitable for elites, but of little use to peasants who could not live off of them.
         

      • droughts or famines could devastate crops making it impossible to pay the tribute.]
         

    • An inescapable situation:

      • enormous, unpayable taxes

      • the threat of military action for non-payment

      • unusual occurences or natural disasters that added to the burden.
         

    • two options:

      • Accept oppression, accept slavery.

      • Reject Oppression, become an enemy of the empire.
         

    • Why would Jews have accepted slavery?

      • In reality, there was no other option.

      • to believe that things might change was actually seen as shameful:
         

      • Honor/shame were pivotal values:

        • honor was essential to survival, and seen as a 'limited good.'

          • [honor brought prestige, wealth, and connections to families (note: not the other way around)

            • paradoxically, wealth was forfeited for honor.

          • shame ostracized, impoverished, alienated.

          • men acquired honor, women avoided shame.

            • a man's realm was work, the world.

            • a woman's was home, the family.]
               

        • One could be 'upwardly mobile,' but never ashamed of one's station in life.

          • thus, hope was shameful- a delusion that 'Fate' could be counted on to intervene and make life better.

 

  • Banditry

  • Some resisted Rome by resorting to banditry.

    • [In the NT, word for bandits is also translated

      • 'revolutionaries,'

      • 'robbers,'

      • 'murderers.']

    • Social bandits = peasants repressed and separated from their land and village/town.

      • excessively taxed, forced to sell everything they owned, including their land.
         

  • [Examples from the bible:

    • David is described as a bandit in 1 Sam 22:2.

    • Jesus is also linked to banditry several times:

    • Mk 14:48= "Have you come to arrest me like a bandit?"

    • Mk 15:27= He is crucified between two bandits.

    • Mk 15:6-15= Barabbas is described as a bandit.
       

    • Jesus is even portrayed as bandit-like:

      • He was from the villages

      • He associated with disreputable people

      • He made statements against taxation and the temple]
         

  • Social Banditry in Jesusí time:

    • began during the Maccabean era,

    • peaked mid-1st century AD,

      • bandits fought against Rome in the First Revolt (66-70 AD).

    • organized bands that would raid and steal to survive- usually attacking elites.

    • seen as heroes by the oppressed Jews.

    • considered enemies of the state by Rome.
       

    • Many of the Bandit/revolutionary figures who appeared in Judea in the 1st half of the 1st century cast themselves as messianic figures, [such as:

      • Judas the Galilean

      • Theudas

      • 'The Egyptian'

      • John of Gischala

      • Simon bar Giora]
         

  • Banditry increased sharply in the mid 1st century,

    • [b/c of a famine during the procuratorship of Tiberius Alexander.
       

    • It is in this context that the polarized responses to Jesus' ministry must be understood.

     

    • Josephus mentions that the problem of banditry continued to rise during the procuratorships of:

      • Cumanus (48-52 AD)

      • Felix (52-60 AD)

      • Festus (60-62 AD)

    • and it grew out of control during the reign of Albinus (62-64 AD), who made matters worse by further increasing taxes, helping to start the First Revolt.]
       

  • role of Banditry in the First Revolt:

    • Gessius Florus (64-66 AD) was procurator when it began.

    • Right before the revolt, Rome began trying to eliminate banditry by pillaging the countryside,

    • which only caused more people to join the bandit groups.
       

  • In 66 AD, priests in the temple refused to continue offering sacrifices in the temple for Rome and the emperor,

    • seen as an act of rebellion.
       

  • In 67 AD, bandit groups moved into Jerusalem and joined Zealots in opposition to Rome.

    • One of the two most important leaders of the Jewish resistance was a bandit, John of Gischala.