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Alexander Jannaeus  

Katell Berthelot

Alexander Jannaeus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63 bce. He became high priest and king in 104/3 bce and waged numerous wars that were both defensive and meant to enlarge Judea’s borders. It was under his rule that Judea’s territory reached its maximum extension. Yet both Josephus’s works and rabbinic writings convey a rather negative record of his rule, mainly because of the violent suppression of his Judean opponents. He ruled for roughly twenty-eight years (from 104 to 76 bce) and left his kingdom to his wife, Salome Alexandra, who became the first Judean queen.Alexander Jannaeus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63bce—from 63 to 37bce they remained in charge to some extent, but under Roman supervision.1 Jannaeus was the son of John Hyrcanus.

Article

Arbela  

John MacGinnis and David Michelmore

The history of Arbela (cuneiform Urbilum/Urbel/Arbail, modern Erbil) is documented in archaeological and textual sources. From the point when it first entered history in the middle of the 3rd millennium, the city’s fortunes alternated between periods of independence and incorporation within the super-regional states of Mesopotamia, including the Ur III kingdom and, more briefly, the Upper Mesopotamian empire of Shamshi-Adad I. In the later 2nd millennium the city was incorporated within the Assyrian Empire, rising to become a regional capital of major importance. Following the fall of Assyria, the city was incorporated within the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Arsacid, and Sasanian empires. A period of independence as an emirate in the early mediaeval period was a golden age. This came to an end with the city’s submission to the Mongols, after which it came under the control of the Black Sheep and White Sheep Turcomans and the Safavid and Ottoman empires.Arbela—modern Erbil—is a city in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq with a documented history going back more than four thousand years. It is situated in the trans-Tigris region at the interface of the Zagros Mountains and the fertile plains of .

Article

Book of Daniel  

Anathea E. Portier-Young

Extant in three main ancient editions, the book of Daniel is a Jewish text composed c. 165 bce. Major themes are divine and human sovereignty, allegiance, identity, knowledge, and eschatology. The bilingual Hebrew and Aramaic version preserved in the Masoretic Text (MT) comprises twelve chapters and is one of the earliest examples of the apocalypse literary genre. Chapters 1–6 contain court legends about four Judean captives in Babylon—Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael (renamed Belteshazzzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego)—during the reigns of four kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. Daniel excels as an interpreter of dreams and visions, yet as the four Judeans rise to positions of power, they must choose between loyalty to king and loyalty to God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are sentenced to death in a fiery furnace for refusing to worship an idol, and Daniel is thrown into a pit of lions for praying to his deity. Yet each of the four experiences divine deliverance. In chapters 7–12, Daniel recounts a series of apocalyptic visions and discourses foretelling a sequence of empires and the concomitant subjugation, suffering, resistance, and deliverance of the Judean people. The ancient Greek versions of the text, Old Greek and Proto-Theodotion, differ in various respects from MT Daniel, most notably in their inclusion of the tales of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, the Prayer of Azariah, and the Song of the Three Youths. The book of Daniel influenced the development of Jewish and Christian eschatology, including beliefs about resurrection and judgment after death. Early Christian art and liturgy drew on the tales in Daniel to express hope of salvation. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus identifies himself with the “one like a human being” (commonly translated “son of man”; Dan. 7), implicitly identifying the kingdom he inaugurates with the kingdom of the holy ones that succeeds the four empires in Daniel’s vision.

Article

John Hyrcanus  

Katell Berthelot

John Hyrcanus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63 bce. He became high priest in 135 bce and succeeded, after Antiochus VII Sidete’s death, in establishing an independent Judean state thanks to the growing dissensions among the members of the Seleucid dynasty. In the last years of his rule, between 111 and 105 bce, he enlarged Judea’s borders through a series of military campaigns in Idumea, Samaria, and the Transjordan area. He destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim and imposed Jewish laws and circumcision upon the Idumeans. Josephus’s work and rabbinic writings convey a generally positive record of his rule.John Hyrcanus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63bce—from 63 to 37bce they remained in charge to some extent, but under Roman supervision.1 John Hyrcanus was the son of Simon, the nephew of Judas Maccabeus, and the grandson of Mattathias, who started the “Maccabean revolt” against the Seleucid king .

Article

3 Maccabees  

Noah Hacham

The short book of 3 Maccabees, written in Egypt in the Hellenistic or Roman period and almost unknown in antiquity, records king Ptolemy Philopator’s (221–204 bce) two failures to harm the Jews: In the first he failed to enter the sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem, and in the second the God of Israel thwarted the king’s three attempts to annihilate all Egyptian Jews with intoxicated elephants. The Jews instituted a holiday commemorating this rescue.

While the book’s historical credibility regarding these events is dubious, it should be seen as an important historical source for the life of Egyptian Jewry and the challenges that it faced during the Hellenistic-Roman period. The book has a discernible four-faceted agenda: (a) Jews are loyal both to their God and to the king, although they cannot be confident of the king’s goodwill toward them; (b) the God of Israel is the Jews’ protector and savior; (c) He also revealed Himself in the Diaspora, far away from the Jerusalemite Temple. The book is also (d) an anti-Dionysiac polemic.

Article

Ptolemaeus (4), of Mende, priest and author  

Kenneth S. Sacks

Ptolemaeus of Mende, a priest, wrote on the Egyptian kings in three books. He wrote before Apion (first half of the 1st cent. bce), who refers to him. He attributes the Hebrew Exodus under Moses to the time of king Amosis (founder of the 18th dynasty).