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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.


anti-Semitism, pagan  

Catherine Hezser

Whether the modern term anti-Semitism, popularized by the German anti-Semitic agitator and founder of the League of Antisemites Wilhelm Marr (1819–1904), is appropriate for antiquity is controversial. Scholars have proposed to use alternative terms such as Judeophobia or hatred against Jews instead. Similarly controversial is the question whether racism existed and was directed against Jews in antiquity. Greek and Latin writers’ expression of anti-Jewish arguments and slanderous allegations against Jews need to be investigated within the respective social, political, and cultural contexts in which they occur. Several anti-Jewish writers lived in Egypt and created variant versions of a counter-narrative to the biblical exodus story. Egyptian “anti-Semitism” is usually explained by reference to relations between Jews and non-Jews in Alexandria and the Hellenistic and Roman rulers’ treatment of the different ethnic groups. Recurrent anti-Jewish arguments are directed against beliefs and practices associated with Jews, such as Jewish monotheism, Sabbath observance, circumcision, and abstinence from pork. Rather than being based on detailed knowledge of Judaism or close observance of Jewish practices, they reflect misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Some allegations were entirely fictional. Greek and Roman authors’ claims of their own culture’s superiority over Jews as an ethnic and religious minority flared up in times of rebellion and defeat. Conflicts and clashes also happened in Antioch, Caesarea, and Rome, where Jews were frequently expelled. Major Roman authors expressed hostile views of Jews and Judaism. Roman emperors’ policies shifted between submission and toleration. Not every form of conflict between Jews and others can be called anti-Semitism. When pagans became Christian, traditional pagan attitudes towards Jews merged with Christian anti-Judaism.



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 .


Archelaus (4), son of Herod (1) and Augustan ethnarch  

Tessa Rajak

Archelaus (4), following the will left by his father *Herod (1), was appointed by Augustus ethnarch of the southern part of Herod's kingdom—*Judaea, *Samaria, and *Idumaea. Archelaus married (scandalously) Glaphyra, daughter of *Archelaus (5) of Cappadocia, previously the wife of his own half-brother, as well as of King *Juba (2) of Mauretania.


Aristeas, Letter of  

Sylvie Honigman

The Letter of Aristeas is a literary work composed in Greek that narrates the legendary origins of the Septuagint. Scholars date the work to between the 3rd century bce and the late 1st century bce, with most at present agreeing on the 2nd century bce. While the first-person narrator, Aristeas, introduces himself as a Greek courtier of Ptolemy II Philadelphus writing to another Greek named Philocrates, modern scholars concur that the author was in fact an Alexandrian Jew. The Letter of Aristeas offers the earliest version of the legend according to which the Septuagint was translated by seventy-two elders from Jerusalem who came to Alexandria upon the invitation of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Because the nomenclature employed to describe the work done by the elders suggests a process not of translation but of textual emendation, the letter is also an important source of evidence for the editorial techniques developed by the scholars of the Alexandrian Museum. It is only with subsequent authors that the legend of the Septuagint’s origins acquired a miraculous element, according to which each one of the seventy-two elders produced the very same translation simultaneously through prophetic inspiration.


Aristobulus (2), Alexandrian Jewish author, c. 2nd half of 2nd cent. BCE  

William David Ross and Simon Hornblower

Aristobulus (2), an Alexandrian Jew (see alexandria), probably of the second half of the 2nd cent. bce, author of a commentary on the Pentateuch which is known only through quotations by *Clement of Alexandria, Anatolius, and *Eusebius. This has been thought by some scholars to be a much later work (of the 3rd cent. ce) falsely ascribed to Aristobulus; but this conclusion is not necessary. If the earlier date be accepted, the book is the earliest evidence of contact between Alexandrian Jewry and Greek philosophy. Its object was twofold, to interpret the Pentateuch in an allegorical fashion and to show that *Homer and *Hesiod, the Orphic writings (see orphic literature), *Pythagoras (1), *Plato (1), and *Aristotle had borrowed freely from a supposed early translation of the OT into Greek. Though Aristobulus toned down the anthropomorphism of the OT, his thought remained Jewish and theistic; it did not accept the pantheism of the Stoics nor anticipate the Logos-doctrine of *Philon (4).


art, Jewish  

Steven Fine

Architecture, coinage, and funerary remains reflect distinctive Jewish modes of participation in the larger visual culture of the Graeco-Roman period. Jews tended to distance themselves from artefacts and imagery deemed potentially 'idolatrous', although this category was somewhat fluid. *Hasmonaean and Jewish revolt coinage exhibits mainly floral motifs and a palaeo-Hebrew script, reminiscent of Tyrian numismatics. The Temple menorah and showbread table appear on lepta of Antigonos Mattathias (39 bce), and other Jerusalem cult objects are found on coins of the First Revolt (66–74 ce) and the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–5 ce), which bear a tetrastyle representation of the lost Temple. The architecture of Herod's Temple (c.20/19 bce – 70 ce) was consonant with Augustan imperial architecture, apart from the avoidance of human and most animal imagery. From the 3rd cent. ce, symbols drawn from the Temple cult (e.g. the menorah), some of which were carried over into *synagogue liturgy (e.



Kimberley Czajkowski

Babatha was a Jewish woman who lived in the province of Roman Arabia in the first half of the 2nd century ce. Her documents were found wrapped up in a leather purse in the Cave of Letters, near the Dead Sea. Babatha’s archive is multilingual and dates from before and after the annexation of the region in 106 ce. It consists of legal and administrative documents, including marriage contracts, deeds of gift, land registrations, and two cases of litigation that were aimed at the court of the Roman governor. The archive therefore sheds light on various aspects of the life of one particular Jewish family in this era, particularly on everyday legal transactions in the newly annexed province and “on the ground” reactions of imperial inhabitants to the new ruling power.Babatha was a Jewish woman who lived in the province of Roman Arabia in the first half of the .


Bar Kokhba  

Werner Eck

Shim‘on Bar Kokhba lead the rebellion of a part of the Jewish people, who organized an independent Jewish state for the short period from 132 to 136, during the reign of Hadrian. The rebellion which was finally crushed by the Roman army with heavy effects for the Jewish heartland in the province Judea.

Bar Kokhba (“son of a star”) is a sobriquet given to Shim'on, the leader of the Jewish revolt from 132–136. In his own letters, his real name is—in Aramaic/Hebrew language—Shim'on bar/ben Kosiba (P. Yadin 50; XḤev/Se 30, et al.); in Greek sources he is called Βαρχωχεβας (Justin, Apol. 1.31.6; Euseb. Hist. eccl. 4.6.2; 4.8.4), or Χοχεβᾶς (Sync. 660) or in Latin Cochebas (Hieron. De vir ill. 21); for all forms of names see PIR2 B 53; S 746.

The name Bar Kokhba (“son of a star”) carries a positive messianic association; it should go back to Rabbi Akiba, with reference to Balaam’s statement in Numbers 24.17: A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of tumult. Akiba is said to have awarded him the title Messiah: “This is the king: messiah.” However, this assignment to Rabbi Akiba is probably unhistorical; it is an ascription made by later rabbis.


Ben Sira  

Benjamin G. Wright III

The book of Ben Sira is a wisdom text dating from the early 2nd century bce. It provides important evidence for Jewish wisdom traditions and teachers as well as Jewish scribes in this period. It was translated in Greek by the author’s grandson, and that version became the primary one, later becoming part of the Christian scriptural tradition. Fragmentary manuscripts of the Hebrew text were found in the Cairo Genizah and among the Dead Sea Scrolls.The Wisdom of Ben Sira is a Jewish wisdom book written in the early part of the 2nd centurybce by a Jewish scribe/sage from Jerusalem named Joshua ben (i.e., “son of”) Sira, who is better known from the Greek form of his name, Jesus son of Sira. Written in Hebrew, the work was not included in the Jewish canon of scripture, and the Hebrew text fell into obscurity. A translator, who in a prologue identifies himself as the author’s grandson, rendered the book into Greek in the latter part of the .


Berenice(4), daughter of M. Iulius Agrippa I, b. 28 CE  

Edith Mary Smallwood and M. T. Griffin

Berenice (4) (b. 28 ce), daughter of M. *Iulius Agrippa I, was married to Marcus, brother of Ti. *Iulius Alexander in 41, and then in 46 to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis. From his death (48) she lived with her brother, M. *Iulius Agrippa II. To quieten rumours of incest, she persuaded Polemon, priest-king of Olba in Cilicia, to marry her (53/54), but the marriage did not last long. She played some part in public affairs: in 66 she tried, at first single-handed and then with Agrippa, to prevent the Jewish Revolt, and in 69, in Agrippa's absence, she supported the Flavian cause. *Titus fell in love with her while he was in Judaea (67–70), and when she visited Rome with Agrippa (75) he openly lived with her, perhaps for some years. He deferred, however, to public opinion and did not marry her, and on his accession (79) he dismissed her with regret on both sides (Suet.


Biblical Archaeology  

Aren Maeir

Biblical archaeology is defined as the study of the archaeological remains of the peoples, cultures, and periods in which the biblical texts were formed. While in the past biblical archaeology was often seen as an ideologically motivated field of inquiry, currently, a balanced and scientifically advanced approach is common among most practitioners. The large body of research in this field, continuing to the present, provides a broad range of finds, insights, and understanding of the relevant cultures, peoples and periods in which the biblical texts were formed.Biblical archaeology may be defined as the study of the archaeological remains of the regions, cultures, and periods, in which the biblical texts were formed. Modern biblical archaeology does not attempt to prove or disprove the Bible. Rather, archaeological study of the cultures in which the Bible was formed, or which are included in the Bible narratives, can provide a better understanding of the material and intellectual context of the biblical texts. The primary aim, however, is to study the archaeology of these regions, periods, and cultures associated with the Bible, the biblical interface being secondary. Biblical archaeology focuses primary attention on the regions and cultures of the Southern Levant, specifically the region of modern-day Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and southern Syria. Nearby regions such as Egypt, northern Syria, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Cyprus, and the Aegean are within its scope of interest. The main chronological focus of biblical archaeology are the periods in which the actual biblical texts were formed and written down—the Iron Age, Persian period, and Hellenistic period for the Hebrew Bible, about .


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.


Caesarea (2) in Palaestina  

Joseph Patrich

Caesarea Maritima was founded (22–10/9 bce) by Herod (1) the Great. Named after Caesar Augustus, Herod’s patron, it served as the administrative capital and main port of his kingdom of Judaea, later the Roman province of Syria-Palaestina. Herod’s building projects are described in detail by Flavius Josephus (AJ 15.331–341; BJ 1.408–415). Many of its structures have been uncovered in the archaeological excavations carried out at the site since the 1950s. In 71 ce, Caesarea became a Roman colony and Latin became the official language. A praetorium for the financial procurator provinciae was erected there by Vespasian and Titus in 77/78 ce. In the 2nd–4th centuries it was a prosperous city where Gentiles, Jews, Samaritans, and Christians lived side by side. It was a centre of intellectual activity.Caesarea (2) in Palaestina (Qisri, Qisrin in the Rabbinic sources), also known as Caesarea Maritima, was founded (22–10/9bce) by .


Cairo geniza  

Lawrence H. Schiffman

The Cairo geniza was a storeroom for no longer usable holy books in the synagogue of Fustat, Old Cairo, where for centuries, old Jewish manuscripts, mostly in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo- Arabic, including also secular documents and communal records, were deposited. In the 19th century, European scholars became aware of this collection and manuscripts were removed to a variety of libraries in Europe and the United States. This material provides those studying the ancient world and ancient Jewish texts in particular with an amazing treasure of documents, throwing light on the history of the biblical text and its interpretation, the Hebrew language, Greek and Syriac versions of the Bible, Second Temple and Rabbinic literature, Jewish liturgy and the later history—political, economic, and religious—of the Jews in the Mediterranean basin. This material has totally reshaped our understanding of these fields. In the area of Bible, these texts illustrate the manner in which the vocalization and cantillation symbols were developed. Hebrew versions of some important Second Temple literature, later found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, had earlier been discovered in the geniza. Many previously unknown Midrashim and rabbinic exegetical materials have become known only from this collection. This material has provided an entirely new corpus of liturgical poetry.


catacombs, Jewish  

Leonard V. Rutgers

Subterranean cemeteries comparable to the early Christian catacombs of Rome. Jewish catacombs have been discovered in Beth She‘arim (Galilee) (2nd–4th cents. ce) and Rome (1st–5th cents. ce). They contain Jewish artwork (menorah) and many Jewish epitaphs, mostly composed in koine Greek and vulgar Latin. Recent radiocarbon dating suggests the Jewish catacombs of Rome may have inspired the early Christian ones.


Cestius Gallus, Gaius, suffect consul, 42 CE  

Nadav Sharon

C. Cestius Gallus (d. 67 ce) is believed to have been the son of the consul of 35 ce by the same name (Tac. Ann. 6.31; Cass. Dio 58.25.2). He was appointed suffect consul in 42 ce (CIL VI 2015),1 and was appointed by Nero to be governor of Syria apparently in 63 ce, in place of Cn. Domitius Corbulo (Tac. Ann. 15.25), but certainly by 65.2As part of his position in Syria, he intervened in the situation in Judaea, which was growing increasingly tense during the tenure of the procurator Gessius Florus (64–66 ce), and he ultimately had an ignoble role in the beginnings of the Great Revolt in Judaea against Rome, 66–70 ce (Tac. Hist. 5.10; Joseph. BJ 1.20–21).His first recorded involvement with Judaea was in the spring of 66 ce,3 when he came to Jerusalem during the Jewish festival of Passover. The Jews approached him to denounce Florus’s cruelty (BJ 2.



Martin Goodman

Circumcision of male genitalia was widely practised in the ancient near east, as Herodotus (2.104) was aware. In general both Greeks and Romans found the custom repulsive and ridiculous, which led to tensions especially with Jews, for whom circumcision, as a religious imperative, played a central role in establishing cultural identity. Jewish circumcision was prohibited by *Antiochus (4) IV Epiphanes and probably by *Hadrian, but *Antoninus Pius specifically permitted Jews to circumcise their own sons (Dig. 48.8.11). Although *Josephus wrote that other peoples, including Egyptian priests, practised circumcision in his day (Ap. 2.141–44), it was generally regarded as a distinctively Jewish custom by Greeks, Romans, and early Christians. Apostates from Judaism sometimes used epispasm, a surgical procedure to reverse circumcision, and rabbis after the *Bar Kokhba revolt changed the method of Jewish circumcision to make such reversal more difficult.


conversion, Jewish  

Matthew Thiessen

There is little evidence of conversion to Israelite religion or Judaism in Jewish scriptures. For instance, while later rabbis understood the book of Ruth to portray the conversion of Ruth to Judaism, the book itself repeatedly refers to her as a Moabite, even after she declares to her mother-in-law Naomi that “your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16). Similarly, the Hebrew text of Esther 8:17 portrays numerous Gentiles Judaizing: “Many peoples of the land Judaized because fear of the Jews fell upon them.” The Septuagint translation (LXX) adds that this “Judaization” included circumcision. While some scholars believe that this verse refers to conversion, the author claims that this action was taken only out of fear of the Jews. These Gentiles did not Judaize out of religious conviction; rather, they merely pretended to be Jews to avoid Jewish retaliation for the violent machinations of Haman.


Dead Sea Scrolls  

Martin Goodman

Documents made of leather and papyrus, and, in one case, of copper, found between 1947 and 1956 in caves near Qumran by the Dead Sea. The scrolls, written by Jews, are mostly in Hebrew and *Aramaic , but a small number are in Greek. Many are fragments of biblical texts from the Old Testament and from Jewish religious compositions otherwise only preserved through Christian manuscript traditions. The scrolls were written in the last centuries bce and 1st cent. ce.

Of particular significance in the study of *Judaism in this period are the texts composed by sectarians, whose relationship to the nearby settlement site at Qumran is debated. These texts include community rules, hymns, liturgical texts, calendars, and works of bible interpretation. Among this last group is found the pesher type of interpretation, characteristic of this sect and rarely found elsewhere in Jewish literature, in which the real meaning of scriptural passages is alleged to lie in hidden allusions to more recent events.